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In case you haven't heard, I am stepping down in a few weeks time. There has been some additional turnover on the moderation team in the past year, and so we'd like to discuss with the community whether there is interest from folks in running to be a moderator.

Are you interested in becoming a moderator? Are you thinking about it but have questions you'd like to discuss? Want to know more about what it entails? Let's use this space to discuss!

Obviously expressing interest now is not committing anybody to anything, and not expressing interest now doesn't keep you from running if there is an election!

The discussion here will help the current team figure out when/if there should be another election and how many positions there should be to ensure it is competitive. We also want to make sure if folks are on the fence because they don't know enough details, we can help fill in info as needed.

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    $\begingroup$ I am wondering how much time/energy it takes... I feel that reputation obliges me to participate... but I am also likely to be offline in the coming few months. $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim There is no fixed time investment, and there is no harm in being a bit less active for a while (the other mods are still there, after all, and there's an explicit mechanism to mark yourself as temporarily absent for the other mods). I'd say moderator activities average around half an hour a day for me personally, but there's lots of variation depending on what's going on. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Jun 16 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerVadim If it helps any, you make a lot of helpful answers here, and you do a lot for the site, but I wouldn't find it odd at all if you (or any other high-rep users) didn't try to become a moderator. If you're interested in being a mod then explore it for sure, but do it for you, not because you think it's expected of you :) $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ @NikhilKumarSingh While high-rep users tend to be more likely to win moderator elections, anyone with 300 reputation can nominate themself. See this network-wide FAQ. You can also look at archived pages from past Physics elections. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Jun 16 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ @NikhilKumarSingh Cannot speak for other users, but I tend to go a lot by moderation badge score and what they do (apart from Q&A) on the network. That doesn't mean relativiely low rep users can't get a vote from me, but it's certainly harder for them. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Jun 16 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ … would like to encourage @BioPhysicist to throw his hat in the ring… $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero Right back at you actually, haha. I have too much on my plate at the moment, but maybe I'll jump in a future election. $\endgroup$ Jun 17 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist … same here. Still: please do think about it. You made nice meta posts recently. $\endgroup$ Jun 17 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ We moderators don't really anticipate our workload to be overwhelming in the near future or anything. If anyone wants to throw their hat in, even if you only handle a few flags a week that's still helping. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 17 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris Stop tempting me! haha $\endgroup$ Jun 17 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ For what it’s worth, in the last month I’ve only handled 90 flags (three a day, on average). I’ve done both more than this and less than this as my availability has changed. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Jun 17 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe the moderators (or one of the group) could use this occasion to describe the duties and privileges that come with the diamond. Clearly it must require non-zero time since @tgp2114 feels he needs to concentrate his time on other priorities. $\endgroup$ Jun 19 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero The vast majority of the work is glancing at the flags queue however often you feel like and spending a few minutes handling any flags you feel like handling. Occasionally we discuss flags or other problems in our chat room but nothing's ever really urgent or requiring all hands on deck or anything. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 19 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist so have you thought more about throwing your hat in the ring? …looks like you have support. $\endgroup$ Jul 20 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero There is too much going on in my life right now for me to add something else to it at the moment. How about yourself? $\endgroup$ Jul 20 at 17:47
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I might be interested, but I'm generally not a confrontational kind of guy and getting angry messages from disgruntled users isn't my idea of a good time. My concerns are heightened in that my username is my real name and my profile lists my occupation & employer. This was a conscious decision on my part when I joined, since I view my time here as a sort of "public outreach" that's part of my occupation.

But it also means that if someone really wanted to really harass me, it'd be relatively easy. Already, I occasionally receive back-channel e-mails this way concerning answers I have posted. I'm cool with that as a "private user", but I'd worry that it would get much more stressful if I was closing or deleting people's posts.

So my question for the current mods is: Would having my real name, occupation, & employer easily accessible to the world be an impediment if I became a mod? I suspect that given my history on the site, it would be difficult to completely dissociate my account from it at this point.

