I believe that if someone decides to run for moderator, he should have at least approximate idea what will be expected from them.

We can learn something about work of moderators here: http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9323/mse-and-meta-mse-as-seen-by-moderators

I would be interested whether moderators have some recommendations about things that might be useful for a user thinking about becoming a moderator. I have in mind some things that a non-mod can do and that are similar or closely related to the actions requested from moderators. (This could be considered as a kind of "training" for moderator position.)

For example, I could imagine something along the lines:

  • You should read both meta and meta.SE frequently. Once you become a mod, you will spend a lot of time there.
  • You should try to handle flags that are available to 10k+ users and learn to deal with them correctly. Handling flags will be an important part of your moderating. (10k flag queue seems to be removed now, see here for details.)

(Of course, these examples are only hypothetical. I have never been a moderator at a SE site, so I cannot really give any reasonable recommendations about things like this.)

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    $\begingroup$ I think if I answer this I will be forced to admit that a few months ago I was unqualified to run for moderator! $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 9 '13 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ Being active in community moderation (closing/editing/flagging) is certainly good preparation for being a moderator. I'd add that being 10k is not necessary, and casting flags correctly gives you a similar experience to handling them. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 9 '13 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ This may fall under reading meta, but, a good way to prepare would be studying exactly what the rules are. They isn't really any one place they're all listed- it's more like precedent. (Can you suspend someone on main for violations in chat? If someone has two accounts, can one bounty the other's questions, so long as the bounty is awarded to another person? Are extended discussions in the comments illegal, or just discouraged? Can user A upvote user B five times a day, every day, as long as they vote for lots of other people too?) Learn through reading meta, then practice by flagging stuff. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Sep 10 '13 at 5:09
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    $\begingroup$ No one's mentioning mathematical knowledge. I find this absolutely crucial. The more you know, the more you can act on flags. Someone who has great 'mod skills' (whateveter that might be) and who knows all highschool math and none university level math is hardly fit to be a moderator, in my opinion. Maybe one such person on the team is OK, someone to edit a lot of $\LaTeX$ and to manage social interactions. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Sep 10 '13 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ Since it was announced that new elections is close, I thought that bumping this post might be useful. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 20 '14 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ As I learned in chat, these are requirements for moderator nomination at Stack Overflow: 3000 rep and the badges Deputy, Civic Duty, Strunk&White, Convention. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 20 '14 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ Required badges? For my part I will not vote for a candidate that has not earned the Sportsmanship badge. That badge is by no means necessary to be a valuable contributor to the site, but a person who does not read and vote on others answers has taken an apporach vastly different from mine, so I won't support them. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 20 '14 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ I think that it's a good idea to add that sort of requirement, but perhaps this should be the topic of a separate meta thread. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 20 '14 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: Of course, in requiring the Sportsmanship badge you are also requiring that prospective moderators have posted a fairly large number of answers on the site. It's not without the realm of possibility that a good moderator candidate has contributed primarily questions to the site, or else has posted answers mainly to (more specialised) questions that don't see too many "competing" answers and simply has not been able to achieve this badge. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Nov 26 '14 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ A fair point @Arthur. I don't necessarily want to continue pressing the point because I'm feeling much better now. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 26 '14 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexanderGruber So... what are the answers to those questions you posed? $\endgroup$ – user98602 Nov 27 '14 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeMiller They're all kind of gray areas, but I would say, Yes, No, No, and the last one is really gray. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Nov 27 '14 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ A related post: How much experience should a potential moderator have? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 23 '18 at 10:09

I've been giving this some thought for a long time, and I don't know if I would peg anything specific down as "recommended experience". Sure, using flags when appropriate is good (but there's no need to go out and find things that should be flagged; as a moderator these all come to you). Being knowledgeable of MSE is nice (but it's also there, and any time you need to get information about the general SE framework it's usually not that hard to find). Having vast mathematical or technical knowledge is certainly not required (there are lots of regular users around that do have such knowledge, and moderating really has nothing to do with such expertise). Having certain badges is nice, but can often be gamed by those seeking to simply check off another box on a requirement list.

I think the most important "experience" for being a Mathematics Stack Exchange moderator is the following (and please excuse my French Cyrillic, but I feel I have to be emphatic):

give a шит about the site itself.

If you feel that math.SE is just another mathematics forum, and you would be equally happy contributing your time elsewhere, then you are probably not going to be a good moderator here. If you are primarily concerned with only your own contributions to the site, or seeing your reputation increase, or generally how you are being received by the community, you are probably not going to be a good moderator here.

If, on the other hand, you do feel that there is something (beyond MathJax and meaningless internet points) that sets math.SE apart from the rest, and you cannot see yourself being similarly active on other mathematics site and you really want to see this site succeed, then you probably are going to be actively flagging things that don't belong here; you probably are going to be active on meta; you probably are going to be doing small things to help improve the site.

Moderating is often a less than thankless task which is at least 90% janitorial in nature. To keep doing this day in and day out — voluntarily — for a long period of time requires a dedication to the site.


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