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As you may have noticed, the big news of the day is that your moderator team has changed. I thought I would take this as an opportunity to issue your community a call to action.

The moderators on any Stack Exchange site have a very important and very difficult job. There are multiple reasons for this, some of which are more obvious than others. Most of our frequent users know that mods are the people who actually handle all the flags. The instant delete, migrate and close powers that come with the moderator diamond get a lot of attention, too.

Parts of the job that don't involve special privileges don't get talked about as much, but are no less important. Mods spend a lot of time—on meta and elsewhere in the community—gently guiding discussion and helping to keep things on track as the community grows. Behind the scenes, they serve as the primary liaisons between you fine people reading this and those of us who work at Stack Exchange.

In short, they're here to help.

It can't all be up to them, though. There's only so much that even the best moderator team can do when a community doesn't have established guidelines.

Over the past months and years, this meta site has seen its share of debates about deletions and content. In many cases, they've been about very specific cases and people. That is not necessarily invalid, but has also been less constructive than it could have been.

Long ago, early Stack Exchange users realized that it's basically never a good idea to "call out" specific users publicly. Admittedly, moderators are a little bit of a special case. Meta is a correct place to "appeal" if you feel a moderator has made a mistake, but even then, it's important to focus on actions, not people and to be civil. (For what it's worth, "focus on what was done rather than who did it" is also general advice that we give to moderators about how to do their jobs.)

What might be more helpful now is looking more broadly at what you do and do not want to see on the site. Do you believe that all answers should require supporting sources, and that there should be a site policy for deleting answers without citations? Start a new meta post proposing that. Or maybe you think language questions should be considered off-topic? Ask a meta question suggesting that.

Be specific. When possible, link to things you've actually seen on the site. For example, I myself got the idea to mention "language questions" just now because I thought this meta question did a good job at what I'm suggesting while keeping the focus on content and site policy, not people.

Please see this as a call to action to start discussions on what actions moderators should take when they see X or Y type of content on the site. Waiting until something happens and then saying "we should have had a policy about that, and if we did, the policy would have been the opposite of what happened"... well, that's too little, too late.

Again, the mods and CMs are here to help, but we cannot dictate. The mods are volunteering their time, and Stack Exchange is providing the servers, but the community guidelines must come from the community itself.

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  • Can you comment on this question? I thought I asked an objective question yet I see 4 downvotes...I don't know how else to ask an objective question without upsetting the mods. Do meta.SE and meta.SO also work like this? – sv. Mar 2 '17 at 17:34
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First off all thanks for nicely explaining the job of moderators to the community.

Do you believe that all answers should require supporting sources, and that there should be a site policy for deleting answers without citations? Start a new meta post proposing that.

Yes, that was very essential to make it clear. The discussion Can we revisit the sources required rule? has proved fruitful.

Finally we've posted Official policy for deleting answers that don't cite sources

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A call to action: what do you want to see here?

Here's my list:

  1. Undelete the answer mentioned in this meta post or let a moderator explain properly through an answer why the answer was deleted. I think the mods, not random users, owe an explanation to the user. I've explained in this answer why in this instance OP's answer needs to be undeleted.

  2. I've published a query that lists all answers that do not contain any references and to be fair to other users whose answers got deleted, the old ones (after the Back It Up! rule went into effect) needed to be taken down as well.

    However, whenever we tried to bring it to mods' notice (once, twice, thrice), there's lot of escapism going on. I was told to flag those 400+ answers myself working with a limit of 20 flags a day over a period of 2-3 weeks so mods can take action! Why do I have to flag when they already have the list? Beats me!

    So I think the above stated behavior goes against what you stated in your post:

    In short, they're here to help.

  3. I put in a very simple request in this meta post. Reminded the 3 mods to take action on it via this comment. No response from any of the mods.


Some other comments and questions I had in general:

community guidelines must come from the community itself

What if mods do not uphold the very guidelines which are upvoted and accepted by rest of the community? Who do you complain?

It appears mods here do not follow 1/2 the things covered in this excellent post: Guidelines for new users answering questions, yet we continue to point new users to that post.

Also, are mods allowed to have their personal tastes and philosophies dominating their actions?

focus on what was done rather than who did it

Well said! But it goes both ways. What if mods themselves don't like being called out on meta and start taking every complaint personally instead of objectively?

The moment someone comes forward with a complaint here, first thing I see here is heavy downvoting. This is not how we should run meta.


Pops: Maybe you need to stick around a little bit and coach the new mods before you disappear again...Thanks.

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    Mod team is just recently changed so to better you hold your rage against mod for now – Ankit Sharma Feb 25 '17 at 6:37
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    moonstar's answer is giving an opinion. See the part of endowment. I can't understand Why is undeleting that answer needed?. Moreover that question is marked as duplicate. – Sarvabhouma Feb 25 '17 at 7:09
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    Let's discuss this in Handling Situations. – The Destroyer Feb 25 '17 at 7:11
  • @AnkitSharma I wrote an objective answer, please read again, no rage going on, I've only pointed out issues, objectively! I ask you to read Pops post again, specifically "Meta is a correct place to appeal if you feel a moderator has made a mistake..." – sv. Feb 25 '17 at 13:15
  • @SreeCharan I've already explained my reasons in this answer which received 5 upvotes. You can leave a comment under that answer to discuss further. – sv. Feb 25 '17 at 13:19
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    Guys, please come to chat room and discuss all rules. Please don't go for personal attacks. – The Destroyer Feb 25 '17 at 13:35
  • Why is this answer grayed out? – user1195 Mar 4 '17 at 14:23
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    @moonstar2001 Heavily downvoted answers are automatically greyed out by SE platform. – sv. Mar 4 '17 at 17:37

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