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

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

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

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

  • 1
    Great job Tim, and it's presented well. Due to timing (at the time of that chat it was 0700 here and I was busy getting my kids prepared for school), will there be another? Is it even worth having another given that we have several candidates leading by a big margin?
    – slugster
    Jun 14, 2012 at 23:14
  • Thanks, I hope that people find the information helpful in making their decision. As far as I know, there will not be an addition chat session, but you do still have an opportunity to respond to the existing set of questions.
    – Tim Stone
    Jun 15, 2012 at 0:13
  • 2
    @TimStone I found this information very useful. There were several candidates that I had not yet up-or-down-voted in the nomination process, and I was able to get a vote on everyone now. Thank you very much for this great format. Jun 15, 2012 at 17:37
  • 2
    Yeah, this is great, thanks for the huge effort that must have gone into this!
    – Pekka
    Jun 15, 2012 at 18:00
  • 1
    Agreed, thanks Tim! Really appreciate you taking this task over. Jun 15, 2012 at 19:57

36 Answers 36


Aarthi Aarthi asked: You close a question / delete a comment thread / take a normal moderator action and get called out on meta. The post blows up. How do you handle this?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I let the other moderators answer, and I take the necessary actions, basing on what reported. If I did something wrong, I fix it.

Sathya Sathya answered: I believe I've answered that..

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: One would have to define "blows up", but I would explain my reasoning and be open to criticism. I have in fact been the "flagging member" on a couple of those on Meta, and have explained my part of the action (as well as the Diamond generally doing so). Beyond that, the Meta post should be moderated just like any other post. Discussion is discussion, but if a Meta post about moderation itself needs moderation, so be it.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I defer to other mods, publicly, and let the post get sorted out. I don't have to always be "right". I can make a bad call. I can also walk away from an explosive situation and let someone else deal with it, who isn't as emotionally involved.

Dennis Dennis answered: I'd calmly explain my actions. I would leave taking actions on the Meta posts to others, as I'm one of the parties. If there's even the slightest doubt that I made a mistake, I'd directly consult my fellow moderators.

awoodland awoodland answered: reply once and reply well. If that doesn't cut it a full blown argument helps nobody so the only constructive thing to do is take a step back and avoid making things worse.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Case-by-case. For things like this there is no general solution so you have to consider each case on its own.

Lix Lix answered: Take it out of the public eye - possibly into mod messages (not sure of the protocol here)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I may be in the minority here, but I like to be open about the actions I take. There shouldn't be a question as to why I did something (If the reason is not evident, then I've failed). I am happy to make my case on meta, but as I've seen in the past, if you do something correct, and someone complains about it, the community will post their opinions. If you're in the 'right' then you'll be vindicated by the community.

  • 5
    This, in my opinion, is one of the most important questions for candidates to keep in mind. Every action we take as moderators could potentially end up on Meta. We always need to be prepared to defend our actions, so it's crucial to think things through before we make a decision. Jun 14, 2012 at 23:38
  • 4
    Indeed, within 18 hours of being handed my mod diamond I got called out for closing and deleting a rant-quest: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/92508 - as Bill says you need to be ready to justify and explain your thought processes before taking action. Every flag I handle I ask myself How would I explain this on meta?
    – Kev
    Jun 15, 2012 at 1:20
  • It seems like every new mod gets called out on Meta during the first week of their tenure, so expect this to happen.
    – user102937
    Jun 19, 2012 at 16:15

Robert Harvey Robert Harvey asked: Which one of you candidates will get bored or think "This isn't what I thought it was," and disappear after the first week?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: Not me. I love what I do with the 10k tools, and while I know there will be more personal effects, I think I'm very prepared for them as an additional burden.

Sathya Sathya answered: Not me, have seen the reality of moderation on Super User; it's a glam-name for a not-very-glam responsibility but I won't get 'bored' by it or the like

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Is this a reasonable question? How can anyone know what they'll be bored with after one week until 8 days in? I'm certainly not going to be bored "one week in" but I for one only know that because I am a mod.

awoodland awoodland answered: I hope not me. I hope my flag count offers some evidence to back up the "sticking around" thing. Given what the moderators have been saying about needing help recently I hope (and think) everyone running is pretty serious about it.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Certainly not. While I assume whoever gets on place 4 in the selection would be asked if he wanted to step up in such a case I think it would be pretty ungrateful towards the community who elected you to simply quit for no good reason.

  • Robert Harvey Robert Harvey noted: It's happened before. In at least one case, an elected moderator never showed up.

Lix Lix answered: If you put all of the candidates in a line in random order then the 5th one from the right. Its simple math :)


Ernest Friedman​‑Hill Ernest Friedman​‑Hill asked: Candidates, what's the one thing you'd like to change about SO?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I am a serious conformist at heart :P That's not to say I wouldn't change anything if an idea were presented and it was my choice, but I'm not the kind of person who can answer a question like this other than how I am answering it.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I would change my reputation. I would like to show to the other users I am passionate for things that interest me.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Can I manage to make users read the suggested questions list before hitting submit? That sounds like a "training" issue, and not a functional issue.

awoodland awoodland answered: I'd like to see more first time users familiar with how the site works, what's on topic etc. so they don't walk into the usual traps. I think that would benefit everyone - they would perceive people as more friendly and regular users would get less frustrated and abrasive.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Bring back the old "no answers" style!

Lix Lix answered: Live refresh on the election page :)

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I would set up a read-only archive on a separate domain and encourage users to migrate questions there instead of deleting them, as long as they have any value.


BoltClock BoltClock asked: As a moderator, you may cancel an open bounty on a question and thus refund it to whoever had set it. (Note that you cannot refund bounties that have already been awarded.) What do you feel is a valid reason to refund an open bounty?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: That is an interesting question. I've never witnessed that occurring. Possibly the only case I can imagine is one where a user has abused the privilege of issuing a bounty to the detriment of their own rep.

  • BoltClock BoltClock added: It was through a bounty on a single question that I caught two separate users operating two of their own sock puppets. It was glorious.

    jcolebrand jcolebrand responded: Ahhh, sockpuppetry, that's a great reason to refund the bounty, but better to just obliterate the sockpuppet (merge into the parent) no?

    BoltClock BoltClock responded: I refund it just in case.

    jcolebrand jcolebrand responded: We should ask the TL/devs huh?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: So far, I had to refund a bounty, and it was because the question was a duplicate. If the user wanted to put a higher bounty, and set it wrong, I can remove the bounty, if he asks so.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: If the bounty was used to or had the effect of 'protecting' a question that otherwise should obviously have been closed and somehow slipped through the cracks for pre-bounty time, that strikes me as the most likely reason.

Sathya Sathya answered: I think I've refunded couple of bounties on Super User - mainly because they were offtopic & were better suited elsewhere on the network.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: The prime case I've seen for this is a bounty placed on a question just so that the question won't be closed. If it's a bad question, the bounty should be refunded so that the community has the ability to close the question properly.

Dennis Dennis answered: There are several. From the top of my head: 1) The question should get closed. An open bounty prevents that, and the consensus seems to cut featured questions a little more slack, but there are cases when the question must go. 2) The bounty was placed to transfer reputation from one account to another. 3) The bounty was placed as entertainment (happens on Meta).

awoodland awoodland answered: rep transfer attempts (there's another issue there though!). Use of bounties to protect bad questions from closure votes. The bounty documentation is pretty clear on how they work though, so it's not something I think needs doing particularly regularly and not just for "I didn't realise they worked like that".

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I cannot think of a really good reason. But I'm sure somebody will come up with one at some point and in this case I'll get more opinion from other moderators what they think.

