I saw this thread over on Physics.SE and thought it might bring some light into the world of being a Mod on this (and for the most part any) SE site. We will soon be going through an election process (in the next month of so). It might be good to know how life changes as a Mod when compared to being just an average user.

If I can impose upon our Mods to post up, it may be useful to others to understand just what is involved in being a Mod. Some obvious questions would be how many hours a day does it require, and what are are the day to day tasks you need to do in that time. However it would also be good to hear what it stops you doing. For example being a moderator means you cannot cast a non-binding close vote.

The bottom line is to find out how much would my life change if I became a moderator?

(NOTE: I stole some content from Physics.SE, so don't shoot me.)

  • 4
    I agree with pretty much everything that @dmckee said.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 12:32
  • 2
    @BobCross - Slacker. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:59
  • 2
    @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2, who are you talking to? You said that you stole your article. ;-)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 12:15
  • Anonymous2 - his "for example being a moderator means you cannot cast a non-binding close vote" line
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 12:21
  • 3
    @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2, see Rory's point 2.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


I'm not a mod here, but some thoughts from my experience moderating 7 sites ranging in size from tiny beta to 15th biggest SE site:

  • Time-wise, a site this size shouldn't be an issue. While my time varies across my sites, I tend to put in a bit of moderating first thing in the morning before work, some at lunch-time, and then I'm online in the evening so can attend to issues that crop up while I'm doing other things. One of the significant factors in making a site easier to moderate is a committed core community - and Mechanics has this! Another is a well defined, and community-supported scope. And Mechanics is also strong here. So I'd expect Mechanics to take maybe 30 minutes a day on core activities, plus whatever is needed depending on escalations.

  • Moderating really impacts your ability to answer questions. Not just because you spend time just going through your mod actions each day, but because you find yourself holding off on answering or responding to give others a chance, as whether you like it or not, the little diamond by your name is noticed, and often readers will assume an answer by a mod will exclude all others.

  • Some people will decide they hate you and everything is your fault. Just because of the diamond. And some of these people will be really, really nasty. Doesn't matter what you do - it'll happen at some point. You need a thick skin, and the awareness to just back off and walk away to take a breather occasionally. You'll also need to not be too proud to ask for help when it does become upsetting, painful or difficult.

  • Working with SE staff, and mods from other sites gives an excellent opportunity to learn, network, widen your experience, and community promotion activities can be very rewarding.

  • The visibility of analytics that you get as a mod really helps you see the impact of specific activities. I enjoy that feedback as it can directly improve the site.

  • 1
    I also agree with everything that Rory said, especially since he has significantly more experience moderating than I do.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 16:47
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    I would consider the second bullet to be a deterrent for pursuing moderation. I barely have enough time to answer questions...
    – Zaid
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 17:18
  • I think your second bullet is partly true. Yes you may have less time to answer questions. However, the point about readers assuming a mod's answer excludes others is a lot more relevant on the meta than on the main site.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 7:59
  • 2
    Oh, definitely - the effect on meta is much more pronounced, but it is a noticeable effect across SE (there are a couple of meta.SE posts on it) as it imparts the impression (deserved or not) that you are an expert in the subject. And many people defer to what they perceive as an expert :-(
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 8:04

Converted from comment cuz I'm gonna ramble. Meta-style.

"you cannot cast a non-binding close vote" pretty much indicates I have no idea what is going on, nor would I dare vote on something I have no idea what means what.

Coming from a family of military service held in high esteem, I have never served in theater- I only have adjunct consultant experience with some bio-terrorism endeavors post 9/11.

I also have a problem with authority, even when the authority is authoritative. That, however, does not mean I have the don't have deepest respect for those that choose to moderate.

Of whatever [speculative] use I might be, I feel like I'm much better in the trench fixing the ma-duece than being in charge of telling others where and how to point it.

This is a cautionary tale from an old man who thinks he knows better. A doer and a teacher and a moderator are entirely different things.

As a "handsomely paid" contributor, I can bug out at any time, especially when the gin bottle gets empty.

As a moderator, you have no such luxury. You not only commit to being the den mother, you also must grab and twist your... "courage" every time you'd like to knowingly set the record straight, but yet it's not your purview.

I know I can fix anything, and I haven't been caught yet. I also know that my ability to herd cats is only exceeded by my lack of social grace.

Anyone pining to throw their hat in this ring should be well aware of the selflessness and dedication it takes to do it right.

I'm all about volunteerism, but I still hold that volunteering is not an excuse to do it half-arsed.

Food for thought. Your mileage my very vary.

  • 2
    So well said. I especially like the acknowledgement of the selflessness that's required to be a mod IMO. You gotta be a giver and you gotta be reliable. That's next level. Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 0:50
  • @DucatiKiller there's a level of selflesness for any kind of participation here (I'm talking about people who answer), but the "beauty" is that I can throw a snit and take my ball and glove and go home at any time. You cannot do that as a moderator. (Well, I suppose you could [and maybe I would] but that's exactly my point.) Now that Rory hath spoken, (and as always, reeking of erudition and fluency), I can crawl back under my old man rock now. Where I'm quite happy. Because I can fully admit I am a brilliant diagnostician, but have no skills or temprement to moderate. All Hail !
    – SteveRacer
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 4:00

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