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I noticed that Teresa's recent announcement's first revision was posted with the tag.

As we know well, this tag is a moderator-only tag. Regular users cannot apply this tag to a question.

Teresa, however, did not have a diamond at the time of post creation. This tells me that staff members have access to certain moderator-only privileges without requiring a diamond (♦). Diving into the FAQ on privileges, my suspicions were confirmed:

Stack Exchange staff members have the ability to edit tags on any site without having to submit it as a suggested edit, and can modify moderator-only red tags on meta sites without needing to be a moderator.

This makes sense, as some Stack Exchange developers who do not have a diamond might need to edit reported bug posts to have a status tag, but it leaves me curious as to where the metaphorical lines are drawn.

I searched around for some information on the subject, and when I came up blank, I asked for some clarity in chat, and wasn't given the clearest answer.

We know that staff do not need to have diamonds on all sites their account is a part of, and some can even have moderator status on a main site without having it on that site's meta. We also know from the list of current Community Managers that CM's in particular are moderators network-wide.

With the addition of the staff tag to an employee's profile, there's a slight lack of clarity between what a staff member can do and what a moderator can do.

Not much discussion around staff abilities exists, which is why I ask...

  1. What privileges or tools do diamond-less staff members have access to?
  2. Are extra privileges granted on a manual, on-demand basis internally? (Inspiration for this question from Mithical in chat)
  3. From Robert Columbia: Are staff members immune to question and answer bans?
  4. Are there any other privileges granted? Or, are such privileges granted on a manual basis (per 2 above)?
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    @RageFoxx I've linked that post in my question :) It's in the "With the addition of the staff tag to an employee's profile..." part.
    – Spevacus
    Feb 24, 2020 at 16:01
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    With so many recent staff posts being poorly-received, that makes me wonder if they get question banned and answer banned like the rest of us. Are they automatically "exempt", or do they have to send their supervisor an explanation of why their posts got downvoted and ask for their ban to be revoked? Feb 24, 2020 at 16:13
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    @Robert the last part made me laugh... lol... like "The dog ate my bounty, can I have the rep back?" Feb 24, 2020 at 16:16
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    @ShadowWizardisEarForYou or if staff have to go on a PIP (Post Improvement Plan) as a condition of getting unblocked. Feb 24, 2020 at 16:18
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    Good point on #2. Is there a small number of privilege "packages" that staff can get, or is it allocated a la carte depending on role? E.g. "This position will require you to have access to moderator tags and deleted posts, but you won't be asked to post anything controversial so we won't exempt you from the question ban or answer ban. You also won't be touching the review queues as part of your official duties, so you will have to earn the applicable rep if you want access to them." Feb 24, 2020 at 17:06
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    I did also ask this in chat a couple years ago and still didn't receive a clear answer. Feb 24, 2020 at 17:09
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    Prior to 2013, it used to be possible for 500+ rep users to edit tags on questions without needing to have it approved as a suggested edit. Based on what I've seen, I guess that old privilege was manually enabled for staff members, as all the examples of binding edits I've seen are tag-only edits; all the body edits I've seen have been suggested edits. Also, they are definitely exempt from the prohibition against editing red tags. Feb 24, 2020 at 17:16
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    Also, I've seen that moderators with staff members have special migration privileges: they can migrate questions even after they are more than 60 days old and can re-migrate questions that have already been migrated from another site without having to clear the first migration history. This is in addition to all the other special exemptions normal moderators have for migration. They can not, however, migrate questions to sites where the author is banned or suspended. Feb 24, 2020 at 17:20
  • @Spevacus So you have. Perhaps the lack of clarity in the post providing clarity clouded the link's clarity. What struck me as odd was the mention of non-staff / non-mod user privileges mentioned in that post being given to staff per role. It doesn't spell out their privileges, just mentions them.
    – JFoxx64
    Feb 24, 2020 at 17:29

1 Answer 1

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Here are the special things that a non-mod user with IsEmployee == true can do:

