In connection with the Stack Overflow moderator elections, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.

Here's how it'll work:

  • During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, February 17th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 3:00 pm EST on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.

  • At the end of the phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.

  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this new process, feel free to post as a comment here.

  • 11
    Is this in lieu of the town hall events of previous elections? – Pekka Feb 10 '14 at 20:11
  • 5
    @Pekka Yep, though that's not to stop people from organizing a chat session. – Grace Note Feb 10 '14 at 20:13
  • 1
    "Did somebody ask you to run?" – Uphill Luge Feb 11 '14 at 0:23
  • 7
    Chris Hansen walks in... - 'Why don't you have a seat over there?' – PW Kad Feb 11 '14 at 2:13
  • 8
    Do I have a better chance to win if I smoke crack? – Rob Ford Feb 11 '14 at 22:52
  • 5
    Why yes, @RobFord! Your willingness to stand against narcotics oppression is a sure strength in this candidacy. – brandonscript Feb 12 '14 at 7:27
  • Judging from the top 20 answers this looks like a pretty bad idea. The candidates' own proposals would be more interesting (as opposed to their reaction to other people's proposals.) – Andomar Feb 13 '14 at 17:36
  • @Andomar I'm not sure what you mean by "The candidates' own proposals". As in, questions submitted by the candidates to each other? – Grace Note Feb 13 '14 at 17:47
  • @GraceNote: I mean, what is the candidate inwardly enthousiastic about, as opposed to foreign ideas that he is forced to respond to. – Andomar Feb 13 '14 at 17:51
  • 1
    @Andomar One could ask a question about what the candidate is inwardly enthusiastic about. Quite a few of the runs of this Q&A on others sites on the network feature questions like "What is the one big thing you wish you could change?" or "What do you feel is the most pressing topic?". – Grace Note Feb 13 '14 at 18:22
  • 7
    Can we not do this again? Next time, let's just create an "ask-the-candidates" tag and let folks post genuine questions, instead of abusing the platform like this. The candidates could actually post genuine answers then. – user102937 Feb 16 '14 at 23:38
  • I like this format - it's much more organic in its asynchronous nature than the town hall meetings. But the idea of, say, a ask-the-candidates-2014 tag sounds interesting as well (although it would likely cause much more unrest than this one question, @Robert? You'd have to put down every bad question individually) – Pekka Feb 17 '14 at 1:24
  • 5
    brb, flagging every answer as not an answer. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 17 '14 at 1:46
  • 1
    Ah, then I misunderstood. Yeah, then I'm in favour of having a tag (maybe a mod-only tag that only questions with +5 votes can get?) – Pekka Feb 17 '14 at 2:02
  • 1
    So if you're using Meta to host the election for SO, I guess that means the MSO/MSE split is postponed till after the election? – TRiG Feb 17 '14 at 11:26

75 Answers 75


An asker repeatedly flags their own question and says that they need to delete it or they'll be fired, because they mistakenly posted proprietary code. There are several good answers on that question. What do you do?

