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In these times of elections, the question was raised by @scaaahu of what happens when no moderator is available, typically at certain time intervals: if all moderators live in the same timezone, then they might share the same unavailability. In addition, academics might need to travel often, and it could be the case that for a few days, 1 or 2 moderators only are available.

Many moderating operations are not particularly urgent, but some are, in particular deleting spam or intervening against vandalism. Could it be possible, if mods can declare their unavailability, to increase the privileges of high rep users if needs be? For instance, if I know I won't have time during one week, I could easily set it up on the site, so that it is certain that I won't be able to act as a moderator during that time. In the worst case scenario, if all mods are unavailable, then users with high-rep should be able to act as moderators (suspending spammers and vandals, removing/hiding offensive content, etc).

  • Not sure if this should go here or to the Stack Exchange meta site... – eykanal May 8 '14 at 14:02
  • @eykanal: Not sure either, but I think the SE overlords watch the "feature-request" tag, and since we are running the elections now, I thought it was quite relevant to have it here. But I'm happy to move it. – user102 May 8 '14 at 14:03
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    Do we have actual evidence of significant non-overlap in moderator coverage, or a particular problem with spam in the time window folks seem to be worried about? – Fomite May 8 '14 at 14:55
  • @Fomite: I don't have concrete evidence, although when we were only 3 moderators, I remember times where flags could linger on for a few days, because no moderator was available to take care of them. I don't think it was critical, but at the same time, the feature I'm suggesting is rather cheap to implement, on a voluntarily basis, and can only help. – user102 May 9 '14 at 9:22
  • I think the answer to this in the long run is probably to increase the number of moderators. – ff524 May 14 '14 at 5:47
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It has been pointed out by F'x on the chat that:

3 spam flags hide a question, and 6 spam flags = instant delete, whether it's Q or A (source) so, if spam posts survive, it just means that we just have very few users in this timezone, whether they're mod or not which, I think, means it's not so much of a problem right now (and it will disappear as the site grows) In short: mods are not the first line of defense, other users have powerful tools for clear-cut cases (spam, offensive speech, etc.)

In addition, eykanal mentioned that:

people who flag often, and have their flags ranked as "helpful", have their flags weighted higher

So it seems there is enough built-in mechanisms to deal with spams, even if no moderator is available. I would therefore suggest to first document cases where spam was effectively visible by new users for an extended period of time, and then to request a feature only if it is shown to be a consistent problem.

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