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Answers and comments submitted by moderators are given more weight in users eyes, and well they should. A mod's answer is many times the final say on an issue especially if that mod is also an SE employee.

Many times I have seen an answer or a comment and not really understood the dynamic of the conversation it was part of, until I realized that the user had formerly been a mod and therefore his opinion held more weight.

(I know that SE likes to tout that there is little distinction between higher rep users and mods, and for the most part, that is true. But there are things that moderators can do, and knowledge that they are privy to, that makes their opinions and posts more valuable.)

I think there should be some kind of indicator on a post that was written when the user was still a mod, so that others can see that and therefore better understand the conversation. I'm not sure as to what this indicator could or should be, but perhaps a grayed-out diamond, or a shaded username (like a post-owner's comment) would work.

(This kind of calls into question those posts made by a user who afterward became a moderator. Currently, one could assume that they were from during his mod period. Perhaps then the indicator should be one on the answer/comment itself, rather than on his username/flair. This would solve both problems.)

Edit: Thanks to @yydl for pointing this out. This idea that a mod's posts holds more weight, mostly applies to meta sites. However, it can also apply to a main site, mostly to a mod's comments. Perhaps "lo shanu" should apply here.

  • And current mods' comments/posts made while not a mod should lack that indicator, then, yes? – msh210 Jan 1 '12 at 22:48
  • @msh210 you mean if a former mod comments/posts while a regular user? Of course. I refer only to posts made whilst moderator status was intact. – HodofHod Jan 1 '12 at 22:54
  • If a former or later mod comments/posts while a non-mod, yes. – msh210 Jan 1 '12 at 22:57
  • Can we get an example of this "missing dynamic". As far as I can imagine, whether a user is a mod should not have any bearing on an answer on the main site [for the meta site - yes, but as far as I know this doesn't apply yet] – yydl Jan 2 '12 at 0:39
  • @yydl that's a good point. I really only conceived this for meta sites. As for examples, I haven't seen any recently, this is something that's been rolling around in my head for a while. I'll see if I can find some, though. – HodofHod Jan 2 '12 at 1:14
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    @yydl. Updated my answer. I think this may be useful for comments on the main site. E.g. the last comment on my answer here. – HodofHod Jan 2 '12 at 1:22
  • @HodofHod Isn't there a diamond by Issac's name? – yydl Jan 2 '12 at 1:42
  • @yydl. there is. I'm giving an example of a comment that could use such an indicator, if IsaacMoses ever retired. – HodofHod Jan 2 '12 at 1:46
  • @HodofHod See here, but your feature request would still stand for the edge cases. – yydl Jan 2 '12 at 18:08
  • @yydl. Thats interesting, thanks for the link. But this would still apply in many cases. THe one that comes to mind right now is Dori. Used to be an SE employee and a mod, but left the company to work somewhere else. Many if not most of her posts were of the administrative nature, which will be confusing for users who never knew Dori was a mod. – HodofHod Jan 3 '12 at 16:42
  • @yydl, note that "Moderators pro tempore (that is, moderators appointed by Stack Exchange on new beta sites) are replaced when the first election occurs. Unless, of course, they nominate themselves and get elected." So, my ♦ and those of the other two mods pro temp are not presumptively forever. – Isaac Moses Jan 3 '12 at 16:52
  • @IsaacMoses Yep. If I recall correctly, that's what I had in mind by "edge cases" – yydl Jan 3 '12 at 22:27
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    I've now alerted an SE employee to the existence of this post, and hope it may therefore get looked sooner by someone who can decide on it. – msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 17:50
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I'm against this, but before I get into why let's examine your rationale for why it might be useful:

I know that SE likes to tout that there is little distinction between higher rep users and mods, and for the most part, that is true. But there are things that moderators can do, and knowledge that they are privy to, that makes their opinions and posts more valuable.

There are a few things that moderators can do that aren't available to ordinary users. So what? There are even more things that some users can do and others can't. If a crucial part of an answer requires you to know what privileges are available to the person posting it, you might want to comment on the answer and ask for some clarification...

And most (not all) of the information available only to moderators is private. That is, they're required to assure us that they won't reveal it publicly before getting access to it, per our privacy policy.

So what remains are conclusions drawn from private data. And frankly, if a moderator - or anyone else - is posting such conclusions without telling you where they're coming from, you should probably ask rather than just assuming they're based on something besides the author's own opinion.

...Which brings me to my primary reason for disliking this suggestion,

False assumptions of authority

Y'all have some great people moderating this site. They're dedicated to promoting quality Q&A, good at keeping up with what's going on with the underlying software, and great about facilitating communication between you and those of us at SE Inc.

But they're not... Magic.

Most of the knowledge of how Stack Exchange sites operate, and how your own site operates, is available to anyone. But as easy as it is for anyone to become a source of knowledge on SE, it's just as easy to miss changes to how something works and become a source of misinformation!

In other words, a moderator can give a wrong answer just as easily as anyone else.

The best way for someone to give their words extra weight isn't a diamond next to their name, but rather by speaking the truth and backing it up with links to supporting information where necessary. This goes for everyone... Here on Meta, and on the main site.

  • Who do you think you are to say we're not magic, some sort of "ultimate authority"? ;^D Thanks for giving this idea due consideration and dismissing it so educationally. – Isaac Moses Feb 8 '12 at 3:48
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    While I'll accept this answer, I'll do so only based on the authority you have as an SE employee. ;-) Quite honestly, if anyone else had answered this exact same answer, I doubt that I (nor anyone else) would accept it. (Specifically, this is a policy statement, and the only way someone could accept this from a "normal" user is if they linked to a post by an SE employee that said the same thing.) – HodofHod Feb 8 '12 at 4:55
  • Delicious irony ;-) – Shog9 Feb 8 '12 at 5:27

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