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With no active moderation for several months now, Writing SE is slowly but steadily sliding into an unrecoverable state. There is already major cleanup needed, but it CAN still be done. I request that an election or emergency granting of moderator power be done ASAP!

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    How does one put oneself up for a position as a moderator? I was granted an MFA in Writing in 2015, so I have some “professional” qualifications.
    – IconDaemon
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:19
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    @IconDaemon - A subject matter expert does not automatically equal moderation ability. Writing as a subject and the moderation of a community are two very different skills.
    – Mithical
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:29
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    I raise a motion to grant emergency moderator powers to the Supreme Chancellor. Feb 8, 2020 at 19:36
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    @IconDaemon If you join the site and participate a bit in Q&A, you might be eligible to run for moderator (300+ reputation) if and when an election is announced. Feb 8, 2020 at 20:24
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    The question is also how many willing and capable moderators there are? If there aren't, closing writing for good may be an option. So maybe conduct the nomination phase of an election and then see if continuation makes sense.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 8, 2020 at 21:18
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    I started 2019 super active there (although I wondered into the SE universe with some technical questions that were more focused for superuser and ux, I found Writing.SE my home base), and I was so pleased when my points went up, and I gained privileges -- I started every workday clearing the queues. I cheered our graduation, and I wanted to run for mod if that opened up. Then Monica was fired. Most of the prior mega-users of writing are on another QA site. I need to port myself there too, but I'm watching the embers here. Feb 10, 2020 at 14:11

1 Answer 1

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I’m sorry.

The long-standing repercussions of the fall are something we’re still recovering from. The moderator situation on Writing and a handful of other sites is something we need to address - and we are but we’re not talking about it publicly so I can understand why y’all feel ignored. While many sites have lost mods or entire moderator teams, I think Writing may be the site struggling the most.

I know that y’all have put in a huge amount of work to get where you are. I’ve been doing what I can to help, mostly handling flags 2-3 times weekly to keep up with moderation needs. This includes removing low quality answers and rude or unnecessary comments. If you’re seeing them and they’re not being removed, please flag. I’m happy to help in the interim.

I’m guessing what you’re concerned about right now is closing off topic questions. This is something curators generally handle rather than mods. But y’all have lost a good number of your curators, too, so I can imagine that having the help of a mod hammer would be welcome.

I’ve mentioned moderation on Writing Meta and the feeling I’ve gotten is that some feel that things are in a place where the community is so low spirited that an election would be poorly received and have little interest from eligible users. If this isn’t the case - if there are 4-5 (or more) 300+ rep users willing to run - I’m glad to know that.

We generally stop holding elections around late November through the new year. We would have started them up again in January but we were waiting on a much-needed update to the moderator agreement, which hasn’t been updated in years and doesn’t even mention our Code of Conduct. Because we’re unsure what it will look like, we’ve been hesitant to hold new elections while waiting for the update out of concern that some moderators, including just-elected ones, would step down rather than agreeing to the new terms.

I sincerely hope that the new mod agreement is something that all of the current and future mods will agree to - that it’s written in a way that recognizes what moderation means on this network and that it asks moderators to agree to a set of things that aren’t onerous and takes their volunteer status into account.

As of now, it’s still in a draft form and hasn’t gone to the current moderators for review and feedback. But... it’s taking too long and will probably not be complete until March. Monday we will begin the first election of 2020, on The Workplace. I can’t make any promises about elections right now. The CM team is working to decide the best course of action and we’re reassessing as things change.

We might also need to consider other options. If closing is part of the problem, I can look into getting your close and reopen votes needed to close a question (temporarily) reduced to 3. Even after an election, this may still help with curation as you’ll likely lose some of your active reviewers to moderation and mods are often hesitant to unilaterally close questions without community participation.

If there’s other problems I’m not aware of, let me know. In the meantime, know that I’m keeping flags handled and we will be working on getting this addressed.

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    Good to hear from you, but that would have been better an announcement. Instead of waiting with such a statement until such a question comes in.
    – GhostCat
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:01
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    Does this affect the upcoming election on Space Exploration scheduled for February 14? Feb 8, 2020 at 20:07
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    Would lowering privilege levels back to private beta levels, even temporarily, be an option? It would give a lot more curation ability back to the community while it rebuilds itself.
    – goldPseudo
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:18
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    @goldPseudo as far as I’m aware, the privilege levels are still at beta levels. writing.stackexchange.com/help/privileges
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:22
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    @Catija They were saying, private beta levels. Feb 8, 2020 at 20:26
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    500 rep for closing is already really low. I’m not really considering lowering it further. I’d rather have fewer people required than make it possible for practically anyone.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:28
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    Oh my goodness. You can't run elections until you've updated the moderator agreement, but updating the moderator agreement is apparently not trivial. I'm picturing Lucy in the chocolate factory. Feb 8, 2020 at 20:31
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    I've just gone through the review queues and closed a bunch of things. Btw, thank you for checking in on Writing :-) I'm sure "up to your eyes in work" is an understatement for what's left of the CM team now, so it's good of you to find time to check in and handle flags for a struggling modless site. Feb 8, 2020 at 20:36
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    Thanks, @Randal'Thor - On both counts.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:44
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    Psst, in case anyone else is listening, this is the kind of communication that communities need. It doesn't necessarily solve problems in one swipe, but it's honest and direct and most importantly it registers that the issues are heard. Feb 9, 2020 at 6:16
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    @BryanKrause For the record, communications with CMs was rarely an issue. Problem arises when there is no communication - when decisions detrimental to the community are just dropped upon us with "take it or leave it" attitude. And in such cases CMs are usually just messengers relying decisions made by upper management. Feb 9, 2020 at 10:53
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    I fear that unless the new terms put reinstatement (and ideally removal) of moderators in the hands of moderators (i.e. all moderators on SE vote on reinstatement and only moderators) I think you'll find the new terms poorly received. Feb 10, 2020 at 5:18
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    @StephenG There was a big post about moderator reinstatement a while back. Long story short: it's in the hands of CMs. That's not going to change anytime soon.
    – Mast
    Feb 10, 2020 at 7:40
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    @magisch you can bet your bottom it’s a wishlist of what SE’s attorneys want to put it in (that’s standard practice for attorneys, source: youtu.be/jVkLVRt6c1U (citation starts at 20:41) Feb 10, 2020 at 13:04
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    @Magisch the big push is updating it to mention the CoC and GDPR. Nothing like an NDA, no.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Feb 10, 2020 at 16:49

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