The following is a "digest" version of the November 2011 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat #1. 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 later 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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    Can candidates edit the responses here to add clarity or more info?
    – jjnguy
    Nov 16, 2011 at 19:27
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    @jjnguy - Not an official response, obviously, but I think it would be clearly appropriate to edit to fix a formatting, grammar, or spelling error, if that's what you mean by 'clarity'. As for adding or changing content, I think it would be wise to leave responses as-is; they're produced under a time-sensitive scenario and should reflect what you produced when you were on-the-spot and didn't have time to kill. In any case, we should definitely restrict posts to content that fits in a chat/comment; this is already madness. Nov 16, 2011 at 20:16
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    @jjnguy just leave a comment on it if you want to clarify
    – waffles
    Nov 16, 2011 at 23:11
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    I think it would be very nice if these could be individual questions in a special "townhall" tag so the community can weigh in (via up and down votes) to who answered the questions well and who didn't. I know that's a lot of work to set up, and I certainly don't have the time to do it. But it is a thought (potentially automated?)
    – corsiKa
    Nov 16, 2011 at 23:18
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    @glowcoder post that as an answer to How can we improve the town hall digests? Nov 17, 2011 at 12:41
  • 1
    Great job Rebecca and Tim (and anyone else involved) in putting together this digest.
    – slugster
    Nov 18, 2011 at 0:38

27 Answers 27


Sam Saffron Sam Saffron asked: (Very open ended) What is the biggest issue/s you see on Stack Overflow and how are you going to help fix them? - great answers on previous question btw

casperOne casperOne answered: Getting people to take bad content and make it better. That's the #1 issue on SO right now. You have to make people believe in the community and the site's goals rather than serving their need for an answer. There's no tool that can do that, it requires communication and effort.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Honestly? The complete abundance of duplicates and bad questions that completely reduce the ability to find good info via search. And having thousands of canonical answers to the same question isn't an answer either. Take for example what happened with the "What Does This Symbol Mean" question in PHP. It has quite literally thousands of dups. But since search can't really find symbols well (or they don't know what to call it), it'll always be a problem...

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Stack Overflow has a lot of questions that need resolution. Either editing (I still think there needs to be a 'flag for editing reason', or closing, or re-opening, or whatever. It's a big site. I can roll through my close votes every day and not put a dent into the number of questions that need adjudication. That's partly why I'd like to be a moderator, to help adjudicate these questions so the community can focus on improving the questions that can be improved.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: The biggest issue I actually see on SO is having questions that are either far too broad ("Please write this application for me") or not fully formed ("Sometimes I get an error when I do things. Why?"). The former is tough to deal with simply because it's dealing either with a lack of effort on the part of the OP or complete bewilderment.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: The biggest issue is the growing population of users. That means more poor questions, more edits to review, more answers that aren't really answers. They threaten to dilute the good content. (This is of course the greatest strength of Stack Overflow as well...)

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: The second is easier to deal with because it's usually not difficult to coax more information out of a user.

casperOne casperOne answered: Another issue (but not #1 IMO): getting questions answered; there are so many zero/one vote questions, questions that are legitimately good, that simply don't get eyes.

jonsca jonsca answered: I think one of the biggest issues is standardizing closing requirements across different generations of questions. Users try to use old questions as precedent for their own subjective or poll style question to stay open. I think closing a lot of the older questions and leaving moderator messages that newer questions are not to be judged based on these past questions would be a difficult step, but perhaps necessary.

Moshe Moshe answered: One of the biggest issues on SO is the new users who don't necessarily understand the system or how to formulate questions. I think I'm great with spelling, grammar, and with figuring out what an OP probably meant. That's not to say that I'll just put words in OP's mouths, but I'll give it a shot if the question is vague and I have a good idea of what was meant based on context.

slugster slugster answered: Duplicates are going to increase as a problem. Other problems are cutting down on noisy posts from new users, and cleaning up historical items (I touched on this in my mod submission)

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Over the last year, Jeff has repeatedly stated that low quality incoming content is the site's biggest challenge, because it risks reducing the signal to noise ratio. I agree, but I think a lot has been done in the last year to address this. Flagging for non-answers (forum-like behavior) has dramatically increased, and the quality filters have stopped many outright bad questions.

  • casperOne casperOne asked Brad Larson: Isn't that just deferring to a tool and not speaking to what you would do as a moderator though?

    ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Actually, I'll adjust my answer. Search is the biggest problem. Poor search (both in the ability for search to encompass a problem, and poor ability for users to phrase their real question properly) leads to massive duplication and blurs out good content from great content.

    Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson challenged: Isn't duplicated content a good way to help search though?

    ircmaxell ircmaxell clarified: To an extent, yes. But massive duplication is not. Not unless all were closed to the same question. But in reality we have tons of questions pointed to for the same subject. So it gets diluted simply because there's so much duplication

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I encounter this multiple times an hour: "it does not work plz help me" - I'm not sure there's much I can do beyond prompting an asker for elaboration and helping them figure out what to elaborate though... and as others mention, the proliferation of duplicates. The ones that are especially hard to find are about symbols (i.e. not letters or numbers) and keywords that turn out to be stop words, such as "as", "is", etc.

BoltClock BoltClock clarified: If it doesn't look salvageable in any way, in that there's no info provided at all or I can't infer anything from the tags, then I'll just close it. If it looks incomplete but is sort of "getting there", I'll try to squeeze something out of them.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I think the biggest issue on Stack Overflow is volume. We have a lot of users and a lot of posts and that's a lot for anybody to go through and maintain. I don't think it's necessarily an issue that needs "fixing", but it certainly needs to be managed. I would like to make it easier for moderators to deal with flags and routine community maintenance through MSO feature requests. I also want to make sure bad posts are edited or cleared away quickly to allow better ones to shine.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I would be content in the role of a garbage man, taking care of obviously inappropriate content that others have flagged, as well as identifying things that don't belong. I may also be able to provide a unique perspective on the popular Apple-related tags, and help make determinations as to bad or duplicate content there.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: The inability to participate in a forum/discussion is both the strength & weakness of the StackExchange setup. It really minimizes the signal-to-noise ratio, but sacrifices the questions & interactions that come from being able to discuss an issue. Chat, besides being a separate (and somewhat buried) entity, doesn't provide exactly the same format as UBB/etc forums. The double edged nature doesn't leave options for fixing, just acknowledging.


Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked: Given how close in scope Programmers is to Stack Overflow, what purpose do you think it serves? What types of questions should always be on Stack Overflow, what should be migrated, and what should just be closed without migrating?

slugster slugster answered: ProgSE is about programming, whereas SO is for prog specific questions

**![slugster](https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/75c88bad261fb1cd22a29d81029c665d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG) [slugster](https://chat.stackoverflow.com/users/109702/slugster) [clarified](https://chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/message/1880130#1880130):** ProgSE has allowed q's like "how do i improve in this area..." etc, clearly OT in SO. There is still some cross over, like "what pattern would be best for this". If it is a cross over q then i would leave it in SO.

casperOne casperOne answered: Questions that have a definitive answer in relation to the technology are SO questions, ones that are open to approach are more suited for Programmers. As for what should be closed without migrating, that's a slippery slope, there's way too much content outside of the conditions I spent describing to say "just delete it all"

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I'm not really sure that I can answer that any more specifically than to say that technical questions relating to software development belong on SO, and non-technical questions (or more broad questions looking for explanations or historical/philosophical exploration) belong on Programmers.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: My general rule of thumb is if it's subjective, it should go on Programmers. However, if it is far too subjective, and not a good fit for programmers either, then it should simply be closed.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'm not active on Programmers myself, but things that can (and should) stay on SO are practical, technical coding problems. Stuff that should go there are constructive, thought-provoking, relatable threads related to our work and ourselves. Anything that doesn't warrant good answers on either site should be closed on the spot.

  • Mark Trapp Mark Trapp asked BoltClock: Can you clarify what you mean by "thought-provoking questions" and how they differ from discussion topics?

BoltClock BoltClock replied: Hmm that might have been the wrong term - I should have said "intellectual" discussions related to software dev. Things that aren't just banter or general advice, etc.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Programmers fills the need for a more conceptual site. It attracts people who can talk software design and process till the cows come home, but have no interest in digging for those questions among tonnes of code-specific problems. Problems with implementations should land on SO and conceptual questions should land on Programmers. PSE also takes some number of career-related questions so long as they're uniquely related to software development.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: My opinions on what's appropriate for Programmers vs. plainly off topic can be summarized in the discussion from this answer to a question I asked on Meta: Should questions in the [work-environment] tag be migrated to Programmers?

jonsca jonsca answered: I wouldn't say anything should always be on SO, but in general, questions with specific code issues should definitely stay. Questions that are more conceptual and abstract, but which have definite answers should be moved to Programmers. Poll/list/opinion questions should not be moved, and should be closed as off-topic for the network (unless a 2.0 site pops up to take them, which is doubtful).

George Stocker George Stocker answered: If it's a question about a programming problem, it should be Stack Overflow. If it's a design/architectural question, Programmers. If it's part of the softer side of Programming, then most likely Programmers or Close.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I haven't been on Programmers a lot, but I know the original premise of a "subjective" version of Stack Overflow got nuked a long time ago... Programming questions and the aforementioned questions about tools used by programmers should be always on SO. There's a section on the PSE FAQ explaining what belongs on the site and what doesn't. If it doesn't belong there, they should just get closed without migrating. If it does, it could be migrated.

Moshe Moshe answered: I see programmers as a place for questions that aren't quite code related. An example would be what @ircmaxell mentioned before about IDEs. Questions that related to the art of programming but aren't technical might belong there, assuming that they're not subjective or irrelevant. (I've committed that sin by asking about whiteboards and such.)


Pubby Pubby asked: <10000 rep candidates: How familiar are you with moderation tools? Do you know the full extent of what moderators can do?

