The following is a "digest" version of the 2013 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @GraceNote or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

23 Answers 23


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: What specifically do you think that the current moderators are doing well, and what do you think could be improved?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: They do an excellent job of steering the community towards debating issues with the site.

Beofett Beofett answered: The current moderators do a good job of keeping track of current policy, providing expert assistance and guidance, and generally monitoring the flow of questions/answers. I feel like the current team is a solid mix of all the primary elements of moderation.

Kevin Kevin answered: I think the current moderators are doing well at handling flags in a timely fashion, and keeping the community consensus. I can't identify anything they particularly need improvement on.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Doing well : Keeping the site clean. Could be improved : (not only the moderator but the community as a whole) better guide the new users.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: Why do you personally want the power and responsibility of being a moderator?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I live for power. Responsibility, what's that? I kid people. It is the next step in the involvement of the site.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Just wish to help. I sincerely care for scifi.stackexchange

Beofett Beofett answered: I care a lot about this community. Its a great resource for me, and it is about a subject that has been a major influence throughout my entire life, on a platform that I have really grown to appreciate throughout my time here. Mostly, though, because I think I'd be good at it, and because I feel it would increase my ability to help out.

Kevin Kevin answered: I want the power to take action when needed to keep the site clean and welcoming, and for that I am willing to take the responsibilities of a moderator.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: Because I think that this is an amazing forum for genre enthusiasts to discuss what they're passionate about and I want to do whatever I can to help.


Keen Keen asked: What would you do to encourage more community self-moderation? That is, high-rep users making use of their moderation powers to close, edit, reopen, and delete posts.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: I'm not sure what could be done to encourage the community to self-moderate beyond giving positive attention and feedback to people who do.

Beofett Beofett answered: I'm generally pretty impressed with how many people respond with close/reopen/edits. However, I would continue to do what I have done in the past on this site: point out through comments and meta discussion when I think action needs to be taken.

Kevin Kevin answered: As a frequent user in chat, where most of our high-rep users hang out, I would remind people there to use what privileges they have accrued.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: It's hard to directly communicate with users that don't come to chat. I think the best way is to make the community feels responsible for the site, they need to care for it. Soliciting the opinion of user and showing you respect them is a good way.


Gilles http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a717291747c76567bb0f086e15ae6e43?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Gilles asked: A genie grants you a wish: you may change one site policy (e.g. make a type of question on/off topic, change some tagging habits, …) (SE policies remain). What is your wish?

Jack B Nimble http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/646f9bc3ae8effa7fa1a1a1c528ff522?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jack B Nimble answered: To ban the why didn't X recognize Y in the original work when they had encountered each other in a prequel.

Beofett http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a4fd4c34547537e3016edb24f106e223?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Beofett answered: Honestly, I can't think of anything I'd want to change by fiat. Recommendations are always fun, but they are such a poor fit for the platform I wouldn't want them on-topic. I can spot inconsistencies in tag usage, but I'm not invested in them enough to feel comfortable declaring a blanket change. I do think the situation and related issues is a mess, though, so perhaps a complete rework of how they should be used.

Kevin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3bec657e9d57297e9f090b7aed2cda00?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Kevin answered: Ban questions on minor secondary plot-holes that almost certainly have no answer.

DavRob60 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/0964ccfd92e2c634db90489311f22fa6?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG DavRob60 answered: This is an hard one. I don't disagree to any site policies that much.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: They help to maintain the rules and community consensus on what is appropriate for the site. They make mitigating decisions on flags and other criteria that the community thinks requires attention.

Kevin Kevin answered: Moderators keep order in the community, ensuring a pleasant experience for all. They gently enforce the community consensus.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: They are the "human exception handler", mostly dealing with the flag queue. Also keep the site clean from clearly unwanted stuff.

Beofett Beofett answered: Primarily moderators help facilitate. They facilitate discussion on policy, scope, etc. They also serve as the peace-keepers for disputes/flags.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: What SFF books have you read in the last month? Please list as many as you can

Kevin Kevin answered: Unfortunately, I haven't really been reading much, I don't think I've read any full book in the last month.

Beofett Beofett answered: Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion (currently reading), The Order of the Stick: Snips, and Snails, and Dragons Tails, Vor Games, and I can't remember what I read before Vor Games....

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Currently reading The Lost Symbol, from Dan Brown, read Scott Orson Card's Shadow of the Giant and Iain M. Banks's Excession lately


Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble asked: What are your three favorite scifi/fantasy works, and your three least favorite?

Beofett Beofett answered: Hard question... I'm going to have to say my favorites are: A Fire Upon the Deep, Dune, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

Beofett Beofett continued: My least favorite: The Saga of Seven Suns, the Dune prequels, and Twilight (although I have to admit I haven't read/watched it)

Kevin Kevin answered: Top are the LotR trilogy, Silmarillion, and Ender's game. As for the bottom, I can't recall any SFF I particularly disliked.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Favorite : The Tron universe as a whole, probably the reason why I'm a programmer right now. Least favorite : I don't like horror in general.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: The Solar Cycle by Gene Wolfe, the Robots series by Asimov and anything by Phillip K. Dick. My least favorite is any space opera from the early 20th century.


PearsonArtPhoto http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/fdc52692a8ac266cd1c897f75a0f75f8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG PearsonArtPhoto asked: Which tag do you wish to see grown the most on this site?

Jack B Nimble http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/646f9bc3ae8effa7fa1a1a1c528ff522?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jack B Nimble answered: I would love to see more fantasy questions at large. Harry Potter may be the top tag on the site, but you have to go a long ways down to find a second place (LOTR).

Beofett http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a4fd4c34547537e3016edb24f106e223?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Beofett answered: There's not one particular tag I'd like to see grown. However, I think there are a ton of great titles out there that have very few questions. I'd like to grow those tags: the ones that are on works widely regarded as "classics", yet which have received little attention on our site so far.

DavRob60 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/0964ccfd92e2c634db90489311f22fa6?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG DavRob60 answered: I always enjoy questions. But there is also classic Sci-fi author that could be more present (, , etc)

Kevin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3bec657e9d57297e9f090b7aed2cda00?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Kevin answered: I don't have a particular preferred tag, I want to see whatever tag grow that will bring in new users that stay around and become productive members of our site.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: What SFF TV series/ Movies have you watched in the last month?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: DS9, Phineas & Ferb, Escape from Planet Earth, and some others.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: The Walking Dead

Beofett Beofett answered: I don't get to watch nearly as much TV as I used to, but I believe I've watched Walking Dead and Misfits in the past month.

Kevin Kevin answered: Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Insurrection.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Many thing: The Masters of Time, The Total recall 2012 remake, the Mtal Hurlant Chronicles series, My little pony friendship is magic (with my daughter). And I probably forget some...


Keen Keen asked: How do you encourage more participation in meta?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: When a question is generating lots of debates in comments it is usually recommended to move the discussion to meta.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: For starters I think that just advertising it exists would help. I was on here for a long time before I knew what it was.

Beofett Beofett answered: The best way to promote participation in meta... is to participate in meta. Start discussions based upon issues that come up in comments/chat, then link the meta discussion and ask people to chime in. The biggest problem with meta is that people forget/don't know it is there. Frequent reminders are the best remedy to that.

Kevin Kevin answered: As I mentioned, I'm quite active in chat, along with most of our high rep users, so I discuss things there with them, and point them at the appropriate meta posts.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Inviting users to ask question on Meta though comments when needed. Directing them there when there is information they need to know and be kind and respectful when they come to meta to keep them there.


Keen Keen asked: How would you deal with a user who posts lots of quality content, but also generates a large number of flags?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Try to communicate the issues that come up in their posts with the user. I know we've had a few users who meet this criteria and I've seen the moderators try to work with them. I think that has positively influenced the quality of these users posts.

Beofett Beofett answered: This is never a fun situation. The first thing I'd do is just talk with them. Make it clear that their contributions are valued, but no one contributes enough to exempt them from the rules, particularly the "be nice" rule. If needs be, I would have no qualms about suspending a user, regardless of the quality of their contributions, if their behavior is problematic.

Kevin Kevin answered: Warn them in comments, then chat if they are a chat user and don't respond, then send them a mod-message if they still don't shape up. Posting good content does not offset bad behavior.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: It depend if the flags are founded and the kind of flag. A user who is Offensive must be disciplined. Otherwise, I would comment on his questions and try to explain him how he could improve himself.


DVK DVK asked: Related to that, DVK also asks: What is your threshold for binding-voting to close a question? "I would have VTCed it if my vote wasn't binding"? A critical mass of unopposed VTCs and flags? Do you consider NOT voting (and opening a meta discussion) if the comments on the question indicate a clear LACK of consensus on closing and it wasn't discussed on meta yet?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I always consider not taking action as a valid course. I don't like rash decisions.

Beofett Beofett answered: Again, it depends. A flag of "I find this offensive" gets a lot more weight than a flag of "this question is silly".

Beofett Beofett continued: A question that has been open for a couple of hours and has no close votes from the community would get more consideration from me than one that has been open 15 minutes and already has 4 close votes.

Beofett Beofett concluded: I would definitely consider a meta discussion, but wouldn't necessarily hold off on voting, as the question could always be reopened after the meta discussion (for example, the question could be worded poorly, but a meta discussion might involve some suggested edits that would improve the question enough to reopen it).

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: No threshold if I don't have any doubt (but I assure you that I'm a doubtful person). Waiting to be the 5th vote otherwise.

Kevin Kevin answered: If a question clearly needs closing, I will use my binding vote. If it is more contested, I will normally wait and see if close votes pile up, and usually only close as the 4th or 5th vote (and, as came up in the previous question, check the close queue results for it).


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: A high reputation user was accused of harassing a lower ranking user. What do you do?

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Reputation is a "rough measurement of how much the community trusts you", not a licence to behave inappropriately. I would verify the if the accusations are founded and take the appropriate action if necessary, depending of the degree of the harassment.

Beofett Beofett answered: I do not give the higher reputation user more leeway than the lower ranking user; if anything, it works the opposite. I expect the higher reputation users to know better than a new user (generally anyone who has 500 rep or less).

Beofett Beofett continued: The first thing I do is review any specific instances pointed out. Then I look at the activity log for both users, checking comments. I look at any post where there appears to be comments between the two users in question. I then use a couple of tools available to moderators to make sure I have as complete a picture of the activity between the two users as possible.

Beofett Beofett concluded: If I see evidence of policy violations, I'll bring it up to the other moderators and discuss it as a team. If I see evidence of severe violations (threats, abusive language, irregular voting patterns, etc.) I'll probably also bring it to the attention of the SE community team.

Kevin Kevin answered: Assure the complainant that moderators do, in fact, care just as much about low-rep users and won't just give high-reps a free pass (in fact, I hold them to a higher standard), then investigate the accusation.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: If you had one minute to explain this site to someone, what would you say that it is?

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: A place where you could ask and answer questions about science fiction and fantasy.

Kevin Kevin answered: This is a site where one can ask a concrete, finitely answerable (not open-ended, not a list) question and get a great response from a group of enthusiasts.

Beofett Beofett answered: Primarily this is a great place to answer any question on sci-fi or fantasy works that nag at you after watching/reading, and an even better place to find out about aspects of the material you never knew about, or even entire new works to check out.


Keen http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/17c0190cc521c554c0d4555edbe76f4c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Keen asked: What is your position on questions? Should they be allowed or banned?

Jack B Nimble http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/646f9bc3ae8effa7fa1a1a1c528ff522?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jack B Nimble answered: I've noticed that many of the unanswered questions are story-identification questions. It was decided early on that these questions would be allowed. It is my opinion that there is a real quality issue with these questions, but until the community changes their mind on these questions, they should continue to be allowed.

Kevin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3bec657e9d57297e9f090b7aed2cda00?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Kevin answered: Story identification questions are fine. They have a concrete solution, as long as the OP keeps giving feedback on answers. My main complaint about them is how they are voted on. I think the questions should only be upvoted if they seem to contain enough to identify a story, and answers only if the asker comes back and affirms a guess correct.

Beofett http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a4fd4c34547537e3016edb24f106e223?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Beofett answered: I continue to be a large fan of . The questions do an excellent job as a way to bring in new users, which is important for us to continue to function as a community. While the core regular users are important, a constant influx of new participants is essential. Plus I get a lot of great ideas for new content to read/watch as a result.

DavRob60 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/0964ccfd92e2c634db90489311f22fa6?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG DavRob60 answered: Allowed for now, but I'm a mostly indifferent to those question.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: As a moderator, you will have to moderate on topics that you haven't read/watched. How will you accomplish that?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Magic, and possibly divination. And whatever the internet can spit out to gain a cursory knowledge in a short time frame.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Getting to chat when exteriors expertise is needed.

Beofett Beofett answered: Moderating topics you aren't familiar with isn't usually that hard. The community response (VTCs, flags, comments, etc.) is usually a good indication of whether or not there is a problem. Wikipedia can be of surprising help, but the biggest resource is asking opinions in chat, either of the regular members, or other moderators (or both).

Kevin Kevin answered: Most of a moderator's work is topic-agnostic. In most cases, one doesn't need to know the particulars of a work to see most problems with a post, and the community members who are familiar with it will point out when action actually does need to be taken.


PearsonArtPhoto PearsonArtPhoto asked: What have you personally done already to help moderate this site?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Flagged, VTC, reviews, editting, and reading through a lot of the questions.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: I personally edit my answers to make certain that they are concise and answer the question at hand, and as well I delete my questions and answers that are deemed unworthy by the community.

Beofett Beofett answered: Aside from voting/closing/flagging/editing, I've been very active in meta. I have started quite a few discussions on policy here, including the discussions that resulted in community consensus that General Reference was not a good fit as a close reason for our site.

Kevin Kevin answered: As my badges indicate, I have been very active editing posts and I went through the review queues before they were popular, and I flag posts when warranted; I also vote to close and re-open, and I keep an eye on the 10k flag queue much of the time. In essence, all a 10k can do.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: All sort of thing. Voting to Close/reopen question that deserve it. Flagging really inappropriate stuff and discussing in meta /chat when I'm not sure.


a Slytherin a Slytherin asked: How would you approach supporting and encouraging growth in the fantasy genre on SFF.se if it's not your cup of tea or you are hardcare sci-fi?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: I would love to see more fantasy questions on the site.

Beofett Beofett answered: I find that difficult to speculate on, since I tend to mix both genres pretty evenly. However, I think the best way to encourage content on particular topics (barring the return of "Topic of the Week" contests) would be to post bounties.

Kevin Kevin answered: The same as I would for scifi. It's not for the moderators to decide to drop support for half the site's topicality. That said, I do like fantasy just as much as scifi.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: I have more interest into Sci-fi than Fantasy, but I have read both TLOTR and Harry Potter. However, I think Fantasy have his place here and should be encouraged.


DVK DVK asked: Do you take into account the "Leave open" information from Review queue when applying moderator-binding-close-votes (as opposed to only existing close votes and flags) to obtain a more balanced picture? If such information isn't available, WOULD you have taken it into account if it was?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: If I see a review which I can't make a determination I choose to skip it and leave it to someone else better qualified.

Beofett Beofett answered: The only way I would take it into account is if it provided an explanation as to why the reviewer felt it should remain open. Given that I'd only use a binding close vote if I was very clear that the question needed to be closed (flags, clear dup, spam, blatant NARQ, etc.), "leave open" votes wouldn't be nearly as likely to sway me as comments or a good meta discussion.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: As a moderator, I would use my close/reopen vote only on clear case and prefer the skip button whenever there is a doubt.

Kevin Kevin answered: If the review queue information were right there on the page, I would definitely take it into account. It is (recently, I believe) available but several clicks and a different screen away for moderators, so I would only check if the question's status seemed contested, from the comments on it.


DVK http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f3d2c01f6f55bb34530fcbae9a39d285?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG DVK asked: Please provide an example (specific question) of a moderator action that you would have liked to have taken based on your own opinion but would refrain from taking based on meta or comments achieved community consensus.

Jack B Nimble http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/646f9bc3ae8effa7fa1a1a1c528ff522?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jack B Nimble answered: Why doesn't Darth Vader recognize C-3PO?

Jack B Nimble http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/646f9bc3ae8effa7fa1a1a1c528ff522?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jack B Nimble continued: As expressed in some of the comments, I am not impressed with these questions.

