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It is Stack Exchange’s stance that every site have a team of moderators in order for that site to continue to be open in our network. Currently, this community is being moderated exclusively by Canadian Luke who has been doing a phenomenal job, Moderation of a community can be a lot to ask of one person and we should not expect them to bear the load alone. We’ve recently attempted to increase the moderator team size through two elections which have both failed due to a lack of candidates. These elections were held because help in moderating the site continues to be needed.

Having members of an SE site who are willing to step up as moderators has always been one of the thresholds for keeping a site alive. Without that, this site is in danger of shutting down. I’m here today with recommended next steps that the Community Management team had for this site to move forward. If there is true interest in keeping this site alive, we want to help you to be successful.

Recommended Solutions

Valorum asks a really good question, “Are there any strategies that have been successful in attracting potential candidates and how the community/existing moderation team can help with that process?” The short answer is yes. Whether these suggestions will make a difference will be up to the members of this community.

We recommend that members share some of the burden with the moderation team. This is done through activities like closing questions, editing poor content, working through the different queues, and general help to the community by increasing the activity on your Meta. These are ways to reduce the number of items that moderators have to work through and also keep a small mod team from burning out. We really are in this together! We’ve seen this suggested already by bytebuster. It isn’t a novel idea, but it certainly is a powerful one. Should the community rally itself to work in unison towards improving the quality and the amount of the content, moderation work can be reduced.

We’re also going to recommend a 4 month period before setting up another election for this site. Ideally, we’ll be looking for 1 additional moderator to join the team, though 2 would be ideal. This next election will help to bring those folks in. However, if there are candidates that identify themselves as nominees for an election before the 4th month, we would gladly move forward with an election much sooner. If we can’t find at least one more person willing to be a moderator on this site by that time, it will be shut down after the next election.

We’re hopeful that we can start seeing progress very soon and that in 4 months, at the time of the upcoming election, we’ll have people interested in joining the moderation team.

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    We have two volunteers, me and ...
    – Rob
    Jun 28 at 15:00
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    ... myself! I'll be writing an answer to more formally explain my intentions, but I'd be willing to be appointed as a moderator here provided more experienced members of this site are unable or unwilling to do so.
    – Spevacus
    Jun 28 at 15:02
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I've been trying to plan out my response to this, and I've come up with this:

  1. Moderating is relatively easy on a small site like Freelancing. It does not take much time, and most of my actions are simply confirming what the community is trying to do with smaller numbers (i.e. close questions, delete obvious spam). It usually does not take much time, but after a full day of work, it feels like I'm using my brain too much.

  2. I like the mod team. I do have a very large group of moderators to lean on when I need help, and the Community Team has been in touch with me about my burn out. I do not want to leave moderation on the site, as I have been here for so long, and want to see it succeed even more. However...

  3. No one seems to step up for elections. Knowing that I would not be the sole mod takes a large weight off my shoulders. We need candidates willing to step up, otherwise I may start feeling overwhelmed - For some reason, I like to read every question and every answer whenever there is new activity!


You won't be alone moderating, and I'm willing to work with other candidates to help grow the community. I believe in the democratic process, and having the elections. If you think you could spend 5-10 minutes each day or couple of days, please throw your hat into the ring!

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    I do appreciate that it can be very hard to be a team of one, especially when it comes to decision-making and trying to assess other people's motives and it's great to read that your intention is to stay on, rather than handing over the reins. Hopefully this interregnum will give the existing users pause to decide whether to stand, or allow some new users from other parts of the network (like Spevacus, below) to join and gain sufficient rep to put themselves forwards as candidates.
    – Valorum
    Jun 28 at 23:21
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My name is Spevacus, and I've been participating on the Stack Exchange network for a couple of years now, primarily focusing on Meta SE and sprinkling bits of content on the other sites. I'll also lend my knowledge to various per-site metas where I feel I can meaningfully answer questions with the knowledge I've gained as a frequent Meta contributor.

