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One of our moderators was last seen on the 22nd of May; it's now the 3rd of June (the same year, luckily). He's also a mod on Chem SE; he was last seen there 1 month ago. I don't want to name him, even though it's obvious, but he was a really nice and helpful guy when he was active 3 years ago (he last posted in 2015). Is he shirking a responsibility, or is this normal and acceptable?

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    $\begingroup$ It's acceptable for mods to take a vacation as long as other mods know about it. Also, as long as the rest of the mods don't feel burdened with current mods task, usually an election for replacing a single mod is unnecessary. $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Jun 3 '18 at 7:31
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I'd just echo that electing a new moderator is related to the issue of whether the workload is too much for the existing mod team to handle. Right now, I don't personally feel that's the case. The question of what to do when a moderator hasn't been seen in a while is entirely separate from the question of whether to add someone new to the team. I suspect the former is what you'd really want to ask about, and it would probably help to edit this question accordingly. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jun 3 '18 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ See e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/a/259373/263383 for an SE employee's description of how the team deals with inactive moderators. Whether a new election happens is disjoint from whether a moderator steps down, but really more of a question of whether a new moderator is needed to handle the workload. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jun 3 '18 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Chair possibly biased here, but I think that there's a lot of overlap between software development and physics (probably related to development/research process itself). $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 3 '18 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ I’m still trying to figure out how a two week vacation would be interpreted as job abandonment. I’m glad my employer recognizes that I’m allowed to disappear into the wilderness with some regularity (although not often enough, sadly). $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jun 8 '18 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ 21st of April, not 22nd of May. $\endgroup$ – WELZ Jun 12 '18 at 13:24
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This is just my opinion, not an official response: yes, I do think that a moderator who can't or doesn't want to participate in the site anymore should step down.

To be clear, I mean this in the sense that it would be considerate for an inactive moderator (who expects to remain inactive) to voluntarily step down. I'm not suggesting they should be forced out of the position. Having an inactive moderator doesn't really hurt the site, so I don't personally care about it enough to push for their removal.

I'd also note that moderator positions are volunteer positions, in the sense that a mod controls their own level of participation and there's no responsibility to maintain a minimum activity level (at least on this site). So if a moderator is inactive, they're not breaking any sort of official commitment by doing so.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you guys have any way to get in contact with Manish? It would be great to hear from him. One could probably find his mail on his webpage, but I was thinking of something more "official". (Also, I have never talked to him, while you mods have, more than anyone else here). $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Jun 9 '18 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ @AccidentalFourierTransform I'm not 100% sure offhand, but I do think some of us might have other contact info for him (not counting anything that we'd have to use mod powers to get access to). We could probably reach out and let him know he's missed :) of course if any non-mods have a way to contact him, they could also do the same. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jun 9 '18 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ There is indeed the possibility that a mod is incapacitated to voluntarily step down (e.g. serious accident or sudden death). $\endgroup$ – Massimo Ortolano Jun 9 '18 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ @MassimoOrtolano Indeed, but my answer wasn't intended to address that type of situation because it's so rare. (I'm not sure if that has happened even once so far.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Jun 9 '18 at 19:16
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My country is, for some unknown reason, still a monarchy. Perhaps that's the reason I feel somewhat uneasy about permanent positions. I really appreciate the time and effort Manish has put into this site, but perhaps it is time we start thinking whether it makes sense he's still a moderator. Especially because he was elected when this site had less than one tenth of the users it has today.

I'm not saying it particularly bothers me to see the diamond next to Manish' username. But, to be honest, I have never seen him take any moderational action or decision. For this reason, I cannot really say whether he is a good moderator or not. Needless to say, I have no reason to assume he is not; but the problem is that I don't have many reasons to assume he is either. And I'm not thrilled by the idea that someone I know nothing about (moderation-wise) has the privileges being a moderator entails.

Note that I am not calling for a new election (unlike OP). The active moderators we have today do an excellent job as far as I'm concerned. I am also not saying that Manish behaviour is unacceptable or something like that. He helped the site become what it is today, and we should always be thankful for that. But I don't really see the point in his staying a moderator. Perhaps this is a conversation we should have at some point.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Chair Well, the title of this post is "Do we need a new moderator?". So it seems to me that OP is in fact suggesting new elections, or at least asking about the community's opinion on it. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Jun 3 '18 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Note that some moderator actions don't leave obvious breadcrumbs for other users, especially low-rep users, to find. (Two examples are dismissing flags and removing comments. Also moderator deletions and undeletions don't seem to bump a post to the front page.) I'm not commenting on this specific case, but pointing out that in general it's possible for a moderator to contribute actively in a behind-the-scenes way. $\endgroup$ – rob Jun 3 '18 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @rob But that adds to my point: I have no idea what Manish is doing, so I cannot judge whether I agree with his behaviour or not. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Jun 3 '18 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @rob wouldn't handling such flags trigger the 'last seen on' marker? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 3 '18 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Just tested it on a couple sites I haven't been on recently. Just loading the page is enough to update the "last seen on" marker. $\endgroup$ – Chris Jun 4 '18 at 3:42

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