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When I was a moderator, I often referred to moderation on Stack Exchange as being a janitor: cleaning up spam, deleting non-answers, removing rudeness, and eradicating a seemingly-endless stream of comments were the primary day-in-the-life tasks for me. While this term may cover what Jeff expected when he first created the role and envisioned them as “exception handlers” who do “as little as possible”, moderators have come to be so much more. Over my almost-two years as a Community Manager, my understanding of the breadth of work our moderators do has grown as I got to know the mods and the sites they manage better. Working with them, even when they disagree with me is still one of the best parts of my job.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Moderators are ambassadors - they are representatives of communities that are technical, artistic, scientific, international, religious and cultural - often more than one at a time.
  • Moderators are mediators - they help solve problems between users, often helping them see things from other points of view.
  • Moderators are collaborators - they start and guide discussions to find solutions that work for their site while keeping network standards in mind.
  • Moderators are peacekeepers - they de-escalate or put an end to harmful arguments by redirecting discussion or giving people timeouts.
  • Moderators are community builders - they look for ways to attract more people to their communities and keep the people they already have.

Not every moderator does all of these things but, as a group, they do all of this and more. They care greatly about their communities and want them to flourish and grow. So, I started asking - what should that position look like today and in the future? Do we need to redefine that role? How can the company help support this group of over 500 people with training - both in moderator tooling and in handling the myriad of complex social interactions with members of their community? How can we help them better understand and uphold site policy while making sure it addresses their needs? How can we better support the 170+ sites they represent?

As this network of sites has grown in number, the Community Managers have relied more and more on the efforts of the moderators to keep us informed about what their sites and the network need. We’ve tried to keep in touch in the Teachers’ Lounge and the Moderator Team but there is still room to improve. To help that, we’re working on making it easier for moderators to escalate things to us but there’s still something missing - 500+ people is a lot to talk to at the same time. We can address this by having a small group to escalate urgent or important issues or review our work before we make it public.


The Moderator Council

Back in November when Sara and Juan announced “The Loop”, one of the things mentioned there was that we were building an advisory group of moderators - what’s now called the Moderator Council. After proposing this idea internally back in October, I was asked to lead this project along with a group of four others. Over the last few months, this team has worked through a base structure and scope for the Council to get them started.

Some examples of things we see the Council doing:

  • Revisiting things like the previously-mentioned Theory of Moderation to see whether we can better capture all of the things moderators do.
  • Leading discussions with the rest of the moderators about issues that are important to them. This includes being willing to listen to smaller voices who may be afraid to speak publicly, and even representing them and their ideas to us and the rest of the moderators.
  • Two-way interactions with staff - including Community Managers and members of the design and development teams for Public Q&A - to bring the needs of the moderators and their communities to the company and also reviewing the plans the company has. This would include the Council giving the CMs user-centric feedback on new policy before it’s shown to all of the moderators or announced publicly.

The members of the council should also be leaders who set a positive example and encourage other moderators to speak up. We want to hear more from each of our 530+ mods. I know they all have concerns for their sites and things they are confused about or need. I’ve spent hours chatting with many of them in the Teachers’ Lounge or their mod rooms but there are many I haven’t spoken to at all. Making sure they know and feel that they have a voice and that the CMs and Public Q&A Team want to hear it is a top priority.

There are also a handful of things this council is not:

  • They are advisory, not regulatory: so they are not “super-mods”. This means they won’t be asked to moderate moderators, either in the Teachers’ Lounge or Moderator Team.
  • They are not a focus group. As a non-representative collection of community members, the council is not expected to workshop solutions, though they can participate in focus groups or review sessions.
  • The Council is not a secret group. The members should be known and be publicly visible to all.

The Pro-Tempore Council

Starting today we have convened the first iteration of the Moderator Council - and I’m both nervous and excited. This is a group of 11 moderators from around the network who will act as a pro-tem council over the next six months with the task of working to define the scope and structure of the council. I will be facilitating and supporting them and have done a lot of planning to get this moving quickly. As I and my team were working on this basic structure, we realized that, while we could create a framework, we needed to let the moderators themselves polish it so that it would meet their needs in addition to the needs of Stack Exchange, Inc.

This polishing is the first order of business for the Pro-tem Council. It includes everything from how council members are elected and how long they are in the role, to what to do if a member steps down out of cycle. There are many questions that need to be answered, like - should the council be one of equals or should there be leadership positions or designated seats for different positions?

Pro-tem Selection Process

The Pro-tem Council has been selected through a special process that looks very similar to the old pro-tem moderator nominations for beta sites.

  • Moderators nominated themselves or were nominated on a question on the Moderator Team. They were asked to include at minimum some basic information about themselves and answer the question:
    • As Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange works to listen more closely to the moderators and meta community on our sites, what do you want to see this council do? Where should the council's focus lie and how should it serve the moderators, users and visitors to this network of sites?

  • After the two-week nomination period, votes were collected on OpaVote using a simple approval vote and moderators were invited to vote for up to 11 candidates with eleven days to do so (April 10-21). You can see the results of the voting at the “OpaVote” link above.

As with the old pro-tem moderator nominations, the CMs selected the eleven members of the council based on the nominations and results of the voting. Our intention was to follow the voting as much as possible, generally only making decisions in the case of a tie or if there was a specific group of moderators left out of the voting - for example, if a Stack Overflow moderator wasn’t selected. I’m happy to report that none of this was necessary - we ended up selecting the same eleven candidates who received the most votes.

So, without further ado, I present ---

The Pro-Tempore Moderator Council

(in no particular order, with introductions written by themselves)

ChrisF

Stack Overflow, Meta Stack Exchange, Software Engineering, Home Improvement, Web Applications and Community Building
Been around the internet since 1995 or thereabouts. Seen communities come and communities go. Would really like this one to stick around, so if I can help in that I'd really like to. One of the reasons Stack Exchange has lasted as long is that the users care, but if we lose that we lose everything. Hopefully with the council we can help people see that it's worth caring again.

Rubiksmoose

Role-Playing Games
Hi! I'm rubiksmoose and I've been diamond-moderating for around 10 months. I'm very active in my home community and in the TL and moderately active on MSE as well. I look forward to helping with working towards a better StackExchange as best I can!

ArtOfCode

Open Source and Hardware Recommendations
I'm Art; I've been around here for 6 years and a moderator for 4, across two sites. I helped to organise the open letter to Stack Exchange that we wrote; I also run Charcoal, the organisation that finds spam on SE sites. While the last six months have knocked my confidence and trust in SE, I still believe there's something salvageable here. We do good work for our sites as moderators, and we've long been trusted to represent them to the network - I see this Council as an extension of that: a chance to represent our communities and to help the company to learn from their recent screwups and to avoid making the same mistakes again. In short: in that letter, we volunteered to help: I want to make good on that promise.

Cascabel

Board & Card Games and Cooking
I believe in two primary focuses for the council: first, providing a human connection to the general community and its needs. This will help SE prioritize and implement efforts to address those needs. A human connection makes this easier to internalize and intuit. Second, providing awareness of unique circumstances and specialized needs. This will help rebuild trust by avoiding disasters, which tend to arise from overlooking something extremely important to some users. Direct interaction is the most straightforward way to gain this awareness.

For my part, I will always do my best to elevate perspectives and voices from smaller communities and marginalized groups. I’m committed to helping SE do right by everyone in the community.

heather

Quantum Computing
I'm heather, a moderator on Quantum Computing Stack Exchange, and I look forward to working with SE on rebuilding the relationship that was damaged this past fall and continuing to improve the network.

terdon

Unix & Linux
While SE have disappointed us and let us down repeatedly, I still hope that we might be able to salvage something and start rebuilding a modicum of trust. I am volunteering for the council in the hope that I can be part of this rebuilding. I hope this council can act as a bridge between the company and both moderators and the broader community. I hope it will help both sides communicate with each other better and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Thomas Owens

Software Engineering
I've been involved in various online communities for over 10 years. I'm looking to draw on the experiences in those communities to help repair the relationship between the company and the community and to help the Stack Exchange network continue to be a valuable resource for a long time to come. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to join the Pro-Tem Moderator Council and help the communities.

Journeyman Geek

Super User and Meta Stack Exchange
SE traditionally had a good idea of its community, and how to deal with them, never accused them of being hostile, and while firm, rarely antagonized its community. Rebuilding trust is something SE can't do alone, but I find many of the things I often talk about - shaping policy, and communication are traditional strong points of the company itself. We've had a lot of missteps, and it would be nice to help get things back on track. As part of the pro-tem mod council, I hope we can nudge things towards more community aware and friendly decisions, and try to avoid some of the communicational mistakes made in the past - sometimes minor, sometimes major. While we can't fix what feel like deliberate errors, we can try to prevent the preventable and shape policies more aware of the sentiment of the community

Tinkeringbell

Interpersonal Skills and Meta Stack Exchange
Hey! I'm Tink, and I've been active on SE for almost 3 years, and I've been moderating for 2 years. I can bring a pretty solid knowledge of most moderation tools, knowing my way around meta and an interest in sociology/human behavior/communication theory to this council. My ideal view for this council is that it works hard to make themselves unnecessary: Be a middle man that helps SO/SE improve their listening to the point where they don't need the help of a council anymore.

Undo

Stack Overflow
I'm Undo, a contributor to Stack Exchange sites since 2012 and a moderator in various capacities since 2014. I co-founded and help lead the Charcoal team - we're the folks who maintain SmokeDetector and automatically flag spam across every site on the network. I hope to see a transparent Council that provides frictionless guidance to the Company and Community, driving towards a better relationship between the Company, Moderators, and the Community at large. The Council should endeavor not to replace decision making processes currently entrusted to users & moderators, and should view itself as equals to the broader moderator community. I’m excited for the impact this Council could have on a wide range of current issues. We have a real chance to effect change for the better.

Rory Alsop aka Doktor Mayhem

Audio-Video Production, IT Security, Musical Practice & Performance, Parenting, Sound Design and The Great Outdoors
I have spent most of my career working in infosec, but am also a professional musician and a parent. I'm an introvert by nature, but have always managed people in widely varied groups... I have learned to get along and mediate. I have been a moderator here for nearly 10 years now and have enjoyed helping grow them, building communities, and working towards, and beyond, graduation when that was still a thing. Communication and trust are the two lost values that need to be rebuilt. A mod council is likely to have at least some trust in the community that SE may not, so can be an enabler of positive discussion and positive change, in both directions.


Thanks -

To the moderators, both the 276 who weighed-in and to all of you for putting up with way too many emails and notifications while we figured out how to mail merge 536 different codes so that you could make your selections - thank you for participating! We’ll work out the technical kinks before we run the first election.

I would like to say thank you to all fifteen council candidates. Thank you for being willing to invest more of your time to help in building a connection between the Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange communities and the company. For those who didn’t make it in this time, I hope you consider nominating in the future.

To the eleven selected council members - I am so very happy to get to spend time working with you on this project. My experience working with an ad-hoc group of moderators has made me hopeful about the value of having the Council. I’m looking forward to your thoughts and feedback and your efforts in making the Council a reality.

To everyone - I hope this has been a useful introduction to the Moderator Council and that you're as excited about it as I am. This is only the beginning and we’ll make sure that the final structure and scope of the Council is posted for you to see once it's defined.

If you have questions or if there are any clarifications I can make, please put them in an answer and I’ll respond as best I can.

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    Can you put a TL;DR section here? :-) – Mike Waters Apr 27 at 20:39
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    I'd be interested to hear what special considerations the council get, above and beyond merely being consulted about site operations. One of the main problems that "user councils" have suffered elsewhere is that they get the kind of attention that regular users can only dream of; All-expense visits to NYC, VIP attention, etc etc which then blunts their criticism – Richard Apr 27 at 20:59
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    @Richard I'm against all-expense visits to NYC... at least for a while ;) But realistically, I'm hoping for as little special-ness as possible. – Undo Apr 27 at 21:25
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    @Richard as part of the initial proto pro tem group, pretty much nothing other than early access to various announcements and plans. Occasionally we might have had a satisfying moment of 'noooooo change that! It's dumb!!!! and getting it changed Certainly not all expense paid trips to NYC - I'd rather they spend that sorta money on more CMs. We don't get anything tangible for being on the council as far as I know – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 at 23:33
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    I'm particularly encouraged by your listing of "Revisiting things like the previously-mentioned Theory of Moderation to see whether we can better capture all of the things moderators do" amongst things you see the Council doing. – PolyGeo Apr 28 at 0:22
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    Congrats, folks! And especially to Catija for helping organize this stuff :) – V2Blast Apr 28 at 0:42
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    Folks - if you have comments, or better yet, more substancial things to say, lets keep it on the topic of the work ahead of the moderator council, or about the folks in it. If there's other moderation issues, well, you can ask a question on meta spelling it out. – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 0:42
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    Good job! It would've interesting to have some mod from SO international (SOja, SOru, SOes, SOpt), which seem to be very out of focus of late – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Apr 28 at 8:46
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    I like almost everything here but the ability to give user-centric feedback on something before anyone else sees it seems a bit bias prone. 11 out of 500 which are again selected out of thousands may statistically speaking not be a very good estimation of all users. It's not a big thing, there seems to be plenty of things to do. – Trilarion Apr 28 at 20:00
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    Your original impression of moderators as janitors and babysitters actually came from Stack Overflow moderators (Jeff, Will, etc.), and it remains highly accurate for SO moderators. I'm still uncomfortable with expanding the scope of moderators' duties much beyond this. While individual moderators may act as ambassadors or community builders, for example, so do other established users of the site (and perhaps to an even greater extent). That's an individual preference regarding site engagement, not part and parcel of moderation. – Cody Gray Apr 28 at 20:05
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    @Trilarion This is one of many methods for feedback. It's largely focused on major policy and it's the first step in the feedback chain before going to the whole collection of mods and then public on the site. It's a lighter-weight way for us to get more direct feedback that we can review before it goes public. Designed to catch blind spots we have internally and help us better explain things so that we're making sure we're coming to y'all with a clean, understandable explanation. – Catija Apr 28 at 20:28
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    @CodyGray There's room for improvement even then. The current Theory of Moderation doesn't even take into account moderators are agents of their community - that you are not the decision-makers for your sites but are, rather, the ones who carry out the decisions made on Meta. Many people believe that moderators on SE/SO are the ones who decide site policy when that is not the case. They can have a voice and their position may carry some weight of experience and authority, but without the buy-in of the community, it's just one voice. – Catija Apr 28 at 20:31
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    @Trilarion: I don't think it'd quite work that way - after all, CMs are capable of reading MSE themselves, and the mod council is already included among "the mods" collectively. I think the mod council just helps give a bit more structure to communication between the company and mods (both ways) when it's necessary - e.g. an MSE post gets made, it flies under the radar of CMs, but mods point out "hey, the company should address this" and the mod council maybe helps make sure it gets brought to the company's attention and the pressure stays on (where necessary). I see what you mean, though. – V2Blast Apr 29 at 12:23
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    You are on this Council, but we do not grant you the rank of super-mod. – user45266 May 1 at 19:37
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    I really wish "Board & Card Games and Cooking" was a single SE site. – Mr. Boy May 4 at 16:02

