@Chopper3 - at the moment I tend to spend about 5-10 minutes an hour during work days, on the site as it is at the moment. I start work at 7.30am so I don't moderate before then, and I tend to pop on two or three times after work and before bed
I will be able to spend as much time as I spend on the site currently, which varies due to work demands. ServerFault is one of the main areas where I spend my free time, which typically includes checking at least 5-days a week. I would average about 5-7 hours a week. This time would be shared between moderation and answering questions.
I don't honestly know what its like for SF but when I've done mod duties on other forums its always taken longer than people expect. I can imagine an hour a day easily depending on how many other mods are around
I don't know what it's like on SF but mod flags that get raised on webmasters.se (where I've a pro-term mod) I am one of the most active mods, most flags have been sitting around for 2-3 hours and I'm still the first one to act on them
@Moshe - no, actually most of them are stuff we can do nothing about. 2/3 are things that we can't do anything except leav ea comment (which the flagger should be doing anyway), and then there's usually account merges and whatnot
@Chopper3 - are all the spam posts by the same user? If so then that seems like an ideal candidate for suspension. If they are all from different users then it's a matter of deleting the posts and keeping an eye on the accounts
@Chopper3 I think those sort of posts need removing as soon as possible, and the user suspended if that is all they are doing. Some users do push their own product while trying to give an answer, and they may just need education
@Chopper3 - dealing with spam. I would remove the offending posts from the site and possibly send an email (if procedure said to do so) advising them not to do that if they continued. If they did continue, timed suspension may be the only course of action
@Josh As i mentioned earlier broadly I think it could be a good thing, to encourage new users to get involved as soon as they can. That said, I have some concerns over spam edits etc, but I will need to see how it goes.
It is an interesting feature, @Josh, which could be beneficial. There are many simple edits that could improve the overall content and the approval system is interesting. If implemented well, it could be a fantastic idea.
Yeah, I'm with @farseeker on this one. Sometimes the spam looks like someone doing some manual marketing (actually answering posts) and that would likely work well for emailing. Others, like our password reset spammers, don't bother.
The one thing I've found on webmasters.se is that "destroying" the account isn't really such a smart idea, because they can just sign back up and create a new one, so suspension seems to be the way to go
@Chopper3 - there are often telltale signs in their public profile (more so in the one mods can see I assume). Hotmail addresses combined with a dodgey-looking self-promotion URL are usually a good sign. In the past I've annotated the user and then checked back on them every now and again. Admittedly I've also relied on the flags of other users. Whenever I see a spam post, I've gone back and checked all of the answers the user has provided.
@chopper3 I'm guessing you can't tell from a genuine first post for sure, but with just one post you can look at superficial engagement with the question, a superficial profile - either minimally filled in, further promoting the product or full of 'throwaway' info
@Chopper3 things like (un)registered user, date of registration, website, email address and rep would probably be a good indicator. Again, IP addresses could also be a good clue. If I suspect someone of spamming, I also look at their other answers to see if they've answered the same sort of thing.
@Farseeker Just to interject - other sites (SU, Web Apps, Programmers' etc.) have co-opted a known spammer account, suspended it for a very long time and then merged other spam accounts into that. It appears to be an effective way of blocking them.
one thing I want to warn candidates about is burnout -- we have seen, often due to OUR mistakes as "park rangers" in not spreading the moderation load equitably -- moderators who get overwhelmed and no longer view participating as enjoyable. How would you avoid this, and help identify it so we can avoid it for your fellow mods?
Are things as common as dealing with spammers really room to being so subjective? Is there no knowledge sharing between moderators? It seems that co-opting a procedure based on a sudden collaboration ignores the existing experience with current moderators.
@JeffAtwood - my plan of attack for this is to not spend large chunks of time all at once, rather to spread the load out over my standard work day. 5 minutes an hour is what I am aiming for, with vastly reduced time over the weekend. I'm pretty good at controlling myself at saying "no" when it's too much and taking a break
So much so in the beginning when it came too muchj I actually askeed on SU how to avoid it
Does anyone have a solution (that doesn't involve editing the hosts file) to block a particular URL from FireFox?
Basic back story is that I'm trying to discipline myself. I'm spending FAR too much time over at Server Fault that I want to genuinely block the site from my work PC so that every ti...
Secondly, as I mentioned in my 'speech', moderation should be a light touch where possible, by keeping to this philosophy and letting the site moderate it's self where it can and only stepping in where needed, it should help stop the burnout.
