Should be removed, and new elections held to fill in that role, or selecting the runner-up in the most recent election (similar to Arqade) to fill in that role.

Take the user waiwai933

His profile clearly reads:

I am now on indefinite leave of absence due to time commitments in the real world. Any moderation issues should be directed to other moderators or the SE team.

What's the purpose of having a moderator who would rather have other moderation issues directed at other moderators as a moderator? In this case, isn't it in everyone's best interest to have another user fill in that role as moderator?

This is my main point. Instead of having moderators who are doing nothing in their role, effectively wasting a moderator spot, what's the issue with having a runner-up from a previous election fill in that gap? So say, phenry was the runner-up in the most recent election, and considering he's provided some top notch contributions and is active on this site, what's the big deal with putting him in place of the other moderators? Better to have a moderator that does something than no moderator at all, and I'm sure these users would greatly benefit from having access to tools only available to a select few.

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    There's already been an election this year. We have three new mods, in total EL&U have eight mods. Two of which have slowed down their activities to a standstill, which leaves us with six. I think that's plenty. – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '14 at 13:08
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    @Mari-LouA " or selecting the runner-up in the most recent election (similar to Arqade) to fill that role". When a moderator on Arqade stepped down, we picked the closest runner-up to 1-2-3 to fill in the moderator spot. – yuritsuki Nov 12 '14 at 13:26
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    I think if you read the comments below my question, the second link, you'll have the answers to your questions. In the meantime, here is a summary of the past election results :english.stackexchange.com/election – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '14 at 13:36
  • @thinlyveiledquestionmark - Given who was the runner-up in the most recent election, that seems unlikely to happen. ;) – phenry Nov 12 '14 at 16:34
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    I really think that this question misunderstands what moderators do, or should do, or can do. Beyond that, the purpose of a moderator is not to benefit that user but the site. It is not some higher privilege that one gains as some natural progression of reputation, nor is it a proxy for the same. There may also be some confusion about what makes good moderators, or why moderation is necessary. – tchrist Mod Nov 13 '14 at 0:08
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    @tchrist I know what moderators do. I am saying that a moderator who isn't helping the site actively would be better replaced with someone who can actively help the site. Just look at the recent elections to figure out that phenry actually came pretty close to 1st, 2nd and 3rd. And considering the amount of votes he received, I'd say there is strong community support to have him as a moderator. – yuritsuki Nov 13 '14 at 0:24
  • It's probably worth pointing out that all eight moderators have acted within the last six months. – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 14 '14 at 7:35
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    @AndrewLeach It's worth noting that all StackOverflow moderators have acted within the last day. It's also worth noting that all Arqade moderators have acted within the last day (exception of one moderator). Why the huge time discrepancy for mods here and mods there? – yuritsuki Nov 14 '14 at 17:03
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    I can't speak for or compare other sites because I don't have access to their moderation records (note that I wrote acted quite deliberately, not simply to mean "were seen"). – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 14 '14 at 17:41
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    @thinly Wow... comparing to Stack Overflow...wow. The less active mods have to be the better. There is no issue. – J. Musser Nov 15 '14 at 12:42
  • @J.Musser Oh really? Why is there such a HUGE time discrepancy? 1 day as opposed to 6 months? If they remove one specific moderator, they can make it 1 week, and remove 1 other moderator, they can make it the last day, just like most other sites. – yuritsuki Nov 15 '14 at 15:27
  • I'm not a regular on SO but my impression is that it receives an avalanche of questions and answers daily compared to EL&U. How many new questions are posted on average on EL&U compared to Stack Overflow? Perhaps some one has this statistic on their fingertips. It seems therefore reasonable that their mods are active every day; there's more "work"!. (cont'd) – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '14 at 7:17
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    Although saying that, the EL&U mods, including non-European, were conspicuously absent during a recent "kerfuffle" on meta. Only one mod left a comment inviting users to be "civil". I don't blame all the mods, not everyone can be present 24/7, some have real lives to go back to. Possibly they were ready to intervene if things turned out ugly, possibly they didn't want to make the situation any worse by intervening. But I was disappointed by the apparent lack of "moderation" displayed by the mods. Or maybe in the end they thought it wasn't such a big deal. I don't know. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '14 at 7:21
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    The time 'discrepancy' is irrelevant. Our response time is approximately 8 hours, a huge improvement of what is was just prior to the last election, and that's arguably the most important measure of how heavy the workload is. – Kit Z. Fox Mod Nov 17 '14 at 19:18

FumbleFingers has the basic answer. I'll summarize.

With regard to moderator activity in general, there are many things we do that the user community is not privy to. Some moderators might never go to chat or comment or post on Meta. Some might not issue warnings and suspensions. Other might not do {mysterious other things we do}. Others do to varying degrees. Just because their contributions aren't seen by the community at large doesn't mean that they are doing nothing.

Elections are held when more moderators are needed. If a moderator steps down and the other moderators feel they are not able to handle the increased load, a runner-up from a prior election may be invited to fill the position. Whether this happens or an election depends on how recent the prior election was. Basically, if the community mods feel that the election was recent enough that a runner-up still represents the choice of the membership, there will probably be an appointment rather than an election.

