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The following is a "digest" version of the November 2011 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat #2. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

Be sure to also check out the digest from the earlier session.

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

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

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

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42 Answers 42

phwd phwd asked: There are a lot of high views / highly voted questions that are closed as "Not Constructive", what is your stance on this? Throw them under the rug (i.e. leave them), edit so it could be reopened (if so how) or kill it with fire (delete)?


Neal Neal answered: Leave them for now.

casperOne casperOne answered: If they can be edited to be constructive then edit them. However, if they cannot, then leave them, they serve as a bellwether for what isn't accepted/what not to do on the site.

Barry Barry answered: That all depends on the question. Just because it has high views or votes doesn't make it a good fit for the site. If breaches what is defined in the FAQ then there is no point in trying to save it.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I leave them alone. I still find these very controversial, and touchy, and I'd rather not touch them in case I get a "shock".

Moshe Moshe answered: Edit them if possible.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Leave them. I'm loath to straight-up delete content that has some value and that people have put significant amounts of time into. I do like some of the edits and comments that other moderators have placed on these older questions, indicating that they were once appropriate for the site but are no longer accepted. This seems to be a fine way to not have these be broken windows, yet still have them survive.

awoodland awoodland answered: It depends what value the question delivers by still existing. closed/locked is a sensible status for questions which were topical and were interesting, but the community sense of "topical" has shifted.

slugster slugster answered: As I mentioned in my moderator spiel, this is an area that needs to be cleaned up. However I do believe that some of these old questions need to be preserved because they are part of the fabric and history of SO, and some of them can be quite enlightening or educational.

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Tim Post Tim Post asked BoltClock: If elected, you and I would be the only moderators in our time zone. Do you have any ideas on how we could promote Stack Overflow in SE Asia?


BoltClock BoltClock answered: Aside from what @StuThompson said (which I agree with), I can only think of spreading word of SO via social media, and in my school, for now. I don't know many programmers beyond these two.

  • Tim Post Tim Post asked BoltClock: Would you have the time to help organize events, since the whole concept of DevDays is basically NULL at this point?

    BoltClock BoltClock responded: I'm not good at that stuff, to be honest...

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random random asked: Why was the Yearling badge a good requirement for nominations, even if it was later withdrawn?


genesis genesis answered: I don't think it was a good requirement, that's why it was removed

  • Tim Cooper Tim Cooper asked genesis: Can you elaborate on why you feel it wasn't?

    genesis genesis responded: Because even me (5 month Stack Overflow participant) know the most of used practices and know most of the tools offered by Stack Overflow. Sure, there are a lot of things I had to learn, and I still have, but I think that I'm experienced enough to handle the duties

Neal Neal answered: I understand that it was a rule originally and I petitioned for it to be removed (Should Moderator Election rules be changed?) because I felt that it was not just for users who have been here longer to have a better chance than the others.

Neal Neal continued: Because just because you are hear more than a year, does not mean you have more or less experience in moderating SO (or any site)

casperOne casperOne answered: I think it was a good requirement, but I'm not upset it was removed. It allowed for some people who are obviously capable to step up to the role. Right now, we need moderators, and we need qualified ones. Time is something we can't change. It's only an indicator of how long we've had to learn, not how much

awoodland awoodland answered: The yearling badge was a reasonable suggestion because there are some events that are comparatively rare. extra time increases the odds of witnessing rarer events and increases familiarity with the community.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I believe the Yearling requirement should've stayed. Users who have been members for less than a year don't understand the site well enough to moderate it (nor does the rest of the users know the mod-to-be well enough). At least that's my opinion.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I would argue yes, despite how discriminatory that might sound. For example, I ran for moderator last year and didn't make the primary cutoff, yet I feel better capable of doing the job now than I was a year ago (despite being a member for 3 years). Requiring people to have significant experience with the site and its standards is not a bad thing for moderators.

Barry Barry answered: I think the Yearling was a good requirement and should not have been removed. It shows that you are willing to put in some kind effort to visit the site. A year is a long time and you get to see a lot of different situations that may occur. It doesn't mean that you always know the right answer but with more exposure to these situations the better you will be reading them and how to handle them.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: The Yearling badge was a good requirement for Community Moderators because less than a year is likely too short to establish a track record of past behavior. But it's a fine point and not something I stress about.

Moshe Moshe answered: The yearling badge does make sense a requirement because it guarantees a baseline of experience with the system.

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OffBySome OffBySome asked genesis: Why do you think you are racking up way more down-votes than anyone else?


genesis genesis answered: Because sometimes I'm just wrong. I'm still learning and do mistakes

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: Do you see your role as primarily dealing with issues other users bring to you, or will you be "out on the streets" so to speak, actively policing posts? Describe what makes the difference for you between letting the users guide the site, and you taking unilateral action on items not yet flagged.


casperOne casperOne answered: There are obvious situations where an item needs to be flagged; rude or offensive content, content that obviously doesn't belong (something purely subjective, violating NDA, etc). Those things need to be actively policed. Other things, the community can handle, but I will police them in the event the community misses them.