@Jeff: There'd be an "oooh, shiny" period where I'd want to spend lots of time to figure out how stuff works, what other mods expect, etc. But I've got a job, a wife, a kid, a house to work on, other pro development to do... this would be just one other "job" to throw into the mix.
As with all responsibilities in my life, I would manage accordingly. Properly managing moderation responsibilities with the other responsibility in my life would allow distribution of the workload, which in theory would prevent burn-out. If the responsibility were unable to be managed well due to unreasonable work-loads, I would start a dialog regarding the need for additional moderators.
One thing that I suspect would be useful would be a mod-board somewhere that notes can be dropped. We'll likely have better timezone coverage after this election, so passing notes to peers we never see online will be useful.
@Jeff identifying it in yourself, or others? For the individual you just have to remember its a marathon rather than a sprint - it doesn't matter if you can't do it one day or can't get to all the flags you see if you're on a schedule. Also, to spot it in yourself or in others you can sometimes tell when you're feeling jaded - when you start having (or seeing) a template kind of response to things, sarcasm starting to creep into normally sarcasm-free comments, etc.
@JeffAtwood self discipline is good there. There comes a point where you have to say "enough is enough for today". There are other moderators who can pick some of the slack up, and I imagine you have tools to see if the mod actions are distributed fairly evenly or not so you might offer some inspiring words to other moderators
Being sysadmins, it's also something we often have to deal with at work, there's always the temptation to just get this project finished, or do the extra hours to get something work, when really you should be in bed. It's something we have to learn to deal with, before we end up sick
The design of the site is such that an appropriate community can greatly assist in moderation, we just need to get better at it. As we earn more higher-rep/involved users things like close/delete voting becomes easier, as does flagging. During prime-time we've even handled spam w/o a moderator.
@RebeccaChernoff - I had trouble with this in the beginning of my pro-term modding, and I was a champion of the idea of a non-binding vote. Then, I had an argument with JoelSpolsky over it (well, heated discussion anyway, heated on my side) and they convinced me that it's not such a big deal
I joked a few days ago in chat that, "I'd just have to work a sock-puppet up to 3K and vote with that," which goes against the spirit of the site, but is a work-around for it. We do have a vote-to-close room, though, where users can highlight questions that need a closer look.
@Rebecca - I won't lie, it will take some getting used to. I guess you just need to think twice before pulling the trigger, maybe just learn to leave questions alone and let others vote on them (you want to give more people a chance to get involved in maintaining the site anyway!) and only step in when a binding vote is needed
@RebeccaChernoff if it's obvious a question will get 5 close votes from "normal" users, there's no need for a binding vote from a moderator (it just seems harsh from the end user perspective). I'd probably keep it open in another tab or something, so when it drops off the first page I would likely cast the binding vote
That's a good quesion @RebeccaChernoff I believe that the single binding vote should really only be used for things like spam posts, offensive behaviour etc. Where the high rep users can, and will close a post them selves over time, they should. Closing of a question should be a consensus wherever possible
That is something I have debated strongly, @RebeccaChernoff. Being an instant binding vote, I would generally default to the community votes, allowing the non-binding necessary votes to be hit or not. However, in situations where the issue were clear or an edge case, I would take the appropriate action. I suspect with the edge cases collaboration would be necessary with other moderators and community members to insure a fair action is taken.
@Sam - I see a lot of questions in the mod tools slip through the gaps before reaching their critical mass of close votes. QUestions often get stuck in 2-3 votes and they definately don't belong. That's also the ultimate time to put them out of their misery
On Server Fault, it's definitely "How do I host my server from home":
@sysadmin1138 the FAQ needs to be applied. If it's blatantly off topic (even though it has answers and votes) it should be moved. Any debatable ones should be discussed (again, chat is very helpful here)
I have another question: While not directly related to moderation duties, I feel that helping the ServerFault community to grow is a good challenge for all of us passionate sysadmins. What ideas do you have to help attract more professional users of the site, and increase the volume of good questions and answers?
me too - i think consistency is important though, as much as possible, so its something where the mods would hopefully have a reasonable level of consensus. I don't mean to be robots but its pointless if one mod always closed a type of question and another always left them open
Site promotion is something I've already done. I have peers I've mentioned it to. I also have a blog (see profile for link) where serverfault mentions come up frequently. I've even earned a badge from sharing links there.
@zoredache - i don't want to dump rubbish on superuser because i do get frustrated at the questions we see from SO where someone mentions their development machine is plugged into a LAN and someone else goes 'oooh network... MIGRATE WITH FIRE'
@Josh i've been quite active in the community in my area of the UK, trying to spread the word about serverfault, and this is something that we should encourage, for all high rep users not just reps. There are some very skilled admins out there who just need a nudge in the right direction. Whenever I encounter a collegue or client struggling with an issue, I ask them, have you tried looking on Serverfault for answers?
