Is it acceptable for a moderator to be highly (excuse me if it's an exaggeration) inactive?

By highly I mean visiting the site once or twice every 2-3 months.

What should be done in such a case?

Irrespective of the fact that the need is felt or not. Since I have never felt the absence of a moderator and things tend to get addressed pretty quickly out here kudos.

Some background:

What actually made me wonder were the points mentioned here. High inactivity I believe is a compromise of these.

About the job:

  • [..]

  • Be ready to spend a few hours per week on average doing moderator sorts of things

Who should apply?

  • Able to contribute a few hours of time each week on average
  • Enthused about this community and where it's going

All we ask is that you let us know if you think you might be gone for an extended amount of time

Can't say much about the last bit though. Or are this points site specific?

  • I agree with you. Moderator should visit the site every day, at least every other day.
    – muslim1
    Mar 31 '14 at 13:29
  • @muslim1 I never complained about it. Just questioned it's acceptability. It turns out to be okay. No issues. Mar 31 '14 at 14:05

Further quoting from the Parenting call for moderators:

Remember, this is a strictly volunteer activity. We know that folks have lives, taking a break whenever you need to is perfectly fine. All we ask is that you let us know if you think you might be gone for an extended amount of time. No part of the job is compulsory.

Stack Exchange has only a few requirements that we place on moderators, which are described in the Moderator Agreement. Generally, these requirements focus on protecting personal information. We reserve the right to remove moderators and have done so in the past. In practice, we usually remove moderators when they let us know they are no longer interested in the job.

Over on Stack Overflow, we've talked about a Moderator Standard of Duty:

While none of us committed to a certain level of participation when accepting our agreement, I think that we all understood that:

  • Moderators should want the responsibility
  • The main part of a moderator's job is to attend to flags

I can't conceive of someone wanting the responsibility unless they visit and use the site on a regular basis with plans to continue doing so.

One of the standards Tim suggested was to handle "an average of 60 - 100 flags per week." To put that in perspective, Islam.SE got 98 flags this past week. That means that the site's flags could easily be handled by just one moderator and it has four. So it's not unusual to come to the site and find no outstanding flags.

On a small site, like this one, we don't expect moderators to have a particular "standard of duty". Rather, we ask that they work together as a team to handle the thornier issues that come up from time to time. Flag handling, which is the main part of a moderator's job, is not actually all that taxing on this site. What usually takes moderator time and effort is making the tough decisions about how the community should operate. In all, the Islam Stack Exchange moderators are doing a bang-up job.

If some moderators are inactive for extended periods of time, we send an automated email reminding them to let us know if Real Life™ prevents them from performing the job. If they remain absent for six months, we invoke our Absentee Moderator Policy. Otherwise, we don't really worry about individual moderators so much as the entire team.


In general, the moderators job is to handle flags and deal with problematic situations when they're brought to our attention. These have been handled promptly and without issue for pretty much the life of the site, even when certain moderators have been less than active for whatever reason.

In my experience, flags are handled pretty much the same day they come in — this doesn't always result in a visible response on the site — and it's rare that we have a problem so…problematic…that it requires all the moderators to be active in order to handle it. And even if a moderator is inactive for a while — and that's bound to happen, moderating is a completely voluntary job after all — it's not like that actually hurts anything; we already have four moderators, which is more than most sites get at our stage of development. At worst, it means the other mods have a bit more work on their plate than they would otherwise.

As long as enough moderators are active that the important "moderator needed" tasks get done, I don't see the problem. For the most part, moderators are only accelerating the self-moderation that's supposed to be keeping the site working smoothly anyway.

This issue has been brought up multiple times in the past, and The Powers That Be saw no problems then. I don't see any reason that things are any different now.

  • Nor are they. I was just starting to answer this question when you answered. Your assessment is exactly right. Mar 20 '14 at 23:25
  • Question updated. Mar 21 '14 at 17:14

It is not acceptable for a moderator to be highly inactive. It is agreed that Moderator is volunteer job but it is a job that he had volunteered. If he can't provide his valuable time to the site, he should resign and give others a chance. There is no shortage of highly active users here. It is better that one of the active user take that responsibility, provided that he is interested and suitable for this job (can answer user question etc and is unbiased).

Speaking of Islam.SE, I see that out of three, two moderators are really active which is a great thing. The third one I hardly see him in action.

One the most important reason why a moderator should be active is because he is really promoting the site and bringing in more users by answers their question and cleaning up the site. Otherwise the site will quickly turn into garbage.

  • 1
    Different moderators have different moderation styles, some look more active, some look less active. It is a common phenomenon among SE sites. What is important is that the moderation team in general performs the moderation job well. If one of the moderators being less active creates problems then SE community team which keep an eye on beta sites will notice and deal with it, if it doesn't create a problem it is not a serious issue that one of the temp moderators is a bit less active than others.
    – Kaveh
    Apr 2 '14 at 21:31

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