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Edit:
Moderation is overhead and does not directly contribute to the purpose of these sites, which is to answer questions.

Suggestion:
Instead of simply being, or not being, a moderator, I suggest giving users the ability to earn "moderation points" based on their answers to questions. "Answering a question", from a moderation standpoint, could be as simple as deleting a question rather than just marking it as "not our problem" or "try again" (and letting it sit there for years). Likewise, frivolous and/or excessive moderation just needs to be (re)defined. A user that flags a question for editing, rather than make the edit that they are (overly)qualified to make themselves, should lose "moderation points" to encourage them to "get dirty". Does a second moderator really need to be notified and manually come in after XX days/months to re-moderate it? Why is one moderator not enough?

Another of my analogies:
This reminds me of Office Space where the management is constantly complaining about the workload and hassle of dealing with "TPS reports". We find out later it's actually his secretary's, secretary's, secretary that actually does all the work regarding them. Another employee explains that he "deals with the customer so the engineers don't have to" and when the "Bob's" (firing consultants) ask him "What, exactly, do you do here?", he has no (good) answer. The employee just hysterically repeats "Look, I told you!! I deal with the GD customer's so the engineers don't have to". Ultimately, management was about to be reorganized and made to work when the office mysteriously burned down...

I think we need that here, now, because the end-result of moderation should always be either:

The question being answered  

or

The question being deleted

The current moderation system guarantees neither. The many thousands of moderated, but unanswered, questions lingering highlights that. If our true purpose is to answer questions and not just to sort them, we're only being about 50% efficient.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Obvious question does not mean on-topic question. Also, I believe this post is a duplicate: meta.gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/542/… We're certainly open to suggestions, but I'm not seeing actual solutions proposed. You're suggesting the entire stack exchange network change its moderation strategy? High rep users do get moderation privileges as you're suggesting. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Feb 12 '15 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed; definitely similar to that 4-year old post... So that clears up "recently" for me. At least it wasn't closed by a moderator yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 3:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well... I was going to close it as a duplicate, the reasonable thing to do, but I don't think you'd take it well :) \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Feb 12 '15 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Commoderators should earn "moderation points" by participating and spend them when moderating. This prevents users from getting moderator status and then clocking out." was my suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 3:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, maybe you can remove most of the rant part of the post and just detail your suggestion? Also, users don't just "get moderator status", there are elections. It may appear that it happens to high rep users because Josh and I have been very active participants on the site (both of us having 900+ answers), but we were elected in a regular election. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Feb 12 '15 at 3:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are one of the most consistent, Byte, and that's not a bad thing; I usually take what you say to the bank (even when I grumble (especially when you're right :D )). I think if there weren't 10000 other moderators, this wouldn't seem so rampant. Edit: I did see the voting mechanism and don't actually believe there are 10k moderators, LOL. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 3:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are four moderators on this site; everybody else is a regular user (some of whom may have earned additional privileges based on the aggregate community's consensus of their participation here. But, I'm really not sure at all what you're trying to suggest or convey here, other than a rant about something you're not happy with. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Feb 12 '15 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshPetrie, the preceeding comments are not clear or you don't have the time to read them? \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 4:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56, as usual, you are right. Other than the Office Space analogy, I have removed the non-constructive elements. Thanks again \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, your original post was unclear, the edit is much clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Feb 12 '15 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Growing pains :D Byte is always immensely helpful curbing my guttermouth. Also, I use the term "moderator" loosely referring to "Commoderators" more than actual moderators. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 4:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ What exactly do you mean by "moderation"? Voting? Closing questions? Answering? Editing? Are you familiar with the reputation system of StackExchange, and how it relates to privileges? What are you exactly suggesting when you say "Commoderators should ... spend ["moderation points"] when moderating"? \$\endgroup\$ – congusbongus Feb 12 '15 at 6:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Refer to linked question; assuming voting war is over, many people (as of 4 years ago) support squelching moderators. Only the moderators do not support it. Moderator-types vote up the pro-moderator answers, while users vote up the anti-moderator answers. Moderators have the final word, so you do the math. My desire to help has been completely crushed and I have no further opinions or words to waste. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 6:30
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Not a complete answer but to touch on some of your points:

More spam than they prevent: Many of the Commoderators spend 10 seconds moderating/closing a question that could be edited and answered within 60. It's not someone else's job; supposedly, we are all "the community". Why, then, are "they" allowed to act so far above it all? Click "edit", you lazy @#$@#$.strong text

  1. I think you highly under estimate the time it takes to edit an answer so that it makes a bad question a good question and additionally answer the now good question with a good answer.

  2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with closing bad questions. I believe that with the size of the voting community that this site has the mods do a good job picking which questions to unilaterally close as opposed to ones they vote to close on (if that is even your argument; maybe you don't like questions that do get 5 close votes getting closed either). Whenever the community gets more close voters you should see the unilateral closing reduced to a minimum.

  3. There is absolutely nothing stopping good community members from taking the effort themselves to fix bad questions after they've been closed and turn them into good ones. That can get reopened. When I see a question I'm passionate about that I think has the potential to be good for the site and provide good information I have done this. The system works. You should leverage it.

Close it if you want: I'm still going to answer perfectly obvious questions; except, instead of using formulas, line-spacing, etc. to make it understandable, I'm going to cram it all into comment and help the user, despite you. Even on aged questions, my little blurbs still get positive responses and thank you's.

