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I cannot think of a community without thinking of the moderators who keep the community from sliding into the abyss of strife. Day after day, moderators lead their sites by example and assist users who need help. The day comes when they need to step down and hand their communities over to other enthusiastic volunteers. I think it is a bittersweet moment, and we’d like to make it a little sweeter.

Former Moderators page

Each Stack Exchange site has the two following pages:

  1. Current Moderators page that lists all users with the moderator status.
  2. Election page that lists all community elections and the winners.

It seems we are missing a page that displays all users who have been elected or appointed at one point but who now do not have the moderator status anymore. We believe that such a page would honor these former moderators’ contributions to their communities.

The proposal

We suggest adding a page that lists all former moderators of a community (probably under the current Moderators tab of the Users page). Our current thoughts are:

  • Former moderators are the users who have had moderator status in the past but do not have it at the moment.
  • It is for every former moderator, regardless of why the moderator status was removed.
  • Every moderator is opted in by default. If someone wants to be opted out they need to explicitly say that when they step down or get removed. (When we are ready to ship the feature, we will contact all mods who have resigned in the past and ask them if they want to opt out.)

We would like to hear from you all your thoughts on the proposal. Please share your comments, questions, and concerns.

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  • 10
    Title suggestion: Moderator hall of fame
    – Luuklag
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 9:16
  • 7
    This, like so many things on the internet, should be opt-in, not opt-out. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 9:59
  • 2
    Finally, there's the case of Jeff Atwood, who prior to the middle of 2017 held moderator rights on all sites in the network due to his special status as a co-founder of the Stack Exchange network, despite leaving the company in 2012. Should his name be listed on all sites created before he resigned as a mod on all sites? (A similar thing also applies for Joel Spolsky, who also holds mod rights everywhere due to being a co-founder, but he is still with the company as board chair.) Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 10:23
  • 3
    I think the idea to recognize their contributions even after a mod has stepped down is a good one. I’m unsure about this implementation. Maybe featuring any Sheriff badges someone has from sites across the network in their profile (if they opt-in) would work better? That seems a little more organic to me than a list of people that may or may not be active any longer.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 11:49
  • 2
    It is striking that everything revolves around favoring the status of moderators, and now ex-moderators and the eternity of the position is never questioned.
    – Danielillo
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 13:51
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    I think there's no need for it to be a "hall of fame" - it could just be a little table buried somewhere. I like this idea as something to give some transparency and an official source of truth about moderators' history, just remaining neutral.
    – pxeger
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 14:09
  • 3
    @Luuklag Great suggestion, thanks! At the same time, we believe that Moderator Hall Of Fame might be another separate initiative that connects moderators network-wide. We do not have any particular plans at this moment, but we have discussed this idea, yes. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:47
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    @Danielillo Actually, we did research around moderation tenure that partly touched "lifetime appointment" but there is nothing to share at yet. It is a tough question. Hopefully one day we will address it (note: keeping it as is as the best option of all available to us is "addressing" too). Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:53
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    @NicolasChabanovsky Thanks for your comment. I am particularly a fervent believer that having someone for life in a position causes VERY unpleasant and unproductive situations. It's the exact way a tyranny works.
    – Danielillo
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:01
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    while you are at it - if this comes to see the light of day, can this information be also added to the SE API in some form? Something along the lines of a new endpoint: /users/moderators/former (analogous to the currently existing /users/moderators and /users/moderators/elected). It would be of help to the ElectionBot chat bot that does make use of this information. cc @NicolasChabanovsky Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:02
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    @OlegValter Thanks! It is definitely an interesting suggestion. I will pass this request to a PM when it comes to implementation. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:05
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Thank you for the edge cases. We missed a few when we worked on the proposal and now we have them on the list. To answer some of them: Yes, this is all about appointed or elected moderators. If a mod is now an employee, they probably should be on the former mods list (since they were elected but are not mod at this moment). Yet another edge case is Stack Overflow in Russian. The two founders actively moderated the site for the first ~3 years before the community got the first appointed mods, both events prior migrating to the SE network. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:12
  • 1
    One thing to also consider. Not everyone is comfortable with public recognition (question from The Workplace). If it's just a factual list of users that have been moderators, that's one thing. If it is intended as some kind of hall of fame, that's another pair of sleeves.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 19:13
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    We do kinda sorta already have a page like that. It's just not obvious that's what that is
    – Machavity
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 19:36
  • 3
    The listing could also include the date(s) and/or total time (in round numbers, like "1.7 years" or "`1 year 8 months") the user was a moderator. This would allow the possibility to, for example, tell when a post was made before a moderator was elected/appointed. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 22:36

8 Answers 8

21

There are a few moderators who left because of various disagreements with the company. While they're in many cases no less deserving of recognition, they might not wish to be associated with their former role. Leaving them out in an opt-out system would be controversial too.

Another case is where a moderator was removed for various reasons involving conduct unbecoming - definitely within the site, but in some cases out of it.

I love the idea but explicitly opting in is the way to go rather than opting everyone in by default

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No.

