We have not made any significant changes to the current moderator reinstatement policy since it was released. Though it has functioned well for the cases to which it was applied, we acknowledge that the Community has some concerns that need to be addressed (especially given events of the end of 2019).
In our original version of this policy we omitted some elements from the public view, such as the opportunities for communication between the applicant and CM1. The changes to the policy include both fixing that by including more details of the policy in the post and also addressing other existing concerns that the policy did not adequately cover.
It is with this in mind that we present the linked policy for an updated moderator reinstatement and appeal process.
We recognize that the main concern brought up by the community with regards to the previous version was a lack of trust that the process would be carried out fairly in all cases. And while trust is something that can be freely given, in cases where it is lost it must be actively earned anew. The intention of this improved process is to provide a framework through which this can take place, in a way that is as open and transparent to all parties as possible. To add to that, the old version of the process left the responsibility for denying reinstatements solely in the hands of the CM team, which with a lack of formalized openness (even if in practice the communication and openness is consistently happening outside of the formal process) further contributed to community distrust.
With these in mind, some of the main changes aimed at addressing those concerns and focus on:
- Allowing for more Community involvement (through the Mod Council) in moderator reinstatements in cases where there is a recommendation for denial.
- Formalizing the ways in which the previous mod requesting reinstatement can see the claims against them and be able to respond to them (at multiple points during the process).
- Adding more transparency to what had been a black-box process from the perspective of the community.
- Involving staff from a wider range of backgrounds and perspectives to be part of this decision making process, when necessary.
- Allowing the reinstatement process to also serve as an appeals process for mods who feel that they were dealt with unfairly during their removal.
A couple of scenarios for reinstatements are being included at the bottom of this post, to demonstrate in practical terms how the process could unfold.
The new process was co-authored by myself (Yaakov), JNat and Catija from the Community Management team, and Teresa Dietrich. It was further reviewed by all members of the Community Leadership Team, by representatives of the Community Members at Large group and the Mod Council, as well as being available to all other moderators for review.
We expect that some of you may have questions about the revised process and want some clarifications. This post is a place for you to ask them. We very much respect the value of meta discussion but would like to keep the process posts clean. Having the discussion here makes that easier. We have cross-linked the posts so that they're easy to find.
Example Reinstatement Scenarios
The new process is quite lengthy in order to account for the different ways that the process can go, and to allow for as much transparency and openness as possible in each of these steps. Because of the variables in every case, it is impossible to be able to predict how things will go in most scenarios that are even a little bit complicated. That said, we would like to present two example scenarios for reinstatements and how they might play out in the actual process:
Scenario 1 (Routine Reinstatement):
- The PM (Previous Moderator) reaches out to the CM team to apply for reinstatement, explaining the circumstances surrounding their removal: they stepped down due to a change in personal circumstances that left them without enough time to perform their mod duties. After the PM’s circumstances changed again and they had more time, they requested to be reinstated.
- CMs are assigned and investigate the circumstances of the removal. Upon seeing that the removal was requested by the mod with no other extenuating circumstances, CM1 reaches out to the current Mod team on the site for which PM is requesting reinstatement to see if they have any objections.
- None of the current mods have objections, the reinstatement is approved, and the PM has their moderator status restored. Total time: around one week from the initial request for reinstatement.
Scenario 2 (violation of moderator agreement):
- The PM is appealing an involuntary removal and requesting reinstatement, and contests the claims of any wrongdoing in the cases that led to removal.
- (CM and Mod Team Evaluation): CMs are assigned and investigate the circumstances of the removal: CM1 finds that the PM was removed after being warned several times regarding potential violations of the Mod Agreement (specifically: questionable access of user PII). After seeing this, CM1 relates these details to the PM and asks the PM if they have anything to add or clarify, or if any details are missing. The PM admits accessing the user's PII, but claims to have not done anything with the information or saved it in any way, and provides evidence to substantiate that the data was not misused (evidence had not been given during the removal process). CM1 checks with the Current Mod team, who do not express objections to the reinstatement. CM1 and CM2 agree to the reinstatement (since the PM was able to satisfy them that they had not shared the PII), with the precondition that PM should participate in an online Privacy and Personal Security training module. The PM maintains that they should not have the precondition as they had not shared the PII, and appeals to the Community Leadership Team (CLT). (Time elapsed since initial request: 2 weeks.)
- (Escalation 1): The CLT goes over all relevant records and affirms this recommendation. The current Mod team maintains their original position. The PM rejects these options and asks for a review by the Mod Council. (Time elapsed since initial request: 3 weeks.)
- (Escalation 2): The Mod Council selects five members to participate in this evaluation and is provided with all materials gathered thus far. They ask (through CM1) some follow-up questions to the PM regarding the circumstances that surrounded the access of PII. Following their deliberation, they agree with the recommendation of the CM team and the CLT (and submit a request for the training module to be made optionally available to all moderators). The CLT reviews all recommendations and affirms the decision from Escalation 1. The PM decides to accept the precondition, and after they have gone through the Privacy training module and reaffirmed their mod agreement, they are reinstated. (Time elapsed since initial request: 5 weeks.)
Changes in this version
- Renamed main sections to start with A, B, C to make them easier to reference
- Added A.1.2.5: made it clear that we will share with the PM the names of the CMs involved, and that they may include questions regarding CM selection on subsequent escalations.
- In A.5.1: specified that in case of a reinstatement being approved and an appeal pending, the reinstatement may proceed before a decision is made regarding the appeal, if all other requirements for the reinstatement are met.
- In A.5.2.2: made it clear that the PM may appeal preconditions.
- In B.1b.3: clarified that the PM must approve of any details shared with the mod council in the case of a veto.