Don't do this. If you have a quick link to a resource outside of SE that should help them... yeah sure. Even I've done this before. If you are going to cram a huge amount of information into a tiny comment (or more) just to spite the system please just take it somewhere else. Work with us to improve the system via meta - preferably in less of a rant and anger and with genuine interest in improving things. Don't abuse the system just because you don't like it.

Moderation is overhead and does not directly contribute to the purpose of this/these sites, which is answering questions.

If you feel this way then you don't fully understand the purpose of these sites. The blog post on good subjective vs bad subjective has some good blurbs on why we are the way we are, and while it talks specifically to subjective and discussion oriented questions the general philosophy applies to all bad questions really.

To quote the blog post:

Most forums and chat rooms have a scale problem. As in, they don’t. The more people that join the discussion, the more noise each of those connections bring. So the forums get progressively noisier and noisier, and suddenly one day … you stop learning.

and

Because we believe so deeply in learning, we are willing to go to great lengths to suppress the discussion, debate, and opinions that — while plenty entertaining — cause most forums to inevitably break down.

Without the rules we have and the moderators that are incredibly passionate to uphold the rules StackExchange sites will live on and continue to serve as useful places to gather and consume information. You may or may not notice a lot more noise (not useful information / answers) on other sites such as the Unity Answers site. They don't follow and enforce the same type of philosophy that StackExchange does.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a good example: "..not sure at all what you're trying.." Yes you are... YES, you are! You (Commoderators in general) say things like your stupid, but your really not. Neither of you is stupid, so why did Byte choose to reply with "do this to your answer" (and a link to the duplicate) and you replied with "WTF are you talking about"? \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 5:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is also clear, based on the linked question, that end-users tend to agree and upvote things like this, while Commoderators disagree with and downvote things like this. This site promotes "popular" answers, not "good" ones. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 5:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ First, it was me, not Spartan, who said "not sure at all" in a comment. Second, I wasn't sure. You can't read my mind, just like I could hardly make heads or tails of the message in your original post. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Feb 12 '15 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jon, I'm still a bit confused, can you define "Commoderators"? \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Feb 12 '15 at 5:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I lost that with the edit. Commoderator == comment + "moderator". People with very high rep, that post answers as comments, contributing to the list of unanswered questions. For example, as you are aware, I just flagged a comment for the third time. It is the answer, per the OP, but no one cares. I have personally witnessed you move my comments to answers and answers to comments but, certain moderators contend it is impossible. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have learned my lesson and will just stay out of it from now on. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Feb 12 '15 at 6:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jon I have not moved any comments to answers, since that's not possible for moderators to do. We can move answers to comments however, but that's because sometimes people post answers that are actually comments and those need to be corrected. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Feb 12 '15 at 6:19
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Instead of simply being, or not being, a moderator, I suggest giving users the ability to earn "moderation points" based on their answers to questions.

This already exists, more or less. Regular users have throttles on their ability to perform moderation actions via flag and review limits per 24-hour period. The amount of flags a user can raise (and the weight of those flags) is governed by the software based on how valid those flags were as reviewed by others. Similarly, reviews have built-in checks and tests (although I don't think this site specifically is large enough to have them active) and there must generally be a consensus on a review vote from regular users to actually have any action.

The few diamond moderators the site has (who were elected; there is no other way to become one) have more-or-less unrestricted ability to moderate the site and serve as community exception handlers. We mostly deal with the obviously horrible crap, like spam and other sorts of offensive behavior. We also frequently make unilateral decisions based on the policies that have been agreed upon by this site's community to close, modify, or other moderate certain questions. Campaigning to change those policies is (to an extent) a better way to enact a change than proposing getting rid of diamond moderators altogether (which, incidentally, is something only a StackExchange staff member could put into effect).

To address a few of your specific points:

"Answering a question", from a moderation standpoint, could be as simple as deleting a question rather than just marking it as "not our problem" or "try again" (and letting it sit there for years).

(Most) users don't get to see deleted posts, so simply deleting them can be confusing. That's why instead, we put them on hold, with information about why the question is on hold and what can be done to improve upon it. We generally see this to be nicer than simply deleting; you don't appear to agree, but this is sort of one of the fundamental things StackExchange does so I'm not sure there's a lot we can do to make you happier about this.

Closed questions below a certain threshold are eventually deleted, but generally we don't manual delete closed questions because they serve as signposts and precedent for what is or isn't considered on-topic.

Likewise, frivolous and/or excessive moderation just needs to be (re)defined. A user that flags a question for editing, rather than make the edit that they are (overly)qualified to make themselves, should lose "moderation points" to encourage them to "get dirty".

I don't agree with this because this seems to say that the only way to "be helpful" is to complete edit the question. It excludes the possibility for a graduated continuum of "helpfulness" that a user can exist on based on their current ability to commit time to the problem, comfort level with the topic at hand, or mood for the day.

Does a second moderator really need to be notified and manually come in after XX days/months to re-moderate it? Why is one moderator not enough?

I don't know what specific instance you are referring to here, but generally this only happens if things get out of hand or if somebody has flagged something. It's usually flags that draw my attention to old questions, for example, or some similar activity that bumps the question up to the front page of the active questions list.

If our true purpose is to answer questions and not just to sort them, we're only being about 50% efficient.

That isn't the purpose of this site at all. It is to provide a collection of a certain kind of questions and their objective answers. This necessarily involves a process of "sorting" out the questions that are not of the correct kind (as defined by some combination of the overall StackExchange philosophy and the community consensus on meta).

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