104

Update 2 (March 6, 23)

We made a shortlist of the most promising suggestions from the answers provided, and we then shared our findings with Philippe Beaudette, our VP of Community. After some discussion, we determined that we need to do further exploration and research into these proposed roles before we can consider a potential fit for the network. Afterward, we’ll share our findings with the community and discuss the next steps for any roles we might pursue.

Update

Thank you to everyone who has contributed their suggestions. At this point, we are going through all the feedback shared. Additional feedback past this point is welcome but won't be taken into account for our initial discovery work.


TL;DR: The Community Team has been doing discovery work on the possible creation of new community roles across the Stack Exchange network and individual sites. We started by approaching site moderators, and now we want to hear from the broader community about the different roles you would like to see outside of the existing site moderator role. This could be anything that you would see as applying to the network as a whole (which individual communities can choose to fill, or not), or a role specific to a particular Stack Exchange site.

Background

For a long time, the only codified community role that we have had on Stack Exchange sites is that of the site moderators. The community contributes to and participates on each site in various ways, but we have rarely provided an official way to recognize the ways in which each user has helped maintain the knowledge base and/or support the rest of the community. As such, we wanted to find ways to give you all more ownership of your respective communities and empower you to shape them further.

What kinds of roles?

Throughout the network's history the only role designated to the community so far has been the role of site moderator. This is an exercise of exploring what could exist alongside that role to enrich the experience of using the different sites. These could be roles that would exist alongside new tools, opt-in responsibilities, or permissions related to specific badges. The sky's the limit here.

For example, we believe the following could be possible roles to consider:

  • Plagiarism Handler – a role centered around reviewing and removing plagiarism from the network
  • Deputy Moderators – a temporary role by appointment that would give lower-rep users some early access to reputation-based curation tools
  • Event Planner – a role centered around creating and organizing events for their site, community, etc.

Don’t focus too much on these roles in particular; we’re just including them as examples of the different kinds of roles that could be considered. (But if you think one of the above examples would be a good role for us to add, feel free to suggest it as an answer and explain how you think it should work!)

How should I share my suggestions for new roles?

We don’t want the discussion to focus too much on analyzing our existing examples; rather, you should treat this as an open-ended opportunity to brainstorm and identify possible new roles that could help our communities run more efficiently and create a more enjoyable experience for all of you.

If you have an idea for a new community role please post it as an answer on this post (one suggested role per answer). To make it easier to discuss your ideas, please start each answer with a name for the role as the heading of your answer, followed by a brief description of how you think the role would work (e.g., what permissions it might need, new tools you think it might need, etc.).

December 19th, 2022 is our tentative deadline

You can always propose things on Meta – but as far as this post is concerned, we’ll be accepting suggestions of new community roles until December 19th, 2022. After that, we’ll present and discuss these ideas internally with the rest of the Community Team and other staff. We plan to make a post in early January to share which roles, if any, we will begin exploring in more depth with engineering and product teams.

We can’t promise that your suggestions will all be implemented; the examples we provided are just interesting things that we think might enrich the network experience. Regardless of the outcomes, we think this is an interesting exercise to carry out periodically, to continue innovating on the Stack Exchange user experience.

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  • 32
    Elected? Placed in power by a consensus of existing elected moderators? I'm wary of power being given to those who won't necessarily deserve it or use it wisely. What would be the appeals process for a disagreed-with decision - flag for a mod? How to get them out if they abuse their power, removal by mod or would staff need to get involved?
    – W.O.
    Nov 28, 2022 at 21:19
  • 33
    Chat room owners are one example of this that already exist. Nov 28, 2022 at 21:22
  • 6
    @W.O. I assume you are inquiring about the examples we offered. I want to note they are just examples and are not in any state of development toward becoming a reality at this time. If someone did suggest them as an actual role, we would define these things during the creation process of those roles.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:27
  • 5
    @SpencerG Is this about network wide appointees, or per site appointees, or both? Likely site-specific?
    – amWhy
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:51
  • 7
    @W.O. I'd oppose it being done by the distribution of cutlery by ladies of aquatic abode... "how" they are picked is likely part of the RFC ;) Nov 28, 2022 at 23:46
  • 62
    People don't need roles. They need privileges and the power to do things. Over the years, many tried to suggest 30k privileges, or to enhance existing privileges to give users more power to do certain things. I'd rather see those things being done rather than super complex and super cryptic new "roles", which I honestly don't understand how it can work, but that's besides the point. Nov 29, 2022 at 8:03
  • 78
    "Role Inventer" ...is clearly the most needed role.
    – Mentalist
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:29
  • 12
    Most of the answers I see here seem to be suggesting some kind of new 'badge', and that 'badge' would then unlock access to certain new tools/privileges. Why are you looking at 'roles' and not just 'new badges/privileges'? What is a role supposed to be that isn't already in some way or form present in the current system/can't fit under the current system of privileges and badges (and to an extent, site preferences)? Will you be overhauling the existing system (like renaming privileges to roles), or are roles supposed to be something entirely separate?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:53
  • 5
    @Mentalist A no-brainer I should have considered. I definitely will add it to the list.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 13:41
  • 8
    @Tinkeringbell This is purely just discovery work. We don't have plans to overhaul anything. If badge-based privileges are where people's heads are, then that will probably be the direction we take this project. We are not married to creating roles exclusively.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 13:44
  • 29
    "Story Moderators" - a role for former mods who just want to tell stories that start with "back in my day, only diamond moderators could do all these" :p Dec 1, 2022 at 17:05
  • 7
    @ShadowTheKidWizard reputation based privileges assume that the reputation system is working. On SO I routinely see users with extremely high reputation still asking poorly researched questions that get upvotes, or users posting poorly researched answers on duplicates that also get upvoted. Reputation is a poor metric for privileged powers on the site. (closing a duplicate has no rep gain but makes the site more usable and cross-referenced, while a code only answer on a duplicate stands to reward rep.)
    – pilchard
    Dec 8, 2022 at 10:36
  • 6
    A thought: forget about roles, and introduce privilege deputation. X is a mod with certain privileges, but not enough time to do everything, and little interest/skill in, say, plagiarism complaints. Y is keen to work on plagiarism complaints, but lacks the necessary privileges. X lends the privileges to Y. X is 100% responsible for Y's exercise of those privileges, and can yank them back at any time. Being able to lend a privilege is, itself, a privilege which can be earned in the usual way (and, hey, maybe lent). Is there any reason to prefer "roles" over this?
    – Beta
    Dec 11, 2022 at 1:27
  • 6
    @ShadowWizardChasingStars Also, this isn't really 'cryptic', rather, it mirrors how real world organizations handle permissions: role-based access is the gold standard in terms of what you let users do. Right now we have reputation-based access: the more people upvote your questions and answers, the more (unrelated) tools you get access to. This was a decent system for SO/SE when it was smaller and higher reputation translated more or less directly to the buy-in/investment a user had with the site, but it does not scale.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 14:42
  • 8
    I’m voting to close this question because it does not accept further feedback so better prevent people from wasting time by posting answers. Dec 21, 2022 at 15:30

39 Answers 39

193

Comment mods

Currently 99.9% of comment moderation is done by mods (the other 0.1% is autodeletion by enough user flags). Other than flagging there is no way to moderate comments unless you are a mod. Every once in a while I catch arguments that get out of control in comments on SO and all we can do is flag and watch and hope a mod sees or it gains 3 flags (assuming it does not match the list of 1 flag deletion). If this is implemented it would make this situations end a lot faster due to the comments being deleted a lot faster.

Someone would become a comment mod by being appointed by staff and/or site mods.

Very heavy inspiration from this answer.

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  • 45
    Sounds plausible. I think the comment mods should also have the "move comments to chat" power.
    – PM 2Ring
    Nov 29, 2022 at 9:29
  • 3
    Not gonna lie, this is one reason why I wanted to be a mod. On the other hand, there are also some comment moderation tools, such as: delete comment, undelete comment, move to chat, see deleted comments on a post, see comment's edit history, see users' deleted & flagged comments, etc. I wonder what's the scope of this role. Nov 29, 2022 at 14:24
  • 30
    Or, we could just fix the broken comment system so it doesn't require so much intervention.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 29, 2022 at 16:38
  • 4
    Should this also include the power to simply edit comments (which very often contain typos and miss proper punctuation and can drastically lower the perceived quality of a thread IMHO)?
    – Joachim
    Nov 30, 2022 at 8:20
  • 53
    @PM2Ring Please, no. Move comments to chat is one of the most counter-productive features of SE. As soon as a topic proves engaging enough that numerous people begin to chime in and share ideas - the thread gets relegated to a place where nobody will ever see it. It would be better to just have the comments get collapsed if space is an issue.
    – Mentalist
    Nov 30, 2022 at 10:57
  • 14
    I disagree, @Mentalist. It only takes one more click to view the comment chat. I find "Show N more comments" far more annoying because it's not visible until you get towards the end of a long comments thread. Chat allows you to have threaded replies, post images, post one-boxed links to other questions, answers, Wikipedia articles, etc. Unfortunately, the "Move to Chat" function can't be used to move subsequent comments to the chat, so mods often simply delete those comments. But I suppose this comment thread isn't the place to debate those topic.
    – PM 2Ring
    Nov 30, 2022 at 21:02
  • 2
  • 33
    @PM2Ring I have participated in so many comment threads where the last message was "Let's move this discussion to chat", and then there was zero activity in the chat.
    – Bergi
    Dec 1, 2022 at 20:44
  • 1
    @PM2Ring in addition to bergi's point, the main disadvantage of moving the comment thread to chat is that people really aren't motivated to click any such links - after all, there's already more than enough information on the page itself
    – somebody
    Dec 2, 2022 at 13:56
  • 1
    "Currently 99.9% of comment moderation is done by mods (the other 0.1% is autodeletion by enough user flags)" I would like to see more data about this. AFAIK, most flagged comments are auto-deleted comments.
    – Braiam
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:31
  • 23
    Comments that are moved to chat are automatically deleted after not very long -- I can't count the amount of times I've wanted to see where a helpful-looking comment thread went only to see that the "moved to chat" comments link to a chatroom that has been automatically deleted. It's not just putting it a click away, but also deleting it for future users (IIRC 90 days later or so). Dec 2, 2022 at 21:05
  • 1
    @Ethan still, the expression should be backed by actual data, because expressions can be wrong too.
    – Braiam
    Dec 4, 2022 at 10:41
  • 3
    -1 This is not necessary and will only give trigger-happy semi-mods more power to make the site less useful, especially the power to move comments to chat, as @Mentalist said, just like the power to cast close votes is way over-used - to the detriment of the site IMO. If a comment hasn't received 3 flags it's most likely not bad enough or the post is not visible enough for it to matter that much.
    – EM0
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:44
  • 3
    My experience has been similar to that of @GavinS.Yancey - I have tried to find useful-looking threads that were moved to chat, only to find the thread had been deleted. Plus, even if the thread is still there, most people won't click a link to it without knowing what the conversation is about. Like "oh, some people had a discussion about this - anything relevant to me?" It doesn't entice one to leave the current page and explore that wildcard. Whereas with comments we can immediately read what is being discussed. I've personally never had a positive experience with chat.
    – Mentalist
    Dec 15, 2022 at 1:19
  • 4
    @TylerH Users with < 2k rep covers the vast majority of users. It took me literal years to get more than 2k rep on SO. The simple fact is, comments are necessary, whether they should be or not. Trying to brute-force people into using the site the "correct" way isn't a good idea. Rather, the site should adapt to what people actually need. Comments aren't for discussion, but neither do they have to be ethereal. My argument is that (good) comments are nearly as important as the answers themselves and shouldn't be considered transient. There's just no reason for it. This isn't a pure wiki.
    – Clonkex
    Dec 15, 2022 at 11:33
92

Audit moderators

Over on Meta Stack Overflow, we have a lot of positively scored questions about review queue audits that they failed and disagree with (search results). Although the system does an OK job at finding posts which work as audits, it also returns a few bad ones that get called out a lot. Posts about bad audits even make it to "Hot meta posts" sometimes (recently happened, not uncommon).

Here's my proposal: instead of trying to get the system to do all of the work - finding posts, determining quality, being accused of bad audit posts - have the system send the posts it finds to the audit moderators and have them verify which posts would work well as audits.

