# 2019: a year in moderation

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. And what could be more festive than a big pile of numbers? So here is a breakdown of moderation actions performed on Cross Validated over the past 12 months:

                  Action                  Moderators Community¹
----------------------------------------- ---------- ----------
Users suspended²                                  28         20
Users destroyed³                                  27          0
Users deleted                                      5          0
Users contacted                                   48          0
User suspensions lifted early                      1          0
Tasks reviewed⁴: Suggested Edit queue          1,269      5,164
Tasks reviewed⁴: Reopen Vote queue               840      2,931
Tasks reviewed⁴: Low Quality Posts queue         894      2,164
Tasks reviewed⁴: Late Answer queue                59      2,243
Tasks reviewed⁴: First Post queue                161     16,199
Tasks reviewed⁴: Close Votes queue             4,618     15,084
Tags merged                                        5          0
Tag synonyms proposed                             10          2
Tag synonyms created                              12          2
Questions unprotected                              1          0
Questions reopened                               676         21
Questions protected                               20         58
Questions migrated                               249         17
Questions merged                                  22          0
Questions flagged⁵                                 8      1,931
Questions closed                               7,630      1,961
Question flags handled⁵                          937        996
Posts unlocked                                     1         61
Posts undeleted                                   91        496
Posts locked                                      34        460
Posts deleted⁶                                 1,896     19,944
Posts bumped                                       0      8,617
Escalations to the Community Manager team         11          0
Comments undeleted                                63          0
Comments flagged                                   8      7,182
Comments deleted⁷                              3,338     12,240
Comment flags handled                          2,135      5,055
Bounties canceled                                  8          0
Answers flagged                                   41      3,057
Answer flags handled                           2,827        271
All comments on a post moved to chat              16          0


### Footnotes

¹ "Community" here refers both to the membership of Cross Validated 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 A "destroyed" user is deleted along with all that they had posted: questions, answers, comments. Generally used as an expedient way of getting rid of spam.

⁴ This counts every review that was submitted (not skipped) - so the 2 suggested edits reviews needed to approve an edit would count as 2, the goal being to indicate the frequency of moderation actions. This also applies to flags, etc.

⁵ Includes close flags (but not close or reopen votes).

⁶ This ignores numerous deletions that happen automatically in response to some other action.

⁷ This includes comments deleted by their own authors (which also account for some number of handled comment flags).

### Further reading:

Wishing you all a happy new year...

• We'd much rather you paused and reflected and reinstated Monica. – amoeba Jan 3 at 9:32
• How many stats.SE moderators stepped down from moderation positions during 2019? – Sycorax Jan 3 at 17:47
• -1. I am downvoting to express my continuing disappointment with the company. – amoeba Jan 3 at 20:54
• the last sentence looks ominous... – Xavier Bourret Sicotte Jan 4 at 3:35
• Naw, @xavier... Ominous is Happy Birthday – Shog9 Jan 4 at 3:45
• The previous link is to a tuneless piece of noise that I imagine is one kind of rock music. I lasted about 30 seconds before giving up in some pain. You may enjoy it... – Nick Cox Jan 7 at 10:07

## 1 Answer

Thank you for the effort to dig up those numbers. But, simply copying the text from last year day's post is not showing that the wishing of a happy new year is very sincere.

Given what happened last year and how SE has been breaking up with it's contributors and moderators, the tone of the post could have been a lot less festive and positive. The situation is not so great and this should not be covered up with a pile of numbers.

As we enter a new year, let's pause and reflect, taking a moment to appreciate the work that we do here together. And what could be more festive than a big pile of numbers?

(emphasis is mine)

What is this post supposed to say? Is 2019 a year in moderation like 2018. Like everything is good now?

We designed the Stack Exchange network engine to be mostly self-regulating

You post a bunch of numbers. Some of them are in the thousands and make it appear as if we are all happy and active in moderating.

Do you really think that this nonsense data makes statisticians happy? There have been several strong negative moments (especially with respect to 'self-regulation' mentioned in the quote) with much more impact than those numbers without context and depth.

# 2019 is the year where you lost moderation.

Just some other data:

Distribution of number of reviews per review task in close/open queues, separated per year and quarter

The year 2019 separated into quarterly data in order to zoom in on the anomaly that closing and reopening is occurring with much less votes in 2019, a change that has developed halfway the year and is very strong in the last quarter.

I believe that we need to look at these numbers in much more depth like the above figures.

• Certainly the quantity of review tasks will increase as the site grows, and likely the review tasks will be more by non-moderators since there are a lot of them.
• However... how does the site really change? Some numbers like the duration that a task remains in the queue is a much better indicator of decreasing efforts and of declining quality of contributions.

Also, let's look at the difference between 2018-2019

                                                  2018                      2019
Action                  Moderators  Community     Moderators  Community
Tasks reviewed: Suggested Edit queue          1,525      5,169          1,269      5,164
Tasks reviewed: Reopen Vote queue               963      3,759            840      2,931
Tasks reviewed: Low Quality Posts queue         938      2,752            894      2,164
Tasks reviewed: Late Answer queue                57      2,417             59      2,243
Tasks reviewed: First Post queue                234     18,159            161     16,199
Tasks reviewed³: Close Votes queue            5,125     19,257          4,618     15,084


What i dislike (an allergy of mine) is managers posting a bunch of numbers (meaningless, without context and depth) and wrap with it a pretty talk/story that has very little to do with those numbers and is just whatever they wish to say and not what those numbers support. (see also Tufte's traffic deaths example in the section 'context is essential for graphical integrity')

• Isn't a post highlighting all the work that moderators and community curators do towards the site exactly in support of the risk of losses in moderating? These are exactly the numbers that would be at risk: not the numbers of questions or answers, but the numbers of handled flags and other tasks. It's possible to disagree with the overall direction of the company without being negative towards everything a representative of the company posts. – Bryan Krause Jan 7 at 0:34
• @BryanKrause I agree that the effort from the Shog9 is appreciable and these sort of numbers can indeed be pitched to show that the work of moderators and other contributors is a risk of loss. But, what i dislike (an allergy of mine) is managers posting a bunch of numbers (meaningless, without context and depth) and put a talk/story around it that has very little to do with those numbers and is just whatever they wish to say and not what those numbers support. – Sextus Empiricus Jan 7 at 7:13
• @BryanKrause I feel that it is neccesary to be negative towards this post from the company because the company is trying to cover up what happened last year and pretends that nothing happened. We, contributers to this site, should nit do the same and continue as if nothing happened. A more humble position from their side would be more nice. You can't go play the nice guy telling how much you like the moderation, and especially refer to 'self-regulating' while this completely failed last year. Actions speak louder than words. – Sextus Empiricus Jan 7 at 7:20
• It's just a form post that goes out on every site. Same one that went out last year. Bit of an update, something of the kind people have asked for in the past. It's especially useful on the smaller sites, where there is constant curiosity of the impact of diamond moderators compared to community moderation. These sorts of posts are in fact action, even if it seems small and even if it isn't particularly new. I don't disagree with your general intent, I just feel like there's a bit of a toxic attitude lately. To be better than the activities you oppose I think it's good to have some nuance. – Bryan Krause Jan 7 at 7:41
• I am with @BryanKrause here, although I recognise and respect strong opinions on this topic. – Nick Cox Jan 7 at 10:09