14

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. Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community, plus 2 pre-set questions from us.

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!


  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

  2. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

  3. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

  4. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

  5. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

  6. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

  7. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

  8. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

  9. 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?

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

  • 2
    Why do you want to be a moderator? Sorry for asking this late. Candidates shouldn't feel any compulsion to answer. But the question a) seems capable of getting answers that distinguish strikingly between the candidates, unlike most that made it to the list, and b) has yet to be addressed by most candidates. Please note that I don't mean Why do you think you'd be good in the role? To show discipline, please can anyone who wishes to answer do so in 25 words or less, beginning with the word "because". I am not joking. Let's see some differences of style appear. Thanks everyone! – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 13:46
17

My name is Mike Edenfield and this is my obligatory joke about approving this message.


  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

The answer to this question would depend on exactly which moderation task I was performing, because I think it makes a difference.

On the one had, moderators act as the "police" for the community. Our job is to enforce the rules in a way that other community members cannot. In that role, it's very important to be fair, even-handed, and impartial. Users need to know that everyone who openly abuses the site or breaks the rules will be dealt with in a consistent manner, or they lose trust in the moderation team to do their job.

On the other hand, moderators are not machines that mechanically apply policies. If that were true, we wouldn't need humans to do it; SE has some really smart programmers working for it that could make that happen. Instead, we elect moderators from within the community precisely because they're expected to take each situation in context, and apply their own judgement to it. And I do think there are cases where different classes of users would need to be handled differently.

As an example, take a user asking an off-topic question. If it were an established user, I would expect them to understand the site's policies: how closing works, why arguing in comments is bad practice, how to use meta to resolve disputes, etc. Closing the question with a short explanation why should suffice, and I would hope and expect them not to "pick a fight" in the subsequent comments. On the other hand, a new user who has never asked a question, let alone had it closed on them, may be unprepared for what that means, and need to be guided. In the end, I think it's important that we show users that we want to work with them, not against them, to help them produce the best quality content possible.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

In the past, I was one of those users that was very vocal in calling for more transparency in this process, especially in high profile events. As a regular user, I think it's very important for us to speak up when we see something at the moderator level that we disagree with. It's also very important that users see the moderation actions as justified, and always with the goal of the long-term stability of the site.

As a moderator, it's going to continue to be important to me that my actions be as open and transparent as I am allowed to make them. However, with the extra authority also comes extra responsibilities, and one of those is to abide by the standing policies of the site I'm being elected to moderate. It's not within my authority to unilaterally change the decisions made by those who own and operate Stack Exchange -- as important as it is that the users of the site trust me to be fair, it's also important that the "higher ups" trust that I can do my job within the boundaries they laid out.

However, I do think this is an important aspect of the process that, at least from the outside, does not always seem to be handled as well as it could. I think there have been several options mentioned that could potentially make it better. It would surprise me to find out that those things had not already been discussed among the moderators and CMs, but it can never hurt to bring a fresh perspective to those discussions. I would make an effort to work with the rest of the moderation team, and the CMs, to see if there was anything we could do to improve those policies without compromising the important concerns (privacy, de-escalation, etc) that led to their implementation in the first place.

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

I think it's hard to answer a question like this other than to just point out that it's something I feel I do well anyway. I always find it helpful to recognize and understand opposing viewpoints. I am also fully away that those opposing viewpoints may be just as valid or correct as mine. This is a skill I've developed not only for interacting online, but as part of my real-life career working in small teams, where everyone needs to contribute their perspective on decisions. And, as a developer, I have learned the painful lesson that, when things are working properly , the worst action you can take is try to "improve" them just because you can.

Even on topics where I feel very strongly, I recognize that it's ultimately most important to do what's right for the site and the community, even if I think it's wrong. If things are working the way the community believes they should, assuming they are not violating some core Stack Exchange rule, I don't see any need to involve myself any further.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

As many of you are likely aware, I have spent a lot of time over the past year working on issues that relate to how we, as a community, want the site to operate, and trying to bring clarity to those local site policies that are confusing to everyone. Often times, I focus on these kinds of activities even more than answering questions (which means a slower gain in reputation).

On the other hand, I'm not sure you really need to separate "building the community" from "gaining prestige in the community". I like to think that the prestige I have built up on the site is due to my efforts in building the community. It's an important goal that I work for, because as a user I want the site to succeed and grow, but if I also gain prestige in the process, I think that's just an added bonus.

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I think solving this problem is going to be difficult -- I have legitimately been thinking about it for a long time, and am reminded of it every time we have a new, important meta discussion.

On one hand, we have some limited help here from the tools themselves: we can "feature" meta posts to make them show up in the side-bar, in order to encourage participation. Beyond that, and the usual process of encouraging discussion in comments and chat, I don't have a good answer to how we get people to participate.

As far as making them more accessible, I think there we have some more options. From what I understand, there are some parts of our help center that we can customize (though not all of it), where we can do a better job of pinning down our scope and what/how to ask certain questions. In addition, the custom close reasons could include hyperlinks to the relevant meta answers, once they've reached consensus.

In the end, though, I think a big part of this is just going to be keeping up the effort to refine and clarify these policies, and not giving up when it turns out to be hard. As much as we all hate long, drawn-out meta debates, the end result of those debates is usually good for the community.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

I like to think so (I would not have nominated myself otherwise).

I try to remain as impartial as I can, even now when I have no real authority, because I think it's healthier for the community overall if everyone acts that way. There are certainly people with whom I get along better, or interact with more frequently, but I think I will be able to draw a line between those "informal / unofficial" interactions, and any duties I have as a moderator.

Mostly, I would hope that anyone I was friendly with in chat would have enough respect for me, and my position and impartiality, that they wouldn't take offense if I needed to take some action against them. This is the kind of attitude I have towards our current moderation team, who do a good job of being part of the community without letting it interfere with their jobs. I would try to follow their example in drawing that line, and hope that my actions were fair and impartial enough that none of my "chat friends" would find any reason to criticize them.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

I have been subjected to two 30-minute chat bans, last August 8 and August 11. Both were for comments that were flagged as inappropriate. One of was intended to be poking gentle fun at a rival SE site, but wasn't taken as such. The other generally accused everyone in the chat room of being a "clowns" (again, intended as harmless humor) but wasn't taken as such.

Like many others of the chat room regulars, I have since learned to be more careful with the kind of humor I display in such a diverse and public forum.

I have no problem with any moderators verifying this information.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

As a moderator, I don't foresee my usage of the sight changing significantly.

On weekdays I am typically online sporadically during the work day (Monday through Friday, approximately noon through 4am UTC), based on my other work commitments. On weekends I am online during the same time period, but more consistently.

  1. 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?

I assume we are talking about "mild to moderate" arguments, and not anything outright abusive or offensive. While valuable contributions are key to the success of the site, the short-term benefit of a good answer doesn't justify the long-term problems of an abusive user. A user that is repeatedly violating the "be nice" policy, and refused to stop, would need to be suspended.

