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I have just come off a three month term as moderator of this site. Long story short -- it is far harder than I imagined it would be. If you haven't done it, you have no idea. If your think being elected moderator is an honour, imagine how honored you would feel if you were elected by your peers to clean the toilets as summer camp. Then imagine how miserable summer camp would be if no one cleaned the toilets.

As a regular user of the site, you check in, see if there are any interesting question, answer the ones you can, and move on. If you see something that does not belong, you vote to close. If you see something obnoxious, you flag it. But you are not the one making the decisions on these things. You are not the one who is supposed to go through all the obnoxious and off topic posts and make appropriate decisions about them. You can ignore all of that and just look at the good stuff. Mods have to look at all the dubious stuff and make reasonable decisions about it. That's tough, and it put me off the whole site pretty quickly.

This post is to record my gratitude to the moderators and to encourage users here to do everything they can to make the moderators lives easier. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you know a post is off topic, don't rush to answer it before it get closed because you want the rep points or because you have something to say on the subject. You are making the mods lives more difficult and making the site less attractive to people who want it to be what it is supposed to be. If it is off topic, vote to close and write a comment to the poster explaining why. This makes life easier for the mods.

  2. If a post is closed, don't answer the question in comments.

  3. Don't use comments for anything other than asking for clarification or justification of an answer. If you want to debate, take it to chat. If you start a debate in comments, mods have to sort the mess out often genuinely useful comments get sent to chat along with the debate, which reduces the usefulness of the answer.

  4. Answer posts where you have a thoughtful and considered answer based on experience, knowledge, or research. If it is a question you have no particular expertise of experience on, don't post your off the cuff thoughts. They add no value and they clog up the site with irrelevant ideas that make it harder to find useful content. Don't feel obliged to answer more questions than you ask. Each of us is in a different stage of development. Questions are just as valuable as answers. Don't force the mods to have to adjudicate low quality answers. Speak from experience and knowledge or keep it to yourself.

  5. Don't be a jackass. Don't try to stir up trouble. Don't show off or try to call attention to yourself. All this just creates more work for mods. Be a grown up. And if you are not yet a grown up, this is a great place to practice behaving like one.

  6. This site is supposed to be governed primarily by the users with the moderators acting as "human exception handlers". We should all be taking care of the basic hygiene of the site, not leaving all the messes for the mods to clean up. That means vote for good questions and answers, vote to close off topic and inappropriate questions and answers, and flag anything objectionable so it is easier for the mods to find it and deal with it. If you have a question about what is appropriate, that is what Meta is for.

Support your local sheriff. Leave the site cleaner than you found it.

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    Thank you for summarizing this so well, and for your time as a moderator. I hope you can get back to enjoying the site as a user. – Monica Cellio Dec 13 '17 at 16:59
  • My answer below may be not precisely on topic, but I know it must feel that being a moderator is a thankless task (particularly some weeks). I wanted to set that straight. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Dec 16 '17 at 10:51
  • thanks for busting your butt, Mark. :) – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Dec 22 '17 at 13:59
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    LOL thank you Mark, and my jack-assery today is simply because I want the freakin Christmas hat. And It's Christmas. Alternatively, get rid of hats, badges and every other summer camp gadget that these SE sites seem to use. An algorithm cannot tap into childish reward systems and expect to not tap into childish reward systems. But if I get a Christmas hat I will be happy. – DPT Dec 26 '17 at 2:20
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    @DPT It is possible to opt out of hats. – Todd Wilcox Feb 2 '18 at 18:42
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Thanks for your work as moderator and this valuable perspective.

I'm a relative newcomer here, joining at about the time you became a moderator, so for me it's a bit like joining a new company only to find shortly after that a respected line manager is leaving to pursue other interests - in the last three months you've nudged me in the right direction more than once.

Hope to see you around on these pages. When that happens (if you'll excuse me stretching the professional metaphor), I'll be thinking "consultant" and "emeritus professor" as well as "colleague".

Thanks again.

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