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How long are moderator resignation posts allowed to be featured in the sidebars of our sites?

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    Any bets on how much longer than a day this "returning to moderation" post will be featured? – WBT Jan 20 at 14:44
  • 1
    @WBT to be fair, they clearly haven't been enforcing that rule except on SO. – mag Jan 20 at 14:47

14 Answers 14

-357

The previous policy of only featuring them for 24 hours has been rescinded. Instead, now they are subject to the same guidelines as any other featured post and can be featured for longer.


Keeping the old answer below for context:

Moderator resignation posts will be featured for around 24 hours moving forward. We will not remove the posts from Meta but the featured tag needs to be removed after that time.

Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts that have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates. We need to be mindful of this and limit the time the posts are featured.

We still value people posting these when they're stepping away from the team. We also value folks being able to say their goodbyes and we want to continue to feature these resignation posts. But we need to keep an eye on the length of time that these featured posts can be in the sidebar.

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212

When a moderator resigns, this is an important event for a site. It should have the highest visibility, so it should be featured as long as (or longer than) other posts, I should think.

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190

Good news: As of 2020-02-10, the moderator resignation posts follow the same guidelines as any other post.

Bad news: Very wide criteria for a post to be unfeatured including, but not limited to antagonistic posts, posts having usernames & real names, drawing disruptive behaviour or discussion. Moreover, special attention will be paid to the titles of potentially/currently featured posts.

The text below reflects the month-long reflection on the controversial 24-hour policy on moderator resignation posts that was applied once on StackOverflow.


Currently, the featured tag was removed from resignation notice of Madara Uchiha on StackOverflow after only 2 days: this revision #7 in particular and repeated in a rollback-revision #10

This is significantly LESS than the standard time

I strongly oppose the practice of limiting moderators' resignation notices to such a short period. I would consider that a moderator resigning from the position is an important enough event for a community – so that it is listed as featured the standard amount of time.

Making it listed as for a very short time means it is not important enough compared to other potential announcements. Which I doubt can even be the case for any community. Sorry for my slightly egoistic and biased view on that. Not everybody (even the most active community members) accesses the website every single day and it is strange to expect it.

Quote from Juan's answer:

Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts that have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates. We need to be mindful of this and limit the time the posts are featured.

We can and should fight hurtful words and direct attacks on Stack employees and other community members, that's what moderation is for. We have mechanisms for that, so let's use it without limiting the respect to fellow moderators who decided to resign after doing it for a long time, after they already spend years of their life to actually fight with personal attacks and rudeness.

I strongly disagree with imposing any custom rule for these sorts of ing.

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    Yeah I mean, at the very least when they removed the featured tag on the MSO post for Shog and Robert, the Meta posts were still featured across the network (that's not the reason they got removed, though). But Madara's resignation is totally unfeatured now... – Jenayah Jan 16 at 20:31
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    Moderator Undo has re-added the featured tag as of about 60 seconds ago. – Spevacus Jan 16 at 20:35
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    Good on @Undo, although it doesn't very promising on their diamond. – yivi Jan 16 at 20:56
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    This. Keep the post featured, handle inappropriate behavior and edit where necessary - as always. – Stephie Jan 16 at 21:12
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    That just got reverted by Juan :( – CaldeiraG Jan 16 at 22:14
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    For the record/what it's worth, it was not unilateral on Undo's part; other mods agreed. – jscs Jan 17 at 2:15
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I cannot in good conscience unfeature a post commemorating a member of the community who was a mod or otherwise contributed above and beyond to the community . As far as MSE goes - hopefully there will be no further need for the mod team to feature posts of people leaving. As far as Super User goes I suspect we will discuss this when it comes to it.

While I respect the CMs we have left, I don't think its fair either to put them in a spot to do something I am personally uncomfortable with for matters of ethics and community.

Due to recent events however, these resignations have become more and more a place for people to post hurtful words and attack Stack employees, other mods, teammates, and community members.

As difficult as it is some days - dealing with this is part of the role of a Moderator. Unfortunately, it gets more difficult without support from the company and with actions that encourage the worst of us, and the loss of the more moderate voices.

If we fear our darkest impulses, and hide from them, in the dark, what hope is there for the light?

Moderator resignation announcements have traditionally been encouraged as opportunities for former teammates to say a goodbye and have others wish them well. They are things we want the community to share in and respond to.

We watch out for, and remember our own. If we're restricting this due to fear, we're lost. We have lost.

I suggest perhaps your bosses need to consider why the community has been growing increasingly hostile and combative, rather than try to muzzle us.