This would require a new aspect to the system, some sort of special-access triage queue for 'suggested audits' (as opposed to 'suggested edits'). To become an audit moderator, a site moderator/staff member would have to appoint you. Appointment would likely be on the basis that you don't fail many audits yourself and that you're active on the site you get appointed on (yeah, this is per-site only).

That's just my two cents, community opinions appreciated.

5
  • 20
    This sounds good in theory - nobody is disputing that the current audit system is horribly broken. However, it sounds like it would just create yet another review queue. SO reviews in particular is a dying, stranded whale. However, giving some users the privilege to remove bad audits and rollback the effect that bad audits had on some reviewer(s) might be a good way to lower the workload for the moderators.
    – Lundin
    Nov 29, 2022 at 13:00
  • Or put good audits into the system to prevent the system making bad audits
    – Ethan
    Nov 29, 2022 at 15:09
  • 2
    @Lundin This review queue would be special-access only, so only the audit mods would be able to see it. And it's a volunteer role, so if someone wants to do it, they can be expected to do it with a certain degree of activity. I don't expect there to be too many audits to check, either, so it's not going to be like the New Questions queue with a consistent 9.5k left to review. Because of the nature of audits, we wouldn't need a lot of audit mods. A few active users appointed by the site mods would suffice, maybe a bit more. Nov 29, 2022 at 15:42
  • 3
    While occasional bad audits do occur, I think the system works well enough that manually reviewing all prior to use would be creating a lot of unneeded busy work. My first thought was just to allow users a way to dispute an audit without a meta-post and to have those in a review queue. However I've also seen cases where people protested valid review audit questions because of not understanding what was expected; and ended up with manually imposed review bans for making too many bad reviews. Catching people would I think require a lot more visibility into user data than non-mods normally get. Nov 29, 2022 at 20:47
  • This is the wrong solution to the problem. Audits just need tweak on the selection criteria. And by that I mean favor votes from users that are knowledgeable about the topic, because right now it's just a popularity contest for the positive audits, and a dog pile for the negative one.
    – Braiam
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:22
69

Curators

Much of the effort towards improving question quality goes towards sanctioning bad questions-- closure, review, etc. There is a lot of room for greater recognition of good questions.

On our site, we have experimented with ways to do this in the form of curators. Curators seek out exceptional questions and answers ("pearls"), recognize them in a chat room, and sometimes add bounties. Typically, these are high rep users who are domain experts in their tags, who notice underrated posts and like to help get them the attention they deserve.

These roles could benefit from official support.

  • We could have a curated 'best of' section with enhanced visibility on the main site, similar to featured questions.
  • We could have a periodic top list or newsletter recognizing notable posts, similar to how we had site blogs.
  • Curators could get access to limited, not-to-be-abused free bounties to promote unanswered pearl questions.

Curator would be a volunteer role, appointed by site moderators, and supervised by the same to prevent abuse.

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  • 6
    Is this to be a sanctioned voting ring? If not, I am in favor of having a panel of SMEs who are able to take high level actions with 100% transparency. Cooperative, democratic, topic-scoped curation Nov 28, 2022 at 22:49
  • 4
    @mickmackusa Not if properly supervised! I think there are some simple rules we can put on it to prevent that from happening. We've managed to avoid it in the unofficial version so far. Nov 28, 2022 at 22:51
  • 10
    "curator" seems to mean different things to different people. I've gotten comments from someone who used it only to mean post editors, but my interpretation is the more general one as descibed in catija's answer to a question on what it means here. Would you consider using a term that more directly describes what you are talking about? Perhaps- "SME bounty awarders"?
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 4:11
  • 1
    @starball Sure, what they're called doesn't really matter to me. We were also considering "Promoters" and "Sponsors" while developing the idea. The project's working name was "Rainmakers." Nov 29, 2022 at 17:29
  • Part of what's needed with curation is the updating of info as it pertains to evolving technologies. New versions of software and programming languages get released. Specs get updated. Some questions/answers are highly ranked yet no longer as relevant as they once were. Sometimes there will be screenshots that bear little resemblance to current software versions. Some of this can't be helped, as we can't redo everything... but as it stands there's little incentive to keep existing good content at a high standard. I'm not sure the role of "Curator" is the answer, but since we're on the subject.
    – Mentalist
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:08
  • @starball I toyed with an unofficial version named the Pearl Dive. The description, the chat room. Can't say it would be a success. The initial support in our meta thread was ok, but in practice very few users have participated (either as sponsors or as promoters bringing pearls to the sponsors notice). Lately it has started looking like my personal place to advertise the bounties I hand out to the questions I find deserving. A monologue becomes monotonous after a while :-) Nov 30, 2022 at 12:14
  • (cont'd) More importantly, with only 2-3 regular sponsors the chat room lacks continuity. One of us gets tied up with real life, and the activity drops. Nov 30, 2022 at 12:16
  • 2
    I think the reason Pearl Dive hasn't taken off is mostly just attention. It's a small chat on a site where many users don't use chat. Moreover, it's not visible from the front page, which is something that could change with official support. Eyes are everything for this idea. Nov 30, 2022 at 18:27
  • 1
    They could also get powers for giving attention to a specific answer, rather than an entire question. Like pinning a top answer for a question or something like that. That could help with what @Mentalist pointed out, for example on SO the highest-voted answer is often the oldest and because of that, outdated. Trending sort does improve on that, but having a field expert manually pick the best answer would take that to another level.
    – FZs
    Nov 30, 2022 at 22:31
  • Curators (or whatever we want to call them) could also be tied to specific tags that they have the most knowledge in (at least on bigger sites). That could reduce the possibilities to abuse this (but would still need supervision of course). It could also give a better overview for the community of which tags have enough/need more expert attention.
    – FZs
    Nov 30, 2022 at 22:39
  • This could work well with my suggestion - these curators could pick a part of the world which is neglected on the stack, and use the new tools to spotlight questions about it and reward those users. meta.stackexchange.com/q/384169/259135
    – Ne Mo
    Dec 1, 2022 at 11:33
  • @mickmackusa there must be topic curators and tag curators. One that is generalist about every topic on the site (ie. is this programming), and tag curators.
    – Braiam
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:34
  • 2
    I'm sure on some sites evolving technology changes the relative pecking order of answers. I don't see math being such a site, though. In Math answers have a very long shelf-life. Half a century, minimum. I mean, questions on our highest volume tags are about math developed in 1800s :-) Dec 3, 2022 at 12:07
  • 4
    What is really needed in my opinion is better day to day means and incentives for raising the standard of questions across the board, rather than promoting the 1 in 500 question that is excellent. There is currently no incentive to close as duplicate or to edit questions for formatting or accuracy, while the asker, even of poorly researched questions, gets rep for a question, and answers get rep even if they are less thorough than the older duplicates answers that already exist.
    – pilchard
    Dec 8, 2022 at 17:52
65

Chat moderators

I've long been in favor of this past request to have a set of users whose responsibility is to moderate the chat sites in addition to the site moderators, rather than completely having this responsibility fall on the site mods.

Now, all of these problems, I believe, stem from one main issue: We expect the [site] moderators to moderate chat.

Now, at a certain level, this makes sense. They are the people we elected / appointed to moderate the main sites, and chat is an extension of the main site. It makes sense to have the same people in charge of moderation.

However, this doesn't work. The site moderators have been elected / appointed for their skill in moderating a Q&A site. The skills required for effectively moderating a Q&A site are, if not totally different, largely different from the skills needed to moderate a chat room / server. It's a different skillset to moderate a live chat vs a Q&A site. Some of the moderators on the sites have those skills. Others... don't.

A lot of moderators don't use chat in the first place. They are not required to use chat and shouldn't be required to use it. We therefore cannot depend solely on these site moderators to moderate chat, because they have no responsibility to do so, may not have the skills needed to do so, and that is not what we ask of moderators when we elect / appoint them. There are also too many moderators, to the point where they occasionally need moderation themselves.

The main problems pointed out in that post are:

  • The skills needed to moderate a chat site are different from those needed to moderate a Q&A site. Some moderators may be skilled at moderating a Q&A site, but not at moderating a chat site.

  • Moderators are primarily elected (or appointed) for their ability to moderate a Q&A site, not a chat site. Moderating chat is not explicitly part of the responsibility given to moderators when they are given their diamonds.

  • Not every site moderator is active on the chat sites. Some don't even use chat at all.

  • Related to the above point, in some cases, there may not be a moderator around to curtail disruption that goes beyond what a room owner can handle (such as an issue spilling into different rooms).

To summarize, relying on site moderators to also moderate chat doesn't work because it's not part of their responsibility and many may not have the skill or will to moderate chat.

My proposal for a role would be the chat moderator role. These moderators would be placed into the role based on their experience moderating chat sites (either as a site moderator, a room owner, or moderator of an external chat site) and would have the explicit responsibility to moderate chat. Site moderators would continue receiving chat moderation privileges as they do now, but these chat moderators would also be appointed on top of those. They would also be a rank above normal site moderators, to address other issues pointed out in that post.

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  • 8
    For the same reason Q/A mods aren't necessarily the best Chat mods, i'm not so sure this should be a combined role
    – Kevin B
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:20
  • 2
    Put another way, i'm not suggesting mods shouldn't be able to moderate chat, rather, "chat mods" would be able to moderate chat, without being elected as a Q/A moderator and wouldn't have those Q/A moderator tools.
    – Kevin B
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:36
  • 5
    @KevinB Yep, that's exactly what I'm suggesting here. I added a parenthetical note to make it clearer that being a site mod wouldn't be a requirement. Nov 28, 2022 at 22:38
  • 1
    Interesting idea, I have some questions. This would be an appointed position, not elected? For life or with a time/term limit? Appointed by whom, CMs? Site moderators? Moderator council? Meta? Would sites be able to opt out of this system? How much PII/dashboard would a chat moderator require to do their duties? How are conflicts between site and chat mods to be handles (is there hierarchy)?
    – Mast
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:11
  • 4
    Would giving more power to room owners alleviate most of the problems already? If so, which addition would have the most impact?
    – Mast
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:16
  • 7
    Chat moderators outranking site moderators in chat but not on site could create some odd situations and conflict. Site chat rooms are part of their site, historically. I'm not sure your approach creates a net gain, it could upset a mostly stable situation on lots of sites.
    – Mast
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:24
  • 2
    @KevinB In many cases, Q/A mods are better equipped moderate chat, and at times they do: they know the context of disagreements, better know the users and histories. great damage, hurtful at times to well-meaning, but clueless moderators from elsewhere entirely unfamiliar with the norms, leeway granted, who may make ill-informed decisions.
    – amWhy
    Nov 29, 2022 at 0:40
  • 2
    Right now, site moderators are given the power to moderate all chat rooms because chat.SE is just too large, interconnected and real-time to be moderated by small handfuls of people on a per-site basis. We'd probably need a lot of "chat moderators" to have any significant effect.
    – goldPseudo
    Nov 29, 2022 at 0:42
  • 4
    I think the linked proposal uses an out-of-date approach for the hierarchy and I think this could kill an otherwise good idea. You say there's a risk of moderators being disruptive and waiting for staff is not a sufficient option. But what if the chat moderators are disruptive? Isn't this moving the problem instead of solving it? Especially since there will be less chat moderators than site moderators. Site moderators mostly keep each other in check lately, if need be. Hundreds of colleagues who can get angry at you. What will keep a chat moderator in check?
    – Mast
    Nov 29, 2022 at 1:21
  • 1
    @Mast Technically speaking, it's Mithical's suggestion, which I happen to be wholly in favor of. The point of this answer was to bring it up again since it ties in with the idea of additional roles put forth in the question, and I wanted to bring forth arguments that the community is likely to be in favor of. I had written an elaboration on the disruptive mods issue, but deleted it since I figured it wasn't likely to be received well, but still wanted to point attention to it and its argument in their suggestion. Nov 29, 2022 at 1:47
  • 3
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog I reckon the majority of mods on chat already dislike dealing with off-site issues to avoid stepping on jurisdictional toes, especially when another moderator is already involved. If you add a layer of Chat Moderator on top of that, it seems likely most off-site mods won't even bother looking at any issues outside of their own site, which just reduces the number of potential eyes on any real-time situation. Unless the number of "chat moderators" is enough to offset that across the whole network, it really feels like this will end up backfiring.
    – goldPseudo
    Nov 29, 2022 at 2:35
  • 1
    Continuing, per this post from Shog9, some people seem to be able to participate constructively - even admirably - on the main Q&A site, but routinely fall into abusive patterns when participating in chat. From what I've seen, this has included certain site moderators in the past. There's no required vetting of chat activity when checking if a user is a good fit to be a site mod - the usual check that one may not have been suspended in the past year excludes chat suspensions - and the only ones that may take place is in competitive elections- Nov 30, 2022 at 21:30
  • 1
    ...when the candidates are cross-examined by the community. Sometimes moderators win elections by default when not enough candidates nominate in a pro-tem election, and sometimes the community may fail to consider chat activity when cross-examining candidates in competitive elections. On the other hand, chat moderators would be more closely vetted for their chat activity, whether it's by SE when appointing mods or by the community when electing, so the chances that an individual chat moderator will be disruptive in chat are lower, which makes the case even stronger than the previous odds. Nov 30, 2022 at 21:33
  • 3
    If moderators are repeatedly misbehaving in chat, we should fix that by having the CMs look into that. Adding an extra layer does not fix CoC and moderator agreement violations.
    – Mast
    Nov 30, 2022 at 21:51
  • 1
    I slightly lean against this proposal because, as Mast said, "Isn't this moving the problem instead of solving it?". But what "intrigued" me, so to speak, is your remark that site moderation and chat moderation require different sets of skills. Could you elaborate? I would think that a decent moderator of a site impliedly has the skills that chat moderation requires. Dec 4, 2022 at 19:05
61

Tag curator

I intend this literally, as "one who curates (posts in) a certain tag"

This draws from:

What and why

This role identifies users with some degree of domain expertise, usually represented by tag badges; and some degree of platform expertise, in the form of significant commitment to a specific tag.