14 Answers 14

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The names on the list are a positive surprise to me, there are several mods on there that I didn't expect you to convince to trust SE again. That's a very positive sign, it is a leap of faith from those mods to invest time in this despite the recent actions by SE that destroyed their trust in the company.

I have no doubt that you and the other CMs take this council very seriously. But the actual test will be how the higher SE management will treat it, and whether they will take it seriously. When I was still a mod, the biggest danger to the success of the mod council I saw was that SE management would just plow ahead with some new disastrous decision while ignoring the council entirely. The success of the council is unfortunately not in the moderators nor in the CMs hands, SE management must stop making decisions that just pull the rug out under both of these groups, like the ones they made several times that caused and exacerbated this crisis.

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    Over the last few weeks, I've been working with a small group of moderators (a sort of proto-pro-tem group) with the purpose of reviewing posts before they were released on MSE. It was a great experience and one of the best parts of it was how much of the feedback the mods gave was considered and impacted the final result. It really helped us reshape one of the docs to be more helpful and clear. I think it will take some fine-tuning to get it to a nice balance but it seems like a hopeful start. As an example, this went through them. – Catija Apr 29 at 7:01
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    Yup, it surprised me as well. A welcome surprise, especially given the fact that some of them were self nominations. – Bhargav Rao May 1 at 2:39
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    As a member of SE management, I can tell you I have been supportive and collaborative with @Catija on the establishment of the Moderator Council and ensuring the inclusion of the group into the appropriate processes. I look forward to working with the group as we move forward. – Teresa Dietrich May 1 at 14:49
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    @TeresaDietrich - While I appreciate that, the acid test isn't what SE management does now. Its what SE management does at some future date when going through a process is inconvenient for you, or you don't like the answer you get back. – T.E.D. May 4 at 23:31
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Good job.

Both on the creation of the council itself, and of the people you've selected to be on the council.

The fact that you've created the council is another step in the right direction in regaining the community's trust, I think; hopefully, you (as a company; I know you do, Cat) will actually value and listen to their advice instead of merely setting up the council as a token gesture and then ignoring it. Done well, this could be a great step forwards.

I've had interactions with all eleven members of the council, at various times and in various places, and I think all eleven are excellent choices.

Thomas and ChrisF - you're some of the longest-serving moderators on the network, and that amount of knowledge and experience you've gathered is sure to prove invaluable.

Rubiks - you've been handling things in the Tavern alongside me for a bit (and, hey, Codenames), and you've always been one of the most level-headed people I've seen.

Art and Undo - your work with Smokey, userscripts, chat hacks, etc. all show your dedication to the network, and you've shown yourself to be an excellent mod.

Cascabel - I salute you, is all I'll say in public. It's not always easy or appreciated to do what's right.

heather - I know what you've been working on and look forward to continuing working with you ;)

Tink - you're certainly not afraid to speak your mind, to be frank, and it's one of the things I admire about you. The council could use your frank observations :)

Rory - having the most non-staff diamonds on the network, you've certainly got a unique perspective on things that the council can certainly make use of.

Geek and terdon - you're some of the most open-minded people I know, who aren't shy about standing up and taking a stand for what they believe in. Kudos for that, really.

You'll do an excellent job, all of you; and kudos to the company for following through. Good luck. *tips hat*

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    Friendly neighbourhood pedant noting that Rory's diamond count is not unique since he matches ChrisF. (Counterpedant noting that he still has a unique perspective, as much as anyone else, and "the most" could mean "equal most"/"tied for most".) – Rand al'Thor Apr 27 at 21:53
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    @Rand - He used to have Productivity, as well, before it shut down, so maybe "historically most" would be better phrasing. – Mithical Apr 27 at 21:54
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Question (for both the CM / Public Q&A Teams and for the MC members):

To whom is the Moderator Council answerable?

Do they answer to the rest of the moderators? Do they answer to all of the SE user / answerer / reader / curator communities? Do they answer to SO Inc.? I'm hoping, for their sanity, that it's the first one, but it'd still be good to have a clear statement of where they sit.

Also: will the MC members be asked to sign any agreement in order to take up this position, in addition to the standard moderator agreement? If so, I'm hoping that this document will be made public -- and, also, that it will not prevent them from sharing information beyond the existing personal-information limits that we have for moderators already.

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    Deciding this is part of the purpose of the pro-tem council, as described in the post. I think your "#1" is the most likely, along with the implication that moderators are already in some way representatives of their broader communities. They definitely will not "answer to SO Inc" - I don't know where you got that idea and I even find it a bit frustrating that it was suggested. – Bryan Krause Apr 28 at 15:25
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    I said I was frustrated that you are implying that these independent moderators are under the thumb of SO Inc, especially when so many of them have been outspoken critics of the company. I don't see how that is abusive, I think you're reading something that isn't there. – Bryan Krause Apr 28 at 15:51
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    Allow me to echo @BryanKrause's first comment, as someone who is an insider to the process. – ArtOfCode Apr 28 at 18:59
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    I'm a moderator and voted for the candidates for the pro tem council, and have been involved in moderator-space conversations about the council in a very limited role; however, my source for the independence of the moderators mentioned includes their (as a collective, not necessarily every individual) numerous public criticisms of SO Inc (and not just over the past 8 months or so). Some of them have even alluded to those criticisms in their self-written introductions included in the announcement post here. – Bryan Krause Apr 28 at 19:05
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    I don't answer to SE Inc - and practically the company will only listen to us as far as they choose to. When they choose to, I'll let them know. When they don't, we resort to other means. However, I would feel that if this body is anything less than independent we're doing the company, its employees and the community a disservice. I hope to speak for the communities I am part of whether as a mod or otherwise – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 23:11
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    For the most part, the Council is representing and speaking for the rest of the moderators. It's like a pyramid with the council at the top, the mods as a whole below, and the communities spread beneath them all. There are always times where skipping a level occurs, so it's important for all of us to keep in mind the people lower on the pyramid - they are supporting the structure and they may choose to remove that support, weakening the entire thing. Mods currently act on the direction of their communities, I hope that the council considers the moderators their community. – Catija Apr 29 at 7:32
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    To some degree, though, the Council is expected to work in good faith with the company. We want to work together with the Council and, to some degree, questioning the decisions we're making is an important part of the process. We need that slightly skeptical but kind voice asking, "Why are you doing this?" and also encouraging "This is good, here's how it could be better". We're not looking for people to rubber-stamp what we're trying to do, we need testers, looking for bugs and pitfalls. :) – Catija Apr 29 at 7:34
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    Thanks @Catija and @ JourneymanGreek for the constructive feedback. – E.P. Apr 30 at 12:11
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    I couldn't say it any better than @Catija did above, I fully agree with her two comments. – Teresa Dietrich May 1 at 14:53
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    I'm not sure what you mean, @ArtOfCode -- all users, moderators or otherwise, are answerable to the company, in that the company has final say in whether a user may remain as a user, a moderator, a member of the MC, etc. – TylerH May 4 at 19:17
26

