As discussed in this question, moderators can now see where they 'rank' relative to the quantity of their peer's actions. This includes actions that only moderators can take, as well as actions that we hope any high reputation user would take. This is great, in theory because it should encourage moderators to do stuff like get out and vote.

However, given the sheer volume of flags, especially when a new data dump is released, I find the red / orange / bright orange bold numbers speak to me in the sense that I'm not doing enough. Additionally, I feel as if they speak to my peers in the same sense about me, and that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

I love the new statistics, however, I'm able to tell that I really need to vote on questions more often without a big bold number pressuring me into doing so. I'm posting this as a feature request now, because I actually contemplated digging through my favorite tags to find stuff to vote for just because I found the bold stats a bit embarrassing.

I know it's not supposed to be a negative incentive, but that's how my brain is processing it.

Instead, perhaps we could highlight the 'super stars' in bright / normal green, so we can all aspire to their level of awesomeness when our full time jobs aren't so demanding?


I have the Electorate, Sportsmanship, Copy Editor and Strunk & White badges. I earned them over time, as I had time to give to earning them. I do all of the things that help make the site work, however, flags have to take priority.

Sometimes I take 60 actions in a day, sometimes over 600 (last April 1) - the point is as a moderator I need to make the time that I have available to spend count as much as possible, which usually means addressing stuff that the rest of the community simply can not. If time is left, sure - I can do other things.

I like the stats, but highlighting the lowest cases (to me) would only make sense if everyone that was measured actually committed to some level of performance in those areas. We did not, this is a completely volunteer effort and it does seem very much like negative reinforcement.

  • green with black background would be great
    – YOU
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:00
  • I don't see the red numbers the same way, but I think changing from highlighting low numbers to highlighting high numbers can't hurt.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:01
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    @YOU or maybe shimmering text .. Who wouldn't work harder to get shimmering text next to their name ? (said completely tongue in cheek)
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:02
  • That "voting" is kind of example, isn't it?
    – YOU
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:06
  • +1 I agree that the coloring doesn't really make sense. Sure, highlighting the best numbers might be a little better, but mostly I just don't see why it's that important to compare moderators against each other.
    – David Z
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:08
  • @David - I think the point is to show us stuff that we could probably do better over time. I just don't see why we need bold / colored numbers to do that. The data would be the same, just less ... 'urgent'.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:21
  • Can we see an example of those statistics?
    – Pekka
    Jun 26, 2011 at 9:44
  • @Pekka's serious account - No, I can't provide screen shots of anything in the moderator tools.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 10:57
  • @Tim ah, okay. -
    – Pekka
    Jun 26, 2011 at 10:57
  • I hope moderators will not start acting weird just to avoid being colored...
    – user150926
    Jun 26, 2011 at 14:26

4 Answers 4


I just made a large number of adjustments to the way we do the coloring, outlined here: Can moderator shame coloring be less sensitive?

Which kind of begs the question being asked:

I voted 24 times last month, Bill The Lizard voted over 1100 times. Why is my stat highlighted? Is it fair to expect me to vote 110 times a month?

I would argue that as a mod you see lots and lots of good and bad questions and answers, not voting is setting a really bad example to the community. The moderators are the users they should be striving to emulate, voting is and always was a problem on the site. We need more of it. I do not think that expecting you to vote 3 times a day is a huge ask.

That said the voting stat is not the most important (imho) stat in the list for Stack Overflow. We have a constant backlog of flags and we really need more of them handled. If I could marquee/blink the stat for flags I would.

(keep in mind, I only voted 67 times last month on SO, as a moderator I need work in that area)

  • 4
    We're all sinners. All of us. Heathens, in fact! Thanks for taking this into consideration, but I'd really rather we work to meet a quota rather than catch up with each other. Either way, I really feel this is a step in the wrong direction. This has gone from 'do what you can' to 'do try and keep up with people who have a lot more time than you do'
    – user50049
    Jun 27, 2011 at 7:41
  • 1
    "If I could marquee/blink the stat for flags I would." -- Oh, you can, and I have (I blink it everywhere, because it amuses me) Jun 27, 2011 at 16:54

I'll go further and say clearly: remove the shame coloring altogether. Or put only in the SEInc staff view.

