There was this question on Meta SuperUser about an inappropriately edited and locked question on SuperUser. I flagged it on SuperUser and lost the ten points in seconds. Logic would show that the moderator didn't even bother to evaluate the situation, and maybe even the same moderator removed the flag, as originally did the bad edit and lock.

Since the mods can grade our flags, how about a way to give Stack Exchange mods a grade on their decisions, like an upvote or downvote. This would give more feedback to the Team on how the individual mods are doing.

Of course, they would be graded on specific decisions, not a general grade.

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    Go ahead and fail me now. – user1228 May 10 '11 at 19:08
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    Please note that while we vote on answers and questions, Stack Exchange has always been very, very, very careful to avoid voting on or grading people and such systems are generally for internal use only. – Pollyanna May 10 '11 at 19:17
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    Plain and simple, they've earned thier right to be a mod. The only grading that needs to happen is from Jeff and the official SE team. – James Mertz May 10 '11 at 20:43
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    I'm confused. What was wrong with the mod's original decision to lock the post? The asker for an all-out edit war. Locking was the right decision here. Grade: A. – Cody Gray May 11 '11 at 2:09
  • @Cody, the problem was that there was a bad edit, the locking was just done to lock the bad edit in. Shog has fixed it now. – Lance Roberts May 11 '11 at 5:27
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    I very much disagree--are we talking about the same question? The edit history shows a number of users attempting to roll back to revision 2, an edit by @sblair, that I feel substantially improves the quality of the question. When @Sathya locked the question, it was done to lock in that original edit (from revision 2). What part of that do you think is "a bad edit"? – Cody Gray May 11 '11 at 5:31
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    Am I the only one left who couldn't care less about what flag number I have? – Thomas Bonini May 11 '11 at 11:10
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    @Kop: Yes. And I love you for it. Let's snuggle. – user1228 May 11 '11 at 15:42

This is a bad idea for two reasons.

Firstly, because of the gesture it represents. Remember, community moderators volunteer their time; and while I remember Jeff saying "there are no shit jobs on SO", some of the work surely is thankless sometimes. A grading system where dissatisfied users can zing the mod a -1 for an unpopular decision is not exactly something to make volunteering thrive.

Secondly, a grading system would say nothing about the quality of the mod's work. It would just record the discontent of those affected by the decision.

As long as it's possible to bring up and discuss mod mistakes through the usual channels - and I think it is- I don't see a reason to grade mod work. Should a moderator be completely and consistently out of line, one can complain either here or to the team.

Re your update re grading the action, not the mod: That sounds sensible, but shouldn't be done through a grading system either IMO. A formalized system of contesting a decision might make sense, thus forcing a second moderator to look at it, if the need is there. I personally haven't had any reason to contest a mod decision yet so I can't speak to the necessity.

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    Flagging is the usual channel, but if the same mod removes the flag as was being reported on, then it's not a functional system. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:11
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    @Lance Roberts: How do you know it's the same mod? How can you grade based on information you can't see? – mmyers May 10 '11 at 18:13
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    @Lance, to complain about a moderator action, flagging is not and should not be the usual channel. Raising the action (i.e. the post, NOT the person) on the sites meta for community discussion can be a first port of call, but ultimately it's a mail to team@ if you're still unhappy. – Rob May 10 '11 at 18:14
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    @Lance I'm not opposed to strengthening the checks and balances if that is necessary, e.g. that two mods must agree if a flag is contested or something. But a grading system would not be the solution - it would mostly be a venue for people to express their discontent about a mod decision, and not provide objective information about the quality of their work. – Pekka May 10 '11 at 18:14
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    @Pekka, I agree entirely with what you've said. Grading of voluntary service does not sit well with me either. – Rob May 10 '11 at 18:14
  • @mmyers, I was quite careful in my wording to say "maybe", please read what I said. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:14
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    @Lance "Flagging is the usual channel, but if the same mod removes the flag as was being reported on, then it's not a functional system." does not contain the word "maybe". – Grace Note May 10 '11 at 18:16
  • @Lance So you're going to "downvote" a mod because "maybe" they dismissed your flag? @mmyers is right, how can you know how to grade them if you don't know who did what? – Michael Mrozek May 10 '11 at 18:17
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    @Lance Roberts: And that's what I'm saying. Maybe the same mod dismissed it. Maybe some other mod did it without looking. Many things moderators do are invisible even to other moderators (once a flag has been dismissed, if no action was taken, only the dev team will know who dismissed it). So how can you grade one or the other? – mmyers May 10 '11 at 18:18
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    @Michael, I would be grading the original edit and lock, not any guess of who removed the flag. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:19
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    @Lance Roberts: All right, that wasn't clear at all to me. It looked like this was mostly a complaint that your flag was dismissed as invalid. – mmyers May 10 '11 at 18:21
  • I like your idea of two different mods on a flag. Grading was just one idea. If you post yours as a feature request I'll throw a vote on it. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:22
  • @mmyers, I don't claim any great explanatory writing skills, that's why these comments are so important for clarification. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:23
  • @Lance yeah, being able to contest a decision might make sense if the need is there. I haven't had to contest a mod decision yet so I don't really feel called upon to make the feature request - feel free to create one – Pekka May 10 '11 at 18:24
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    Pekka, @Rob's answer quite covers some pretty effective methods to contest a moderator decision. The Stack Exchange 2.0 sites have been pretty strong about using both. – Grace Note May 10 '11 at 18:33

There are already several avenues available:

  • Raising the point on a sites meta, outlining why you believe that a question has been incorrectly edited/locked
  • Contacting team@stackoverflow.com to outline your concerns

Ultimately, community moderators are doing the "job" unpaid and because (hopefully!) they wish to help improve the community that they form a part of. I really don't think that "grading" them is something that would go down particularly well with them. I know if I was a moderator it'd sit somewhat uneasily with me.

