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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 the lack of submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 6 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. Oh, and please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written.

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!


An asker flags their own question and says that they need to delete it because it reveals personal information about them that they don't want to make public any more. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

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?

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

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    FYI the advert for the election has dropped off the main site, I think because the timer wasn't updated for the extended nomination period - it was counting down towards zero earlier today. – Ganesh Sittampalam May 5 '15 at 20:20
4

Alex B

An asker flags their own question and says that they need to delete it because it reveals personal information about them that they don't want to make public any more. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

I would evaluate if the question can make sense without the personal information. If so, I'd edit the post and contact the stack exchange team to dis-associate the post from the user's account. The asker gets their desire for their personal content being removed and the community gets their desire for good content remaining. Goal = Win-Win.

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?

First: publicly engage them via comments or chats noting their tone and how it is being perceived. If it escalates, try a private moderator message to them. Evaluate the response and see if anything needs to be changed.

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

I would engage in discussion in the moderator chat room. Try to understand my peer to know why they made a change.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators shape and guide the community by making small course corrections along the way. Very rarely are moderators making large shifts in direction for the community. This involves both encouraging positive behaviors and discouraging negative behaviors. That encouragement/discouragement can be done through comments, edits to posts, chat and discussions on meta as well as modeling the desired behavior.

No team of moderators can fully edit and review all the content on a stack exchange site.

Moderators are also responsible for handling the occasional bad seed in the community with an appropriate response.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I am fine with this as I've already had a diamond next to my name for many years on this site. I believe I put forth a good image as a moderator.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

I am primarily interested in shaping and directing the community through small steps. My actions will primarily be taken through commenting and editing questions which are both available to me now and available to people with far less reputation than I currently have. This is behavior that I did while I was moderator before and I continue to do now while I am not a moderator. The effect of adding me to the moderator list would be that the changes I make to add clarity to questions would be seen as a model for the community more than just one person trying to make a difference can achieve. I hope that by being a moderator I help to make the community even more self-sustaining than it already is.

4

Ganesh Sittampalam

An asker flags their own question and says that they need to delete it because it reveals personal information about them that they don't want to make public any more. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

I think this question has a slightly different nuance than the equivalent one for StackOverflow, because the ethical and legal arguments for respecting the user's wishes are stronger.

The comments from existing/past moderators make it clear that anonymizing the question is an available option and for me it would at the top of my mind as the likely outcome.

Before asking for that, I'd investigate if the question could be changed to retain its essence but avoid the personal information, perhaps in conjunction with removing the edit history.

In extreme circumstances, if for some reason the question couldn't be properly anonymized even by disassociating it from a user account, I'd reluctantly support its removal, after discussion with the rest of the mod team. I can't really envisage circumstances where a good question with good answers would be in that situation though.

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?

Firstly, I would do my level best to treat each incident in isolation, at least when dealing with that incident. It's very easy to get into a mindset of "oh, XXX again" and assume the worst. It's important for the user to feel they are being treated fairly if at all possible. Of course if they are not at fault in a situation then there's no need to take any action at all.

Secondly, if there was an opportunity to have a quiet chat with the user about their behaviour, I'd do so, hopefully after discussion with the rest of the mod team. I'd try to focus on how their contributions are really valuable but their behaviour is detracting from them.

Thirdly, high-rep users shouldn't get special treatment in how we respond to incidents involving them. If they do post inappropriate material or whatever then it does need to be dealt with. If it happens repeatedly to the point that suspension is an appropriate sanction for any other user, then it should be applied to the high-rep user too.

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

Firstly, I'd apply some hysteresis. If another mod made a different decision to the one I'd have made on a borderline issue, it's probably not worth the cost of changing it now even if I'd prefer it to have been done differently in an ideal world.

So I'd reserve any action for significant issues where I think it might really be worth changing that decision, or for where I want a discussion about what should happen if the same issue comes up again.

Next, I'd discuss this with the moderator team as a whole, in private. I'd want to know what the reasoning behind the decision had been and what other moderators thought, if anything. This is a route without much sense of confrontation, I'm sure that most mods would be very happy to discuss their reasoning. I certainly would be.

That might have a few outcomes. The other mod might change their mind, I might change my mind, or the moderator team as a whole might reach a majority view as to the right course of action, that was also acceptable to the minority even if they disagreed with it.

If the right course of action is still not clear, the next place is probably an open discussion on meta, unless it would require disclosing some private information. Even if there is a consensus amongst the moderators it might be worthy of a discussion on meta to see if the community feels the same way or to explain our approach.

The StackExchange team would no doubt be able to help out with really difficult problems, as would looking around at how other sites have handled them or asking on meta.stackexchange.com.

In a really intractable situation where I felt a very important decision had been handled in an unacceptable way and not been reversed after discussion, I might end up resigning. I think it's vanishingly unlikely that this would end up happening in practice.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The standard answer to this is "human exception handlers", i.e. deal with the difficult cases that can't be handled by the normal site review processes available to suitably privileged users. For example dealing with drawn-out arguments in comments, users misbehaving, deleting spam.

I also see a role for helping to guide the evolution of the site's policy on meta. This is something that any user can participate in, of course. However the general experience of the community moderators as a whole should be important in helping to inform such discussions.

I also think it's important that moderators get involved in welcoming new users to the site. This is something anyone can do of course, but I think it's a particular responsibility of moderators to help set the tone and generate that kind of atmosphere.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I think in some cases, when just participating in the site as a normal user, this is a negative thing. I'd rather not have any extra weight attached to my opinions sometimes.

On the other hand I think it's also valuable to have users around who can speak with authority, for example when explaining basic policy points to new users on the site or stepping into protracted arguments that aren't resolving themselves naturally.

I've been in the occasional argument myself on the site - perhaps three or four times in the site's history - and I've hopefully managed to behave reasonably well during them, including stepping away when it was clear it wasn't going anywhere, and flagging for a moderator if necessary. If I were a moderator myself I would be even more careful about getting involved.

I'd also aim to clearly separate expressions of opinion from statements of policy.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

For me the main thing is being able to help share the load of the standard tasks that fall to moderators. The diamond provides an extra stamp to welcoming comments that can hopefully help new users use the site well. Deleting obvious spam as soon as possible would be nice, as would being able to quickly close obviously off-topic questions.

On the other hand, I think I would be more scared to use close votes early on borderline questions. For those I'd prefer to be one of five votes, rather than a single binding vote. Other past moderators and candidates have spoken of this problem too, and I think it's a real problem - but then there are plenty of other people able to cast close votes, so hopefully not too much of one.

3

Joe

An asker flags their own question and says that they need to delete it because it reveals personal information about them that they don't want to make public any more. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

The best solution I've seen to this specific problem is to anonymize the question (removing personal information and de-associating it with the user). What I would actually do in this case is to talk to the more experienced mods first, and assuming they agreed, partner with Stack Exchange staff as needed to make sure we agreed on the correct course of action and then to implement it. Anonymizing the question can be complex, in particular with the edit history and caching (once something's on the internet, it's there forever) but we should do what we can to protect the privacy of our posters.

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?

After discussion with the other moderators, the first course of action is simply to have a conversation with the user. The question here isn't specific as to why the flags and arguments arise; it may well be due to unintentional actions, and in my book, good intent should be assumed first. In many cases, posters are unaware of the reason for others responses to their actions, and may simply need a small change to improve.

If the conversation is not effective, either because the user does not see a problem or does not want to or cannot change, then I would have further conversations with the moderating team, and discuss our options. One option would be to simply more heavily moderate their posts - inserting appropriate comments to avert arguments, particularly if the poster isn't the problem per se so much as the types of comments his or her posts tend to generate.

Any further action I'd expect to be taken based on significant conversations with other moderators and likely the SE community team. I don't tend to believe in suspensions except in extreme situations.

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

I would bring it up in moderator chat, and ask why they moderated that post. If we couldn't come to an agreement, and both felt it was important, one or the other of us should open a post in Meta to discuss it with the community.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I strongly believe in the theory of moderation. This is how I moderated before when I was a moderator on a gaming forum, and it's how I would moderate here.

Moderators first and foremost represent the community. They should be the friendly greeter at the door, who remind new posters about the rules set by the community, remind old posters of the rules they helped set, and generally oil the wheels to keep things flowing. They are empowered to quickly delete spam and other kinds of obviously "bad" posts, but should be very cautious in removing posts that have room for improvement - instead encouraging those to be improved.

They also are the bridge to the StackExchange staff when needed - whether the community has a concern with the software or the system, or if a particular user needs additional help, or if there is a problem user who is making the community worse for the rest of us.

At the core, though, moderators are simply other members of the community - not necessarily even the best and the brightest, but members who have proven that they understand how the community operates and how Stack Exchange operates, and are willing to give some of their time to help keep things cleaner and run more smoothly. StackExchange's model is community moderated, and much of that moderation occurs from users without diamonds; every one of us who hits "review" or "edit" or "close" or "flag" (or many other links) is a moderator. The diamond just means we have a bit easier time doing some of those tasks, because the community believes we know how to identify posts that need closing, deleting, protecting, or the many other tasks we can perform, and that we promise in exchange that we spend some time performing those tasks regularly (as needed).

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I am entirely comfortable with that; I'd never say anything I didn't feel comfortable saying regardless of status. I have before said things I regretted, but the diamond wouldn't have changed that; being a good person is something one should strive for regardless of position or official status.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Primarily by allowing me to help delete spam and other diamond moderator-only tasks that currently are being performed by only two people. PF&M never has very large of a close or LQ queue, and so that doesn't really have a strong impact on things - we're pretty good about moderating ourselves, diamond or not. As a diamond moderator I'd simply be helping to lower the workload of the other moderators, and hopefully helping make decisions more and more over time when they come up as I got a better sense of the community from that point of view.

I would spend more of my time on the site as a result of the diamond; I feel moderators should spend a certain amount of time greeting new members to the community, reading posts, and otherwise showing the flag. I do that some already, but I would do some of that more as a result of the responsibility (in particular, doing it some every day).

2

Nathan L

An asker flags their own question and says that they need to delete it because it reveals personal information about them that they don't want to make public any more. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

If the sensitive information is not necessary to the question I would edit it and remove revisions with the sensitive information from the history. If the sensitive information is relevant to the question, I would disassociate it from the user perhaps through community wiki depending if the user is active and wishes to remain active on the site. If the user doesn't care deleting their account is also an option.

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?

Comments are expendable, and I wouldn't hesitate to clean them up when they cross the line. People who make valuable contributions often have strong opinions, so certainly arguments will arise (as they have on this site). I think more than just deleting the offensive stuff a moderator should reach out and try to help users resolve their differences amicably. That may not always be possible, but that doesn't mean we don't make an effort to understand both points of view and try help them to do the same.

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

My first step would be to ask the moderator what the reasons were. Maybe they saw something I didn't. If after that discussion I still disagreed, I'd ask the other moderators for their views. If I was the only one who thought it was a problem I would drop it. With the current group of moderators I can hardly imagine a scenario where we would have strong disagreements.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are given greater leeway to clean-up the site in ways that average users can't (and shouldn't be able to) by quickly deleting spam posts and otherwise dealing with flagged content that can't be removed by the rest of the community through votes to close, etc. Moderators also mediate disputes among users as they arise hopefully helping everyone to feel that they are valued and encouraged to continue to make good contributions.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

If elected, I would probably spend a little time reviewing what I have previously written, but generally I'm already hesitant to answer if I don't feel like I have something valuable to contribute.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

I don't know that I expect it to make me more effective. Instead it would focus my attention on tasks that cannot be done by others, but which still need to be done for the good of the community. I would still review new posts, but I would be less likely to take action against them unless they were unambiguously violating the rules. If it's a judgment call, then I would let the community exercise their judgment in voting to close.

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