However, its also important to keep in mind that comments are "disposable", while questions and answers are the heart of a Q&A site. Some users are simply more defensive about their contributions than others. Ideally, I would try to find some way to guide this user into more productive ways to express his/her disagreements, but in the end, those kind of comments (again -- assuming they were merely argumentative, not offensive) can just be deleted.

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

One thing I think is very important for any site like this is to have a well-defined and consistently-applied set of policies. It is particularly important that the moderation team at least give off the appearance that we are all on the same page (even though, as individuals, that's not always going to be true.)

If I ran into a situation where another moderator took an action I disagreed with, my first action would be to try to understand exactly where s/he and I differed on our interpretation of our policies, with the goal of arriving at some consensus. Once we had the immediate issue resolved, it would also be important to figure out if one or the other of us had simply made a mistake, or if there was genuine ambiguity in the policy, and try to make it more clear.

  • 3
    Am a moderator, can verify Mike's statements about chat suspensions are entirely correct. There is a third chat suspension on the record, but it was later deemed invalid, so Mike's clear in not mentioning it. – ArtOfCode Jan 25 '16 at 21:34
17

I'm Jack B Nimble and I'm running for Moderator!

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

New users are just that, new. They can't be expected to coming knowing the 5 year history of the site or the evolution of its rules and content. As such an effort should be made to gently educate new users as opposed to just squashing them and alienating them from ever wanting to return.

Experienced users who have been around are likely to know the rules and should be able accept the consequences if they overstep.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

While I know the issue of "secret" suspensions can be frustrating for some, I believe it is in the interest of those involved to remain quiet.

'This user was suspended for actions unbecoming of the policies of this site' while completely uninformative, is probably the best policy.

Maybe, maybe, if the affected party wishes to disclose the nature of their suspension, that could is their preoperative, provided it is an accurate and truthful account of the incident. Unfortunately people in general tend to become defensive and sometimes omit or otherwise misrepresent the whole of a situation. Which is probably why a policy of 'no comment' is the best solution.

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

I do not like rash decisions. I prefer things to be discussed before a decision or action is made. This falls in line with recognizing that the system needs only 'occasional intervention.' I shouldn't be sticking my head in every little thing that comes up. The community should be working to self govern. The role of the moderator is to step in only when the community can't seem to make a decision, or things are getting out of hand.

Even though I don't like rash decisions, I recognize that sometimes a quick decision is preferable to waiting. A user clearly acting out in comments or chat may require a quick action before things spiral out of control.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I coordinate and contribute to the blog (yes, we have a blog). I hope that these contributions and my subsequent promotion of these articles via social media (such as reddit) helps to build the community by bringing new interested parties onto the site and exposing them to the wide range of topics we cover.

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I think utilizing the blog might be a good place to post policies (old and new) when a consensus by the community is reached. When questions are closed or answers deleted it might also be good to include a comment link to the meta policy being applied, to help both educate the OP and anyone else who happens to see it.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

Everyone in chat (and perhaps the site at large) is dead to me. As such, I am in a good position of emotional detachment from all of the other regulars.

That being said, no one is above the law, not friends, not family, not even Steven Seagal! If a person is clearly violating a policy, some action will be taken, regardless of personal association.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

To my recollection I have never been suspended. Any mod who knows otherwise is free to dispute that claim.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I am typically on 5-6 days a week in chat for 6-8 hours a day (basically during my work day). I also frequently check in on the site during the off hours, 7 days a week, to check for new questions, see the feedback on my answers, reply to comments, etc.

  1. 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?

Obviously these users exist, because I aware of several people who fit this description. They do generally provide quality questions and answers, but for whatever reason, tend to generate a lot of controversy / drama in their comments. What I have seen other mods do in the past is, if the comments are getting out of hand, to suggest or force them into a private chat to continue the discussion, or to come in later and remove all the non-relevant comments so it isn't just noise against an otherwise acceptable question / answer.

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

This situation happens all the time where a question is closed, and someone else disagrees. These questions are often mitigated via meta such as "why was this question closed" and "here is why I think it should be reopened." This gives the moderator who closed it an opportunity to discuss their decision, and for the community at large to discuss the situation and reach a consensus.

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For those who don't know, that guy on the right is an idiot. At Wit's End Comics

16

I'm @alexwlchan, and these are my answers.

Here's my nomination post.


  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

It depends a lot on the severity and nature of the incident.

Putting aside the extreme cases, I'd be more lenient with new users. They don't know our rules or how the site weeks. Treat them as an opportunity to teach them, and welcome them to our community.

High-rep users and moderators should be held to a higher standard. They (particularly the diamonds) are role-models for the site – if they start pushing the line, there needs to be a gentle but firm pushback.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

With care and in coordination with the other moderators/CMs. Here are a few of my ideas (some cribbed from Richard the last time this was discussed):

  • Maintain a chat presence after the incident. Being around to answer questions, even if you have to say "Sorry, I can't answer that", helps people feel like they're not talking to a brick wall.

    If appropriate, I think it's useful to explain why you can't answer the question – people are more likely to accept decisions based on secret information if they know why it has to be kept private.

  • If it's a very high-profile suspension (say, from the first page in the user list), post a brief statement in chat. Something like:

    We've suspended @jimkirk to cool down. This is not related to his joking about made-up entries in the captain's log. If you want to discuss his suspension, please remember that he can't reply, but will be able to see your comments when he gets back.

    or words to a similar effect. People will notice anyway; this helps cut down on repeated discussions as people wake up.

  • Talk to the other mods and CMs before acting. High profile incidents will inevitably attract more controversy. I think people are more likely to accept a decision as fair if it's clear that it was made collectively, and not by a rogue individual.

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

Being careful about what I say, and where I say it. Although I often have strong opinions and a big mouth, I'm pretty good about keeping them off the site unless I actually need to say them aloud.

I also have to be sure my opinion doesn't interfere with my moderation. I'll have to be careful, and listen to feedback if people (or other moderators) think I'm drifting off course.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

A few things:

  • Lots of voting. The point of this site is Q&A, and votes make that happen. We all know the rush you get from an upvote – spreading the love helps people feel good about their posts.

  • I stick around in the review queues. To keep the community high-quality, it's really important to tidy away spam and rock crushers – if the noise-to-signal ratio is too high, people drift away.

  • Twitter. I follow the @StackSciFi account on Twitter, and will often retweet posts that I find interesting. I know it gets at least a few more people onto the site.

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I think we should use the [faq] tag on more questions. It hasn't been used in four years. It's a good way to:

  • mark policies as definitive
  • help them carry extra weight when they're linked
  • make these questions easier to find

(Edit: And if elected, I'd start by giving this question about "can the community accept an answer instead of an OP" an 'faq' tag. Partly because it's asked a lot, and partly because a dupe was asked just hours before the election closed. Current affairs!)

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

I would like to think so. And if I'm struggling, there are several other moderators to help me out.

I don't claim to have any silver bullet for turning off my feelings. But I'm pretty good at spotting when my emotions are getting the better of me, and being able to step back and let somebody else take over. I do that in my daily life; I'd do the same in moderation.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

Not that I remember.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I live in the UK, so UTC or UTC+1 timezone. I'm usually available between 7-8am and 7–12pm on weekdays, more varied on weekends.

That's usually when I'm posting. I'm not looking at the site continuously, but I'm usually near my computer and notice when I got pinged.

  1. 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?

It depends on the nature of the arguments and flags. Anybody who makes a valuable contribution is somebody I’d like to keep, but not if they cause too many problems.

  • For petty squabbles, I'd talk to the user in private. I'd explain why they're causing upset, and ask them to stop. It's not worth losing somebody over small things.

  • What if it's more offensive, and making people feel uncomfortable or unsafe? Say, threats or harassment. I'd be much faster to ban. However good their contributions, they’re not worth having if it makes other people feel unsafe.

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

Talk to them, and find out why they did what they did.

It it’s a minor disagreement, we can thrash it out in comments or in chat.

If it’s a bigger disagreement about community opinion, I’d take it to Meta. The rules are based on what the community thinks, not the mods. If two of us have a disagreement about how everybody else feels, the best thing to do is to ask.

15

Vote Jason Baker.

Before I get started, I want to be clear about something; any time I talk about actions I would take as a moderator, for the sake of brevity I'm going to omit the first step: consult with other mods. In real practice, that will always be the first thing I do, for all but the most trivial cases (e.g. obvious spam). I'm not the only mod, and I'd be (one of) the newest, so I plan to take advantage of the knowledge of the more experienced mods.

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

Obviously this is going to depend a great deal on circumstance. Some moderator actions, like cleaning up comment flags, I don't expect will require any special handling for different types of user. If the comment isn't adding anything, it doesn't matter who said it.

Things like Not An Answer flags I will probably handle separately (although again it depends on circumstance). A high-rep user should know when to leave a comment and when to leave an answer, so a terse "This should have been a comment" comment followed by deletion seems a reasonable response. A lower-rep user, on the other hand, may not know to comment (or may not be able to comment). What I do in that case will depend on the type of "comment"; if it doesn't add anything, I would leave a guidance comment (including links to the help center) and then delete it; if the "comment" did add something, though, I would probably convert it to a comment.

I could go on listing examples, but I think my point is made; I'm not going to let either group get away with being disruptive, but new and low-rep users need more guidance than slaps on the wrist.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents?

So, disclaimer: I had very low exposure to most of these incidents; I've only occasionally popped into chat over the past year, so I don't have a perfectly clear idea of what frustrations the community had with regards to them. So this response is going to be pretty vague.

I think the key is to manage the conversation, not control the conversation. The full question expressed some frustrations at being stonewalled by the mod/CM team, and at being asked not to discuss burning issues.

Obviously stonewalling is something I, if I were elected, could help with directly; to steal shamelessly from one of Richard's deleted answers (also the source of the mushroom quote mentioned in the original question), simply being in chat to respond to inquiries (obviously bearing the moderator agreement in mind) is a step. Being present would also help me try to keep the conversation constructive. People are going to talk about these issues; that's not a debatable point. Rather than shutting them down, I think a more constructive response (as a moderator) is to minimize ill-feelings, finger-pointing, and the general simmer.

I don't honestly know how much that approach may have helped in the past incidents, or how feasible they would be for future incidents; I would of course work with the CM team, aka the people who are paid to know how to do these sorts of things better than me.

  1. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

I see my first loyalty as being to the site, and to the community at large. As a member of the community, I'm going to have opinions about how things should be run; that's a given. However, I would slow down on posting meta answers shaping new policy, and instead use voting to indicate my preferences. I know that the diamond is a weighty responsibility, and also a badge of authority, and I don't want other users to think that, just because a mod said so, this is the right way to go. Perhaps that's less of a problem than I'm making it out to be (I hope it is), but it's something I'd like to avoid anyway.

Instead, I would focus my meta activity on enlightening users on existing policy, or providing informational resources (like data from the public data explorer).

I mean, I can tell you until I'm blue in the face that I'll enforce policies I disagree with, if the community wills it; I will absolutely do that. But as long as I have (what appears to be) a personal stake in a policy decision, there's always going to be some doubt that I will.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I suppose that depends on what you mean by "build the community." If you mean help the community grow, honestly not much; I've never been much of a promoter, so although I often recommend SFF to my real-life friends, I don't think I've managed to get any of them to join.

If you mean "support the goals of community", then I do that in three ways:

  1. Providing guidance to new askers/answerers. Sometimes this means editing, sometimes it means leaving comments guiding new users to improve their questions or answers
  2. Review queues. I spend a lot of time in the queues; it's often the first page I load when I check in to SFF. Although there is a certain amount of gamification and self-aggrandizement there (with badges and a big honking leaderboard), I see it more as polishing the community; getting rid of the things we don't want, salvaging the things we do, and keeping an eye on the things we aren't sure about
  3. Meta participation. I spend quite a lot of time on Meta, responding to questions about policies. This ties in somewhat to the next question but, as with the review queues, I see this as helping to clarify community direction

As well, I've recently been getting into building third-party applications to help users work with the site better; I've already built a userscript that allows toggling spoiler markup on question/answers, and I'm currently working on a web application to help easily determine how much reputation a given user has lost to the cap (more quickly than just using the data explorer)

  1. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I'd like to do two things, which will hopefully at least help with his problem:

  1. Clarify existing policies. There should be clarity on what our policies actually are, before we worry about pointing people towards them. I'd like to get a sense for the policies people feel are confusing (our answer-dupe policy, for example), clarify them, and possibly get a firm consensus for some of the more controversial ones (our answer-dupe policy, for example)
  2. Increase visibility. This is the harder one, and I don't have clear answers for it. One thought that occurred to me is getting more mileage out of ; it seems tailor-made for the purpose. While we've used it a bit for that, most of the questions are focused on our spoiler policy, not many of our other policies.

    Making use of also occurred to me; possibly rotating policies through "Featured on Meta", which appears in the sidebar for every logged-in user. While having canonical policy questions to refer to in comments is helpful, I think allowing new users to see some of those policies before they ask would be helpful.

Pointing to some of these policies in the Tour is also a good idea, I think. Although I understand the reasons for not overloading new users with rules and policies, I think at least a link to the on-topic and off-topic help center pages is called for.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

Not hard for me, since I've not traditionally been active in chat. However, I realize that the broader question here is "how will you moderate your 'friends'", so I'll touch on that briefly.

I definitely think I've formed closer relationships with some users than others; there are definitely some users I get on with better than others. But my personal feelings don't enter into it; my first loyalty is to the site, not to any individual member of it, and that's true whether I have a modhammer or a dupehammer or a little cardboard one. I'm already not afraid to cast delete/close/down votes on posts made by "friends," if I feel that's the best course of action for the site, and I likewise would not be afraid of using mod powers on them.

  1. Have you ever been suspended, and if so for what?

No, I've never been suspended on any SE site, or in chat. TARS (a moderator on Movies&TV.SE) has confirmed this.

It's possible I was kick-muted once or twice in chat, during an incident where Wad Cheber (one of our users) had created a chat room and was experimenting with ownership powers. Of course, it's equally possible that I wasn't. I honestly cannot remember; it was a strange day.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week?

I'm here every day; since I've joined the site, there's only been one day I haven't at least checked in, and as I recall that was a family emergency day. I'm not always on at consistent times, but most days I have the site open in a tab (that I check regularly) pretty much all day. If you live in the Western Hemisphere, there's a good chance that you'll be able to find me any time you need me.

  1. 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?

I would first delete the comments and discuss with the parties separately, and privately. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, and we can move beyond whatever unpleasantness occurred.

However, since this seems to be an ongoing issue, that may not be possible. If that's the case, and if the user was being quite abusive, then a short suspension may be in order, to give them a chance to cool off. Although I said earlier I wouldn't be mentioning this, I feel its important here to reiterate that I would be discussing a lot with the other mods, CM team, and probably off-site mods in The Teacher's Lounge. This is emphatically not a decision I would be making on my own.

If the user wasn't being abusive, merely argumentative and confrontational, then merely nuking the comment thread may be sufficient.

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

I would privately discuss it with them. Although I may have disagreed initially, it may turn out that there was something I missed. Alternately, it may turn out that there was something they missed. If I felt the mod acted improperly (as opposed to merely having a different opinion on policy), then I would bring other mods into the discussion. On the other hand, if the other mod acted reasonably, but we had a philosophical difference, I would not take additional action; there are really three reasons why:

  1. My voice is not the only voice. Although I have strong opinions, I don't have the right or the inclination to bend others to my will. Sometimes there are going to be differences of opinion and, as long as that doesn't do harm to the community, that's okay.
  2. Present a united front. I'm of the opinion that moderators should present a united front to the community; that's not to say we should blindly back each other up, but bringing disagreements into the public view seems very damaging to me; consistent signals are the key, so the community has clear guidance on what is and isn't okay
  3. If the decision is contentious, it will get brought up on meta. Ultimately, if the decision is that contentions, I won't need to do anything about it; the community will happily take the issue to meta (or chat) and discuss it endlessly. At that point, all moderators (and the wider community) have a new standard we can follow: new, community-driven policy. And if that doesn't happen, then the issue was clearly not so important for me to get in a twist over.
  • 2
    "It's possible I was kick-muted once or twice in chat, when Wad Cheber was going mad with Rom-Ownership powers." I have zero knowledge of any relevant incidents, or whether any took place, but don't you think you could have phrased that more diplomatically? E.g. you could have said something like "by a new room owner who was perhaps having too much fun", rather than naming someone and saying they were going mad. I'm asking because skill in diplomatic phrasing is a required skill of a moderator, not just on this website but even in real life. – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 13:59
  • 2
    You refer to "SEDE" (twice) and "the mushroom quote". I have no idea what either of those are, and I doubt that most other site users know either, although I guess they are part of the culture for a small minority. You make in-references when you post answers to a candidate questionnaire that are supposed to be addressed to voters in general, not to an especially knowledgeable minority or in-crowd. If you become a moderator, will you try to stop yourself doing this in similarly inappropriate contexts? – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 14:20
  • 3
    @ruffle I've edited to address your concerns; I appreciate you bringing them forward. My intention isn't to alienate users who are less engaged in the community or the network, and I apologize for doing so, but I think it's always a difficulty for those who are "in the know", as it were. It is something I try to work on (as a potential moderator, and as a person in general); I can't promise I'll always get it right, but I can promise that I'll be willing to explain myself and modify my wording to be more inclusive if/when I get it wrong – Jason Baker Jan 26 '16 at 15:07
  • For the record, your memory is not faulty. – TARS says Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '16 at 16:11
  • @TARS Thanks for confirming – Jason Baker Jan 26 '16 at 16:14
  • @Jason Why did you express the opinion in the SFF chat room that some people who are upvoting another candidate may be doing so for reasons unconnected with who they think will serve best as a mod? Why did you not express the same opinion about those who are downvoting that candidate, or upvoting or downvoting any other candidate? It's bad form for a candidate to suggest that voters supporting one of his rivals are misusing their votes. I'm not convinced you have a good attitude towards newbies, casual users, the electorate, non-fanatics who have good faith and need mods who support them. – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 17:03
  • 1
    @ruffle Because I think they are, frankly. Note that I don't think this is explicitly limited to a single candidate, or even a small handful of candidates. People are going to vote for a number of reasons, and there is no doubt in my mind that some people are going to vote merely for the candidate they recognize. That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind; candidates who are highly visible and earn the trust of the community make valuable moderators in their own right, as we have seen – Jason Baker Jan 26 '16 at 17:13
  • @ruffle I am, however, deeply concerned by the ferocity of the controversy surrounding the particular candidate you're referring to; although I have no doubt that some people do think they would make a good moderator (I count myself among them, in fact), I am concerned that this is being obscured by the way discussion of other issues is being conducted. Maybe I'm wrong; it wouldn't be the first time. But that is my opinion – Jason Baker Jan 26 '16 at 17:15
  • 3
    @ruffle On a side note, it seems like you have a lot of things to ask me. I think it might be better to set up a one-on-one in a chatroom, where we can both be a bit more thorough; a link to the chat can be posted here if you're concerned about transparency – Jason Baker Jan 26 '16 at 17:17
12

I'm Null, and these are my answers. Please also see my nomination post.

How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

Generally my moderator practices would not be shaped by the person in question. As much as possible, every user should receive the same treatment regardless of reputation, moderator status, my opinion of the user (good or bad), etc.

The only change I might make would be to give new users some leniency regarding matters in how the site works (but not for rude behavior or similar). I remember when I first joined the SE network and struggled a bit to understand the expectations of good questions and answers and meet those expectations in my own posts. I don't want to turn away potentially valuable contributors just because they similarly struggle at first, so it is important to show some extra patience to new users.

How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

As a regular user who has logged onto the site after a major incident and left wondering what happened, I understand that users are going to be curious about what happened. However, providing the community with more information may only serve to escalate the controversy even further. It also risks too much exposure of matters which should really be private. In the case of a suspended user, that user would also be unable to defend himself/herself.

In such an incident, I would act with the following priorities:

  1. Prevent escalation
  2. Maintain the affected users' privacy
  3. Provide the community with information

The actions required to accomplish my top priority of preventing escalation would depend on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, there are some common things mods can do which I've noticed helped or would have helped with previous incidents that I've observed. They include:

  • Maintain a presence on the site so that users can ask the mods questions. (I may not be able to answer those questions, but I can at least explain that I can't answer because it's private.) I can spend some time in chat and watch my inbox closely.
  • Work with the other mods to try to make sure at least one of us is available at all times. Discussing the situation with the other mods will also help us determine the appropriate course of action to handle it.
  • Post a starred message in chat if the incident starts escalating. The contents of this message depends on the situation, but it would be something to the effect of "We can tell you .... happened but nothing else. Please stop asking further questions because we can't answer them."
  • If the incident starts escalating even further and/or the explanation can't be contained in a short message, start a meta thread. This would be a similar message: "We can tell you ... happened but nothing else."

According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

I am willing to support community consensus even if I personally disagree with it. I respect the community and realize that my opinion may be flawed (and may change!).

Also, as I moderator I realize my opinion might be seen as carrying extra weight compared to normal users. With that in mind, I will explicitly state that I'm "not wearing my moderator hat" when I state my opinion in meta and/or chat.

What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I have spent substantial time in the review queues, with over 1,000 reviews in the First Posts and Low Quality Posts queues and several hundred reviews in each of the other review queues.

I have also edited hundreds of posts by other users, usually to improve spelling, grammar, capitalization, etc. These things make posts more readable and easier to understand, which improves the quality of the site.

I have participated in various tagging/re-tagging efforts to improve the ability of users to search the site. As a specific example, I proposed the creation of the Star Wars Legends tag and making the Star Wars EU tag a synonym of it.

I have participated in meta on a variety of topics (mostly tagging) to help determine community consensus. My participation has involved asking questions, posting answers, and/or voting on existing posts (I have the Civic Duty badge on meta, meaning I've voted 300+ times on meta). This has helped me form site policy and, more importantly, be aware of community consensus.

One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I have a number of meta posts marked as favorites so that I can easily link to them on the main site when appropriate. This makes them more accessible to anyone who sees my link and can help make the policies more definitive by drawing attention to the post and hopefully encouraging users to vote on the post.

A possible solution to make these meta policies even more accessible would be to create a new meta question asking for a list of commonly referenced and/or disputed meta policies (a similar meta question for commonly referenced main site questions can be found on the TeX.SE meta site). This would allow users to favorite and link to the list meta question and more easily inform the average user of current meta policies.

The only way to make meta policies more definitive is to encourage more users to vote on existing meta questions and/or post new meta questions and answers to refine existing policies. Making the existing meta policies more accessible using the aforementioned methods helps encourage users to vote on meta and acquire more definitive policy decisions.

Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

I tend to lurk rather than actively participate in chat, so I am not such close friends with the chat regulars that it would cloud my judgment.

Even if I had to moderate a user whom I liked or disliked (due to past experiences with the user in chat or anywhere else on the site), I would be careful to do my best to judge the situation as impartially as possible so as to avoid an appearance of favoritism. I think it is important to avoid such an appearance, and that would be one of my most important goals as a moderator. If I felt I could not judge the situation impartially, it would take whatever immediate action necessary (e.g. delete a rude comment) but then ask another moderator to make a final decision.

Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

I am not aware of any suspension here or on any Stack Exchange site. The existing moderators are free to verify this.

How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I am generally available on week days during normal work hours (I keep the site open in a separate browser tab, which I periodically check). In the evenings I am less available as I am spending time with my family, though I usually have some time in the late evening (10pm to 1pm or so) before I go to bed. I am also less available on weekends during the day, though I usually check the site a couple of times throughout the day. I usually have more time for the site on weekend late evenings (the same time as during the week day).

I am in the U.S. Eastern time zone.

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?

If immediate action is necessary (e.g. the user is being abusive), I would delete the comments and/or suspend the user as necessary. Next, I would discuss the user with other mods and attempt to come up with a course of action for dealing with the user. I would then reach out to the user and ask to discuss the matter with him/her privately. I would ask the user to explain why s/he is acting in a way that is causing strife and what (if anything) that user thinks needs to be done to fix the problem. I would also offer to make myself available for a chat between myself, that user, other mods and/or with other users.

Ultimately, if the user continues to cause strife I would meet with the other mods to decide what to do. Although the loss of any user is regrettable -- especially a user who produces many valuable answers -- there eventually comes a point where such a user might do more harm than good. If the mod team decides that the user is too disruptive then I would agree to a more long term suspension. For such an otherwise valuable user and for a long term suspension, the situation is serious enough that I would not act unilaterally.

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

The first thing to do is to discuss the situation with that mod privately. We might be able to come to an agreement by discussing it just the two of us.

If that doesn't work, there are two paths to follow depending on whether or not other users have expressed an opinion (e.g. in the comments to a closed question).

If no other users have expressed an opinion, I would ask other mods to weigh in. Hopefully, the mod team would be able to come to an agreement and act accordingly. In that case most users wouldn't even notice that there was a dispute. If the mods are not able to come to an agreement then it is time to open up the discussion to the wider community via meta.

If other users have expressed an opinion, the issue needs to be brought up in meta. More users discussing the issue in meta may help break the disagreement between the mods.

4

I'm CreationEdge.

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

I believe that usage mistakes, typical of new users, should be handled with coaching, rather than merely moderation tools. Taking the time to explain a little bit more about how this site works, or how their post isn't working, can go a long way to help building our community. Even if that particular newbie doesn't take our direction, which happens, it still signals to other members or passerby that we try to build up our new members.

Experienced users generally don't need that sort of coaching for their content.

However, new and experienced users alike can also exhibit behavioral issues, where amount of reputation doesn't play a role, to me. People generally know when they're being rude, or violating the "be nice" policy, and I believe that type of behavior should be handled equally for all members. That's not to say every reprimand or corrective action needs to be identical, as the response should be equal in measure to the severity of the incident.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

I believe that, in retrospect, the way the events were handled was done well. The chat room freeze was quite a heated time. I greatly appreciated the presence of the CMs, who were able to answer some of our basic questions without violating the moderator-member confidentiality clause.

I have seen more than once where the team of moderators, or the community moderators, have been able to work together in moments of high stress. I think that is part of the ideal solution.

I see no reason to change the policy about revealing the nature of corrective actions and why they were done. I agree that it's not something we should dwell on or talk about when said person isn't able to chime in, even if we strongly believe they wouldn't mind (or would appreciate our concern).

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

As I understand, some of the challenge of being a moderator is those moments when exceptions fall into a grey area. A flag might get raised about content that could fall on either side of the line of acceptable. I think those may be times when a moderator's opinion, based on their experience or gathering of information (from Meta or other mods), is part of their responsibility.

Those cases tend to be behind-the-scenes. More visible displays of opinion, such as Meta posts, comments on the main site, or chat participation warrant a different approach. I personally would be more reserved in expressing normative statements in such venues, to avoid the possibility of a diamond-backed opinion being considered policy. I don't believe experienced users would make this mistake, but considering our level of growth I believe it obvious that we have many inexperienced users.

I have had supervisor roles before, and have had experience is maintaining professional decorum and separating my opinions regarding policy and even people from my ability to get the work done. I find that once I'm in that "mode", it's quite easy to separate my responsibilities from my personal sentiments.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I vote. I chat. I try to pay attention to the trends of our active users. I try to elicit stronger answers from users by asking guided or pointed questions in comments. I've tried to contribute where I can in meta, such as running an (excessive) analysis on how we use tags. I do these things because I find the site on a whole fun, worthwhile, and fulfilling.

I believe I could have a stronger presence by answering more questions (and asking them), to earn reputation/badges more quickly, but that's not my goal. I get excited when my rep rolls over to my next target, or I get a badge I was working on, but those are not my reasons for being here. This is an environment where I very much enjoy just being a cog in the machine, just a part of the whole community. Being a moderator would allow me to be a different type of cog, but still a cog.

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

I've been considering this for awhile, and I believe a start is to do some housekeeping. The different policies on certain subjects should be gathered somewhere, for reference, and then we should do some reevaluations once everyone can easily see what already exists. Some policies were decided early in the stack's history, and are no longer effective at our current size. We need to find such policies, and work on new ones.

As for making current or new policies more visible, I think that's a discussion worth having with the community. A couple options are creating wiki-like posts or creating special tags to indicate active policies (such as ). The general idea would have something that's easy to link to or find for users that are trying to find the information.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

Yes. I feel like I get along fairly well with everyone in chat, even if we disagree on a given topic. Yet, I've still been willing to call out some of those users on sub-par answers, or inappropriate comments in the chat room. Favoritism wouldn't be a problem, but I can see there being some concern about expecting more from users I know better. That could be an unfair standard. However, if I ever considered myself to be impartial in a situation, I would ask another moderator to step in. Even if we'd take the same action, I would try to avoid bias.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

I've not been suspended from the site or chat, or even booted from chat. Any moderator can confirm/deny this if they so wish, because I think in elections transparency is a good thing.

I will add, though, that I'm not sure this question is particularly effective at evaluating the merits of a candidate. We don't have a permanent ban policy on Stack Exchange. Users can reform, and suspensions can be part of that process. On the flip-side, by answering "No" to this question, not much can be learned about me unless I offer it.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I will be willing and able to be on the site in some capacity daily. I know I will be able to meet the minimum recommendations for moderators (30 minutes a day), but I expect that many days it will be much more. I'm currently a student, and employed, but I find there are a lot of transition times during my day where SFF.SE is the best fit for filling up my time. I also like to check up on the site throughout the afternoon/evening, to fill in those "down" times at home or when I need a break from whatever task I'm working on.

I'm also very responsive to pings, provided I'm not sleeping. I have the mobile app installed, and so I get the push notifications to my phone/tablet.

I'm generally not on during sleeping hours, Central Time, but otherwise could be on any time of the day, even on weekends and holidays.

  1. 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?

I think this could be an interesting case for analysis. Is the number of arguments/flags actually scaling with the users number of contributions? Are the other participants/flaggers consistent, or are the problems coming from across the community? Are the flags retaliatory, or the arguments personal? There some data and information to look at there.

It'd also be important to note the disposition of the user contributing those answers. Are they actively instigating the negativity, or is it just a byproduct of the types of questions they answer? Do they attempt to put out flames, or fan them?

Coming up with an answer to this question would require having specific context. I'm not trying to give a non-answer, rather my answer is that each scenario will have to be weighed differently.

I do think that a valuable site user should be open to coaching or constructive criticism, given in private if need be. If their concern is the quality and well-being of the site, then helping guide them away from engaging should be something they're willing to do.

Of course, clear violations of policy should be handled as I mentioned in question 1.

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

I would try to find out why they took action on it in order to understand their reasoning. Sometimes others simply see things that you miss. If I still disagreed with their assessment, I would try to see what they thought of mine, and find out why we're disagreeing. The goal wouldn't be to find out who's right or wrong, but to preserve the health of the stack. My loyalty is to the stack, not myself.

If thought there action was actively detrimental to the site, then I would seek guidance from other moderators, or CMs if need be. I have no interest in having a power struggle with another user, let alone another moderator.

0

Himarm here, and I approve this message.

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

I think the best way to answer this question is to say I will attempt to mod in a fluid fashion.

Since situations can vary and circumstances can be unique its important that the mod handling the situation gets the full story and makes the best decision for that specific case.

If another mod is causing an issue I would handle it the same way as if it was a high rep user, a new user, or a user I would consider a friend.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

I think the best approach as a mod, would be to create a meta post explaining the situation as much as possible without infringing on privacy. Most of our recent highly visible incidents had meta posts creating asking the mod team why, and a mod would eventually respond.

An example of this could be a few users get suspended from chat for more then a few hours a simple statement in meta could alleviate most issues. "Today in chat some users had some inappropriate remarks or comments, leading to them be suspended for a few days to cool down."

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

I will not let my personal opinions handle my ability to moderate a dispute. We recently had a situation in chat were a mod refused to delete a comment that was flagged by multiple people. because the mod stated that he did not find the comment offensive.

Its great that I dont find alot of things offensive, but I can tell when OTHERS find things offensive, and even if I dont agree with them, I understand that for the whole its better to edit/remove the offending comment.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I'm active on the site. I post questions, answer questions, comment to help, or offer criticism if needed. I'm an active part of the chat community, and also follow most of the happenings in Meta.

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

One of the major things I want to do here, is to make NEW meta posts re-visiting old questions, and closing the old questions as dupes. This will allow the current community to decide things like, what's on topic, how to handle X situation. Alot of our current policies are created years ago by users who are no longer active, and were voted on by users who may or may not still be active. Having us re-create this questions will allow the community as it is now move on in a unified fashion.

As to making awareness the only thing I know we can do on site, is simply making it known by linking the meta question when needed. If we can add it to other areas on site is something I would be curious and like to do, but I don't know the extent of mods control over things like that on the site.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

Yes. Having considered running for this Mod position I asked myself this same question, and came to the conclusion that I am able to objectively take a step back and see if the situation around me needs moderation attention. That includes instances of my friends on this site crossing lines and needing moderation as well.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

Yes, for a sock puppet. I have already released all info on this in my meta post/apology to the community at the time of offense, to learn more head here.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

US Central time zone.

Typically on 7 days a week from 8 AM to 10 PM on week days, and 10 AM to 3 AM on weekends. Occasionally I will be only glancing at chat on weekdays if I'm actually busy at work, but i see and respond to pings very quickly while at work so i can intervene if needed.

  1. 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?

If the user cannot change their aggressive and argumentative behavior in comments despite their contributions harsher and harsher punishments will have to be placed on the user. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're being repeatedly told by mods to calm down, or stop doing X, which is against site policy WE will have no choice but to continue escalating punishments.

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

Simply talk with the mod; should that mod be stubborn, depending on the situation, drop it or suggest taking the topic to meta or having the other mods help get a consensus.

-3

Mithrandir, running for mod!

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

A newbie deserves an explanation of how the site works. A high-rep user presumably knows how the site works - they get what's coming. A spammer, of course, is shown no mercy. A moderator who breaks the rules gets moderated. :)

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

SE policy is to not air user's dirty laundry. The community will receive any information that they need to know, but as much as possible should be kept secret.

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

My opinions are suggestions. The community's opinion is law.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I flag things. I have over a thousand votes. I just offered my first bounty :)

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

Put links to the Help Center in a more prominent place. This would give people a better idea of what our policies are.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

Seeing as I don't really have chat friends, that won't be a problem.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

No, I have not been banned ever. Mods can verify that – or refute it – as they wish.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I'm on whenever I find the time. Almost always at least 5 hours a day, usually more. On Saturdays i'm not available.

  1. 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?

They should get a warning. Good answers are good, but a disruptive user is a problem. If they insist on causing problems, they may need a ban.

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

I'd talk to the mod in question.

  • 3
    These answers seem a little terse. Could you elaborate a little? – Valorum Jan 25 '16 at 21:51
  • 1
    @Richard which ones in particular? – Mithical Jan 25 '16 at 21:52
  • 5
    To be frank, all of them. I'm not getting much of a sense of what your unique selling points are as a potential moderator. – Valorum Jan 25 '16 at 21:57
  • Why do you want to be a moderator? Terseness in reply is welcome. Twenty-five words or less, beginning with "because". (See comment to question above.) :-) Go for it, Mithrandir! Set the pace! – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 14:03
  • @ruffle Because I think that I would do a good job, and another moderator would give a fresh viewpoint. – Mithical Jan 26 '16 at 14:31
  • Thanks for answering, @Mithrandir, but I'm sure you can do a good job at many things. I was hoping for maybe something about what you think you would enjoy about being an SFF mod, maybe what particular responsibilities, or what you think you'd get out of it as a person, whether that's enjoyment, personal development, career prospects, or a sense of doing a job that isn't very pleasant but needs to be done by someone as a service to the community. Your answer doesn't say much about why people should vote for you in particular. Nobody else has answered this question yet, so the floor is yours. – user56895 Jan 26 '16 at 16:36
-5

I am rand al'thor, the Dragon Reborn. Please read my answers.

  1. How will your moderator practices be shaped by the person in question? Will you change the way you moderate for another moderator, high reputation user, or newbie?

My motto will be neither to favouritise nor to victimise. Already I have been putting this into practice, since I am friendly with many of the site's users but nonetheless occasionally feel the need to criticise or even downvote their posts.

  • Newbies do tend to need different treatment from established users. With over 500 reviews in the First Posts queue, I've seen a very wide range of first questions and answers. Leaving aside the (frequent) egregiously bad and unrescuable ones, it seems to me that newbies, more than established users, could benefit from guidance and advice rather than downvotes and deletion. Many posts which are initially pretty bad (e.g. link-only answers or primarily opinion-based questions) could easily be edited into a fit state. Newbies should be allowed a certain amount of leeway (within reason, of course) while they pick up the ways of the site.

  • High reputation users should be held to a higher standard than others, since they serve as examples for the rest of the community. On the other hand, they also tend to have built up - and earned - a certain level of trust. If there was a moderation issue with a high-rep user, I would be more careful to check that there really is an issue (whereas obvious troll answers from newbies can be deleted without much checking required) but also lean more heavily on them if indeed there is a problem (they can't be allowed to set a bad example to everyone else).

  • Moderators are a special case. I believe there is a private chatroom for the SFF mods; I would try to hash the issue out there in the first instance, and perhaps escalate it to the Community Managers if necessary. The moderator team should present a united front to the site rather than squabble publicly.

  1. How will you handle highly visible, controversial incidents? The last year has seen suspensions of high rep users, freezing of our main chat room, and a moderator being asked to resign. I do not want to rehash those incidents, but one thing that stood out to me was the decision by both the community managers and the moderators to keep as silent as possible, asking us to do the same — most notably to not discuss it in the chat room. How will you handle incidents like the suspension of a high rep user or a chat regular? How will you balance the need for privacy, the need to prevent escalation, and the need of the community for information?

My experience on Stack Exchange has taught me that although moderator actions can seem unreasonable from an outsider's perspective, they tend to be much more reasonable when one actually knows more of the details of what went on. In this sense, it would be beneficial for the mod team to reveal more information. When high-profile users get into trouble, the community naturally wants to know what happened and why - but a lot of this desire is merely human curiosity and not a real need to learn the details. The moderator agreement also has to be taken into account: moderators are specifically disallowed from disclosing, storing, or copying "potentially personally-identifying information".

In cases such as the suspension of a high-rep user, respecting that user's privacy is one of the most important criteria. They always have the ability to reply to the suspension message, but from what I've heard, sometimes they don't reply, sometimes they reply reasonably, and sometimes they reply with ... let's say, material that would violate the "Be Nice" rule. My suggestion would be to allow the suspended user to present a message to the community about their suspension, if they so wish. This would have a length limit and would be subject to approval by moderators and CMs in order to avoid any streams of invective.

Of course, as a single mod I wouldn't have much personal say over such matters. This is only a suggestion, but one that I would like to discuss with CMs for possible future implementation. A high-level , if you will. I also realise that in practice it would rarely be used, but there have been a couple of suspensions in the last few months (naming no names) where it would have been nice to have such a policy.

  1. According to A Theory of Moderation, a moderator should be a "human exception handler", one who steps in when the system needs occasional intervention. How will you best separate your own opinions and your responsibilities for being an ambassador for the site?

This one is actually quite easy: by consulting with the rest of the moderator team. As human beings, all moderators are different and have different opinions; as ambassadors for the site, we should all be united, bearing the same responsibility together. If we can all agree that a certain intervention or "exception handle" is appropriate, then it probably is what's best for the site; if I'm the only one who believes it's appropriate, then that's probably my own opinion coming into play rather than my responsibility as a moderator.

  1. What do you do now to build the community, rather than your own prestige in the community?

I'm a prolific editor - one of the most prolific, in fact. I like to improve other people's posts, whether it's editing synopses into answers to questions or adding images and quotes to posts that previously included only links or vague memories.

On a related note, I always try to be encouraging to new users. First Posts is my favourite review queue and the one I always go to first, and I rarely click "No Action Needed", instead editing to improve the post, commenting to encourage the OP to improve it, voting on it, or flagging it if necessary.

I'm also trying to expand the range of the site (within its established scope, of course). Questions about Harry Potter and Star Wars are all very well, but there are plenty of them already. I'd like to bring some less appreciated sci-fi and fantasy works out of obscurity. Recently I asked the site's first question, and there are several other franchises I'm planning to introduce in the near future - with community-wiki self-answered questions, if necessary!

  1. One of the complaints we see often is that many users are not aware of current meta policies. Additionally, some of the policy decisions conflict with each other. What do you suggest we do to make these policies more definitive and more accessible to the average user?

For those policies which are already clearly defined, I suggest that the moderator team keep a list of "stock comments" with links to meta consensus posts, which can be left on posts on the main site as necessary. E.g. a link to the meta discussion of spy-fi being off-topic would be much more useful, to a new user who's posted a James Bond question, than just closing their question silently.

When there are policies which are not clearly defined, we should try to make them so. I would be happy to start discussions about such topics on meta.

  1. Will you be able to separate yourself from relationships made in chat in order to fulfill your role as a moderator dealing with people you are chat friendly with on the main site?

I believe so, yes. As I mentioned under point 1 above, I am friendly with many of the site's active users through chat, but still willing to criticise their posts and behaviour.

If I may take a specific example, Wad Cheber is a user that I (for the most part) like and get on well with, but I've never been afraid to call him out when he behaves inappropriately, and as far as I know he's never taken offence at my doing so.

  1. Have you ever been suspended (from any Stack Exchange main site or chat), and if so for what? Are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement to confirm or rectify your answer?

I have never been suspended from the SFF Stack Exchange.

Other than those associated with main-site suspensions, I have been suspended 2-3 times from chat due to validated flags. One of these was for making a slightly innuendo-ish remark about a then moderator, who wasn't offended (another moderator validated the flag, but has since agreed that he shouldn't have done so). Another was for saying a rude word in Mos Eisley, and I was unsuspended by a moderator almost as soon as the flag had been validated. I can't remember any others, but I'm happy for any moderator to jog my memory and confirm the details. Edit: a moderator has confirmed that there were 3 such suspensions, two "invalidated" and the third "unclear".

I have also been suspended from the Puzzling Stack Exchange: twice "to cool down" (I made remarks while violated the "be nice" policy and which I deeply regret - I later apologised to those concerned, who expressed forgiveness) and once "for promotional content" (which the mods there told me was due to a question and a comment that mentioned a riddle site I co-own, posted from a [disclosed] shared sockpuppet account - it's possible there was more that contributed to the decision to suspend, but if so I don't know what). Again, I'm happy for one of the moderators concerned to confirm that this is the case.

  1. How often, and for how long, are you willing to be on the site each day/week? Our current mods are fantastic, but it is sometimes difficult to find one when you need one. What are your normal usage patterns here?

I am currently active on the site every day, mostly in the (UTC) evening but also often throughout the day. Even when not logged in, I'm often monitoring the site and could log in if needed. Living in the UK, the only time I'm never active is the small hours of the (UTC) morning.

  1. 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 of all, I would consult with the other moderators, who presumably have experience with such issues and would be much better at dealing with them than I!

My gut feeling in how to deal with this situation would be first to engage the user politely - inform them that they've been involved in a lot of arguments or flagged comments, and ask them to change their behaviour. This could be either in chat (probably a private chatroom) or via moderator private messages. If there is no improvement in their behaviour, I would consider suspending them for a short time - though this isn't a decision I'd take lightly, and I would want to consult with other site moderators, and possibly CMs and more experienced moderators from across the network, first.

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

See my answer to point 1. Moderator conflicts should be resolved privately if at all possible. I've found that two reasonable people each willing to assume good faith in the other tend to be able to agree, either by compromise or by one conceding to the other. Assuming this stage can be reached and that the other mod agrees their action was inappropriate, it would probably be better for them to reopen/undelete/etc. the question, so that it doesn't look as though I was overriding their decision.

  • 7
    I've trimmed the comments down to the bare amount of discussion I could salvage, and the least finger pointing. Please keep the discussion civil and on point. – AncientSwordRage Jan 26 '16 at 0:34
  • 20
    @randal'thor I have no desire to know the details of your puzzling.se suspension. However, the very fact that you are suspended is highly relevant to whether you would make a good SFF moderator. Surely you can understand how it would reflect poorly on SFF if SFF elects a moderator who is suspended on another site? – user1807 Jan 26 '16 at 3:06
  • 6
    @Emrakul Please could you update your comment in light of my edited answer? I suspect it's getting me downvotes, possibly from people who don't realise that it addresses an earlier version of my answer. If there's anything you still feel I've ignored, I'll gladly add it in - I'd like to get this issue out of the way once and for all and move on. – Rand al'Thor Jan 26 '16 at 12:20
  • 22
    A year ago, you secretly insulted the moderators on Puzzling via HTML comments. Have you done anything like that on SF&F? Do you have any ill-will to moderators on this site? – Jon Ericson Jan 26 '16 at 21:56
  • 3
    @JonEricson (That was probably the action on Puzzling which I most deeply regret, and I wish I could go back and undo it.) No, I have never insulted the SFF moderators. I've established a rapport with both Thaddeus and AncientSwordRage via Mos Eisley, like and respect them both, and I believe the feeling is mutual. I don't really know Keen or Kevin and haven't interacted much with them here, but I bear them no ill-will and have nothing but respect for their SFF knowledge. – Rand al'Thor Jan 26 '16 at 22:03
  • 5
    @Richard: Maybe that's true. I don't know. I do know that my name pops up in this room quite a bit. If someone hadn't pointed it out to me, I wouldn't have known. So I think it's better that people are confronted directly rather than talked about in semi-secret. Don't you agree? – Jon Ericson Jan 26 '16 at 22:27
  • 3
    I'm wondering if Emrakul comment is actually garnering you upvotes in the primary. – Valorum Jan 27 '16 at 18:55
  • 3
    @Hamlet You could say that, but you could also say I'm a great example of a reformed user. Some of my actions on Puzzling ages ago were indefensible and trollish, and the retribution I received there has taught me to be patient and respectful even under pressure (as I've demonstrated in comments on this very post). I don't believe my behaviour as a user of this site has ever been criticised, and the voting on me in the primaries seems to confirm that I'm highly respected as an SFF user. – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 19:46
  • 7
    @randal'thor a key part of being "reformed" is that (a) you express regret for past actions, and (b) that the people you have harmed are able to forgive you. I've seen some evidence of (a), but the fact that you think your current suspension is incorrect (as evidenced by your profile text) suggests that you don't regret all of the actions that caused you to be suspended. I haven't seen any evidence of (b), judging by the comments on this answer. – user1807 Jan 28 '16 at 22:51
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    I'm sure that your participation as a user on SFF has been exemplary. But given the baggage that you carry with you, I find it hard to believe that you will be a successful mod. I'm sure that you will be able to evaluate flags and all of that. But I find it hard to believe that you will be able to work with the community managers effectively (which is a big part of being a mod). I also find it hard to believe that you will do a good job RE suspending users, given your strong feelings about suspensions.' – user1807 Jan 28 '16 at 22:53
  • 1
    My opinion ultimately means nothing in the grand scheme of things: I doubt my comments have convinced anyone. But all the evidence seems to point towards you not being able to be an effective mod. I guess a question you need to ask yourself is if you will be able to work effectively with the community managers (who you will have to work with and who can remove you from your position at will): probabilistically speaking, the evidence points towards no. – user1807 Jan 28 '16 at 22:57
  • 2
    @Hamlet Re your point (b), some of those I offended have expressed their forgiveness. Re being able to work with the CMs (which someone else already raised in comments on my nomination), I believe that yes, I will be able to do this. My opinions and behaviour have changed a lot; I can now deal respectfully with pretty much anyone, and I hope the CMs will feel able to give me the benefit of the doubt. – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 23:18
  • 2
    Re suspending users, I've been told that a mod can simply choose to leave this aspect of moderation to the other mods. If I'm considered unfit for this duty, I'm sure Keen etc. can take care of it without me. However, there have been several cases here where I've been able to look at someone's behaviour and think "that user is going to get suspended" and then they do - so clearly my thinking isn't too much out of sync with the current mods. Still, suspending someone (excluding egregious cases of obvious trolls) isn't a decision I'd want to take alone, as an inexperienced mod. – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 23:22

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