The moderator statistics are of little use to us community moderators in the first place. I don't consult them on a daily basis, because they do not have any information that I need to do my job. As a moderator, I need to be aware of what needs to be done urgently (flags), of other things that may require my attention as a moderator or keen user (edit approval, meta posts, high-activity posts, closures and reopenings). But knowing how many posts my fellow moderators have closed? No, that is not useful to me, and should not be thrusted into my face all the time.

I would only consult these statistics if I already felt that one of my fellow moderator wasn't pulling his weight. Then, I might go and check his stats — and even on a site like SO I don't think you need coloring to see if someone's stats are much lower than others.

In the moderator chat, it came up that maybe moderators were supposed to be watching on each other. If so, then

  1. This should be mentioned in the instructions that we get when we become moderator.
  2. This should be made known to the community in general, especially but not only to potential candidates in moderator elections.
  3. I don't consider it my job. My job is to moderate the community, not to police the moderators. Of course, if I see something bad happening, including from a ♦, I'll act on it; but I don't *actively, specifically watch moderators (who are, y'know, selected against being problem users in the first place).
  • Who watches the watchers? Mods being able to keep an eye on each other makes sense to me. Ordinary community members shouldn't be expected to watch for mod problems (that would be quite the reversal of roles!), and CMs are too busy to keep an eye on all the mods. (But I do agree with your linked FR that admin/history shouldn't be so prominently linked.) Apr 8, 2017 at 0:18

I'm going to dissent on this: whether the top performers are colored or the bottom performers are colored is six of one and half-dozen of another.

Consider the converse problem: if I'm a top closer, and my statistic is highlighted because of that, I could develop the same insecurity about me closing too much and scale back my activities so I'm second. Then the next moderator gets the same idea and scales back his or her activities.

You can see where this is going.

There's some value in highlighting low moderator activity, if only for deciding if more moderators need to come on board. If it has the benefit of getting some moderators (myself included) to participate more in certain moderator duties that didn't seem like duties (commenting more comes to mind), that's a good thing in my book.

So, rather, it just needs to be a little smarter about determining what low moderator activity actually is.

Edit to address your addendum

Moderating is a volunteer activity, and not everybody is going to be able to do it at the same level all the time. But at the same time, moderating is a group activity: it's why every site generally has at least three of them. While all of our time is in short supply, we still need to help each other out on the less-important, dare-I-say menial tasks.

That is, it mostly only works if we share the load—for the important and the less important stuff—equally with the other moderators on the site.

That's not to say one's a bad moderator if they can't have the same level of activity as the other moderators, but it does mean the site's in a little bit of a spot if one of the more active moderators decides to take some time off and scales back their activity.

Think about it: let's say a site has three moderators. Two are doing 500 moderator activities a month, one is doing 50. So 1050 moderator activities are being taken care of.

One of the first two has to take a month or two off. Now only 550 moderator activities are being taken care of, a huge drop.

The second and third moderators now have to step it up substantially in a really short amount of time to fill the void; the second doing above and beyond even what the first moderator did just to keep up.

This problem is compounded if the third moderator doesn't realize his or her activity level isn't helping lessen the load, or is even unwilling because the 50 he or she was doing was the most he or she could do in the first place.

Compare to the third moderator being gently...prodded... to increase his or her activity more to come closer to the others. And, over time, finds a way to bring his or her activity up to 350 activities in a month, thus spreading the load equally amongst the moderators.

Now when the first moderator takes time off, 700 activities are being handled, and the rush to fill the void left by the first moderator is substantially less manic. The two remaining moderators only get a 35% increase in workload until a new moderator comes on board, rather than ridiculous sudden increase that would need to take place had the third moderator not stepped it up.

Of course, this could all be avoided by getting a fourth moderator who is willing to share the load equally with the first two moderators, but then the shame coloring starts to look like less of a negative reinforcement when compared to "conform or be effectively replaced."

