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On chat per a moments ago, we were having a discussion about the choice of "Moderators" as our site name, and what implications does this have to our scope. Right now, the name implies that this site is for moderation questions that moderators have, yet the tour gives a broader scope including community building, administration, seeding, etc. which are proper of the people trying to managing digital communities in general, in which moderation is a sub-set of all of that.

Shouldn't our naming be more explicit to reflect this? What name you propose?

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    I will feel sad with the name change, since all those puns will be lost forever :( – Braiam Aug 11 '14 at 20:47
  • I think this might be a thing later... – Anonymous Penguin Aug 11 '14 at 20:55
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    Do we realistically think that our scope goes beyond online communities? (I know somebody said that, but I'm not sure I see questions about organizing your club's bake sale as fitting here.) 'Cause if the narrower scope is what we actually mean, then Online Communities would seem to fit. – Monica Cellio Aug 11 '14 at 20:58
  • The context from chat is useful chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/17081372#17081372 – Air Aug 11 '14 at 20:58
  • @MonicaCellio at least that was the intention... from the tour page: a library of detailed answers to every question about building, administering, managing and cultivating digital communities. Funny, it doesn't mention moderation at all :/ – Braiam Aug 11 '14 at 20:59
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    @AnnonomusPenguin actually, sooner is better than later. I don't know if SE will consider renaming at all, but I saw a site (~2 years into beta at the time) try to change its name because it was attracting actively bad content (not just failing to attract what it wanted), and that request was denied. I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, but it's still something to consider. Once a name gets entrenched it's harder to change. – Monica Cellio Aug 11 '14 at 21:00
  • @Monica fair enough, I just think we might want to make sure that our site has a clear definition that includes all of digital communities before we change our name (as there was a little controversy on this topic in chat/meta)... – Anonymous Penguin Aug 11 '14 at 21:05
  • All and only; both aspects need to be confirmed. On the digital side we've already determined that mailing lists, IRC, and web fora are on-topic; somebody once asserted (don't remember where) that physical (non-digital) communities are also in scope, but I've seen no evidence of that (a scope statement, accepted questions, etc). – Monica Cellio Aug 11 '14 at 21:07
  • The small note I also mentioned on chat: I stand by my original notion that I do not think the name "Moderators" is unnecessarily exclusive, and most other suggestions by now ("Community Management" comes to mind) seem either 'overly professional' if you will, or don't really capture it either. Moderators, on the other hand, implies (to me at least) the entirety of community management as well, although maybe not as bluntly. – user98085 Aug 11 '14 at 21:12
  • We'll see how this meta Q goes, and if it gets us a straight-up better option, we can push for it. But I'm not putting my hopes up here. – user98085 Aug 11 '14 at 21:13
  • This was already heavily debated on Area 51, it would be worth looking over those discussions again. – Tanner Aug 12 '14 at 2:56
  • "Digital Husbandry" would be a very apt name, but perhaps it's too obscure to city slickers? – BHA Oct 3 '14 at 8:20
  • If our scope is only online then, while "Digital Husbandry" is cute, I'd go with the clearer "Digital Communities". I've seen assertions that our scope includes offline communities too, though I'm starting to doubt the truth of that claim. We are what we build and nobody's asking about that, after all. – Monica Cellio Oct 5 '14 at 19:55
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Moderation is not reserved to moderators. Stack Exchange is a prime example of this: even though user contributions retain their authorship, moderation activities such as editing and deleting other people's contributions are not reserved to the handful of users called “moderators”, but can be performed by any sufficiently experienced user. On Stack Exchange, one set of moderation tools is called “moderator tools”, and this isn't the one that's reserved to the moderators. Even “Moderation” would be an improvement on the name “Moderators”.

There's more to making a community work than moderation. Our description currently reads “question and answer site for community managers, administrators, and moderators”. Giving moderators sole billing is awkward. Furthermore, the description focuses on a few technical roles, but a community is the sum of its members. Many an organization is effectively run by a few users who may not have any formal title — that guy who knows everybody, the person that people go to when they want to resolve an argument… Activities like promotion (at least in a volunteer organization) and more generally engaging (fellow) participants, content curation or debating policies are not limited to a particular role. This site isn't about a particular role, it's about the principles of doing stuff together.

This site is not Stack Exchange Moderators. We've had many Stack Exchange moderators drift towards this site thinking it would be, even during the beta. Users complaining about Stack Exchange moderators or moderation have started to find our chatroom. But the site about Stack Exchange moderatorstion is Meta Stack Exchange. This site is a Stack Exchange site about… moderation, among other topics.

On the same vein, the URL https://communitybuilding.stackexchange.com/ used to point to an information site for Stack Exchange moderators. This is another obvious source of confusion. Let's leave https://communitybuilding.stackexchange.com/ for Stack Exchange moderators and use a different, less confusing URL for this site.

All in all, Moderators is a bad name.


I like AviD's proposal: Community Building. Community building encompasses all aspects of making a community work; moderation (if any) is clearly just one of the many aspects. It's all about getting people to act together; moderators are the oil in the cogs, but we emphasize the cogs.

I'm not so fond of Community Management or Community Managers. Management suggests that this site is only about the top of the hierarchy. Managers is as bad as Moderators in restricting to a particular role.

