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So, I love our current moderators. I voted for as many as I could in the last election, and I respect them all.

I think they can get overworked, too, which is why, as a high-rep user, I try to take as many actions as I can to assist. That said, I still they they are overworked.

I would also suggest that David Stratton, Peter Turner, and others would be very, very logical choices to add to the mix.

So, when can we get a new election to add more mods?

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    I'm probably to busy to police the site myself right now, I still check it 3-4 times a day. David is probably doing most of the site moderation anyway. I'm out of gas till the two year old is 6 and the baby can feed herself! – Peter Turner Jan 31 '14 at 2:53
  • I think we need an non-orthodox Christian moderator. However I will say, thing have loosened up a bit around here and I believe that has encouraged more traffic. – The Freemason Jan 31 '14 at 17:36
  • @TheFreemason 1) We have a non-orthodox moderator. 2) Our traffic graph does not show a correlation between periods where moderation has slacked off. If anything there are some major drops that correspond to my extended travels, and they have gone up during some of our crackdown. Besides if the recent flood of lower quality posts is any indication of what happens when traffic is up I think we need to keep the pressure on and maybe even up the ante. – Caleb Jan 31 '14 at 19:58
  • @Caleb agreed, I guess it depend on the vision of the mods as to what direction the site should go. IMHO, there were points of time where it appeared that the entire site was 4 people asking questions and 6 people answering question... the same people. Everyone else got VTC - and some rightfully so. I'm just saying, it's better now, IMHO and for whatever it's worth. – The Freemason Jan 31 '14 at 20:27
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We tend to rely on moderators to raise a red flag when they need help and consult with them to decide if an election is needed and how many slots we should open up. The primary concern is that the workload is comfortable for them. (Afterall, it's a volunteer position and we always assume real life and for-pay jobs come first.)

We keep track of how long it takes to handle flags on the site and the total volume of flags. That gives us an idea if the moderators are keeping up with the exceptions they are asked to handle. I won't get into the numbers here (it'd make other sites jealous ;-), but the Christianity mods are doing an exceptional job. I consider the issues raised here to be among the trickiest to handle of any site in the network, and your elected mods are handling them with aplomb. You should be proud of them.

Not only that, but the mods tell me that flags are easier to handle lately since more of you are doing the sort of self-moderation that we look for from a mature site. The mods might still need to step in to delete answers that don't answer the question or provide the decisive close vote, but it's less common and the comments educating the author already exist. You should be proud of yourselves.

Even so, the site is growing and the volume of flags in follows apace. There might be enough work to require another mod now and one or two more in the summer. So we could probably schedule an election now and anticipate another in 6 months or so. That's a lot of campaigning, however, when you consider we had the first election last summer.

So the plan now is to hold off on an election until later in the year and likely open up two or three slots rather than just one. Not only will it be less disruptive that way, multiple-slot elections are more fun. ;-) Obviously, we could change our minds should any new factors arise.

  • "we always assume real life and for-pay jobs come first." Ha! You wish. – fredsbend Jan 31 '14 at 5:58
  • "aplomb"? Been on the English site lately? – fredsbend Jan 31 '14 at 6:00
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    @fredsbend: Did you notice "apace" too? I had to look both of them up to be sure I was using them correctly, but it seems all the studying for the SAT years ago has finally paid off. I can now write far more sophisticated-sounding stuff than my actual sophistication. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jan 31 '14 at 6:45
  • You mean sophisticatedly ;) which Chrome thinks is not a word; and now it does (I control you spellchecker). I had to look up aplomb; I've never heard it before. I have heard apace (people sometimes say "keep apace"). – fredsbend Jan 31 '14 at 16:03
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At the rate traffic is increasing, I've been thinking it won't bee too long before we do need more moderators. However I don't think we're quite there yet.

Since CSE is a graduated site, WHO gets put into the mix will be decided be the election process like we already went through once. I have a few picks of my own, but I'll get the same one vote you will.

It's seems to be normal for moderator elections to be a yearly affair on an as needed basis. The SE moderator communiques sometimes have reminders that existing mods should speak up if they are overworked and they will fire up elections or do what it takes to not completely burn out their volunteers. My personal opinion is that by the time we hit the year mark well probably be starting to be stretched and opening up an election with a couple slots available will be a good thing.

In the mean time, I think there are some healthy transitions happening that should be encouraged to continue for a while yet. The community is learning to moderate itself a bit.

  • More questions are getting closed, fixed, and opened without moderator intervention.
  • More new users are being shown the ropes by old hands (that don't have diamonds).
  • More problems are becoming self mitigating as users learn how they are dealt with.

There is still room for improvement in there areas.

The progress that has been made is in large part in thanks to a handful of active and vocal users (yourself included!) who are setting the pace, explaining issues with posts, leading the voting so that others can follow in the queues, and so forth. I would hate to see this progress stalled by taking a couple of those most effective folks and giving them diamonds. Sure a lot of stuff like deletion of NAA material would happen more definitively, but I'm not sure this would be all good. Nobody would see it happen. There would be no example to follow. Newer community members would not realize that it is their job to moderate this site.

In the mean time I don't yet see a need for more or faster moderator action. Moderators are supposed to be exception handlers, but things are working well enough that there are few exceptions these days. We haven't had to send anybody to their corners lately, and only a handful of mod messages have had to be sent out. Nothing that has needed serious intervention is going down frequently enough that we haven't been able to handle it out of hand. What remains is mostly janitorial. Deleting NAA stuff being the big one. Not enough folks have or use delete votes on new posts that have wandered out of the reservation. This task however is actually pretty easy. If I don't hit refresh pretty frequently they will go by and get completed by another mod in short order. Our flag handling time is pretty short. If, when flagging, the community has done its job and commented appropriately it's pretty easy to clear the queue.

I would be interested in hearing other perspectives. If it feels to you like we are overworked, maybe you are basing that on some observation on the site. Maybe there are things being overlooked? What do you see that could be improved?

TL:DR; I agree we are eventually going to need more hammers, but I think it would be healthier to wait a few months yet and give some other trends (like the community finding its feet commenting and voting to achieve the same ends a moderator could but cooperatively instead of unilaterally) time to bear fruit (in this case enough trained and active community leaders to lead the next charge).

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