  • I've updated my feature request a bit, I don't see how it won't feel like negative reinforcement (though your suggestions on how to make it smarter seem pretty good).
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:39
  • @Mark - Our's is spread over 10 appointed or elected moderators, effectively 6/10 will be perpetually 'prodded' in some area to come up to par with the top four, even though they're going above and beyond the average user in those areas. There's a lot of orange in our stats at the moment, and not just because the clock recently rolled over.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:09
  • @Tim Having 10 moderators is a wonderful problem to have: most SE sites have 2-3 :P. But I think what you're saying is a good argument for tweaking the coloring logic, not scrapping it entirely. If moderators 3-10 aren't indeed doing jack (not saying that's true, mind you), there should be some prodding. Otherwise, you really only have 2 moderators and 8 people playing one on TV.
    – user149432
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:14
  • @Mark - my point is, according to the stats (and not just daily), we don't actually have ten community moderators most of the time. I still don't see why bright orange numbers are needed to point that out? It's like people get punished for being busy, and I think that kind of stinks. I don't see how the coloring could be re-tooled to stop doing that, unless it just praised the people who found more time to give.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:17
  • @Tim If a site needs N moderators to function effectively, and N-X moderators aren't sharing the load with the others, I'm not sure why you don't see that as a problem that needs correcting: either by prodding the low-activity people to participate more (not much different than the notices users get to vote more) or by getting new moderators who are willing to share the load.
    – user149432
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:24
  • @Mark- Again, it's not a question of wanting to share the load, it's a question of having consistent blocks of contiguous time to do it.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:33
  • @Tim I see the disconnect now. I read this as more education than reprimand. A "Hey, did you know your activity isn't as high as the other moderators? Any chance you can help out more?" poke. If one can't, of course another moderator can come on board (and one can ignore the shame coloring), but I think this is more of a way to educate the moderators in the network who don't realize a hands-off approach to moderation isn't what is expected of them.
    – user149432
    Jun 26, 2011 at 5:40

Sorry, and all due respect, but this sounds like a whole lot of politically correct nonsense to me. "The stats are saying that i'm performing poorly with my voting, and i know i am, but please don't show everyone. Can we highlight the super stars so i don't look so bad?".

Mods need to lead by example! Get to it!

Note that i decide to make this an answer instead of the comment it originally was - if i have the audacity to say it then it needs to be votable :)

@Tim, i know you work hard (i frequently go through the flags list and it takes time, sometimes quite a bit). You will obviously still be reading/browsing questions, you just have to remember to vote. If the same stats were rolled out to us ordinary users and mine looked bad then i would just shrug and lump it - the voting is a product of both the time you have available and the quality of the questions/answers coming through. If you know you are performing well and doing the hard yards in other areas (like clearing flags), then does it really matter how your voting stat looks?

In other words - does what the stat say really mean anything? Is it relevant in the overall picture? Or is it like the KPIs that development managers frequently try to apply to developers - they don't measure anything meaningful and are easily distorted?

  • Are you misunderstanding mods and 10k users, btw?
    – YOU
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:08
  • @YOU, see my edit. I am a 10K user.
    – slugster
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:11
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    Additionally, questions and answers that attract moderators don't often have posts that I'd vote for, some perhaps against and maybe some that look well written, but way out of my experience hence I can't judge their correctness. Moderators are summoned mostly over quality issues, not accuracy issues and we frequently end up closing down a ghetto.
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:15
  • Convincing mods to vote more is nothing to do with this feature-request about coloring.
    – YOU
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:19
  • @YOU, if it is simply a colour request then yeah, i agree. But the way Tim's question reads, it is half about the stat and half about the presentation of the stat. I was talking about the stat - if it is accurate and true then live with it, but if it is meaningless then get rid of it.
    – slugster
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:24
  • @slugster, I agree with that. Only that voting can be done by all 15(upvote)/125(downvote) rep users, so he may not be as ideal user, but that is not directly related about his moderating manner, IMHO.
    – YOU
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:30
  • 3
    I've updated my feature request. Perhaps you might not realize just how busy Stack Overflow can keep a moderator :)
    – user50049
    Jun 26, 2011 at 4:41

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