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With the recent change in the moderator privilege distribution among staff members, not everyone gets an immediately visible diamond symbol next to their name.

Hovering over a user card is not the best solution. Not everyone knows that this feature exists, and sometimes employees don't fill out their descriptions, there's gotta be a better way.

I think this might be a good time to think of a new visual indicator, perhaps something like the "New contributor" undersign, but which says "Staff, {job title}", or just the title, like so:

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    Are you suggesting this for all sites or only MSO and MSE? What if they are also employee mods - diamond and hexagon?
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 21 '20 at 10:57
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    @YaakovEllis I would add this to all the staff on all the websites. And also for mods. So it is clear that anyone with this new hexagon or whatever is staff, anyone else isn't. Feb 21 '20 at 10:59
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    Diamond should indicate only one thing − moderator privileges. If there is another level of user access, then it should be its own symbol, in addition to the moderator diamond, to make it clear when a user has one or the other or both. I guess I didn't think of how it looks in the comments where you don't get to see a usercard, hmm. Maybe just the hexagon or another symbol would suffice there. Feb 21 '20 at 10:59
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    And this is for all sites on the network, as it is useful to know if a user is an authoritative source on a meta policy. Feb 21 '20 at 11:00
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    Also, some titles are long. And an argument can be made that at least on non meta sites it is completely irrelevant in you are an employee or not
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 21 '20 at 11:01
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    Most of the time, yes, but also how often does a staff member participate on non-meta sites? Maybe it's worth paying special attention to their posts? Not sure. Feb 21 '20 at 11:02
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    Even if not displayed this way, I think it would be a definite improvement to have staff be visually identified - the hexagon could go where the diamond inconsistently appears now.
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Feb 21 '20 at 11:02
  • 3
    There have been at least two instances where non-moderator staff have posted recently I've seen and on the face level no indication that they are staff (before reading and/or looking at their profile) it just looked like any other user. Of course reading provided more information and checking their profile showed they were staff but I agree that having some indicator, if no where else than on Meta, would be helpful.
    – JFoxx64
    Feb 21 '20 at 13:24
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    Possible duplicate of Can we have a square or triangle or heart or *something* after employees' names? - was marked as completed after the introduction of the staff indicator, but it's the same request and a new answer should belong to this previous one (actually a better course of action may have been to bounty the earlier one with an update request)
    – Jenayah
    Feb 21 '20 at 13:48
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    Almost tempted to ask for the old phi to be dusted off 😁
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Feb 21 '20 at 13:49
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    @Jenayah too late, this already has the status-review and all. I don't see the point in closing it as this stage.
    – hat
    Feb 21 '20 at 13:58
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    @Jenayah that is definitely a related issue, but that is only visible if you go inside the user profile. I am asking to add something that is always visible near a user's name - on the user card and in comments. Feb 21 '20 at 13:58
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    I've already requested this in the top answer to Employee profiles are now marked with a “Staff” indicator - that happens to be my top-voted answer on this site Feb 21 '20 at 14:14
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    funny how it's easier to tell someone's part of a "collective" than it is to tell they're employed by SO
    – Kevin B
    Jun 23 at 18:47
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    @KevinB Which immediately suggests a solution: create a collective for SO employees. (Unfortunately, this would only work on SO, not other sites in the network such as here.) Jun 24 at 15:31
42

What do you think about this SVG icon? I think it's pretty great and self-explanatory or at least much easier to guess what it means rather than another geometric shape:

Stack Overflow logo after the moderator diamond. And yes, I did wrap the image into kbd just to see how the frame looks like if the blockquote background is not available :p

(credit to this answer on basically the same issue)

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    +1. Blows my suggestion out of the water.
    – Spevacus
    Feb 21 '20 at 14:45
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    SOX now uses a different icon for employees - see i.stack.imgur.com/4m8C7.png. related commit. Feb 21 '20 at 15:11
  • This is absolutely not self-explanatory or easy to guess. If I had come across the symbol, I would have wondered what is this symbol that looks like the website logo (not the company), if I had noticed at all. And I guess people that are mostly using other websites of the networks than SO may not even know this logo.
    – Taladris
    Mar 4 '20 at 0:01
  • @double-beep I only discovered SOX recently and that feature was the main reason I decided to use it. The burger icon is also a great choice. Unfortunately, however, after using the script for a while, I found it to be quite buggy (probably because of updates to SE) and had to disable it. Let's hope this feature gets implemented by SE soon.
    – 41686d6564
    Jun 23 at 17:05
22

I don't see why it is relevant to know that someone is staff if they're just acting as a normal user (asking or answering questions on a non-meta site). However, it is indeed very useful to know someone is a staff member when they're acting in an official capacity and answering or posting company messages on meta sites (including, but not limited to this one).

So maybe just have this for meta?

As for the actual job title, that isn't really necessary. What we need to know is that this person is acting in some official capacity, that they're posting as company representatives. I don't think it's so important to know if they're a "Community Evangelist" or a "Director of Public Q&A" or whatever. Half the time, the titles are completely opaque to us anyway (I have no idea what a community evangelist is, for example). When relevant, such as when the CEO or CPO post very official announcements, they can mention their role in the post itself.