Promotion is something I have already worked on @Josh with both SF members and SO staff. I hope to continue to work with SO and SF to active promote SF at conferences and other events. Moreover, I am heavily involved in networking and take any opportunity I can to promote SF to those who may benefit within my professional network. This is something I am very serious about and try to help where I can.
@Farseeker I think moving to a mod position would shift my focus, and the question answering may suffer a bit, it's inevitable because your giving your time in a different area, but I'd like to try and keep that as minimal as possible.
I push answers out when I can and seem to go in bursts anyway. Can a mod or high rep user with 10 mins to spend on the site add more value by modding or by answering a question that other people could answer?
One of the main reasons I feel comfortable running for mod is that my question-answering has gone down of late recently, simply because I'm not finding anything I'm interested in answering, as per Joel's answer here: meta.serverfault.com/questions/973/…
I would also like to discuss a potential promotional partnership opportunities between my company and SO, as I think there may be some opportunities there. I have yet to bring that up formally, however. I did get the ball rolling with a C-level at my employer. This might not work but if it makes sense, I'd like to do what I can to make it work.
Sometimes, using your close votes on borderline questions will cause some push back on the meta site. How will you handle questions raised on meta about your close reason? Would you be willing to reverse you decision?
@Zypher As I've grown in this profession I've learned how to have my decisions occasionally questioned or outright reversed without getting much ego invested in it. It's hard, but handling it graciously is the point. If the community does throw reasoned argument at me for why something should be reopened, then I'm open to doing so.
@Zypher - yes, if I was convinced, but that said a mod also has to stand firm on their decisions, based around the definition of the FAQ. If I was wrong, I would absoltually reverse the decision, but I do not succumb to mob pressure
@Zypher I'm not infallible, and if there is a valid reason why I made the wrong decision I would be willing to re-consider. But you have to balance this, doing that to often can make you appear indecisive. If someone questions my decisions I would always be willing to give my reasons for it and listen to their opinion. Ultimately moderators are there to server the community and should be accountable.
@Zypher I strongly believe in accountability, and would explain my reasons if they were asked on Meta. I usually stick with my decision, but if there's enough weight behind it, I'm willing to consider reversing my decision
If the community consensus is in contrast to my decision, respecting the community would my first choice, @Zypher. However, if the community decided in contrast to stated policy or mission of SO, that takes precedence to community wishes in many cases.
@KyleBrandt This is what that side-band chat is all about. I don't know if the mod-tools include a messaging-wiki-chat facility, but contacting the other mod directly about it for reasoning is much better than posting on Meta about it. That makes it a Thing.
@KyleBrandt the last thing I would do is re-open it, question tennis between moderators just shows a bad image to the users. I would try and discuss it with the moderator and get opinions from other areas. I know very well that my opinion is not always the right one and getting input from others is the best way to see all sides.
@Warner - it's not so much about challenging that, and it's definately not about pointing figures or going "nana nana na", but from my experience in these things, breakdowns in communications can cause more issues than they're worth, and the left hand needs to know what the right hand is thinking (that applies to all hands)
@Farseeker: if work or personal commitments totally cut me off, I'd let someone know and see about formally resigning. If it was just a matter of being too busy for a short period, I'd let as many others know as possible and try to keep in touch.
@Farseeker I think communication is key here, if your going to be unavalible for a short period of time, let your fellow moderators know and ensure they are happy to take up the slack. If your going to quit or go for a long time, let people know in advance so they can plan. Even if your leaving on not so good terms, the right thing to do is help the people who will be taking over.
@Farseeker you absolutely need to tell the admins you intend to do this, and affirm that you are only taking a break and you will be back. If you have to quit as a moderator, again tell whoever should be told so arrangements can be made.
if we are breaking the "fun" part that is really bad, and we try like hell not to do that.. definitely go out of your way to tell us if you're feeling like it just isn't enjoyable or rewarding any more.
It was a pleasure to meet the people and personalities associated with all the questions and answers I had seen once chat was introduced. @KyleBrandt and I had begun to get to know each other some but that would have been substantially more shallow were it not for the newer mediums. Still, very cool.
I think being mixed in with MSO felt a bit dirty. There were relatively few SF meta questions, so asking a SF meta question on MSO always felt like a fruitless exercise because nobody from SF was there. Our own meta and chat have helped no end with that (and hopefully people sticking around too)