Alternatively, I could see Communities. On the plus side, it's short. On the other hand, it is a bit vague.

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    My issues with "Community Building" are: first, although you never really stop building a community, I feel like this puts an emphasis on initial design/growth period at the expense of regular maintenance and cultivation; second, it puts an emphasis on leadership roles where I think we would be happy to address questions from non-leadership perspectives. But all in all, it is perhaps better than the current name. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 22:01
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    @AirThomas I don't see how “community building” emphasizes leadership roles, quite the contrary. For example, “community building exercises” are all about getting the grunts to feel involved. – Gilles Aug 11 '14 at 22:05
  • I think our perspective as community leaders is part of why we see this as an inclusive role. From the more limited perspective of a "grunt" it's harder to identify with the role of community builder. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 22:10
  • @AirThomas Who do you mean by “community leaders”? To take the example of Stack Exchange sites, there are invariably community leaders who aren't ♦moderators, and fairly often ♦moderators who aren't much more than janitors. – Gilles Aug 11 '14 at 22:13
  • By leaders, I mean individuals who seek out active leadership roles. Not simply major contributors. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 22:16
  • I like "Community Building". It feels must less constrained to a single aspect of building, managing and moderating a community. Even if it does still draw a focus to the leadership roles of a community, it doesn't restrict to moderation only, itself via the name of the site. – Andy Aug 12 '14 at 23:01
  • Adding on to your second point, we've confused at least one user into thinking we were Stack Exchange's higher authority as well when they were reporting an instance of possible moderation misconduct. – Andy Aug 15 '14 at 13:41
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I would suggest just "Community Building" to put more emphasis on the community building aspect. We really mostly want to be concerned about building communities and part of building communities is having effective moderation. The one is dependent on the other. Since compound names can be long and confusing, "Community Building" is enough I think.

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    This was suggested in A51 but Robert implied it wouldn't be seen favorably. That's not to say we couldn't make a strong argument for its appropriateness - just a bit of historical context. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 21:04
  • Altered to "Community Building" then. I actually preferred that but wanted to take a page from Braiam's idea, but if it's generally frowned on by SE, I'll go back to my original suggestion. – AJ Henderson Aug 11 '14 at 21:07
  • The relevant guideline is "We should avoid having ampersands (and thus multiple topics) as much as possible, except where absolutely necessary for clarification purposes." – Air Aug 11 '14 at 21:14
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    Maybe "On-line communities"... – user309 Aug 16 '14 at 22:58
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Of all the suggestions made I like communities. I think it encompasses everything we cover here, whereas all the other suggestions are too narrow and only focus on a part of what we offer.

Some people have pointed out that it might be too vague but I think anything else is too specific. We want vague to cover everything we do. We cover a wide range of things here. We are a Q&A site for anything and everything community.

  • We do cover offline groups. – Gilles Sep 6 '14 at 13:10
  • OK, so what's wrong with just Communities as a name then? You said it's too vague in your suggestion, why? – Styphon Sep 6 '14 at 18:19
  • I've adjusted my answer to reflect that we cover offline too. – Styphon Sep 6 '14 at 18:21
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I think it's worth considering Moderated Communities as an alternative to the current site name.

Pros:

  • Less of an exclusive focus on moderators
  • Identifies the community as defining the scope of the site, rather than any one role or activity (e.g., moderation, administration, management)
  • Does not explicitly rule out "offline" communities from being discussed
  • Does not create a pressure to expand our scope to "offline" communities, if we decide we'd rather not go that route
  • Makes it more clear that this site is not intended simply for moderators of this (SE) community

Cons:

  • Is this different enough from the current name to justify a change?
  • What about communities that aren't moderated? We do have at least one question that skirts this issue; would this name exclude any communities that we'd otherwise want to include?

In my mind, the idea of a moderated community encompasses far more than just communities that have formal moderators. Stack Exchange is a great example of crowdsourced moderation - we've already seen that this site is heavily populated with community moderators from SE, but I think even they would admit that SE is moderated primarily by the voting and reviewing of so-called "regular" users (including those with a lot of reputation).

I don't think we want to imply too much of a focus on a role that would seem to exclude some of our desired demographic. We definitely want users who are not moderators on SE, and I think we would also welcome questions from users who are not moderators anywhere -- or administrators, managers, builders, etc. -- but who simply have an interest, or are considering taking on such a role.

  • Although this is an alternate name, it isn't that much different than moderators. This doesn't solve the problem in the original question... – Anonymous Penguin Aug 11 '14 at 21:42
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    What's so special about moderation that it gets the emphasis, and that communities that don't see themselves as moderated are excluded? Is a chess club moderated? Why is ‘Can still be abbreviated "mod.SE"’ not in the cons section? – Gilles Aug 11 '14 at 21:55
  • @AnnonomusPenguin Hmm. Well I really disagree that it's "not much different" - using a different noun is pretty significant. As an analogy, contrast "Oranges" with "Orange Vegetables" - the latter takes on a whole new meaning. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 21:55
  • @Gilles A chess club may or may not be moderated. The better question would be, is the chess club within our scope? Many of these questions are hard (impossible?) to answer mere weeks into beta. – Air Aug 11 '14 at 21:57

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