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What's happening? ELL is once again short of a moderator since Eddie Kal's recent resignation.

Philippe, Vice-President of Community for Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network, has not said anything since Eddie Kal's resignation. In fact, the Vice-President has added little and clarified less since they posted an answer on November 9 to this question The community managers owe the ELL community, the moderation team, and me personally an apology . In a comment posted 10 November, the Vice-President of Community stated that he would confirm whether the moderator team had been informed by Community Managers of the election delays

I suspect, but do not yet know, that the answer to your question is "yes, that was communicated." However, I want to be confident - with a relatively high degree of confidence - that this is true before I state it (equivocally or non-equivocally). Watch for details soon, I hope

Ten days later, Philippe ensured

@ColleenV- I'm still tracking it down. I don't yet have an answer for you, but this has been an extremely busy week. I do know that we published about the delay in elections in multiple places several times over the year, but I can not yet say if we directly said it to this mod team.

This was all said before Kal decided to step down.

Is ELL going to have to make do with two active moderators? Glorfindel is a moderator on five other sites, so he's a pretty busy guy while gotube is a brand new volunteer who is doing their best to handle all the duties of a moderator. This volunteer is what I would call a visible mod, someone who works on the frontline, so I would like to thank gotube and Glorfindel for their steady presence and teamwork, it has not gone unnoticed.

Maybe ELL doesn't need a third moderator. ELL seems to be a pretty easy-going community, before the recent dispute between Eddie Kal and the CMs, which ocurred as a direct consequence of the election results in November.

In recent years I have been impressed with the overall calm environment that is ELL, having witnessed few arguments and baiting between users with sporadic episodes of trolling and spam.

Will we hear from Philippe or a CM that will further clarify what happened after the election?

What do ELL users think? Are two moderators enough? Are flags being handled quickly enough? Do we need a third moderator?

Perhaps I needn't concern myself, and things will sort themselves out.

UPDATE 27/12/2021
Several users in the comments have actually questioned whether Eddie Kal resigned voluntarily or had their moderator privileges stripped away. I think as a community we have the right to know whether an ELL moderator simply resigned or not. Why the secrecy? What happened to the company's commitment to “rebuilding relationships”?

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  • I did not realise that we only had three moderators before this resignation and two seems quite insufficient for the amount of traffic and the desire in a site for ELL to span time zones so the moderators never sleep.
    – mdewey
    Dec 6, 2021 at 17:11
  • 3
    @mdewey Well truth be told, there are another two mods but they do little to no housekeeping, so from a practical viewpoint the site relies on two moderators--but for how long? It is exactly the same ratio of active vs inactive moderators before the November election.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 6, 2021 at 19:22
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    To be fair, it's easy to misjudge the "activeness" of a moderator because most of what a moderator really needs to do is completely invisible to most of community members. Only the mod team can really say if they need help, although it concerns me too that the team is back to what it was prior to the election when at least one mod thought we needed two positions opened.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 6, 2021 at 19:25
  • 1
    I think the more mods we have the better - it reduces the workload for all people involved. However, given that we'd have to elect one or more people and that it takes a very long time to get an election approved, and that the election process itself seems...questionable...I'm not quite sure how we go about remedying this situation. Dec 7, 2021 at 23:10
  • Oh I've been away. Seems like I missed a lot. In which post does EddieKal say he stepped down? I think I missed his farewell post.
    – AIQ
    Dec 8, 2021 at 3:06
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    @AIQ there was no farewell post. No explanation. He just resigned. Silently. But... I suppose in retrospect, their most recent post on meta was a forewarning.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 8, 2021 at 3:21
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA I see. Well in that case we don't know for sure if he resigned at all in the first place. It could very well be that he was bullied into stepping down and his mod-ship was stripped unfairly. To me, it seemed like his last post was not received well by some. I guess we won't know what happened until he says it publicly.
    – AIQ
    Dec 8, 2021 at 9:29
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    Anything is possible. Maybe the company took away their diamond, maybe Kal overstepped the line, maybe the CoC was breached, maybe Eddie Kal was so disappointed (offended?) by the company's management style that they just resigned. I think it's the latter.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 8, 2021 at 14:12
  • @AIQ: After Monicagate, I should hope that the company would not be dumb enough to make the same stupid mistake a second time. I'm certain that if Kal's diamond had been stripped, we would hear about it one way or another. You can't keep something like that a secret.
    – Kevin
    Dec 8, 2021 at 17:50
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    The silence makes me suspect it wasn't a completely voluntary resignation because of the "we don't talk about enforcement" policy. I understand, but the community has a right to know what happened (in general terms like "they were removed for inactivity,") when a mod we elected is suddenly no longer a mod. I also understand that SE might be reluctant to make any statement after the fallout from what they did to Monica. Even if the related issues have been fixed, the legal dept might not want anyone making any statement. Otoh, maybe everyone is just busy this time of year.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 8, 2021 at 20:15
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    @ColleenV - He still has an account, so I expect his silence (and resignation) is self-chosen, although I do agree with him that the CMs have acted appallingly here, throughout this entire debacle
    – Richard
    Dec 11, 2021 at 6:59
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    SE does not generally nuke accounts for people they fire. The presence of the account means nothing. Unless Eddie says, then you shouldn't assume a voluntary resignation. Dec 12, 2021 at 18:30
  • @ColleenV I haven't seen or heard from you in a while, hope everything is OK on your side of the world. I'm guessing you're probably enjoying a well-earned break, have fun and a belated Happy New Year!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 2, 2022 at 9:46
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    Happy New Year! Everything is great here; I’m just done with SE for a while. We found a game store that has board game nights a couple times a month so my husband and I are going to spend more time doing things that don’t involve squinting at a screen and typing at people :) The morning after we bought some new table top games to play, our power went out for five hours—I think it was a sign we made a good decision lol.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 3, 2022 at 2:41

2 Answers 2

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I can imagine that the silence from our office must have seemed odd, and I believe that were I in the position of the community here, I would be frustrated too. I would like to apologize for that. It's my responsibility: due to vacations, holidays and some very low staff time due to team illnesses and such, I didn't get back here nearly soon enough. I conveyed my apologies to your mod team today in a conference call, as well.

Unfortunately, I am unable to comment on the circumstances surrounding Eddie Kal's departure. We have a long-standing policy that we don't comment on the circumstances under which any moderator leaves their position, in order to ensure confidentiality and protect the privacy of the moderator involved. If the moderator chooses to comment, only then may we do so (and often we still will not do so).

In this case, Eddie Kal has chosen to remain silent about their departure, and we respect that and we will do the same. I will say only this much: Eddie Kal remains a valued member of the Stack Exchange community, and I have a great deal of respect for the time they put into building this site. They are more than welcome to contribute to this or any other site on the network.

I intend for that to be my last statement about Eddie Kal's departure, unless circumstances change.

I spoke with Rosie today and directed her team to coordinate with your moderators here to schedule an election as soon as reasonably possible (likely it will need to be in March at this point), and on our call today I assured your moderators that the Community team remains prepared to assist as needed and at their request until we get a new moderator in place (and, indeed, even after that point, as we do for any site on the network.)

Once again, I apologize for the lack of communication from my office, and I take full responsibility for that.

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  • I really appreciate your follow up, and especially letting us know you're in close contact with our mod team. There's a good chance that this will come across as nagging, but our election issues are just symptoms of a larger issues that I'm worried might not get addressed. I would like to know that the CM team shares my view that there are issues that need to be worked on before we can consider everything completely resolved. The two big ones, in my opinion, I'll describe in my next comment.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 27, 2022 at 18:08
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    1. The community had concerns about a user breaking the rules, and those seemed to have been completely dismissed because they couldn't be proven. Acting on suspicion or sharing investigations publicly is fraught with peril, but we need a better way to handle situations like that in the future. 2. There was a breakdown in communication between our mod team and the CM team that left one of our mods feeling very disrespected. We need to figure out how we can communicate more effectively when it's a given the CM team is always going to have way more work than they can handle.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 27, 2022 at 18:12
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    I agree with both points. On the first one, I'm open to suggestions, because I dont love any that I have thought of. The second one, I'm addressing through a number of ways. First, each mod team is contacted by the CM team at least once per quarter now. So there's an open channel. Second, your mods here, specifically, know exactly how to reach me now, and to escalate if they need to. They've got a direct line in. Third, we're going to do a retro on this incident internally to see what we can learn from it. Fourth, i'm looking into our relevant processes and updating where necessary.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 27, 2022 at 19:39
  • The allegations were only a problem when that user ran for moderator, so we don’t have to solve #1 for all situations. I know everyone gets very nervous when I suggest that there be an opportunity to review nominations before they become public, but if we did that, it would give us the ability to resolve any potential problems before they escalated. I am not suggesting that the company “approve” a nomination; just that there is a little bit of vetting to proactively head of issues like this one. I still believe that Void could have been a good mod if things had been resolved earlier.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 28, 2022 at 12:36
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    I was not directly involved in that situation, and I don't want to second guess the decisions that were made at the time, but I'm a strong believer in restorative sanctions: that is, if someone must be sanctioned, I hope that there's a plan for total rehabilitation of their reputation and standing, whenever possible. As for vetting, I have some hesitations. Primarily, resource constraint: vetting candidates for 178 sites would be massively time intensive. However, where things can be scripted to do some of that, they should be (and largely are). It wont' catch everything, obviously.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 29, 2022 at 20:08
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    @ColleenV I can imagine a world, however, in which there was a community group that took over some of the work that CMs currently do for elections, and at that point, I would agree with vetting by such an "election council", perhaps. I'm not committing to any of that, just saying that's one possibility for us.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 29, 2022 at 20:09
  • I was thinking it would be a quick check to see if the CM team or the site’s mod team recently had cause to annotate the account, or if there were other signs that might merit a closer look, like a lot of flags against their content. I think the vast majority of candidates would never need a person to look closer at their situation. It doesn’t have to be just to exclude a candidate. This process could let us decide that a suspension on another site isn’t a good enough reason to keep someone from being a mod here if they want to run. (Just brainstorming, not requesting a feature :))
    – ColleenV
    Jan 30, 2022 at 3:13
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    It’s a quick check to look, then document, then the context switching, then 175 sites and multiple candidates each, and suddenly that’s a ton of opportunity cost where CMs could be on other tasks. What might (no promises) be possible is some sort of script to do that initial pass, and have CMs manually check only on failures or something.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 31, 2022 at 4:36
  • Yes, that's what I was thinking. An automated check for flags, annotations etc. and a human review only in very limited cases. How often do y'all run elections on every site though? I think if you're running 178 elections a year for mod terms that are "for as long as you want to serve", and those elections are a huge burden for the CM team, you've got bigger problems than this to address. (Mod retention and election tooling). Consider though the CM time and losses to ELL that not nipping this situation in the bud has cost.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 31, 2022 at 16:20
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    Well bear in mind that many of our elections are to add additional mods, not just to replace those lost through attrition. Also, when sites graduate, they have to have an election to replace all their mods then, too. So it's not QUITE as dire as it sounds in your comment. :-)
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Jan 31, 2022 at 16:49
  • I was trying to point out (politely) that I think you're exaggerating how many elections y'all have to manage simultaneously. It's OK if you don't like my idea. I'm an engineer and know about 78.3% of the ideas I toss out for solving something are just compost for a better solution. I don't think the idea of trying to proactively identify issues before nominations become public necessitates a huge burden on the CM team, but I admit I don't know. It's OK to just think about it without saying yea or nay :) I know I don't have enough information to give you a real solution.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 31, 2022 at 17:10
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    Sure, I understood your point then, and now. :-). And FWIW, it's been a jumping off point for some interesting conversations for me. I'm toying with a number of different ideas, and I'll bring them here for feedback if we get to a point where we are seriously thinking about allocating resources there. Thanks for the ideas, really. I do appreciate them.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Feb 1, 2022 at 17:17
  • I just remembered this discussion about a proposal for "blind" nominations where all nomination posts get revealed simultaneously and once they're public, they can't be changed. I didn't like the proposal, but it was inspired by a pair of different mod election controversies:(meta.stackoverflow.com/q/412343) and (meta.stackoverflow.com/q/412356) and I think it might be food for thought. A complaint about March being too early to schedule the ELU election made me remember it.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 15, 2022 at 17:41
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    Hello, I've not thanked you for your answer and that was bad manners of me. However, the main focus of my question was whether Community Managers had clearly notified the election delays (prior to November) to the ELL moderation team. This point was not clarified in your answer. I trust enough time has lapsed for you to discover what was actually communicated to Eddie Kal, and Glorfindel by the CM team. At this point, I'll also note that ELL has since lost three good contributors: Eddie Kal, Void, and AIQ. And that is a great shame.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 17, 2022 at 18:52
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Thank you for raising your concerns. I cannot go into much detail because that would involve things that were said in private, with the rightful expectation that they wouldn't be shared publicly.

@gotube turns out to be a quick learner and together we manage to keep everything under control; the moderator flag queue is empty while I'm writing this, and all review queues except Close Votes as well. Users are respectful to one another, for which I'm happy, and while there's always room for improvement (e.g. the perpetual answers in comments) we seem to be doing fine as a community.

Yes, it would be good to have more active moderators; we're in the top 20 of sites with the most new questions per day (and almost in the top 10 when it comes to traffic) so a team of four (active) moderators would be appropriate.

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  • 3
    Thank you, I really appreciate that you took the time to post an answer. However, as noted in the comments, could you confirm whether Eddie Kal resigned? By keeping silent, users are only going to speculate and think the worst. The details can be omitted, it is nobody's business, just a simple confirmation. Lastly, what is the number of active moderators curating the site? I said there were two but I may have been mistaken. Thank you +1
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 12, 2021 at 8:13
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    @Mari-LouA all I can say right now is that we currently have two active moderators.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Dec 12, 2021 at 10:47
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    Thanks. You said ELL was down to two active mods in the original answer but I just wanted to be 100% certain. P.S. I imagine that Philippe (vice-president community) is aware of the current situation. Any chance of hearing from him directly? Or of him updating their November post?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 12, 2021 at 11:15
  • Long time no see Glorfindel. Have you abandoned us on ELL?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 28, 2023 at 10:08
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    @Mari-LouA no, but please see my profile
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 11:57
  • So are you quitting? We can avoid another election if you lend a hand. You're busy, I get it but you can spare 60 minutes in one week. It doesn't have to be 10 minutes a day.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 26, 2023 at 11:48
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    @Mari-LouA I'm not quitting, but I'm certainly not opposed to another election. I didn't see the Meta thread yet, thanks for the ping.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 27, 2023 at 18:16

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