Curating (old) content is one of the main differentiators between a repository of high-quality Q&A and helpdesk, therefore the role is aligned with the overarching goal of Stack Exchange.

The main difference between tag badge holders and tag curators is that users with domain expertise who are also interested in tag curation will edit, vote-to-close, dupe-hammer and/or answer old questions.

Users with tag expertise who are not interested in curation, typically will only answer, and possibly cast votes only on newest questions. For them, older content is simply not interesting. Tag curators instead will also curate existing older content in their tag.

How to identify such users

Tag badges (possibly just gold, but also silver and bronze) + number of actions (edits, close/reopen votes, delete/undelete votes1) on older content with the relevant tag where they didn't participate in tag editing. Some sort of "Archaeologist" badge on a specific tag could be used as a metric2.

I don't have a threshold in mind for how old content need to be in order to qualify. Probably the same as "Archaeologist" or "Necromancer" badges, just to avoid introducing more foreign criteria.

The count of such actions should exclude questions that have been asked or answered by that same user. Maintaining your own content in good shape doesn't imply an interest in broader tag curation3.

Privileges of tag curators

Note: If the goal of this brainstorming is simply to define new user roles to give credit where it's due, it's not strictly necessary to attach privileges to it. In my view, additional privileges make sense and are a nice addition.

As it was already suggested elsewhere, extended vote powers.

  • Gold badge holders with tag curator status may have binding close and reopen votes at least for "Needs details or clarity", "Needs more focus", "Opinion based", "Needs debugging details", "Not reproducible or caused by a typo" close reasons, along with "Duplicate".

  • Silver badge holders with tag curator status may have their close and reopen votes weighted 2 instead of one.

  • Bronze badge holders with tag curator status may be granted access to close/reopen vote privilege below 3.000 reputation — and possibly edit privileges below 2.000 reputation —, in that tag.

Deletion privileges shouldn't be affected. Personally, I do consider deletion as an important part of curation. However actions that remove/hide content are harder to properly oversee. Further reducing thresholds could become a vector for abuse.

Use case

This stems from a practical issue. Tag curators who scavenge for old content, especially when looking for dupe targets, may very easily come across off-topic posts that escaped moderation. If a several-years-old off-topic question has also received answers, casting a close vote more often than not results in... nothing. The close vote will just age away in the close queue.

This is even more true for low-traffic tags, where the chances that new content gets timely moderated are lower, and off-topic material just piles up forever. When such off-topic unclosed questions receive new activity, they may become eligible for concerted action in certain chat rooms, but this simply doesn't scale.


footnotes:

  1. Not sure if in-queue reviews should count for this. If close/reopen votes are counted, it doesn't matter where the votes were cast from.
  2. I'm not suggesting to introduce a new kind of "Archeologist" badge. Just saying it could be useful to reuse the criteria.
  3. This follows the award criteria for Editor, Strunk & White, Copy Editor badges
7
  • 1
    Agree with this one.. tags AND tagging should be better maintained on both WB and SO.. e.g. on SO there are many toolkit-tags, similar names causing ambiguity etc. Searching things is very much easier, when topics are properly tagged (mod could set them)
    – Goodies
    Dec 1, 2022 at 21:19
  • Why the need to "identify such users" who actively seek older content as opposed just including current bronze/silver/gold badge users currently curating a tag? Surely these users, given improved tools, would be more interested in curating older content. The issue I run into is that when I do try to curate older content my flags simply age out. I track my VTCs and once I've revoted once/twice and it still ages out, I move along.
    – Drew Reese
    Dec 3, 2022 at 8:38
  • 1
    @DrewReese The issue I run into is that when I do try to curate older content my flags simply age out — this is precisely the use case I try to address. As for the recipients of this "tag curator" role, it has to be people who are already interested in curation. Just like we (usually...) elect as moderators people who are already interested in cleaning up their site. Privileges should be granted to users that would know how to use them and how to not abuse them.
    – blackgreen
    Dec 3, 2022 at 12:41
  • 1
    Why would this require a new role though? Why can't the moderation tools just be expanded to those that have already been established as Trusted Members? I get it, the assignment is for community members to make suggestions on new roles. I'm not convinced new roles are needed at all. Please don't confuse this with unsupport of the role you suggest, I want to be better able to curate the tags I primarily focus on. I completely support your suggestion, I just don't think creating a role system is the solution.
    – Drew Reese
    Dec 4, 2022 at 18:39
  • @DrewReese I actually agree that it shouldn't strictly require a new role. However just granting additional privileges based on rep, I'm afraid it won't work well. There's many examples of high-rep users who seem oblivious to SE rules in general, let alone curation. How can one determine who is fit to receive these privileges? In this sense, you can imagine a "role", or whatever they want to call it, as a set of measurable criteria that can objectively identify, and possibly predict, someone who will put these privileges to good use
    – blackgreen
    Dec 11, 2022 at 12:56
  • I'm sure if it was easier to curate content then more people would be more apt to participate, much related in the way I avoid review queues because I don't enjoy verifying I know what I'm doing every 3rd to 5th review with an audit. 🙄 It's outright unbearable. I also don't disagree that you don't want to grease the wheels for those that have absolutely no idea what they are doing though. Isn't earned rep supposed to be a sign that you are a "trusted member"? 🤔 In any case, yours is a suggestion I'd support since it's something I'm genuinely invested in already anyway.
    – Drew Reese
    Dec 12, 2022 at 3:42
  • One thing I'd like to see here is tag synonyms managment. Currently mostly done by moderators, as the requirements for tag synonyms are quite steep. Dec 13, 2022 at 18:53
52

Mentor

(I think focusing on new users took us down a wrong path. This isn’t about onboarding new users. It’s about people volunteering to help people with the process of using the site.)

In the City of Heroes video game a player could flag themselves with either "Helper" or "Help me". This would change their character's nameplate so that other users would know who they could ask for help and who might need help. I don't know how well the "Help me" tag worked out, but the Helpers were a pretty nice group who would wait by the spawn point and offer new users help getting started. I experienced the same thing when we tried Fallout 76. There was a group of players that would hang out where the newbies showed up after the tutorial and give them a few things to help get them started playing. It was a really nice introduction to the game.

This would be a volunteer role (not elected) available after someone has met a certain set of requirements - reputation threshold, positive question/answer reception, no suspensions over some time period, mod team doesn't object, etc. When I volunteered for Musixmatch they had an "academy" that went over the various rules and best practices and gave me a certificate after I passed a short practical test. Being certified opened up a different level of participation, so this might be a way to ensure that the mentors have some basic training.

Volunteering as a mentor will

  • add a special icon to their profile so users know they are open to questions
  • give access to some mechanism to be available for users to ask them questions, like getting notifications whenever someone posts in a special chat room
  • some sort of filter for newer user posts so they can focus on them
  • some way for the people they've helped to give them an anonymous "thank you" thumbs up (maybe it counts for a badge?)

Mentors should be able to turn on/off the mentoring mode after they've passed the initial vetting, so that if they are getting burned out or they have other obligations they can take a step back. They maybe have to do it in some reasonably large chunks of time, so they can't flip it on or off every other day?

I also think mentors should be able to engage with each other as a group (much like elected moderators can) to get and share advice on mentoring. I don't know if there needs to be some sort of limit on how many people can be mentors, but there should be some sort of participation commitment. I don’t think it needs to be an exclusive role — anyone who is willing to make the time commitment and meets the other requirements should be able to identify as a mentor. I don’t see any reason why a site moderator couldn’t have both a diamond and a mentor flag.

A newly registered user could be asked if they wanted to "say hello" to the mentors as an introduction to the feature.

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    Might make sense also to have the "First Questions" / "First Answers" review queues only show up for Helpers rather than everyone with the review queue privilege.
    – goldPseudo
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:33
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    New user mentor would require at least on user per site, so designated, likely more, e.g., on math.se. Instead, @goldPseudo, I think the role of site reviewers is valuable, whereas "new user mentor" might have access to the new OPs posting, to assist them. Note also, "first answers" are not necessarily posted by "new users", many users wait six months (like I did a long time ago) before answering, or longer.
    – amWhy
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:43
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    This sounds a lot like the planned Staging Ground feature. I think there are a bunch of good ideas here (a chat of SG reviewers sounds like a good idea, for example - SOCVR has proved to be very valuable mentoring for future moderators, as an example of a similar concept), but it sounds more like things that should be added to that rather than being its own role.
    – Ryan M
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:52
  • @amWhy True, it's not only new users who might post a First [Question|Answer], but the stated goal of both queues is to "help users who may be unfamiliar with the site."
    – goldPseudo
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:54
  • But my point is, is that many users who first answer questions, are very familiar with the site. There are better ways to define "new users" as used in the "new user reputation league". When mentoring is not needed (users here and active for a year) treating them as "in need of mentoring" is unkind and wasted time.
    – amWhy
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:01
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    What about users who create revolving accounts? Many would already have been "mentored", likely twice or more times. You seem not to grasp that, at least on some sites, there are users who merely want their homework done for them. Granted, not on all sites. So my point is, having appointees, and for which purposes, the needs are site specific.
    – amWhy
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:05
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    @amWhy I took out the “new user” bit. I don’t think it matters if someone has been helped before if they still need help. I didn’t intend to propose creating a special class of user that gets more help than everyone else. Mentors will have to deal with help vampires; there’s nothing that can be done about that. They’re still volunteers and aren’t obligated to engage with people they don’t want to.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 29, 2022 at 11:29
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    These things already kind-of exist on SE: First posts "spawn" in a first posts queue with an implicit 'help me' attached, where those wanting to help can review those posts: they are filtered into those queues. For less new users, they can use chat or ask questions tagged support here or on other sites meta's, which the 'helpers' then can watch out for and answer/redirect to the correct duplicate. The thumbs ups are similar to upvotes on answers or stars on chat messages, and they already give badges.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:31
  • While e.g. chat could be made more well-known as a place to go ask your questions, and being able to be notified of new messages can help, this isn't necessarily something that needs a role: It can be a simple privilege/setting accessible to anyone. All that's left then is the 'icon on their profile showing they are open to questions', which would pretty much just be 'virtue signalling': "Look at me being all good", while right now, everyone on SE that wants to and has the necessary experience (privileges) can already help out. There's IMO no need for requests to be aimed at single users.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:31
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    @Tinkeringbell You’ve missed the point. The point is not to give people special tools or privileges, it’s to identify people who are willing to help so that people who have questions know who to ask. There’s no reputation for leaving helpful comments or answering questions in chat, and people who spend a lot of time contributing in that way should get some recognition.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:34
  • @ColleenV I didn't miss that point: "There's IMO no need for requests to be aimed at single users". Like right now dropping a message in chat or a support question on a meta site, you don't ask a single user, you ask 'anyone' willing to help, and that's to me preferable to a system where you need to first figure out who in particular to ask, who might have time to reply the fastest. Instead of making single users the point of contact, focus on giving the users that need help the tools (and ways to easily find those tools) to contact anyone willing to help. That doesn't need a role.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:44
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    @Tinkeringbell You’re still missing the point. How do I find people willing to help me write my first question on ELL? The chat room is dead, Meta can take days to get a response. There are lots of helpful people on the site interested in helping learners, but no way easy for the people who need help to connect with the people eager to help. Regardless, you hate the idea, which is fine. I just wish you understood it better before you decided it was crap lol. Badges buried in people’s profiles are not recognition btw. I can’t wear my rarest badge for everyone to notice.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 30, 2022 at 12:02
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    @ColleenV First posts end up in review queues for help, like I already said. The staging ground can help, once it is available networkwide. Better tooling is certainly necessary but is should never ever be locked behind a role. Those tools should be freely available to anyone that wants to use them, automatically awarded, making it just another privilege, not a role. As for wanting to flash badges... That too can be arranged but it's just a feature request for changing the existing functionality, it doesn't require a role. So unless new privilege == role... there's simply no need for this.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 12:15
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    I don't hate it, I'm just not seeing how this would be more useful than making some new tooling, some more site preferences, a few new privileges and badges, why does it need this whole new thing called 'role'? So far the only argument seems to be 'recognition, I want to be patted on my back'. That to me is not a sufficient argument. That is not only the problem with this answer, but yours drew my attention because of how much in it is already in some way or shape present in the current system, like I pointed out in my first comments.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 12:15
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    +1 This sounds like a good idea to me. I would be excited to take up a mentoring role as pictured in this answer. I don't quite understand some of the criticisms above, such as one saying that this seems to be all about patting oneself on the back (huh?). At best, there are some loose workarounds in the current system to achieve this, but nothing along the lines of the suggestion in this answer. (I don't know much about the "Staging Ground", but I'll be excited to see how that pans out if, as Ryan M says, some of these ideas are present in that feature.) Nov 30, 2022 at 18:48
40

There's a couple of old suggestions that could be revisited:

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    Can you be more specific? Nov 28, 2022 at 23:35
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    There are already concerns I have about the abuse of "dupe-hammering" among gold-badge-users, in the sense that on occasion, they close an inordinate number of posts using it, even to the dismay of other gold-badge users. If anything, at least on math.se (my point of reference given the abuse I've seen there), I'd recommend SE rethink the gb dupe hammer. I wouldn't mind silver badge users weighing in. But again, this seems a site specific issue.
    – amWhy
    Nov 29, 2022 at 0:32
  • Updated in response to comments, didn't want to throw too many suggestions into answer; these are a few of the most popular staff-proposed ideas. --- Elements, each link contains a # of different ideas; you are free to votes on each or propose your own at those questions. --- amWhy, if there's a site-specific problem then discuss it on their meta rather than hiding your complaint in a comment here. By allowing a few silver tag badge holders to make the decision that a single gold tag holder can make it opens the voting pool and increases fairness, rather than making things worse.
    – Rob
    Nov 29, 2022 at 7:37
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    @amWhy the same thing happens on SO and I agree that using the dup mechanism doesn't really make sense, but unfortunately, it's a really really efficient way to shut down terrible questions while still providing helpful information to the askers. If we ask gold badgers to stop using that closure technique, I'd really want them to be given a equivalently-efficient, but appropriate tool.
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 7:41
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    Sadly none of those offers new role. SE chose, as usual, to ignore and abandon existing requests in favor of their own narrow view of things, which in this case is wrong. Nov 29, 2022 at 8:05
  • 1
    That's what this question does, it reopens the discussion; you can comment on the links that I provided or suggest your own ideas there.
    – Rob
    Dec 3, 2022 at 11:48
  • @starball which is why only duplicates shouldn't be the only possible reason. If you want to shut down terrible questions, you should be able to select the right reason, ie anything but duplicate.
    – Braiam
    Dec 4, 2022 at 12:10
34

Migration helper

It is very hard to get questions from small SO tags migrated to suitable target sites. Take for example the LaTeX tag on SO. Every now and then a high quality question gets asked, which would surely get a good answer on TeX - LaTeX. However, voting to migrate very rarely works because there are not a lot of users who will review this tag and most votes will simply age away.

A migration helper could be a user with experience in both the tag and the target site (criteria for example gold badge in the tag and trusted user privilege on the target site) and their vote to migrate would either single-handedly migrate the question or at least reduce the number of necessary votes.

8
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    Does SOCVR work as a current workaround to get help with migration? Alternatively, just organizing a dedicated chat room with SMEs to coordinate migration votes?
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:06
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    No idea about socvr, I once tried to understand all their rules, but it seems very complicate to understand what's allowed to be posted. A dedicated chat room would not be viable. A high quality question, which wouldn't be a duplicate on the target site, happens maybe once a month, so even if there were enough SME on SO, the room would frequently freeze over.... Dec 1, 2022 at 10:17
  • Well, rooms seem to be designed to usually be short lived. It's just that most popular rooms are the exceptions to that, since they have a reason to be highly active. What's not viable about creating a short-lived room for when such a migrate-worthy question springs up, and then sending join-invites to the people you know can/want-to help with that migration?
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:21
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    @starball Sounds like a lot of work for what should be a simple task Dec 1, 2022 at 10:35
  • 1
    And even more valuable than just a new role would be making more target sites available!
    – Bergi
    Dec 1, 2022 at 13:04
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    @Bergi Traditionally more target sites were declined with "these sites don't want all the rubbish asked on SO", but this would hardly be a problem if the users doing the migration have enough experience on the target sites. Dec 1, 2022 at 13:07
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    This should be implemented for all trusted users. As in, the site should be able to trust someone with lets say 10k+ rep on both sites to handle migrations, a "migration hammer" similar to dupe hammers. Perhaps raise the bar to 20k rep on SO and lower it to 5k on low traffic sites. It's ridiculous that we need to involve two diamond mods for migrations, one per site (technically I think just 1 is needed, but any random diamond mod is not necessarily aware of the scope on some other random SE site other than the one where they are mod).
    – Lundin
    Dec 2, 2022 at 14:26
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    @starball SOCVR Is not a particularly good venue for getting questions migrated. Migration outside of the tiny subset of prescribed options requires input and assistance from moderators, often from both sites. Even migration to one of the prescribed site works only if every close voter picks that option and it is done within a short window of time after the question is posted. I'd rather have work on migrations handled at the Ask Wizard level. Fix the problem automatically, before it becomes a problem that requires human intervention.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 14:57
29

Privilege consolidation

At the moment, the low bar to cross-platform 'trust' returns also low privileges. Perhaps this should be tiered. (This could also be combined with some of the other answers here, or taken to a new question, as to precisely which privileges.)

As a user who has more than 30k on some Stack Exchange sites (and actually more than 300k network-wide), I find it somewhat restrictive if I join a new Stack Exchange site to be able to do very little in the way of 'routine' tasks I can do on the others.

Of course, having high rep or gold badge dupe-hammer on one Stack Exchange site should not automatically grant me the same or equivalent on another, but I feel it should grant some of the lower privileges - actual up/downvotes, close/reopen votes, ability to see deleted answers and questions rather than getting a 404, review queue abilities.
I'm aware that having more than 30k in gardening, for instance (I don't; it's just an example) does not automatically mean I'm any expert on Unix—but it does signify I'm likely to be reasonably adept at weeding out the truly bad questions, or separating the wheat from the chaff on new users/questions (see what I did there?;) and that I ought to be responsible enough to not spuriously or unthinkingly mark questions as 'needs detail' simply because I don't understand the topic.

One practical consideration would be how this is applied. Currently, it would require the user to be handed a far greater number of 'trust' points when joining a new group.
I don't see how this would work; it's not particularly 'fair'. It implies more tested knowledge and experience in the new topic than strictly necessary. It would be difficult to backdate.
An alternative might be to award it as a badge instead. 'Consolidated contributor' or something similar. I'm still not certain how simple this would be to backdate. It would allow tiering though, as there are already bronze, silver, and gold tiers within the badge system.

After comments basically asking "what's the point?" - this is one of my quietest groups. Most of the questions mean nothing to me because the subject matter is extremely broad, so my Q&A interaction is small. I am, however, perfectly capable of spotting the completely off-topic or truly bad questions whether I know the answers or not. At this rate I'll be able to contribute to that in about another decade or so.
Flags add to the moderation effort; they do not reduce it, which would be the primary purpose of such additional privileges.

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    By "pointless rubber stamp", do you mean "canned comment"? I didn't understand what you meant there. Also, I don't think you need to mention gold-badge-hammers- assuming that two sites don't have the same tags or know/care about what tags you have on other sites.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:09
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    You mention wanting close votes. Flag privilege comes at 15 rep, and association bonus is 100. Why do you think having the flag privilege is insufficient for you to help other communities? Flags either show up to mods or to queue reviewers. That's a big help already (I think).
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:13
  • "I feel it should grant some of the lower privileges - actual up/down votes, close votes, review queue abilities.". Vote-up privilege comes at 15 rep. Site association bonus is 100. Vote-down is at 125 rep. That's like 13 approved edits, or one upvoted and accepted answer. Concerning review queue privileges, that role suggestion has already been made here: here.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:16
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    I'm throwing ideas in the pool, whether you agree with every sentence is not important. I think the US version of rubber stamp is boiler plate. Flag privs don't take the weight off moderating/review queues, they add to it. I can't even see the review queue icon in some of my newer, quieter groups. At current rate it will take me years to get there, because traffic is so low, but they're out of beta so full scores are needed.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:39
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    I think the part about removing bot comments with a single flag at >30k reputation should be a different answer. It's not really related to "privilege consolidation" as you've described it in the first part of your answer. Dec 1, 2022 at 12:09
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    @TheAmplitwist - I've noted it as needing discussion elsewhere if this entire idea gains traction. I did intend to mean it as just one idea for a consolidated privilege rather than single stack. Clarified slightly.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 12:12
  • @Tetsujin I'm not agreeing or disagreeing! I'm trying to prompt you to 1) build supporting arguments for your case, 2) explain more of your thought process and make some of what might be implicit to you explicit to us, 3) and consider things you might not have, and 4) make connections between related role suggestions that people might not notice in the flood. I'm not out to get you, and in my own head, I think I have good intentions. I've been doing the same to most posts here.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 18:03
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    @starball - I think we're reaching the limit of 'personal space', metaphorically. Don't hound people; one comment, a vote either way, then off to the next post.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 18:32
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    This is one of the coolest suggestions and I have always been wondering why it's not a standard yet. Dec 2, 2022 at 18:34
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    I agree with the premise of some tiers of privileges for network association, however I strongly disagree with the premise of 'having more than 30k in gardening [...] does signify I'm likely to be reasonably adept at weeding out the truly bad questions [about Unix]". Different sites often have entirely different metrics for what constitutes a good question. Hell, there's even a site whose entire mod team thinks "+1 thanks" is a perfectly acceptable comment to make on posts. You invite a lot of friction by giving moderation powers to users unfamiliar with a site/community.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:00
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    Strongly opposed to giving close votes to people who are not active in a site. Valid reasons for closing vary wildly across the network. You could do a lot of damage as a high-rep user applying policies from one site to another.
    – mousetail
    Dec 19, 2022 at 8:57
26

Tag Manager

Naming things is hard; a better name is welcome

There is a related proposal on this Q&A: Synonymizer

The Current System

Background

Tags are an often overlooked/under-observed aspect of the site, but the system (regardless of its strengths and weaknesses) serves as a primary mechanism for organising our content. The few privileges that are not restricted to moderators are: create tags, propose tag synonyms approve tag wiki edits, and finally make unreviewed tag wiki edits.

The issue with the current privileges is that they don't actually provide mechanisms or tools for ongoing upkeep of the tags from non-moderators and with sites that have tens of thousands of tags it's not really feasible for moderators to manage them effectively either.

Creating Tags

There is very minimal oversight into the tag creation process. Yes, the 10k tools has a small section about recently created tags and provides a small window into recently created tags. But this reputation threshold is much higher than would actually be needed to handle any tag-related issues. Any user with the ability to edit questions and answers for all intents and purposes already has all the tools they would need to handle tag creation/removal from the system.

Synonyms

For this next section, we're going to ignore that moderators can and do move this process along. The point is to demonstrate how the process would function without a moderator stepping in. Moderators are exception handlers and managing the tags of the site should not be an "exception".

