Archive for December, 2012

Summer and Fall 2012 Omnibus Newsletter

2012-12-18 by Grace Note. 0 comments

New /help System

We always provide an avenue for users of our sites to contact us. Using information gathered from the volume of emails we received, we developed a new “help” page dedicated to answering a lot of the most common support questions. It can be found from the “contact us” link at the bottom of every page, and you can see Stack Overflow’s version here.

http://stackoverflow.com/help

This may have been developed primarily to assist users who are heading to ask the team questions, but we hope it can still be helpful to our moderation team. The many links contained within, and the guides written for them, should be usable for meta, chat, and comment inquiries from new users who run into these issues.

Changes to Migration

After many discussions regarding the complications that arise from migrating old and highly voted questions from the larger sites over to smaller sites, we have implemented some new regulations and systems regarding migration. First, migrations are no longer permitted for questions older than 60 days. This is a simple block that prevents the migration from happening, even from moderators. Should it be important to move older posts, there is an alternative method for performing these. It’s a three step process. First, the destination site will build a listing of questions which would be acceptable to migrate. Then, the source and destination communities will confer together and help confirm which posts are valid to move over, by vetting the losses. Finally, once the two communities have come to a consensus, the list can be brought before the Stack Exchange Team to perform a one-time migration of all the posts.

New Under-Age User Policy

We have amended the process for handling users who are found to be less than 13 years of age. Suspension until they reach the required age is no longer a valid option as it still leaves potentially sensitive information online. Therefore, the new policy is to please send any discovery of such individuals to the Community Team. We will handle the disposal of the user’s private and identification data. You can reach us through community@stackoverflow.com.

Plagiarism

We have added a new template to the selection of pre-written moderator messages that you can work from when sending a message to a user. This message is for handling users who are plagiarizing their posts from other sources, be it in our network or completely external. Below is an excerpt from it.

It has come to my attention that several of your answers consisted primarily or entirely of text copied from other answers or websites, without any indication that you were quoting nor any reference to the source of the text. Such plagiarism disrespects those authors who put effort into the original answers, and will not be tolerated.

Please remember that plagiarism and copyright are two separate things. We do not place the duty of seeking and enforcing copyright on moderators.

Enhancements to /review System

As announced much earlier in the year, we implemented a /review system to help reduce the load on moderators. It is aimed at streamlining the access of normal users to the elements that need their privileges (namely, editing and closing). Two new features have been introduced in the past months. First, there is what we call “audit” tasks. These are items in the review queue that are not actual items from the site, but rather tests to confirm that users are actually paying attention. Their job is to catch users who would blow through the queue without proper review. Information on failed audits is logged (and the reviewer chided) – repeated failures may result in users being blocked from /review for some period of time (we’re currently sending warnings and imposing blocks manually). Second, the much-requested “reopen queue” has been introduced. The sister component to the close queue, this queue contains questions that have votes to reopen them. Reviewers may elect to further vote for reopening, or to opine that the question should stay closed (one moderator “leave closed” response – or three such responses from ordinary users – will remove the post from the queue).

Private Email Contact

This is just a small reminder of our policies regarding email contact. Contacting a user by private email should be exceedingly rare. Whenever it is at all possible, please use the following from a user’s profile page. > ‘mod’ > ‘contact user’ This provides full disclosure and visibility to the other moderators (and the Community Team), as well as keeps records on the site and linked to the user for easy reference. If you absolutely MUST contact users via private email, please BCC the Community Team and the rest of the moderators. And please note that use of email addresses for personal use (i.e. outside strict issues of moderation) is against our privacy policy. If you have need to contact users outside these conditions, please contact us for clarification.