Moderator selection criteria

This proposal was created by the @forums-governance team as a result of the identified need of providing transparency and clarity on how decisions around the selection of moderators are made.

It aims to summarize the process and requirements for the community to suggest and validate new moderators on these forums.

This is an version 1.0 based on community feedback, it was approved on September 15th 2022.

Note: The intention is to come up with good-enough guidelines that have general consensus and that are expected to keep improving over time. We don’t intend to try to come up with the perfect guidelines in v1.0

OSM Forums - Moderator selection criteria

Requirements

In order for a person to be a forum or category moderator, they would need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Actively contributing in the community conversations at least in the last 6 months.
  • No active bans or sanctions because of past misbehavior or abuse.
  • Good record of being exemplary, treating others with kindness.
  • Commitment to fulfill the role responsibilities (see below)

On-boarding and responsibilities

By putting themselves forward for a moderator position, candidates commit to:

  • Proactive Moderation: Stay active and regularly monitor conversations and community flags.
  • Incident Response: Follow and enforce the category and forum etiquette guidelines.

They will be provided with a detailed moderator guidelines with clear examples on how to deal with common tasks and recommendations for difficult situations. The rest of the moderators will help on-board new members and will provide peer-support.

New moderators process for new categories

Please note the requirements above before suggesting a new moderator.

Communities and users can suggest new moderators by opening a new topic in the “New category request” category. Candidates suggested will need to reply on the topic sharing that they are OK being candidates.

The topic will be open for community discussion for at least 5 days (always with weekend days in the middle), allowing anyone in the community to share their thoughts and additional suggestions.

After these 5 days, a public forum poll will be called to (Approve, Reject) on the final list of proposed moderators.

The poll will be open for another 5 days (always with weekend days in the middle), and it will be approved with least 80% of the “Yes” votes.

Voters are encouraged to comment on the topic explaining the reasons for their votes.

Approved moderators will be added to the corresponding groups by the forum governance team.

Health-checks

At any time

If any moderator stops fulfilling any of the points in the requirements list at any time, anyone can flag it privately to the @forums-governance team. The team may respond by removing the user’s moderator status.

Yearly

Once a year, communities will be encouraged to check on their current moderators’ status, open for public comments for 7 days. New mods needed, or rotation on the ones no longer fulfilling requirements can be communicated as a new topic here.

In case of conflict

In cases where the evaluation of requirements fulfillment turn not to be obvious, the forums governance team will use a poll with the community to decide whether to grant/revoke moderator status.

Special note on existing moderators

Since some category moderators have been added before this new process was in place, we will be running a “New moderators process for new categories” (described above) in 3 months’ time (December 10th) to re-validate their roles.

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maybe make clear that activity on old forum also counts?

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that is quite high and likely to fail

also, sooner or later there will be bunch of multiaccounts voting no

what happens if vote fails without anyone giving reason to oppose? Is vote anonymous?

Since community conversations happen in many channels, I would say activity in any community communication channel should count (Forums, mailing list, telegram, matrix,irc…others)

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@Firefishy shared that we should be able to identify multi-accounts easily.

In this proposal, public voting mean public poll here, which show who voted what.

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  1. Many communities are local/national, with members not necessarily speaking English, and not reading anything outside the community. I think this calls for running discussions, votes and healthchecks within the community category, not in the “New category request” category. And in local language.
  2. Why, when proposing a new moderator, the poll is on the list of moderators? Wouldn’t it be better if the vote was for every proposed moderator separately?
  3. I don’t know the other communities, but it’s quite common in old Polish forum that people read it once a week. I would suggest extending the time for discussion and polls up to two weeks.
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Nevertheless 80% is high. This means four times more people accepting the moderator and caring to vote than people that don’t want this particular moderator for any reason. This may result in leaving a community without a moderator, come some trolls.

And oh, I have seen trolls…

We could simply stand at standard 50%+1 vote or I can come up with some more or less complicated formula to make it hard to go below some preferred number of moderators for a community.

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I think the most important thing is that moderators overstepping their
mandate can be recalled quickly and easily enough. It is ok for me if a
moderator only has 51% support when starting their work, but if at any
later time more than 20% of participants are unhappy with the
moderator’s work they need to go. There will always be some people
unhappy with a moderator (including the trolls of which you speak) but
if 20% are unhappy then the moderator is not the right person for the job…

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Sure. Provided that we are talking about 20% of all the community members, not 20% of people who took part in the poll. Because otherwise people not caring to vote will make removing any moderator possible.

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Thanks for the feedback @rmikke

Yes, it should be clarified. A mechanism to coordinate all categories to open the evaluation period at the same time (and maybe sharing a tag for visibility) might be needed I guess.

That possibility was considered when the proposal was drafted, but that introduces a few additional issues:

  • Additional complexity in the voting mechanism and how that’s counted.
  • Adds a “popularity contest” factor that’s known to penalize emerging leadership in open source communities.
  • Adds a personal evaluation factor that penalizes people down-voted, which for some people/personality types is a moral mining issue.
  • Removes the incentive for the community to discuss and come first with an agreed list of people and delegates that to a simple voting without much need of prior discussion.

For those reasons, it was unclear what the benefit of individual voting was introducing vs the potential negative factors that have been observed in other communities using this method.

I don’t have a strong opinion here, having categories agreeing and having their moderators approved in 10 days looked reasonable to avoid much delay on getting initially the categories up and running. Not sure what’s the right balance here.

I don’t understand. What is more complex in two polls for two moderators, than one?
And the more moderators are on the list, the more probable it is that anyone who dislikes one proposed moderator will vote against the list and in effect the vote will be negative for the whole list.

Nope. We are not talking alternatives here. It’s not “choose one of”, it’s yes or no for every proposed moderator. They may all pass. I can’t any contest here, no popularity contest in particular.

Yeah, that’s kind of valid point.

Well, if the community came up with an agreed list of people, no poll would be needed at all, would it?
But it would some active group that prepares a list and they would keep hold on the community governance. There are advantages to it, as there would rather not be grudges between moderators from one group, but OTOH community members outside this group may feel underrepresented or manipulated.

Also kind of valid point. Maybe those periods should be shorter when setting up a community. But for established (and larger) communities there is no rush, the community is working anyway and there should be time for less frequent members to react.

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Shouldn’t it be anonymous?

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To avoid abuses, trolls and puppet-accounts, the poll is proposed to be public, but feel free to disagree and share if you have flags about it.

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There are advantages to both anonymous and non-anonymous votings. As the moderators don’t have many ways to prosecute people for their voting, I think anonymous voting is not needed.

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What about situations with a group of trolls (it’s common), who during a specific period occupy the conversation and this space, resulting in the desertion of other members? These people would vote for another kind of moderator. Is that an organic evolution we want to allow?

Many people, in a same community, won’t vote if it’s not anonymous, because they won’t want to create friction. Typical behaviour in Latam.

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I don’t have the solution but I really think it could be uncomfortable for many people to vote his way.

That is also true @mapeadora

If anonymous the community won’t have the ability to audit if something weird has happened (like trolls and puppet-accounts).

But I understand some people don’t want to be exposed of voting no to a proposal.

That’s one of the reasons the voting is to the lists created by the community discussion, not individuals.

But maybe there is a middle-ground where both things can be solved. Ideas?

(Note that the poll/voting proposal was to incorporate a mechanisms where the communities themselves can oversee and validate their proposals, which I also understand is complex in an environment where most communities don’t have a formalized chapter or members list.)

Well, it’s typcal for every community where the government abuses or used to abuse it’s position. We have it in Eastern Europe as well.
But I guess if public voting works for wiki , why wouldn’t it work here?