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I'm a nearly-12000 user on Meta and a 17000-user on Programmers. Additionally I'm a moderator on two sites. I'm very well familiar with moderator tools from both a user and a moderator perspective. I also know what moderators are in for, although I expect there to be a lot more of it on Stack Overflow.

jonsca jonsca answered: I have not used the flag queue first hand, but between discussions of it on Meta, and having been someone sending a lot of flags into the queue, I have some sense of how it works. Since 5K users can access the suggested edit queue, I have been using that faithfully, approving/rejecting about 500 edits so far. I am comfortable with that aspect, and have been since I crossed 2K.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'm over 10K, so I've seen and used the tools. That said, I'm not confident that I know everything - I'm sure that there's a thing or two that I must have missed.

  • 1
    The only candidates without 10k or mod status somewhere on the network are jonsca (5.2k on SO), Octavian Damiean (9.2k on SO), and Stu Thompson (9.1k on SO). These guys really need(ed) to answer this one well. Nov 16, 2011 at 19:59
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    The only other candidates without 20k or mod status somewhere on the network are Andrew Barber (11.3k on SO), awoodland (13k on SO), David (18.7k on SO), Jeremy Banks (14.2k on SO), minitech (11.1k on SO), moshe (11.1k on SO), and slugster (15.4k on SO). These users probably ought to answer this question. Nov 16, 2011 at 20:01
  • Anna Lear is a Programmers mod, Barry is a Web Apps mod, jcolebrand is a DBA mod, kiamlaluno has 20k on English, and all the rest have 20k on SO. These users probably don't need to answer this question. See also this reply to jonsca. Nov 16, 2011 at 20:01

Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: How much time do you anticipate spending on the site? How much of that would be "moderating"?

slugster slugster answered: A good portion of my time is already spent "moderating" - roughly 50-60%

*slugster slugster continued: To be even more specific than my prev answer, I already spend roughly 12 hours a day 'loosely' connected to SO, this means I have it on the screen in front of me, I hit the site probably at least every 1/4 hour (when I do a build, etc), and roughly 1/2 of that time I will perform a mod type action (like check flags)

casperOne casperOne answered: I expect most of my time to be spent moderating, as it is now, I believe I spend more time doing cleanup/moderation/10K rep duties than I do answering questions.

Moshe Moshe answered: I usually check SO compulsively. I'll be around a lot during the day for short stints. I don't think I can quantify it, but I'm certainly spending time and now it'll just be a change in priority.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: A bloody lot. With respect to how much is spent moderating, I do that now approximately 60 to 75% of the time. So that might increase a bit, but the percentage won't by much

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I already spend at least a few hours a day on the site answering questions and performing minor edits and other moderation tasks. I'd suspect that, were I to be elected, I would spend at least an hour a day just on moderating tasks, but the number would more often than not be higher than that.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I used to spend a lot more time posting answers, but now I spend the majority (~60-70%) of my time on SO flagging posts, making edits, voting to close, etc.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I spend most of my time on the site currently doing moderation-related tasks, as I find that more rewarding than answering questions currently. I regularly dedicate a set amount of time each day to stop by and edit, close vote, or flag appropriate content. I think this shows in the number of flags I've cast so far.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Every day - I'll periodically look at flags and of course still carry out whatever can be done on the spot if I stumble upon a bad post.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I expect to spend a few hours a day on the site, more or less same as I do now. I check in multiple times a day on Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow. I expect most of my time to be spent moderating and some time left for hunting for questions I can answer well that haven't already been answered.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: Stack Overflow's my home page, and it's almost always my first destination when I have time to kill (so several hours a day). If I were a moderator, I'd anticipating spending at least 75% of my time on the site conducting moderator activities.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I spend about 3 hours a day on the site (interspersed through morning, afternoon, and night). I run through my close votes, and I run through my flags every day (or try to. More so lately). I also try to hit the 'review' panel for new questions /answers at least once a day. So, about 80% of the time I'd spend on the site would be moderating.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Almost all of my time spen on SO will be moderating. I hope to spend at least 15 minutes every 2 hours on the site during the work day. I will always have stackoverflow open at nights and be checking it off and on at regular intervals. And I will moderate from most weekends during the day (CST).

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I'm currently answering less than 5 questions, but if I've got the browser open I'm scanning SO for tag clarifications, edits, reviewing, etc. Less answering from me, I don't want the diamond to influence votes so I'll comment


George Stocker George Stocker asked: There are 28 candidates for Moderator and 4 moderator slots. Why do you think you should be one of those 4? What do you bring to the table that the other 27 don't?

casperOne casperOne answered: Passion and a genuine desire to help; I didn't just "throw my hat in the ring" like a few others (apologies, and in the interest of transparency, I did do that last election). Also, for me, this is about helping people, not about a rise to power. It's about seeing the big picture and using that vision to help as many as possible.

  • *ircmaxell ircmaxell remarked: Fair point. I put myself in not because I want a mod slot. Honestly, there's plenty of things I could do with my spare time. I put my name in because 1. A number of people asked me to. 2. I felt I could do some good. 3.I think it's important to have mods that have deep knowledge of the topic being moderated.

casperOne casperOne continued: That doesn't mean that the other candidates don't have it, but this has been a core part of my message.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I'm a 'lifer.' I've been a member since the private beta, and I've participated in the past 3 elections now. I have visited the site 400 days in a row at one point and I don't plan on slowing down. I know that in the past we have had moderators that win an election but then slack on their mod duties, I will do no such thing. Also, since I've been around forever, I know the principles behind why this site was founded, and I will strive to uphold them as a moderator.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: What do I bring to the table? I've been moderator of some very high traffic sites before. I think I have a reasonably unique take on the importance of balancing helping people with helping the community. What's good for a basic, unskilled user is not necessarily the same as what's good for the community as a whole. I like to think I can walk that line fairly well...

Moshe Moshe answered: I pride myself in my ability to understand what others are trying to say and in the fact that I nearly never allow myself write in textspeak. My spelling and grammar are pretty darn good. (That palm card flub aside.) Stackoverflow is my go-to site when I let my fingers pick a random URL to type in to my browser. I'm on SO even when I don't consciously mean it. That says something.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I can answer the first part of your question: I love the SO website, and I already spend a significant amount of time on the site. As a moderator, I'd have the ability to assist the existing moderators in what they do. As for what I bring that others don't? That I can't answer, as I don't feel like it's appropriate for me to compare myself to every other candidate (this isn't real politics, after all!)

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson continued: However, I do bring experience with this sort of activity to the table. I've moderated (and run) large internet communities in the past, so I "know the ropes", as it were.

slugster slugster answered: To me being a Mod is not just about "earning my stripes because I've done my time in the trenches". It's about having more capability to close OT questions, delete closed questions, delete non answers, and carry out work on older historical stuff on the site.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: There are very solid candidates in this election. You could elect any of the top meta users and be in a good place. The things I think that matter in a moderator are this: Active in the community (meta, editing, flagging, voting to close/reopen), able to communicate clearly, and maturity. I bring all three to the table.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I don't necessarily want to frame it from the "other 27 people don't do this" perspective. We all bring excellent qualities to the table. However, I think the biggest strengths I bring to this election are (in no particular order) experience with Stack Exchange as a network and Stack Overflow in particular, a firm handle on what goes to Programmers, diplomacy even in response to things that make my blood boil, and the fact that I take a moderator's job as an important responsibility.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: If I'm not mistaken, I've cast more flags than any other candidate, so at the very least if I were to be a moderator I'd only be using up one person's time to handle that material, not two. Additionally, I can bring a background in an area (Mac and iOS) that is fairly popular on the site, yet is not represented by current moderators. That may help with borderline flags that require a little technical knowledge there.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I believe I would be more permissive than most of the candidates when it comes to content. Many argue that Stack Overflow has way too much volume and we lose nothing by closing and deleting bad questions and answers. Again, I see things differently. Sure, there are questions that can't be salvaged and should be closed, and possibly deleted as fast as you can - and I haven't hesitated when that was the case. But I think people are too quick to pull the trigger, and closing a question...

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ continued: ...before the OP can even respond to is very discouraging to new users. I really, really think we can be more friendly to novice programmers and new users without hurting the overall quality of the site's questions and answers. After all, we all were there at some point. Even Jon Skeet.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'm highly active in various aspects of the site. Editing, flagging, voting on posts, commentary, closing, deleting and reopening, as well as asking and answering questions. I believe I've seen enough posts to be able to tell what can and should be done to what kind of posts, depending on the nature of their content (and to certain special extents if necessary, users) As a little bonus, I'm in the same timezone as Tim Post, and as he said we could use another moderator in our timezone.

jonsca jonsca answered: I bring a fresher set of eyes to the table. I haven't been on the site very long, which some might see as a detriment, but it means that I've been through flagging questions, etc. more recently, and can potentially see things from the perspective of an "everyday" user more readily.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I'm glad to see the turnout for the moderator spots, and SO stands to benefit from variety. Even if not a mod, there's still the ability to participate in manner by editing tags, content, etc. That's what I'll resume doing if I'm not elected to Mod status.


Sam Saffron Sam Saffron asked: When should a question be closed, and when should it be deleted?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: It should be closed if it's either low quality or duplicated. It should be deleted if it's not useful as reference for either of those two usages (note that not all low quality or duplicates deserved to be deleted, only ones that are duplicated all the time or are so low quality that they can't be salvaged)

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: A question should be deleted in ovbious cases when it is spam and/or offensive. But, usually questions should be closed to be allowed to be fixed. If a question remains closed and poor for long enough, it should then be deleted.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I only ever flag/vote to delete spam posts or stuff that is obviously and completely off-topic like "where can i get this monitor"

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Closing a question should be done if a question doesn't meet the standards of the site. A closure should ideally be accompanied by a comment explaining the reasons. It's an opportunity for the asker or another community member to improve the question to get it reopened. Questions should be deleted when they're obviously spam/offensive or haven't shown any improvement after some time.