Barry Barry answered: I don't think moderators should be actively seeking out posts to police. If you stumble across one then fair enough. There is enough community members to deal with the day to day normal stuff. Moderators should be there to deal with exceptional circumstances - situations where its not possible for "normal" users to resolve or when a situation is getting out of hand. That is what the flag for moderator button is for.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Actively policing posts is not the role of moderators, who should be human exception handlers.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: At first, I'd probably be content to handle some of the flagging load and not seek out additional problematic items. The community lately has been doing an extremely good job of identifying content (I've had a hard time finding things to flag that aren't already within the last few weeks).

minitech minitech answered: Actively policing, but only taking serious action if there are large, obvious issues.

awoodland awoodland answered: I'd rather avoid unilateral action in all but the most obvious cases ("NIKE TRAINERS CHEAP") - I am fairly "on the streets" in the tags that interest me though

Moshe Moshe answered: That's what the 10k and mod tools are for, no? If I see something that needs to be dealt with, it's silly not to do so simply because "nobody else flagged it yet", but again, case by case is an important consideration.

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quantumSoup quantumSoup asked: Bill Gates passes away during your tenure as a moderator. You feel he deserves a banner like the one Steve Jobs got. What do you do? Or, some other mod puts a banner for him. Users are irate on meta saying that Dennis Ritchie didn't get his. Do you remove the banner?


genesis genesis answered: I would first discuss it on meta, and with other moderators.

casperOne casperOne answered: That's a substantial site change which I feel should be brought up in meta; users will sound off about it in meta, and action (by me or someone else) will be taken based on the way the wind blows there.

Barry Barry answered: Remove the banner. They should be there for important site or network messages. Adding a "memorial" banner just irritates people a) It's there and distracting b) They don't think the person mentioned deserves it or c) The banner isn't there for such a person or other.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: If I recall correctly, the Jobs one was posted by Jeff, without the interaction of the moderators. I would not feel that it was my place to post something like this, unless there was an overwhelming consensus to do so. The debate over the last one is still continuing.

  • Paŭlo Ebermann Paŭlo Ebermann noted: Actually, it was posted by Joel while Jeff was away.

    Brad Larson Brad Larson corrected: Sorry, misremembered this. In any case, it wasn't a moderator-level decision and I think it should remain as such.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: Moderators can set banners? That sounds dangerous, only "the powers that be" should have that kind of power...not mere demi-god-like moderators.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I feel that the banners are meant for site announcements, and nothing else. A rule of thumb I think about is that if doesn't even come close to being on meta, neither does it on the banner.

awoodland awoodland answered: I'm not in the business of designing banners or deciding who is most famous

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I was the first one to point out the Jobs banners was not appropriate in the first place and I got an avalanche of negative responses for that. Of course, after the "Dennis Ritchie debacle" some people realized it wasn't such a great idea after all. I am strongly opposed to (ab)using the system message feature for "memorials."

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: Do you miss TheTXI or RichB or both? (if you don't know who they are/were, you may safely ignore this question)


genesis genesis answered: I'm not sure what they are

Neal Neal answered: Guess i am not old enough to know who they are...

casperOne casperOne answered: Miss, no, but at the same time, I think it's important for users like that (in small doses), as it helps the site grow and learn. If the site isn't challenged, then it won't evolve.

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Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: Jeff Atwood has a super-veto for issues raised on Meta ("The community is run by YOU" notwithstanding). Have you ever disagreed with any of his [status-declined] decisions (which ones?), and how would this affect your moderation?


Neal Neal answered: I have disagreed. I was once banned from asking questions on Meta due to all the poor results from the ones I already had. I had emailed support for SO and Jeff responded and got my meta account active again.

Neal Neal continued: Ahhh but this meta Q has always been annoying me that Jeff did reject: Create comment-spawned chatrooms for the post, not for the users

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: The only time I disagreed with him, he stepped back, and changed his decision.

casperOne casperOne answered: I can't recall any decision I've been in violent disagreement with. Even if I did, it wouldn't be something that impacts me. Disagreements are a part of life, this is no different, and Jeff does have that authority, which I respect.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: Yes, I've disagreed with some of Jeff's decisions. But that's part of team work: not everyone can have their way at all times. That the way the cookie crumbles, as my mother used to say...

genesis genesis answered: Few of them, but I don't think I have enough time to look back at his answers and find these I don't agree with

genesis genesis continued: None of them were concerned about the moderation

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I haven't gotten him to follow up on one of my meta questions, but that was about a technical issue with the site so I doubt it'd affect my moderation.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I can't dig up the Meta issues that I've disagreed with him on, but I do recall emailing the team and having an argument back in the day about the value of votes on questions vs. votes on answers. I thought they should count less on questions and he did not. In the end, he did respond to the community and lowered the question vote value. As with everyone, be polite and explain your reasoning clearly.

awoodland awoodland answered: I dislike that so far all of the "block bad migrations by X" have been declined. Some bad migrations are painful to watch (although can often be averted by a plain vote to close + a mod flag and comment). I don't think that's a big problem though!

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: Consider an online argument you've had in the past. 1) What about the argument made you respond so passionately - was it the topic, the way the other person presented it, or something else? 2) How long (# of responses or time) did the argument last? 3) How did it end (in terms of who ended it, and how did the contenders part ways - amicably, or otherwise)?


minitech minitech answered: It was how horribly rude the person was being. The argument lasted about 5 comments on each side, and eventually I stopped responding. I haven't seen the user since, either.

casperOne casperOne answered: Usually it's my passion for the topic at hand that fueled the argument. I'll also attribute my youth to it. I've been out of the business of flame wars for a while. =) To say it was the way the other person presented it is a little bit of a cop out; it takes two to tango. As I got older, the arguments didn't last, and eventually became non-existent, and I ultimately got to the point where I was big enough to say when I was wrong or approached the debate wrong.

awoodland awoodland answered: 1) technical advice that was faulty/flawed 2) I aim to state my case clearly and then leave it at that (or possibly ask a follow up question if it's ambiguous and interesting enough in its own right). sometimes I'll clarify things further if I feel the problem was a communication one and not simply who can shout the loudest - this means typically fairly short 3) amicably agree to disagree on implications of problem

BoltClock BoltClock answered: 1) Mostly the topic, about a certain controversial technology topic. 2) Just a 10-minute Twitter conversation. 3) Agree to disagree.

Moshe Moshe answered: I try to shy away from arguments, but I've had a disagreement about adding a feature. The argument lasted less than 5 comments. I can be passionate, but I usually don't have arguments. Thinking about it more, I have gotten burned on several feature requests.

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mizo mizo asked: What makes you enjoy moderating and janitorial tasks?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: The fact I am doing something useful for the SE site I am moderating, which is the reason I use 10k tools, and review posts.

Neal Neal answered: Helps improve the community ^_^

minitech minitech answered: Taking a terrible piece of content and turning it into something good. It gives a great sense of accomplishment :)

genesis genesis answered: I just love to clean the posts & titles in the titles

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I am bit OCD when it comes to keeping the site clean. I already do it now, through edits and flags, becoming a moderator would be a logical next step. I love Stack Overflow's collaborative editing aspect, that's one the things that drew me to the site.

casperOne casperOne answered: It helps the community in ways that others cannot. If one appreciates the vital role that those actions play in maintaining the health of the SO ecosystem, then "moderating" and "janitorial tasks" don't take on a negative connotation. I've never seen them as such because I realize the value those actions have.

awoodland awoodland answered: Two things - slightly obsessive about fixing grammar/spelling/formatting issues and a warm fuzzy feeling from making constructive improvements to things that interest me (i.e. technical Q&A in this instance)

BoltClock BoltClock answered: A combination of 1) general satisfaction from helping the community 2) tools that are easy to use to achieve it routinely and regularly

Moshe Moshe answered: I love grammar, languages, and writing!

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Tim Post Tim Post asked: You edited one of your posts 20 times, the system converted it to CW. You'd like that reverted. As a moderator, what would you do?


Neal Neal answered: If it is my post. leave it CW. if it a user's post, see the reason why the edits were made

genesis genesis answered: I wouldn't do so. It would be unfair to the users which want to do so but can't

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I leave it as CW. That is not a good use of moderator powers.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: Nothing. The CW conversion was put in place for a reason, using your mod abilities to circumvent that is a slippery slope.

casperOne casperOne answered: I'd ask another moderator to do it; it wouldn't be right for me to make that conversion; there's a conflict of interest there.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Leave it. I don't care about reputation, so why should I take special action on one of my own questions?

Barry Barry answered: I didn't think you could revert it back. If it means that much then just delete it and ask it again. However, you should probably ask yourself why I am editing a post 20 times.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I never revert it myself until and unless I ask other mods, and they give it the OK (in which case they'd probably have reverted it for me). 99% of the time, though, I'm not bothered enough by auto-CW to want to revert.

Moshe Moshe answered: Leave it, considering that mod powers are for fixing other people's mistakes, not to let me game the system.

slugster slugster answered: If I would do it for a user, then I would do it for myself. IOW, if the edits were over a period of time and done to make it into a truly brilliant and helpful answer, then I would revert it from CW. If not (i.e. the edits were because of slack editing or being lazy with the answer) then it stays CW.

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Tim Post Tim Post asked: Through a moderator tool, you found some people near you. Would you reach out to them?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: No.

minitech minitech answered: If there were information on their profile like Twitter usernames and the profile linked to had location information, I might follow them :) Otherwise no.

casperOne casperOne answered: No, not through the use of the tool, it would be through a public venue, such as chat, a comment in the system, or something not related to a tool that I have as a privilege.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Probably not. If people care to be contacted, they generally place such information in their public profile.

awoodland awoodland answered: I wouldn't use privileged information to do so - that would cross a line into stalking in my view. If the public information on their profile solicited social activities I might suggest a pub meetup for example. (My profile doesn't make a big secret of how to contact me and I was a little surprised when a user phoned me recently, but we had a constructive and friendly chat)

BoltClock BoltClock answered: (Assuming I interpreted your question correctly) I know I wouldn't say things like "Hey I noticed you're from so-and-so while I was looking at your profile for such-and-such". That's not only creepy, it also gives an impression that I'm using the mod tools specially to scout for people near me, even if I really did just chance upon the person.

Moshe Moshe answered: I consider that to be an abuse of mod powers, to be honest. Thats not to say that I wouldn't rule it out completely, but most likely not.

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NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ asked: You actually make a mistake and get called out on meta. An overwhelming amount of users agree with the complaint and protest. How do you respond?


Neal Neal answered: Apologize, but not too overtly or else that could come out even worse

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I try to fix my error, and I ask apologizes.

genesis genesis answered: I would be trying to resolve the situation, revert back the changes if needed.

casperOne casperOne answered: You reverse the decision, simple. Moderators serve at the pleasure of the community.

Barry Barry answered: Post an answer to the meta post apologising for the error. Revert the action if it's not been done already. It's a mistake - everyone makes them. It's no big deal.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Correct the action and learn from the mistake. We're all human, and we occasionally miss things. The most important part is to not get angry or defensive, but to realize when you've done something wrong and thank people for pointing it out.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Apologize, and see if I can work with the community to follow up and resolve the situation, whatever is necessary.

awoodland awoodland answered: Mistakes are mistakes - everybody makes them (this gets said time and again on meta). The important thing is how they get corrected. I'd do my best to correct the mistake and learn from it for the future.

Moshe Moshe answered: Respectfully back down. If the broad majority of users disagree, then they likely win. Although I'd also mention that it varies by situation. If other mods agree, I'd be more likely to "hold my position".

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Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: How important do you believe the use of good grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization by users is? How do you respond to such deficiencies?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: It's important to allow other users to understand the question being asked, but it should not be the only measure of the posts' quality.

casperOne casperOne answered: I typically edit for such things, I think they are very, very important. SO prides itself on organic search results. Because of that, it's important that the content on the site is quality content that makes it easier for search engines to do their jobs. It's also why there is a wiki component to the site; it's so we can constantly refine content to make it better for all.

Neal Neal answered: Well both of my opinions on that subject were turned down on meta: Is Stack Overflow a forum? and Should others downvote my posts for "grammatical" reasons? I stand by the 1st one and the lol one I now understand more, but i feel it is not a reason to downvote or ridicule people because of it.

Barry Barry answered: To ask a great question (which is what the site is about yes?) the post needs to be coherent and readable. I'd edit the post and post a comment pointing them to the FAQ and my edit as an example of how to format/spell/construct their question. I'd probably post the link to the article Jon Skeet created for asking questions.

genesis genesis answered: To be honest, I'm not so good at English, but I'm always using the correct punctuation and capitalization. When I see a post with some i instead of i, r instead of are, u instead of you, I'm always trying to correct them as my knowledge of English lets me

minitech minitech answered: If it's unreadable, it's an issue - but regardless, I edit the post to correct all issues. It helps people learn good English.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Language is not as important as having a good core question. It's trivial to edit a roughly worded question into shape, but you can't fix truly bad content. With a growing population of users that don't have English as their native tongue, we have to be willing to help people with their wording, not just reject them outright. The one exception to this is the use of txtspeak, which really grinds my gears.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: As long as it makes sense, and doesn't look more like chatspeak/laziness than an imperfect but OK ability to form sentences, I'm fine with it.

awoodland awoodland answered: For non-native English speakers I respect and appreciate the fact that they're making an effort to communicate in a language that might be quite hard for them. for native English speakers it can be an indicator of lazyness which I don't like, however I recognise that even for some native speakers there can be good reasons for poor writing style. As a non-mod I try to fix these. As a mod I would defer to the community generally unless...

awoodland awoodland continued: ...the post was attracting the wrong kind of attention (e.g. abusive comments, close for what was otherwise reasonable)

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: I do believe proper it is important. Programmers should like proper syntax, right? Posts with a stray missing capitalization are not worthy of an edit, but posts that in really bad shape do. All of my coworkers are non-native English speakers, they prefer me to correct them. I've taken this habit to SO. The only time a post should be deleted because of poor grammar is when it is totally incomprehensible that it is beyond salvage and the user has not cleaned it up. Nobody's perfect.

Moshe Moshe answered: Spelling and grammar are important for communication. Capitalization is also important. Generally, I'd try to assess where the deficiency stems from. If the user uses textspeak, it's not the same as just plain poor grammar skills. Sometimes it's negligence and sometimes it's a result of lack of knowledge.

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badp badp asked: As a Stack Overflow moderator, you'll also have moderation powers on this very chat site; unlike all other sites, mods from other sites can't help you. Are you active in chat? Are you aware of the problems chat.SO currently has, if any? Do you have any plans in place for that?


casperOne casperOne answered: I am currently not active in chat, or aware of problems in chat (if there are any, because of said inactivity). If there are, then my hope is that these would be brought up in meta, and I'd plan on spending some more time in chat to see if/where problems lie.

  • badp badp noted: There used to be trouble with room deduplication or lack thereof and language barrier issues. I don't idle here either, though.

Neal Neal answered: I am very active in php and javascript chatrooms. I see a few problems in chat including hyperflagging by some people.

  • badp badp noted: Good news - moderators can see who cast the first flag on all but your chat messages.

    Neal Neal remarked: That would be very very useful ^_^

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: To be honest, I've tried to get into chat, but the rooms that I've tried using have always been either inactive for days or filled with help vampires and other noise. I don't understand why chat seems to be so much less robust than the discussions on Meta, and I don't have a good solution for this either.

awoodland awoodland answered: I am active in chat and I've witnessed some of the problems you refer to I think. I don't have a silver bullet solution to it I'm afraid though. I've taken the "make things no worse" path so far, which mostly resulted in doing nothing

Moshe Moshe answered: I participate both on SO chat, and on Meta chat. I consider myself to be knowledgable in the workings of chat.

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: Have you ever voted to close a post you knew you could edit if you had more time?


Neal Neal answered: Yes.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: No.

minitech minitech answered: No.

genesis genesis answered: No. That's a wrong step. If I do not have time, I let it as-is. It might be edited by someone else.

casperOne casperOne answered: No, but at the same time, "more time" is subjective. If I think I can improve a post, I usually favorite it and come back if I don't feel I have "enough time".

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I've voted to close questions, then realized how I could edit them into shape afterwards. I then would generally edit the question and leave behind a comment telling people to ignore my mistaken close vote.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: No, I've never closed that could be saved by editing. I, somewhat masochistically, like to cleanup newbie posts. If it is beyond my capabilities (eg.: don't know language x well enough to format the code to a presentable state) or time then I'll leave it.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Yes, and in that case my close vote is often intended as a chance for the OP to do so.

awoodland awoodland answered: I don't think so on that one - edits that save a question are more far more rewarding than simply closing in my view.

Moshe Moshe answered: No, but I've flagged.

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badp badp asked: Where do you come from? Stack Overflow has 6 moderators from the US, 3 from Europe and just poor @TimPost from Oceania. A site this large needs moderation around the clock; how well would you fill in the gaps if you were elected?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I come from Europe, and I would fill the gaps, as I have flexibility on when to be on SO.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: I'm in Switzerland and generally stay within +/- 1 time zone.

casperOne casperOne answered: I live in NYC, I'm not going to change my sleep schedule to "fill in a gap" (sorry) but I pitch in with all the time I am able to.

  • badp badp clarified: That's not what I meant, I just wanted to give a little chance to mods from non-standard timezones to shine.

    casperOne casperOne responded: Apologies then, take it away @TimPost!!!

Barry Barry answered: I live in London, UK and am usually on around 7am GMT for an hour or so and usually from 4pm until about 9pm GMT. If it's a slow day then I could be active for most of the day too :)

Neal Neal answered: I come from US EST.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I'm located in the U.S. Central time zone, so yes, I'm another person from that region. My heaviest hours are early in the morning, around noon, and later at night. That spans a bit of time in the day, but others can judge if that is not enough coverage for the growing non-U.S. presence of the site.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'm in Singapore. @TimPost is in the Philippines. We share the same timezone (Southeast Asia). I'm active for many hours in the day, and often find my activity overlapping with users in other timezones. I believe timezone is an important factor in considering me for a position, albeit a small one.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'm from the US, but I'm usually up either early or late, depending on my sleep cycle. I don't think location is that much of an issue for me.

awoodland awoodland answered: GMT/BST depending on time of year - that means I wake up before the US and could start to look at some of the Oceania timezone issue build up relatively promptly still

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Tim Cooper Tim Cooper asked: Do you feel that SO users with higher reputation are more likely to have their answers voted higher, regardless of the quality? Do you think that hiding a users' reputation when they answer a question would benefit the site?


genesis genesis answered: No, I don't think so, it's more about the speed and quality of the answer

genesis genesis continued: I don't think that hiding their reputation would help. I have never considered a user's reputation when voting

casperOne casperOne answered: I think that effect definitely does exist. However, I don't think that hiding rep is the answer, people worked hard to earn it and should be able to have it displayed.

casperOne casperOne continued: I'll also add that I don't think that it's a systemic issue. Do I care if Jon Skeet gets more rep on an answer than I do even though we have eerily similar answers? Not in the least.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: As a user with high reputation on three sites, I can say there is the same chance that my posts are down-voted. Hiding the reputation would not benefit the site; there have been a request to hide who answers, at least for a short time, but the feature didn't have a warm welcome.

Neal Neal answered: I believe people are fooled by high rep. When I first started on SO my low rep lead to my answers not being chosen as much. I belive that once you reach a certain point your rep really shouldnt be shown on the page (>10K maybe?)

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Actually, that's exactly what I notice with my answers. However, hiding a user's reputation pretty much defeats the purpose and concept of reputation at all, so we might as well rename reputation to something else instead...

awoodland awoodland answered: I was thinking about this today. There's possibly an element of that, but it's also likely that high rep users are providing better answers, both technically and in terms of presentation and distilling a question to the core point.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: It does, but I believe hiding the reputation would go against the idea of having the reputation system in the first place. A user with high reputation has shown to have good communication skills and ability to post relevant answers. Why should that be hidden? I don't think hiding reputation would have any discernible effect on the overall quality of answers on the site, but it will drive away some users who are attracted to the gaming aspect of SO.

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: You are hoping to join a very hard working crew. If selected, in what way will you change how much time you spend on site, and when you spend it? If you were asked to set the "minimum hours per week moderating" requirement before a moderator was to be dismissed, what would you say the minimum should be?


Neal Neal answered: I am not sure anyone can answer that. It all really depends on the quality of their work

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: There isn't a minimum; moderating should not be the most predominant activity done in a site, nor the predominant activity done during the day.

casperOne casperOne answered: Mandatory hourly contributions are unfair IMO. Only if you took a least-common-denominator approach would it be fair. Everyone performs at different rates, everyone has varying amounts of time. And remember, this is a community-driven site. If you feel a moderator isn't doing what they should, or enough, then I'd recommend bringing it up in meta and opening a slot for the next election.

casperOne casperOne continued: I'd simply be grateful that there are people willing to step up and do the work that is asked of them with no expectation of remuneration in return.

genesis genesis answered: I spend a lot of time on Stack Overflow, so I think this wouldn't be a problem for me, and I'd say that there shouldn't be a minimum

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: This would depend on the work load required to deal with the amount of flags, etc. on the site, given the number of moderators available. I don't believe that there was a definite answer to number of hours or number of flags required in the related Meta discussion on this topic, so I think this will be a matter of feel rather than hard numbers.

awoodland awoodland answered: I don't think my time on the site would change hugely. My use of mod tools (10k and otherwise) clearly would but I'm not going to make unsustainable promises. As far as minimum hours per week goes I don't think it's a great metric, people take holidays etc. I'd say the alarm bells should ring when a mod is out of touch through a lack of activity but defining a solid figure without good data to begin with seems premature

slugster slugster answered: IMO, 3 hours a day or more is a good minimum benchmark. Personally I spend considerably more time than this so being elected would not mean I had to change my attendance pattern. Of course I say this without knowing the specifics of exactly how much mod work needs to be chewed through per day, but IMO if you can't spend the 3 hours then you are only a light user of the site.

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: It seems some candidates feel that moderation is something they can do during the existing time they spend on site. Do you feel you have a good grasp of what you'll spend your time doing, and that you'll be able to do so without adjusting your current schedule?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think I can do it without adjusting my current schedule. If I moderate most of the time, I would get worried of the decisions I take.

Neal Neal answered: I think I do. I just will have to be more careful with my decisions.

casperOne casperOne answered: There are two questions in there; I admit openly that I don't understand completely (see my "getting over the hill" section in my nomination) what moderation will bring, but that doesn't mean I'm completely ignorant of what is required of me or what I'll be able to do. To answer the second, yes, I'll easily be able to do so without adjusting my schedule.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Yes, I have a rough idea. I can imagine myself doing the same thing I'm doing now, only with slightly more moderation work and less answering. I don't think one's going to adversely affect the other.

genesis genesis answered: Yes, I'll. I decide a lot of time on Stack Overflow, so it's not a problem for me to divide normal participation and moderation duties

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: I'd definitely have to adjust my reunite, but that does not scare me. For the most part my editing/flagging activity has usually been a task I enjoy--fun time for when I can squeeze it in. If similar tasks like moderation were a duty, a responsibility, then that would be motivational.

awoodland awoodland answered: I think I already do a fair amount of moderation. How my time is spent clearly would shift to focus on different tasks, but fundamentally not a huge change for my usage patterns.

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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Where are the sandwiches I have heard of?

casperOne casperOne answered: Same as last night, thank you, it's a wonderful experience, and I'm happy to be here among so many other qualified candidates. Thank you for the opportunity, and no matter what, SO is going to be better off as a result.

Neal Neal answered: **Thanks and have a great day! ^_^**

BoltClock BoltClock answered: This was just as stressful as the last, but I'm glad to have experienced it.

genesis genesis answered: I would like to thank you for the chance to participate here, it was a wonderful experience. Have a nice day!

awoodland awoodland answered: Thanks if you've voted for me so far. (If you're hesitant I'd be glad to chat more - I'm regularly in the C++ chat room if I've got a web browser to hand) I'd like more moderator tools to increase the usefulness of the things I do. In exchange for that I'll do my best to be fair, efficient and reflect the will of the community.

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studiohack studiohack asked: A fellow mod gets called out by an irate user on Meta. How do you handle the situation? Ignore the situation? Lend your support? Or?


Neal Neal answered: Try to lend support and see what the situation is. if it was blatant then I might act differently

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I try to intermediate, if it is possible.

genesis genesis answered: I would like to get some knowledge about the situation and afterwards, I would try to help

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Usually, I've found that the moderator in question can defend themselves quite well in these situations. If I could provide another perspective on the matter than the person being accused, I would most likely add a polite comment or two.

casperOne casperOne answered: It depends on why the user is irate; if the mod acted in an improper way, then I'd work to resolve the situations. Loyalty towards other moderators is not assumed with the title, loyalty is earned, and even then, loyalty should not shape moderator decisions; what is best for the community should, first and foremost.

awoodland awoodland answered: It depends what they were called out for - in general though if it looks like a misunderstanding/disagreement I'd try and analyse the situation in an answer and explain why I thought the action the user objected to was taken if they are seeking clarification. If I can't make it better (missing details) I would avoid it though and if it looked unambiguously like a genuine accidental click I'd take corrective actions as appropriate

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Lend my support.

Moshe Moshe answered: Keep an eye on the situation, try and determine who's right. If the user is correct, privately discuss with the mod and try to work it out with them. Never question another mod in public.

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NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ asked: All of you have amassed a fairly large amount of reputation. If you are elected, how are you going to balance your time between posting answers and moderating?


Neal Neal answered: I do not plan on posting as much. But when It comes to it I believe that if I see a great question that needs answering, i will post. otherwise i would stay on with mod duty

genesis genesis answered: Handling moderator duties would be the first thing I would do.

casperOne casperOne answered: Moderator duties come first. My current actions lean mostly towards editing, etc (I just moved 100+ entries from the ASP tag to ASP.NET or ASP-CLASSIC for example). However, the pursuit of rep is not important to me at this point (as stated in my nomination), so moderator duties come first.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: My time for answering to questions will not change, but moderating will not become my predominant task.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: See my previous answer for more, but I don't post many answers nowadays and instead focus on cleaning things up. Reputation no longer has the same draw for me as it once did, and I care more about maintaining the site as a great resource.

minitech minitech answered: I wouldn't devote less time to answering questions, just more time to moderating. I have plenty of time.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: I don't feverishly answer questions like I did in the early days. The FGITW behavior annoys me. I tend to comb through older questions and answer them. That's the same time when I clean stuff up with edits, comments and the occasional flag.

awoodland awoodland answered: My posting activities would shift towards answering older, unanswered questions, or questions where the current answers were lacking and I have specific knowledge that would be benificial

Moshe Moshe answered: As I answered @MrDisappontment, I'd probably spend larger amounts of time moderating than asking/answering. Moderating is a responsibility, but also a privilege - which I'd like to take advantage of, given the opportunity.

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Adam Davis Adam Davis asked: What is the moderator's role in site promotion, and how do you see yourself fulfilling that role?


casperOne casperOne answered: Moderators are akin to ambassadors; they should serve as examples of what the community on SO should be, and their actions, public or private, should be reflective of that.

awoodland awoodland answered: Moderators promote the site through their actions. Anything that makes it a better site implicitly promotes the site

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: Moderator's don't promote, that role is already filled by others. Moderators keep the site nice-n-tidy.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Aside from what @StuThompson said (which I agree with), I can only think of spreading word of SO via social media, and in my school, for now. I don't know many programmers beyond these two.

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Mr. Disappointment Mr. Disappointment asked: Are you aware of the implications the role will have on your current mode of contribution, and how do you intend to adapt your mode-of-use (i.e. in terms of planning daily rounds, or on-the-fly handling as and when)?


Neal Neal answered: A mix. would mostly be doing rouns in the mid day Eastern time, but at other points I will moderate as well.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As it stands, I spend most of my time on the site performing moderation-related tasks, so it would not affect the overall way I use the site. If anything, it would make some of the things I do more efficient, because I would not need to bring in another moderator to deal with items. I keep generally regular hours here.

awoodland awoodland answered: I don't think my contributions would change massively overnight - I think I would probably carry on most of the things I do, but transition, by learning through observation how/where the new tools would be appropriate. The end result would be a shift away from the tasks which can be handled already by the community (which I've been doing already) towards the tasks that only moderators can handle

casperOne casperOne answered: I mentioned "getting over the hump" in my nomination, there will be a time that I'm learning the ropes, but I expect that the change, while drastic, will not be unmanageable. It's simply a new phase in what I'm trying to do at SO, help others, which I welcome.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I am, but from what I see, the most that would happen to me is that I spend less time answering questions than performing other routine duties. And even then I don't quite foresee such a radical change in how I use the site.

Moshe Moshe answered: I used to ask a lot of questions, but at one point I began answering more. Then I started to edit more. I'll probably continue to edit more, and use the 10K tools more often.

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Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: What is your "fundamental principle of moderation?" That is, what is your top-level principle you will fall back on that will help you make decisions in borderline situations?


casperOne casperOne answered: I'll ask myself "does this action as a moderator help the community?". If the answer is ever no, then I will not perform that action.

Moshe Moshe continued: Be intellectually honest and avoid controversy.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Moderators are human handler exceptions; if the community didn't report something as wrong, then the community thinks the situation is fine.

awoodland awoodland answered: My fundamental principle would be "don't make problems worse" - that means stepping back if I can't be objective and it means looking for advice if I don't know what the right action to take is

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: "Be nice." A moderator is there to serve the community. That's not to say moderators should be subservient to the community - you should be gentle yet decisive. And that's an art.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: First, will the community handle this on their own? If so, it doesn't need my intervention. Moderators must handle the extreme outer cases (non-answers, spam, etc.) that users can't deal with. When in doubt, my policy would be to either ask other moderators, bring it to the community via Meta, or leave an item alone.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I would say I know it when I see it, but for borderline situations, well, I believe there are others more experienced whom I can look to for assistance. I pretty much defer to them in that regard.

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Shog9 Shog9 asked: How familiar are you with the use of the 10K tools on Stack Overflow?


Neal Neal answered: Semi familiar. I have mostly been doing edits and flagging.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am a 20k user on a site, and a 10k users on other two sites. I use the 10k tools in all of them.

casperOne casperOne answered: Familiar enough to use them almost every day. I've been at 10k for a while. Admittedly, there's always more I can learn (for example, I don't look at the breakdown of answers by vote groupings nearly enough), but I'm familiar enough to help with the 10K rep moderation duties.

genesis genesis answered: I know most of the tools and I use them every day

awoodland awoodland answered: Of the 10k tools I've used the deletion ones the least and the "new answers to old questions" which I've found to be the easiest way of finding posts that require intervention outside of the flag queue itself, which I use fairly regularly also.

minitech minitech answered: Fairly familiar. I still haven't handled any spam.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As some of the current moderators can attest, I'm way too familiar with these tools. They've evolved significantly since I first got access to them, and I'm definitely enjoying the new review system for answers and close votes.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I spend most time in the overview and on close votes, but I've explored and invested learning effort into all the tools.

Moshe Moshe answered: Fairly familiar.

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Tim Post Tim Post asked: You have several flags indicating 'very low quality' on a single post; you can't find any obvious issues with the post. What do you do?


casperOne casperOne answered: Bring it up in meta, chat with other mods about it at first. See if they might see something you've missed.

Neal Neal answered: I would ask on meta and see what people say there.

minitech minitech answered: The flags are invalid, then.

  • Tim Cooper Tim Cooper asked minitech: Are you saying that you are so sure of your own personal judgement not to investigate the matter further?

    minitech minitech responded: Well, if there's nothing obviously wrong, then it's not "very low quality." Something else might be an issue, and if that were the case and I wasn't sure what to do with it, I would ask on MSO.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I check the revisions of the posts, and if effectively there is something that indicates a low quality post, I flag it as valid. "Low quality" flags should not replace down-votes, though.

genesis genesis answered: I would ask someone for their opinion, or let the flag be marked as resolved by someone else

Barry Barry answered: Obviously check any edits that may have changed the quality of the post. Then check out the User. Either previous history available to mods or chat with a few other mods to see if the user has been in any conflicts with other users. If they are all negative then dismiss the flags.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Usually, this indicates a decent question that is phrased poorly. In the past, I've edited such questions into shape and seen a good response to that. I'd do so and dismiss the existing flags. I doubt that the flags would return.

awoodland awoodland answered: Check the revision history - it's quite likely if a post has seen that much attention that someone else has fixed the problem whilst the flags were waiting in the queue

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: Read the comments, if any, and go from there. Maybe have a look at the flagger's flagging history and look for a pattern: targeted flagging of a specific user, etc.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Ask on meta if I'm not sure, otherwise I cancel the flags.

Moshe Moshe answered: If I'm unfamiliar with the subject, defer to other mods. If I'm certain that it's fine, dispute the flags.

slugster slugster answered: I have noticed this actually is the case with some of the VLQ flags in the queue. VLQ is a matter of opinion, but I wonder sometimes if they are raised maliciously on answers... in any case, I would prefer that people down vote and save the VLQ flags for the truly low quality posts. I've posted on meta about this before: The scourge of the Very Low Quality flag

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Tim Post Tim Post asked: Someone has dug up some bad things in your history, and questioned an action you took based on that. How will you deal with that?


genesis genesis answered: I would try to remember what happened, and in case that was my fault, I would do the action needed to rollback the action

genesis genesis continued: I would try to remember the situation, and in case I would think that I was really wrong, I would admit it and try to help to resolve the problems issued

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: It depends. Was it the result of a policy change? If so, should the policy be applied retroactively or should the old content be grandfathered? That probably falls on Jeff. If not, and I truly made a bad call, I'll admit the mistake and correct it.

casperOne casperOne answered: I would ask the user to correlate the bad actions in my history with the action at hand. If there's a correlation, then I'd address the action to resolve it, if not, I'd not address it, but in the interest of transparency, bring it up with other mods to make the final decision.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I use my real name on the site and elsewhere because I stand behind what I say online. I'm confident that I could defend things I've said in the past, or at least explain my reasoning at the time I said it. I can also admit mistakes that I've made before and how I've learned from them since.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: Call a press conference and deny everything! (Seriously...) I'd keep my response to the facts of the action I took: explain what I did, why I did it, and that is the only reason for my action. I'd also reach out to another moderator and give them a heads up.

awoodland awoodland answered: If I agreed with their assessment I'd take appropriate corrective action. If I disagreed I'd defer to seek a second opinion.

Moshe Moshe answered: Back down where appropriate. There's no reason to entertain confrontation.

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random random asked: You closed a question. That OP later finds your home phone number, calls you up at 3am and asks for you to clarify the reasoning. How many days should they be suspended?


Neal Neal answered: 42 days

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: The user would not get any suspension, from me.

minitech minitech answered: Hm... if anyone calls that early, I don't even answer.

Stu Thompson Stu Thompson answered: My phone number is fairly easy to find, borderline public. So none...after the first call, where I tell them something like "This is not an appropriate phone call, we need to keep our communication within the confines of StackOverflow".

casperOne casperOne answered: There's a larger issue than suspending them for SO; all due respect to the system, my first concern is to protect myself and my family, so I would call the police first. I'd bring it up on meta second. I'd let Jeff, Joel, and the community decide.

awoodland awoodland answered: My home phone number doesn't ring at 3am so I can't get awoken in appropriately. Timezones might account for odd hours to phone at. My action would depend on the tone. If the user was abusive I would consider taking action, but not if it was a genuine plea for help (I don't know what typical suspension times are, I'm not even sure it would be the right tool though so the first step would be to find out what a proportionate response would be)

Moshe Moshe answered: I wouldn't be the one to handle it. I'd defer punishment to another mod.

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