19

Recently, there have been many unfortunate incidents relating to our moderators. Several have felt the need to stop moderating - others have (maybe) been thrown out (?).

I have great respect for our moderators and I'm sure they play a significant role in making SO a great place.

I have not - at least not as far as I know - had a lot communication with moderators. An episode or two where a moderator has been involved - but not that much.

From the responses to various "resignation messages" it is my impression that many other SO users have had more communication with moderators than I.

To me, it seems as though moderators act in the shadow - removing stuff that shouldn't be here.

I've never gotten more involved.

So I would find it interesting to know how others interact with moderators. My question is:

How do you interact with moderators? When/how/why is it that you get involved in communication with moderators?

18
  • See a theory of moderation Jan 20 '20 at 18:46
  • 6
    Mostly, you interact with them on the per-site metas. Also, elected moderators are users first - they still ask and answer like other users.
    – S.L. Barth
    Jan 20 '20 at 18:48
  • Here's one place you could go: chat.meta.stackexchange.com/rooms/89/tavern-on-the-meta Many mods around. Jan 20 '20 at 18:49
  • 6
    Use Meta, or chat, if you want to interact with a moderator. Flags are a very restricted form of "interaction". They're not a way to start a conversation, but they are one of the primary ways that you, as a user, take advantage of moderators. See also: How do the moderator resignations affect me and the community?
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:58
  • "Dull"? Maybe this is a little vocabulary glitch? I wonder, could you tell me more about what you want to convey with that word? Then I can edit it to make it easier for others to understand your idea clearly. Jan 21 '20 at 2:24
  • I checked your profile. Perhaps you haven't been very active on a site where you could develop a working relationship with a moderator. Also, maybe you've never faced a problem where you had to seek support from a moderator. Both of these things can make a big difference. Jan 21 '20 at 2:27
  • 2
    TL;DR; Moderators are people too.. you interact with them in a similar manner you interact with anyone in the community. they have more privileges than normal user,and they (almost all the time) intend to use it for normal users.. you can ask them for help, you can flag inappropriate content for their attention, you can discuss any of problems/matters you have with, how community works, how the system works, rules and regulation, if there's any problem with other users etc... ;
    – Vishwa
    Jan 21 '20 at 3:00
  • 1
    @aparente001 You ask regarding the word "dull". Well, the intention was to say something like "sad", "bad", "frustrating" .... I used a translator to translate the word from my native language and it came out with the word "dull". Feel free to edit if you know a better word.
    – 4386427
    Jan 21 '20 at 15:20
  • 1
    @aparente001 I researched the word "dull" a bit more. One site said "dull == not interesting or exciting in any way". Well, that was not what I intended to write. So for now I just deleted it. Thanks for pointing out that it was wrong.
    – 4386427
    Jan 21 '20 at 15:36
  • 1
    The reason for the increase, including some resignations, that you mentioned in your first line is that SE decided contrary to evidence, that a moderator was about to do something they didn’t like and fired her. And then lied to the rest of us to say she had already done it.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 21 '20 at 15:45
  • @WGroleau That's a gross oversimplification and not an accurate description of the reason most resigning moderators have given. Jan 21 '20 at 16:03
  • May not be exactly what they said, but it is what happened.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 21 '20 at 16:49
  • @WGroleau - I personally really liked the way you boiled it down. However, I suppose that people who weren't immersed in it might not understand what you wrote. (Bryan, I'm not referring to you in that sentence -- I was talking about people who just came into the movie theater, 3/4 of the way through the movie, so to speak.) At any rate -- 4386427, have you had a chance to read The Story So Far? Jan 21 '20 at 18:56
  • @4386427 - Maybe you meant "unfortunate." Jan 21 '20 at 18:58
  • @aparente001 Sounds more like it - thanks.
    – 4386427
    Jan 21 '20 at 19:45
20

From the perspective of a mod:

I think most folks interact with me mainly on my site metas and on Meta Stack Exchange (though here I'm not writing in my role as a site moderator). Some users probably know me from my answers, depending on the site, but the frequency of those tend to fluctuate depending on how busy I am.

