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All SE sites already have chat rooms and meta sites to discuss things related to the main site. However, some like-minded users can sometimes create parallel groups on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, etc. to share and discuss interesting posts, any sites issues, policies, sometimes also influence voting, etc.

Is it generally OK for a site moderator to also join this group? If yes, at what point does it become a problem?

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    I'm not sure I see why this would ever be a problem. Could you mention some examples of this being a problem?
    – cigien
    May 22 at 18:39
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    One example: one user could ask who flagged their comment and why it was deleted? Is it ok for a mod to answer this in the group? What should be the ideal mod response to such a question? May 22 at 18:44
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    Mods are never supposed to share information about a user's flags (unless that user explicitly gives permission to discuss their own flag). It would probably not be cool to do that on a platform not hosted by SE as well. Is your question something to do with enforcing this on external sites?
    – cigien
    May 22 at 18:47
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    Since SE rules cannot be enforced on external sites, I ask, "Is it generally OK for a site moderator to also join this group?".......'Mods are never supposed to share information about a user's flags' - let's say a mod joins such a group and does exactly this, how does one go about reporting this to SE and prove any of this? May 22 at 18:54
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    I think that would be covered under the FAQ What recourse do I have if I believe a moderator has abused their privileges? The question does mention "A moderator discredited me in public" which applies to actions taken on a non-SE site.
    – cigien
    May 22 at 18:57
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    Thanks for the link to the other post, but this is more about general moderator etiquette. May 22 at 18:59
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    "sometimes also influence voting" - can we have some clarifications about what this means, please? May 22 at 21:25
  • A user can share a post along with the comment, "what a stupid post", which could prompt others to downvote the post. Such a comment would violate the SE code of conduct but outside SE there may not be any such CoC. @OlegValteriswithUkraine May 23 at 5:12
  • Ah, well, that case isn't necessarily influencing voting. I'd be inclined to say that since the code of conduct is unenforceable outside the network, that a moderator acting on what they learned from joining the room is a matter of gravity. For example, if there is evidence the room is a voting ring, is used to bully users, or such similar grave actions, I can see a moderator acting on such information obtained outside of the SE network as very valid and beneficial. In mild cases such as the one you used, it would probably be uncalled for. May 23 at 20:09

3 Answers 3

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However, some like-minded users can sometimes create parallel groups on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, etc. to share and discuss interesting posts, any sites issues, policies, sometimes also influence voting, etc.

There's nothing preventing a moderator from joining one or more external communities of interest. I'm in quite a few chatrooms that spun off from SE communities.

"Sometimes influence voting" is not ... a good thing. Ideally - site governance belongs on the site, so even if we 'talk shop' - discussions should come back to the site meta. I have on occasion also helped/got help from someone off site, then moved it over to a site I use for documentation. It could have been on Super User.

It seems a lot of issues here are in comments, and not the question itself.

One example: one user could ask who flagged their comment and why it was deleted? Is it ok for a mod to answer this in the group? What should be the ideal mod response to such a question? –

We don't share who flagged a comment. We can share why it was deleted, but generally the answer is "It's not needed any more" Comments are transient artifacts, meant to be discarded after use.

Since SE rules cannot be enforced on external sites, I ask, "Is it generally OK for a site moderator to also join this group?".......'Mods are never supposed to share information about a user's flags' - let's say a mod joins such a group and does exactly this, how does one go about reporting this to SE and prove any of this? –

You take a screenshot, and send an escalation via the contact link stating the circumstances. But that's a different issue.

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When it comes to data from SE sites, including PII, flag data, chat logs, and any other sensitive information that moderators have access it, moderators are bound by the exact same rules no matter where a conversation is happening. The moderator agreement applies whether or not the moderator is at that moment on the site itself.

I myself, along with a large number of other moderators and several members of SE staff, am a part of a Discord server for the Stack Exchange network. I'm also a part of a few other Discord servers for SE users. None of these are a problem as long as the moderator agreement and other mod policies - such as not revealing who flagged something - are followed (which I trust 99% of our SE mods enough to be sure that it won't be a problem).

So, no, it's not a problem for moderators to join external SE groups such as WhatsApp groups or Discord servers, provided that the same rules regarding information access are followed.

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    That discord server is hardly "private". I'm not sure that is the same context of "private" the OP is referring to.
    – rene
    May 22 at 19:17
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    @rene - It's a bit more of a public example, but the essence is the same; it's an external group not hosted on SE that doesn't necessarily have the oversight of CMs or other mods. The other Discord servers I mentioned are much more private.
    – Mithical
    May 23 at 3:55
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While I do agree with the other answers here that say it's OK for moderator to join such groups, I want to bring possible exceptions to this.

  • A group called "Downvote all the n00bs!!1!!!" (just as an example). Such group would most likely be toxic and encourage bad behavior. While the moderator can't enforce SE policy inside the group, they better stay away from it.
  • A group consisting mainly of people the moderator has suspended in the past, and/or the moderator is having on-site problems with on SE. Being there will likely cause friction that would better be avoided. I'm not talking about large groups where maybe one or two members were suspended by the moderator.

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