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  • 23
    "I suggest perhaps your bosses need to consider why the community has been growing increasingly hostile and combative, rather than try to muzzle us". There appears to be a mindset of "I am right, everyone else is wrong". There doesn't appear to be much hope left for the future of Stack Exchange if this attitude from the company doesn't change. – Doctor Jones Jan 17 at 10:25
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    Are there attacks on moderators? I can see disagreement, but attacks? Even Juan's downvoted post is downvoted for the right reasons: we disagree with the content; we're not attacking the person. And the same applied to other employees such as Shog9. The only discontent we have with persons are the faceless persons hiding inside the company, shunning the community. – MSalters - reinstate Monica Jan 17 at 11:11
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    Well, We've only had one resignation, but outside that -we've been dealing with folks attacking me and other MSE mods over the last few months. There have certainly been personal attacks. On the other hand, We've been handling crisis after crisis for the last few months - and while I had a break, the other mods have been heroic. There have certainly been lots of attacks on specific SO employees, which just feeds the narrative of a toxic meta. Its there, just not where they seem to think it is. Most resignations are respectful. They just don't feed the narrative of everything being sunny – Journeyman Geek Jan 17 at 11:20
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    "We have lost." Correct, +1. – Servaes Jan 17 at 19:43
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Featuring announcements and discussion questions for only one day misses the entire point. No one (to within rounding error) will see them.

The whole reason we feature these things is to ensure that they are visible to the community at large. Only the most highly dedicated members of our communities visit the site every day. This level of dedication is, in fact, so exceptional that we recognize it with two different badges: "Enthusiast" and "Fanatic". Featuring a post for only a day would mean that only this most dedicated subset of users see the announcement, effectively hiding it from everyone else.

Furthermore, these highly motivated users who visit the site every day are not who we're targeting with featured posts anyway (here I'm speaking of posts featured on per-site Metas; the global Meta may be different), since these highly invested users tend to read Meta anyway. The reason we feature posts is to ensure that folks who don't visit the site and read Meta every day will still hear about and be allowed to share feedback on the topic.

On Stack Overflow, when we have proposals to make major modifications to the tagging system (a process called "burnination", which implies a cleanup and retagging effort), we feature those discussion posts in order to ensure that the tag experts out there and others with a stake in the process will be sure to see them and, if they chose, provide their input. This input is extremely valuable to us as moderators, since we are not subject-matter experts on all topics covered on our site, and we want to know if what is being proposed would cause hardship or other inconvenience to the users who are actually providing answers to questions. In effect, it gives people a chance to say "no, don't do this" and/or to propose alternatives that we had not considered. At an absolute minimum, we require that these proposals be featured for 36–48 hours, not counting weekends. If they are controversial (i.e., strong consensus is not immediately obvious), then we will leave them featured even longer.

On Stack Overflow, when we announce things like the results of moderator elections, changes to site features, and so on, we typically leave them featured for 2 weeks. I don't know if this is just a custom, or if it was formally enshrined in site policy at any point, but it is definitely the custom that the Stack Overflow moderators follow.

You might argue that this duration of featuring is unnecessarily long, but I regularly see users showing up at the end of this two-week period posting new answers/feedback, obviously seeing it for the first time. Plenty of people don't even see it after two weeks. Not everyone is deeply committed to the site: some people just use it as a tool to get their job done. Yet, we should not assume that these people do not care about the site. Their voices still matter.

And that's Stack Overflow, without question the largest and highest-traffic site on the network. On smaller sites, visits are going to be even more sporadic.

For a company that claims to be dedicated to inclusivity and community, the policy proposed by Juan seriously misses the boat.

Juan claims that:

We still value people posting these when they're stepping away from the team. We also value folks being able to say their goodbyes and we want to continue to feature these resignation posts.

…but this rings hollow.

By insisting upon unfeaturing Madara Uchiha's resignation post on Stack Overflow over the strident objections of the current moderator team, Juan has disrespected, in particular, Madara himself, but also the rest of the community who has tirelessly built, nurtured, and advocated for these sites over the past decade.

Salt is rubbed into the gushing wound by the fact that "thank you" posts for Shog9 and Robert Cartaino continue to be here on Meta Stack Exchange. As much love as I have for both Shog and Robert, and as much as I'll miss them, I'll never be able to understand why they deserve more time in the spotlight than a long-serving, community-elected Stack Overflow moderator.

Shog and Robert aren't the only people to get special treatment, either. A post from called2voyage, announcing their "leave of absence from moderating" on the Astronomy Meta site has been featured for 2 full days. As has El'endia Starman's resignation announcement on the Christianity Meta site.

When the all of the evidence is considered, this is laid bare as nothing but a direct, shameful personal attack on Madara Uchiha and perhaps the rest of the Stack Overflow moderator team, who were previously told that they would have direct control over which posts were featured on their site.

