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I've recently discovered that the number of visits on my stack exchange accounts is visible only to me. In other words, the statistic and its link (the calendar icon) is visible only to its user. I think this information is very important when one needs to choose the best person for the role of moderator.

For example, here are my stats on ELL meta

enter image description here

If I were to nominate myself as a candidate on ELL, a user would instantly see that I am not a regular visitor to the site, and consequently unfamiliar with the issues that crop up on ELL, and its history.

A user with a lowish rep (<4K) does not necessarily mean they are not active, there are other meaningful ways of contributing: commenting, editing, visiting the review queue, participating in chat, upvoting and downvoting are all activities which do not reward rep.

On the other hand, a high rep does not mean a user visits a site regularly, it means they have provided questions and answers that were upvoted. A member could easily earn 10K and only visit a site monthly. I do not see any good reason not to include this extra statistic, it's hardly an invasion of privacy

I would prefer to vote for a candidate who visits regularly the main site, and meta. The length of time a user has been a member, which some candidates mention as evidence of commitment, is by itself, not a reliable indication.

Just to clarify, the attendance record is not, by any means, the only way to gage the suitability of a candidate. It's just one more statistic, among many others, for voters who want to be more informed. And it's a meaningful statistic, because if a user is absent it means they can't spare the time to moderate. A good moderator must be active, and also present.

What do others think?

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    This seems more like a feature request for SE.meta, not just ELL. It's an interesting idea, and I think it could provide a helpful data point during moderator elections. Oh, and you should stop by and visit us more often! :-)
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 21, 2016 at 1:26
  • @J.R. I might propose it on SE.meta, let's see how the folks respond to it first here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21, 2016 at 2:31
  • @ColleenV I'm not suggesting it is the only useful piece of info, it's just another statistic alongside with badges, rep, participation in meta etc. Imagine a candidate who has been a member for five years, maybe that user accrued a sizeable chunk of their rep in the first 3 years, and they prefer not to answer questions any more. They visit the site regularly, they vote, they close questions, they delete questions they can do all sorts of things but that activity wouldn't necessarily be visible or rewarded with badges unless they passed certain milestones.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21, 2016 at 12:21
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    If they visit the site regularly and vote and review, we already can see that in the stats we have. You can see all of the reviews a candidate has done. I don't want to harp on it, because I tend to be nit-picky in this area. Data that is misleading or vague about what it could actually mean is harmful in my opinion and not just "not useful". Visits to the site do not measure engagement with the site, as web advertisers well know.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 21, 2016 at 12:24
  • @ColleenV - Any piece of data can be misleading by itself, and any metric can be "gamed". The more pieces of information we have available, the easier it is to see the entire picture for a candidate.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 21, 2016 at 18:38
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    @ColleenV a little more flexibility, and open mindedness is needed here, and less drama. It's just an objective statistic to help inform voters. Isn't it the norm to ask about the attendance of our ministers, politicians, senators, students and professors? BTW the profile page also includes the number of consecutive days, in any case there's nothing wrong with visiting a site every other day, it's when there are gaps of months that concerns me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21, 2016 at 21:44
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    I wasn't being hostile or ginning up drama and I'm sorry you got that impression. I was just expressing my point of view. I don't agree with your idea, but that doesn't mean I think you're a terrible person for suggesting it. I think it's great that you're here and participating more on ELL. My impression is that you've contributed a lot to EL&U and ELL can only benefit from your participation. Data is what I do, so I may feel the need for more rigor than is warranted. I'll just drop it since I don't seem to be able to communicate it well. It's not that big of a deal when I step back.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22, 2016 at 1:48
  • So I feel dumb - I didn't realize that was a clickable link. That completely removes my objections to it because it isn't just a total, it's a time line. Verbal communication is so much easier than written :( I'm trimming my comments right now, and if you edit the question I'll reverse my vote.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:34
  • @ColleenV Yes, it comes with its very own calendar. :) So you can see exactly a person's attendance.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:36
  • And by "edit the question" I don't mean change it in any significant way - I just can't undo the vote if the question doesn't change because I had to sleep on it to realize why I wasn't understanding.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:40
  • @ColleenV OK, I made it clearer, it was my fault I should have mentioned the calendar icon was clickable. It didn't occur to me, again, apologies.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:42
  • I say we just chalk this one up to a UI design failure where only one the last item on a list of very similar things is interactive :) If the location popped up a map for example, it would have been easier to tell that the calendar icon wasn't just a decoration.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:54
  • @Mari-LouA - Nice that you had an opportunity to figure that out on this trial run, before you ask it at SE meta (which I hope you will do).
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 22, 2016 at 15:50
  • Perhaps when you post on meta, you can include a screenshot that includes not just the link, but also the calendar that pops up. It might even be helpful to put two different calendars side by side, for comparison purposes. Here's a screenshot of mine, if you care to use it.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 22, 2016 at 19:40
  • @J.R. That's a very good suggestion, thanks. Catijaìs answer is slowly gathering consensus, which tells me that some users aren't swayed by my argument. However, I'll definitely post this "feature request" on SE meta in a couple of days time.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2016 at 19:49

1 Answer 1

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I don't really think that this is necessary.

There are a lot of ways to tell if a user has been active:

  • Do you recognize them? - If you're here a lot, you're likely to see them on the site a lot so you're likely to be familiar with them.
  • What's their rep like? - If they're here a lot and answering or asking questions, they'll have a lot of rep. With the rep cap of 200 per day, you can only get lots of rep by posting a lot.
  • Look at their activity. - The more active a user is, the more they will have on that on that page. If anything, I'd say that this page is a better indicator of activity than just how many days they've been on the site.

There are lots of ways to see how active a user is... and visiting the site daily but never doing anything isn't really much help. Moderators need to be here regularly doing moderation activities - closing, editing, commenting, voting... that's what makes a good moderator.

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  • ... Did you not read bullet point 3 or the last paragraph?
    – Catija
    Aug 21, 2016 at 0:42
  • Commenting, editing, and casting votes do not reward rep, that was my main focus. Comparing the attendance records between candidates is another way of measuring how idoneous they are, don't you think?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21, 2016 at 0:46
  • And rep is only one of my three points...you can't ignore the other two... The answer would be incomplete without mentioning it in the same way it would be incomplete without the final paragraph.
    – Catija
    Aug 21, 2016 at 0:48
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    If we have candidates who say: I haven't been very active on a site but I have always kept abreast with what has been happening, I would like to see proof :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21, 2016 at 0:49
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    I think the activity page is a good workaround. It may take a bit of effort, but a lot of helpful information can be gleaned there.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 21, 2016 at 1:28
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    @Mari-LouA A visit to the site doesn't prove anything about how engaged someone is with the site - I could log in to the site for 15 seconds each day to just see if there's anything in my in-box and then leave. Badges, posts on meta, comments, participation in chat are all more meaningful.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 21, 2016 at 1:48
  • Note that the elections info page linked to from the site election page contains a brief summary of the last five or so entries from a user's activity. Aug 21, 2016 at 6:03
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    @ColleenV - I agree, but I still think this would be a data point that could provide some useful information.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:49
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    @ColleenV - I could log in to the site for 15 seconds each day to just see if there's anything in my in-box and then leave. Actually, that would be regarded as a helpful habit for a potential moderator. Someone who is in the habit of regularly checking the site would be more likely to handle flags more promptly. That said, I agree that some of the other data points you mention are probably better metrics; I wouldn't cast a vote based on visitation usage alone. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing it included in the data that's already provided, but it's really more of an SE issue than an ELL one.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 22, 2016 at 9:21

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