As our site finally reaches graduation, we are getting the opportunity to elect moderators. In the election we will be voting for who should lead us. It is important for the candidates (or those considering candidacy) to know what the community wants. It is also valuable to be reminded of what a good moderator is. What do you look for in a moderator?

Note: These are the qualities that stack exchange looks for, and general information about the post of moderator.


5 Answers 5



I would want all moderators to spend time on the site regularly, and actively participating in site activities, answering, moderating, reviewing and mentoring above and beyond the norm. This would show that the moderator was interested and active in the determining of the site's present and future atmosphere and quality.

I would also note that they need to be able to offer this dedication in the future as well as present. Upcoming commitments such as a job or college/school should be carefully considered.


I would expect a moderator to be a professional, someone who promotes high quality on the site, and who contributes high quality material. They should always have the site's quality in their mind. A moderator is supposed to be a leader, and they should set a good standard.


Moderators have a lot of power, so they need to be responsible in the using of that power. No favoritism, targeted chat bans, etc. This is really a critical point, a moderator who abuses authority is worse than useless, no matter if all the other criteria are fulfilled. The abuse of power damages users trust of the moderator, and moderators in general, while also potentially delivering undeserved punishment and making users decide it isn't worth contributing.


It is easy for a mod with a lot of responsibilities and a busy schedule to become aloof and hard to reach. This is not good, as moderators really should be able to be consulted on important site questions (especially on meta). If the moderator is not friendly and interested in the users as well as the site, then the users will be less likely to ask.


Moderators need to communicate to the users what is going on in the stratosphere, as it ultimately affects them as well. Letting them know why they take specific actions can help as well. I think a moderator should be prepared to answer questions about their actions and have reasons for them, and that anything major should be communicated to the users without needing to be asked.

These are basic qualities, @X-27's answer shows good ways to quantify these qualities.



If a user is not active, he can not fulfill his duties as a moderator.

Helpful Flags

A user should be able to identify when a post is bad. Having lots of disputed flags would be a good indicator that he is a bad judge of quality.

High Votes

A moderator should not only smash down the ban hammer whenever someone makes a mistake, but also encourage good users by voting on their posts.

Many Reviews

Having many reviews shows that you are willing to help monitor and improve the site. If you do not review posts normally, how could anyone expect you to do that and much more as a moderator?

Good Standing

Any prospective moderator should have a good standing with the community. If a moderator never answers or asks any questions, never comments on posts, and never visits the site's chat rooms, there will be a void between the users and the moderators. It will be much harder for them to keep the site's quality where it should be, without discouraging users away from the site.



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A moderators job is to help keep the site civil and dignified.

A moderators job is not "teacher" of the site's content. The moderator is a teacher of the site's code of conduct.

If the moderators do their work properly, content-teachers who contribute to the site will want to stay because people who visit the site are behaving well, otherwise, those people will leave so they can avoid all the trouble that happens when a site is overrun with malicious and snarky comments.

Nobody wants to work in a hostile environment; a moderators job is to make sure the site does not become like that.

A moderator is a person who should mediate conflicts, not escalate them.

The history of our civilization shows us that conflict and war have always been with us. Moderators should be able help to make sure this site is not contributing to this problem. What happens here will certainly spread into all of our personal lives, this is true for both the good and the bad.

--- From the wiki ---

As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have.

Your goal is to guide the community with gentle — but firm — intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions.

Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.

Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions.

Regularly check for flagged posts, and decide if further action is warranted.

In the case of serious disputes, communicate directly with users via email to help mediate and resolve those disputes.


Role Model - Always

Moderators set the tone and expectation for a community. A moderator who is rude, incomprehensible, unruly or unintelligent can lower expectations and confuse new users. This applies to all circumstances, chat, meta, main, comments and even other network sites. The moderator should be someone who is looked up to. Look to community managers for example. Every time one posts on meta, or makes a statement, it clears up confusion and calms irritate users. There thoughts are usually both correct and final; and they communicate them in a way that everyone understands without fail. Wow, I wish I could be like that.... every time I read there work, I think about how I could communicate better. Those types are who our moderators should be.

Dedicated - now and in the future

Maintaining a site takes work, and these individuals need to be prepared to do it. That is pretty obvious. But, as we have learnt the hard way, they need to be prepared to do it in the long run as well. Two of our moderators have stopped contributing; one of them was replaced. Many of our original candidates who were not elected have left the site as well (Maybe as moderators they would have stayed, but chances are they would have left). Candidates should be able to contribute to the site for some time to come. Future candidates: Please consider your future before running! Do you expect to go collage, get a job or have a family. How will this change your schedule?

If things change suddenly, you should also be prepared to cede you post. There isn't shame in resigning in order to pursue life, or be there for the people and tasks that mean the most to you.