Some standard user (not a mod) here.

Can someone very briefly tell what this change means to normal users?

I read it as:

  • we will have less mods now, because some of them will be busy with another stuff;
  • there is an additional burocracy layer (with all its downsides): elite moderators, chosen by mods, approved by devs;
  • normal mods will have to contact council to contact devs;
  • users are not directly affected.

Am I right?

I read the post and answers several times already (yestarday and today) and can't understand why everybody in this topic is so happy? Could you write a sentence which explains why I should be happy please? Maybe I am just a bad person who dislike changes and only expects bad.

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    I think people are happy because it the council establish a "formalized" path of communication between moderators (and thus: normal users like you and me) and the company. We saw last year that SE Inc. kept ignoring the metas and moderator outrage for weeks, months. That becomes much harder when SE Inc. itself asked to establish such a council, and puts itself "on the spot" to talk and listen to that council. The other part why I am happy: because things moving and changing ... enables change. We had the opposite (a lot of nice big words) last year ... and nothing happened. – GhostCat Apr 29 at 7:42
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    Not devs precisely - we mostly deal with the community team. As far as moderation duties go there's not much difference. To a normal user - not much change. In practice, it should give us a group of moderators who have better access to sanity check and hopefully help shape policy. And practically - there needs to be change considering recent events, and this is one way to hopefully ensure those changes go the right way... – Journeyman Geek Apr 29 at 7:58
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    To address point by point here: 1) I don't intend on reducing the amount of time I spend moderating to accommodate the council. I volunteered for it with the expectation that I would be doing a bit of additional work and was fine with that if it had a chance of helping the community. The estimated amount of time that the council would require was made clear to us when we stated we were interested. – Rubiksmoose Apr 29 at 16:44
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    2) In some ways this could be considered another layer of bureaucracy, but I don't think of it that way. It's another avenue for feedback and communication. Something that should catch issues before they become issues and thus be more efficient than the previous setup. None of us want this to become a club for "elite" mods and this would not have gotten off the ground if that was the intent. (I'm certainly not an elite, I'm a newish mod of a smallish site.) One good sign of this is that we will be looking at term limits and rotations so that the membership doesn't stay static. – Rubiksmoose Apr 29 at 16:49
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    3) This is, as far as I'm aware, not true at all. The path for community members contacting the CMs (not devs necessarily mind you) will be no different than it was before (basically, using the contact form). If anything, this could provide an indirect additional way for community members to be heard since moderators listening to the concerns of their members, can obviously use that to give feedback. But no, there is no additional layer currently being put for communication between "normal" users and SE employees. – Rubiksmoose Apr 29 at 16:51
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    4) This is pretty true in that I don't think that non-moderators are going to feel any direct effects from this, at least for a bit. In the end though, hopefully the average user will benefit from this through improved SE-community communication. How that manifests exactly remains to be seen. – Rubiksmoose Apr 29 at 16:54
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Though the functions of council seems under construction yet, I have just two sentences as reply:

Congratulations to members of the council!

Thanks to the Stack Exchange!

I hope this would be a crucial step towards The company’s commitment to rebuilding the relationship with you, our community

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  • I wonder if the downvotes on this answer are because people thought "fictions" was a criticism, like saying the council is all a fiction or something. – Rand al'Thor Apr 28 at 7:58
  • Oh! Yes it might be major misunderstanding due to typo. Sorry for that word used by mistake. – Pandya Apr 28 at 7:58
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    I had downvoted due to the difficult-to-read unicode text. Now that's that's gone I retracted it :) – Mithical Apr 28 at 8:06
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On the whole I feel like this is a step in the right direction, and I appreciate the speed with which SO Inc is trying to step up it's community involvement game.

There's also certainly some names on the list that I feel good about seeing there. Folks I've interacted with around the network and have a lot of time and respect for, I like the idea of them being involved in fixing the disconnect between the company and the community. The two have a symbiotic relationship of sorts and it can only be of benefit to both for relationships to improve.

I'm not completely without concerns though, the council is (AFAIK) supposed to do a few things where I feel it's lacking:

Represent the wider network:

Well I can only speak for myself but I'm feeling spectacularly un-represented. I'm reasonably active across the network - however none of my top-6 accounts (three of which are fully-themed sites, so not small) have any representation.

I understand the difficulties where a site may not have had a moderator willing to run but SE was already wiling to bend the "rules" a bit to make sure there as an SO representative there are solutions that could have been found - hold special elections on the major sites for a new mod who would have also been part of the council. No one need run if they weren't willing to take on both responsibilities. Or candidates who were active members (but not mods) of sites that were not represented could have been nominated to act as a liaison/spokesperson, to give the site a voice on this council at least.

Sadly it seems as though there was no effort to try and make a realistic representation of the network - as long as SO got it's seat everyone else can go whistle. I get why SO is always going to be a priority - it's the bread and butter of SO Inc and always will be, and it thoroughly deserves to be given a commensurate level of attention. That doesn't mean the rest of the SE sites deserve to be ignored completely though.

Not be a secret group:

Yet the group was elected (at least partially) based on answers to questions SE put to them. Answers that won't be released and two members of the council have already professed that they don't want released. Which given this seems to have been largely centered around formulating what the group is actually going to be for is more than a little concerning. Someone saying that the expressly don't want their answers to what they think the council should be doing to be released is something I have no choice but to interpret as meaning it's something they think will be unpopular.

Will I be one of the users who doesn't like their aims and goals for the council? I don't know, and neither does the candidate - which is precisely the problem. It's a straight up disconnect in communication before we've already started the brave new hope for fixing communication issues. Everyone is so afraid of being "unpopular" that they try and save face by refusing to stand by something they've said or done - or even let anyone know what they said or did. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't lost some respect for the two members who openly said they didn't want that information released.