If I had my druthers, a lot of users would be able to interact with me on chat. It's a nice, informal environment where discussions can be on everything from site business to, quite literally, the weather. Of course, usually only a small cadre from each site uses chat, but still - if you swing on by and I'm in, I'm up for a chat.

I personally like chat because it lets me talk in an unofficial capacity, which can be relaxing. It also lets the human shine through, rather than just my writing. Today, someone lovingly referred to me as "a madman that loves his craft". Well . . . I think that madman can best express himself in informal interactions going beyond site business. It's those interactions that help me built a rapport with the site community - and that kind of communication is super important.

I can be effective as a mod through the tools I have, but I can also be effective via my relationship with community members. That's a huge advantage. Chat and asking/answering questions is, for me, a great way to build those relationships.

2
  • 1
    It is nice when the "mod perspective" resembles the "user perspective", more or less.
    – GhostCat
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:06
  • 5
    I think any mod who avoids chat does themselves a great disservice. A presence in chat only helps.
    – user316129
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:52
15

Having no major interactions with moderators where you notice that they are moderators is usually a good thing. Moderators are first and foremost users and humans like you. They are part of your community. You say "I have not - at least not as far as I know - had a lot communication with moderators", which is also great. That might mean that the times where you did have contact they behaved like every other user on the site.

There's stuff you'll notice about where moderators acted and there's only a flowerbed where earlier were burning trashcans. Indicators are deleted posts, removed comments, destroyed Nazis, ... However, unless you were setting those fires or found yourself surrounded by them you'll barely notice us in these cases either.

Besides that moderators should look just like other helpful users on the site — especially if you're not a very materialistic person and don't notice diamonds a lot.

If you now consider, that some of these mods have been around forever1. In that time interaction with users just add up. If it's a good moderator those posts and comments and all the things in the shadow just grow into a big footprint that people appreciate.

Great moderators also shape their sites significantly on their metas or the whole network on this meta. Or at least used to do so.


1 Some were there since the launch of their communities. That's those of us with the low one-to-three digit userids on our sites. We should really have a small chair besides the the name instead of a diamond, because we're basically site inventory. But that is a different story.

11

I am a moderator on two sites. But:

First, I am a human. A user like many others. You and I may “click” when when we chat or answer each other’s questions, or not. Like some other users, I hang out in chat (typically the one for the site I am a mod for). I did so well before I kind of slipped into this mod thing, and that’s how the community of the site already knew me. And in this context, I am primarily a user, so no need to stop the conversation when I enter the site’s chat room. I still ask questions and when I answer a question, my post is not automatically better just because of my role.

And then there’s the moderator role. I handle the flags you raised and I occasionally have to slap someone on the fingers via moderator messages or at worst, suspensions. But as you are a nice user, you will never interact with me this way, of course. When you post a question on the site’s meta about the site’s existing or to be discussed policies, I may chime in.

When you feel that you need personal guidance from a site’s mod, the simplest way is to find me somewhere in chat. Or send a custom flag, with some explanation. When we can’t solve your issue right there, I may open a private chat. And I may discuss your topic with my fellow moderators. That’s my support network. Good to know that we have each other’s back.

7

It is my impression that many other SO users have more communication with moderators.

I'd hazard a guess that it's because you spent some time lurking on the main meta lately (just like me).

Users posting on the main meta are not that many, and are typically more involved than average users (just like mods are more involved too), so it probably gives this false impression that everybody know each other very well. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of other users (which you don't typically find on meta) didn't interact with moderators more than you did.

In my specific case, I didn't have that many interactions with mods. Most of these interactions were through posts on the specific meta of the site I'm mainly active on (electronics), and, although it mostly went pretty good, it didn't felt like I was getting closer to the people after that.

In any case, not having interactions with mods is probably a much better thing than having them rebuke you, so I guess it's fine.