Lix Lix answered: Looking at the time when the bounty was placed and the time the refund was requested an honest mistake would be viable for a refund. If answers have already popped up then things are a bit more tricky - I don't think that bounties should be refunded at all if (valid !NAA) answers are already posted.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: When the bounty was put on the question because the question was off topic and the OP put the bounty on the question so it couldn't be closed. That's when I'd do that. If we had more users that could handle the amount of traffic we need to handle for closing questions, then I may not -- but right now we have a lot of traffic, and not very many people [ratio wise] that vote to close questions that are demonstrably off-topic. Questions get through the cracks.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: If a user requested a refund for a bounty immediately after adding it, I would honour that requested. Otherwise, I would only refund bounties when they were being used in some harmful way such as transferring reputation between users or blocking community moderation.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Two highly respected members of the community get in a comment war on a question. They both flag each other's comments and are cussing and it is clear that this is beyond a heated argument. What do you do, what don't you do?

  • Jeremy Holovacs Jeremy Holovacs asked for clarification: What qualifies as "highly respected?" just high rep?

    jcolebrand jcolebrand responded: Generally

    Tim Stone Tim Stone clarified: There's typically a correlation with that, I suppose. I'd classify it as someone who provides meaningful content and is generally familiar with how the site works to the point where the disagreement isn't just because one of the parties is "new."

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I lock the post.

Sathya Sathya answered: First step to to try to cool 'em down, ask them to back off. If that doesn't work, lock the question & ask them to take it to chat

minitech minitech answered: Warn them, delete anything overly repetitive/offensive/inflammatory, and lock the post.

awoodland awoodland answered: Clean up, probably a short content lock, possibly short suspension if they don't get the hint

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: In the past, this seems to have been handled by cleaning up the comments, only applying a lock if necessary, and warning the parties involved via a mod message. That usually seems to calm people down.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: They both need to be calmed down; cleaned up/locked as appropriate and if bad enough, a short suspension to bring the point home.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: First of all, I think the chances that "highly respected" users start something like this is not that big. If it happened anyway, I'd remove any comments that are not suitable (such as personal harassment etc. and other things that are of no use to the SO community). I'd also invite both of them into a private chat and try to mediate. I would not lock the post since that would affect everybody.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster continued: However, until everything is resolved I'd ask those two guys to stop messing around with each other. If the chat does not yield any successful results I would tell them to keep away from the relevant post(s) and, in case they decide to go on anyway, I'd probably have to suspend them for a short time (preferably only from commenting in case that's possible)

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Two highly rep'd members of the community? I'll assume you mean over 30k, on Stack Overflow. I would immediately lock the post, clean comments, toss my head in the TL asking for help with mod messages, and then if nobody else had done so, send a mod message to each. I would also get help in monitoring their activity to make sure they didn't take the discussion to another part of the site. If they did keep it up, cooldown suspensions most likely.

jcolebrand jcolebrand continued: If they were two users of lower rep, say in the 1-30k range, I would encourage them to visit chat, clean up the comments, lock the post, notify the mods in the TL, and encourage them to work things out via chat. The differences here, for me, between high-rep and low-rep is that I would send system messages to the high-rep users without hesitation, because "they know better".

Lix Lix answered: I don't take sides. Lock the post and confer with my more learned and experienced moderators. Cleaning up the mess is obviously urgent in the event of swear words or any other possibly offensive slurs. Depending on the situation a firm mod message or suspension might be in order - to not take sides, again, both parties would receive the same "disciplinary" actions.

Dennis Dennis answered: If the cussing already started, I'd lock the post immediately and delete all offensive comments. Now I have time to calmly address both users in private. Whether a timed suspension is appropriate would depend on what they wrote exactly and if it was a first offence.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Two users are cursing at each other? Seems like they've both lost their cool. First things first is to ping them both and let them know to not do this in public. Then, remove the rubber necking effect by removing the comments that do not add value to the question. Lock the question [if necessary]. Then reach out to them, figure out what has got them upset. Listen; respond, and reiterate that that sort of behavior isn't welcome, but their contributions are.

  • I would like to add one clarifying comment to my remarks: I would stick my head in the TL because a) it might be headed for [meta] and b) because there's a lot more traffic on Stack Overflow than on the rest of the network and people are likely to get attracted to the carnage. I figure people familiar with those two topics would see that, but others might wonder why I made the point of asking for help. Also, TL = Teachers Lounge = Where the moderators congregate during the day for rapid notification and for training, and where we can directly communicate with the SE employees.
    – jcolebrand
    Jun 14, 2012 at 22:34

Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I am confident that everything I have said will stand the test of time and I'm willing to defend any previous comment, or admit that it was made in poor taste and remove it. My earliest questions and answers, however, merely show where I've grown as a programmer.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I like that as a reminder that everything I put on the Internet, as it is, is there permanently. And in my case, I attach my real name to it, too. I think if an action is unworthy of being attributed to oneself and their station, it's unworthy to be taken at all.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am already a community moderator, and I am used to that. It gets attached even to old questions I asked when Drupal Answers was in beta phase, and that is not a problem, for me.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'm indifferent about that, as a community moderator on a trilogy site, it really hasn't affected me, neither will it affect here.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: For questions and answers, I don't see that I would alter my behavior in any way. The same for comments, where I've always tried to be polite and professional (I'm not funny enough to pull off snark well). Overall, I don't think that much would change in that regard. Close votes are a different matter, and I'll be more hesitant to cast those.

awoodland awoodland answered: at the moment I have the liberty to act on things I'm not 100% sure about because my actions (usually) aren't binding. I don't think deferring to the community on things I spot as a normal user is a big deal. I don't think I have any content kicking around that would look bad with a diamond next to it.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: From what I noticed moderators are not really treated differently when answering/asking questions or commenting. Since the internet never forgets I prefer not to post bad things in the first place and in case someone considers a question/answer to be embarassing so be it - it happens. We were all new and less experienced than nowadays at some point. Besides that, I don't think a proper but "odd" question would reflect badly on SO that much just because a mod asked it (a long time ago).

George Stocker George Stocker answered: It makes me want to make doubly sure the actions I'm taking are correct. This feeds into taking borderline questions to the group [of moderators].


Ernest Friedman​‑Hill Ernest Friedman​‑Hill asked: Candidates, tell us about a downvote, close, deletion, or other negative action taken against you on SO, and what you learned from it.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I've actually written a Meta FAQ proposal on the topic of being downvoted as an opportunity to improve. I think that is what all criticism is, if it is remotely constructive.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber continued: As for specifics; I have watched closely my Flags and their results. I often leave comments, and when I flag incorrectly, often mods will leave instructive comments in response. (Granted, we're talking about 20 flags out of almost 2000)

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I can't recall a specific one, because I've learned quite a bit over the three years I've been here. I can speak to Meta Stack Overflow but that really doesn't apply here, because while moderating Meta Stack Overflow is important, in this case the election is specifically regarding Stack Overflow

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I had a down-vote that I thought not deserved. What I have learned is that it was not so important to lose time thinking of it.

Sathya Sathya answered: honestly, too many vote to closures & bit of downotes to recall. No deletes since I don't have privileges. Learnings: Quite a lot believe that closure is permanent; hence if a question's not really bad - I try to leave a comment saying what can be done to improve it

awoodland awoodland answered: I've had one question closed as a duplicate out of all my questions. I thought I'd asked it from a different angle that meant the answers would be suitably different, but I can see why it happened. I don't think I've had any downvotes on questions other than that one, downvotes on answers I've tended to discuss in chat, usually someone can see the reason there if I've failed to spot it and no comment was left.

awoodland awoodland continued: I recall one incident a long time ago with a troll who got deleted some time after but it wasn't a big deal. I found meta and the flag button through that incident though I think.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I don't remember any serious cases. I think most downvotes I received were because I either thought something would be correct while it wasn't (so I deleted the downvoted answer to keep SO clean from "non-knowledge") or because I misunderstood the OP.