DavRob60 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/0964ccfd92e2c634db90489311f22fa6?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG DavRob60 answered: I don't remember any case where I strongly disagree with a community consensus to the point I would have liked to take any action against it. I prefer having clears rules than blurry frontiers, otherwise we got Velociraptors testing the electric fences every now and then.

Beofett http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a4fd4c34547537e3016edb24f106e223?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Beofett answered: This question. As a regular user, I cast a delete vote, since there are 4 reopen votes and I don't think it has any justification for being reopened (not one person voting to reopen has accepted my invitation to explain, either in comments or the meta discussion.

Beofett http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a4fd4c34547537e3016edb24f106e223?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Beofett continued: There's not even a single downvote on either meta answers explaining why the question should be closed). If I were a moderator, I would not have cast a binding delete vote, and instead waited to see how the issue developed.

  • @Jack - "you're dead to me" (c) Jack Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 4:48

DVK DVK asked: What is the threshold at which you consider something as a community imposed general (non-question-specific) policy based on Meta Q&A? E.g. if there is a consensus answer with +3 vote margin, do you consider it a policy? +8 vote margin? No specific threshold aside from your own opinion?

Beofett Beofett answered: I don't have a specific threshold, as it varies depending on the circumstances. Generally, though, for non-question-specific issues, I think time is a bigger factor than vote margin, although vote margin is definitely still a component. I think discussions should be up long enough to allow sufficient visibility. For a major policy change, a full week would be the minimum. If the voting is close, I'd give it more time

Beofett Beofett continued: When I determine if I feel voting is close, I factor in the number of down-votes. E.g. after a week, I might consider an answer with 5 upvotes and no downvotes as indicative of consensus, but an answer with 10 upvotes and 5 downvotes I'd leave for another couple of days, at least, since it is clear that a significant portion of the population disagrees.

Beofett Beofett continued: Generally, though, once sufficient time is allowed, I think a 10+ margin is pretty clear, even if there are a fair number of dissenting votes. If there are only one or two dissenting votes, I think a margin of 5+ is fair, though.

Beofett Beofett concluded: A similar process could be used if there are multiple highly-voted answers that differ significantly. I'd allow more time for votes, and look for a significant (10+) margin between them.

Kevin Kevin answered: If an answer has been around a while and there is no upvoted contradictory answer, I would consider that policy. For more contested issues, there is no absolute rule, it's more of a case-by-case basis.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: The threshold is more a matter of percentage than points. I would consider the total number of vote on the answers vs the others options. I think we should discuss it in meta before casting those threshold in stone, be here is a rough draft: 50%-66% Majority : more a guideline than a policy 66%-75% Strong majority : A candidate to become a policy 75%-100% near Consensus : de facto policy


Gilles Gilles asked: What was the last SFF book you read, and when was it?

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: Earth Unaware - Orson Scott Card.

Beofett Beofett answered: Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (reading currently)

Kevin Kevin answered: I think the last SFF book I read must have been Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, this past fall.

DavRob60 DavRob60 answered: Currently reading The Lost Symbol, from Dan Brown, read Scott Orson Card's Shadow of the Giant and Iain M. Banks's Excession lately


Grace Note Grace Note asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch answered: Everyone, I did my best to be here for this and I hope that what little I was able to answer helps you form an opinion about my qualifications as a moderator. I have to excuse myself now, my 1 year old daughter's bedtime is 7:30. I hope I've left the impression that I would be a level headed and a good moderator and that I want the position because I want to help, and that I'd be a great help also. Thanks for your consideration.

Nathan C. Tresch Nathan C. Tresch continued: One thing I wanted to mention is that I got my most recent job from the Stack Exchange Careers 2.0 site, and that's a huge reason that I'm so passionate about StackEx sites.

Jack B Nimble Jack B Nimble answered: We must move forwards, not backwards, upwards, and not forwards, and always be twirling, twirling, twirling!

Beofett Beofett answered: I just want to thank everyone for your time and questions. I feel quite confident that regardless of the outcome of this election, the site will get 2 great moderators, since we have so many fantastic candidates who have already shown a lot of dedication to this site.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .