Previously I asked How long is the term for moderator? and the reply was that there is no term. I was initially shocked at the lack of term, because common democratic political elections have them. I generally dislike unbounded activities as they seem discordant with the physical world. On the other hand I also dislike arbitrarily determined boundaries. I realize that this will not be binding upon IT security or the community elected moderators, but I would still like to ask:

What is an appropriate boundary for the end of a moderator’s term?

I think an arbitrary time bound is silly, but there may be some other threshold of value. If there was some way to measure a moderator’s ability to do the job, I would think that their term should end when someone else was more able to do their job. Of course that would require a way to determine how well someone who was not a moderator could perform the moderator duties.

3 Answers 3


On the moderator side, it is definitely possible to step down at any time if one felt they could no longer carry out the role effectively. Admittedly you place your trust in the mod to identify or accept this issue and step down.

Mod privileges can definitely be taken away as well, so a'rogue mod' can be dealt with.

I am guessing the whole process hasn't really been tested yet as SE2.0 is still pretty young, but as a community I'm sure in a year or two w e could request a reelection if we felt it was needed.

  • 2
    The bigger sites also elect additional mods as their load increases.
    – Scott Pack
    Sep 15, 2011 at 19:14
  • 1
    Agreed. Though I think @this.josh was more referring to the community wanting to replace the mod - possibly not even from any wrongdoing, more just "getting tired" of us :-) ... That said, this being an open, friendly community, I dont think there would be any problem with some kind of ad-hoc petition to "please step down and give someone else a chance" - even grabbing a mod in chat would probably do the job....
    – AviD Mod
    Sep 15, 2011 at 20:40
  • @AViD Yes, as opposed a arbitrary term, e.g. one year, when is it appropriate to replace a moderator? Obviously if they have done something very wrong. Less obviously when it has taken the fun out of IT Sec for them and they don't notice. Or as you mentioned someone else would like a turn. I hope that users will contribute some thoughtful and silly answers.
    – this.josh
    Sep 16, 2011 at 4:43
  • @Scott Pack Thats interesting, according to the theory of moderation, the users are supposed to do most of the heavy lifting. A good population of high reputation users is of course necessary for this. By this model I would expect small sites to need more moderators than large sites as long as the high reputation users scale linearly.
    – this.josh
    Sep 16, 2011 at 4:50

In the open source online game Stendhal, we have a meeting roughly onces a year in which we review permissions. We ask everyone beforehand to let us know if they are still using their privileges and want to keep them.

We use some statistics such as commits and admin activity. If someone did not say he wants to keep his permissions, does not show up at the meeting, and has not used them in the last 6 to 12 month, they are removed. The other cases are discussed, most cases are obvious and just briefly mentioned.


I generally dislike unbounded activities as they seem discordant with the physical world.

The closer analog here is the United States Supreme Court

The Constitution provides that justices "shall hold their offices during good behavior" (unless appointed during a Senate recess). The term "good behavior" is well understood to mean justices may serve for the remainder of their lives, although they can voluntarily resign or retire.

The only new, emerging rules we have are documented here:

.. we do require two important things of all elected community moderators.

  1. You must accept the community moderator agreement within 30 days of election or appointment.

  2. On Stack Overflow, due to its immense size and scale, there is another requirement. If you spend time on the site participating but aren’t regularly resolving flags, you may cede your right to remain a community moderator.

  • Actually I think they are rather more like the Design Review Board They attend to decisions about technical subjects, impact to the community, and rules, but not typically on matters of much importance. As such they have no need to be protected from outside influence, as do the members of the United States Supreme Court.
    – this.josh
    Sep 16, 2011 at 8:21
  • The remainder of their life is a bound. ;) But seriously, i think the other end of the bound is the necessary experience before anyone will qualify them. Either way, i think they should have a static 20 year bound. Sep 21, 2011 at 15:56

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