7

I tend not to form my opinion of mods by interacting with them, but by seeing what they do, or to be more accurate, what they did. I see the mod's handle on closed questions, on edits, on comments that nudge and correct other posters, and on questions and answers. We may never interact, yet I can become aware that this mod is really helping. Especially on sites where I have high rep, I can read deleted posts and see that these are indeed the sorts of things that should be removed from our sites.

Sometimes, I will get a comment from a mod on one of my questions and answers. That might be a "moderator comment" nudging me into doing something better, or just a typical comment like anyone else might leave. I might even get a response to a flag. These often have an oversize impact on the overall impression of a mod, because they're directed at me personally, but they're rare. So all in all when you hear "X was a great mod who will be sorely missed" it's based on that first set of observations: things you can see the mod did to make the site better.

4

Interaction happens like this:

  • Indirectly. You see something, you say something. By raising a flag on a post. That flag stays "pending" for some time, then is resolved. When you flagged for moderator attention, you might even get a short response message in addition to the usual helpful/disputed/... reply. See here for one example how that is supposed to work

  • Directly, v1: X asks a question, and Y responds via answer or comment. Now: X can be you, Y the moderator, or vice versa. In this situation, there is really no big difference between talking to other users and a moderator. Besides the fact that the other user has a diamond near to their name. And that you know "okay, when I get rude, I will be sanctioned immediately".

  • Directly, v2: you talk to a moderator on chat, like the (in)famous tavern. Same rules as "v1".

In other words: moderators are also users within communities. You can interact with them just like with any other user. Beyond that, you can contact moderators when you have a specific topic that is somehow affiliated with moderation. And of course, when you are in doubt about "how does this or that work here", when a moderator responds to that, the expectation would be: responses from moderators should be reflecting the "gold standards" of that place.

7
  • 3
    Directly, v3: get suspended so you can exchange message one-on-one with a mod.
    – rene
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:03
  • 4
    Not a pattern that I suggest any users to engage in. Also cumbersome, and rather slow turnaround times.
    – GhostCat
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:04
  • @rene I have some experience with V3.
    – user316129
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:38
  • @RichardsaysReinstateMonica Who hasn't ...
    – GhostCat
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:46
  • @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC.anyone who hasn't, hasn't said anything worth listening to.
    – user316129
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:51
  • 1
    I am sure you could find one or two exemplary users who would qualify as counter examples. But not much more I guess ;-)
    – GhostCat
    Jan 20 '20 at 19:53
  • My most meaningful friendships come from one-on-one mod messages. It's the truest form of love: communication with an anonymous, faceless entity.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 21 '20 at 4:04
4

On my site, users interact with me as a mod in one of the following ways:

  • Comments: If I make a moderation comment, then they can respond when relevant.
  • Flags: Users flag posts and/or comments and I address the flags. Sometimes users may use a custom flag and may include a custom response. There are only a handful of situations in which this applies and there can't really be any dialogue as we are each limited to one note.
  • Meta: I and the users make posts on meta, through answers and comments we can have interaction. This is not informal discussion--it still needs to be topical.
  • Private Messages: Only moderators can initiate these messages, but the messaged user can reply. It is better known as the suspension message system, but a message can be sent without a suspension. You don't really want to interact this way if you can avoid it, as it usually means you did something wrong, but it is nevertheless another opportunity users get to interact with the mods.
  • Chat: I am occasionally available in chat, and more informal discussion can happen here.

Other ways users may get to know how I moderate:

  • Post Revision Log
  • Post Timeline: Users that have access to the post timeline may sometimes peek in to see what has happened to a post, and they may notice some of the moderation duties I've performed.
  • Post Notices: If I attach a post notice to a question or answer (usually the latter), I may also make a comment with additional explanation. Users can then infer that I added the post notice.
  • Tag Excerpt/Wiki Revision Log

There may be some other minor ways, but those are the main ways users get to know me as a mod. Of course, they can also get to know me as a user through my questions and answers or through my activity on other SE sites.

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