But yes, a simple visual indicator that someone is staff would be very useful on meta sites, absolutely.

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    At the very least I am asking to add another symbol of distinction near a staff user's name, on meta sites. If the employee status does not grant any extra privileges, I suppose it does not make much sense to show it on main sites, but if it does, I think it should be visible, just like the moderator diamond. Title on the user card is kind of a bonus suggestion on how to make the "New contributor" more useful than it is right now for staff users. I don't think it will be very useful on main sites, for the same reason as the "staff hexagon", but who knows, I'll leave it up to discussion. Feb 21 '20 at 14:03
  • @user1306322 yes, and I absolutely agree that it would be great on meta sites.
    – terdon
    Feb 21 '20 at 14:34
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    As a strong advocate of separating personal and professional life, I disagree with you. If they are using their company account, they are always acting in official capacity. For regular, after-hours questions they should have their own, private accounts. Feb 23 '20 at 17:35
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This is now live. Please post all further feedback/bug reports/requests as answers to this post


We are going to be addressing this in the very near future, employing the new user card badges that were just released in Stacks to decorate staff and mod display names on Meta sites.

When this change goes live, on all Meta sites (including MSE):

  1. Mod diamonds will be replaced by the new Mod badge (which includes a diamond). These badges will all start out in blue (as shown in the screenshots here), but could change color in the future to match color themes on sites if/when these are modified.
  2. Staff badges will follow the user's display name anywhere on the site where the name is shown. This includes question listings, user profile, author/modified boxes on questions and answers, comments, timeline/user history, post notices, (and many more places). The badge will be Stack Overflow Orange on all sites.

Here is how it will look in the Users listing:

Screenshot of new mod/staff badges in the Users listing

And here is a sample from some comments:

Screenshot of comments with mod/staff badges

The new mod badges will not yet be included on Main sites (or anywhere on Chat or the main StackExchange.com site) where for the time being, the good old unaddorned mod diamond will live on. And there are no plans to show staff labels on Main sites aside from the profile page.


Cruising on Meta
"Who is that user?", she thought
Check out 'dem badges

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    Any plans to address things for former staff members? With this new markup, it'll seem weird to see posts apparently from non-staff responding in a staff-like manner. Jul 26 at 21:53
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    We are hoping to eventually address this issue with some sort of a "was written by staff" notation on posts that will be based on the author having been staff at the time when the post was created (but will not carry the same weight as a policy lock). No estimated time though on when we will be able to work on this.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jul 26 at 21:56
  • Isn't it redundant that staff also have a mod badge? I thought whoever had a staff badge gets mod privileges anyway.
    – bad_coder
    Jul 26 at 22:16
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    I can appreciate the desire to know when a staff member is speaking as an agent of the company. I'm not so sure about the badges though. They seem a bit over powering as bright spots of color in an otherwise B&W landscape. The usernames are links, and styled as links, providing standard clues to users. The diamond attached to the username for mods is, was, still part of the username and look like it, while the badges look like they're not going to be part of the link.
    – Chindraba
    Jul 26 at 22:17
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    @bad_coder It seems, now, that the system has been re-coded to limit moderation abilities to staff who need to have it as part of their position, rather than as part of the perks of employment.
    – Chindraba
    Jul 26 at 22:18
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    Diamonds are cold, not a mod? Parallelogram, maybe pawn is nice. UserName ♦▰♝
    – Chindraba
    Jul 27 at 0:36
  • I know I shouldn't ask, but how about chat? ;)
    – Luuklag
    Jul 27 at 4:33
  • @Luuklag hopefully one of the "many more place"... Jul 27 at 5:45
  • @Luuklag sorry, this isn't making it into chat with this release
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jul 27 at 8:31
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    @bad_coder most staff are not mods. Only CMs and others who need Mod access to perform their jobs get Mod access.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jul 27 at 8:32
  • @YaakovEllis I figure as much ;) Are there any (distant) plans to give chat some much needed TLC?
    – Luuklag
    Jul 27 at 18:29
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    Are they going to be in that order? Because the same badges appear in the opposite order on staff profile pages. Can we have a standardized order of appearance before these end up in too many places? >:) Sorry to nag about tiny, minor things.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 27 at 18:29
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    @animuson if a user is a staff mod, the mod badge will always appear first. The profile page will show up the same way.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jul 27 at 18:37
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    Hi, I'm Troy Mcclure. You Might Remember Me From Such Public Service Videos As Designated Drivers: The Lifesaving Nerds and Phony Tornado Alarms Reduce Readiness.
    – pxeger
    Jul 28 at 9:05
  • I love this change! And the display of the Mod and Staff text looks quite nice. Though... Could the updated display of the mod diamond info (i.e. the "Mod" text) be displayed on mainsites too? I suspect most new users have no idea what the diamond means... Plus I think it just looks nicer. (I presume the orange Staff badge won't need to be visible on mainsites, though, since that info is usually irrelevant to anything a staff member might say on mainsite.)
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Jul 29 at 7:07
10

It could be beneficial if staff members could "distinguish" a post of theirs, comment or otherwise, and either give themselves an orange diamond (the color coinciding with the flair given to their profiles from this change), or simply add that Staff flair (in a smaller capacity than I display it below) to the end of their name for that post specifically.