Available - (esp. on chat)

Being able to reach people of authority informally can be helpful to many users. Sometimes using the formal channels of discussion can be intimidating or a tad unnecessary. In other cases it can set larger wheels in motion or create controversy, when an informal discussion can resolve the issue or dissuade unnecessary action. Its also nice to be able to chat to the boss!

Experienced & Valued Contributor

Moderators, armed with super powered close and open votes, as well as swaying opinions, have to understand site policy. One of the best ways to know what is current is to be actively involved in the site, answering and asking, to see when rules should be bent, and when not.

A contributor's post's "Value" is easily quantified here on stack exchange with reputation. So can experience. Moderators should have a fair amount of it. That is simple.

There is however an important aspect to observe here: Current value. Old posts, that are early to the site, can sometimes belie actual skill. The simplest and most basic answers on sites such as stack overflow can have some of the most votes. Be sure the investigate the users profile, and see where their reputation comes from. In the brand new (and quite nice) profiles, under the activity tab, there is a graph of the reputation that user has earned. Frequent plateaus reveal periodic absences and a steady decline in gain shows decreasing interest. They should also be present in the top few rows of the week, month and quarter tabs. This also applies for the edits and voters tab.

Active Cleanup - Review Queues, Tag Wikis, Flags and Edits

A moderator should be constantly using their power to clean up the site that is there first an primary purpose. Their contributions in this area can be measured through badges, and review queue stats. They should have a considerable number of edits and help full flags (visible in the activity tab of the profile)

Meta master - On Meta.SE!

Its obvious a moderator should be active on local meta, but also on Meta.SE as well. The major policies of stack exchange are determined there, and moderators should be actively trying to help the network as well as their site. Furthermore, many improvements to local sites can and are gained through Meta.SE as network wide changes.

Above and beyond

There are boxes of service for moderators to check. There are many that are optional, and some that aren't on the list. Moderators should check all of these. Nobody requires a moderator to advocate for our community or spread the word, but they still should go that extra mile, or at the very least, convince others to do so.


A diamond isn't a verified seal of a quality contributor. Moderators usually lose their diamonds for fairly major offensives or gross negligence. I've seen moderators trashing valid area 51 proposals (Down votes on highly voted example questions, etc) that might steal traffic and a bit of scope for there sites. I've seen moderators only check the bare boxes of there posts instead of handing it off to far more dedicated and worthy individuals. Many of these folks are still moderators. Use the criteria in this post, other posts and stackexchange blogs/official statements as a guide, before blindly voting for someone just because they are moderator on another site. Moderators are hard to replace, so choose wisely.

Chat is more important then you think! You may think its a waste of time, or just a social party, and to some extent it is. It is also the highly influential power user hangout, and can influence meta greatly (More then you would think: imagine meta posts to be press releases, while chat is the board room. That can often be the case [Okay literal folks, this is a bit exaggerated.]) It is also responsible for anomalies on the main site. Chat posts can determine the fate of a question, or influence a decision. Moderators should be active and aware of what happens in chat.

Moderators - Figureheads of Policy

Moderators are the figurehead of our site, to other sites and new users. Vote for who you think best represents the positive attributes of our site, and will work to keep them that way.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Long-winded, but excellent points! $\endgroup$
    – J Sargent
    May 27, 2015 at 2:27

My requirements for moderators are very simple.

  • Moderators aren't leaders, they are protectors of community agreed scope, sanity and netiquette. In their choices they should be an example of the spirit of B.se. and should be seen to participate with the QA like everyone else.
  • Impartial, open to reason, and willing to concede for the greater good of information flow when the scope is being stretched.
  • Subscribe to the bf-committers mailing list and routinely read through the bug reports for awareness. Should be familiar with the bug reporting process. (If they've never done a bug report, how could I possibly feel confident they have the right mindset to be a moderator?)

As a community we govern ourselves through popular vote and counter challenges to that vote, moderator votes help swing the ballot faster. Moderation shouldn't be a second fulltime-job either. We should have enough moderators in overlapping timezones to react to unwanted or disputed content.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The last paragraph especially is good, this isn't a one man (or woman) show, it is a team effort. $\endgroup$
    – J Sargent
    May 27, 2015 at 9:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This was interseting... that highlight on bf-committers was a bit odd, and I don't think it would sway my vote, however, when we ask the moderators questions (stage two of actual election), do add a question about activity on bf committers/ other development. $\endgroup$ May 27, 2015 at 14:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @zeffii, moderators aren't always leaders, but sometimes on meta and such they have to guide people in disagreement, or in tough situations make calls. The need to a have a few leadership qualities to guide people. $\endgroup$ May 27, 2015 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ We can of course have alternative opinions about what makes a good moderator, only votes will show our collective choice, and only time will show if that choice was good or not. $\endgroup$
    – zeffii
    May 27, 2015 at 14:32

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