I'm not some ultra-openness and transparency nut - I completely understand the need sometimes for things to be said in private, and I understand that moderators need spaces where such things can be discussed. But this whole process, something that is supposed to be very open, being carried out behind closed doors (in effect) and then presented as a fait accompli with any "ugly" bits neatly airbrushed away feels so unnecessary, and secrets for the sake of secrets.

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    The 11 mods represent 21 sites, collectively - as moderators. They’re active members of many others. They represent everything from our largest site to the smallest; purely objective to more subjective sites. Please remember, with only 11 seats (which is actually a huge number), we won’t ever be able to have representation from all sites simultaneously but they’re here to listen to and represent all of the mods, not only their own sites. They’re also not going to be permanent members and will have term limits to be certain that others get an opportunity. – Catija Apr 28 at 12:41
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    About the nomination question thing: Thomas explained it well. It's about having high aspirations. It's not so much about being unpopular but being careful not too raise the bar of expectations too high yet. We all have our own ideas about how a great council works, but in the end we may run into limitations. We can all share our grand ideas, but then the end product may only end up to be less than expected. So it's a balance between disappointing people and disappointing people ;-) – Tinkeringbell Apr 28 at 12:53
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    @Catija I appreciate that there's no way of ensuring representation for all within the current system, as I say though I can only speak for myself and I as an avid user of multiple SE sites feel almost completely unrepresented, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, and precious little reassurance that the sites I care about are going to ever be given a voice. The notion of term limits is slightly encouraging, couple that with some mechanism to ensure previously unheard sites get a turn at being heard and it's a start. – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:00
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    As to the transparency, this is only the beginning. How the council and its elections run in the future is yet to be decided. And not by me. I think we’re going to be pretty open about stuff but I need to ensure that expectations are met. While I was clear to all nominees that the position was public, I didn’t say anything about the nominations, which were on the Team. The expectation is that Teams content is private. I’m not going to retroactively publicize that content. I’m sorry. We can definitely consider moving things public in future. – Catija Apr 28 at 13:06
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    @Tinkeringbell With all due respect I read Thomas' explanation and that was factored in when I wrote the above - I'm not a child, I understand the difference between someone stating "grand ideas" and real world results. You suggest you're afraid of disappointing people if the grand ideas can't be pulled off, I say stop patronizing me. If the "grand ideas" were good enough to be written for the electorate and SE's eyes to attempt to win a position they're good enough to stand by in front of everyone. – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:07
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    And by "stand by" I don't mean committing to happening - I mean good enough to stand by as a representation of why that person wants to be on the moderator council, what they hope the council can achieve. – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:09
  • @Catija I appreciate you engaging with me on this - really I do, and I do hope some of what I've said about this can be at least considered going forward. I'm genuinely posting in the spirit of being constructive, and an unfortunate but necessary part of doing that is highlighting what I feel hasn't worked well on this go-around. – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:14
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    It wasn't matronizing, I just genuinely didn't get from your post that you understood Thomas (and I?) were looking for a balance between what great ideas to share and what not, to avoid disappointment. For 'why that person wants to be on the council'... I don't think I answered that on Teams during the election even. I pointed out some stuff I thought I could bring (summarized in my introduction here). The summary of what I want the council to achieve is also in there. If there's anything else specific that you want to know or talk about, you probably know which chatrooms to find me in. – Tinkeringbell Apr 28 at 13:16
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    @Tinkeringbell I think you misunderstand me - it is the implication that I (in the sense of being a non-moderator SE user) could not be trusted with a candidates aims lest I get angry if they didn't materialize that I found patronizing. Elections elsewhere on the network often go out of their way to allow users to ask the candidates questions, and the responses to those questions are laid bare for all to see, it's tough and uncompromising yes, but it's also honest and open. I genuinely appreciate the offer to catch up in chat - but ultimately I think it's of limited value. [1/2] – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:43
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    @TinkeringBell [2/2] I can only ever see your responses to the questions I think of to ask - not a good question that I never thought of. There's no un-wrapping of the cloak of secrecy that surrounded this iteration of the process, and I all I can do is hope that future cycles are conducting more openly and yes, lament a little bit that some current members of the council don't want me to know some of the things they said to get elected, whether those things are benign in nature or not. – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 13:43
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    I understand where you're coming from, but I think you might be looking at this too much from a lens of bad blood. It seems like every place of uncertainty you've picked the least charitable reading. Please give the elected council a bit of benefit of the doubt: they weren't hand-picked by SE, they aren't the people who have done anything in the past to frustrate you. I promise you that group of people will raise a fuss if they experience anything untoward. – Bryan Krause Apr 28 at 15:31
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    @motosubatsu As far as I can tell, none of the moderators from the sites you indicate chose to run. I definitely understand being concerned about smaller site representation (which is one of the things I hope to bring to the table) but unless the moderators of those sites choose to put themselves forward and participate in these things, at this point in the process, there's not much that could have been done to alleviate your concern unfortunately. Speaking for myself, how we might encourage that kind of representation will be an important discussion for us to have going forward though. – Rubiksmoose Apr 28 at 19:13
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    @Rubiksmoose I disagree that there was nothing that could have been done, I don't mean any recrimination there or say that with any rancor. But I spit balled two such ideas in my answer, ideas that haven't been shot down yet, and I am not throwing rocks and saying they should have been done, as I said to Catija I seek a constructive way forward. As you say this is important, too important IMO to be left at "no one ran, nothing can be done" next time – motosubatsu Apr 28 at 20:38
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    If I may show a little peek under the hood, there were no real questions - just a request for a writeup for folks to know me a little better. And while we have our own constituents as mods even folks with a single diamond often have links with mods elsewhere and other communities.I'm a moderator on SU and MSE, but that dosen's mean they're my only sites. – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 23:13
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    @JourneymanGeek No need for a peek even - the one "question" was in the announcement here. – Bryan Krause Apr 29 at 4:43
18

You asked the Council nominees to answer these questions:

As Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange works to listen more closely to the moderators and meta community on our sites, what do you want to see this council do? Where should the council's focus lie and how should it serve the moderators, users and visitors to this network of sites?

I'm certain that the true answers to these questions could be more refined (the council is brand new, after all,) but I'm still very interested in the nominees' answers, and how their answers lead to them being chosen to be on the council.

Would it be possible for you to share what they wrote? If not, would the council members care to share their own answers to these questions individually?

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    The content of the Moderator Team is considered private, so I can't share them. If the candidates wish to do so, they may. – Catija Apr 27 at 19:29
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    I'm not sure what good can come from 11 (or 15, if you count all the nominees) sharing their aspirations for the group. Those aspirations may not fully or adequately reflect what the group does. I'm extremely hesitant to share my answer since I don't want it to be held against anyone - myself, one of the other 10 mods on the initial council, or the company - if those aspirations don't come true. – Thomas Owens Apr 27 at 19:41
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    While I agree with Thomas, my answer to this is summarized in the bit that introduces me. That's also about as much as I'm comfortable sharing though. – Tinkeringbell Apr 27 at 19:53
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    All of your responses to this make perfect sense, and I respect your choices wholeheartedly. I'm eager (and very curious) to see how this is going to turn out moving forward, and wish all of you the best of luck. – Spevacus Apr 27 at 20:04
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    The core of what I posted is on the question. The totality of what I did and would say won't fit in a comment 😁 – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 at 23:28
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Looks like you've got a really solid team there. While I don't think I ever fully understood what exactly you hope to accomplish exactly, I hope this endeavor is successful.