Anna Lear Anna Lear continued: Some questions are worth keeping around for historical reasons but aren't welcome any more. Those should be annotated appropriately and left closed.

casperOne casperOne answered: Rude or offensive content should be deleted immediately. If applicable to another site in the SE network, migrate immediately. Obvious off topic content not applicable to another site in the SE network should be closed immediately, left to the community to decide whether or not to delete.

Moshe Moshe answered: If a question has been asked many times before or is "beyond repair", for example, completely incomprehensible, or written in a non-English language, then it needs to be deleted. (I did once Google translate and then repair a question asked in Portuguese, if I recall correctly.)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: A question should be closed when it meets one of the criteria for closing. It should be closed quickly, so that it doesn't cause problems. The author should be told explicitly why it was closed so they can either improve it, or try again. Deletion should only happen when the removal of the question will not adversely affect the knowledge of the site. A bad question with a great answer should be improved and possibly closed and locked, but not deleted.

jonsca jonsca answered: Some questions should be both. If a question is completely off topic, or a duplicate that doesn't point to other useful questions or duplicates, then it should be done away with. Spam deserves special treatment, and should be obliterated, but instead, we should definitely delete it.

  • casperOne, slugster, and NUE's replies weren't directed at Sam's question. I'll fix it, but I'm guessing that this set of answers was generated by a script, and that there's a bug in the script. Can you (or whoever wrote the script) check this and make sure that no other answers were posted to the wrong questions, and that no answers to this question were missed? Thanks! Nov 16, 2011 at 20:06
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    @KevinVermeer if you look at the actual chat message, it is an explicit reply to Sam's question... Nov 16, 2011 at 20:42
  • I did look at all three. casperOne's answer and NUE's answer were directed at Michael Mrozek's question, andslugster's answer was directed at Mark Trapp's question. Before my edit, casperOne had two answers. Do you see something different? Nov 16, 2011 at 21:18
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    @KevinVermeer No, that's correct, something just got confused in our copying process from the chat. I should have caught it earlier when I was verifying the formatting, sorry about that. I'll check if any messages inadvertently were left off as a result.
    – Tim Stone
    Nov 16, 2011 at 21:46

Brant Bobby Brant Bobby asked: What is your stance on questions about software under NDAs such as Apple's? Let's say somebody asks a question about the iOS 8 SDK and it begins attracting flags. How would you proceed?

George Stocker George Stocker answered: There are 'safe harbor' provisions in the DMCA. What I worry about (And IANAL, so this is just my understanding of the players involved) is that by moderating these messages, we open ourselves up to legal liability with regards to trade secrets. Enforcing Apple's Trade secrets is apple's job; and if there was a DMCA takedown request, then I trust the Stack Overflow team would know about it and handle it before it even got to a community moderator.

slugster slugster answered: Too localised, unlikely to be of value in the future, so close it. Re-ask when no NDA applies

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Honestly, I don't see it as a problem unless the NDA would put potential commenters and answerers into jepordy. It's not the purpose of a mod to enforce that style of issue. If it was, we'd have to deal with patent issues as well, and that's just a bit outside of the scope of a mod. Otherwise you'd be asking us to be lawyers as well...

Moshe Moshe answered: It depends on the nature of the question. If a question is asking about NDA code, then there's a decent chance that it's too temporally localized and should be closed on those grounds. That said, I think it's a case by case basis.

casperOne casperOne answered: My gut tells me that if it is under NDA, and a user is shown to be using to use SO to violate an NDA, then it should be deleted immediately; SO should not be complicit in aiding the violation of a binding legal agreement between two other parties.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: It the individual's job to uphold an NDA, not the moderator of stackoverflow.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I don't see the existence of an NDA as having anything to do with StackOverflow. NDA's--Apple's and others'--are between the company and the developer who agrees to them. While a question that involves information behind an NDA may well be inappropriate (simply because the presence of the NDA means that you're unlikely to find anyone who can authoritatively answer the question in public), the NDA is irrelevant.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As I've answered before, an NDA between a developer and another company is not the concern of Stack Overflow and should not by itself be used as a reason to close or downvote a question. Questions that are about problems with that week's beta release should be closed as too localized, but that's not NDA-related.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: If it's too localized, I close it as such. Otherwise I'll leave it to @BradLarson to handle it since he's more experienced in this area, and/or leave a comment pointing to a more authoritative and useful resource such as Apple's forums. It also has to depend on the software itself and the company though - I'm referring to Apple in this case.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: In the past, if I've felt that the question would not receive a great answer here due to the NDA restricting other developers, I've left a comment directing them to Apples developer forums (devforums.apple.com), which are considered inside of the NDA and usually are fairly good sources of information before release. Note that this is a comment intended to point them in the proper direction, not an answer.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Since it's a potentially legal matter, I'd start by clarifying the policy with SE staff and verifying that material being posted is, in fact, under an NDA. My expectation would be that if there is an NDA in place and the poster's violating it, that the content would have to be removed, but I'm content to implement whatever the official policy on it is.

jonsca jonsca answered: I think there is precedent to close these questions. They are localized to a product that has not been officially released and, more importantly, which has been restricted by law. If they are answerable questions, it may not seem as if they are hurting anyone, but rather than try to field the legal issues later, it should probably be nipped in the bud.


jrg jrg asked: What is your stance about questions related to development tools, e.g. Notepad++, vim, emacs, eclipse, etc?

slugster slugster answered: The are prog related so OK on SO, unless they are lame like "what is the best"

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I'm happy to say that Emacs and Vim have wider adoption than just us programmers. That being said, it depends on the context. If you want to write a LISP macro for Emacs, that's a programming question. If you want to install Emacs but can't, that's a super user question. It's all about context.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: It doesn't belong on the site. If it's a "which to use" question, perhaps programmers (perhaps depending on how specific it is, and how high of quality it is). If it's a specific feature problem, then on superuser. But it's likely a dup anyway and could likely be directly closed.

casperOne casperOne answered: Depends on the tool, some have an obvious place on SU, but some are tools that are used everyday by devs. I'd lean more towards allowing questions about tools for the dev environments I am familiar with to stay on SO, only because I know how integral they are to all the other questions. For example, should questions about VS.NET be migrated to SU? I'd think not.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException answered ఠ_ఠ: It depends. I'm open to any reasonable question about them, as this is covered in the FAQ. The section explaining "What kind of questions should be asked here" includes "software tools commonly used by programmers"

  • ircmaxell ircmaxell remarked: I think that hints at the larger issue. Reasonable questions. Ignoring the high likelyhood of it being a duplicate, typically those style questions are very subjective. What's your take on the remaining. What makes it not being a duplicate and not being subjective

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ responded: See good subjective, bad subjective and How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication. This is the stance I would take if I were a mod. Of course there's some discretion to apply to that. As everyone probably knows, I think I'd be a bit more permissive than most mods.

ircmaxell ircmaxell acknowledged: Quite fair. it's just sometimes a very hard line to walk...

Moshe Moshe answered: I agree with @ircmaxell on this one. Perhaps migrate to SU or Programmers. Although, honestly, "which to use" questions are often subjective, which is a direct reason for closure.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I think those are definitely OT on SO. Specific questions about them (e.g. "How do I change the default placement of braces in Eclipse?") could be on topic on Programmers, but often questions like that are asking for comparisons and opinions anyway.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Dev tools should be discussed on StackOverflow. (Unless they really belong on Programmers)

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I'm not a fan of plain "how do I find a menu that does X" kind of questions. I think many of the tools-related questions can land on Super User instead. However, if there's a tool-related problem that requires developer insight, I think they're fine on Stack Overflow. (Programmers doesn't accept tool-related questions if we can at all help it.)

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: Editors/tools are a useful and relevant topic, and questions about them should be permitted. However, people often ask questions about editors/tools that are very open-ended. These questions seem to be closed much less often than questions about programming that are equally broad or non-constructive. I would try to encourage users to improve these questions, and I think we should be closing more of them than we are now.

  • jrg jrg asked Jeremy Banks: Can you explain in some more details as to what a open-ended editor/tool question would be? (outside of the ancient battle "which is best, emacs or vim?"-type questions)

BoltClock BoltClock answered: If questions asking about them are not about their use in programming in any way at all, I'll move them out. Otherwise they stay, since the FAQ says they're OK to stay. (I love Notepad++, but I'm not overzealous to keep every Notepad++ question on SO just because programmers use it.)

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: If they're about the proper use of those tools in a programming-related task, I see very little problem with questions about tools.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I feel Dev Tools questions are more a part of SO than configuration for *nix/webserver/router/firewall/etc


random random asked: Do you love What is the best comment in source code? or do you just like it a lot? Basically, do upvotes on answer mills sway you into passing the buck or will you close on sight?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Close on sight, unless I think it has value as a question... That particular one does not belong on SO, so I would cv on sight...

minitech minitech answered: Upvote, then close as not constructive.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: Whether or not I love (or like) a question isn't relevant. Do I like the question? Yeah; I think it's awesome and it's generated some hilarious answers. But does it belong on SO? No.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: These days it's close and migrate on sight. We have a better place for questions like that now. (That question should remain though.)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: If I recall correctly, at the time that question first came out, we weren't able to lock questions (I could be wrong, but it was way back in the beginning). Even then, the community was way different back then. Those types of questions were tolerated. Today, that question would probably be migrated to Programmers or close outright. I think the question is funny, and I am glad it's in a historical state (locked), but I wouldn't support it being asked today.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I spent a ton of timing reviewing through old, popular questions and flagging the inappropriate ones for closing. It really irritates me to see high votes on a question that should be closed, so I certainly wouldn't hesitate.

casperOne casperOne answered: I don't have a personal dislike for those questions, but it's to be closed and locked on site. The current state of that question sets the precedent for what should be done with these types of questions now.

Moshe Moshe answered: Love it, but won't hold back from closing if it's off topic. I've seen questions closed like that before.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Close on sight. (Or for @Aaronaught, burninate.) Popular questions like that are fun and entertaining, but Stack Overflow isn't built to do them well. There are better places and if we can focus on what Stack Overflow does best (Q&A with real questions and real answers), the signal to noise ratio will be even more awesome and the site will continue to be great.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I think one of the toughest things for new users to understand is that Stack Overflow is not a hammer, and all their questions about programming are not nails. 'What's the best comment in source code' is a great question for reddit, where there are plenty of good answers, but not a good place where reputation has meaning (i.e, you get more 'power', and the site trusts you more), and it's also not appropriate on Stack Overflow because our questions are meant to have one canonical answer

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I used to believe those questions should never be deleted for their historical value. I used to disagree with the policy change that started a process of slowly deleting many of my favorite questions on SO (eg: "what real life bad habits has programming given you?"). Actually, I still think they have historical value and should be preserved - elsewhere. In fact, I am rolling out a site with these forsaken questions.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ continued: However, I realize this encourages users to ask new questions like that. I now vote to close this kind of questions.

slugster slugster answered: That thread is humerous, but definately off topic now. If it got started now I would shut it down straight away, just because it gets upvotes is no excuse to keep it. BUT I would tend to keep older threads like that - they do no harm, and are part of the fabric of SO.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I've voted to close plenty of questions that were popular, but not appropriate for the site. As Jeff points out in the recent Stack Exchange podcast, you sometimes have to make tough decisions like this to avoid a mess like you see in certain areas on Reddit. Moderators are here to take unpopular decisions sometimes, for the betterment of the site.

jonsca jonsca answered: Yuck. Posts like that had their day, but it's time to go.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Newer questions like that will be closed on sight, and removed if not worth keeping at all. Questions like that were OK in the past, but not anymore. I wouldn't do anything more than close for older questions still open to wiki answers, though.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I think things like that are great to establish the community, but shouldn't be encouraged all the time.

  • Whomever promises to unlock this post when they receive moderator privileges gets my vote.
    – bkaid
    Nov 16, 2011 at 20:40
  • In my answer I said I would close it, but that was me automatically repeating the wording of the question. If that have useful information in them, I would lock them instead. This is what I suggested in my flags, and after the explicit "historical significance" locking reason was added I flagged to request it be added to several applicable questions that had previously been closed.
    – Jeremy
    Nov 17, 2011 at 5:54

Shog9 Shog9 asked: How will you respond to a user calling you out by name on Meta, daming your black nazi soul for closing their question and vowing vengeance upon you?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: It's their right to call me out. I would politely try to explain the rationale behind whatever decision was made. If it proceeded from there, I would ask another mod (or two) to step in to assist...

casperOne casperOne answered: IOW: I simply don't care, the community in meta will be more than capable of handling that, I won't need to bother with it. =)

casperOne casperOne continued: Although if the user changed it to address where he feels I closed the question illegitimately and made a case for himself, then I would address it, and if the community decides against it, then I'd reverse the action (or some other mod would have by that point).

casperOne casperOne concluded: As an aside, I've done commenting on streams for fighting video games, I've dealt with thousands of stream monsters; I'm used to having waves of negativity pounding on me. That said, I'm used to being under a microscope, and I am not put off by people calling me out and will reverse decisions if need be (not egotistical about it)

Moshe Moshe answered: I will leave a single polite comment, if appropriate (usually it's not), and walk away. End of story. There's no need to engage trolls. If they raise valid points, I'll respond - again, politely.

minitech minitech answered: Since I would never make any bad decisions, that post would have been downvoted into oblivion already and I wouldn't need to do a thing ;)

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: The same way I would in real life: nuke them from orbit ;) Really, though, it's the internet; personal attacks are cheap and easy. I don't place a whole lot of stock in them. I'd be far more likely to take offense to someone blasting an answer that I put on SO (and even that I have a fairly thick skin for) than I would about being called out on Meta.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Been there, done that, bought that T-Shirt. Abusive editing Normally though when it's happened to me, a lot of people rally around and defend my actions (usually because they were in keeping with SO tradition).

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I will always take such criticism seriously. It takes some guts to call out a user directly. I will however stand by unpopular decisions as long as they were validated by other mods if it comes to that. It is good to understand where I may be coming across as unpopular though. I'm supposed to be the face/name for the community, so I want people to like me.

slugster slugster answered: Yawn. 12 hour ban. Send them to the naughty corner. I've got kids, and I've been a bouncer in the past, I've heard it all :)

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I'll respond cordially with an explanation as to why I closed their question. A reasonable user will accept that explanation if I was right. I was wrong in closing them, I'll reopen them and let the community decide if it belongs. If the user just plain trolls me and piles on insults belongs on the "beyond salvation" category and should spend some time in the penalty box.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I was the administrator of an active (maybe ~10k daily views) forum for several years, so I'm used to abuse from users, and justifying my actions (or apologizing/correcting them, when necessary). It's not really the same, but one of my early posts on meta was responding to someone calling me out for (honestly) inappropriate behaviour, and I think I handled it fairly well.

jonsca jonsca answered: Laugh, since I don't have a soul. If it started to be offensive to other users, I would think about a "cooling off period" for the user.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'll only drop by and respond if I think it's worth my time. And even then I'll just explain tersely why I did what I did.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I'm all for constructive criticism. "Constructive" being the operative word... :)

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: First, you get some aspirin... :) There is only one way to handle a meta dispute - respond calmly, explain your reasoning, and if possible get another moderator to come in and handle the situation if it continues. It's a bonus if any non-moderators come in to help out. The key is to focus on the reason for the complaint rather than the complaint itself. If it actually turns out that the user's right, I have no problems with apologizing and reversing my decision.


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: Related: 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?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: It's a double edged sword (and I know who you are referring to)... On one hand the good answers are good for the community as a whole. But on the other hand, the negative or abusive behavior is far more detrimental to the community. so I would be a fan of escalating punishment (bans of increasing length, or outright permaban)

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Box them. I don't believe that one user with a bad attitude can contribute enough good technical help to outweigh the negative impact of their attitude.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: That needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, following the ordinary progression (requests to "cool it" in comments, private message, suspension, and so on). The great thing about SO is that it's full of smart people who can produce great answers. There's no one answerer who can justify being boorish just because they can produce quality answers.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Some people just like to start fights. The best way to deal with them is to side step them. They want confrontation, they want to be right. You let them know in private that if they try to pick internet fights, they aren't going to get anywhere, but that you really appreciate the content they generate (answers, questions). If they focus on the answers, they're welcome. If they focus on making other people miserable, they aren't welcome.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'd say that the problem needs to be resolved, ultimately by perhaps a suspension, then so be it. However, the first step would be to contact them and explain why what they are doing is wrong and how it can be fixed. If the user can't comply reasonably, there needs to be something done. As you said, this is related to users being alienated. However, one user may alienate his or her self from others, in which case other people may just stop responding.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Rules are rules. It's unfortunate when a valuable contributor can't behave appropriately. I typically start with leaving a couple comments reminding the user that there's a better way to approach things. Failing that, I'd send a private message with a warning and escalate to a suspension (possibly after consulting with other moderators) if needed.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: We've seen cases of this in the past, and I think they were all handled well by current moderators. The users were asked to tone it down in the comments, repeated abusive material was removed, and then they were warned directly. When they didn't change, they were suspended for a short period to cool down. If that didn't work, a longer suspension was the last resort.

slugster slugster answered: Look at the phrasing of their answer, see if there is a problem there. Edit the answer if necessary. Valuable answers are valuable, so shouldn't be frowned upon. Locking the question is also an option (I believe this affects low rep users commenting on answers as well as replying?)

slugster slugster continued: I would presume that Mods also have a way to contact/communicate with specific users - while I wouldn't want to get into a therapy session with the user, I would send them a note encouraging them to behave or answer a bit better.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I haven't come across such a user before, but if the drama seems to be concentrated mainly in the comments and nowhere else, I'll just wipe the commentary and post a warning if necessary. And in 99% of cases, it is. For the other 1%, in cases when the user starts getting annoyed and vandalizing his answer, I'll roll it back... along with wiping the commentary.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I'd first review why the user was flagged. If valid, I'd make an effort to discuss the issue. If it really became an issue, maybe the user needs a "timeout"...


Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: Will you be a chatty mod (i.e. explain every decision you make in comments), or will you prefer to moderate at arms length?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Not every decision. Example: Close votes for obvious reasons I don't think need further explanation. But with that said, it's situation dependent. If I think there's anything significant that needs to be explained, I'll definitely explain. So kind of a mix of the two based on my judgement on what's going on...

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I don't see myself providing a treatise on every decision I make; I don't do that now and I wouldn't do it were I elected. However, in general I'd provide comments whenever closing a question (unless the reason is head-smackingly obvious to an ordinary user). Removing comments would usually warrant some kind of note as well.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Chatty. People like to know why decisions were made. It can help dispel a situation. (Sometimes it is best to be quiet, and I can do that as well. I do like to default to explanations though.)

casperOne casperOne answered: I'm obviously chatty, but I'm chatty to the degree given the time I have. Sometimes, if I feel that a comment will bring a new(ish) user closer to the fold, make them believe more in SO, then I'll take the time to be chatty. Mods are community members too, and as such, we have a responsibility to do what we can to strengthen the community

minitech minitech answered: Not too chatty, but every action deserves an explanation, especially since they're so absolute. Unless, of course, it's incredibly obvious, like a low-quality question as an answer to a question.

jonsca jonsca answered: Comments are always good, I think, as long as they aren't too canned. Some might copy and paste them verbatim, but if you give just a little explanation on the close reasons, for example, I think it can go a long way.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I have a lot of practice leaving explanation comments. :) When it comes to closing questions, sometimes the close reason says it all, but sometimes it's not that clear. In general, I tend to leave comments where a decision might not be self-explanatory or where I'm closing a question unilaterally. I like to leave comments on deletions, too, in case I need to remember later why I deleted something.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: If the user doesn't have very many posts, I would always comment on questions that show even the slightest bit of effort. If the user has a history of many closed post, I would probably not bother. For the more normal cases, I'd usually post a short explanation if it's not obvious (i.e. a clearly exact duplicate).

slugster slugster answered: I've been a mod on other boards/sites, so I know that if you are a chatty mod that will eat up your time and users will play on it to argue their point until the sun goes down (as the saying goes). I would be concise, and would avoid further discussion unless the situation changes and there is something to discuss.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I am already chatty, I don't see how that would changed if I were to become a moderator. Again, I prefer to be as friendly as possible to new users. Most mods here who have dealt with my flags can see that I try to leave comments like "Welcome to Stack Overflow! SO is not a forum, please don't post further questions as an answer. Ask a new question instead".

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Comment in case of ambiguity. Unfortunately, the amount of content that a moderator must act on doesn't really allow you to comment on every action you take, so the more obvious ones (closing clear duplicates, migrating answers that are really comments, removing spam, etc.) will usually go without comments. I don't mind explaining my actions otherwise.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Not every decision, just the special cases, and maybe the rest on occasion.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I'm chatty, but I deliberate depending on the subject. I've experienced repercussions where some are indignant about how things happened so it's changed my habits a little.


Pubby Pubby asked: How will you deal with other moderator's actions that you disagree with?

Moshe Moshe answered: Try to see their point of view by asking them or other mods to explain. We've already established that name-calling doesn't help anything. :-) I know that I don't know everything.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Treat them with the respect that they diserve, and have an easy, open discussion about it to try to arrive at an amicable decision...

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: Not much unless it's something that seems particularly egregious. In any case, I'd start by asking them about it in the appropriate venue (mod chat, preferably). If it can't be resolved politely and in short order, I don't see that there's a whole lot I could do.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Private conversations. Leadership that doesn't look like their on the same page is subject to distrust. I will do my best to stand behind my fellow mods in public, but I will not hesitate to talk about things in private.

casperOne casperOne answered: You discuss it among peers; bring it up in meta. You don't start a mod war

George Stocker George Stocker answered: That should be really rare, but I've seen it happen. One moderator declined my flag, and another accepted it (same flag). Usually it happens because I used one of the preset flags instead of adding an 'other' flag. I don't attribute malice to it, just a symptom of a lot of questions and answers that need attention, and not enough moderators.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Ping the mod in chat and see about hashing it out. If the moderator is unresponsive, I'm not opposed to consulting with other available moderators and either reversing the original decision or letting it stand. Moderators are a team for a reason. :)

slugster slugster answered: They've made a decision, I have to respect it, just like I would want my decisions respected. As they are a mod I wouldn't expect there to be too much disharmony, they are all valued and experienced members. If a mod goes off the rails then that would be fairly evident.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I've disagreed with moderator actions in the past. In just about every case, I'd raise a flag on the issue and explain clearly why I thought the action was incorrect. This would usually result in either a reversal of that action or at least a convincing reason for why it was undertaken. I can imagine doing that in the future, only more directly.

jonsca jonsca answered: I'm one who supports the "united front" in issues like parenting (though I have no kids), but in the same vein, disputes should be settled privately rather than one mod calling another out and arguing in front of users. A two-person chat room is perhaps the best way to do this (or in the moderator chat, but I'm not as familiar with how that is set up).

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: Respectfully say what I have to say, and take things from there.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'm fairly certain I'll be in agreement with most of the things that other, more experienced mods do - but if there's something I stand strongly by I'll discuss it with them.


Kevin Vermeer Kevin Vermeer asked: You're all fairly prolific editors right now. If elected, would you edit new user posts when "Very low quality" flags came up in the flag queue (assuming that they could be rescuscitated), or would you close the question/delete the answer and defer the editing responsibility to non-mods?

Moshe Moshe answered: I'd edit. I enjoy it.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I don't edit that much. Most of my editing is improving tags and titles, or improving the visual quality of the post. I don't edit for content typically as there are tons who can do that...

George Stocker George Stocker answered: It depends. I feel good when I edit a post and see the user get an answer he otherwise would not have gotten. I feel even better when a post I've edited gets reopened and gets a lot of upvotes. I'll still do that; but I have noticed that at some point, you've just got to burninate the question. It's just not salvageable. When that happens, I vote to close it.

minitech minitech answered: Normally I'd edit it; but sometimes there are those things where you can't even tell what they're trying to say, and that merits a delete.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I'll only edit the question if the intent is already clear. If it's not clear what's being asked, I'm not going to put words in the OP's mouth. Which is how I generally behave now.

casperOne casperOne answered: It's a balance between the value of the question to the community and other moderator responsibilities. If there's value there, it deserves to be brought to light and I'd edit it. If not, and only moderator action can address it, then I'd address it.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Edit! We are still members of the community and we need to help keep the site clean! Ignoring something and assuming someone else is going to help is not the right attitude.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: If they can be resuscitated, they should not have been flagged "Very low quality" to begin with. :) That said, I edit when I think I have a way to make the question better. Grammar and the like are easy fixes, but if there's more editing to be done beyond that, I may defer to others if I don't know a way to improve the post. I would not delete an answer just in need of an edit, but closing a question is more easily reversible and may be appropriate, depending on the question.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I have been advised by current mods that I would have no time to edit questions as I currently like to do. However, I can type fairly fast. I also happen to be a grammar nazi. So at the very least I'll try to correct egregious mistakes. A VLQ post on SO makes SO look bad. However, if the post has any redeeming qualities I would refrain from deleting it. That kind of compels me to fix it.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: If I can see a core question of value, and it's just a matter of poorly expressing this, I edit questions flagged like this that I see in the 10k tools right now. Truly bad questions that I don't feel are salvageable I vote to close and / or delete (if they really have not redeemable qualities). I'm proud of turning more than one trainwreck of a question around with a good edit.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Only edit if I find that I can squeeze something out of it by doing so. If nothing can or needs to be done, and it simply has to go, it goes.

slugster slugster answered: I wouldn't take it upon myself to edit every low quality post that gets flagged, you simply don't have the time in the day to do that. Also there are 1000's of users who already have the capability and should be actively doing that sort of thing. If it is salvageable but has accumulated enough flags with no-one fixing it then I would look to edit it - but only if it is worth saving.


JNK JNK asked: What are your thoughts on time spent on Meta vs time spent on SO? Do you have an "ideal" ratio for splitting time between the two?

Moshe Moshe answered: Good question. Honestly, I spend lots of time on MSO chat, and not quite enough on meta proper. I have to say that I'm pegged on this one. Not gonna lie. If elected I'd certainly pay more attention to meta.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: When I first started on Meta, there were very few people on there that were 'in the know'. Now, since Meta score is used in a lot of things (including Moderator elections) we've seen a lot more people being helpful on Meta. So I don't answer there as much as I once did, unless it's a real contentious issue or an issue I haven't addressed yet. If I don't have anything to add to a subject, then I won't post on Meta.

casperOne casperOne answered: The ideal is going to be different for each person, there are people more familiar with meta (such as @AnnaLear) who know more from their experience there, and then people like me, who are working to spend more time there to get the bigger overall picture. I wouldn't say more than 50%, that would be counterproductive to my duties as moderator. But it would have to be significant so I can be up-to-date on current community policy and philosophy

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I see it two ways. On one hand, part of the point of the site is SO. So too much time spent on Meta could lead to a one-sided view of the site (know the best, but not really doing anything). On the other, you need to be aware of what's going on. With that said, I would think 95/5 to 80/20 would be appropriate. Anything more than that and I would start to feel uncomfortable...

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I think Meta participation is important for a moderator, though that's a little hypocritical of me given my relative lack thereof (which I'm working to correct, but it is what it is). As for a specific balance? I don't think I could give you one. I just think that Meta participation needs to be sufficient for the moderator to be able to keep up with changing and developing practices and points of view about how the site should work.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: A mod should spend whatever amount of time on each site they deem necessary. As long as flags are getting cleared and meta questions are being answered.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I think both are important. I find meta provides a lot of useful information - new features, problems, ideas, etc. As a Programmers moderator, I spend a fair bit of time on meta just to make sure I'm on hand to clarify any misconceptions that may arise. Since MSO is also the meta site for Stack Overflow, I think it's important for SO mods to check in periodically to see if any users are attempting to contact a moderator that way.

slugster slugster answered: Meta is way slower changing than SO, typically I hit it 4 or 5 times a day. What is important is the contribution you make while there, whether it is voting (agree/disagree) or leaving an answer. I'd expect a mod to contribute there, as well as use it to keep up with what's going on.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I spend quite a bit of time on meta, but I don't think it's entirely necessary. You can often get a better feel for how the community is doing from observing the site directly, and meta moves slowly enough that you could probably keep up with it while only visiting a few times a week.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I keep a tab for each site open all the time, and check meta a few times a day. Well, lurk, not check, but I'm aware I'll need to be more active. I don't have an ideal ratio in this case, I think it pretty much depends on what I'm doing on a given day.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: To be honest, I spend a lot more time on SO than on MSO. I use SO as a tool to increase my knowledge and help others increase theirs. I post on meta when I see a problem/bug, have a suggestion, etc. That's why I have a lot more questions than answers on MSO.

jonsca jonsca answered: Within reason, I would say I probably spend 15-20% of my time on Meta, and divide the 80-85% of time between SO and the other SE sites I frequent. I suppose that one can spend so much time on Meta that they become removed from the actual sites, but I think that it's important to address people's issues with what they perceive as unfair closings, or bugs, or support questions, which are just as vital to keeping the maintenance of SO (etc.) as close votes and edits.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: Brass tacks, time on Meta is not time on SO. I hear that Meta isn't dealing with as much SO restructuring as I once knew, so I'd say Meta would get 10% of my StackExchange time. With four new mods, it's not likely to be an issue, assuming coverage is good (IE: weekends).


JNK JNK asked: @AnnaLear (sorry to single you out!) - Do you see it as an issue that you are already a diamond mod on two other SE sites? Will time spent on SO affect your moderation duties elsewhere or vice versa?

Moshe Moshe answered: I don't see it as an issue that @AnnaLear is a diamond on several other sites - good for experience of the system.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Not really. I think it's a network. I don't think it should carry weight if you're a mod on another site not related in topic to SO. But if it is related, then it should balance out the difference between less time available and proven good for the community...

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: No worries. :) I don't see it as an issue. It is obviously an important concern to address in terms of availability and there you're gonna have to take my word for it -- I have the time. :) I think my experience on other sites is valuable, especially since one of them is so closely related to Stack Overflow. Literature is extremely low maintenance, and I'm only a pro tem moderator there, so I'm likely gonna be replaced if/when the site goes public.


Shog9 Shog9 asked: Migration: should be done as quickly as possible to give tangential sites a shot at some SO goodness? ...Or should be done as a last resort to salvage a reasonable question that simply cannot be considered on-topic for SO?

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: If a question is actually deserving of migration, then it should happen as soon as possible. If it's a matter of the question simply being worded in a way that seems OT but actually isn't, then it should be salvaged if possible.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Last resort. Otherwise it's just saying "here, you're someone else's problem". migration should be handled with care. There are plenty of cases where it's warranted, but we should be very careful not to abuse it and just send it off to be someone else's problem...

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Migration should happen as quickly as possible so that all parties don't have to deal with the 'What happened to this question?' discussion that invariably occurs on Meta (at least twice a week). Once a question 'develops a presence' on a site, it's a lot harder to argue that it be migrated.

casperOne casperOne answered: If appropriate for the other sites, absolutely, for example, a question about XNA might be better suited on gamedev.stackexchange.com. Granted, we are SO moderators first, but that doesn't mean we should be greedy. If the question has a better chance in another environment, I want to give it that chance. I want to give that user a chance to get the information they are looking for.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: ASAP IMHO :) This well help new users discover new sites, and it will keep off-topic content off of stack overflow and help keep the site focused. (However, if the question is considered on-topic at all on StackOverflow, it should stay.)

casperOne casperOne answered: People come back for experiences, if their question is just closed, they feel they have a bad experience, and they won't come back.

Moshe Moshe answered: Great question! It really depends on the question in question. If a question is about Safari not working on a MacBook, it clearly belongs on Apple.SE. If it's about something that's on topic on SO, give it a chance on SO.

slugster slugster answered: Only for q's that are off topic. If the alternative is only tangential (sp?) then you have to consider whether it is really off topic for SO or on topic for the alternate.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: When the questions is clearly off-topic for SO, it should be migrated ASAP. When it's not so clear, I think there's a bit of a conflict of interest. Last time I checked, SO receives more traffic than the rest of the network combined, so the likelihood of a question being answered (and thus helping the OP) on SO is much higher. In the interest of helping the OP, I would wait a bit and see if it gets answered before migrating it if it doesn't.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Yes! No, really, it depends on the question. Some questions are clearly off-topic and would be better answered elsewhere. Those should be migrated. However, migration is disruptive -- sometimes both to the asker and the destination site. There's no harm in waiting a bit to sort out whether a question really belongs elsewhere. The goal isn't to make borderline questions someone else's problem. The goal is to find the beset place for a question.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: In many cases, if it's a quality question its best to move it quickly so that it doesn't get negative comments and downvotes when the user made an honest mistake as to where it belongs. You don't want people to be treated too harshly for good content that just belongs somewhere else.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: If it cannot be considered on-topic for SO, it doesn't help much to keep it on a site where it won't ever be on-topic, however long it stays. It should be moved elsewhere ASAP.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: For questions that are much more likely to get a good answer on a different site, a fast migration is important. However, for questions that are closer to the middle I prefer to suggest it to the asker before actually migrating it. Migration is disruptive and particularly confusing to new users; It's not rare to see migrated questions whose askers never created an account on the new site, and never bother to accept an answer.

jonsca jonsca answered: There's benefits to both approaches, but I would say as soon as it is known that it is off-topic for SO and on topic for another site. This prevents the need to sort "old" comments and answers to the question once it reaches the target site.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I really wish the off-topic option supported more sites. I like the idea that moving questions to places better suited is a benefit to both sites - alleviates the signal-to-noise ratio on SO, and increases traffic to the other sites.


Sam Saffron Sam Saffron asked: You are just about to give up your "non-binding" close and delete votes, how does that make you feel? Will you be scared to make binding decisions?

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: The change is certainly something to keep in mind, but I feel like I already give due consideration to a question or answer before I vote to close or delete. Does it make me more mindful of the impact of my decisions? Somewhat, yes. Does it make me nervous that I'll make bad decisions? No.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Honestly, slightly aprehensive. I'd say that 90% of the time, it's a clean and easy decision. But the other 10% is going to take some careful thought before casting a binding vote. then again, some low quality stuff has stayed around for a while because it was in a low traffic area and the flag queue was very high. So for all the cases it has a negative, there is a positive...

casperOne casperOne answered: Not at all, this was a question posed in the last chat for moderator election, and I have zero problem with giving these up; there are plenty of other things I'll have to deal with as moderator. It's an insignificant price I'd have to pay in order to help the community (note "insignificant" is my subjective view)

casperOne casperOne continued: I've also answered this exact question on my profile for election.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I only vote on things that I'm 100% sure of. Because of that I am not afraid to lose the ability to be wrong. I will make a mistake every once-in-a-while, however, most of my votes will be in the best interest of the community.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson replied: Wait to see if someone else votes on it. And then close. I'd have to be really on the fence though. Usually it's pretty clear if a question belongs.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson continued: I will still have the ability to see what other users think and do with their votes. So if many other people agree with what I was thinking I will go for it.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson concluded: Oh, but I'm not affraid to make to unpopular choice if necessary and go against what other members of the community may think.

Moshe Moshe answered: Not scared at all, just more thoughtful before I actually vote. That's a key principle when moderating. Don't move impulsively.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Yes and No. There's a healthy fear that comes with making a binding decision, and it would be foolish to say that the fear doesn't exist. Since I've been active on Meta, and I have a high flag weight, I can say that I have the pulse of the community, and act accordingly.

minitech minitech answered: Not at all!

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I am fairly confident that wouldn't change anything. The vast majority of the questions I vote to close (and the answers I flag or vote to delete) are closed/deleted anyways, so I don't see an issue there. It will just happen faster. The only caveat is that I'll potentially get users angry at me for closing/deleting their stuff (I don't know if mods get that). But I think with my stance on moderation that won't happen unless the user is beyond salvation.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I kind of have an advantage in answering that... :) Making binding decisions can be difficult, but it is a necessary part of being a moderator. I find that it helps to sometimes step back and reason through the decision. If I can explain it right away, I have no problems using binding close votes and burninating questions or answers. If there's doubt, I either talk to other moderators to resolve it or defer the decision to someone else.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: It's a little stressful, but that's not really a bad thing. Being nervous will probably make me a little slower to moderate at first, but it will also give me a huge motivation to make sure I understand things properly, leading me to improve much more than I would without the pressure.

slugster slugster answered: I don't feel bad at all, as a 10K user I've been doing it for some time. It is usually easy to tell if a question needs to be gone. There are some where it is harder, in which case it may be appropriate to let the community decide - if enough agree then it is gone.

slugster slugster continued: If a mod needs to step in ahead of the community then it would be pretty evident that the question/answer needs closing/deleting, so I wouldn't lose sleep over it. If it really is borderline (attracting votes too slowly) then it is best to let it stay, once it is gone you can't get it back.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Not scared, but definitely more cautious. In the past, I've thrown out close votes that I was fairly sure of, but not entirely. If others in the community agreed, I was validated. If not, I was wrong. In those cases where I'm uncertain, I will be more likely to not take action and defer to the community. However, I won't be afraid to close or delete things that I clearly think are inappropriate, spam, etc.

jonsca jonsca answered: No, particularly with close votes, and more particularly if multiple <3K users had flagged it. If it reflects the thinking of the community, I would be glad to represent them with my binding vote.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Good question - I spent a good deal of time thinking about that while deciding on my nomination! But I can say that I don't sow close votes on a whim. Rather, I only vote to close if I can immediately identify an alternative SE site where it belongs, or otherwise 100% off-topic for SO; in cases of gray areas, I try to analyze the question based on its content and context, and if I can make a decision I'm very, very sure of I'll cast a vote.

BoltClock BoltClock continued: Most of my delete votes are on stuff that doesn't belong anyway, like spam, "thanks!", personal attacks and other off-topic banter.

BoltClock BoltClock concluded: All in all, If I get elected, and lose my non-binding close and delete votes, I'll be even more cautious, and cast votes more sparingly for questions that could still use some help from the rest of the community. I'm more than happy to get rid of spam or not-an-answers though.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I've experienced harassment for "non-binding" close votes, went so far as to request that names not be posted on Meta because of the serial downvoting I experienced. I don't see any difference, personally.


Kev Kev asked: Further to @shog's question: after having gained no satisfaction at trying to publicly humiliate you in meta, said user decides your rep is fair game. When you notice your rep just took a hit by them, what do you do?

minitech minitech answered: Undo it and give them a temporary ban. Or is that an automatic feature?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Ignore it. Rep means nothing of significance. The abuse detection features should get it... right?

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I have enough rep; losing a few points because of a serial downvoter isn't of much concern to me, but there are mechanisms in place to catch it anyhow. I'd likely reverse it and warn them.

jonsca jonsca answered: Nothing, the voting script takes care of moderators too! If this behavior became incessant and repetitive, I would probably consider action against the user.

Moshe Moshe answered: Nothing. The system should handle gaming well enough.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Nothing. There's a process in place for serial downvotes. it's an automated system that takes care of it.

casperOne casperOne answered: I don't know that there's anything that can be done; there are problems with voting, and honestly, rep isn't that important to me right now (I can say that because I have enough of it). A single user can't do that much damage in a single day/week/month.

casperOne casperOne continued: However, if that user shows a definitive negative behavior that detracts from the site, I'd bring it to the attention of other mods, and let them handle it. I cannot, as I'd be biased in any decision made.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I'm a big believer in letting the system handle it. They will cool off and forget about it. (If it keeps going though they may recieve a personal mesage from me.))

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Voting fraud will get reversed... it's not a big deal. I'd investigate to see if I can figure out who's doing it and get another mod to look it over as well, just for future reference. Such behaviour would indicate a potential problem user that we should keep an eye on, especially if they decide to target another community member next time.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Don't care. Reputation no longer matters as much to me as it once did. Serial downvoting is filtered out by the system anyway. However, odds are that this user will do something else that will harm another user in the future, so if they do that it would need to be addressed.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'll report it to the other mods and have them help out if necessary. If I invest too much time in dealing directly with the person myself, 1) I'm feeding the troll 2) I'm wasting my time being affected by a tiny fraction of my reputation (how much can they take out of my score anyway?).

slugster slugster answered: Investigate. I don't take it personally, SO has mechanisms to detect that sort of abuse. There will also already be a process for dealing with someone found doing that so I would follow the process. The rep loss is reversible, but it is important to identify any user abusing the system because if they make a habit of it it just gets out of hand and causes more work for the mods.


Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: Are you teachable? Will you avail yourself of the moderator chat room for advice from other mods? What kind of advice will you solicit?

minitech minitech answered: Yes! Any kind of advice, especially when one's been here a shorter time than most.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: Absolutely. Even though I'm generally wise in the ways of dealing with interweb trolls and newbies, the current mods have specific wisdom relating to SO. Disregarding it outright would be foolish.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I plan on learning from my elders. You have been through the trenches and I respect that. In fact, for the first week I will probably lie low and just watch other moderators. I don't want to make and ass of myself and make people regret voting for me. Also, I will seek feedback on my actions. I will make sure the decisions I make and the action I take are appropriate.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I spend a lot of time in the moderator chat room. Most often I check on migrations before making them, but other things come up as well -- whether a question should be closed, etc.

casperOne casperOne answered: Absolutely, I'm teachable. If I'm not teachable (in anything) then I'm valuable in nothing. Yes, I'll go to the moderator chat room to get advice. First thing I'll go for is to talk about what to do when @Shog9 calls me out, black heart and all.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I like to believe that I learn something from everyone. At work I learn things every day from even our most junior developer. I'm 100% open to getting (and giving) advice. As far as what to solicit, ask anyone in the PHP room, anything that peaks my interest...

Moshe Moshe answered: I certainly am teachable. My experience in the MSO tavern should be evidence of that. I do ask questions of all sorts there and I'm open to learning. I'd ask about specific situations, or what was done last time situation X occurred.

slugster slugster answered: Absolutely. It is a team effort, one shouldn't shut oneself off from everyone else. I've been in the game long enough to lose the ego and realise that not everything I do or write will be perfect :)

slugster slugster continued: Damn straight I'm teachable :) I'm in an industry which is constantly changing, if you stay stuck in your ways then you don't go far. I would ask other mods opinions if I had a borderline issue I couldn't decide on. I would also expect new mods to be under some scrutiny, and would expect to receive hints and advice - no problems here.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: You have to be, because the standards of what's acceptable on the site change regularly. Additionally, new tools and capabilities regularly come along, so you need to keep up with what's happening on the site. At the very least, keeping current on Meta will be required for any active moderator. You also need to lean on other moderators for how they've handled special cases in the past.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I look forward to learning from the experienced moderators if I were elected. One thing I'd be interested in information about how Stack Overflow users respond to different types of moderator actions/comment, so I know where I need to take the most care. I'd would also ask for feedback when I'm unsure of the appropriate action to take, but hopefully this wouldn't be necessary very often for very long.

jonsca jonsca answered: Heck yeah. I have relied heavily on Meta to gain the wisdom of senior members of SO with respect to the site, and I love to learn. It shouldn't be much of a stretch to humbly enter the moderator's chat with the same intention.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Besides flags, I currently already communicate with the mods on other platforms (e.g. Twitter). Even now, there's still a lot for me to learn, particularly about the earliest questions on SO as I wasn't around in the very first year. Gray-area issues are also something I'll prefer not to stick my nose in unless I'm sure what I'm about to do.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I think the advice I would seek would be primarily about keeping current with practices. I haven't frequented Meta that much, and always found it daunting/tedious to dredge up stuff vs participate on SO. Being on the Wet Coast, I wonder if timezone has something to do with missing pertinent issues...

  • Robert Harvey Robert Harvey noted: There was a period of time where there were still open questions about certain core site issues. I think that has subsided. I get chided sometimes for not being completely up to speed on some things (i.e. "Where were you when we discussed this in the Teacher's Lounge 2 days ago, hm?"), but that seems to have subsided for the most part.

Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: Current mods: What are you looking for in a new mod? Do you think SO even needs more?

Bill the Lizard Bill the Lizard answered: SO definitely needs more mods. With four new mods, we'll be nearly doubling the number of active moderators (I hope).

Robert Harvey Robert Harvey answered: People who are level-headed, who can spend a few minutes at a time to quickly sweep up the trash, and have some common sense about things. Above all people who, once they are elected, will actually moderate. The current crop of moderators is an exponential performance curve, with BillTheLizard at the top and a few mods at the bottom who haven't done much.

Sam Saffron Sam Saffron answered: Heck yeah, all the recent improvements to the mod queue seem to be offset by increased flagging and such coming in from /review improvements ... we are having trouble keeping up. I would be looking for moderators who set an awesome example and moderate


casperOne casperOne asked: To all the current mods: What do you feel is the biggest issue on the site that existing mods and new mods have to deal with

Bill the Lizard Bill the Lizard answered: The flag queue is the obvious answer, but I think question quality is something we all need to have an eye on.


George Stocker George Stocker asked: What is the difference between 'policing the community' and 'serving the community' and which side do you fall on, and why?

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: "Policing the community" implies that the community is composed of troublemakers and I've been brought in to impose order. "Serving the community" indicates (rightly) that I'm a part of the community that has seen fit to place me in a position of responsibility so that I can help enforce the rules that we all agree to.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: You have to do both. There is no picking between serving and policing. Sometimes they are the same thing.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Moderating is both. The community establishes the rules of the site and moderators are there to make sure the rules are followed and at the same time make sure the rules still make sense.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: The difference is simple IMHO. On one side (policing), mods are above the community and "hand down judgement". On the other (serving) mods are just a special case of the community with more abrupt power, but have the same "say" in general community affiars...

Moshe Moshe answered: Policing the community is telling people what they may and may not post, ask etc. Serving the community is fixing broken posts and guiding new users in past the coat check when they first get here. "Welcome to SO, here's where the FAQ is, the questions etc." As others have stated, moderating is a mix of both.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Policing and Serving are two sides to the same coin. Do the least amount of moderation necessary to keep the community running smoothly. Don't interject where you'll just be making waves. If done well, the people you're serving won't be bothered by those that you need to police.

casperOne casperOne answered: A moderator serves at the pleasure of the community. I fall on that side because I see it as a privilege, not a right, and one has to treat it and the people who made being a moderator possible with respect.

slugster slugster answered: I expect there to be some of both. You need to police when there is a problematic user (as I'm not a mod yet I don't know how many of these there are, you typically get one or two complaining in Meta every couple of days). The majority of the time would be serving, doing reactive type work like monitoring the flag queue, closing/deleting, etc.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: As a moderator, policing is in a way serving, but still only one aspect of it. Amidst all the cleanup work I'll be doing, for instance, there are still questions to answer - the heart of Stack Exchange.


Michael Petrotta Michael Petrotta asked: Let's say a poorly-crafted, or just plain clueless, question comes in. It's maybe answerable, maybe not, but doesn't belong. It's closed, and rightfully so. Then negative comments pile on. "Try to read what you write first". "Do your own homework!", "LOL, what a moron!". That's a spectrum of responses. Where do you draw the line? When do you feel comfortable civilizing/censoring (depending on your POV) the conversation?

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I would ask nicely to keep comments on topic and delete the offending questions. If it doesn't stop, then lock the comment thread to prevent further abuse...

ircmaxell ircmaxell responded: Well, I think it has to be within reason. I don't mind a single "thanks", or something like that. But there's a line where it stops being reasonable. Where that line is exactly I think is a judgement call that we all need to make. A little bit of noise actually builds community in the sense that it keeps it light and fresh. A lot of noise clouds the main purpose of the community. So it's a double edge case

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I don't think there's any place for personal abuse. Some lighthearted ribbing is OK in my book, but nothing personal and certainly no name-calling.

Moshe Moshe answered: When the criticism is no longer constructive, it needs to go. I would clean up the comments and leave a polite explanation of what went on. "Your question was closed/deleted/whatever because of XYZ and can be improved by doing ABC." Nasty comments are unproductive, why leave them around? And yes, verbal abuse doesn't belong. ever.

casperOne casperOne answered: I don't feel those are a spectrum of responses; I think that most if not all of them fall under "rude or offensive behavior". Note the or, mostly, it's rude. The question was closed, there's no need to pile on the users when chances are we don't even know them. If that's the case, we deviate from trying to make the internet better for all.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I believe in leaving the content (assuming it's not super abusive), but adding in my own reply explaining all of the negative feedback that the asker got and explain how they can make it better. (If the comments are really hurtful or out of control I may clean them up a bit. But full deletion of the context of my reply is bad.)

minitech minitech answered: Depending on the quality of the question, I'd probably delete it or lock it and delete the comments. There's no point for a question if it's incredibly poorly written and the comments aren't constructive.

casperOne casperOne answered: As a result, those comments should be deleted, and the post locked if people can't seem to keep their hands off it.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: We don't get anywhere by alienating our userbase. So the negative comments should go. But the intent was right: "This question does not belong here." That can be said in a comment without degrading the OP. I'd send a message to each person and ask them to refrain from abusive language, especially towards newbies. If it was as bad as you wrote in your example, it would be removed from the question as well.

slugster slugster answered: As a mod I would not sit there waiting for those to appear on the radar and then slam them. I would expect them to be flagged (and they do get flagged), for a lot of them it would be easy to judge whether they have any merit or value (even if they are negative), if they don't have that then they are gone.

slugster slugster continued: If I encounter them in my travels (i.e. they haven't been flagged) then if they were borderline I would flag them and let another mod decide, if they were clear cut then they get chopped.

slugster slugster continued: It's important to remember that the value of the system comes from the question and answer aspect, comments can add value but there wouldn't be that many that must be kept.

slugster slugster concluded: It is also important to get on top of unruly comments quickly so they don't get out of control. I would also be careful deleting anything in the middle of a comment chain - it may need to be done but you don't want to lose context.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I'm not a fan of snide comments along those lines. The FAQ says "be nice" and I don't waste time reminding people of that. If they can't be bothered to take 2 seconds to phrase the same sentiment politely, then maybe they should've just clicked on to the next question. I have absolutely not qualms about at least leaving comments calling people on their snark. Deleting comments that don't add anything helpful to the discussion is also not a problem.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I'd feel comfortable deleting comments like that very early. If there's only one or two comments, and they contain a real suggestion and only a bit of rudeness, I would probably leave it, but anything beyond that is just adding noise, bringing down the tone of the site and should be deleted.

jonsca jonsca answered: The first comment is semi-constructive, the second gets to be a bit impolite, but people should be able to express themselves without feeling a giant hand clamping down on them. The "moron" comment is rude, and could be considered offensive. As a moderator, I would certainly assert some authority, and at a minimum warn the commenters, and probably delete the 3rd comment if it hadn't been auto-deleted by flagging.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: The environment on Stack Overflow should remain professional and polite. A little snark and some humor is fine here and there, but if the comments degenerate into things you wouldn't say to someone's face, they should be removed. Criticism should be there to help the user ask better questions in the future, not to make fun of them.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: I don't like it when comments are just nuked without explanation. Offensive comments (eg: "LOL moron") should be deleted (and they'll probably get flagged as offensive anyways). Comments saying "Do your own homework" aren't helpful either; if it looks like a flame war will erupt, I'll get rid of them as well. Constructive comments (eg: "Your question is not answerable as it stands. Please add more details, code, etc.") should be preserved.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I'll admit, this was one of the things I was referring to in my nomination when I said I'd get a little snarky or nasty once in a while. I do currently flag questions for drama or plain personal attacks, and over the past months have been doing my best to correct my own behavior while at it. On account of this, or if the community raises a flag, or the OP himself is genuinely taking offense to the responses to his question, I'll wipe the commentary.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: I currently vote to delete such cases. The worst I've seen is about the "homework" aspect - if I have seen the others, it's been extremely rare. If it's not constructive (IE: Ad Hominem, targetting ESL, generally belligerent), I'll censor. If the behavior continues, I'll discuss the user(s) to see if a time-out is necessary.


Michael Petrotta Michael Petrotta asked: "Why doesn't my code (20 lines of which I've excerpted below) compile?" Vote to close as too localized, wait to see if there's something potentially of lasting value before voting (or not) to close, or leave alone, as a potentially helpful to someone?

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: I would not immediately close it, as my vote would be binding. I would, however, tell the user that they need to post specific information to clarify their question.

Moshe Moshe answered: If I know the answer, answer it, of course. If not, depends on how unsalvageable the content is.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Too localized, sorry. (But perhaps comment as to why it's closed now.)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Depends. Can it be edited to be something more than "This set of code doesn't compile?" If not, it's not going to be of much help to anyone other than the OP, and that's the very definition of 'Too localized'. However, if we can extract a broader question from it (to include the error message so that it's 'googleable', then it should stick around.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: Vote to close as "Not Constructive". It may help him, but it's likely not going to help the community in general.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Unless there are other problems with the question, I would not use a binding unilateral vote on it. Ideally I'd like to see an answer posted and THEN close it as "too localized". :) A vast majority of questions on SO could be considered too localized in that sense, so I think questions like that are the perfect candidates for the community to handle.

casperOne casperOne answered: Great question but impossible to answer, some languages are very expressive in 20 lines, others, not so much. In .NET, if it's something that is not glaringly obvious, I'll let the question breathe; chances are the community will shut it down anyway.

slugster slugster answered: If they've explained the problem properly/fully, and it is attracting good answers then I would leave it alone. If it is a crappy question then I would prompt them to elaborate, if that isn't forthcoming then it gets closed (too localized, not a real question or not constructive, depends on the nature of the question).

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: It depends on the compile error. If it's something silly, I'd probably just leave a comment ("you forgot a semicolon on line 7") and close it, as that would be unlikely to help anyone in the future. If it's more borderline, I'll wait and see if it has any redeeming quality, in which case I would just leave it alone.

jonsca jonsca answered: Wait to see if there's something of lasting value, unless the only "question" is "It doesn't work." If the user is after the principles behind the error and can offer some of their own tribulations as to why they think it doesn't work, even better.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Help along with the rest of the community via comments.


George Stocker George Stocker asked: Should it matter whether or not a Moderator has a high Stack Overflow reputation? What should the lower limit be for a moderator?

casperOne casperOne answered: The qualifications for moderator have already been established, and they seem to be rising with each election. The community is making it pretty clear.

casperOne casperOne continued: While not one of the best tools we have to judge the potential proficiency of a moderator, we have to use what's given to us, rep is usually a good indicator, but not always (take genesis for example)

casperOne casperOne concluded: However, the higher you get, the more you tend to even out. I don't think better of myself because I have more rep. There are people with less rep than myself that are very worthy candidates.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'm biased, being on the lower end, but that said, rep is an indicator of experience, but only that.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I think the current lower limit is a bit too low. I think the lower limit should be around 15k or 20k. Show that they can use the mod tools, and that they likely have gained the rep with the system, not gaming it. And show that they can contribute to the community.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: Reputation itself is not important, though it often correlates with the really important thing: community involvement. A moderator with 2000 reputation would be fine if they've been contributed to the the site in other ways (edits, meta-engagement or even votes). Moderators with lower reputation will have less/no experience with moderation tools, so they will take longer to get up to speed, but they should be able to catch u.

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: Does a moderator need high rep? No. I think that 3000 is likely a suitable number to indicate that the user not only participates on the site but also understands it. Then again, 10000 might be more appropriate given the privileges that come with it. It doesn't seem that we have a shortage of willing candidates.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: I'm torn on this one. I think some rep is required because a mod needs to understand the content they are moderating over. But being the fastest and bestest stackoverflow answerer is not necessary. I think, more importantly, mods should be long-standign members, and constant contributors.

minitech minitech answered: A lower limit should probably be 2,000 or so. Otherwise, the user probably makes bad posts or has barely been on the site (as in 7 days?)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I think anything over 10K is irrelevant for purposes of being a good moderator. The telling statistics are votes to close/reopen, flagging weight, editing, and meta participation. I believe that to be a good moderator, a user should have a high meta reputation and all of the above. Other than that and a 10K Stack Overflow reputation, no one should ever look at SO reputation to vote, and doing so is a hindrance to the electoral process.

George Stocker George Stocker continued: People with High Reputation on Stack Overflow can give great answers and ask good questions; but that doesn't translate into being able to moderate.

slugster slugster answered: They need to have a reasonable level of rep, it is something earned over time that shows they should know what they are talking about. They should also have been a member for a reasonable period of time.

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: I don't think exceedingly high reputation is important. I don't have a strong feeling on it, to be honest.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Unfortunately, people tend to judge moderator candidates on visible contributions (questions asked and answered) rather than the things behind the scenes that they've done to keep things clean. The latter is what a moderator will do, with less time for the former. Reputation is only important to the point where you've been exposed to the tools you'll need as a moderator.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: Honestly... 20k ("trusted user" privilege). But then, although reputation is often a safe and useful indicator of someone's experience with the site and with its subject matter, it shouldn't be the primary or sole criterion for judging whether somebody can be a mod.

OMG Ponies OMG Ponies answered: What high rep represents to me is time served in the community. A 3 yr old account with less than 5K rep isn't likely to know their way around SO/etc. Besides knowledge, there is a degree of interacting with people - responding to comments because another, near identical question isn't necessary. Some already can interact with others respectfully, but I honestly find these people rare.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: To wrap things up, I'd like to get final thoughts from the candidates

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson answered: Final thoughts...hmmm. Thanks for all of your questions!! If anyone would like to chat more, I'm available via email or in the SO chat for a bit longer tonight.

Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson Justin 'jjnguy' Nelson continued: Good luck to all of the other candidates :)

Anna Lear Anna Lear answered: Thank you everyone for coming and asking questions. Good luck to all the candidates.

ircmaxell ircmaxell answered: I hate politics. So I'll close this by saying: Simply choose who you think will do the best job. If that's me, great. If not, that's fine too. But the best for the community should take the position...

casperOne casperOne answered: I'm thankful for the opportunity to even be considered among other great candidates for the role of moderator. I want to thank those that have or will support me, and wish everyone well in the election, we'll all benefit as a community regardless of the outcome.

BoltClock BoltClock answered: I only hope I responded well. This got me really nervous like a real job interview...

Adam Robinson Adam Robinson answered: Thanks for organizing this chat! If anyone has any specific questions for me, feel free to tag me in chat or reply to my original nomination. I'll be happy to answer them.

Moshe Moshe answered: I want to thank everyone for coming. There were some great questions that really got me thinking. (I'm often in the MSO Tavern, and occasionally the C++<Lounge>. ) I thank you all for the opportunity. Good luck to everyone!

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I enjoy Stack Overflow, and I enjoy giving back to the community and to the site. I will continue to do it.

NullUserException ఠ_ఠ NullUserException ఠ_ఠ answered: Good day to everyone and good luck in the election

jonsca jonsca answered: Experience and longevity are very important, but a fresh perspective and passion for issues is important, too.

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