After reading various politics.meta questions, the following question has occurred to me:

Is the ratio of moderation:site content for this stack exchange considerably higher than the original hard-science stack exchanges?

And can we maintain the required ratio of moderation:site content indefinitely?

I'll leave this question open for the floor, but my two cents:

  • The average person on the internet who drifts into town and asks or answers a question here tends to treat politics as a synonym for opinion*.
  • The Stack Exchange Network design doesn't work well with opinions and opinions don't resolve into useful information that "make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions".
  • The level of moderation required to get opinionated users to comply to the site's terms of reference is high, very high because of the assumption internet blowflies have of political discourse on the internet. As Penny Arcade has stated, there are negative effects to giving any anonymous person access to an audience.
  • Education doesn't work so well because the internet population is very large - teach a herd of camels how to fish and they will forget it as soon as they are back in the desert (of Yahoo! Answers).
  • Hence, if a stack exchange site whose topic is prone to opinion and ideological cant is to stay above water, the ratio of moderation:site content required is high and stays high. At least until intelligent civic engagement is taught in primary school and is reflected in our political role models.

* Instead of the clean realm of policy and the implementation and negotiation of policy. i.e. An actually seriously interesting site instead of forum backwash.

  • Are you asking if we can maintain a high level of moderation (from the community), or a high level from the moderators? Wouldn't this work itself out over time? As the number of high level users increases, the number of users with access to moderator tools increases.
    – user1873
    Oct 25, 2013 at 4:49
  • @user1873 By level of moderation, I mean the ratio of moderation required relative to the amount of site content. As the size of the community increases, there is no guarantee that moderation ratio would change given the subject matter. I'll keep the term "level of moderation" unless a better term is available - as this term gives a strong impression of the effort/cost of the site. Oct 25, 2013 at 5:01
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    @LateralFractal this is a very good question, and I want to take a stab at answering it. I'm in prison this weekend (voluntarily doing ministry) with very limited access. I want to get back to this on Tuesday, so please be patient. Oct 25, 2013 at 11:04
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    Today is the only day I wish I was a mod. Solely so I could edit prior comment and remove the parenthesis. For science.
    – user4012
    Oct 25, 2013 at 22:47
  • Updated the wording from "level of moderation" to "ratio of moderation relative to site content" for contextual precision; although the question now doesn't read as smoothly :-/ Oct 25, 2013 at 23:27
  • I think the original wording only worked if the reader was implicitly familiar with The Tragedy of the Commons. Oct 25, 2013 at 23:31
  • Unfortunately I can't add +200 bounty to a meta stack question. Oct 31, 2013 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


MOST of real moderation work is supposed to be done by users on an SE site. You seem to be implying that moderators are a sparse non-scalable resource - which they are - but they should generally be exception handlers and typically only get involved in things that are either egregious enough that an urgent response is needed (highly offensive post), or a community is at strong odds with no consensus (edit war, close/reopen war, comment war).

The amount of users that can do moderation duties typically scales with the site, therefore, "can we maintain the required level of moderation indefinitely" answer is "we can maintain as much moderation level as we had before indefinitely".

  • It's a separate question whether user moderation is or isn't done enough - given the partisan bias and voting patterns here, I personally bother to put a lot less moderation efforts in than I do at other sites I'm active on.
    – user4012
    Oct 25, 2013 at 22:52
  • I think I need to refine the question wording as user1873 suggested. As the question should be asking if we can maintain the ratio of moderation vs. site content that this specific stack exchange requires. Or put another away, all sites have a O(N) moderation cost but if O(N).politics > O(N).stackoverflow then this higher cost ratio will not in and of itself change as the amount of N (people) increases. And I worry the much higher ratio will sink the site if the work expectation is not internalised by users. Oct 25, 2013 at 23:06
  • @LateralFractal - There are a lot bigger problems with this site than moderation load.
    – user4012
    Oct 25, 2013 at 23:10
  • Well, you can point out and attempt to resolve root causes that are reducing visitation, discouraging participation and increasing moderation cost - but if we can not reduce all of these issues (they may be an inherent subject matter overhead, like the skeptics.se), I'd like to know whether we can commit to the ongoing site maintenance cost to keep it above water. (Assuming the answer to the first question about the proportional ratio of moderation relative to other SE sites is 'true') Oct 25, 2013 at 23:14
  • I think the question is... are the exceptions that have to be handled by the Mods greater here than on a typical SE. Nov 6, 2013 at 19:51

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