Stack Overflow uniquely requires moderators to operate with a standard of duty. Even so, moderators generally feel a sense of obligation to be around in case of problems. Such voluntary dedication is much appreciated and often means people really enjoy what they are doing. But everyone needs a vacation from time to time.
Currently, we have no good way for moderators to communicate their vacation plans to either to Community Managers (we suggest they email us), other moderators (this usually happens in chat) or other users (more on this momentarily). In addition, the temptation remains to "just handle that one flag" if a moderator happens to browse their site while theoretically off-duty. Finally, I believe "vacation" might be a graceful way for moderators to step down if the job stops being fun and rewarding.
Provide moderator with a vacation toggle they can flip to indicate they are temporarily off-duty. It will have the following effects:
- The diamond will be removed from the user's display name everywhere on the site.
- All moderator abilities on the site will be unavailable for the duration of the vacation. That includes access to the flag queue and the flag indicator.
- Their name will remain on the moderators tab of the Users page (
/users?tab=moderators), but the diamond will be absent there too.
- Moderators will retain their abilities on chat (to keep in touch with their colleagues in moderator rooms) and will receive moderator newsletters via email. (Ideally, newsletters would be saved up like a newspaper vacation hold, but let's not over-complicate this.)
When the vacation period is over, the moderator may flip the toggle to go back on duty. However, there are two important restrictions:
- Vacations must be at least a week long. The primary motive is to prevent moderators from flipping to non-moderator status to cast a non-binding close vote (or somesuch) and returning to moderator status immediately. But it also helps enforce the idea that the feature is about taking significant time off and not just taking every weekend off. (Feel free to take the weekend off, by the way. There's just no need for this particular feature in that case.)
- Moderators who take more than three months off in a (calendar?) year will need to contact the community team in order to regain access. This will allow moderators to retire from the position without drama or guilt. Retired moderators would not necessarily be guaranteed their position back, but it would be a rare exception for us to deny someone who wants to become active again.
- Is this a feature long-serving moderators even want?
- Are the access options appropriate for a vacationing moderator?
- Instead of removing the diamond, should moderators on vacation be signified some other way? (Such as an outline of a diamond.)
- Should there be a shorter minimum or different maximum vacation?
- Is there anything I missed?