I do want to say that I advise you to listen to your new team. The worst thing you could possibly do is create this team, only to ignore all their advice. Otherwise, what was the point?

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    "While I don't think I ever fully understood what exactly you hope to accomplish exactly" - Heh. While I think there are some ideas of what role the mod council will play (such as those suggested in the question), I think the initial pro-tem mod council is itself partly going to help define what the role of the mod council will be going forward. – V2Blast Apr 29 at 12:14
9

When we want to create the illusion of progress, we re-organize, we form a working group ... Organizational / Bureaucratic Behavior 101

I'm glad to seem some names I recognize on the council, and I hope that this move will not fall afoul of the traps that emerge when an organization reorganizes in the interest of doing something different. (Been through that more than a few times IRL, to include one outfit where we reorganized three times in five years). I had this up on my wall starting during the second re-org.

We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
~ Actually written by Charlton Ogburn in 1957, often attributed to a Gaius Petronius.

Here's hoping that this initiative can avoid that possible future.

fingers crossed

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8

First of all: thanks to the company for moving this idea forward, and thanks to the moderators who are willing to do even more volunteer work by participating in that council.

My answer will be about one specific sentence:

I’ve spent hours chatting with many of them in the Teachers’ Lounge or their mod rooms but there are many I haven’t spoken to at all.

As that reminds me on a question I asked last year: Is there an organized community of moderators?

with one answer stating:

Where Some moderators have never joined TL. Moreover, some mods aren't participating even in local mods chat on sites which they moderate; aren't active on Metas (even on local).

Coming from that point of view, I hope that this new moderators council finds ways to strengthen the idea of a "true" community of moderators, and thereby reducing the number of moderators who do not "participate" in any such activities. Just in case, another storm comes along one day ...

In my opinion, the problem that manifested itself last year is the fact that the "the communities" do not have (much) leverage. We users are depending on the company to listen to us, and to react to our feedback. Sure, right now, after many annoying months (or years, depending who you ask), that part is improving again.

But just in case, one day, another big conflict shows up, then it is pretty simple: 500+ moderators speaking with one voice (and all willing to follow guidance/recommendations from such a council) ... that resembles leverage.

I understand that all moderators are individuals, with their individual ideas how to act in that role, but as said: taken together, the group of moderators is the only group that is small yet "powerful" enough to stand together in times of crisis, to speak "loud enough" to be heard.

So, from my point of view: building a true community of moderators is what I hope to be a "side effect" of the new council.

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    Frankly - we can make a better environment, but the level of commitment and engagement in the broader mechanics of running the network by a volunteer depends on their time and inclination. I can't imagine everyone has SE chat/app on their phone and checks on it a couple of times a day like I do. – Journeyman Geek Apr 29 at 12:21
  • Sure. I think this is about "having a vision" (from the point of the council), and then think up if there are things that the council could do ... that encourage change. I guess what I am saying is: if I were on that council, "moderator community building" would have a certain priority for me, and thus affect what I do there. – GhostCat Apr 29 at 12:42
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    There's at least one mod on the council who hasn't participated in TL for quite some time, so wanting a more generally inclusive moderator community is certainly a perspective that will be represented. – Cascabel Apr 30 at 17:55
6

It was mentioned:

The Council is not a secret group. The members should be known and be publicly visible to all.

I'd like to ask how will this group communicate - specifically will communication be transparent and visible? Is that even a good idea?

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    That's not relevant to the part you quoted. Internal moderator discussion was never public and will never be. The transparency here is knowing who is in this team, and expecting they'll also announce any change in the team formation/role. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask May 4 at 16:25
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    I think it's pretty important that the communication within a group like this not be visible - that's how you get the most honesty and breadth of opinion considered. – Bryan Krause May 4 at 17:44
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    I agree it's not part of what Mr. Boy quoted but I do think it's a question worth answering -- I don't expect discussions to be visible to the public (it is a Moderator-to-Company channel after all), but will discussions be visible to other moderators? Will mods on the council be able to freely discuss issues about other moderators without them finding out? Will previous discussions be visible to new members who rotate in when old council members rotate out (which, surely, will happen?) Etc. – TylerH May 4 at 19:13
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    I ... don't know the correct answer for everything but that's something we need to work out but, if nothing else it seems... dumb to have the deliberations and discussions of past council iterations unavailable to new ones. . – Journeyman Geek May 4 at 19:44
-2

Moderators are mediators - they help solve problems between users, often helping them see things from other points of view.

What do the 11, now elected, moderators, think about SO (or any site) being "unwelcoming"?

I suppose you have all written about it, personally I would like to read your thoughts about it.

(If you have addressed the issue in the past, please leave a link to the post.)

