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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. We also know from the list of current Community Managers that CM's in particular are (with the exception of Nicolas Chabanovsky) 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 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? – Robert Columbia Feb 24 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?" – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Feb 24 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. – Robert Columbia Feb 24 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." – Robert Columbia Feb 24 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. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Feb 24 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. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Feb 24 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. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Feb 24 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. – RageFoxx Feb 24 at 17:29
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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
  • 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
  • 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
    • If post ends up in the First Post Queue, it will be anonymized
    • Activate and deactivate Not a Robot badge batches
  • 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") – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Feb 25 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 Feb 25 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. – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Feb 25 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? – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Feb 25 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 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 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? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Feb 25 at 20:40
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    @OrangeDog mod abilities are out of scope for this answer – Yaakov Ellis Feb 26 at 22:19
  • @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 Feb 26 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? – iBug says Reinstate Monica Jun 22 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.). – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Jul 26 at 1:33

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