As an attempt to justify this new "policy", Juan notes:

resignation posts […] have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates.

It's unclear to whom his use of the word "teammates" refers, but as other answers have pointed out, "combative and hurtful … attacks" are not appropriate in response to moderator resignation announcements or anything else. If these appear, they will—and, indeed, are—removed by moderators. I have been quite diligently monitoring Madara's resignation post on Meta Stack Overflow, and I think that the overall reception has been abundantly positive. Consider, for example, the following excerpt from ndugger's answer, among the top-scoring answers:

You have been the best moderator that I have interacted with on SO. I could always count on you to make the right decision, even when it came to kicking or muting me. You've done everything you could to hold down the fort. I have been generally impressed with how you deal with pressure, and how you decided to moderate a rowdy group of programmers.

High praise, indeed. It's difficult to see how content like this is creating a problem. Perhaps the concern is the posts that cite missteps on the part of Stack Overflow management, linking them to the resignation. However, these are not personal attacks on any individual. One of the purposes of Meta has always been to discuss site policies, and that includes disagreement with them, as long as said disagreement is civil. I submit that it has been.

Even putting on my cynic's hat for a moment, trying to put aside any emotions that this brings up for me and think about it strictly from the perspective of financially-motivated stakeholders in the company, the desire to suppress criticism of and negative publicity for the company is an understandable instinct. Yet, a policy like the one Juan announces serves only to make the problem worse. The phenomenon is well-documented, and known as the Streisand effect. By trying to censor these posts, Juan's actions have created a veritable firestorm—including this very discussion, this other one, and several more over on Meta Stack Overflow—all of which reflects far more negatively on the company than the resignation post itself.

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    "Featuring announcements and discussion questions for only one day misses the entire point. No one (to within rounding error) will see them." That's exactly the point. – NobodyNada Jan 17 at 0:53
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    If the point was truly to prevent the resignation post from "hosting combative and hurtful words" rather than to reduce its visibility, it seems like the policy should be to lock it after X time rather than unfeaturing it. As it is, it can still host combative and hurtful words just fine. – Don't Panic Jan 17 at 1:12
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    Not even the fanatics get everything. I come here every day, multiple times, and still, I simply miss plenty of stuff. – GhostCat Jan 17 at 14:34
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Moderators are high-visibility community figureheads. They're usually well-respected, often well-liked, and on some sites are the center of their communities. I've seen it on a number of sites: from Worldbuilding, where the mods grew the community and earned the respect and trust they were given because of it, to Stack Overflow the behemoth, where the responsibility itself confers respect - and, for those who frequent Meta and get further into the community, where interactions with the moderators raise them as the best the community has to offer.

Their departures are - if not a momentous occasion - certainly not something insignificant to a community. A moderator's resignation is certainly more important to the people on a site than other procedural matters. Procedure will wait; people don't tend to.

Why, then, should we attempt - why, then, would Stack Exchange be so foolish as to attempt - to restrict the community's chance to give back to their moderators what their moderators have offered them?

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Presumably as long as the community thinks that they should be. I am not aware of any SE policy that dictates what or how long something can be featured. I would hope that SE would never be so foolish to try and regulate what content a community wishes to feature*

*As long as that content does not violate the CoC and is on topic.

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Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts that have served to host combative and hurtful words to attack Stack employees, other mods, and teammates. We need to be mindful of this and limit the time the posts are featured.

You're doing it ridiculously wrong. Why don't you give up eating because you might choke? So then why are you removing features because it might attract attack? This is pretty counterproductive and illogical. You should focus on solving the problems themselves, not "solve" the place where problems may (but don't necessarily) arise. Doctors cure a patient's illness, not kill the patient altogether just because they're sick.

We still value people posting these when they're stepping away from the team. We also value folks being able to say their goodbyes, and we want to continue to feature these resignation posts.

You DON'T. By featuring resignation notices for longer, more users see it and have a chance to say thanks to the departing moderator. It's the matter of a community. You're showing blatant disrespect to the community and the people who devoted themselves to it by carrying this policy out.

It may be harsh to say, but what you value are your blog posts and product announcements, where the community can't even say a word. While this is purely an assumption, if one of the resignation notices resulted in millions of dollars in revenue, you would have featured it indefinitely. You no longer care about the community as you did at the inception of Stack Overflow, going back to the early part of this decade (the 2010s).

But we need to keep an eye on the length of time that these featured posts can be in the sidebar.

You said keep an eye on, which implies that you think having them featured for a prolonged period is something bad. This is also contrary to what the community thinks. Nevertheless, I'd say this is the only true statement in the whole of your answer. Good job, Stack Exchange, for being brave and stating it aloud.