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    SO is unwelcoming, mostly to newbies. Heck, I still find posting on SO daunting with 6 years on the network and 12 as a developer. Part of that is from how we do things to keep quality high, part of it is how people act. We can do some things to change the latter, but it's not easy. Easier is changing the software to better communicate why we do things a particular way and how newbies can work with that way of doing things. – ArtOfCode Apr 28 at 18:54
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    The tl;dr is: I work hard to try to do what I can to make my site as friendly as I can within the bounds of the software and community norms and keeping the long-term functioning of the site in mind. We can always improve, but a lot of stuff that is intimidating to new users is built into the system (explicitly or otherwise). It's a tough nut to crack, but I think that it should always be something we strive towards and continuously improve on. A full essay on it would both take much more than a comment's worth of space and some more specific prompts as to what exactly you want to know :) – Rubiksmoose Apr 28 at 18:59
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    "Unwelcoming" is a broad term. There is a line between upholding the community norms and being unwelcoming in what way. But I'm interested in what types of unwelcoming behavior you are most interested in. I'm not sure any good answer can fit into a comment, though. – Thomas Owens Apr 28 at 19:04
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    I personally find SO to be one of the most welcoming places on the entire Internet. We don't have a bunch of noise, we actively remove toxic and rude comments, we don't play identity politics. We don't care who you are, where you came from, what you look like, what your non-technical beliefs are, etc. All we care about is the quality of your contributions and the depth of your expertise. We are an entire community of folks dedicated to helping each other and sharing our knowledge about programming. It is no exaggeration to say there's almost nothing else like this on the Internet. – Cody Gray Apr 28 at 20:01
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    @CodyGray I respect your personal opinion. Kindly, notice mods that expressed the exact contrary opinion. Some, did acknowledge "a problem" somewhere in between. The average SE member will want to know your stances on this. Individually and, collectively. – bad_coder Apr 28 at 20:41
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    I will agree that Stack Overflow is very unwelcoming towards low-quality content, by design. There are many things that we keep out that other communities might allow. However, having quality standards is not the same as being unwelcoming to users. Users and content are two different things. If I post off-topic questions, I fully expect those to get closed and removed, but that doesn't mean that I, as an individual, should feel unwelcome. The biggest thing Stack Overflow needs to fix is making our quality standards clearer to new users, because many of them have the wrong first impressions. – Cody Gray Apr 28 at 22:22
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    I personally think terms like "toxic" and "unwelcoming" on their own breed the same thing. I better question is "Why does this site work, and what dosen't work, and can we bring up those things that don't work without losing what works". Bring up specific issues. Often they're actually a problem - but often a lot of folks quite simply want the good parts of SO and SE - the quality and scope, without the bits of it that made it good. – Journeyman Geek Apr 29 at 4:13
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    @bad_coder why would our stance on whether or not SO is welcoming be of interest to anyone? What do we have to do with SO? With two exceptions, we don't moderate SO and we are not here to fix SO or to decide whether it is broken. We're here to try and improve communication between the company and the community. Our personal opinion on whether one of the dozens of sites of the network is welcoming or not seems completely irrelevant. – terdon Apr 29 at 8:00
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    @terdon I said: "SO (or any site)". Others thought (as I do) this issue pertinent (last survey recons it empirically most voted community concern). You say: "improve communication" well, posts about "unwelcoming" suffer a censorship effect by massive down votes coupled with overwhelming counter argumentation - rendering any dialogue, that isn't one-sided, nearly impossible. (Some of your peers, rightly, recon and appreciate the validity and pertinence of these concerns.) – bad_coder Apr 29 at 8:13
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    @bad_coder The concerns are absolutely valid and pertinent, they're just not something the mod council can address. Our role will is about communicating with the company, the unwelcoming aspect of the sites is about communication between users. I'm just saying this isn't the place for this discussion, not that the discussion shouldn't happen. – terdon Apr 29 at 8:30
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    @Lundin I follow your argument, but I just don't think having a question closed as "off topic" counts as "public shaming". Nothing else is public: flagged posts being deleted or otherwise moderated is all effectively silent. The only reason closure is public is to give the asker or anyone else a chance to edit the question into shape. Heck, having a question closed isn't even something you should feel ashamed about! It happens to everyone. That said, there was a proposal from Shog9 a while back about having new questions start out deleted/hidden that we should probably consider reviving. – Cody Gray Apr 29 at 9:14
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    @CodyGray The barrage of down votes, close votes, comments of varied level of politeness - all of it is public. And then when the question is closed, it remains sitting there still, so we can keep tossing rotten fruit at it. As you know, to get the question actually deleted, the question must either be complete crap or there must be 3 merciful/merciless 20k users or 1 mod casting delete votes. Most questions just sit there closed until the Roomba bot eventually stops by - unless someone posted an upvoted answer, then the question is made permanent. -> – Lundin Apr 29 at 11:01
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    And it doesn't matter if the critique is sound and constructive, because humans handle criticism in public poorly. The first thing any half-decent manager learns is: give praise loud in public, give critique discreetly in private. That is, if you want the person who made a mistake to actually improve their ways and remain motivated to continue contributing. – Lundin Apr 29 at 11:03
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    @CodyGray Your 1st post was not an opinion, but a set captious arguments. Misleading arguments, since "unwelcoming" is not about "technical quality", but the "quality of use", "quality of human relations", lastly: "quality of dialogue". Honest, truthful, dialogue. Your misnomer, changes subject - introduces fallacy, thus strains by creating this needless burden of refutation - so conditions beforehand, valid contributions by others. (This is the dynamic of that rethoric -the other mods did not choose it- know it is false, and there is an objective deconstruction to it.) – bad_coder Apr 30 at 14:40
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    My hope for this council is that they can busy themselves with concrete problems and solutions, and not with bickering over definitions like 'toxic' or 'unwelcoming'. Labels can only do so much when talking about problems, so better avoid them where possible. – Tinkeringbell May 4 at 17:07
-5

This is a group of 11 moderators from around the network who will act as a pro-tem council over the next six months with the task of working to define the scope and structure of the council.

Of the 11 members on the council, three are moderators (unelected) on Meta Stack Exchange; is this good practice? The US with its 50 states has a single, albeit permanent, seat on the UN Security Council. Is there a good reason why three mods from the same community should get to decide which representatives should be chosen (or elected) in the future?

Is it unreasonable to foresee a situation where three or more moderators from the three largest communities will be members of the moderator council, with as many as 150 sites unrepresented? What guarantee will you (the community managers and directors) offer users across the network that the voices and concerns of their smaller communities will be heard above the three big guns; i.e. Stack Overflow, Super User and Ask Ubuntu, in six months' time?

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    Two of these same moderators are elected on other sites. – Sonic the Masked Werehog Apr 28 at 7:45
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    (and the third one, albeit not elected, is a mod on one of the 'strangest' small SE communities out there ;-) ) – Tinkeringbell Apr 28 at 7:48
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    @SonictheStay-HomeHedgehog it is my limited understanding that all three were elected in their different communities. I am questioning whether having three representatives form the same community, in the future, should sit on the same table. I would imagine that certain decisions will be voted upon. – Mari-Lou A Apr 28 at 7:48
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    They are elected on the council by their peers. I assume they got voted in by the other mods based on their merit as being good representatives, not if they are "unelected" on some sites they moderate. – rene Apr 28 at 7:49
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    @gnat The announcement actually says the opposite: "we ended up selecting the same eleven candidates who received the most votes.". They considered adjusting the results, if they found it necessary, but in the end they didn't. – yivi Apr 28 at 8:08
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    They had the option of it. If we're talking about MSE mods - I actually didn't self nominate. – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 8:38
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    I didn't self nominate either. Plus I am an elected mod on five other sites. – ChrisF Apr 28 at 8:43
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    i) only one of the three self-nominated; ii) all of them are mods elsewhere, they aren't some sort of MSE posse. iii) the reasons that made those three good choices for MSE mods are exactly the same reasons that make them good choices for the council; iv) that's simply how the votes fell. – terdon Apr 28 at 9:01
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    While having three mods from same site could be perceived as concentration of power, it would be more worrisome if that site was not Meta. On the other hand there is some concentration around technical sites (including SO) that might have more common interests than other non-technical sites. But overall, I think that current council is pretty representative and I don't think those mods will operate at the expense of other sites. I am way, way, way more worried about what will SE as company do and far, far, far less that mods will be a problem point in the near (and far) future. – Resistance Is Futile Apr 28 at 9:17
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    Aside from what the comments here point out (that the mods voted to choose these three mods and that they're mods elsewhere too) it should be highlighted that the question points out that the Pro-Tem Council will also be working on defining the council's structure and how future representatives are elected. That means they're likely to be working towards answering questions like whether there should be a cap for mods from the same site, or whether there should be specific seats for a certain group of sites (say, SO, the international SOs, non-tech sites, beta sites, etc.). – JNat Apr 28 at 10:51
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    @Mari-LouA That's a good concern to take into account, but using the MSE mods as an example to give in your first paragraph is very misleading. It's probably also the language you used... what has us being unelected to do with your concern? Why rethorical questions, which always sound more passive agressive, instead of just asking about your concern alone? We're not from as small a concentration of sites as you seem keen to insinuate here (Chris moderates 6 sites, both Geek and I also moderate another site too), and people notice that and answer the questions in your first paragraph instead. – Tinkeringbell Apr 28 at 11:23
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    @Mari-LouA you ask 5 questions here. If you only meant to ask one, the one about guarantees, then you might want to edit and make that clear. We are answering the questions we see, those which we can answer. Well, we're answering the question and what I assume many of us perceive as an aggressive and confrontational tone. Also, for what it's worth, while I used to be an AU mod, I also moderated a small beta site and a third site that isn't one of the "big guns". Most of the council members either are or have been in the past multi-site mods. – terdon Apr 28 at 14:18
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    I personally think Stack Overflow moderators are under-represented on this council, given the sheer size and massive influence of Stack Overflow. See also: Proportional representation – Cody Gray Apr 28 at 22:25
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    @CodyGray If we're doing proportional representation, SO gets 0.43 seats on this council, and the rest of the network gets 10.57 seats. SO is over-represented, as always. – ArtOfCode Apr 29 at 11:28
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    Reality says mods from small sites won't be known to the majority of other moderators; of the 4 moderators on the site I mod, I'm the only one who ever goes to TL, and only one other shows up here on Meta. In any election, the votes will go to the people that are either familiar or can demonstrate something that sets them apart. So the mods from the larger sites are inevitably going to predominate (and perhaps they should -- if we did proportional representation according to number of something (users? questions? readers?) the larger sites would be even more dominant. – ColeValleyGirl Apr 29 at 12:03
-9

