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Happy new year!

tl;dr: there will be a moderator election some time in March. Start thinking about if you'd like to be elected.

UPDATE The community management team have let me know they are working on scheduling it and will be sharing information regarding the election soon!

UPDATE UPDATE Question gathering will start on the 7th of March, with nominations starting on the 14th of March.

You may or may not have noticed, but we have not had a moderator election for quite some time. It's been six years since our last one. The main reason for this is that the moderators have felt that we can cope with the level of work required without extra help.

Towards the end of last year SE staff approached the moderator team and asked if we wanted extra help or if anyone wanted to step down.

Well, I have been thinking about this for well over a year, and I've decided it's time to end my run.

I've been moderating for eight years, and after a while I stopped enjoying it. I did some introspection and asked myself why I was still doing it and the honest answer was that I liked the extra respect that moderators get and I like being a part of the moderator community.

Essentially I like the power but not the job, which doesn't seem like a healthy place to be. So I told SE that I would like to step down, and the moderators have decided that we should at least replace me, so there has been an election scheduled for some time in March. I've said I'd like to stick around until the newbie is comfortable, but then hand in my diamond.

If you're thinking about running let me give you some insights into what it's like.

Before I ran for moderator, I had high hopes that being a moderator means being able to drastically reshape the site and turn it into exactly what the community wants. This is not true. We mostly try to incrementally improve the quality of content on the site. Deleting, closing, editing. Like not being a mod, but with less oversight. We get access to the flag queue, which is a list of posts and comments that users have flagged for some reason. When I started there were a lot more flags, I could handle 20 per day and there would still be dozens left over. These days there are far fewer, but participation in the site has declined as well (check the difference between 2018: a year in moderation and 2021: a year in moderation).

Flag handling, of course isn't all moderators are good for. One of the most satisfying parts of the jobs for me is destroying spammers. A few clicks and the account is gone, taking the spam with it. We also have to intervene with users who are not happy for some reason, perhaps they're removing their content, or maybe they're stirring up trouble. Talking people down is a useful skill to acquire. I'm not sure if I've truly got it, but I feel like I've improved.

Another user moderation task is finding sock puppets that are being misused. I am not too good at this, so I let other moderators handle it. Some users are so problematic and widespread that there is a coördinated effort between moderators of multiple sites to find them and stop them.

This, handily, brings me on to my favourite part of being a moderator: the moderator community. I will be very sad to lose this connection (this and unlimited editing time for chat messages). These are knowledgeable and friendly people, this includes the community managers that SE employs.

The mod community is very important as you often find yourself not knowing or forgetting how to do something, and they will know. Also, you'll probably happen upon tools you didn't even know existed, thanks to them.

I can recommend being a moderator, if only for a bit, just to get a good perspective on how SE works behind the scenes. You can always stop when you've had enough.

Thanks for having me as a moderator. It's been a ride!

