I am a moderator on two Stack Exchange sites and I occasionally see users who would rather directly address (through pinging in chat) the Community Managers or moderators of the site they're using to ask questions than to actually ask the community, despite there being several options for doing so (child metas, Meta Stack Exchange, chat, etc...) or in using the standard methods for getting the attention of the CMs/mods (flags or the contact us form).

As an example, a user might come in to chat and say:

  • Hey, @moderator, how do I do X?
  • Hey, @CM, can you help me understand why Y is the way it is?

Neither of these things are something that only the moderator or CM can answer... it's often something that's general knowledge, so pinging them is pointless and exclusionary of other users - at least to me, it seems like responding to a message someone directed at another person is weird.

I wouldn't normally step in but, in the cases I'm referring to, they do it repeatedly (multiple times a day sometimes) and their questions aren't really something that only the CMs/mods can respond to, so I'd like to remind them that they should ask their question generally before asking a CM or mod directly. I'm sure the CMs and mods are capable of ignoring the repeated pings but I'd like to encourage them to use other methods first rather than making a CM or mod their first point of contact for a couple of reasons:

  1. Their question may be one that others have, so asking it in chat doesn't give the question an audience the way asking it on meta would, for example.

  2. The specific person they're pinging may be on holiday or ill (flu season!), so their call for assistance may go unheard in that case.

How can I remind them of and encourage them to use these primary resources before trying to reach out to a Community Manager or moderator?

2 Answers 2


I think it's all about reinforcement, reinforcement, and more reinforcement.

It's worth remembering that there are a few situations where someone in authority might be needed to intervene quickly, and people need to know when that is.

It's also probably useful that on sites where I'm a regular, or am a mod, I've differentiated my actions as a regular user (even when, or especially when, I use soft touch moderation), and the rare occations when I've needed my mod hat.

In general, encouraging users to use the proper channels, and knowing when to use improper channels, and acting quickly and decisively when the course of action is clear, and working out and acting in a measured fashion has helped me a lot.

It's also useful to set clear guidelines as to when it's appropriate to ping someone and where.

With specific people who do this - I find that the old "therethere" works

dog petting cats

Ignore 'em where possible, deal with trivial requests as needed, and deal with them with a certain degree of cool/polite indifference. Eventually they'll get tired and bother someone else.

  • 5
    Yup - keep telling them the correct route, and make sure the incorrect route is not rewarded by a response
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 10:33
  • 3
    "Why not ask on meta?" is a response I sometimes get good results with. Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 23:29

Two things that you can do to improve on Journeyman Geek's answer:

  1. In the case they should be flagging a post/reporting it in some special form, I would personally refuse to help them in the incorrect channel:

    Hey there!

    Can you please go ahead and make sure to [flag that post] so it can go through the review queue? For purposes of keeping a proper paper trail, it's standard policy that we only act upon these types of requests when the user directly submits a flag.

    Regarding the last sentence of that: I wouldn't lie or anything to your users, as they can become seriously upset. But, establishing such a policy would help reduce the unwanted mail.

  2. Make sure it's very clear what they should be doing instead of contacting you directly. Your support system might seem simple to you, but it might be more complex to someone who just joined a day or two ago.

    More advanced sites tackle this issue by making you search help articles before being able to send a message. A simpler option would be a giant banner that covers most of the cases, and perhaps even a checkbox that says "I have read and understood the banner; I still need to directly contact a moderator."

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