1

Some time ago, in my favorite SE site, we had a moderator election.

Everything was fine, except one of the users who presented themselves hadn't been active in over a year.

Since this user was also high-rep and had done their share of moderator activity in the past (meaning that their "candidate score" was high), they received a lot of votes (note: this is mostly an assumption on why they received so many votes).

I have no problem with this particular user; however, I find the fact that they were inactive for a full year particularly concerning.

I was concerned this person would realize after a few days/weeks that they didn't really care about this SE site anymore and go back to inactivity. And I was also afraid people would vote for them without realizing they were potentially electing an inactive mod.

The election on this SE site is now long over (it has been months) and, as expected, this particular user (who wasn't elected) returned to mostly inactivity.

This leads me to ask for this feature request:

Can we add a section about "recent" activity (less than six months/a year) in the "candidate score"?

I believe a section like this could help voters make more enlightened decisions when it comes to voting.


Here is an illustration of how the "candidate score" currently looks like: picture of a candidate score

  • 5
    I see where you're coming from, but I think your proposed solution is a little overkill. I don't think requiring people to participate in the site a specific way should be required in order to have themselves considered as "active". I believe something simple like their "last seen" date or their daily sit visit log should be shown; this considers all types of activity. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Nov 4 at 18:34
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    @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog If they want to become moderators, shouldn't they demonstrate that they are actually already moderating? Also, the "last seen" probably wouldn't make much sense since they were here to post their candidature. Also, it would penalize any active member who was unlucky enough to take a one week holiday at the same time as the elections were occurring. (As for the "daily site visit log", I didn't know it existed and I have no opinion over showing it or not) – BelovedFool Nov 4 at 18:42
  • 1
    Perhaps something just as simple as was active 89 of last 100 days. – Luuklag Nov 4 at 20:25
  • 1
    @Luuklag How do you define "active"? Would just visiting the site be enough? Would we want something a litter "stronger"? – BelovedFool Nov 4 at 20:26
  • The same that goes for activity badges. – Luuklag Nov 4 at 20:28
9

Perhaps SE could take a page off GitHub's playbook here, and include something like an "activity graph" that aggregates and plots contributions for the year? (this could be added to all user profiles, actually)

A less-active candidate would have a more porous graph...

GitHub activity graph (almost no activity)

...and a more-active candidate would look more like this:

GitHub activity graph (more active)

Contributions could be filtered to include/exclude questions, answers, comments, flags, and review queue activity on main/meta (to be determined, I guess)... and such charts not being a simple list of figures, if a candidate ramps up their activity for an election, it would be flagrant.

Not saying this is a good idea (feels quite intrusive, even though all the plotted data is already public) - only that plotting activity against a time axis (which probably doesn't need to cover a full year) neutralizes the "perverse incentive" argument, while solving the "but were they actually active" concern in the OP.

  • 1
    A little OT, but I just realized that a dedicated troll could tailor their day-to-day activity in order to generate... interesting messages with such a graph (did that ever happen on GitHub?). And nobody would be able to do anything about that, because the message would be the actual activity of the user, which cannot easily be erased. So I would have reservations about such graphs :) – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 4 at 20:25
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    @FrédéricHamidi legit concern if all user profiles get it - OTOH, that would have to be either a very very very dedicated troll, or script-driven posting activity... which would be against ToS. – Mathieu Guindon Nov 4 at 20:37
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    OMG there is a script to do that on GitHub... hosted on GitHub. And there is even a service to do the same. I give up. – Frédéric Hamidi Nov 4 at 20:41
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    A histogram might be a little easier to grok (and can't really be used to spell out anything). Plus SE already does that for chat profiles so it would match :) – Em C Nov 4 at 20:51
7

Your proposal has a potential perverse incentive - moderator candidates could (and likely would) be tempted to post a boatload of low-quality content in order to trip the "recent activity" thresholds. We don't need more trash content, and future moderators especially should be discouraged from contributing to the problem.

  • I just edited to clarify, but I am definitively not talking about posting questions or answers. So, the worst a candidate moderator could do is posting unnecessary chatty comments or making bad reviews (which is already a risk since there are badges associated with those) – BelovedFool Nov 4 at 19:59
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    @BelovedFool thanks, but low-quality content can also include comments. Too much "hi, plz improve this post kthx" is bad too. – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Nov 4 at 20:48
-2

In my mind, here is what this "activity score" should take into account:

  • number of different days where this user left a comment under someone else post

I believe that leaving helpful comments to help someone understand how to improve their post is a huge part of moderator activity, that's why I'm suggesting that.

Also, the "number of different days" requirement is here to make sure candidates to election won't just start "comment flooding" a few days before the election to improve their candidate score.

  • number of different days where this user made a review (close, reopen, LQP, edit, etc...)

  • question and answer post would not been taken into account (as this is not part of a moderator work)

I don't believe the "number of different days" requirement should be high in order to have the point. However, I do believe saying something like:

This user must have made at least 10 LQP reviews on 10 different days this last six months in order to "get the point"

Would help us know if the user is still capable of being in a long-time commitment regarding the SE site they are presenting themselves for.

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