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Short of SE publicly requiring us to, I can't imagine any reason we would artificially shorten how long a resignation notice is featured.

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Lately, we have had an increase of resignation posts

Hint: great. You identified the most important symptom!

You are just one step away from identifying the root cause. As soon as you figure that root cause, you would be able to engage in activities to fix the root cause(s).

And guess what: without moderators (and ordinary users) resigning left and right, and slamming doors on their way out, there would be no need to worry about said individuals being upset and emotional, and (supposedly) losing their temper. Or other people reacting to such resignation notes in inappropriate ways.

But I don't want to talk away the amazing experience of SE Inc. solving that mystery about the root cause(s) themselves, but bonus hint: you might want to create a table and write down the reasons why aforementioned community members are walking away. And then see if you can spot some common, underlying themes.

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    Unfortunately, the people that need to read this, will never end up here to read this. Shog said as much himself already. – DavidG Jan 17 at 16:09
  • @MiFreidgeimSO-stopbeingevil I'd rather not, that's just being antagonistic. – DavidG Jan 24 at 14:20
  • @DavidG, As noted by Amarth “The only way to get the company's attention is to twitter. Posting on meta is pointless, they just ignore that or censor it.” See: Twitter-driven development – Michael Freidgeim Jan 24 at 20:09
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The cat's out of the bag, so may as well post what prompted this here as well.

@JuanM posted the following in the moderator-only team yesterday:

Moderator resignation announcements have traditionally been encouraged as opportunities for former teammates to say a goodbye and have others wish them well. They are things we want the community to share in and respond to. Due to recent events however, these resignations have become more and more a place for people to post hurtful words and attack Stack employees, other mods, teammates, and community members.

We still value people posting these when they're stepping away from the team. We also value folks being able to say their goodbyes and we want to continue to feature these resignation posts. However, moving forward we can only allow them to be featured for a day. After that period, we ask that you un-feature the post or ping a CM to do it. The original posts will continue to be a part of Meta but they won't show in the sidebar.

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    It beggars belief that SE apparently don't see anything untoward in communicating new policies only to moderators, keeping other users in the dark, & that they would seriously expect volunteer moderators to take orders from the company rather than the communities that elected them. – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 22:22
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    I can't really understand the mindset of a volunteer mod who would agree to do that. – Ask About Monica Jan 20 at 2:34
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As far as I know, there are no publicly stated rules regarding this issue (as of the time of posting). As such, the decision to feature or unfeature a post on a Meta site is left entirely in the hands of the moderators of those communities, as far as I know (and ostensibly SE would only have reason to intervene if the site were left with no active moderators). Intervention by staff to unfeature a post outside of such limited circumstances would likely be seen as a tone-deaf and bizarre move, and would be very obviously and widely unpopular.

Unless the tag is removed from a question early, it will automatically be removed by the Community user after approximately 30 days (though apparently this can sometimes take a few days longer). Whether a question with the tag appears in the "community bulletin" block of links seems to follow a slightly more complex set of rules, though a post could technically "featured" by virtue of having the tag even if it doesn't end up appearing in the community bulletin.

Given that changes in moderatorship are generally very significant occasions, especially moderator-initiated resignations, I generally see no reason why such a resignation post would (or should) be unfeatured early, i.e. before the approximate 30-day period has passed (after which the post would be unfeatured automatically).

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    Well, it seems there is a publicly stated policy now that Juan's answered this question... The rest of my answer stands regarding how this policy will inevitably be perceived, and how unnecessary it is. It's basically the ultimate X-Y problem. – V2Blast Jan 16 at 23:05
  • One wonders what other public not-public policies have been dictated to the mods that they're reluctant to let the community actually know. – Ask About Monica Jan 20 at 2:37
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Should be up to each site.

If any post attracts rude remarks, moderators can, & routinely do, delete them. If a post is thought especially liable to attract rude remarks, it can be locked, completely or with regard to comments only; limiting the amount of time it's featured for isn't going to effectively put a stop to them. I'm racking my brains to think of another reason SE might not want posts about resignations to be featured ...

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Elections for moderators are featured for about a month. Featuring the opposite should be on the order of one week

Barring some exceptional circumstances like a new election or combination post addressing several changes together that is still featured or pinned. If the moderator is stepping down on principal or protest, perhaps err on the longer side to be sure the community can adjust.

If people are not civil in these posts, as with any other place here, that shouldn’t change the length of featuring news about leadership changes. Handle directly source of acting out via edits, locks, coaching, moderation or votes and deletions as appropriate.

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    I’m assuming the people advocating for 24 hours aren’t gunning for the Streisand effect but perhaps I’m not thinking clearly enough. – bmike Jan 17 at 0:21

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