With regard to this particular mod, we were all in communication well in advance of his "leave of absence" and we were able to take on his workload without difficulty. Waiwai has been a great moderator on the site, and we hope that he will be able to return and contribute again when his schedule allows him to. We'd like for him to be able to do this without having to get elected again.

In short, having inactive mods doesn't fill positions that might otherwise be active. It's not 'wasting a spot'. If we need more active moderators, then we'll have an election and add more moderators to the team. There's no need for inactive moderators to get booted simply for inactivity.

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    I'm glad to see you making the same point ("it depends how recent the last election was") re drafting in the "highest loser" if the mod team find themselves short-handed. Apparently there is no such problem, but it would be an interesting situation at this particular time. If I understand things aright, phenry got more "direct" votes in Round 1 than Matt (who pipped him at the post with "transferred" votes in later rounds). It would be up to him, of course - but phenry was a somewhat reluctant candidate in the first place, so he might even decline if asked under the circumstances you envisage. – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '14 at 16:26
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    I will serve if asked to do so, for what it's worth, although I take no position on whether it would be necessary or desirable to bring in another moderator at this time. – phenry Nov 14 '14 at 22:46
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    @phenry: And if that situation arises, I will support you wholeheartedly. But like you I take no real position on whether it would be necessary or desirable. My stance is simply that it's up to the mods to decide if they're short-handed, and that by and large, a moderator position is "a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it". It's not really a "limited resource" that needs to be "awarded" to a deserving case. – FumbleFingers Nov 15 '14 at 21:25
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    I don't want this to turn into a point (because it isn't one) but what are these mysterious invisible things that moderators do? Do you have long fireside chats with StackExchange central? (and do they have a button to send you down a chute to the sharks? "EL&U, your reputation increase is poor this week, we cannot accept failures in our organisation") Do you print out and laugh heartily at the silliest questions? Is this whole site just an exercise to get a script for an avant-garde opera? Are you building a rocket-ship to the moon? I ask merely out of idle prurience. – Dan Sheppard Nov 16 '14 at 1:21
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    @DanSheppard I'll answer obliquely: You'll probably want more Meta activity if you want to make a strong showing in the next election. – Kit Z. Fox Mod Nov 17 '14 at 19:12

As waiwai933 himself commented a few months ago...

Moderators are removed if they have not visited the site in six months.

I think the general idea is that ideally, moderators wouldn't actually do anything at all. In principle, if the site is operating well (and not under attack by spammers, etc.) then ordinary users (at least, established ordinary users with sufficient rep to access the relevant tools) can deal with everything.

Not being a mod myself, I don't actually know what goes on "behind the scenes". It's at least possible waiwai933 (whose past contributions to ELU I greatly respect) represents an ongoing valuable resource to the visibly active mods. He might be available to participate in (public or private) chat to thrash out thorny issues, for example.

I keep pretty unusual hours myself, and it seems to me there's almost always at least one ELU mod online at any given time of day (whatever your day is). That takes care of any sudden need for an urgent response to something the rest of us can't deal with. And if the active mods feel there aren't enough of them to discharge their collective responsibility, I'd say it's up to them to call for another election to top up the numbers.

Here are the eight current ELU moderators. I expect simchona (another highly-valued contributor in the past) will fall off the list soon, having been last seen on May 11. And to me at least, Yoichi Oishi's position is more that of honorary "user emeritus" (elected as a token of our collective esteem, rather than to do the donkey work of tidying up the site). I don't often see nohat doing anything these days either, but the remaining four (Andrew Leach, KitFox, Matt Эллен, and RegDwigнt) are all present and active on a regular basis.

TL;DR: I assume there are "enough" mods to do whatever they need to do. I've been on ELU long enough to see several elections, and it seems to me the current frequency (about once a year) works fine. I see no reason to hold them more frequently. When it comes to moderation, "less is more".

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    I am not asking for more elections. What I am asking for is to remove inactive moderators, replace them with runner-ups from the most recent election. To have a moderator who doesn't do anything is a waste of a slot for a user who would greatly benefit from having a moderator privilege. – yuritsuki Nov 12 '14 at 17:00
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    @thinly veiled: Your recent edit slightly changes things. Because the last election was only a few months ago, I could just about tolerate the idea of "promoting" the highest runner-up, but as a general principle I don't endorse this approach. In our UK parliamentary system, we hold a by-election when a sitting MP dies or stands down - we don't just award the seat to whoever came second. I know the situation here is somewhat different, but to me there's something not quite right about such "retrospective appointments". – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '14 at 17:49
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    has worked for all other SE sites. Read how waiwai came into moderator. He was "called upon" after the elections had ended.. – yuritsuki Nov 12 '14 at 17:51
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    I didn't know that. It doesn't affect my substantive position in the answer itself though. Neither waiwai933 nor nohat were particularly active before the last election, so I assume we elected sufficient mods to handle the workload. And apart from special cases like Yoichi, I would say we elect mods as and when necessary to manage the site. So in general I don't really see it as a "reward", where the site is somehow failing to make full use of its ability to recognise as many suitable users as possible. If that were the case, why not have dozens (or even hundreds) of mods? – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '14 at 18:04

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