It pains me to see that Freelancing is facing down site closure, as I've visited the site quite a few times before joining SE during my brief time as a freelance programmer. Some of the Q&A pairs of the site were of particular interest to me, especially when I was first starting out, so I feel a bit of sadness that the activity in the site has dwindled and that one (seemingly very awesome!) moderator is currently shouldering most of the moderation burden.

Since I first saw this post, I refamiliarized myself with this site to get a gauge on current community participation and see where the pain points are, and whether or not I could lend my assistance. As Juan M noted in this question, what bytebuster said in their answer here is very important. Community-driven moderation is one of the core benefits of the Stack Exchange model: Anyone with enough reputation can help keep the site clean by reviewing, flagging, and voting. The review queues at present have a few suggested edits pending, but otherwise they appear relatively clean, which is great to see. The core problem simply seems to be a lack of interest from the current power users to stand in moderator elections.

As Canadian Luke mentioned in a comment, they need a helping hand to shoulder the site's general moderation burden. I can speak from experience when I say that moderation burn-out is a very real problem, especially when you're the only one managing things. Being able to rely upon your co-moderators is important when ensuring the team can operate seamlessly, and it's here that I hope to be able to lend a hand.

As I said in a chat room, I'd be willing to step up and stand as an appointed pro-tempore moderator should other users who would ordinarily be eligible to run for moderator in the previous elections here be unable to do so. I'm aware that I've yet to participate in the site as a question asker or answerer, and in the coming weeks I do plan to change that to try and earn some reputation and help out from a user perspective. However, I have moderation experience on other sites (not SE) as well as a sizable user-level-moderation history on Meta Stack Exchange. I'm also a current contributor to Charcoal, an organization that seeks to destroy spam and rude/abusive posts all across the network, which I hope speaks to my experience in that department.

My interest in assisting this site, and giving Canadian Luke a decent break, is to ensure that Freelancing.SE doesn't become closed due to a lack of users who are not willing to stand as moderators. The content provided here has been invaluable to me in the past, and I'd certainly appreciate the opportunity to pay the site back, despite the current lack of contribution to it on my own part.

As I said before, I'd very much prefer current users who are already active in the site could stand as a site moderator, but should no others be able to do so, I'd be willing to be appointed should it mean the prevention of site closure. I have a sizable amount of free time that I'm willing to lend to the site's day-to-day moderation requirements and I'd be certain to work with all of the active users and moderators here to ensure the site runs smoothly.

To Canadian Luke: I sincerely appreciate your efforts of shouldering the responsibility of being a moderator for as long as you have (since 2013!), and I sincerely respect your current feelings of burn-out. If it comes to it, I look forward to working with you in keeping Freelancing.SE clean and well taken care-of!

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    No! I'm Spevacus!
    – Valorum
    Jun 28 at 23:18
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Many thanks for coming back on my question, especially with specific useful advice about how we can progress the site and pull it back from the brink.

As far as 'burden-sharing' is concerned, I'm a long time lurker on this stack but I've recently started increasing my activity, largely in response to the site's failure to find a suitable moderator candidate to support Canadian Luke♦. He's been doing a fine job over multiple years, but when you get to the point that you're openly stating that you feel burned out, it's clearly time for someone else to step up and shoulder some/all of the moderation duties.

I'd volunteer myself as a candidate, but given that I'm png with the Community Management team, I can only hope that one of the other 144 eligible users decides that they want to put themselves forward for the position. They can count on my ongoing support when they do.

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    Thank you for your frank response and also for your support of those who may step up to help as moderators.
    – Juan M StaffMod
    Jun 24 at 16:31
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    You should just run yourself. You've been a quality contributor here as of late, and you have years of experience elsewhere on the network.
    – ibid
    Jun 25 at 9:26
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    @ibid - SE have told me that I'm not eligible. The corollary is that they'd rather see this site die than allow me to mod it :-) Hopefully that won't happen.
    – Valorum
    Aug 5 at 7:36

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