4

Normally I'd wait for an example question to pop up before starting this sort of scoping discussion on meta, but in this case it might be in our best interest to set a policy beforehand.

This site is stacked with SE network site moderators and users who moderate other sites. It's to be expected that some people, when faced with a particularly difficult decision, might consider submitting their dilemma as a question here, in effect asking: "I have a situation here, what should I do?"

Giving out this type of advice publicly could be inappropriate, depending on the circumstance. Certainly in some cases it's inappropriate for a moderator to make internal discussions public.

On Stack Exchange, users are expected to be responsible for things like protecting their own copyrights. However, moderators typically have access to an exceptional amount of information about members of their community and about internal discussions from other communities (not limited to SE network sites). If I had to deal with a disruptive user as part of a moderation team, the last thing I would want is for someone on that team to post any of the team's ongoing internal discussions, or for any official action or decision to be unduly influenced by some other community.

  • Do we want to be responsible for advising moderators on pending or active issues, i.e., where no action has been taken yet and they are essentially asking us to help moderate their site?

  • If not, are we okay with reviewing moderator actions after the fact?

  • 1
    Let me put it this way - this site is public, and those problematic users could show up here and make an account. Do we really want that sort of a mess? – Ash Jul 30 '14 at 1:26
  • @AshleyNunn - and a user could come here and complain about a moderator decision made on another site anyway, even if it isn't initially asked here. I'm not sure that having had the question asked here makes it any more or less likely to be a problem. Especially if it isn't an SE user, since it will be non-trivial for them to even find the relevant post. – AJ Henderson Aug 2 '14 at 20:00
8

In most cases we would be able to identify the situation rather easily because we know which SE site the asker is moderating. With the exception of SO there is just not enough moderator actions happening on a typical SE site to be able to ask about a current situation incognito here. If we describe a current situation on the site we moderate here we have to assume that users will be able to guess which users we are talking about.

Publicly talking about problematic users is a really bad idea and we shouldn't do it. As I don't think we can adequately anonymize the situations here, asking about any current and identifiable situations is a really bad idea as well.

If you are an SE moderator and have a situation like this and need advice, just ask in the Teacher's Lounge. This site is the wrong place for dealing with current moderation issues.

4

I think we can handle such situations, but they should be taken with a very large grain of caution. We need to be very careful that such situations protect the privacy of those involved. As Mad Scientist pointed out, for SE mods, the situations probably won't be able to be described with sufficient anonymity until after the fact since we can check associated profiles, but for mods of other communities it should be possible.

We may also want to consider a policy where we make all situations described as either previous situations or completely disassociated from time, even if they are current. This doesn't impact the quality of answers that can be given, but it does add yet another level of anonymity if we don't know if the timing is current or past.

Also, at the end of the day, privacy concerns are really the concern of the moderator doing the posting. It is their responsibility to protect the privacy of their users, not ours. In a sense, this is no different from a user posting proprietary code on Stack Overflow. We can provide guidelines to try to help avoid pitfalls, but it is really up to an asker's judgement what they can reveal within their own community's guidelines. It really isn't our job to try to identify what is ok by every community standard out there.

-1

Moderators.SE is not exclusivly an advice community for moderators of the stack exchange network. Question asked in a general matter are okay but specific questions to specific cases covered by specific rules of a specific SE site should not be placed here. Moderators of SE have their own space to ask questions like this.

If the rules are unclear, the discussion should be placed in the respective meta site. After this, maybe moderators.SE is the right place for these topics but it's not the right site for daily discussions and decisions in SE-sites.

This was already covered in an other question.

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