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As many of you who spend time on the Meta site know, there are a lot of problems with the main site - lots of bad questions, low quality answers, and argumentative comments. Has there been some initial discussion of whether bringing on board a new diamond moderator could be helpful?

If so, how close are we to having nominations and elections?

Would the site welcome more than one additional diamond moderator?

The site seems desperately in need of additional help - I've felt a noticeable decline in quality, compared to when I first joined a few months ago.

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    Why do you think a lack of moderators is the cause of the problems you see? – curiousdannii Mar 15 '18 at 2:30
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    Also, have you asked the mods if their workload was unbearable? – Tinkeringbell Mar 15 '18 at 6:42
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    I don't see anything there suggesting a mod told you they had more to do than they could handle? – Tinkeringbell Mar 15 '18 at 6:59
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    TL;DR : no. [ long version ] -> engaged users are needed more than anything else (© @Catija). (and auto-flagging this as "please don't use comments to answer, otherwise we might really need another mod") ^^ – OldPadawan Mar 15 '18 at 7:11
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We (the moderators) haven't really discussed requesting a new moderator from the Community Managers. We know that it's an option... and if the users feel like the moderation of the site is somewhat lacking, we're happy to consider your point of view on the subject but, as of right now, we don't think that there's a need.

Even if that's the case, there's no "elections". We're a beta site. The mechanics would be for a CM to post a "who wants to be a mod?" nominations meta post, just like the one that got the current team in place. These are very informal and the highest-voted people don't always "win". The CMs will consider all of the candidates and pick one and offer them the position.


All of that said, though...

The only thing in the three concerns you've listed that moderators are the only people who can handle is "argumentative comments" in that we're the only ones who can unilaterally remove them or shove them all into chat. Even then, sufficient users (3) flagging a comment as no longer needed or rude/abusive will cause the comment to be deleted without a moderator's involvement.

The other things you mention... dealing with poor quality questions and answers... they're things that the community should be handling, not the moderators.

If the site is "desperately in need of additional help" - help it? Everyone on this site with more than five reputation has the ability to moderate the site to some degree.

  • Users with 500 reputation can close and reopen questions. - about 320 users
  • Users with 1000 reputation can edit anything that's not locked. - about 180 users
  • Users with 2000 reputation have access to moderator tools, one of the most useful things out there and something few people even realize exists. - about 75 users
  • Users with 4000 reputation can cast delete votes on sufficiently downvoted questions and answers. - about 38 users

Many much longer-standing and well-functioning beta sites have way fewer privileged users than this... in fact, I'd say that many graduated sites have fewer privileged users than this (particularly considering the higher reputation requirements for privileges). Yes, we give out reputation like it's candy on Halloween but some decent chunk of these users are either helping run the site already or might be willing to do so if they knew what to do and we encouraged them.

But we're still a bit sort of short on guidance. We have a nice "what to ask" page (if I do say so myself), and that's a start... but we don't have custom off topic reasons yet - we get three by default, we're using none of them. We can also request the CMs to customize some of our other help pages if we think they might be more useful, though it comes at a price - they won't be automatically updated when the network help pages change.


Questions

If you think there are bad questions open on the site, flag or vote to close them. Use constructive comments to explain why you think the question needs work and help the OP improve the question by either editing it or asking for more details. When sufficient information is added to clarify or restrict the question, retract your flag/close vote or vote to reopen if it was closed.

If a question you feel should be closed gets reopened, then that means the userbase here isn't in agreement on what should make a question close worthy, so take that time to understand where the disconnect is. Determining when a question is or is not a good fit for the site is one of the main reasons we're here in beta in the first place. Until we figure that out, we've got work to do.

You can see who voted to close or reopen a post in the timeline if a post has been reopened. This link is hidden but you can find it by going to https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/posts/[postID]/timeline. This works for both questions and answers, though only questions will show close/reopen information. I strongly suggest that you avoid calling out people by name, particularly in making accusations, but if you're interested in seeing who's casting these votes, the information is accessible.

If you have 2K reputation, this may be a great time to visit the moderator tools page to see a list of questions that have outstanding close or reopen votes or that have been recently closed or reopened.

What makes a question "good" or "bad" or "on topic" is never going to be perfectly agreed by everyone because that's really not something any community can expect but we can hold our users to the decisions we've made as a community about how to decide when a question is clear, narrow, and on topic - and when it is not. We can expect them not to act against those decisions, even if they don't help uphold them. Right now, many questions get yo-yoed back and forth between open and closed status because we haven't made a decision and come to an agreement. Let's work on that! One question at a time if need be.

Moderator close votes may be immediate but they're not permanent. Even they can be overridden by users if five users think the question is a good fit. It's not the job of the moderation team to dictate what is on and off topic or what is sufficiently detailed or clear. We get a voice but we are not the sole voices. Everyone's voice matters; though it won't always find agreement.


Answers

Answers can be a bit more complicated for users to deal with because, if they do get upvoted, users can't delete them. This is a challenge due to the HNQ status of some questions and because many users who visit the site don't meet the 125 reputation requirement to downvote.

Even so, the work of helping to improve low-quality answers is not the work of the moderators, but of the entire userbase. If an answer lacks detail, comment and ask for clarification or more explanation. Be specific. Don't just comment why an answer is bad... guide the answer to improve.

If you choose, downvote it. There's a lot of disagreement about how to use downvotes, so I hesitate to emphasize them, but they are a very important part of moderation on any site. We can not delete answers without them. They signal to everyone that an answer is lacking somehow and they influence the order in which most people view answers (by score).

It's also important that we don't rely on these nudges for improvement from one or two users... it's part of everyone's work to get the best possible answers for the questions asked here. If you're going to complain that the answers here are low quality but you've not spent any time asking for improvements on an answer, you're sort of part of the problem.


So... be the change you want to see. You may not have a diamond after your name... that doesn't mean you have no power to influence this site and it absolutely doesn't mean that more moderators are needed.

Active, engaged users are needed more than anything else.

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    I think there could be value in having someone from a different timezone to be able to squash budding conflicts that users don't have the tooling to solve, but a new mod won't magically fix the site – mag Mar 15 '18 at 7:24
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    @Magisch I've heard that before but I just don't see it. The easiest way to squash budding conflicts is to back off. Very little on this site needs immediate responses. – Catija Mar 15 '18 at 14:27
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    But that's extremely rare here. I can't remember waking up to something like that in the past couple of months. Plus, having that mod doesn't mean they are any more able to take immediate action. Also, can we please keep the SO election out of this? – Catija Mar 15 '18 at 14:37
  • fair enough, I was using it as an example, but you're right – mag Mar 15 '18 at 14:41
  • What about this one? That would definitely have been easier if there had been a mod online...I can disengage, but I can't make others... But like Magisch said, it's a 'would be nice' not a 'is very terribly necessary' – Tinkeringbell Mar 15 '18 at 14:43
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    A very good answer here - I really think that, with the number of high-rep users we have that we are in a place to do a pretty good job at self-moderating most of the SE, and that any issues with a lack of moderation may stem from a lack of understanding from the high-rep users on what is and what is not something that needs dealing with. – Crafter0800 Mar 15 '18 at 18:16

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