It's New Year's Day in Stack Exchange land...

A distinguishing characteristic of these sites is how they are moderated:

We designed the Stack Exchange network engine to be mostly self-regulating, in that we amortize the overall moderation cost of the system across thousands of teeny-tiny slices of effort contributed by regular, everyday users.
-- A Theory of Moderation

While there certainly are Moderators here, a significant amount of the moderation is done by ordinary people, using the privileges they've earned by virtue of their contributions to the site. Each of you contributes a little bit of time and effort, and together you accomplish much.

As we enter a new year, let's pause and reflect, taking a moment to appreciate the work that we do here together. To that end, here is how the moderation done here on Artificial Intelligence breaks down by activity over the past 12 months:

                 Action                  Moderators Community¹
---------------------------------------- ---------- ----------
Users suspended²                                  3         12
Users destroyed                                   8          0
Users contacted                                   7          0
Tasks reviewed³: Suggested Edit queue           477        816
Tasks reviewed³: Reopen Vote queue               10         23
Tasks reviewed³: Low Quality Posts queue        103         85
Tasks reviewed³: Late Answer queue               71        140
Tasks reviewed³: First Post queue               504        953
Tasks reviewed³: Close Votes queue              221        317
Tags merged                                       6          0
Tag synonyms proposed                             5          0
Tag synonyms created                              4          0
Questions reopened                               16          0
Questions protected                               1          4
Questions migrated                               38          0
Questions flagged⁴                                3        448
Questions closed                                161         18
Question flags handled⁴                         325        126
Posts unlocked                                    0          3
Posts undeleted                                   4         29
Posts locked                                      0         71
Posts deleted⁵                                  157        493
Posts bumped                                      0      1,032
Escalations to the CM team                        2          0
Comments undeleted                                5          0
Comments flagged                                  0        336
Comments deleted⁶                               565        946
Comment flags handled                           228        108
Answers flagged                                   9        369
Answer flags handled                            309         69
All comments on a post moved to chat              8          0


¹ "Community" here refers both to the membership of Artificial Intelligence without diamonds next to their names, and to the automated systems otherwise known as user #-1.

² The system will suspend users under three circumstances: when a user is recreated after being previously suspended, when a user is recreated after being destroyed for spam or abuse, and when a network-wide suspension is in effect on an account.

³ This counts every review that was submitted (not skipped) - so the 3 suggested edits reviews needed to approve an edit would count as 3, the goal being to indicate the frequency of moderation actions. This also applies to flags, etc.

⁴ Includes close flags (but not close or reopen votes).

⁵ This ignores numerous deletions that happen automatically in response to some other action.

⁶ This includes comments deleted by their own authors (which also account for some number of handled comment flags).

Wishing you all a happy new year...


1 Answer 1


Community self-regulation is not new with SO/SE's model. It is in accordance with the same theoretical objectives of economic growth through legislative and judicial constraint in combination with enlightened creation of healthy economic incentives. We're really not talking about automated moderation as much as an e-republic within a fixed scope of public activities that include questions, answers, comments, and rating events.

I think it works nicely in many ways, which is why I suspend my usual skepticism and contribute.

Nonetheless, I would be negligent as a meta-contributor if I didn't mention some incentivization flaws that affect long term content quality objectives most of us would unanimously affirm as useful. I'm specifically talking about two important cases that affect long term quality of site content.

  1. Saving the best aspects of questions that may be otherwise closed. This condition frequently presents because of the current cultural sense of duty to avoid changing details of the original author's intent. The question is almost never edited by the original author, who may get discouraged by the vote to close, and attempts to preserve the positive aspects of the question by discarding the offensive ones by veterans on this site seem to often be reverted.
  2. Imbalance in the scale of reputation, where questions that have been around a long time might have high reputation and provably low quality. This condition persists largely because posting alongside an answer with a super high reputation seems futile. This is the bigger problem when answers with seriously flawed presentations of theory have accumulated extremely high reputations resulting mostly because they sound good and there are zero alternatives.

See How can we adopt a more long range, quality first vision?? for a call to meta-contributors and readers to think about these.

There are many ways to modify incentives slightly to resolve both these problems, but they are incentive imbalances that may only be balanced through modification of the SE/SO social engineering model and corresponding modifications of the server framework that implements it.


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