Mock-up example:

super bootleg image

It could be activated simply by clicking a checkbox when posting, similar to how you post as Community wiki, or with one of their many mod tools.

Staff members don't always have to act in an official capacity. Granting this on a post-by-post basis (primarily to be used on meta, I imagine) would be largely beneficial for clarity, while having the added effect of not being quite so in-your-face on other posts.

If you wanted to get really fancy, you could make the mouse hover text their job title.

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    Reddit allows moderators and staff/admins to distinguish their usernames or to appear as regular color usernames where appropriate. Maybe a checkbox should be available for posting on main sites, but meta should always display employee status? Feb 21 '20 at 14:29
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    @user1306322 My only concern is how to display it on actions like comments. Should it be post-only? If we go the orange diamond route it's not a problem, but with the bulkier "Staff" block, it can consume a bit of space.
    – Spevacus
    Feb 21 '20 at 14:34
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First of all, here's my proposed markup for this. I think that this is lightweight (not taking up much space) compared to Spevacus's proposed markup, and is much easier to identify compared to the one proposed in user1306322's answer. It also helps better align with SE's brand guidelines. Here's how it would like for moderators:

A small orange-colored box after the diamond

...and for non-moderators:

A small orange-colored box after the user link

Here's the HTML I used to create that box:

<span title="staff" class="bg-orange-400" style="border-radius:3px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>

Second, while I'm all for this indicator for the reasons put forth in the question, I do have one concern. The moderator diamond is applied to all places where the moderator's name is linked, even those that were made back when the user was not a moderator. This isn't that much of an issue, because 1. there's enough context, 2. they're still a volunteer and still acting in that capacity whether they're a moderator or not, and 3. new moderators are (usually) asked in questionnaires regarding their thoughts about a diamond being visible on all their prior contributions.

For staff, however, making it behave like the moderator diamond would be inappropriate. For once, many staff members have previously served as volunteers, and have made opinions on meta sites that are inconsistent with the current team consensus. I've seen at least one case where a staff member posted a comment in support of a feature request back before getting employed, only to later on decline that request. Additionally, it gets confusing to see posts written back when one was a staff member, only to get confused upon them not having the staff indicator (they're former staff).

Finally, even on meta sites and even if the user is a current employee, it can get confusing whether a user is acting in official capacity or as a volunteer (not only for posts, but also for moderator actions if a staff member is moderating a site through their spare time through their staff rights). (Wikipedia resolved this issue by having staff have separate work and non-work accounts: the work accounts would have "(WMF)" in the name and would be entitled to all staff rights, while the non-work accounts would be treated in the same way as other normal users.)

I'm therefore in support of Spevacus's proposed feature to allow staff to manually apply this indicator to given posts, but I'd also like to add one more thing: that this indicator also remain visible on posts made by former staff members if it was added at the time of posting. Also, the markup of the actual indicator should be per the mockups above.

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  • something makes me think that tracking whether a user had any special status (moderator or staff) at the time of posting is not a simple feature to implement, and either way it's probably better to have this as a separate discussion from this feature request Feb 24 '20 at 19:34
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    @user1306322 Whether or not a user was a new contributor at the time they made a given post is saved internally (even though an indicator may not be shown). A similar thing can be implemented for this. Feb 25 '20 at 4:09
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    I'm not a great fan of the plain orange blob. The first thing it made me think of was a yellow card, as given in rugby, football (soccer), and many other sports - and I don't even follow any sport. Instead of "this user is an employee of SE", it could easily be misread as "this user has been publicly warned for some infraction". Feb 25 '20 at 11:31
  • @Richard Ward: Agreed. The first association may be something worse than a yellow card and less worse than a red card. Jun 25 at 8:15
7

A few little ruminations on this

  • These sort of indicators have always been a simple unicode symbol. Historically some CM type folks (Team Chaos)had a greek letter phi

  • Hopefully the symbol wouldn't be overloaded (so the admin tag for teams and its hexagon would be a no go).

  • SVG sounds interesting, and might give more options. Might also be harder to forge but its inconsistant with how we've reflected status in the past (hmm Shiner mod diamonds? :D ) .

  • having it optional/independant of mod-like powers sounds good, especially if someone kinda just wants to hang out on, say Seasoned Advice.

4

I really hope this gets implemented soon.

In addition to what the OP mentioned that not everyone knows about the "hovering over user card" feature, sometimes, the only interaction with staff members is in the comments where there's no way of knowing that it's a staff member without visiting their profile.

I just encountered this myself when a user left a comment on my answer and I replied to them just like any regular user completely missing the fact that they are a staff member. It wasn't until they said "looking into this now" that I realized they were actually an employee.

Literally, any kind of indicator would be much much better than nothing. I think the suggestion in @user1306322's answer is pretty clear and simple. We don't necessarily need additional information (position, etc.) as it can be found in the user's profile.

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