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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. Due to falling just shy on the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as one of our back up questions for a total of 10 questions.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!


How would you approach a new user to the site who has clearly asked an off-topic question or clearly used the answer as a discussion? Assuming you will cast a close vote, how might you address the faux pas to the new user?

How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

If members of the community ask for changes to the allowed topics for the site; what should be the process for change be? How would you decide to change the Money.SE help center based on the outcomes of meta.money discussions?

How would you deal with a question that is clearly off-topic, but well liked by the community , i.e. it has a lot of upvotes and quality answers? See here for example illustratoin.

How will you contribute to a strong culture that welcomes new users and rewards good behavior from established users?

How will you address the community if your feelings about the direction of the site are in conflict with the community's agreed upon direction as decided in meta.money?

What role does community history have in guiding the future of the community?

How will you react when a user lashes out at you, accusing you of being a {bully|idiot|a poor excuse for a human being} after you {close a question|delete an answer|delete a comment}?

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  • Best of luck to you all! Thanks for showing your commitment by answering. – Alex B Apr 5 '14 at 18:59
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How would you approach a new user to the site who has clearly asked an off-topic question or clearly used the answer as a discussion? Assuming you will cast a close vote, how might you address the faux pas to the new user?

Being welcoming is key. I personally am an introvert by nature and I take that perspective when I find a new user. Regardless if their fear is real or not, I treat them as if it is. This approach makes me give them 1.) a welcome, then 2.) the issue, and most importantly 3.) how they can fix the problem. I will even occasionally offer a specific example they can emulate. If needed explicitly state my comments are not intended to be dismissive or condescending.

I hope as the site grows, I will no longer have time to do that. I hope we are so busy that welcoming new users cannot be done when compared to the other tasks a mod does like spam removal and such. My plan that my warm introductions and gentle handling of mistakes will be paid forward so the community has a habit of showing new users the way.

How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

Often people are be both smart and passionate. Aside from the occasional troll, I will tend towards encouraging the passion and simply removing the parts that generate the flags. There isn't any point in admonishing a passionate user for the occasional outburst, especially when the outburst is clearly a work of their love and dedication.

However, if somebody is being a creepy jerk, I have no problem asking them politely to stop. I will not make an assumption about what motivates a person, so if I have to bring up a behaviour problem I will point out the problem as I see it; suggest a remedy and leave the issue open for dialog. Honest people who let their fire get the better of them always see the way, and trolls get bored and leave.

How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

If the issue is about being on/off topic; I would post in meta about the issue to let the community have a say. If the mod is acting rashly or unfairly, the conversation is more direct. Like any confrontational communication. Don't assume, listen, don't accuse and find a middle ground. It rarely fails.

If members of the community ask for changes to the allowed topics for the site; what should be the process for change be? How would you decide to change the Money.SE help center based on the outcomes of meta.money discussions?

Changes to the community direction are always to be handled in meta. I would first encourage the member to post their issue and make their case. Then it is simply my job as the long term community member to explain why the topics are as they are. If the change is something I agree with, I say so and let my answer be voted on. After some time it will be easy to see if there is a passion in the community for change or not. As is so often the case, the community moves and changes slowly, and that is usually the right thing to do.

It is also important in these discussions for a mod to point out the blue diamond doesn't give my vote on community direction anymore weight than a new member. Perhaps my reputation does, but not the diamond.

If the change requires an update to the help, the discussion should continue in the meta post until the changes are done and agreed upon.

How would you deal with a question that is clearly off-topic, but well liked by the community , i.e. it has a lot of upvotes and quality answers? See here for example illustration.

If the community likes it, perhaps the question should be on topic. Post it to meta. Like any change we should talk about why, look for previous discussion and other citations, and finally see if the situation in the world is different than before.

How will you contribute to a strong culture that welcomes new users and rewards good behavior from established users?

The only tool I possess as a mod is the ability to delete bile as soon as I find it. I must lead by example with positive culture, and remove unhelpful culture as I find it. This is a community that will tend towards an adult demographic, and adults will behave like adults when treated as such.

As a mod, the blue diamond carries weight and influence. I won't temper my comments about being kind and nice.

How will you address the community if your feelings about the direction of the site are in conflict with the community's agreed upon direction as decided in meta.money?

The will of the community comes first. The mod is in a powerful spot; my close vote is binding. My delete vote is binding. Therefore I have to use those tools as sparingly as possible. I usually save my vote to close until I am the last vote. If the community has a clear path then it is the job of the moderator to keep that direction, regardless of my personal feelings. (That doesn't stop me from having a voice in meta to aim our community however.)

What role does community history have in guiding the future of the community?

The wheels of democracy should move slowly; change should be hard and and carefully considered. I don't want the community to stagnate and not grow in new directions, but changes must be done slowly enough that we can all agree and adjust accordingly. The worst change in the world is one where we have to revert later. To that end; my reputation and days visited is a more important metric than being a mod. My real job as a mod is to listen to the community and solicit information from the most experienced and respected users. Mods encourage dialog while high rep users steer it.

How will you react when a user lashes out at you, accusing you of being a {bully|idiot|a poor excuse for a human being} after you {close a question|delete an answer|delete a comment}?

I will post in the mod chat room and ask for quorum from the other mods. (If I haven't already brought my action to light.) At that point, whatever the other site mods say will be the decision. If my action is upheld, then the matter is over. If I am overruled, I should consider taking the step to publicly admit a mistake and apologize. Even if the angry user never sees the apology, the community should know that mods are not above the rules.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  1. Moderators are garbage people: we patrol the site looking to remove unnecessary content like "thanks" comments and spam posts. We remove spam users and generally keep that home page clean and on topic. Handling flags that the community ID's as a problem as quickly as possible.

  2. Moderators encourage positive dialog: welcome new users, stick up for questions suffering from negative votes and making sure comments and content is constructive and polite. If I can save a poor question or help a new users write a great question, I have done more good than any answer with a hundred votes.

  3. Remember my place: being a mod doesn't make me smart. I can't add answers anymore often than I normally would. I don't change or remove content I disagree with. I serve the community; I don't run it.

  4. Be ready to explain things: users get to vote and move on. Cast a flag and move on. Mods should be ready to explain the reason for the change so no change is made in haste. If a new user or high rep veteran questions my actions, if I can't back it up I might have made a mistake.

In your opinion, what is best in life?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

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Answering as many of these as I can today, I'll come back and fill in the TBDs as soon as I can.

How would you approach a new user to the site who has clearly asked an off-topic question or clearly used the answer as a discussion? Assuming you will cast a close vote, how might you address the faux pas to the new user?

If it can be fixed easily and I am knowledgeable enough on the topic to do so I'd try to edit the post to fit the community standards while retaining the OP's intent. If I don't know enough to do this well, I'd add a comment detailing the issues with the post and provide general suggestions on how to improve it. For example "Make sure you are asking an actual question that has a definitive answer."

How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

Gently suggest that a core value of the site is to take a helpful/constructive tone and point out how their comments don't conform to that standard (gently). I tend to lean towards the aggressive side when it comes deleting abusive or snarky comments.

How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

First, check if the community supported the decision with close-votes or downvotes. If the community agrees, I'd defer. Next, I'd try to find out if there is a way to salvage the question to the other mod's satisfaction and go that route.

If members of the community ask for changes to the allowed topics for the site; what should be the process for change be? How would you decide to change the Money.SE help center based on the outcomes of meta.money discussions?

I think we could do a lot better at being clear in the help center about issues that are settled within the community. I'd also like for us to make that resource explain a little better WHY the decision was made so we don't have to repeatedly do so when questions are closed for not being appropriate. For example, "Product and Service recommendations are off-topic" is often a source of conflict. It would be useful to make sure we fully explain the rationale in the help center.

How would you deal with a question that is clearly off-topic, but well liked by the community , i.e. it has a lot of upvotes and quality answers?

This is where I might differ from other mods. I think I'd give more latitude to such question because ultimately the community sets the standards for what is welcome here. If we draw too hard of a line I think it is detrimental to the success of the site. Yes, we don't want a free-for-all, but sometimes we can bend the rules slightly if it benefits the site. I know this opinion may not be popular. If you disagree strongly, I respect that and your decision not to elect me moderator.

How will you contribute to a strong culture that welcomes new users and rewards good behavior from established users?

Be nice. Help people adjust with constructive criticism. Adopt a helpful tone. Give people a chance to fix their posts before closing them, re-open when they do fix them.

How will you address the community if your feelings about the direction of the site are in conflict with the community's agreed upon direction as decided in meta.money?

If the community and majority of other moderators disagree with me, I'll back down every time. The community will rule this site, not me.

What role does community history have in guiding the future of the community?

Precedent is important, but I'd generally weigh the input of current active users over the ghosts of users past. Gotta be flexible to the needs of the community as they adapt.

How will you react when a user lashes out at you, accusing you of being a {bully|idiot|a poor excuse for a human being} after you {close a question|delete an answer|delete a comment}?

Of course, I'd try to listen to their concerns and consult the other mods to make sure that I truly didn't deserve it, and fix the complaint if I am in the wrong. But if that didn't work I'd let it go, life is too short to get upset about what random people on the Internet think about me.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  • Arbitration - When the community can't reach a clear consensus, the mods should be familiar enough with the site rules, conventions, and precedent to settle issues that aren't being resolved on their own.

  • Janitorial Staff - SE has great tools to let the community mod itself to some degree, but having designated mods imbues responsibility on a select few to make sure the garbage gets taken out even when it is a chore. Solves the problem of "In a Star Trek world, why would anyone clean toilets for a living?"

  • Liaison between the SE team and the site's community. Communicate requested changes up, and implemented changes down as necessary.

  • Recruiters Not an explicitly stated role, but as a moderator I'd feel an increased responsibility to promote the site and find ways to grow the community.

  • I think you and I agree on 'off topic,' even if the topics of interest might be a bit different. The slight expansion can be a good thing, in my opinion. Note the current thread on how to talk about charity to a spouse. That one had the potential to be shut for not being strictly PF. Yet it's a popular question, about money, income, budgeting, etc. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 7 '14 at 10:04
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How would you approach a new user to the site who has clearly asked an off-topic question or clearly used the answer as a discussion? Assuming you will cast a close vote, how might you address the faux pas to the new user?

I've already been vocal about offering up a discussion of how the board works. We have an FAQ that offers what's on-topic and what isn't. It's not a discussion board, and the comments are allowed, but with an eye toward helping to firm up the answer, not to start a debate. In cases where there are differences of opinion (e.g. the 'cash-only' vs 'use cards for all purchases') I'd encourage the members to offer a well reasoned answer that supports their view.

How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

Kind dialog is always the start of any situation such as this. Part of being a member of a given SE board is to understand that this is the place to help and be helped, not pick fights, and not get confrontational.

How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I respect my fellow members, and have learned that there are area that are gray when it comes to On-Topic. With the volume of questions we have here, I accept that I'll not always agree with another mod's closing or other members voting to close. My 20th wedding anniversary is this year. I didn't stay married this long by needing to be right.

If members of the community ask for changes to the allowed topics for the site; what should be the process for change be? How would you decide to change the Money.SE help center based on the outcomes of meta.money discussions?

I think the On-Topic has room to adjust a bit based on member demand. The fact that the economics board closed leaves a void for a category of question that might fit the general interest at Money.SE.

How would you deal with a question that is clearly off-topic, but well liked by the community , i.e. it has a lot of upvotes and quality answers?

If it falls into the economic category that's on the fringe of what's on-topic, I'd cite it as a reason to expand on-topic a bit. If it falls into the Picard vs Kirk category, I'd delete, and chalk it up to members voting without regard to the off topic nature.

How will you contribute to a strong culture that welcomes new users and rewards good behavior from established users?

By continuing to offer an environment that offers new members a sense that we are not a closed clique of X users. We are a growing community that welcomes people from all backgrounds, and in fact, all countries. There is a real effect in The Wisdom of Crowds, and I believe that knowledge is one of those things that, when shared, is increased, not lessened. We can all be richer for knowing each other, literally, as well as figuratively.

How will you address the community if your feelings about the direction of the site are in conflict with the community's agreed upon direction as decided in meta.money?

Cognitive dissonance is often referred to as the ability to hold two opposing thought in one's mind. I've come to terms with this in the the context of "I love my wife despite the fact that she makes me crazy." (TMI, I know) In the case of Money.SE, I will continue to respect the community's vision of how the board will run, and if I feel otherwise, use the appropriate forum, Meta, to offer up a conversation, and my views.

What role does community history have in guiding the future of the community?

I'd expect that the desires of the community that got us to this point will help build our success as a source for people to seek knowledgeable answers to their questions. The future will contain the minor course corrections to keep us on track toward that goal.

How will you react when a user lashes out at you, accusing you of being a {bully|idiot|a poor excuse for a human being} after you {close a question|delete an answer|delete a comment}?

I have a thick skin. (Did I mention I'm married with a teen daughter?) I will respond to such users with the same zen patience exhibited by Captain Ben Sisko, one of the finest leaders our people will ever know. For those who don't know Ben, he had a way of solving conflicts that was pure diplomacy in action. No lashing back, no taking it personally.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I believe the main function of a good moderator is to remove any answers that cite Dave Ramsey as a source. Quoted sources should be actual people with knowledge regarding personal finance.

I will also be happy to deliver the puppies to users who exceed a rep of 250K.

(Note: as I appear to be the first to reply to the list, I reserve the right to edit as we get closer to the end of the election period)

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