Synonyms require an initial proposal be made by a user with a score of 5 or more in the given tag. To vote for a proposal users similarly need to have a score of 5 or more. The primary issue with this system is, even when it is a tag which is obviously synonymous, you would have to wait for a minimum 5 users to all reach tag score of 5 to be able to get the synonym approved (that's 1 user to make the initial proposal and then a minimum of 4 upvotes for the synonym to be approved). If these users can even find the page where pending tag synonyms hide out, that is a significant number of users and effort needed. It can be extremely difficult on smaller/low activity tags for even a single user to get the requisite score needed to make the proposal.

Tag Wikis and Wiki Excerpts

Suggested Edits

Tag wiki excerpt and tag wiki edits are currently included in the suggested edits queue which primarily handles question and answer edits. The issue with the current system is that these edits require a totally different set of skills; they even have an entirely separate set of reject reasons. These edits can also sit for a very long time given the very high reputation threshold needed to even review these posts. I also know a lot of users who skip suggested edits on tag wikis and wiki excerpts because it breaks their flow to switch gears from Q&A suggested edits to tag wikis.

Immediate Edits

Even users with the ability to immediately make changes to tag wikis and wiki excerpts don't always understand what the requirements are for these fields. Beyond this, there's also almost no oversight in these edits since (unlike questions and answers) these edits are mostly invisible as they don't visibly "bump" anywhere to draw additional eyes to the change.


New Privileges/Tooling

Extensions of Existing Privileges/Tools

Tag Managers would have the tools necessary to help to track and manage the tags of the site. This would include extensions of existing privileges/tools, e.g.:

  • The power to manage tag synonyms by:
    • adding1 synonyms without needing the required tag score
    • removing1 existing tag synonyms
  • The power to manage tags by:
    • adding and removing tags from questions (these users would have access to inline tag editing)
    • editing tag wikis and tag wiki excerpts (without review)
    • renaming1 tags
    • merging1 tags
  • To provide oversight to tag wiki and tag wiki excerpt edits tag managers would gain access to:
    • A dedicated review queue (or tools page) to review only tag wiki and tag wiki excerpt suggested edits
    • A list of recently edited tag wikis and wiki excerpts (to spot check as needed)
    • The ability to override1 previously approved/rejected suggested edits on tag wiki/tag wiki excerpt

1 None of these need to be unilateral privileges – they could require some consensus, e.g., 3 tag managers to approve before the change takes effect.

Entirely New Tools

Tag Managers would also greatly benefit from tools that could indicate the "health" of the tag. This could come in many forms, but I'm thinking of tools that could detect issues with tags.

For example, the basic tag on Stack Overflow. This tag is added to significantly more posts than it remains on. Many users use this tag to indicate the question is a beginner level question instead of what the tag is supposed to be used for, i.e. BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). For this reason, it is removed from the majority of posts it is added to. SEDE indicates it's removed from 88.205% of posts (with the normal caveats with using SEDE for data like not including deleted posts).

Other pieces of information that may be useful is closure/deletion rate of tags. What percentage of questions with a given tag are closed/reopened/deleted. These rates could help draw attention to off-topic or otherwise unsuitable questions and/or tags.

If there were a place to review statistics about tag usage and usage trends, this could help to detect outliers and would be easier to intervene and make changes (like perhaps renaming the tag or updating the wiki excerpt).

These tools could probably be generally useful to lots of members of the community and do not necessarily need to be restricted to just this role.

Community Benefits

A lot of the work on tags ends up going undone. There are very few users who have the ability to make these changes, and there's almost no oversight due to very limited tools which are often tucked out of the way.

We end up catching improper tags way too late and then end up having to spend hours burninating tags with hundreds (or thousands) of questions. Improper, confusing, and/or plagiarised tag wikis and tag wiki excerpts are left undiscovered (sometimes for years). If there were a group of users who were able to intervene before the issue gets out of hand the overall workload on the community could be lessened.

Eligibility

There are lots of ways to choose candidates. On Stack Overflow participation in the burninations that are being fairly regularly facilitated would be a good indicator of eligibility, however, I recognise that this does not work for all sites.

2
  • 4
    It feel weird to me that there's such carefully thought out criteria for whether a tag should be burninated (such as being non-ambiguous), and formal procedure with community dialogue and SME consultation, but that I've never heard of any such formality for tag creation (granted, I don't know much about tag creation having never done it myself). Maybe the tag creation process could learn a thing or two from the burnination process or the area51 process (which I also know next to nothing about, but in my mind, somehow the creation of a tag has some conceptual likeness to creation of a site).
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 3:02
  • 3
    @starball that process was created to introduce as much friction as possible in the system because it's usually thought out as a general waste of time. But I see it more as a lack of appropriated tooling that will make those actions painless.
    – Braiam
    Dec 4, 2022 at 12:27
22

Plagiarism Analyst

As I understand it, there is a backlog of possible plagiarism flags. A Plagiarism Analyst would volunteer to help reduce that backlog.

In that role, the Plagiarism Analyst (PA) would:

  • Have access to the plagiarism reports.
  • Do the background research necessary to identify whether the suggested (claimed) plagiarism is indeed plagiarism.
  • Have access to a mechanism to pass the results to Regular Moderators (or Staff) for further action — if further action is necessary.
    • That is, the PA would not have the final decision on the flag.

If the PA concludes that the flag is accurate — the content is plagiarized — the results would provide a detailed analysis of why it is plagiarized, with URLs identifying the source, etc. This would make it easy for a Regular Moderator validating the assessment to see why it is indeed plagiarism. Conversely, if the PA concludes that the flag is inaccurate — the content is not plagiarized — the results would identify why that is considered to be the case, again including URLs or (Google) search terms used to try and identify the source.

Decisions would have to be made about whether a PA has a way to contact those who flagged the content as plagiarism with the intent to seek clarification from them about why it should be considered plagiarism. Another result could be 'not proven' — there is room to think that this might be plagiarized but the PA has not found the evidence to confirm that it is, or is not, plagiarism. This should be used as seldom as possible, and would probably leave the flag open for another PA to look at. If two PAs both come up with 'not proven', the flag should be treated as "not plagiarized". There would need to be a record of when the flagger was contacted for information to ensure they are not inundated with requests from PAs about a single flag. (OTOH, if a flagger reports many cases of plagiarism, they may get many requests for clarification — one per report.)

Only one PA should be able to work on any given plagiarism flag at a time. There would be a mechanism to grab a report to work on it (which would prevent others from working on it), and another to relinquish a plagiarism flag without coming to any conclusion (not even 'not proven'). There'd probably be a time limit — such as one week — during which the flag could be kept; after that, it would be relinquished automatically.

It would probably be a good idea to keep statistics on whether particular reporters of plagiarism are good at making valid reports or not, and whether their reports are accurate enough to make it easy to analyze them. If there's someone who routinely flags plagiarism without the PA team being able to substantiate the claims, then a warning can be given. If there's someone who routinely provides accurate and helpful flags, that could be noted too; such flags are likely to be easier to confirm.

21

Trusted Editor

The edit queue is often full, much to the frustration of some lower-rep users who would like to spend more time reviewing posts but who quickly run of out edits (we're limited to 5 pending edits at once). Users with this role would either have only some of their edits reviewed (one out of three as an initial suggestion) or would be able to make edits like 2k+ users. It would be granted to users who have at least 500 reputation (minimum to access the review queues), a recent editing history with a low reject to accept ratio, and the Strunk and White badge (80 edits).

4
  • 8
    Nice (and welcome to MSE!). Related: blackgreen's "tag curator" role proposal, which proposes that users with a bronze tag badge have edit privileges for questions with that tag even when that user is below 2k rep. Also related: edit suggestor streak-trust mechanism proposal.
    – starball
    Nov 30, 2022 at 19:16
  • 1
    @starball A balanced combination of these ideas would be great imho! Dec 1, 2022 at 5:34
  • 2
    I'll probably be unpopular for saying so, but I don't think this is a good idea, nor do I think it really necessary. IMO, the 2k limit is not unreasonable. Dec 3, 2022 at 19:02
  • 3
    I wonder if a good edit history on one site should be valued on other sites. I find it very frustrating to see a needed edit on a site where I do not have an account or only low rep and know that my edit there will get into the waiting list, (sometimes hanging out for weeks.)
    – Willeke
    Dec 4, 2022 at 18:43
18

Reviewer

This role allows for accessing specific review queues on certain authorized sites on which the user has too low a reputation to otherwise be allowed access.

A user, who through their network-wide status (e.g. ≥ 10.000 reputation across sites [not counting association bonuses], ≥ 3000 of which on a single site, and having been awarded a Steward badge for any queue network-wide*, but this will need communal tweaking) displays a required level of understanding of the workings of the network (or "networkings"), can opt for this Reviewer role.

There are sites that consistently have a high number of review items, but too few users to go through them. This role will help ease the tasks of other moderators, and allow for a quicker response to users who are waiting for the results of their proposed changes.

This necessarily comes with certain restrictions. The biggest problem is that a low reputation generally equals a lack of understanding on site-specific rules and scope. One solution would be to slowly open up more queues as the Reviewer gets acquainted with a site's scope; e.g. the Low Quality and Suggested Edits queues are opened initially, followed by the Questions and Answers queues, and finally by the Close and Reopen Votes queues.

A moderator on the site that can use this kind of assistance could perhaps grant a user with the minimum requirements pointed out earlier this role. Maybe a user that meets these requirements can simply opt in through their profile to be eligible for this role. Moderators are usually quite active and will have a general idea I think going through an election would not be necessary, as this is mostly just an extra helping hand (a Reviewer's vote would not weigh heavier).

* Alternatively, having been granted 2 Steward badges for the same queue anywhere on the network allows a user to be eligible for the role of Reviewer for that particular queue.
6
  • I think "network-wide status" could use some further fleshing out (what reputation level? reputation on any single site? or sum of reputation across all sites? if sum, does that exclude the association bonus?). And how do you think those qualities correlate to knowing how to do each review queue you are referring to on each site? Ex. sites have community-specific close-reasons. Do you think knowing some communities' specific close reasons means understanding others (rhetorical question). This is relevant for first-questions and close-vote and re-open-vote queues.
    – starball
    Nov 30, 2022 at 20:54
  • Not all edits are spelling and grammar. Edits can involve subject-matter expertise. On SO. I only have subject-matter knowledge in a few tags. How much less so do I have expertise/knowledge in topics of various other sites!
    – starball
    Nov 30, 2022 at 20:55
  • You start by saying "accessing specific review queues on certain authorized sites", but which review queues and which sites? I imaging you have a motivating scenario in mind that isn't yet stated in your proposal post. Can you state it and clarify on those points?
    – starball
    Nov 30, 2022 at 20:56
  • 2
    @starball Not really, as this is meant to be a generic description of the role: any site could potentially need help with any queue. As for the correlation: when in doubt, the Reviewer can always skip an item. And even moderators have misunderstandings of what's on- or off-topic at times. A Reviewer's vote would not have more authority, so multiple votes are still needed.
    – Joachim
    Nov 30, 2022 at 21:17
  • If I understand correctly, the motivating problem statement is that some sites have very full queues. Ex. SO's first questions and close-vote queues. What I'm curious about is why you think this is the solution (assuming that is what you think). What alternatives have you considered? Why not alternative approaches such as reducing the number of reviews needed per item on high-volume queues? Or increasing each reviewer's review cap? Or lowering the rep threshold to access those queues? Or using some other same-site qualification such as number of approved edits or helpful flags?
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 0:19
  • Another question I have: Do you have numbers on the demand?: How many moderators/reviewers do you know that have expressed a desire for help from contributors from other sites? How many contributors do you know that have expressed a desire to help on other sites? If there's no evidence of demand from either side, then it could very well be that nobody or unjustifiably few people use this capability if implemented.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 0:21
16

Translation Reviewer

On international sites, the strings displayed on the site are translated by community users, and user suggestions are approved by moderators (and staff). But moderators are not always familiar with translation. We need the help of trusted users.

Because the actual work is done on traducir.win , it may not necessarily be tied to roles on Stack Exchange.

3
  • 6
    What would the benefits of a recognized role be? More publicity to the existence of the role and its need for help? (couldn't that be achieved in other ways?)
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 9:07
  • 4
    Ex. could we encourage this with badges instead?
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 19:06
  • 4
    Many volunteer-driven translation efforts have quality issues because users who self-select for this type of work are not necessarily professional writers, just native speakers (think of how many native English speakers habitually misspell "separate" or "definitely"). I'm not saying this is a terrible idea, just that you might want to think about the process for assigning this role.
    – tripleee
    Nov 30, 2022 at 13:28
14

Citation Needed™ Officer

Both Let gold tag badge holders add post notices? and Allow high-reputation users to add post notices (perhaps as a 30k privilege?) make a similar request.

Having some combination of the two would be useful.

At least on the stack I moderate, adding a post notice that something needs citation or references to back up claims is a useful teaching tool, resulting in either self-editing or self-deletion from new users.

Larger sites make this impossible, as it's currently only moderators who can do this. But plenty of community members would know how and when it's needed.

It would take pressure off either moderators or community members having to delete posts or other harsher actions.

That then means new users get a gentler introduction to the mores and etiquettes of the site.

4
  • 1
    Would it be bad etiquette to just edit a "<sup>(citation needed)</sup>" into the post itself? I feel like I've seen that on wikipedia (just as a user. I don't have experience as an editor there).
    – starball
    Dec 4, 2022 at 18:02
  • 9
    @starball: In general, yes, editing that sort of thing into someone's post would probably be inappropriate here. The best way to encourage someone to add a citation to their answer (or suggest some other improvement to it) is usually to leave a comment.
    – V2Blast
    Dec 4, 2022 at 19:49
  • mores: "A set of moral norms or customs derived from generally accepted practices rather than written laws." Dec 8, 2022 at 4:56
  • "Officer"! lol, wow... that commands authoritah!
    – Mentalist
    Dec 20, 2022 at 1:29
12

Synonymizer

People with this role can vote on tag synonyms for any tag with less than N questions, even if they don't have the required score.

Currently, only users with a specific amount of reputation can vote to create synonyms. If synonyms for other tags should be created, moderators need to do that. I propose a role given to users who are experienced with synonyms and tags in general (e.g. similar to a tag badge on on the meta site but also counting questions?). This role would allow them to vote for synonyms on tags.

This would not allow them to single-handly create tag synonyms, it would still be subject to voting.

Moderators should be able to remove this role from users and also be able to revert synonymisation from tags (if they cannot already).

The maximum number of questions (N) is to be determined. Alternatively, there could be a limitation on total views on questions with this tag or a specific number of users

3
  • 1
    Moderators can indeed remove synonym relationships. (They can also add synonyms or swap tag synonym relationships, and merge tags together if appropriate.)
    – V2Blast
    Nov 30, 2022 at 17:18
  • @V2Blast I meant properly undoing the synonymization including restoring the previous tags on all questions (so that the questions that were of tag A have tag A again and questions that had tag B have tag B again). Nov 30, 2022 at 17:23
  • 4
    Synonymization on its own doesn't change the tags on existing questions; tags already on a question will remain as is. However, if you attempt to add the synonym to a question after they've been synonymized, then the destination tag will be added to it instead. (Merging tags is what removes the merged-away tag entirely and replaces it with the merge-destination tag.)
    – V2Blast
    Nov 30, 2022 at 17:34
12

Network Router

Privilege: Able to nominate, discuss, and approve/deny the migration of pages anywhere in the Stack Exchange Network where the user has demonstrated a sufficient expertise in the subject matter. (I will not delve into the actual/lengthy mechanisms and rules of my concept.)

Qualification: Users would need to possess silver/gold tag badges (or be moderators) on subject-relevant topics in BOTH communities in order to participate. (I can offer scenarios, but not on this page.)

Having a pool of SMEs making considered, transparent, and democratic decisions will be helpful in shifting topic-specific content to its most appropriate space. Better integrating associated communities will improve awareness of lesser known communities. The clean up will also help to contend with cross-posted content.

8
  • Or the site UI could be made more in-your-face about the existance of help pages like "/on-topic" :( (not expressing opposition to your proposal at all. just trying to voice my thoughts on what I think could be a "root-cause"/root-issue). +1ed
    – starball
    Dec 3, 2022 at 3:58
  • 1
    Even if SE was to make the UI improvements now, there is a decade of scattered content that could be better organized. Dec 3, 2022 at 4:26
  • 1
    I upvoted this, because I like the idea of subject matter experts saving good quality posts. But I have serous concerns about how hard it would be to implement. Manual curation of how tags relate to each other across network sites seems too great a challenge. Dec 3, 2022 at 20:43
  • If the solution was simple, Stack Exchange would have solved it already. I am happy to share my design thoughts if this idea gains traction. Dec 3, 2022 at 21:55
  • The pool of users who qualify for this would be in the teens if you require them to have gold/silver badges on both sites, I suspect.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:06
  • I didn't investigate how many users would qualify. Can you recommend another reliable trust metric? This privilege needs a very high bar for evaluating SME status. @TylerH Dec 14, 2022 at 19:47
  • I don't know of a readily available metric, I am just thinking of the number of users I have seen that have gold badges on two different sites, let alone the ones in that group who are interested in site curation.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 19:58
  • I did mention silver or gold or mod in my answer. There will be "pools of tags" where badges would qualify. Like for WordPress, a user on SO with any one of the many WP-specific tags who also has a silver badge on WordPressDevelopment.SE would be able to participate. Alternatively, a Joomla mod (such as myself) who has a silver badge on DBA.SE (if I actually had one) would be able to participate. If this bar is set too high / is too exclusive, then I am open to changing the qualifications. Dec 14, 2022 at 22:10
12

Blade runner

(Role name inspired by the movie of the same name)

Blade runners "hunt" accounts that use text generators i.e. chatGPT to make posts that don't give the proper attribution to the tool used and have not verified the accuracy of the post content.

These users might review posts from any community and flag posts to per-site moderators attention and / or community managers (CMs). They help per-site moderators and CMs to identify emerging disruptive behavior patterns powered by text generators / automation tools.


This role might be supported by similar tools and workings used to handle spam (Charcoal-HQ chat room, smoke detector chat bot, etc.) as well by specialliced tools and workings, i.e. Blade Runners might be required to learn about chatGPT and other tools used by the offending accounts operators.

While anti-spam and anti-whatever be called this new disruptive activities have similitudes and could be grouped as a collaborative abuse fithing each of these tasks might be better handled by separate due to the specialization and time required. Anyway as there are users that are diamond moderators on multiple sites, users willing to collaborate to fight any type of abuse accross sites should be able to do that if they have the time, skills and ethics required.


Related

4
  • 2
    If all they need is flags, what's so special about having a role/title to go with it? The coordinated activity proposed sounds similar to socvr and the burnination activity- neither of which have dedicated roles/titles.
    – starball
    Dec 5, 2022 at 22:37
  • 1
    @starball Close vote reviewing (SOVCR = Stack Overflow Vote Close Reviewers ) and burnination activity are focused on completely different subjects and, AFAIK, are not standard across all sites. This activity might be close to collaborative efforts done against spam
    – Rubén
    Dec 6, 2022 at 1:40
  • What about this requires a role instead of e.g. Community-built systems like Charcoal? Dec 7, 2022 at 10:46
  • 1
    @starball Blade Runners should exist because, well, that's just plain fun! Jokes aside, I suspect we're going to have a whole new breed of spammers attack the site. It's probably premature but I would want to be in front of this type of spam before it becomes extreme, hence a specific type of job for this. Dec 18, 2022 at 22:50
12

Accessibility advisors

There was recently a kerfuffle about using the code block for code-like but not exactly code per se bits.

One concern there was that screen readers are said to choke on these compared to the New Feature: Table Support.

I was frustrated because I could not find anything more than anecdotal and 10+ year old lore about exactly what the accessibility issues were for code blocking for monospace vs for tables, and though about getting some software and trying it out myself.

Then I noticed there is a lot of different screen readers and other accessibility tools out there and I could not get all of them because:

  • some are expensive and I'm poor
  • each takes some time to learn (I have my own neuro-challenges)
  • what matters is the experience of the folks who actually use these!

For the SE ecosystem in general (rather than a per-site basis) how about a recognized group of volunteers with various interests in accessibility get recognized as an important voice and have a central clearinghouse-type function for information and UI review for these issues?

5
  • an example of "code-like" but non-code items using equal space font available from code block feature in this post space.stackexchange.com/a/61186/12102 that could be reviewed by folks skilled and experienced in the use of screen readers
    – uhoh
    Dec 7, 2022 at 4:13
  • 7
    This is something that should be a paid position, not something that SE should unload to the community. Editing guidance notwithstanding needs to be stronger on the "avoid formatting as much as possible"
    – Braiam
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:20
  • 1
    @Braiam I wholeheartedly agree that a website as impactful as this should already have either a paid position, or at a minimum retain expert consolation services so that it maximizes its accessibility. But in addition to that there is a lot of community interest in developing some "best practices" and guidelines for how to use the site's features. These are two separate things, and what I propose here would not be "unloading" nor a release of SE from their responsibilities. Just the opposite; community feedback about accessibility can foster more accountability. It's not an either/or thing
    – uhoh
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:48
  • 1
    @Braiam See again the answer post I've linked to in my first comment, an SE staff is not the right person to decide if a) a code block or SE table is the best way to display JPL Horizions output whose formatting depends on equal paced font and benefits from those horizontal and vertical sliders, that's a community decision. Arguments against the code block display go back to a 10 year old MSE answer about using the back ticks in comments for emphasis. Q: How does that formatting in posts get processed by screen readers vs SE tables? Why would you vote against community input on that?
    – uhoh
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:55
11

Tag /typo reviewer

  • a new edit role

  • if an edit is made that has changed only tags or that requires only tags to be checked, this could be done by this person

  • this person would not edit the question or answers, only the tags

  • I would suggest a threshold of 250 points so than more people/users would be allegeable for this

  • The edit queue is often full (at least on Stack Overflow), and I think that is better that users with higher reputation focus on tasks that require more attention, for example, wiki entries, edits to the questions/answers

  • I don't have any data to back this up. This is all based on my observations

  • if there is a review request that only requests to review some typos, this can be handled with someone who has a fewer number of reputation points than users who do triage/questions review

9
  • I'm looking at thresholds. I think that at some 500 points, you get access to the triage queue. This is good, and it shouldn't be lowered. But I think that someone who checks the tags, and edits that have been marked as "I just fixed a typo in question/answer" could be done by someone who has less than 500 points in reputation. I think that approving edits that were related only to typos shouldn't be done with 2k rep, but with lower reputation. I hope that I'm more clear now.
    – KWriter
    Nov 29, 2022 at 8:36
  • 3
    I'd suggest that you edit to suggest a reputation threshold and provide a rationale. Perhaps you could back up the rationale with reference to personal experience, or even better, with hard data (which would take a lot more work to do, but would result in a much more convincing post!).
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 8:47
  • 2
    I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, it's often easy for someone with some familiarity with the site to improve the tags on a question from a low-rep newbie. OTOH, it often requires a Subject Matter Expert to select the best set of tags, especially if the question isn't basic. FWIW, on Physics.SE, one of our most prolific tag editors is a very knowledgeable diamond mod.
    – PM 2Ring
    Nov 29, 2022 at 9:36
  • 1
    Well before my time, there was a "retag questions" privilege that was granted at 500 rep. Pretty sure it was exactly what you'd think, you can make tag edits (and only tag edits). I think it was removed after suggested edits became a thing.
    – Laurel
    Nov 29, 2022 at 16:12
  • 2
    I agree with @PM2Ring: 250 seems far too low a reputation threshold to indicate even a clear understanding of a site's scope, let alone tag use.
    – Joachim
    Nov 30, 2022 at 8:30
  • 2
    I always leave typos as they are when I come across them. Guess why... because of the character quota for edits! An edit is required to be at least x characters long. Well what should we do - fix the typo and then add a bunch of extra filler text into the question to satisfy the requirement? Nah, I'll pass. Just leave the typo in... How could this be improved? Maybe with a way to denote typo fixes as a different category of edit that doesn't warrant a high priority in the review queue.
    – Mentalist
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:23
  • 2
    This is already set at 500, that seems fairly low already; why should it be slightly lower? (add your reply to your answer, don't hide it in a comment).
    – Rob
    Nov 30, 2022 at 16:20
  • @Laurel It was removed in 2013 a couple years after suggested edits were introduced. Dec 2, 2022 at 2:24
  • I don't want users to be making trivial edits. I want users to have the mindset that complete/comprehensive edits are most valued. I'd rather not have this role at all for the message that it sends to inexperienced editors. Dec 2, 2022 at 23:57
11

Subject Matter Expert

On the tags that I monitor most closely, such as xslt, there's an odd situation where we have half a dozen users who are the lead answerers - the vast majority of questions, if they're comprehensible at all, get answered by one of this small group, and we all know who we are. Yet I have no idea who the moderators are, all I know is that they occasionally get things really wrong (for example by closing a question that's perfectly answerable if you know enough about the topic).

