I'm constantly coming across users who seem to have a lot of misconceptions about what GAG mods can and cannot do so I thought I would write this to shed some light on the topic. I know that a lot of users seem to really dislike the moderation as well as the mods themselves. Honestly, I can understand why so many users feel frustrated regarding the moderation here. However, I wanted to reach out and try to give the community the correct information regarding moderators and how moderation works here at GAG.
1. Moderators cannot see the identity behind anonymous users. I have come across a lot of users who seem to think that mods have the ability to see who anonymous users are and that is simply not true. Only the administrators who work for the site are able to view the identity of anonymous posters.
2. Moderators cannot read your personal messages or see private profiles. Even with that symbol beside our username, we're still regular users and we cannot see this type of information. Again, only the admins are able to view the private messages and private profiles of individual users. This is so they can handle reports when someone reports a user for inappropriate personal messages, harassment, or if a user is otherwise breaking the guidelines here.
3. Moderators do not receive report notifications. A lot of users seem to think that mods can see reported posts but that is not the case. When you report something on the site, only the admins are notified. The admins have said they try to review all reported posts within 24 hours. So, if you're annoyed that a post you reported is still up, that has nothing to do with the moderators. It just means that either an admin has not seen the post yet or the admin has decided the post should remain on the site.
4. Moderators cannot actually remove posts. This seems to be one of the biggest misconceptions here. Moderators can only temporarily hide posts until an admin can review it. Everything the moderators hide is reviewed by an admin who then determines if the post should remain on the site or be permanently removed. I know a lot of users here claim that mods are biased and while some mods could be biased, none of us can just remove whatever we want. If a mod hides a post that does not break any of the posting guidelines, an admin will put the post back on the site, I've seen that happen numerous times. Similarly, for the users who get angry and blame moderators for their post being removed, it's not just a moderator making that decision. If your post gets removed, it means an admin has also decided that the post should be taken down. The admins make all final decisions here.
5. Moderators are not exempt from the rules. Our posts can and do get removed as well if a moderator breaks the posting guidelines. If this happens frequently, the mod will lose their mod status. The admins keep track of our activity and if a moderator is acting out of line, the admins will typically address it.
6. Moderators are regular users too. We do not work here and are not paid to moderate the site, therefore, we are not viewing EVERY single thing that is posted on the site. We simply hide what we see. I say this because a lot of users complain about the inconsistency of the moderation here. I completely agree with that, it is inconsistent, but there's a reason for that. We're simply individual users who try to hide whatever we see that breaks the guidelines. So if an antagonistic or offensive post remains on the site, it could be that no moderator has seen it yet. Or, if some posts get removed quicker than others, that could just be because a moderator happened to see that post quickly and hid it.
7. The moderators are not an organized group. We don't have weekly meetings to stay on the same page. We don't all talk to each other constantly or stay in regular contact with the admins. We're simply individual users who may interpret posts differently. What one mod finds offensive, another mod may not view as offensive which also contributes to the inconsistency issue. Not all posts are "black and white," there are a lot of grey areas which moderators have to decide for themselves "should this be hidden or not?" and then we make a decision. However, as I said before, if a mod wrongly hides a post, the admin who reviews it will put the post back on the site. Also, if you see something that you feel should be removed, you should either report it for the admins to be notified or you can message one of the mods directly. I've had numerous users contact me about posts they felt should be taken down and I welcome those users to talk to me. Of course, I still have to use my own judgement before hiding anything but I feel that it helps keep the lines of communication open between the moderators and the rest of the community.
So, overall, I can completely understand why so many users here have an issue with the moderation system, however, we're still human and no one is perfect. That being said, I try to remain as unbiased as possible when deciding what to hide and I would hope that the rest of my fellow mods do as well.