  • Who was a moderator on a site isn't really that consequential; if a user wants to indicate it, convention has always been to put it into their profile information instead.
  • Some moderators have legitimately left the network and had their profiles deleted. You can't enshrine something that doesn't exist.
  • Opt-in by default is horrible practice. Just like it is a choice to put it into their profile, it should also be a choice to submit to this page as well.
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  • 1
    I would much rather see a profile-based approach than a list that needs to be maintained. I'm not opposed to a checkbox a user can set/unset to feature past moderator status in some way that is consistent among all former mods.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 15:45
  • 5
    We expect that moderators would like to be listed on that page because it represents their contribution and relationships with the community. There are a few very unique situations when one might want to opt out. We keep this option for them. The Former Moderators page is based on already (i.e. right now!) publicly available data. Please note that there is no way to opt out of the Current Moderators page. Or from the Users page. The Former Moderators page is not very different from these. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:43
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    If that relationship is strained or damaged @NicolasChabanovsky, then there's a lot of reason for a former moderator to not want to appear on the page. There are two sides to this. Please patiently consider both.
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:55
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    @Makoto Agreed, we need to look at each case carefully. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:03
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    @NicolasChabanovsky Compiling public information does change its impact though. For example, who contributed to a politician's campaign is public information in the US, but publishing a list of everyone who contributed to a particular candidate or all the candidates a particular person contributed to isn't the same thing as that information sitting in a database somewhere waiting for the curious to search for it. I'm not asserting that publishing the list is good or bad; just objecting to the idea that compiling a list of public info doesn't significantly transform it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:25
8

As a former moderator, I'm not sure what the benefits are here to both the users and the ex-moderator.

The majority of moderators on each site are already high-rep and (hopefully) well regarded users, so I'm not sure how adding another section to the user page would add visibility.

Since handing in my diamond, I've seen my participation fall dramatically. I suspect that other ex-moderators would also be the same.

All the same, it was extremely nice of SE to send me more mod swag after I had left my station well over a year ago.

But this UI entry, I'm not so enthused about.

7

There are a couple edge cases I can think of where listing former moderators may not be beneficial due to actions taken after they left:

  • This page would need to cover the case of users who deleted their accounts after ceasing to be moderators. On one hand, such users may have simply left for personal reasons and would be totally fine with having their past moderation efforts be publicly recognized, but on the other hand, some may have removed their accounts to make their prior contributions less visible or dissociated from their name, and would not want their name to be public. While it's still possible to reach out to those who still have accounts on other sites, it may not be possible to reach those who deleted their entire network account, especially if they requested their info be erased under GDPR. You'll need to come up with a plan to handle such users.
  • Similarly, there are users who previously served as moderators and later got suspended after they left their positions. This would create quite a public spectacle, as other users would see that the user is suspended easily. This also covers some users who were previously mods but are currently serving long-term network-wide suspensions (possibly indefinitely banned from participating in the network).
  • When a moderator is removed by the moderator action review process (followed when a moderator team is unable to work with a particular mod), their name is removed from election pages, meaning that unlike if they resign or get removed for another reason, their prior record of serving as a mod is erased. You may want to do the same thing for this page.
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  • 1
    As for your first point, they are now known as user123456, so you could list them as such and make a pop-up indicating that they have since erased their accounts. But all these edge cases become more or less moot when the entire system is changed to an opt-in approach as was suggested in other answers.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 19:31
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I don't really see the value in this. However, it seems to be standard practice to have site-meta posts when moderators are appointed or elected. Perhaps a good option would be to link to moderator-staffing-related meta posts on the Moderator page. It would serve the purpose of collecting information about previous moderators and moderation team changes and can probably be done in a way that doesn't add too much noise or clutter.

3

There are a couple edge cases when handling users who hold or held moderator rights as a result of being a Stack Exchange staff member:

  • Moderators who later get hired as a staff member are required to resign from any moderator positions they hold as a condition of their employment. This applies even if they continue to hold moderator rights as a staff member. Such users will need to be listed on the page even if they still hold moderator rights. (More of a technical concern.)
  • Some staff members with moderator rights, despite not being elected or appointed as mods (and prohibited from joining mod teams by their employment agreements), still took an active role in moderating one or more sites in their time outside of official duties (example). Should such users should be listed in such a list, due to them effectively being mods?
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  • Or for extra fun, ex mods, who were employees, and did or didn't go back to modding. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 11:37
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I don't see the real benefit of it.

We already recognize (most) moderators by awarding Constable and Sheriff badges. The additional page devoted to former moderators seems unnecessary to me.

(this is a verbatim copy of my answer in the Moderators Team)

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  • Is self-plagiarism also plagiarism? ;)
    – Luuklag
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 21:16
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    @Luuklag Let's just consider one of the posts a "pre-print". Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 21:29
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There are a couple edge cases I can think of that affect specific sites in some way:

  • Prior to April 2014, moderators of the three Trilogy sites - Stack Overflow, Super User, and Server Fault - held moderator access here on this site, Meta.SE, in addition to up to four dedicated moderators. The page would need to take care of such users. That said, it may be prudent to only account for users who took an active role in moderating this site - especially as most moderators of the latter two sites elected after the 2010 establishment of per-site metas didn't do much here. (Slight tie-in to this other answer of mine since one such active mod here has since deleted their account here.)
  • On this site between April 2014 and November 2018, as well as always on Stack Apps and (to a degree) Ask Patents, the site was moderated exclusively by Stack Exchange staff members. I think the staff members who actively moderated these sites (during that time here on Meta.SE) should be listed on that page. (I mentioned staff serving as mods in another answer, but making a new bullet here since unlike on other sites, moderating these sites is/was an official duty of staff.)
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