  • On per-site metas, Meta Stack Exchange, and Stack Apps:
    • Can add/remove moderator tags (status-*, featured) tags to questions
    • No content throttling (stopping user from posting too often)
    • No rep requirement to avoid image or link thresholds
    • Can edit policy-locked posts
  • On all sites, no minimum rep required for:
    • Edit tags inline
    • Edit any post that is not locked for editing or deleted
    • View vote counts
    • Post on meta sites
    • Ads opt in/out
    • View site stats
    • Comment everywhere
  • Access to mod privileges:
    • See deleted posts
    • See comment edits
    • See full post timeline
    • See deleted spam content
  • Other stuff
    • Staff tag on user profile
    • No spam validation
    • Can only have their account deleted or destroyed by the Community Management Team, not by ♦ moderators
    • If post ends up in the First questions or First answers queue, it will be anonymized
    • Activate and deactivate Not a Robot badges (Stack Overflow only)
    • Members of the Ad Operations team can access the Ad Operations dashboard
  • Can see and use features that are being tested, have access to employee-only tools (mostly used for testing, debugging, or doing our jobs), and can view employee-only sections of the site
    • This list changes quite often (and will not be published or maintained).
    • We have easy ways of feature flagging specific features in code for employees only (so that employees can help to dogfood)
    • No more details will be provided on this. Sorry.

This is an almost-complete list. I am deliberately not including anything related to security functions. And I probably missed a few by accident.

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    Awesome! Can you tell if non-mod employee can get a question or answer ban? (If not, think it fits under Other stuff, e.g. "No post ban check is performed") Feb 25, 2020 at 8:47
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    @ShadowWizardisEarForYou From what I can see, Employees are not automatically exempted from question or answer bans.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 25, 2020 at 8:54
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    I see. But is it possible to remove such a ban? From what I know, the ban check runs "on the fly", so it can't be lifted, technically. In the past, CM's disassociated posts from user's account to give them a hand in getting out of such ban. Feb 25, 2020 at 9:07
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    do they also have a way to prevent short answers to be converted into comments automatically or the algorithm treats them the same as normal users? Feb 25, 2020 at 11:38
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    I figured some tools were going to be confidential, but hey, that's quite a list. Your time spent digging into this is greatly appreciated.
    – Spevacus
    Feb 25, 2020 at 13:09
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    That's quite a list. Perhaps it would add clarity to also list what a moderator can do that a non-mod staff can't?
    – OrangeDog
    Feb 25, 2020 at 14:05
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    Also, is the ability to migrate posts to other sites even if they are more than 60 days old, or to re-migrate posts already migrated from another site, included with the staff bit, or is this ability manually performed by editing the database whenever it is used? Feb 25, 2020 at 20:40
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    @OrangeDog mod abilities are out of scope for this answer
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 26, 2020 at 22:19
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog those special migration scenarios are closed to employees. We do not manually edit the DB either (seriously?). Have dev routes for it if necessary.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 26, 2020 at 22:23
  • What does "No spam validation" mean? Can they one-flag-nuke posts or is it that their own posts can't be spam-nuked? Jun 22, 2020 at 19:47
  • @iBugsaysReinstateMonica I interpreted it as their posts do not pass through the text-based filters for spam (e.g. very long post bodies, containing Chinese characters, etc.). Jul 26, 2020 at 1:33
  • Moderators can't destroy employee accounts, they get this error when they try: User X cannot be destroyed because they are a moderator or an employee. Users who are moderators or employees can only be destroyed by a developer or community team member. The Stack Exchange community team has been notified.
    – Smitop
    Mar 25, 2021 at 19:56
  • Apparently SE employees can comment without 50 rep, as seen here Jun 7, 2021 at 22:27
  • You say that staff can "see full post timeline", but can't anybody do that by clicking on the "timeline" button to the left of the post? Nov 18, 2021 at 17:00
  • "No spam validation" Is there a case where this would have caused a problem for a mod? It seems dangerous, e.g. in the event an employee account is compromised, it could be used to post spam that otherwise might be caught by the system (which seems like a good automated vector for alerting that said employee account is in fact compromised).
    – TylerH
    Nov 19, 2021 at 7:41

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