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  • 5
    Eight years is almost an eternity internet-wise. Enjoy your retirement but don't disappear, we still need you :))
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 7 at 12:51
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    @Mari-LouA Thanks! I'll be able to use the site with less of a "what's wrong today 😑" mentallity and more of a "who can I help today 😊" one. Feb 7 at 14:19
  • 1
    I think being able to correct typis in my comments is second on the list of things I miss from my mod days, the connection with the greater mod community being first. Maybe SE could set up a team for mods and former mods. It is really nice not to feel obligated to participate on SE when you're feeling burnt out though. Thanks for helping ELU stay on track for all these years.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 7 at 17:33
  • 2
    @mitch it's a good mantle, one careful owner. pick up only Feb 7 at 22:47
  • 3
    @colleenv Thanks. A chat room for old mods, maybe with some rocking chairs and nice sun lounge, current mods say they'll visit, but you see them maybe twice a year. 😜 but yeah, it would be good Feb 7 at 22:52
  • 4
    My, how time flies! You've been a pillar of this place my entire tenure ... which I just looked up, and is also 8 years! You must've been elected soon before I joined. Also, I was shocked when you noted the most recent election was 6 years ago; if I'm being honest, I still kinda thing of the current mods as the "new" mod team, my brain insists they were elected a couple years ago at most. And @KitZ.Fox, nice to see you here too! I've missed your voice.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 9 at 11:57
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    @DanBron Thanks! It's a bit strange to think how long it's been since the last election, given how often other sites have them, but since the community haven't been clamouring for new mods, and we mods haven't be in need of extra help, it just hasn't come up. Feb 9 at 15:26
  • 1
    Probably the question is: given the substantial decrease in traffic and lower participation in the site, does Matt Ed. really need to be replaced?
    – user 66974
    Feb 10 at 10:27
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    My impression is that being a good mod takes a rare blend of technical knowledge, sound judgment, and equanimity, along with serious dedication to the site. EL&U has been extremely fortunate in this regard, as every mod here has been consistently strong on all of these counts and has kept the good of the site—rather than momentary passions—foremost in mind. Thanks, Matt E. Эллен, for your many years of exemplary service to English Language & Usage!
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 10 at 20:33
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    @SvenYargs Any chance I could convince you to run? You’re insanely equinimable; I don’t think I’ve ever seen you post a Meta-answer that didn’t start out by steel-manning the opposing camp’s position before making your own case for change. You have the highest rep in the history of the site, surpassing those who made their hay in the heyday of early and enthusiastic participation, and you’ve done it not by picking the low-hanging fruit, but by the hrs work of identifying questions with promise and then putting the work in. You’re exemplary.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 13 at 3:33
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    @DanBron: I'm sorry to hear that you've taken yourself out of the running. I think you'd be an excellent mod—good judgment, high standards, and a sense of humor. But I understand at least part of your reason for saying no. Like you, I'm too busy with paid work to devote appropriate and consistent time to site moderation. Beyond that, I already have the role at EL&U that I want, which is to ask and answer questions that interest me, on my own schedule, without any time pressure or sense of obligation. EL&U has always had more good candidates than mod openings—and will again this time, I'm sure.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 13 at 6:40
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    @MattE.Эллен I remember your supervision of the weekly (?) discussions back in the days when I was a newbie on EL&U. I don't even remember what they were called, but the reminders would pop up regularly. You've always come across as a friendly, even-handed mod who cares about the well-being of this site. We've enjoyed the luxury of having a panel of very good mods here. It's a sad day to see you step down, but I respect the reasons you shared. A mod emeritus badge with associated privileges wouldn't go astray if SE was looking for a way to reward good mods who are retiring.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 13 at 17:42
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    Oh wow. End of an era! I will be very, very sorry to see you go Matt. You've always been an exemplary mod: calm, patient, rational and objective. You will be sorely missed!
    – terdon
    Feb 14 at 14:56
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    @SvenYargs for what it's worth, I have been a mod of another SE site for around 8 years, and spent at least one of those years moderating three sites, and the workload is never too much. Or, perhaps more accurately, the work load is what you make of it. These are volunteer positions and real life must always take precedence. Mods are mostly free to do as much or as little as they feel like doing. This isn't a job, after all. Mods who are inactive for a long period will be asked to step down, but it really shouldn't be something that takes up a significant amount of time on a daily basis.
    – terdon
    Feb 14 at 16:23
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    Thank you for all that you have done for the community, Matt!
    – NVZ Mod
    Mar 13 at 12:55

1 Answer 1

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Not an answer, but Matt, how much time on average per week did you have to spend moderating ELU? And is there a sort of KPI to monitor mod performance?

Asking for potential mods to take note.

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    There's no real KPI. The Community Managers do check in on moderators who aren't active for a while, and if you're inactive for a long time (a year, maybe?) you'll get your moderatorship removed (see MetaEd, for example). I probably spend a hour a day moderating (not continuous), but I don't moderate most weekends. Mar 14 at 11:22
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    Feel free to ask this as a real question. I'm sure other moderators would be happy to relate information. Mar 14 at 11:23

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