I have absolutely no desire to be a moderator, life is too short for that, but as an expert in a particular area I would like to be able to engage with the moderators in such situations, to know who they are and to "advise" them when this is called for.

This also relates to the whole system of badges and brownie points (which I hate). As far as I can see the only point of these accolades is so that people reading your posts can see that you know what you are talking about. But that's defeated when you stray into an area where you are not an expert. It would be good to see answers from users who are acknowledged experts in the particular subject matter to be flagged as such.

7
  • 2
    If you want to get help with coordinated re-opening, I suggest you start a coordination chat room. On SO, there is SOCVR. I'm sorry to hear that you're seeing incorrect closures by people who don't know the subject matter. It might help at least if you comment why you think a question should be re-opened.
    – starball
    Dec 9, 2022 at 10:35
  • 5
    One of the big problems, I think, is the policy for closing questions as duplicates. We get a lot of situations where experts can see that you've fallen into the same hole as lots of other people, but where the symptoms are sufficiently different that the person falling into the hole is unlikely to recognise it. Different symptoms, same underlying cause: is that a duplicate? Dec 9, 2022 at 10:39
  • 2
    It's not only moderators who can close things. Anyone with 3k rep can close vote, and anyone with 15 can flag for closure. If you want to advise users who close voted, you can open chat rooms with them, or @reply them (you'd have to do that individually in separate comments, so I'd recommend a chat room).
    – starball
    Dec 9, 2022 at 10:40
  • I think your accusation/assumption of who is incorrectly closing questions in your frequented tags is very likely misplaced. It's probably not a good look on you if you make accusations/assumptions that are misplaced.
    – starball
    Dec 9, 2022 at 10:44
  • 4
    Criticism of someone's decisions is not an "accusation". If my assumptions about who is making mistakes are misplaced, then you're supporting my point: I would like to know more about who is making them, so that we can engage in debate. Dec 9, 2022 at 11:58
  • 7
    Isn't this what gold tag badges are for? Or do those not exists to the same degree on non-SO sites?
    – MegaIng
    Dec 9, 2022 at 13:11
  • @MegaIng Yes, gold badge wielders can unilaterally close and reopen (one time each, anyway) questions, even those that were reopened or closed by a moderator. And they do exist on other sites, although the occurrence is naturally much lower, since there's far less activity on all the other sites.
    – TylerH
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:45
10

Global coverage champion

This is a bit of a rubbish name, but let me explain what I mean, and perhaps someone can come up with a better one.

Stack Exchange is mostly conducted in English. For that reason, its coverage usually leans very heavily towards the preoccupations of people who, like myself, speak English.

To address this problem, we need more questions and answers about neglected (non-Anglophone) subjects. The Global Coverage Champions would be empowered to give a substantial rep bonus (hundreds or thousands of points) to users who ask and answer good questions on these topics.

SE is, of course, mainly technical sites. One imagines (though I could be wrong) that there is relatively little difference in the technical needs of people in Kenya, Peru, India, Canada or Italy. Python is Python, wherever you go.

It's a very different story on non-technical sites like History or Politics SE. The biggest tag is World War 2 - it has 1520 questions. For context, there are 126 questions about Africa. WW2 is an important subject, but it's not more important than the history of an entire continent since the beginning of time.

Another example: United States has 1478 questions. That's more than Russia, India, Japan and China combined. Again US history is an important topic, but is it more significant than the history of all those countries put together? Note that the precolonial Americas is not covered under this tag. Even if we include North America's entire history from European arrival to the present day, it's a far smaller expanse of time than the whole of Indian or Chinese history. And unlike African precolonial history, which was shamefully ignored by most academics until very recently, copious secondary sources (in languages other than English) exist which cover the history of the above four countries.

Politics SE is even more one-sided. It has 15,088 questions, and 6669 of these are tagged with United States! 1518 are tagged with United Kingdom.

Someone needs to reward users who can broaden the scope of these sites

This is not about penalising people who write on well-trodden topics. In no way am I suggesting that we need fewer questions about Anglophone countries and Anglophone preoccupations. I myself have written mostly about those topics.

What we need to do is generate more questions and answers about neglected topics. Someone needs to be empowered to give a substantial rep bonus (hundreds or thousands of points) to users who ask and answer good questions on these topics. If a post gets, say, a score of 5 or more and is not closed, the user should get points for writing it.

The Global Coverage Champion should solicit those questions and answers from, for example, non-English language stacks on SE. They should find out where speakers of Hindi, Japanese, Arabic or Swahili congregate across the internet and ask those people to submit questions here.

I've chosen nationality as the thing to focus on, but it's well known that SE, like much of the internet, has a diversity problem in more ways than one. If we try this and succeed, we can replicate the strategy for other diversity issues as well.

18
  • 8
    This is a great idea, and would help a lot of sites in ways far broader than just nationality. For example, Board & Card Games and Role-playing Games and Arqade are, as far as I've heard, far more focused on exclusively one type of game than they "should" be according to the name of the site. Nov 29, 2022 at 15:24
  • 6
    Maybe "Ambassador" or "Diplomat" would be a better name for this role. Nov 29, 2022 at 15:29
  • 1
    Suggestion: "Site-topic-coverage/diversity advocate"?
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 18:20
  • 19
    While I like the idea of getting more content on more parts of a topic, I am not fond of the "if it has a score of five it deserves an extra hundreds or thousands of rep", as long as reputation on these sites is a tad more than just fake internet points (it is used to unlock privileges). Especially if you go gather users from places "outside" SE, who are thus likely not familiar with anything, a single post from them shouldn't give them such massive amounts of rep and privileges.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 29, 2022 at 18:33
  • @Tinkeringbell sounds like this could take some ideas from the "mentor" role post then? Mentor such new contributors instead of shoveling rep on them?
    – starball
    Nov 29, 2022 at 18:40
  • 4
    @starball Maybe. One thing I think about most of these roles is that they only make sense when they a.) Come with special tooling and b.) Those tools are things you don't want every user to have/do. Otherwise, why would you need a role for it, you can already do it. Mentoring is also a hard one to come up with a specific tool for that not everyone should have. Because IMO everyone already can mentor if they want to, and new tools that ease that process should be available to everyone regardless of role, so there's no need for a role.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 29, 2022 at 18:45
  • 1
    I agree that special tools are needed. I am struggling to see how querents on neglected topics could be rewarded with anything other than rep - but dishing out rep is a means to an end here, which is celebrating those questions and answers. Working closely with moderators would be necessary to avoid the pitfalls you've alluded to.
    – Ne Mo
    Nov 29, 2022 at 19:44
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell I disagree that the typical community member can currently effectively mentor anyone. You need to be able to communicate directly and need some way to connect people who want help to people willing to give it. Also, it's worthwhile to add more leadership roles that add tags or other indicators to usercards so that people who are contributing in ways other than answering or asking questions get some recognition. There is more to these roles than privileges and deputy mods. It's a way for more people to be involved in shaping the community for a site.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:09
  • @ColleenV Everyone that wants to can start mentoring now, even though the tools are crap, you can invite users to chat through comments or just comment. Better tools for mentoring shouldn't be locked behind a role. As for the rest, I'll just disagree, this is a network of question and answer sites and it has enough troubles that fancy badges should be really low on the list of priorities, so if that is all roles are going to be, they're in my opinion a huge waste of time, time better spent on making those better mentoring tools, like the staging ground, for example.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:31
  • @NeMo SO for Teams has emoji reactions for posts. If you really want to "award" something, perhaps allowing for them to give away something like those can do, they don't carry any consequences (except being a distraction between the post and the comment section you need to scroll past).
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:37
  • 2
    Then it would be fair to say the tools that currently exist don't work.
    – Ne Mo
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:15
  • @NeMo sure, the current tools can/should be improved upon. I'm not denying that, what I'm arguing against is locking away those improvements behind a role, instead of making them available for every user. A nice thing of SE is that every user that wants to and has the necessary privileges, can help out wherever they prefer, they don't have to jump through the hoops of getting a role. Quite a few of the suggestions on this post could be new privileges/tools for everyone, it can fit inside the existing system and doesn't need a whole new one called 'roles'.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:40
  • BTW, there's another post here that talks about having a role that comes with the ability to feature posts. While it also mentions bounties (see my opinion on that a few comments back), perhaps the featuring could also work for this role: highlighting the posts will get them more attention and can also work to increase awareness that these kinds of things are also on-topic on a site.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:40
  • Some very good points you bring up. But I'm not sure it can be solved with a role alone. Seems like a site architecture problem to me. For example, SE could allow non-English Q&A, but only display foreign language entries when accompanied by English translations of those questions/answers. Then... once SE has the infrastructure, the role of "Translator" would be very welcome. Although, translation might be a job best opened up to anyone with the skills and willingness to do it.
    – Mentalist
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:18
  • 3
    An excellent idea. Every time I log in, I'm hoping to see a question on Africa. More diversity can only be good for History SE and, I'm sure, many other sites. Nov 30, 2022 at 21:43
9

This seems like a solution looking for a problem. The problem isn't that people don't have armbands to do stuff they should be doing; the problem is that those actions aren't explicitly allowed, but instead implicitly allowed. Examples:

  • curators: all those things are implicitly allowed by the editing, voting and bounty pages. There's no rule that says that you can't coordinate with others to make sure questions get the attention they deserve and the [tag]?tab=Frequent gives you an overall view of what is the most frequent questions on the tag (btw, please make that tab more prominent/default).
  • tag curators: is just a rehashing of the gold badge privileges, which I personally think should be expanded to all close reasons. It's nothing new.
  • audit moderators: we have the power of removing a bad audit via simple voting; the difference here is that we have to be aware of the bad audit first.
  • mentorship: this is trying to funnel users towards a staging state, SE has more information about this than I do, but I don't think an armband would help here. This is structured guidance rather than unstructured, and should be done one on one, the public site isn't optimal for this.
  • migration helper: is merely a lack of coordinated voting, since those small tags that have their own site members don't come often to SO. Chat rooms help here.
  • Tag Manager and the others like it: this is mainly a request for better tools to manage tags and the creation of a guidance about "what should the tag corpus be" rather than a lack of roles. I already made proposals for the tooling aspects, which I will not rehash (mainly, bulk add/removal).
  • Translation Reviewer: afaik, this already exists, it just doesn't get an armband. Also, any community member can report mistranslations.
  • Global coverage champion: this can already be done by users, they simply aren't that interested.

As you can see, this is not a problem solved by RPG'ing our way to victory. It's merely a human problem and in some cases a lack of adequate tooling. If you fix the latter, the former will be easier. Also, I have a general distaste of armbands because if someone tells me that I can't edit a question because I'm not a curator, I will be very mad. Also, you have to consider the confusion aspects of it for external users (the 99% of the users that use the site). They already have problems correctly identifying the difference between a moderator and a user that can edit/close/vote/comment; adding more on top of it, will only cause more confusion.

I propose this: get devs cracking at better tooling for stuff that is needed, update the help center to have a non-exhaustive list of allowed actions (and explicitly tell that is not exhaustive too; this is very important), and try to give guidance so that humans can coordinate better. Multisite chatrooms could help?

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  • 4
    While we're at it, let's remove badges that incentive certain behaviours which will stop gold tag badge holders from closing duplicates. After all that only requires co-ordinated voting. Dec 4, 2022 at 12:52
  • 6
    There's a human factor to "community roles" that casting this as a coding problem completely misses.
    – uhoh
    Dec 4, 2022 at 13:34
  • @uhoh yeah, humans generally suck. That's something we are all aware of. This will not make them suck less, and has the unbound potential to make them suck much more. I prefer solving the "coding" problem first, because that's something that we haven't done in years, which we spent trying to solve the people problem with coding solutions. (BTW, it makes the most sense from a resource allocation standpoint, since better tooling can be measured for success and once you invest on it, it pays forever).
    – Braiam
    Dec 5, 2022 at 20:44
  • 7
    @Braiam oh I see what you did there, started with "yeah" followed by a statement exactly opposite of how I feel.
    – uhoh
    Dec 5, 2022 at 20:58
  • @uhoh no, it's not opposite of how you feel, it's explaining from where that feeling comes from and teaching you about it, so you can recognize it and see how the solution that I add later on is superior. In summary, I'm saying that we all suck, but that doesn't mean that we should make us suck extra, which is why your argument of "casting as a coding problem" is misguided.
    – Braiam
    Dec 6, 2022 at 15:02
  • 3
    @Braiam I like the way SE has generated large and vibrant "communities" (really loose groups) of people working together and agreeing to some basic and decent principles, and how the platform has grown to encourage this through both coding and listening efforts. The proposal in the question is meant to be a way to foster additional participation at the human level. It could be that spending too much time in the coding SE sites has exposed you to an elevated level of "suckiness" and some more time in some of the other 170 SE sites might broaden your perspectives on the value of community...
    – uhoh
    Dec 6, 2022 at 22:12
  • 2
    @uhoh and I'm telling you that it will not. Every time that has been tried it fails. Hell, even Wikipedia literally have the same privileges that we use except that you have to "request" for it. So, lets stop distracting ourself with "humanity" and give tooling. We haven't had any tooling in YEARS. We are due such things.
    – Braiam
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:15
  • 1
    @AncientSwordRage I think the problem with gold badges isn't that they exist, it's that it's limited to a single reason. Free it for all reasons and you will see a more "normal" behavior.
    – Braiam
    Dec 10, 2022 at 11:31
  • 2
    @uhoh SO is designed to use gamification to motivate behaviors. Roles will only serve to limit the number of players and pigeon hole the participants. How does that improve engagement?
    – jpmc26
    Dec 10, 2022 at 21:19
  • 2
    "There's no rule that says that you can't coordinate with others to make sure questions get the attention they deserve" - unless people decide you're operating a voting ring. Mar 15 at 4:50
9

A solution in search of a problem

And I mean that quite literally.

Instead of asking, "What roles?" you should be asking, "What problems?" Authority roles that grant additional powers should be created because there is a problem to be solved and it is a good fit for solving that problem, not because you've arbitrarily decided you wanted to create roles. You should be investigating what problems the communities are experiencing, and then new roles should be one possible solution among many on the table for solving it.

4
  • 3
    The impression I get is, that they know this but aren't soliciting suggestions about non-role solutions Dec 10, 2022 at 19:15
  • 7
    @AncientSwordRage Which is the point. You don't presume a solution. You look for the problems, and then you evaluate the fitness of available solutions. Putting forward a solution and then asking what problems it can be used for is exactly backwards. The best solution will often naturally fall out of a good understanding of the problem.
    – jpmc26
    Dec 10, 2022 at 20:03
  • 3
    I think it's fine to ask for solutions, with the implicit understanding that the description of the solution should include the problem it's solving. And if none of the solutions are compelling because they don't solve compelling problems, they won't be adopted. Dec 14, 2022 at 0:34
  • 2
    @SteveBennett A solution can appear compelling if it is presumed beforehand because it can influence how the nature of the problem is perceived. Seeking problems before solutions reduces the influence of biases. Proposing solutions and asking for problems increases their influence and discourages a deep examination, which lowers the likelihood of considering alternatives.
    – jpmc26
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:18
5

Mod Emeritus

This role is a different from most of the other suggestions. The focus is not on function but on honour.

When moderators retire after long and distinguished tenures, they revert to being standard users. There is no recognition of their contribution; it's almost like they were never mods in the first place.

I suggest that Community Managers be empowered to grant retiring moderators "Mod Emeritus" badges. Their username might be accompanied by a circle instead of a diamond, and they might retain some mod privileges such as access to mod-only chatrooms.

This would be a way to recognise the positive contributions of retiring mods who have shaped the tone and ethos of their community.

2
  • 1
    I think the current system works well enough for chat specifically. Only those bound by the mod agreement can be let into the main mod chats, which are filled with PII. There are some other private chats where a variety of mods, staff, and trusted regular users discuss various things. This is done by giving them write access if they ask. (It's also worth noting that some mods otherwise in good standing lose their diamonds because they drop off the site. They could be acknowledged but not with extra privileges on an unused account.)
    – Laurel
    Dec 19, 2022 at 18:36
  • 2
    I like this idea; over the years I've seen in some metas that there have been cases where moderators "retire" with great sadness and thanks by the community, and others were a mod's great work over time has dropped significantly but are still "tying up" a slot, which is sometimes addressed by adding a fourth moderator slot and sometimes by coaxing to retire by the community. Having an emeritus transition available would be great, and retaining a selected subset of mod privileges allows them to continue to contribute to, and interact with the mod community. A non-PC term might be "mod elders"?
    – uhoh
    Dec 19, 2022 at 21:49
4

Help Officer

Many discussions on Meta are most interesting, and some provide details that the Help Center doesn't mention. A Help Officer would be a person that keeps up with the thousands of pages on Meta, looking for those things that really should be in the Help Center.

I could imagine this to require some priviledged interaction with management and access to some special extracting/editing tools. And why not make it rewarding, other than just the title...

The Help Officer could be put in charge of organizing polls on Meta where a vote can be cast based on a short one-line proposal.

6
  • 7
    Can't we all just be passive help officers? I was under the impression that the current way of doing things is to make feature-requests and let the community voice their agreement or disagreement by voting, and then mods can escalate the request to staff by tagging status-review. I think that communal vote and discussion part is important. If we create a "Help Officer" role, are you suggesting that that that communal vote and discussion be removed from the process? And what do you think is insufficient about the status-review tagging process?
    – starball
    Dec 2, 2022 at 20:47
  • @starball The voting on Meta posts to me pretty much says nothing about agreement or disagreement with the post's content. For that, we should at least introduce the concept of a 'poll' where a vote can be cast based on a short one-line proposal (ignoring all remaining text). I don't think the poll-vote should replace the post-vote but rather complement it. The Help Officer could be at the heart of setting up these polls.
    – Sep Roland
    Dec 2, 2022 at 21:16
  • 1
    polls on meta would be no more useful than upvotes and downvotes on meta at determining a meaningful consensus.
    – Kevin B
    Dec 2, 2022 at 21:30
  • @KevinB That's why they have to be very short and focussed.
    – Sep Roland
    Dec 2, 2022 at 21:36
  • That wouldn't fix the reason they're not useful.
    – Kevin B
    Dec 2, 2022 at 21:40
  • 1
    Details that the help center doesn't mention are collected in the [faq] already
    – Bergi
    Dec 2, 2022 at 23:06
3

Editor

Those that may not have many questions or many answers or comment a lot or vote a lot or review a lot or flag a lot but have sufficient rep (I think 2k is the bar), can still improve existing questions and answers by editing. I believe there are people like this or people who just like to improve existing content by editing it.

They would:

  • choose specific, suitable question titles
  • remove unnecessary parts (salutations, roundabout formulations)
  • correct spelling or grammar mistakes
  • improve formatting of text, tables, graphics
  • streamline examples
  • add-in feedback from comments
  • check appropriate keyword usage

and thereby improve content, preferably of highly important (scored or visited) content. I would dare to say that the editing role is sufficiently different from the asker or answerer role with unique requirements. And the editing activity is surely having a very important impact on the success of the site, improving the quality of the content.

7
  • 6
    I'm a bit confused by this post. What are you proposing here that is different than what 2k+ users already do? Dec 1, 2022 at 19:14
  • 2
    @ThomasMarkov I want people clearly marked as editors and I want editors to be judged by how well they edit, not what rep they have. Is that difference enough? Dec 1, 2022 at 23:19
  • The initial rep cap is much lower (I think it's 5 rep or so) to suggest edits to questions and have them approved. 2k is the bar to not have edits approved any longer.
    – TarHalda
    Dec 2, 2022 at 14:49
  • 2
    @TarHalda I know. For this answer I imagine a role for edits without approvement. Editors not edit suggesters. Dec 2, 2022 at 20:53
  • 1
    This is something we should foster of every user, even those that don't have an account.
    – Braiam
    Dec 8, 2022 at 0:16
  • @Braiam It's kind of a basic writing skill but many lack it. An alternative description would also be copy editor. Dec 8, 2022 at 16:51
  • 3
    There's probably a case for this. For example, I have edit privilege on a few sites, and have demonstrated that I'm competent at spelling and grammar (English is my native language). It's frustrating that that competence isn't recognised on the sites where I don't have questions or strong answers but can still help those who don't have good English. I recently had to wait two weeks to get a simple spelling/grammar change approved, resorting to a Meta post to draw attention to the queue. Dec 10, 2022 at 9:43
3

Support Partner

Many of the sites here have the capability of employees of the related products using SE as a support avenue and helping users here. An example might be Salesforce.

If a user can be validated as being an employee (via corporate email address for example), they can be highlighted as such in Stack Exchange and thus gain a level of trust from users needing support.

3
  • 1
    Very very loosely related: Ruben's "Guru" proposal
    – starball
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:31
  • 1
    True, but the validation process for that role (certification and other proof of expertise) seems somewhat resource intensive. The role I suggest here is more professional and needs little more than a corporate email as validation.
    – Boots
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:38
  • Re "gain a level of trust": Often they don't get the Stack Exchange model, thinking it is a forum, a help desk, or a ticket system (e.g., not identifying duplicates, answering the same questions over and over and over again). They would need to pass some kind of course, quiz, or exam. Dec 23, 2022 at 9:17
2

Site Feedback Aggregator

I admit that at first I thought this very Meta question was sort of absurd. And I do agree that it is a solution in search of a problem, as @jpmc26 suggested. However, as I thought about it more, I came to realize that this desperate search for "roles" might be part of a theme or trend that is broader in scope: Stack Exchange is trying to figure out how it can improve itself. So as bureaucratic as the whole role thing may seem, the initiative most likely has good intentions and this is good news.

I still don't think this means we necessarily need a bunch of new roles (although a few good ideas do turn up when combing through the answers here). But if we were to tackle these issues through the assignment of a "role", I would suggest the role of Site Feedback Aggregator. 🐊

This person would be in charge of scraping user feedback from real-world examples of where the SE format hasn't totally worked smoothly for users. It could come in the form of comment exchanges, the way answers are formatted, or just an observation of a site feature being misused with notable frequency. Ideally, this person would be familiar with a variety of SE sub-sites and aware of the nuanced needs that different communities have.

The aggregator's job would be (A) to observe opportunities for improvement based on the interactions taking place on the site (B) to consider possibilities for how improvements can be implemented - without developing any attachment to or insistence on how (as it is of course ultimately up to SE dev teams), but if asked for suggestions or opinions, the aggregator should be able to share some insight. (C) to be aware of what limitations and challenges the SE dev teams face, be aware of what problems they are already aware of, and have a sense for the scope of time and effort that is required to implement different types of changes.

The person in this role need not be identifiable as such, lest they become the target of the community's grievances. Rather, I envision this person as a neutral observer who is a member of the community like the rest of us.

In short, this space we have here is a community where site architecture shapes how conversations are had. Communication takes on certain formats. On the other hand, the community voices feedback about what is working and what isn't so much. Perhaps a Site Feedback Aggregator could help collect all the common issues/concerns in one place, and be the direct line between those who build Stack Exchange and its denizens.

Just an idea... since you asked.

2
  • 3
    "Stack Exchange is trying to figure out how it can improve itself." +1 Bingo!
    – uhoh
    Dec 15, 2022 at 2:56
  • 6
    I feel like this would be something that ought to be a full time job within the community team, as a point of contact for the community Dec 15, 2022 at 3:52
2

Mentor

Alt. Titles: Player-Coach, Coach, Big Sib, Stack Genius

Summary:

The "Mentor" or coach role facilitates platform on-boarding and programming knowledge transfer from advanced to beginner community members. The role will focus on chat-based support for users in need. The only official action of a Mentor outside of chat rooms would be to place (temporary) comments on poor questions or answers inviting the user into a mentorship chatroom. Mentors would focus on tags where they have established expertise.

Suggested Requirements:

  • Minimum reputation (2k, perhaps? 5k?)
  • Minimum badge awarded in the tag(s) serviced by the Mentor (Gold? or Silver?)
  • 2 years as a user
  • Average at least 1 hour per week in the chatroom each month

Permissions Awarded:

  • "Mentor" label below avatar
  • Personal Mentor chatroom access, mod. privileges
  • Ability to post boilerplate comment inviting a user to their mentorship chatroom

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