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    $\begingroup$ You could always edit your name and profile. And unless someone saved your information it would be gone. I actually used to have my real name as my username as well as my university in my profile. I have since removed all of that. Do you remember my real name? You could probably find it if you look back at comment tags in old posts, but it would still involve some digging as well as knowing that I had changed my information previously. $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ I had a similar concern when I became a mod, but I decided to actually add my identifying information into my profile after I became a mod (okay, it's not immediately obvious where, but it is there). When I asked the other mods about their experiences, DavidZ reminded me that he's had his name and email address out there the entire time to no ill-effect. I am also very non-confrontational and the number of angry messages I have gotten is very, very small. Most of the angry messages are replies to mod messages sent to users, and those are anonymous, so it isn't targeted. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Jun 16 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist I do not want to discourage you. But your former name initials were A and S? Just to know, It took me exactly 2 min to find it. $\endgroup$
    – GiorgioP
    Jun 16 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ @GiorgioP I mean, I did tell you how to do it above. I was just saying it is an option that is less obvious than explicitly having your full name as your username as well as personal information in your profile. I am well aware the information is out there; I am not discouraged. $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ I'll add to what tpg said that while getting yelled at is certainly part of being a moderator, it's a much smaller part than what you'd probably expect. Many flags don't involve any controversy (e.g. moving comments to chat or deleting them just creates no follow-up whatsoever 99% of the time), and if a mod wants to avoid getting involved in any specific case, they can always ask in our private room for someone else to handle that case. It can actually de-escalate the situation if a user that feels wronged sees another mod come in - they then see it's not a single person out for them. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Jun 16 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Plenty of moderators network-wide have usernames that look like real names. If you decide to change yours and are wondering about its effectiveness, ask yourself this: how many years did you overlap with DavidZ on this site before you learned his last name from an ancient Meta post? For me it was probably four years. It’s hard to defeat a sleuth, but it’s easy to obfuscate a little. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Jun 17 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ I am in favor of anonymity - I think it helps to foster productive and interesting discussions, where the arguments are judged by their merits rather than by the alma-mater, position or publications list of the debaters. However, I suppose it is not hard figuring out one's identity, even behind a nickname. And I certainly do google those who appear under their real name. $\endgroup$ Jun 18 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ About your worries: I moderate on Academia under my real name; thus far, no problem for that. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ IIRC @DavidZ removed his last name from his username because some people would contact him via his private email with Phys.SE moderation matters. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Aug 1 at 20:07
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I would be interested, but to be quite honest if my name were on the ballot I would not vote for myself :D
Mainly because I am not active on Meta. I do check the main site every day, but I rarely if ever participate/answer/comment to discussions on Meta.

How important is being active on Meta to being a (good) moderator?

Also, my reputation is < 25k. Would that be affecting anything?

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  • $\begingroup$ Rob gave this link above that goes over requirements. There are reputation and meta requirements, but they aren't very huge requirements. $\endgroup$ Jun 17 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ Your reputation is higher than both mine and tpg2114's and I feel like we've done fine jobs. ;) The main difference it makes is that you get all of the perks of high reputation and then some without actually having the reputation. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 17 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ As for meta activity, you may find yourself becoming more active on meta just by being a moderator, as I did. Part of this is that moderators receive a notification for every new meta question, so it's just much higher visibility for us. Even if you don't, I don't think it's a big problem- it's fine to have some moderators do more of the behind-the-scenes work and some do more of the publicly obvious work. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 17 at 3:10
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I would be interested in becoming a moderator. I visit the site almost every day, and I try always check on the review queues when I log in. Compared to a the other Stack Exchange sites I visit, Physics gets a lot of off-topic questions—especially homework (and homework-like) questions. While I have never been a moderator on any Stack Exchange site, my wife has been a moderators on several sites over the years, and so I am quite familiar with the duties and practicalities of being a moderator. What I don't know much about is the time commitment for moderators on this particular site. I know that different moderators can have somewhat different approaches and put different amounts of time into a site, but I am curious about how the fairly large number of off-topic questions affects the workload on Physics specifically.

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    $\begingroup$ Check out my comments on this answer. Different mods are more or less active, but I generally don't vote on closures and let the community handle it through the queue. I will only do it if I happen to see it for some other reason and it's really obvious (like a photo of a homework question). For me, most of the mod actions were quick/short -- lots of comment cleanup, some spam once in awhile, tracking down improper accounts. The majority of it happened in short bursts (1-5 minutes) between other work like code compiling. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Jun 17 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ The off-topic questions don't affect the workload that much. For the most part I close any obvious ones I see during my normal usage of the site and let the community deal with the rest. Though since most users can't cast delete votes, we are more involved with the deletion of homework answers, that still usually only amounts to a handful per day. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 17 at 4:02
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I'm interested, but I feel like i don't have enough experience to know which decision to make when, for example, a question is flagged as homework (sometimes I find that the question isn't bare homework and should be considered on-topic, but it's closed anyway). Is there something one could do to improve their moderation skills, so to speak?

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    $\begingroup$ This is a great point to discuss, actually -- so votes to close for normal closures like duplicates, homework, engineering, etc., the moderators are actually less active than we were when we were regular users. This is because a moderator vote is binding. If I go and "vote to close" as homework, it immediately closes it. So, we generally vote to close less often than we did as regular users and let our regular users decide through their votes. The exceptions are when it's really, really obvious and uncontroversial, or when we would be the 5th vote to close, which makes us like a reg. user. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Jun 16 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ For flags like not an answer, or very low quality, we see them on our dashboard but we don't generally act on them because we let the community work through it in the queue. We try to only take on flags that can't be handled by regular users -- spam (only because it's quicker), comment deletion, answer-to-homework question, too many comments, too many answers, and so on. There is enough coverage amongst the team that if you aren't sure or aren't confident (or aren't interested, like me with certain types of flags), one of the other mods will be able to handle it appropriately. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Jun 16 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 this clarifies a lot, thanks! Then I think I'd be happy to help, it seems like a nice way to give back to this wonderful comunity $\endgroup$ Jun 16 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ Well, you're very close to having access to all of the review queues! The election won't be for a while yet- if you can hit 3k reputation soon you can get some experience working on helping clear out the close votes queue. Also as @tpg2114 said, you can feel free to just ignore any flags you don't want to handle, or ask the rest of us in our super secret mod-only hideout. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jun 17 at 3:15

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