Lix Lix answered: Down-voted on a post and learnt that proof reading your code samples is are a matter of the the utmost impotence.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: Having some of my oldest answers deleted was what originally led me to discover Meta Stack Overflow, and from it the podcast. Though I'd been on the site for a long-time, I always thought that moderators's decisions seemed fairly arbitrary. These deletions were responsible for me eventually becoming an enthusiastic user who appreciates the reasoning behind (most) community policies.


funkymushroom funkymushroom asked: Is it more important to edit a question for the benefit of the community, or leave the question's phrasing to the needs of the original poster?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: The benefit for the community comes first.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: It's always much more important to edit for the greater good. I also often comment to the OP to please review my changes and ensure that I kept the intent of his/her question in the case that I'm not entirely sure I kept the request.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: If those two items are truly conflicting, the question may be too localized. I think they should be equal.

Sathya Sathya answered: There's a fine line that should be tread there - I try to respect the OP's wish as much as possible, but when the question's not a good fit but can be corrected in to a great question, I'll take edit for benefit of community over OPs phrasing.

awoodland awoodland answered: If the edit stops it from being "too localized" then it's certainly worth it. Most other edits on questions indirectly help the user anyway, by making it clearer and so attracting more answers, from people who might otherwise struggle to understand it. If editing changes the meaning of the question entirely then it's probably too big an edit to make. (The notable exception being taking old poorly formulated questions with great answers and making them into a canonical question)

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I lean toward editing the question to more clearly express the core concept. Not only does it make it more accessible to future visitors, but it can also help the asker get a better answer for what they are asking. I don't know that I can recall an instance when the asker complained about one of my edits.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: It's important to achieve a good balance between both. On one side the OP most likely has a specific issue he'd like help with, on the other side it might be a rather specific issue (let's assume it's not too localized though). However, most edits consist in rewording for clarity/readability and reformatting code. So I think the cases where you actually have to decide between those two directions are rare.

Lix Lix answered: If this Fr@zzinG is out of line then an edit is most definitely in order. The original poster (at this stage) is the important thing - but he has already asked his question as best he can. Once we have understood the actual question its perfectly fine to make the appropriate edits to bring the post up to the sites standards. After all - the original post's phrasing will always appear in the posts revisions.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: When you edit a question, you shouldn't change the intent of the question -- but there's a lot of leeway to make that question better for someone else that has that problem.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: How much time to you expect to dedicate towards being a moderator? Do you feel like this will impact your participation on the site as a normal user, and do you worry about finding the right balance between the two to keep things enjoyable? (read: Are you ready to sell your soul?)

minitech minitech answered: I expect to dedicate about 3 hours a day. Yes, this will probably impact my participation on the site as a normal user. No, I'm not worried.

  • Michael Myers Michael Myers questioned: 3 hours a day? That's a lot of time. How long do you expect to be able to keep this up?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I've got my soul-selling certificate already signed and ready. I currently spend more than an hour a day using my 10k tools for moderation, and expect that would only increase, perhaps to a total of 90mins a day.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I don't think it will negatively impact my participation in general, altho I'm sure I'll spend more time with flags. I don't worry about finding the right balance between the two, I am just looking to make the site better for everyone. I already enjoy editing as I come across poorly worded questions/answers.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think to dedicate at least 30 minutes per day. Being moderator will not influence my activity as normal user, if not in the case my activity would have an immediate effect, such as voting to close a question.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'd say about 2 hours a day? Maybe more. It won't impact my participation; as it is my question/answer participation is dwarfed by the janitorial participation this will continue

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As it stands, I spend the majority of my time on the site helping to perform cleanup tasks, not asking or answering. If I needed to spend even more of that time on moderation-related tasks, it would not be a significant loss for me.

awoodland awoodland answered: I expect most days it'll be more than an hour - I tend to use SO to fill holes in time, whilst eating breakfast, taking a break at work and in the evenings which adds up to a fair bit of time. My participation at weekends tends to be higher too. My answering has shifted away from FGITW to questions that are still unanswered (or have answers which are lacking) when I get around to reading email notifications about them. I don't think that's mutually exclusive, I'd say complimentary.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I have lots of spare time and using SO is something I consider leisure so I don't really care how much time I spend on it. It should be way enough though. I don't think being mod would affect my normal participation - often you even learn stuff from answering questions because you have to lookup things, too. I would probably do "mod things" and "user things" alternating unless there is very high/low load on one of the sides.

Lix Lix answered: I'm on the site pretty much as much as my eyes are open. I've got bookmarks in my phones browser and regularly answer to comment questions or clarification requests from my mobile phone. I plan to spend as much time on the site moderating and participating as the moderator team needs my help and as much as the question askers on the site need technical assistance.


Kendall Frey Kendall Frey asked: Where do you stand on things like the controversial Zalgo answer? Would you describe that answer as helpful, informative, annoying or vandalism? If it was up to you, what would be done with that answer?

  • Shog9 Shog9 noted: 1) Best answer ever. 2) Permanently affix it to the front page.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I would describe that answer as helpful and informative, because if you can understand that answer, you're going to understand the premise involved in asking the question in the first place. I think that answer should be enshrined in every HTML programming book forever.

Dennis Dennis answered: It's not very helpful, but quite entertaining and it has become a meme by now. These things are either deleted on sight or left alone.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'd leave it as it is.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: If such an answer were made today, I don't expect it would last long at all. I understand the general idea of wanting "Epic Historical" posts around, but I don't know how useful that answer is - especially when just linked to in a comment on more recent questions.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: It is a fun way to convey useful information which makes it a great answer - it contains good information and is still amusing to read while not. And I think it's one of the most awesome questions on SO which would deserve overflowing the score data type. :p

  • mario mario questioned: It's a meme though, seldomly used in a polite way, and it incurs a lot of bickering and extra moderation effort. Is it worth to keep for "historic significance"? (euphemism for google juice). Would you have the moderation guts to delete a similar popular joke post, one which you're less attached to e.g.?

    ThiefMaster ThiefMaster responded: Yes, historic significance - and things being grandfathered - are valid reasons to keep something in my opinion. Besides that, I'm strongly against "depublishing" well-known things.

    ThiefMaster ThiefMaster continued: However, with questions like "what's your favourite programming meme" etc. which got deleted some time ago I'd rather (i.e. if possible) go a way that profits everyone: not keeping them as questions directly on SO but redirecting to some kind of "SO graveyard" containing "memorials" of nice/amusing/funny things that were on SO but don't fit here anymore

awoodland awoodland answered: Locked seems like a sensible status. It reflects a frustration that some users felt at the time I think. It conveys the message reasonably well although I would rather write something more neutral personally it's not offensive.

Lix Lix answered: Touchy subject there... Locking the post is definitely the right choice but it's historical significance (as the notice states), IMO, earn it the right to stay put.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: It's been handled appropriately. It's locked because the answer is contentious. It's staying on the site because it's helpful and it's funny. It's so helpful because it is so funny. I don't see any reason to change that.

minitech minitech answered: It's mildly helpful, mildly annoying, pretty famous, and I'm fine with it staying exactly the way it is.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I would describe the post as "not an answer", but very amusing and historically significant. I suggested that it be locked: "I think the entire question should be locked permanently. 62 answers and half of the ones on the front page don't really answer the question. We'd do better with a new question held to current standards, and preserving this one as an artifact." – Jeremy Banks Jun 7 at 14:19

  • Zalgo delenda est.
    – tchrist
    Jun 6, 2014 at 23:04

Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: When you see a question with major issues (poorly-written, argumentative, etc.), what tool do you reach for first?

minitech minitech answered: Edit. I'm good at making sense of nonsensical things :)

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: Voting is always the first tool, IMO. Tools that I already have as a regular user. Voting, commenting, voting to close/migrate. I think Diamond Mod action should be the last resort except for the truly "Evil" stuff, like spam.

Sathya Sathya answered: Argumentative: Close the question; leave a comment saying why it isn't a good fit. Poorly-written Try correct it after asking for a comment. If there's no reply; I let it go.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Edit.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I first down-vote.

awoodland awoodland answered: If there's any valuable content edit trumps everything else. Deletion to my mind should signal "if I edited out this problem there would be nothing left"

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Poorly written, but with a kernel of a good question: edit. Argumentative, but I see a way it can be reshaped:edit. Argumentative at its core, vote to close before it becomes a problem.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Depends on the issues. Things like bad formatting can usually be fixed quickly. So that would be the edit tool. If it was clearly argumentative the close link would get some love - most likely the community would have already started voting in this direction. If the question is bad with regards to grammar it comes most likely from a non-native speaker. If it's hard to understand due to that I'd probably try to improve it.

Lix Lix answered: My greatest tools probably already jumped out of the tool box and cast 5 close votes (or are close). One possibility would be to try deflate the situation with a firm comment hopefully ending the fiasco swiftly in the event of a comment argument.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Always Editing. Edit the question if you think it can be salvaged. If it can't be salvaged (and if you edit a lot of questions, you get a feel for what can be salvaged), then it should be closed and potentially deleted. People imitate the actions they see those that have 'power' take. If as a Mod you edit a lot of questions, people will hopefully see that as positive reinforcement to edit questions when they can.


casperOne casperOne asked: Seriously, why do you all want to do this? What SO mods go through (for better for for worse) is fairly transparent and it's not always pleasant. Please try to avoid blowing smoke if possible.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I really respect a well-moderated community and I know some small part of what goes into it. For all the help I've gotten from this place, and a little bit of ego/exposure, it's a no-brainer for me.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Because I think I can contribute, and I am willing to do it. Answering to questions, or voting to close is just a part of the things that can be done to contribute.

minitech minitech answered: I just want to help. It's for the same reason I answer and edit. It makes for a nicer place.

Sathya Sathya answered: Right now, I'm more or less proxying what I want to do via a flag. I've been around for a while, know how it works, been a mod on another trilogy site & I believe I can help the current Stack Overflow mods in reducing their workload a bit

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Stack Overflow is an incredibly valuable resource that I've volunteered a significant amount of time for, and I'd like to see it stay as valuable as traffic scales. I've spent more time cleaning things up than answering for a while, and I'd like to help.

awoodland awoodland answered: I like making things neat and tidy. The Q&A format epitomises tidy, making sure it stays that way is a very good thing. There's also a hint of satisfaction in finding the smoking gun that proves someone is a sockpuppet or falsely claiming to be a happy customer of $spammy company$

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: because I know that the Stack Overflow mod team needs help, and I can devote some time to helping. I really do want to see the site do well, and one way I can do that is community interaction, which I do. Another way I can do that is to help with flags as a mod. I don't have access to the 10k tools yet (what can I say, I'm not a rep-whore) but I am familiar with dealing with mod tools from Database Administrators, which is a low volume moderation site.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: As mentioned in my nomination I'm already very active on SO which involves the kind of cleanup duties non-diamond users can do. Being a moderator makes various tasks more efficient though - for example, lots of "not an answer" flags are pretty clear candidates to be deleted or converted to comments so being able to do that on my own would speed things up. Besides that, since I have lots of time doing more for a great community is a Good Thing(tm) which I'd actually enjoy.

Lix Lix answered: I have no problem standing behind my decisions and answering for my actions. I don't think that the "unpleasantries" are different from any other situations (in the work place for example) where confrontations occur - being able to explain yourself in a neutral way that is understandable turns uncomfortable situations like these to civil explanations and voicing of all parties opinions. Ultimately if anything, every one gets an explanation.

Dennis Dennis answered: As I have stated in my nomination, teaching is my vocation. Moderating is an important part of teaching. As SO moderating, teaching isn't always pleasant. Actually, it can get quite frustrating. But in the end, the results are more than enough reward. Helping to keep SO clean and continue to grow is quite similar, and I expect it to give me the same warm and fuzzy feeling from watching the effects of my teaching.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I feel like I already do this. At least for my day-to-day activity, the Diamond would just make it so that I didn't have to burden anyone else with obviously actionable stuff. Right now it feels like there's not enough people out there actually cleaning up the content, and that's what I spend the majority of my time doing on the site.


casperOne casperOne asked: <---- Who wants to work with this guy? There's a current crop of SO moderators, and we all vary in terms of the amount of work we put in, how we interpret different scenarios, as well as how well we handle decisions that are made regarding the site, whether it be by SE or other SO moderators. What are the positive qualities that will help you acclimate to this, as well as your negative qualities which could be issues when working with other moderators (we all have negative qualities).

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I want to work with the whole team. I think each person brings a different personal focus and set of opinions, so that helps a lot when seeking advice on how to handle things, within the moderator guidelines.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Since I already work with you, as it were, via the TL and migrations, I am happy to continue working with you ;-) ~ There have only been two moderators I have not worked well with, and I have used the community team for interactions with those moderators. I don't currently have any issues with other mods. I am often seen as too chatty by some, and my questions don't always register as questions with folks, they think I'm merely trying to talk over them :-\

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am always ready to admit my errors, and step back. I don't also want to be the only one acting on the same type of problems, as I know that could be a problem itself.

awoodland awoodland answered: I think I have fairly good communication skills - I'm able to articulate my thoughts and feelings on a subject fairly clearly. (I can be a bit verbose at times). I'm able to stay pretty calm in the heat of things - I don't think there's been anything I've written or done on the site that I've regretted or thought looked unprofessional in my time here. Sometimes I get a bit frustrated though - I tend to walk away and take a break for a bit if that happens.

Sathya Sathya answered: positives: Already know most you folks being in the Mod chat, so I more or less know how the current Stack Overflow mods work. As a bonus, being a mod on a trilogy site for well over a year, I'm well used to the Mod tools, the temperament required, how & when to step in. I've also done some errors while moderating, and have graciously accepted - whether it was brought up on Meta or not. Negatives: Have bit of an OCD with that Mod flag light being always on ;) but I've managed to keep that aside.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I tend to maintain a cool head when interacting with others, and I'm not one to use snark to express my opinions. I do have to admit that a personal pet peeve of mine is plagiarism. I do not tolerate much of that, and it is one area where I do become a little more emotional.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I'm always interested in other opinions as they are not only useful on a certain case but also make one better in general - you can always learn from more experienced people. Since English is not my first languages there could be misunderstandings simply due to bad wording. However, I think the chances of this are rather low since I'm active in English-speaking communities for about a decade now.

Lix Lix answered: I think I answered this partly in my previous answer (to casperOne's first question). I think that (ideally) all people that sign up and volunteer for a mod position share the same overall goals with regard the site. Common ground on those fundamental levels will be what keeps the machine running smoothly. Negative qualities? perfectionist I guess one negative quality is the relatively small amount of time (compared to other members) that I've been a member of the community.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I've been around Stack Overflow for a long time, so I've grown accustomed to the ebb and flow of the community sentiment around what belongs on the site and what does not. To me, that's a positive trait to have in being a moderator: Understanding the community. On the negative side, I tend to think I'm right, even when I'm not. That's where asking other moderators for help will come in. If it's a borderline problem, I'll elicit help.


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?

minitech minitech answered: I'm absolutely willing to work with problematic users. Guiding them through the way the site works, cleaning up anything problematic in posts with a helpful edit summary, and properly explaining closing, if applicable. I decide someone isn't worth the effort when they're insulting or if they don't show any signs of improvement after... considerable... effort on my part.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: New users are vital for the site to continue, and SE is certainly a different paradigm than "forums", so it can take some effort. I think it's important for moderators to be patient and make sure new users have been made aware of the differences. But once it is clear they have been told, but still don't make an effort... it's time to move to 'moderation' as a tool.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: for new users, aside from spam users, I'm quite willing to work with new users, both in linking them to pages they may not have seen (such as faq) and I often edit their questions, demonstrating via comment that I clicked the edit button) and then I leave edits in the question that demonstrate the kind of information they need to include in the question. I then encourage them to vote and mark responses as "answered" via comments.

jcolebrand jcolebrand continued: For problematic users, who have demonstrated some ability on the site (say past 500 rep) I'm more ready to condemn their actions and invite them to chat for gentle reprimands, and corrective activities.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am always willing to help new users, and I cannot decide a limit until I don't know exactly of which problematic user we are talking of. Users are all different, and I cannot apply the same limit to all the users. If the user is willing to understand what I am saying, the limit is higher.

awoodland awoodland answered: that depends entirely on one key point: are they well intentioned? That's a pretty subjective thing to call sometimes, but with the exception of malicious users "giving up" is not really a call for a mod to make. There are mechanisms in place that handle this sufficiently well through community action on the content alone (e.g. question ban/answer ban), not the users themselves.

Sathya Sathya answered: I make use of the proforma comments user-script extensively, pointing out what's correct, whats not; what's acceptable, how a post can be fixed or what the user can do to salvage it. Ultimately, some posts are very bad - there's pretty much no way to get them correct - that's when I shut the door

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Unfortunately, we have many users who are unwilling to put any time into being reasonable members of the site. We can provide some help (comments to not leave questions as answers, etc.), but many choose not to learn from this. For those who put some effort in, I tend to go the extra mile to help them become acclimated.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Usually you can guess the intents of new users from their first contact (in this case, their question and reaction to comments). Especially site usage issues can usually be explained easily, both by a quick explanation and a FAQ link (e.g. to the editor help). If the attitude is an issue it depends on the case. If it's not serious a simple comment might suffice. If bad attitude becomes more of a problem a chat, private message or even something stronger might be needed.

Dennis Dennis answered: Patience is the key. Every new user deserves a new nudges in the right direction. In general, editing their post (if salvageable) and pointing to the corresponding Meta questions should be enough if they don't know how to use the site. The attitude can be a bigger problem, but unless the user is completely out of line, I'd let his peers (the community) attempt to correct it. A remark about someone's attitude from a moderator can be viewed as an imposition.

Lix Lix answered: I think that it all depends on your (and the users) mood. As long as all interactions are civil I think that an indefinite amount of time can be spent nudging a new user in the right directions.. A user might need numerous "nudges" over the course of his "infancy" as a member. I am very willing to work with so called problematic users, language barriers, cultural differences and even the hell-bent users simply looking to vandalize posts.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: New Users are both the ones that need the most patience and the most moderation. When I can, I try to salvage borderline questions with good edits. When the question is too bad to be salvaged, I'll leave a comment and vote to close. That won't change as moderator: I'll still take the time to edit those questions that have good potential.


wax eagle wax eagle asked: You have a feature request that appears to have been ignored by the dev team. How do you escalate it?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I take it to the community team and ask if it has merit to be pursued. End of story.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I offer a bounty, if I think the feature request is worth implementing it.

  • wax eagle wax eagle clarified: in this case the bounty period expires and still no action, no comments from dev team.

    kiamlaluno kiamlaluno responded: I write a comment, and I bump the question. I know there are other things developers need to do, and something is not more important just because I decide so.

Sathya Sathya answered: hehe :P there's not much to be done; raise on meta; put a bounty; if that doesn't work; contact community team & keep pestering till you get it done! (unfortunately; the last bit doesn't always seem to work...)

Dennis Dennis answered: Quite simple: I'd place a bounty.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Post it on meta, see what the community thinks about it and if there is enough positive feedback ping the devs or someone from the SE community team about it in case they didn't notice it.

awoodland awoodland answered: if it's something that can be done in a user script that's a pretty good way of making showing things work and showing people like it. There have been a few things that have come through that way. Bounties on feature requests tend to work quite well sometimes for showing support and attracting developer attention. I'd rather avoid bugging developers in chat though.

Lix Lix answered: Possible duplicate of "How does the bounty system work?" ;)

George Stocker George Stocker answered: They're allowed to ignore feature requests. If it's something that blocks me from doing my job as a moderator, I'll keep an active line of communication about it; but I don't expect the Dev team to implement anything just because someone says they need it. Since I'm a developer myself, I'd do my best to try to implement it, show them the value, and go from there.

minitech minitech answered: Bump it by editing. As a moderator, my feature requests would still be just as important as before...


Shog9 Shog9 asked: How comfortable are you with the moderator tools you already have access to? (Editing, close/re-open voting, delete/undelete voting, the 10K flag queue, the /review dashboard...)

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: Those tools, and the various feedback from them, are the only reason I remotely think I'm qualified to do this. I think they provide an excellent 'training'. I am very comfortable with them, beyond in chat, where I am not that active. I spend a good bit of time casting all the 10k moderator actions I can.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I use the ones I have access to regularly and am quite comfortable with them.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am a 20K user on 3 different sites, and I am a moderator on one of those sites. I know the moderation tools enough to use them.

Sathya Sathya answered: As mentioned earlier, being a Mod on Super User since the past year means that I'm well aware of the tools available, the different routes & I do often tend to help other network mods in figuring out how something works

awoodland awoodland answered: I think I'm pretty comfortable with it all really. I've reported a few minor annoyances with it on meta (nothing too serious). I've used some of the less obvious bits a fair few times (the edit queue stats to look for contentious edits, the anonymous feedback, migrations etc.). Assuming the rest of the tools live up to the same quality design/implementation I don't foresee any big hurdles.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Pretty comfortable. Like all of SO they are very intuitive and easy to use!

Lix Lix answered: I love editing things on the site - I find myself missing markdown wherever I go... Its the best isn't it? :P. Voting to close questions is a regular occurance for me - possibly becuase of my sometimes heavy hand but mostly because of the reason these moderator elections are being held - there is a lot of content in need of cleaning up; And there is more and more every day.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I use them all the time; I use the /review dashboard the least (because with the number of flags we have, it takes some time to go through all of them during a workday). I'm very comfortable with them.

minitech minitech answered: I'd say I'm comfortable with them all. They're not difficult to pick up.

Jeremy Banks Jeremy Banks answered: I'm very familiar with the 10k tools; its "Recently Deleted" is my first and often only destination whenever my life needs a little more annoyance.


Lix Lix asked: I'd like to ask all my fellow candidates to say a word about a fellow candidate and why they think that he is a good choice

jcolebrand http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c4cca9bfec5d5e77f625d9fbe8e37a41?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jcolebrand answered: I think that Brad Larson has shown outstanding dedication to the site and that he has been overlooked repeatedly, as people expect him to be a shoe-in for a moderator badge, and so elect someone else. I'm hoping that people in this election keep that in mind and vote for the three candidates they think are the strongest, regardless of what you expect anyone else to do.

ThiefMaster http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bc66db28aa7c3fa8e4ce4238b696dee9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG ThiefMaster answered: @BradLarson seems to be very qualified and is also a long-term dedicated SO user. The community seems to like him, too. He also seems to be a nice guy.

Sathya http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f129f4688ad43e53a9b42ed0182dbac1?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Sathya answered: Hat tip to @BradLarson - always hear in Mod chat how awesome it'd be to have Brad elected as a Mod. Best wishes and hope that happens

Brad Larson http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/52a2ffb44b1c11ab9001cb67e0a0021c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Brad Larson answered: As I said in a comment on his nomination, I regularly run across George Stocker while performing cleanup tasks, and his posts on Meta have contained some of the most well-thought-out arguments about site policy that I've read. He gets little recognition for this, though. Similarly, @awoodland has shown dedication to keeping things clean and has supported people well on Meta, which are great traits for a moderator.

George Stocker http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9ed3482ccbb461fbf8796b251caf8f4d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG George Stocker answered: @BradLarson is a great example of someone who understands what it takes to be a moderator. He doesn't just flag potentially great (but problematic) questions, he works to fix them. We need more people like that on Stack Overflow. Don't ask others to do that which you're not doing yourself.


Jeremy Holovacs Jeremy Holovacs asked: What happens when moderators get into an argument over the proper course of action for an item flagged for attention?

  • BoltClock BoltClock added: Then we get chided (that is tongue-in-cheek), but eventually the flag has to be handled by someone. I don't think we've been into arguments over flags per se, but we do have different views on different issues.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I would encourage deferment to the TL and the greater community of mods to ensure that I was doing "the right thing" and to understand the alternatives.

minitech minitech answered: I'd probably leave it to more experienced moderators, unless it was something I was absolutely sure about, in which case... Meta!

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I am not familiar with the formal guidelines/rules for that, which I expect exist. I would follow them, of course. I expect that I will be defering to the experience of other mods - or the opinions of equally/lesser experiences mods, as I go about my duties.

awoodland awoodland answered: I think the main thing would be to keep it private - moderators to a pretty good job of putting up a united front most of the time, I'd hate to be the one that makes that fall apart!

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: If I am one of who is having an argument, I step back. Having an argument is sometimes worse than the problem that is being discussed.

Sathya Sathya answered: In over a year of being a Mod, I've never seen that happen. If that does happen, I ask the Mods to take a break, create a private mod-chat room & try to resolve it out. probably get a community team member involved if need be

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: The current moderators are all people who have proven that they can accept constructive criticism, so if you express yourself in a coherent argument for or against an action, they listen. In the past, I've argued against actions taken and always been satisfied with the outcome. Whether or not they do what I suggest, I understand the reasons for their position.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I assume we'd try to settle it by talking to each other and if we cannot get on common grounds the best option would be handing it to a fellow mod colleague. Especially if one of us was somehow biased this would be a good solution.

Lix Lix answered: You'd have to bring in another objective moderator to mediate the situation.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Moderators disagree? Never. (Kidding). It's just as important for moderators to be on the same page as it is for the question to be handled correctly. Between the two, I'd rather the question be handled correctly than the moderators be on the same page -- but that's why Moderators should work together and borderline questions should be looked at by more than one moderator before action.


wax eagle wax eagle asked: You guys are going to be expected to make decision quickly and accurately. The volume of flags you handle is going to be higher than any other site. Do you trust yourself enough to make the right decisions with regularity? Or will you constantly question your own actions?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: Both; So many issues do have some element of subjectivity. I will seek to constantly improve my abilities to properly moderate content.

minitech minitech answered: I trust myself. If I didn't, I wouldn't be the one to make the decision...

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Both. I don't have a problem questioning my own actions if I feel like wavering, but that's the benefit to having a team of nearly 30 moderators. I don't actively have a problem most days with deciding what to do on a flag, but when I'm not sure I've always left it to come back to, and often checked into the TL to see what guidance others could give me.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Yes, I trust myself to take decisions, and I don't question them. If somebody points out I am wrong, I can review my decisions, and return on my steps.

Sathya Sathya answered: The volume of the site is quite a lot higher than most sites; but I do trust myself to make the right decisions - else I wouldn't be nominating myself

awoodland awoodland answered: It's pretty rare for me to flag way off-base. I don't think switching to the other side of the queue is likely to cause that to change massively. I'm sure there will be things that surprise me but I don't think that's anything I can't adjust to. I've made mistakes in the past but the useful thing is learning to avoid them after.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: As it stands, I have very few declined or dismissed flags among the many that I've cast over the years, so I believe that I would be able to handle flags accurately and in line with what the current moderators do right now. Where uncertain, I would defer to those with more experience.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I would not constantly question my actions. Usually I'm pretty sure what I'm doing and I don't think you could do such a job efficiently when constantly questioning yourself. However, thinking twice before hitting the Big Red Button labelled Do Not Press is always a good idea. But in any case, at some point everyone will make a suboptimal/wrong decision - we are (hopefully?) all humans after all. In that case it's important to keep calm and fix whatever needs to be fixed.

Lix Lix answered: Questioning your actions and reviewing the actions of your peers is the best way to expand your understanding of how people perceive your actions and thus know how to explain your point of view in the most compelling way.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: There have been very few flags that I've ever been borderline on. Most of the problems are visibly apparent. In situations where they haven't been, I've taken the following tack when flagging: "This question seems to have these problems. I feel like I need another person to validate the problems I see. Flagging this question for [closure, deletion] based on these reasons. "


Bruno Pereira Bruno Pereira asked: As moderators you will have super votes, that means that all your opinions you have now in the form of votes, that need to be backed up by other users or moderators, will fall like a hammer. No backing up, no opsies (not as in not being able to revert). You will in fact lose a lot of freedom and replace it with responsibility. How do you think you will handle it and for how long are you willing to do it? Why would you want it?

  • casperOne casperOne noted: It should be noted that this is not entirely correct. There are few actions that are undoable in the system, I think it's incorrect to indicate that is the case ("no backing, no oopsies") in your question.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I see that as a personal negative to the position at first, especially. It will absolutely make me somewhat more careful than I would otherwise be, especially until I am sure that my votes are 'correct'. However, it is not true that they are not reversible.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am already used to super votes. I don't vote as before, normally, but when there are more than 3 users who already voted to close, I give my vote too (when I think the question should be closed).

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Seeing as I already have that ability/responsibility on Database Administrators, I've already been acclimated to the concept of "super vote". I don't have a problem applying my votes on Database Administrators or on Stack Overflow or any other site, so I'm just as happy to cast my close votes at any point. I'm content with any vote I cast, and believe it to be accurate. As for how long, as long as the community will have me and my outside obligations don't make it impossible to do.

Sathya Sathya answered: Been doing for over a yearl I'm well used to it & can handle it.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: The instant close and deletion votes will change my voting patterns to be significantly more conservative. Unless something is obviously terrible content or completely out of place, I'd rely on the community first before casting a closing vote.

Dennis Dennis answered: Being a moderator evidently means thinking twice before taking any action. Gladly, almost all mistakes can be undone. My flag record is almost perfect, but I won't say that I'm not going to make any mistakes (the only way to achieve this is to do nothing at all), but I'm used to making such calls both inside and outside of SO.

awoodland awoodland answered: That's handy in some cases, e.g. low traffic things that would slip under the radar otherwise, where it can be frustrating to see things slip by at times. In other cases there are plenty of dedicated users who are willing to pick up the same kind of things and comment/vote as appropriate. It might be nice to just be one of five sometimes, but occasionally a mod does cast the last vote of a group and it's hardly a deal breaker.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Of course there will be edge cases where you don't want to force your opinion on everyone else. In this case I'd simply see what other mods think or let the community do the first step and e.g. step in with my vote after maybe half the needed threshold is reached by the community. However, in most cases I'd be fine since I think I have enough common sense to handle the responsibility that comes with super-votes in a proper way that benefits the community.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster continued: The reason why I'd want it is simple: Things like cleaning up non-answers ("thanks", "me too" etc.) can be done more quickly.

minitech minitech answered: It's not entirely true that there's no backing up; plenty of moderator actions are reversible. I definitely won't make any irreversible decisions that I'm not 100% sure of, and as for the rest, my CRAT (calculated reversible action threshold) appears to be 98.5%. I'm willing to do it... well, for the entire forseeable future. I want to do it because I like helping people.

  • Tim Post Tim Post noted: There are occasions where you have to be extremely careful, some actions that we take are in fact extremely difficult for a developer to undo if needed. However for the most part, tools that we have access to feature plenty of guard rails and safety nets just in case.

    minitech minitech responded: Yup - the moderator-only sort of things are part of the 100%. Locking less, deleting less, closing less, editing less.


Yannis Rizos Yannis Rizos asked: What's the protocol for migrating a question? And what is its prime directive?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: A question should be migrated when it's a) not appropriate on the current site, and b) is appropriate on the target site. When it's appropriate on the current site, there is no reason to migrate. When it's not appropriate on either site, it should be closed.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: When I vote to close/migrate a question, I first look to see if it should be closed for some other reason than off-topic. If it's "not a real question" on SO, it's still not a real question on SF. If I vote off-topic, I only choose a site if I know that site's FAQ well enough to truly believe it is on-topic there.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: It is "don't migrate crap." I will also add "be jealous of your site."

Sathya Sathya answered: Don't migrate crap; don't migrate question ontopic for a Stack Overflow to elsewhere unless it's the OP that requested for it.

Dennis Dennis answered: If your going to migrate a question, you have to know the target site well enough or consult somebody that does. The prime directive is: Don't! Migrate! Crap!

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Don't migrate garbage. Don't migrate very old, highly voted questions that might be on topic somewhere else, because that can be disruptive to other sites. In particular, be very aware of what's on topic over at Programmers, and don't just use it as a dumping ground for all the off topic questions here.

awoodland awoodland answered: I think this link pretty much answers that. I noticed fairly on a tendency to shovel off bad questions to certain other sites by some users and I've tried to avoid being a part of that. I've raised a few flags that amounted to "please don't let this win a migration vote, it's currently winning and really shouldn't".

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Moving content to the appropriate places as long as it fits on the target page. If it's a very bad question better just close it without sending junk to another site though.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: For most sites it's pretty clear what belongs where -- we're at the point now where the migration paths are much clearer than they used to be, so it's not often that you'll see a question migrated to programmers. If there are borderline questions, either leave it in place or take it to the group.


casperOne casperOne asked: How long do you feel it will take you to become fairly autonomous in making decisions as a moderator? Why do you think it will take that amount of time? Why not more? Why not less?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I believe I would become fairly autonomous nearly immediately, being in that pool of "already a mod elsewhere on the network" and given my 2 years or so history on Meta Stack Overflow and my three years or so on this network getting to know how everything works.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think it could take me 1 month. I don't want to jump over the horse and handling all the flags. If the other moderators are used to do things in a specific way, I would like to understand that, first.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I think the 10k moderation tools serve as training for many of the judgments. Beyond that, I expect that the first couple times I come across something 'ugly', I'll be looking for some input from others, but after a few weeks, I should be generally autonomous.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'm already quite autonomous being a Mod on Super User in a timezone which doesn't have an overlap of existing mods - coming to Stack Overflow it'll probably take me a week or so to get a feel for decisions and how soon they can be taken

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: For simple things, like spam or non-answers, it would take little time for me to get up to speed and start handling flags in those areas. For more nuanced topics, like what to do in the case of a "low quality" flag, I might need to take a little time to feel comfortable with handling those flags.

Dennis Dennis answered: Decisions that are similar to those I made as a regular user: Immediately. Other decisions: It's hard to put a time frame on that, since there are several different scenarios. I guess the second to third time I encounter a scenario, I'd be able to deal with it autonomously. That would probably take 6 to 8 weeks. There are - of course - some cases I'd always consult with somebody else first. No man is an island.

awoodland awoodland answered: hard to quantify. There are plenty of cases where I think the decisions are fairly obvious. There are some things I've flagged where I'm not quite sure what appropriate, proportionate actions would be. In those cases I'd need to see one or two instances and discuss them (in private) to get a feel for what the current approach is and avoid tacking action that would be way out of line with current moderators.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Should happen pretty quick. However, I'd certainly ask for a second opinion at the beginning for non-standard cases (especially stuff non-diamond users never deal with) to see how others with more experience handle them.

Lix Lix answered: Hard to state a finite amount of time for this... I'd say once I make it into the The Wheel of Blame! things should start going into auto pilot :)


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Unlike some of the other sites on the network, Stack Overflow has no shortage of Meta commentary on issues of moderation from the community. Given that some of this can be strongly opinionated, how will what gets brought up on Meta influence your decision making process?

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I think that is a great resource, and I believe my partaking of it as a 10k mod user is part of the reason I feel qualified at all. I would expect to continue to learn from what is posted there. Not to 'knee jerk' to every complaint, but to consider what is brought up and related policies and community feeling.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Given my recent question that was downvoted highly about the current election cycle on meta, wherein I was gracious for the opinions even given the criticisms against me (except when users with no practical experience on the network want to criticize me), I think that speaks for how I'll deal with similar conjectures of my moderation ability in the future. IOW: I'm perfectly willing to be called bad names and told I did the wrong thing.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: It will influence my decisions just when I am shown wrong. I am not always right, and I have to accept there are times I am not.

Sathya Sathya answered: It won't - if I'm taking a decision; it's because I know why I've taken it up & I can justify the action

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I regularly read Meta and am aware of the many arguments that have happened there. While understanding the consensus of the community is important, I'm more swayed by well-written arguments there and would more likely use those to shape my own opinions on matters.

Dennis Dennis answered: Heavily. Listen to feedback is very important. As a moderator, I'd expect to almost always enforce the community consensus, not impose my own ideas.

awoodland awoodland answered: That's a tricky balance to strike, it's hard to gauge public support for people who happen to be good at shouting loudly. The key things are a) do they make a good argument? and b) does it make SO/the Internet a better place those need to be placed higher than one or two who shout loudly.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: Feedback is important to improve yourself so if something on meta was related to me or a decision I made I would of course check if they have a point - and possibly learn from it.

Lix Lix answered: With regard to the action that was taken I don't think that someone posting on meta about it will give me a change of heart. That is of course unless a piece of crucial information comes to light in the meta post. Every action you take and its ramifications should affect your decision making process in the future.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I have a history of being on meta, participating, and seeing what the community sentiment is. I even try to post what I believe the direction should be. If I ever take an action that rubs the community (as a whole, instead of one user negatively affected), then I suspect there will be a very visible outcry on meta (as there would be if any mod did something like that). It's healthy, and I'll listen where needed.


Shog9 Shog9 asked: Do you see contradictions between community consensus on Stack Overflow (expressed by votes, close/reopen, comments) and consensus on Meta Stack Overflow (expressed by stated opinions, faqs, votes)? If so, where, and how would you resolve them when they cause conflict?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I would generally take the experience of Meta Stack Overflow over the whining of Stack Overflow commentary, if the consensus being questioned are over the same Stack Overflow post. The reason being that Meta Stack Overflow is the guiding site for community direction, and so is to be more trusted.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I do see contradictions, yes; re-open/undelete/up votes on things that have no business being on the site, for example. I think the site FAQ/published guidelines, and well-expressed and shared opinion on Meta would generally 'trump' raw votes on main.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: So far, I have not seen any contradictions. If there are, it is just because who votes to close a question, for example, is just a part of the users on Stack Overflow. It is normal that somebody has an opinion that is different from who voted on the main site.

Sathya Sathya answered: Haven't seen any contradiction.

awoodland awoodland answered: Some (recent) questions surprise me in the number of votes they get even though in my view they're pretty poor questions. Some of them can be improved with edits. Some get comments (and presumably flags too) that validates this. In the remaining questions there's a judgement call to be made, but closed questions can be reopened and the new wording on the close messages makes this quite a bit clearer which I think goes some way towards helping make closure a less bitter pill to swallow.


jmort253 jmort253 asked: Moderating StackOverflow is a huge responsibility, and will take up a lot of your time on a regular basis. What strategies will you employ to keep from getting burned out? If you do get burned out, how will you handle this?

  • Robert Harvey Robert Harvey noted: If we can get three new mods, and two of them "stick," i.e. they can regularly spend 30 minutes a day sweeping the floors, the burnout factor among the existing mods will drop considerably.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: the best cure for burnout is telling the others on the team that you need a break. That's what I've done in the past and it worked out well for me.

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I think the best way is not to do the work in a 'marathon' fashion, but to spread things out during the day as time permits. That is what I currently do with my 10k abilities, to avoid getting tired of it.

Sathya Sathya answered: I was put forward this question when during my Super User THC; the same principles hold - don't consume it all; take breaks from time to time & pace it out

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am a moderator on Drupal Answers. If I have that risk, I focus my attention on the other site, or in other activities.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: I spread out my time on the site across the day, and I think handling things in smaller pieces is an effective way of dealing with this. I haven't been burned out after performing the same tasks here for three years, so I don't think that I'd be unable to handle the constant load of being a moderator.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: I did 5 hours of IRC support in a gaming network (i.e. lots of "time-consuming" users) for about three years and never experienced any issues like this. Probably burnout is unlikely to happen at my age anyway. But I don't have any specific strategies - never needed them. If I did get some issues at some point I'd probably ask for a short break.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster continued: Not sure if it counts as a strategy, but since I a) use SO between other things (i.e. not like a hard 10-hour job) and b) it's a hobby I don't think there is a big risk of burning out.

awoodland awoodland answered: the good stuff about the site is the most important thing at the end of the day. Sometimes I go and look for good content specifically instead of looking for the bad stuff. That's interesting, distracting and puts the bad things in perspective. I hope that would continue to work as a moderator too.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: I normally come to SO during breaks in work (or during builds, or lunch) for the last (almost) four years. I haven't gotten burned out yet. I don't see that changing.


Yannis Rizos Yannis Rizos asked: Other than SO you will be asked to moderate chat.SO. Most of you have a ton of flags, edits, etc, but do you feel ready to handle chat?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Moderating chat.se is generally a light breeze, the things that scare me about moderating chat.so are the number of (alleged!) foreign language rooms, and for that we need moderators such as @Sathya to help (only one man, we need many multilingual users)

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: It'll be an excuse for me to get into it (chat, that is). I am not really active in chat now. I understand it's a different beast, but it's the same general community. Honestly, it's not part of the job that I salivate over doing, but yes; I feel ready to dive into that, too.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am already moderator on Stack Exchange site, and I have handled flags in the past. I don't think that is different from flags in the main site.

Sathya Sathya answered: Being in chat for a long time, & handling chat messages; yes I do believe I can handle chat flags.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: As somebody who is an IRC operator for 6 years (and a few months) now I think I'm pretty ready to moderate a chat, too. Especially since the users in the SO chat seem to be much more mature than most users on gaming IRC networks.

awoodland awoodland answered: chat flags are tricky. They depend an awful lot on context - one user calling another names could be friendly and intimate or rude and insulting. Making that judgement call quickly is hard sometimes. In some rooms the regulars seem very good at making that call quite quickly, I wouldn't want to interfere with that, but I've seen a fair few flags on chat so I don't think it'd be a huge problem stepping up a bit. Being active on chat is a plus here I think.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Yes. Moderator chat; I haven't seen chat outside of that work too well (unless there's a specific question), but I would be in chat where needed.

minitech minitech answered: To be honest, I don't use chat much so no, I wouldn't feel comfortable taking action on anything but the most obvious cases and I'd leave it to other moderators for as long as necessary to learn what the right course of action is :)


Aarthi Aarthi asked: @Sathya @jcolebrand and @kiamlaluno are both mods on other sites. Sathya, you're a mod of a trilogy site. How do you intend to handle the load of moderating multiple SE sites, and why do you think being "doubled up" could/would be a strength?

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: as I've mentioned elsewhere, the workload for moderating Database Administrators is minimal at best, but I still consider it "home base" currently on the network, even tho I've been a metahead and stacker for much longer. I don't think the load from dba would diminish my ability to moderate Stack Overflow at all. It would be a strength because I would be coming in with knowledge already on how to moderate, and so could do a great job on day one, rather than day twenty one.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: It's a strength because it helps on avoiding handling all the possible flags in a single site. Drupal Answers doesn't have the same volume of flags, but temporary focusing on a different site helps.

Sathya Sathya answered: As it is I devote an equal amount of time to Stack Overflow & Super User - the Super User community's quite balanced & often takes care of itself - there isn't much of a workload that it'd overwhelm me. It's a strength because as a Mod on an existing site you already know what you're going to deal with - you know how things ought to be handled.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: We're approaching the closing time, so... final thoughts from the candidates?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Thank you for your time, and for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. As usual, I wish good luck to the candidates.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I hope people go back and revise their thoughts on the candidates they've voted for thus far based on who has and has not contributed here, and how they feel the answers have stacked up. In addition, I encourage everyone here to vote for Brad L instead of assuming he'll get votes on the final days of the election ;-)

Andrew Barber Andrew Barber answered: I appreciate this community so much for all the help and fine-tuning is has provided me, and I appreciate the chance to give back to it for a while as a potential diamond mod. I know a bit of many of the other candidates, and I think we'll have some fine additions, whether I'm among them or not.

Sathya Sathya answered: Final thoughts: My best wishes to all candidates - whether I do get elected as a Mod or not; life goes on; I'll be in Mpd chat helping out fellow mods; will be on site cleaning up the cruft.

ThiefMaster ThiefMaster answered: This was a great chance to get known better by more people. Best wishes to everyone (and myself :p). Let's make SO an even better place!

awoodland awoodland answered: I'm probably shooting myself in the foot here, but I don't think the outcome of the elections will be a huge change of behaviour or time for me, whichever way it goes. After the last election I probably spent more time flagging and got more involved on meta. I don't see my involvement dropping either way. I'd be happy if the community decided they trusted me enough to give me access to more tools, but not taking offence if there's other better qualified candidates you'd rather vote for.

George Stocker George Stocker answered: Moderation is about taking the actions needed to keep the community clean. It's not unlike that of a janitor or gardener. It is not glorious work. It's not all about laying down the law, either. It's about doing the work necessary to keep the community going and thriving. Some days that means editing questions; others that means tracking down troublesome users; sometimes it means closing questions. Use the right tool for the job. I've done that since day one, and that won't change.

Brad Larson Brad Larson answered: Glad to be here. I have to run off to my next session at the conference, but thanks for the opportunity to participate and the kind words. Hope the election goes well for everyone.


casperOne http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1b2b5d5007262ea3f9e21ab5b15f8b75?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG casperOne asked: What actions have you seen any of the current SO moderators perform which you didn't agree with? Why didn't you agree with them, what would you have done differently, and why?

Sathya http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f129f4688ad43e53a9b42ed0182dbac1?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Sathya answered: I don't recall any actions that Stack Overflow mods have taken that I didn't agree with

jcolebrand http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c4cca9bfec5d5e77f625d9fbe8e37a41?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jcolebrand answered: I can't imagine anything that I've seen that I disagreed with that hasn't already been brought up and resolved. If it's been resolved then I agree with the action, so I don't have a countering opinion. This isn't particularly helpful, but then again, I've been working with the mod, community and dev teams on the SE network for well over a year, so I'm not curious any longer about how things work, or why.

kiamlaluno http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f5ef1b81e1aeb3b921a3034d460ce6af?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG kiamlaluno answered: There are questions that have been closed as off-topic, and which I would not have closed. That is because I knew an answer was possible, even if it was not a canonical one.

Brad Larson http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/52a2ffb44b1c11ab9001cb67e0a0021c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Brad Larson answered: As I'm sure you're aware, I recently argued against the deletion of a particular question that, while now off-topic for the site, had in my opinion valuable content within it. In the argument of deletion vs. non-deletion, I tend to fall on the side of not deleting older content that no longer fits the site, but which has some value within it. I respect the moderator who took this action, and I just was arguing this on the basis of this one particular case.

awoodland http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/b580e2e87bbf41c6ef179df41184288d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG awoodland answered: I don't agree with editing spam out of deleted spam answers. It makes it harder to spot if the next possibly spammy answer on that question is a re-post of previously deleted stuff or not. I've seen a few moderators do that, I disagree but it's hardly something I'd rollback and it's been discussed on meta a few times.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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