If you attempt to do something like this, at least try to keep it somewhat democratic and transparent.

Apparently these were selected by "moderator voting". Moderators in the different communities may or may not have been elected by the communities. None of them for the purpose of electing a council, or to represent the community's opinions. If at all elected, they were elected for the purpose of moderating a specific site.

Most communities do not hold regular moderator elections, but they are held when there is a need for more mods. Moderators are elected "for life" ("until they burn out") and the community cannot replace them.

This is all quite far from establishing some council of community representatives. I know (of) most people elected and they are good people, one of them I did even vote for in a mod election several years ago - but again, for the purpose of selecting them as moderator to that specific site.

Generally: I didn't vote for you. Newer members of the communities certainly did not vote on any of these. Nor did members of communities that do not hold moderator elections.

Proposal:

Hold a mod election here on Meta.SE. Let any moderator on any SE site run, should they desire to. Let any user from any community vote. Elected mods get mod rights on Meta.SE and get to be part of this council.

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    The council exists primarily to represent the moderators, not all users. Those moderators in turn represent their users, so their concerns will end up with the council, but that's not its primary purpose. No benefit is derived from making this process any more extraneous than it needs to be - it represents moderators, so moderators voted on it. It's also not intended to be for Meta.SE moderators - the two things are very different. – ArtOfCode Apr 29 at 11:25
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    @ArtOfCode "Those moderators in turn represent their users" No they don't, nobody voted for moderators to forward opinions or to represent them. Moderators were elected to moderate a specific site. There is plenty of benefit from having a democratic process! Namely, you get people who actually do represent the community, for the purpose of representing the community, rather than for the purpose of banning troublemakers and clearing flag queues. A good moderator does not necessarily make a good community representative, and vice versa. – Lundin Apr 29 at 11:40
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    Technically, a really good moderator is a representative of the community. Just churning through the queues is boring. And practically a good moderator has to be a good community representative and general people person. – Journeyman Geek Apr 29 at 11:45
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    I didn't say "users feel that their moderators represent them". I said "moderators represent their users", which is true in the vast majority of cases - moderators do represent their home sites and users to the company. – ArtOfCode Apr 29 at 12:26
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    @Lundin There's more to democracy than just voting for people directly. The Netherlands were a democracy last time I looked, even though not every single person in our government is elected directly by the people (e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States-provincial). I understand your worries about not having kept this in mind when voting for moderators, but like Art said we're not first and foremost community representatives, but we're supposed to represent other moderators. So having moderators choose who can represent moderators best is not undemocratic. – Tinkeringbell Apr 29 at 12:29
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    @Tinkeringbell Yes, that's called a representative democracy, which means that the people who got democratically elected pick the government. Part of the deal when voting for them is that they should do this. Which is another scenario entirely. In this case, you have a bunch of moderators, where only a minority was actually elected for a different purpose than this, to pick some among themselves. -> – Lundin Apr 29 at 13:17
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    @Tinkeringbell A similar analogy would be: in a few cities in a country, the citizens get to vote for the person to be in charge of sanitation. In other cities, some employed official is simply assigned the same role without any voting, perhaps because they had expertise in the area of sanitation. Then suddenly at a whim, without any prior election, the government decides to install an advisory parliament to handle all questions in the country. Every sanitation manager in the country get to vote for which one among them that gets to sit in this parliament. How exactly is that democracy? – Lundin Apr 29 at 13:17
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    The moderator council doesn't represent the community, it represents the moderators. The community doesn't get to decide for moderators who should be the moderators' liaison to the company. – ColleenV Apr 29 at 13:46
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    Why does a council for moderators need to be discussed with the community? It's not for the community. I'm sure it was discussed extensively with the moderators. They were talking about it long before I asked them to remove my diamond. The only reason to even mention it here is to be transparent about how they are trying to better support moderators, as promised earlier. – ColleenV Apr 29 at 13:54
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    @Lundin So how does your process of an election on MSE reach those people that aren't on MSE or their community meta? How does it reach beyond the cliques and elites that you are also part of? It's a start, but it's only reaching people that are already reachable. Right now, I see a group of (active, vocal) users that feels they should be able to vote on who is on the moderator council (yours is not the first post outlining a problem with the way this was done), hiding behind the argument that we should reach out for those that aren't vocal and active just to get themselves included more. – Tinkeringbell Apr 29 at 13:56
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    It in my comment refers to A council for moderators. – ColleenV Apr 29 at 14:00
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    Moderators have issues that need addressed that aren't community issues. The community can't decide who can best explain moderator's issues for them when they don't even know what those issues could be. – ColleenV Apr 29 at 14:16
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    That "example" is irrelevant. Re-read what the council is for and what it is not in the original post. Why do you think that the council will change what the moderators you've elected do? – ColleenV Apr 29 at 14:49
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    @ColleenV From the post: "Moderators are ambassadors - they are representatives of communities". Even those we did not vote for are apparently now our ambassadors. Then the OP goes "So, I started asking - what should that position look like today and in the future? Do we need to redefine that role?". How else can I read this other than that the OP wish to redefine the moderator role so that they are community representatives? If that's not the purpose of this council, then why is the announcement saying otherwise? – Lundin Apr 30 at 6:54
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    So you basically don't believe that moderators represent the communities they were elected to serve and you don't believe moderators need someone to represent their concerns to the company because they are just doing menial labor. OK. If you want to propose a change to the way moderators are elected, propose it and see if the community supports it. I don't think users from smaller sites should have to compete with the 12 million SO users to elect a representative but if you think it's a good idea, you should suggest it. – ColleenV Apr 30 at 13:25

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