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    It seems like people would welcome feedback, how else do you improve? – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:14
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    @Lance, through constructive discourse (of the issue, not the person - I cannot emphasis that point enough), i.e. meta., not through a grade. – Rob May 10 '11 at 18:15
  • @Rob, I meant improve through feedback, grading is just one method of doing that. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:17
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    @Lance Continual complaints about a particular moderator is a lot more explicit and a lot more impactful than a blind grade, I would imagine. – Grace Note May 10 '11 at 18:18
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    @Lance, well say what you mean then! =) All the responses so far have been to "grading", if you didn't actually mean "grading", don't say it! =) – Rob May 10 '11 at 18:18
  • @Rob, I don't think you're getting what I'm saying, but I'm sure I'm not a good enough explainer to lay it out better. The word 'improve' was linked back to the word 'feedback' in the first comment. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 18:21
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    @Rob, You just wrote the reaction I wanted to write ;-). As long as we have meta and the team, we can keep this community running. – Toon Krijthe May 10 '11 at 18:28

So wait... There was an open Meta question regarding the actions on the post, and before bothering to participate in that discussion you decided to leave a private flag on the original post?

This seems contrary to the sort of open discussion Meta is intended to foster.

Then when you did decide to participate in the Meta discussion, you didn't bother to comment on the actual edits at all, preferring to simply state that you disagreed (without presenting any rationale for your disagreement) and then spend the remainder of your answer whining about flag weight.

And your solution to this is a rating system whereby you can ding mods for actions you don't like without presenting any rationale for your disagreement?

Lance, WTF? This is shameful. The solution isn't less openness - if you see moderators behaving badly, call them out publicly, present a well-reasoned argument, and let the community - who elected them - judge.

  • Wow, can't believe my comment was deleted. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 19:10
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    @Lance: I didn't see a comment. Perhaps you could re-post it? Assuming it was constructive and on-topic, naturally. – Shog9 May 10 '11 at 19:29

I oppose this on the grounds that community moderation sucks, and those that volunteer to do it are already under the microscope. Further, they are generally some of the top users in the community - they know how the place operates. Also consider that they were elected by hundreds and thousands of votes.

Yes, they have a lot of power, but they didn't just fall into it - they've worked hard to get to where they are, and they were elected by other members in good standing.

If you have an issue with a moderator's actions, bring it up on the relevant meta.

If you believe you can do a better job, participate in the site more often/fully, gather reputation, and nominate yourself when the elections occur.

  • I think I do plenty of work on the sites, I hope you're not accusing me of complaining without doing. – Lance Roberts May 10 '11 at 19:02
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    @Lance I didn't even pay attention to who posted the question until your comment. I'm not accusing anyone of anything. However, I strongly suspect most people don't understand the difficulty of community moderation, and I'm encouraging anyone who is interested in changing the affairs of the site to become moderators so they can more fully act out their desires. – Pollyanna May 10 '11 at 19:15
  • Some mods weren't elected, btw. – user1228 May 11 '11 at 15:44
  • @Will True, a few mods on the trilogy were selected by Jeff and Joel prior to implementation of the election system, and the pro tem mods on beta sites are not elected. – Pollyanna May 11 '11 at 15:53

Feedback on specific decisions is always welcome, but as others have already pointed out, only people who disagree with a decision would be likely to "grade" us anywhere other than a Meta post. It's really only useful to give us feedback when you do it in a public post where everyone in the community can hear all sides, then weigh in and let us know what they think of the decision.


I notice most answers are answered by high rep users and opposed to this suggestion. Can you say wolves guarding the hen house? I think Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (look at any government for examples...or even at police forces, there's a reason they need internal affairs somewhat separate). I don't really see any accountability here for downvoters or high rep users (moderators as well).

How do you currently challenge a decision? You need to throw up a post risk the reputation (it seems a lot of questions challenging specific decisions or suggestion ways to curb high rep/moderator power are met with severe downvotes), etc... Also it's a pain it uses a lot of energy/time to make the question and in many cases it isn't really worth it. This is like a giant company suing a poor farmer, to challenge the lawsuit requires a lot of time/effort (not money here fortunately), it is often better just to settle/not bother with it. Then these users making poor decisions go on unchecked...The other thing is that there is no database of reversed decisions. If all you do is look at each case on a case by case basis it is hard to keep track of the history.

Slashdot's metamoderating system has the right idea. The community should be the ultimate source for all decisions, not any sort of power users. If one user votes against a moderator/high rep decision, that doesn't mean much. But if 10 users vote against a specific decision (or maybe a higher threshold) then that might be worth reviewing. I would say specific powers need to be checked, like closing questions. Some people seem way to jumpy on the close button. Also downvotes seem a little out of control with people downvoting questions they do not agree with.

Additionally one or two reversed decisions does not mean much. But if a moderator/high rep user is having multiple decisions reversed over a period of time (say 10 in any month or something) that may merit some looking at. Nothing beats having a database of that information available for the querying. If the community decides that someone closing questions is wrong 50 times in a month, then that person probably should not have the ability to close questions anymore.....

This would also assign more personal accountability because I see many people jumping on the bandwagon rather than thinking for themselves. Once a question is marked possible duplicate it is often closed even if looking at the link the question is not really a an exact duplicate. All it takes is 5 yeses even if a bunch of people looking do not agree.... Similarly down voting because you disagree is childish but people do it. This is a fair on topic question about the stackexchange sites and yet look at the low score.

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