Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is a Moderator

I am currently running for moderator in the Stack Overflow moderator elections.  There are many great candidates, and in order to separate myself from the pack I thought I'd try to go a little more in depth to what I thought it was to be a moderator on Stack Overflow.

Moderators are a community liaison.  

They are the human faces of the site.  When new users struggle moderators are there to help the new user acclimate to the site.  If a moderator is too stern or rude to the new user, that user may turn away from the site.  But if the moderator doesn't explain the rules clearly enough, that user may continue its poor behavior.  There is a fine line between being too harsh and too lenient.  

As a moderator I will clearly lay down the rules to new users.  I will make sure they understand what is expected from a user of this fine site, but I will remain friendly and helpful.

Moderators are also the sanitation engineers of the site.

When problem users appear it is the moderator's job to clean up the mess.  This is an unfortunate and necessary part of moderation.  If moderators are not around to clean up the mess it will cause a negative impact on the experience of other users.  

Problem users will be warned via comments, then email, and then they will be suspended.  I will not feel sorry for people who do not want to follow our rules.  However, after the timed suspension is over, I will welcome that user back into the community.  People make mistakes and deserve second chances.  

Moderators are the voice of the community.

Moderators are very active on the site.  Thus, they have a very good idea of patterns and common things happening on the site.  The moderator must report the things they see to the people in charge of the site.  They need to speak for the users and let the big-boss-man know what the site needs or wants.

I will do my best to bring up items that need to change to the higher powers.  I will speak for the best interest of the community.

Moderators are a public servant.

There are many tasks that need to be performed to keep the community healthy: keeping tags clean, removing spam, educating users, performing customer support, etc.  

As a moderator I will spend my time on this site acting as a public servant.  I will do the necessary dirty work to keep this site healthy, and I will make sure that the site continues to provide solid answers to people's problems.

What isn't a Moderator?

Great question!  A moderator is many things, but there are many things a moderator is not.

A moderator is not a superior.  In other words, a moderator is not your boss.  Moderators are members of the community just the same as everyone else. 

A moderator is not immune to the rules.  Moderators must follow all of the rules that they enforce.  

A moderator is not a vigilante.  Moderators need to work within the system to perform their duties.  They need to follow the protocol that has been put into place for them.  Moderators shouldn't ban people lightly.  They need to exercise caution with the power that they have been given.  As a great man once said, "With great power comes great responsibility."

To wrap up this rant, I'd like to tell everyone reading that I am super excited for the opportunity to run for moderator of Stack Overflow.  I appreciate every single one of the votes that I hope to get, and I will make sure that I take good care of this fantastic resource that has been created.
If you agree with my 'platform' please vote for me on the election page.

--Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson