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The following is a "digest" version of the June 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

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

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

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

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closed as off-topic by nicael, Martijn Pieters, CRABOLO, Braiam, Lance Roberts Oct 31 '14 at 14:15

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question pertains only to a specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to our network or software that drives it as a whole, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated." – nicael, Martijn Pieters, CRABOLO, Braiam, Lance Roberts
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Great job Tim, and it's presented well. Due to timing (at the time of that chat it was 0700 here and I was busy getting my kids prepared for school), will there be another? Is it even worth having another given that we have several candidates leading by a big margin? – slugster Jun 14 '12 at 23:14
@TimStone I found this information very useful. There were several candidates that I had not yet up-or-down-voted in the nomination process, and I was able to get a vote on everyone now. Thank you very much for this great format. – Erick Robertson Jun 15 '12 at 17:37
Yeah, this is great, thanks for the huge effort that must have gone into this! – Pëkka Jun 15 '12 at 18:00
Agreed, thanks Tim! Really appreciate you taking this task over. – The Unhandled Exception Jun 15 '12 at 19:57

36 Answers 36

casperOne casperOne asked: What actions have you seen any of the current SO moderators perform which you didn't agree with? Why didn't you agree with them, what would you have done differently, and why?

Sathya Sathya answered: I don't recall any actions that Stack Overflow mods have taken that I didn't agree with

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I can't imagine anything that I've seen that I disagreed with that hasn't already been brought up and resolved. If it's been resolved then I agree with the action, so I don't have a countering opinion. This isn't particularly helpful, but then again, I've been working with the mod, community and dev teams on the SE network for well over a year, so I'm not curious any longer about how things work, or why.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: There are questions that have been closed as off-topic, and which I would not have closed. That is because I knew an answer was possible, even if it was not a canonical one.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As I'm sure you're aware, I recently argued against the deletion of a particular question that, while now off-topic for the site, had in my opinion valuable content within it. In the argument of deletion vs. non-deletion, I tend to fall on the side of not deleting older content that no longer fits the site, but which has some value within it. I respect the moderator who took this action, and I just was arguing this on the basis of this one particular case.

  • jcolebrand jcolebrand noted: But we're already encouraged to not touch older already "venerable" questions, so this shouldn't be an issue going forward.

awoodland awoodland answered: I don't agree with editing spam out of deleted spam answers. It makes it harder to spot if the next possibly spammy answer on that question is a re-post of previously deleted stuff or not. I've seen a few moderators do that, I disagree but it's hardly something I'd rollback and it's been discussed on meta a few times.

Lix Lix answered: This incident occurred while going through the lists of posts from the 2012 cleanup effort. I would raise all my flags at my disposal (40+) and get them all "resolved" by one moderator closing the post with the appropriate NARQ or NC notice. One day and on one batch of flags, all the questions were deleted instantly.

Lix Lix continued: I think that when the instruction went out to flag old posts becuase they wouldn't receive enough attention (not necessarily because of the content) that the team should have had a singular action. Only one batch of 40+ flags resulted in immediate post deletions.

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Tim Stone Tim Stone 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.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: My understanding is that Diamonds are meant to use their powers 'organically' (my own characterization); Deal with flags, and deal with things we come across ourselves in our normal usage. But we should certainly not be seeking posts to cast the first-and-last Close vote on all the time, for example.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I would primarily be letting users "bring the problems to me" and just dealing with the ones I came across by nature. I wouldn't be out looking for things to be resolved, and as moderators, are we obligated to go looking for issues? We already have community moderation tools for those without diamonds to edit, close, migrate and the like. I can't see a need to pursue problems, except to handle them as I normally come across them.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: In a site like Stack Overflow, my role is primarily to deal with issues reported by the users. If a flag catch my attention on a blatantly off-topic question, for example, I close it.

Sathya Sathya answered: It'll be a mix of both - over at Super User it's me looking at what can be done as a Diamond + looking at the flag queue; but considering the size of Stack Overflow I believe I will focus more on dealing with issues users bring to me

Dennis Dennis answered: I think the time of a SO moderator is better spent by dealing with flags. We have thousands of users that can go through our millions of posts, but we only have a handful of moderator to act on the flags they raise.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: It'll be a little harder to take the time to search out problematic content with the volume of flags that need to be handled, but I do see myself performing tasks like running quick searches for non-answers or spam, as well as actively policing some of the more problematic areas of the site like [facebook].

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I'd check flags and handle anything which I'd notice as a regular user, too. I'd keep "using" SO after all and when noticing something that should be dealt with there'd be no reason to wait for someone to flag it. Before becoming moderator I'd have flagged it anyway and from a look on my "helpful/declined flag" count my flags usually fit with what the mods think is correct.

awoodland awoodland answered: Largely dealing with things people bring to moderators attention. Letting users guide the site involves allowing close/reopen/delete/undelete to occur "organically" in borderline cases to my mind. Unilateral action on unflagged content has to be reserved for only rare, completely unambiguous cases.

Lix Lix answered: If I see a post in need of moderation there is no need to wait - I'll take action right then and there - I'm already looking at the post. I think the bulk of the work will be dealing with issues brought to the moderators.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: The role of a moderator is to make decisions in cases where the community can't (or doesn't have a consensus) and to remove actively harmful content from the site. As part of that, it's my 'job' to go through the flag queue, but I'm also there to see things as they occur. As a moderator, I'll follow the same process I do now: Try to salvage bad [but potentially good] questions, close blatantly bad questions, and ask other moderators about the borderline issues.

minitech minitech answered: "Primarily" both :) I browse the questions regularly, and I wouldn't stop doing that. Obvious offenders are obvious.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: My primary role would be to undelete posts, as that would be the reason for my election. I would search undeleted posts on my own and I would also respond to requests for undeletion from users. I would generally avoid proactively casting cast binding close votes unless the situation was extremely unambiguous or I thought the post would receive too little traffic for community moderation to be effective.

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funkymushroom funkymushroom asked: What is your position on "Soap Boxing"? Is it ever okay to suggest an alternative solution, when this is not clearly answering the question being asked, but it is clear that the OP is on the wrong track?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I don't understand the first part, but I understand the second part. I'll answer the second part. I believe that when the OP is on the wrong track, the only solution is to comment appropriately, and if he/she cannot be convinced that they are doing the wrong thing, then move on?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: It is of course OK to suggest alternatives, and to politely inform a user if there is some unrelated problem with something they are asking. (SQL Injection, anyone?) But there is a line between doing so usefully and helpfully, and just hijacking a question. I generally feel the question asked should - at least also - be answered.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think that the answer should first answer what being asked, but then the OP should be told when he is completely out of truck. It happens with Drupal, where users don't understand it correctly, and write code in a wrong way, or in a not completely correct way.

Sathya Sathya answered: It is OK to suggest an alternative solution - but if it is not clearly answering the question then no that's not right

Dennis Dennis answered: Suggesting alternative solutions is always a good thing, as long as the underlying intentions are to help the OP or further readers of the question. There's a big difference between "Your current approach presents the flaws X, Y and Z. Instead of working around you, let me suggest doing this instead:..." and "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Why don't you just do...?" It's the latter tone that usually creates friction when suggesting alternatives.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: In general, moderators steer clear of making judgments on technical content for answers, so unless users were going off in the comments or someone was flagging this as a non-answer, I wouldn't even become involved in this. As long as the answer is addressing the question asked in some way, it's a valid answer and it's up to the community to vote no this how they will.

awoodland awoodland answered: It depends how it's phrased. If it's combative then it's not terribly helpful. If it's clearing up a misconception then it's really helpful. If it's providing an alternative solution to the same problem then that adds a lot of value to future visitors, even if not to the OP, which is great!

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I think I commented this on meta recently. I would post an answer that contains both well-explained arguments why what the OP is trying to do is a bad idea but also a solution in case he really wants to do whatever he asked for. If it's a question I cannot answer I would simply post my opinion on the issue in a comment. Depending on the question I might also keep the opinion out of the answer and post the answer containing just what the OP wants and also comment on the question.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: Unless is is truly unfeasible, answers should answer the question that was asked. However, if the user is making a poor decision then including an alternative in addition could be a great idea.

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Kalamane Kalamane asked: What will you do if on Friday afternoon you come across something that isn't exactly on topic but is highly entertaining and why?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I'll close it if it's off-topic and can't be migrated. Unless it's on Meta Stack Overflow. Then I'll probably let it ride for a bit but ask the other mods in the TL if that's cool ;-)

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I don't live In Iceland, and here is not always Friday. I will leave the decision to the other moderators.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I would expect the community will deal with it via DV/CV/MV if necessary. "Entertaining" would have absolutely no effect on what I would do with it if it came across the mod queue, personally. If it's off-topic, it's off-topic.

Sathya Sathya answered: Close it as offtopic; 'entertaining' questions are nice but they really don't serve much of a purpose.

Dennis Dennis answered: On SO, I'd delete it at sight. We hate fun here. On Meta, the community should probably deal with it. If it's extremely entertaining, it might stay for a while. Even Jeff Atwood posted entertaining off topic questions on Meta. But if the amount of fun gets overwhelming, a Moderator should step in. It stops being fun when Meta loses its functionality.

awoodland awoodland answered: Assuming it's a joke of some sort I'm inclined to view it with a smile, but once the joke has run its course the joke becomes just like any other noise on the site.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Feel bad for being the "party pooper" - we all smiled on funny questions that occurred in the past on SO - but do what needs to be done, i.e. cast the close vote if necessary.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: define 'isn't exactly on topic'. If it's a "What's your favorite programmable [thing]", then that's a question that is really off topic. (Both as a list of X question, as a not constructive question, and as a question that's better posed on Reddit).

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Jeremy Holovacs Jeremy Holovacs asked: Question: What qualifies you beyond your peers to be a moderator? What difference would you make compared to your "competitors", for lack of a better term?

Sathya Sathya answered: My experience as a trilogy moderator; keen observation of how Stack Overflow mods work (being in the Mod chat) & patience to deal with users.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think my way of viewing things can help in moderating. I don't think I am better than the others, but I can surely contribute.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I can't imagine that anything here makes me more qualified except my other moderation experience, on Database Administrators and on reddit. Otherwise I would have to say that I'm probably just as qualified as most of the other moderator candidates. I do know that I have age and age-related maturity on my side, but so do most of the candidates.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As can be seen from the number of flags that I've cast over the years, and the comments on my nomination by the current moderators, I already have significant experience with moderation-related tasks and am perfectly willing to be a janitor here. I know full well what I'm getting into and won't give up on this after a month.

awoodland awoodland answered: (Awkward question! I think most of the candidates would be great moderators). I'm more active in chat than quite a few of the others which I think is helpful. I've flagged more than most (all?) which puts me in a position where I've seen a lot of abusive actions and seen how they're handled (at least the bits you can infer from public info) by the current moderators. I think I have a level of professionalism which matches the best of the other candidates.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I think we are all well-qualified. I think one of my advantages is my enormous amount of time - as a CS student and "computers guy" I'm spending most of the day on the computer anyway. Besides that I already have quite some experience in moderation-related tasks (not on SO but from other big communities). Oh, and I'm nice. But then again - all of us probably are. ;)

Lix Lix answered: Time zone - Most of the moderators are grouped in +- same time zones - some one outside would be able to lend a hand by doing kind of alternating shifts :)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I've taken a different tack than others here. I've spent a lot of time editing questions, and only flagging when I was either out of close votes for the day, or when I wasn't sure I was making the right call (or I thought the question was egregious enough that it needed moderator attention). Most people flag and move on (I explain the reasons why I think that happens here:…

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Ben Ben asked jcolebrand: Why is someone of low rep less than 30k? They account for less than 0.1% of the user base and as the current moderator candidates show there is no need to have anywhere near this much to be an active and productive member of the community. How would you treat people of less than 30k rep differently to those above?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I answered that already, actually. My point was "highly respected members of the community", and that usually implies being in that "0.1%" you mentioned.

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