  • 50
    @JoshCaswell - Getting close to once a day, particularly if you expand this to include students and assignments. – Brad Larson Feb 10 '14 at 21:16
  • 8
    Good grief... – jscs Feb 10 '14 at 21:32
  • 6
    @JoshCaswell - Thus: twitter.com/bradlarson/status/410442895842217984 – Brad Larson Feb 10 '14 at 21:35
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    @BradLarson Is this a question that a mod even has the right to answer? Aren't they obligated to honor such a request? If SE doesn't have the legal right to this content, are they allowed to continue hosting it just because someone else mistakenly claimed that SE was allowed to publish it? Or are you limiting such requests to only formal DCMA requests? – Servy Feb 10 '14 at 21:45
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    @Servy: No. A user can request that their answer be disassociated from their account, but users license the content to the community when they post it. See creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0. There's no requirement or obligation that we delete an OP's post simply because they request it. – user102937 Feb 10 '14 at 23:08
  • 90
    It does raise an interesting question when the OP did not have any legal basis for licensing the content to SO in the first place. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '14 at 0:41
  • 10
    @Lightness methinks that's what the DMCA takedown process is there for – Pekka Feb 11 '14 at 0:56
  • 6
    @DavidKernin Sure, but the edit history is visible. If they're actually in deep trouble, just editing won't save them. – Dennis Meng Feb 11 '14 at 8:20
  • 4
    Couldn't we have a function for anonymizing the code and removing it from the history, so that we do not lose valuable answers? – Erik B Feb 11 '14 at 16:47
  • 2
    It would be beneficial if the community had a way to clean up a question (the mod can remove identifying text from the post in an edit) and then modify the POST history with the edit. In that way its as if the information wasnt there. I mean how hard is it to use placeholders for company names (in the comments), or other variable names. – Shawn Feb 11 '14 at 17:56
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    I'm just dumbfounded. Supposedly good user experience is all about allowing people to make mistakes and then to fix them without penalty. There is absolutely no argument here. Anything short of letting the users wipe the code they had no right to post is like spitting in their faces and saying "Haha, no, you entered zero, we'll crash and your satellite will deorbit. The flotsam is scheduled for pickup somewhere mid-Pacific in 48 hours. Over and out". The good answers are irrelevant. They can be retained, the asker or moderators are free to paraphrase the code later. What's so hard here? – Kuba hasn't forgotten Monica Feb 12 '14 at 15:17
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    @KubaOber: A policy that states that anyone can delete anything they post at any time is ripe for abuse, which is why there are mechanisms in the software that prevent such deletion, and why contributors are required to license their contributions to the community without conditions. If someone doesn't want their code on the Internet, the way they prevent that is by not posting it in the first place. – user102937 Feb 12 '14 at 21:23
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    @RobertHarvey I basically find the entire anti-deletion argument to be putting one's head in the sand and screaming "but you licensed!". Demonstrably, they didn't, they couldn't, they were unaware, whatever. It's their right to make such a mistake, and for it to be easily fixable. This is in the same boat as the un-removable images - the equivalent of "account cancellation by phone call only". It is unconscionable that a mistake that is simple to make (upload wrong code, wrong image) has to take in improportionately amount of effort to undo. – Kuba hasn't forgotten Monica Feb 12 '14 at 21:31
  • 20
    Everyone: these are proposed questions for the moderator candidates. If these are used, it will be up to the candidates themselves to answer them. I don't think the comments under each question are the right place to have an argument about how all of us would answer these questions. I think we've established that there is no clear-cut answer to this, so can we take this argument somewhere else? – Brad Larson Feb 12 '14 at 21:33
  • 3
    @KubaOber: Brad has a point. If you need to discuss this further, open a new question on Meta. – user102937 Feb 12 '14 at 21:34

How would you handle situations involving less than warm welcomes given to new users?

For example, a new user posts a well written first question consisting of clearly defined requirements, admission of a high level of domain ignorance, and a request for the proper solution methodology, but no actual code attempts to tackle the problem.

Said question receives many downvotes and impolite comments. The asker gets upset about the situation and complains to you directly on chat and/or meta.

What would you do?

  • 20
    This happens often, and users will immediately leave the website if they're not treated with humility. – Marco A. Feb 11 '14 at 15:42
  • 18
    THIS f***king this is so important. – JGallardo Feb 11 '14 at 19:18
  • 1
    How do you show a level of effort in attempt to answer the question prior to asking it on SO? Because the well written question might be not OP's effort (interview questions and homework comes to mind). – kukido Feb 11 '14 at 20:31
  • 27
    I have never seen a question treated that way if it asked for methodology and not code. – DVK Feb 11 '14 at 20:35
  • 6
    I don't think moderators are very well suited to address this issue, apart from removing really abrasive comments. They won't be able to hold hands individually due to sheer volume – Pekka Feb 12 '14 at 1:16
  • and what about the repeated questions for asking the reasons for down votes? – sol Feb 12 '14 at 8:51
  • @DavidKernin Sometimes it's not about quantity, but quality. Do we care about users who don't follow the rules? If we are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, then perhaps it should be a simple rule that the first question someone asks can't be closed nor downvoted for a week. This should let everyone work it out. – Kuba hasn't forgotten Monica Feb 12 '14 at 15:22
  • 2
    I'm not sure about that but I'm sure that when you post a question and, for one reason or another, it gets downvoted without even a comment.. well that just feels bad if you wrote that in good faith. It should almost be mandatory to write a comment if you downvoted. – Marco A. Feb 12 '14 at 15:24
  • 3
    @Pëkka That's why I included "complains to you" in the question. It's unreasonable to expect moderators to give a tour the site to new users, but if an upset user seeks out and addresses a moderator directly, then the mod must offer some sort of response. Even total silence will be interpreted as commentary by the user (and none too positively in that case). I've added some explicit emphasis to that phrase. – Esoteric Screen Name Feb 12 '14 at 17:30
  • 1
    @DVK Perhaps we have different definitions of methodology, because I see this with some regularity. My goal for the hypothetical is to describe a clear, well defined question which has no code, might be answerable without any, might be off topic, and is not "give the codez". A gray area question. The ambiguity is intentional, so we can get a glimpse of where a candidate's mind goes first - insight in to their temperament and moderation instincts. If you think the wording could be made clearer (I think so, but I'm not sure how to improve while keeping it succinct), please do edit. – Esoteric Screen Name Feb 12 '14 at 17:42
  • 1
    I really feel bad about the new users who just signs up and posts his problem. Though ver less read the FAQ. And I think in this case we the users should be responsible to treat new users politely and nicely and tell them to add more info in their question. Before downvoting any question we should check the history of the user whether s/he is new or not. – Inder Kumar Rathore Feb 12 '14 at 18:00
  • @Esoteric fair enough – Pekka Feb 12 '14 at 18:49
  • 2
    This one is right on the spot question. for newbie like me, asking question while there is always some bad person going to down vote my question. I think, stackoverflow is a place for some of arrogant down voter. – user3213703 Feb 14 '14 at 9:02
  • 4
    This is not only for questions, it is also true for answers, and it is bad. Sometime i feel like those professionals dont have any humanity :( – Altaf Hussain Feb 16 '14 at 10:08

How many Close Vote reviews have you done?


screen shot: 116.4k (hat tip to Pëkka)

Update: over 100 upvotes, not bad for a question accused of being "not relevant to a mod's duties". Thanks to all who share concerns expressed here!

  • 18
    Keep in mind that moderators are going to have very little influence on changes made to the CV queue. That's a matter for the Community Managers, developers, and other SE employees. – Servy Feb 10 '14 at 20:31
  • 6
    @Servy I am rather interested to see their thought process, and their ideas about scale of question closures / reviews – gnat Feb 10 '14 at 20:35
  • 8
    -1, this is not a subject I think we should use to judge our moderator candidates by. I'm much more interested in learning their moderation style and what kind of actions they will be taking, instead of just learning their opinions on various topics that are popular with the meta culture. – Rachel Feb 10 '14 at 21:07
  • 13
    This question reminds me of the people who ask things like "Whats your opinion on God" in politics and basing their vote on something like that. It's a popular topic, but has no bearing on how the person will act once in office or what steps they can/will take. The Close Queue is not a topic that moderators are expected to address in order to do their job. That's for the community and dev team. Sure mods can help out if they want to and/or have time to (don't forget, they have the flag queue to deal with), but it's not something I would expect mods to do,. – Rachel Feb 10 '14 at 21:18
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    The CVQ issue has the potential to reveal the topics @Rachel mentions, if asked correctly; e.g., "the community considers this a problem, how would you respond to its concerns?" If a candidate's answer is, "I won't have any review limits and I cast binding votes, so I'll review 500 questions a day until the queue is empty", that's very indicative of moderation style and something I'd want to know about before casting votes. Agreed that a simple "is it a problem" is not probing enough; it needs an "and why or why not" at a minimum (though most of us probably take that as implicitly included). – Esoteric Screen Name Feb 10 '14 at 21:22
  • 51
    This question is not relevant to a mod's duties. – user102937 Feb 10 '14 at 21:33
  • 2
    Personally I think a perfectly valid answer to your edited question is "Give them the appropriate links to the relevant questions, and encourage them to raise any new ideas and/or concerns that aren't already addressed on meta". It's the same generic answer I would expect from a wide range of subjects. Once again, this is not relevant to a moderators duties, and they have no more say than the rest of the community about how the CVQ gets handled. Also, 100 votes doesn't mean a real lot on Meta :) – Rachel Feb 10 '14 at 21:49
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    @gnat How is recognizing that a given user's opinion on this issue isn't relevant to whether or not they are qualified to moderate the site an indication that the entire problem should be ignored? The statement is simply that this is something to discuss through meta discussions, not through moderator screening, quite simply because moderators are no different from regular users when it comes to decisions on how to manage this problem. – Servy Feb 10 '14 at 22:01
  • 4
    @gnat Have you considered nominating yourself? You would have my vote. – apaul Feb 11 '14 at 1:30
  • 3
    @RobertHarvey hope newly elected moderators will be those who believe that reviewing and making decisions on closing / leaving open are relevant. Indifference may be one of the reasons why this very problem exists for so long – gnat Feb 11 '14 at 6:51
  • 13
    I'm not sure why this is a question; it's already public information, linked to from each candidate's nomination. – Shog9 Feb 11 '14 at 17:33
  • 3
    -1 for the hand drawn circle. +1 for the stick figure. +1 for asking for information about participation in the janitorial aspects of the site. Handling close votes quickly is important as it provides useful information to people asking questions on the site. Net: +1. – user194162 Feb 12 '14 at 14:52
  • 3
    As the moderator queue for questions seems to pile up, much like the closed vote questions queue, I think this is a great test. A moderator of the site will be handling things that have been brought to someone's attention already, and the stats on the closed question queue seem to be a good indicator of their ability to process a large queue. – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 12 '14 at 18:21
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    Re: "Update: over 100 upvotes, not bad for a question accused of being not relevant to a mod's duties " questions about politicians’ religions are pretty popular too – Richard Tingle Feb 13 '14 at 9:52
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    @RobertHarvey: Even though the question isn't concerned with the specific duties of a mod, I think it's a great question for measuring a person's work ethic - so-to-speak. After thinking about it, I decided if any candidate answered with a skimpy #, it'd be a sure no-vote. I mean, how lazy and truly uninterested are you? IMHO, seeing that number makes me think there are a whole lot of people who need to spend more time making worthy contributions to the site, and less time voting to close. Honestly, what's the point of the vote if it never gets reviewed? – ChiefTwoPencils Feb 14 '14 at 1:26

How would you deal with complaints about a user successfully suggesting a large number of low-quality edits?

  • 25
    This one's a bit broad... one man's low-quality edit can be a grammar nazi's obligation. – Ian Kemp Feb 11 '14 at 15:15
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    @Ian that's part of what makes it a good question. How the candidate interprets the question can give significant insight in to their thought process and attitudes towards moderation. And it's nice to know if they recognize the truth in what you've said as well. – Esoteric Screen Name Feb 11 '14 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Ian what I had in mind specifically was people adding tags like "for-loop" to years old questions in order to gain the 2 rep points.... But as Esoteric says, a general response will give us an idea of the candidate's mindset – Pekka Feb 11 '14 at 16:33
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    How do you know that they are doing it to gain 2 rep points? Maybe they are just pedantic about tags. (I hate people calling others out for "trawling for points".) A better definition of low quality edit might be when they correct 3 mistakes and leave 5 more uncorrected (and I have been guilty of that myself!). – user1725145 Feb 12 '14 at 12:23
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    @Pëkka This seems upside down to me. If there's something wrong with giving x rep points for edits, then that's where the problem is. Either we accept that even minor edits get x rep points, or we don't. If we don't we should change the rules, that's all. – Kuba hasn't forgotten Monica Feb 12 '14 at 15:24
  • 1
    @KubaOber but I'm talking about nonsensical edits that lower the quality of the post. – Pekka Feb 12 '14 at 15:31

What's your take on link-only answers that get flagged for not being answers? Should they be removed when flagged, or are they worth keeping around if they answer the question?

  • 15
    As "meta" says, answer with a link is not an answer :) Keeping those will just encourage people to post more answers like that to promote their blogs or whatever. Besides, if the link is no longer valid, who will check that? (shrug) – kukido Feb 11 '14 at 20:08
  • 4
    Might be worth elaborating slightly on what sort of answers you're talking about, since true "link only" answers are quite rare. – Shog9 Feb 11 '14 at 20:09
  • @Shog9: I see your point. There might be something like "Your answer can be found here<link>." with the destination being a blog post. Or for the question "Does anybody have a link to <some obscure thing>" it might be a valid answer, but isn't it what we have search engines for and then the question should be downvoted for the lack of research and eventually be removed? – kukido Feb 11 '14 at 20:20
  • It should not be deleted as this might contain the useful information. Also those link answer should neither be allowed to be accepted as answer nor should get upvote. Though downvote should be allowed :D – Inder Kumar Rathore Feb 12 '14 at 18:05
  • @InderKumarRathore at Programmers, we've got like 48 such answers left - all time, any score. All the rest has been mostly deleted. And guess what? site is going and growing just fine without this sort of garbage – gnat Feb 13 '14 at 5:44
  • 1
    Any link should be accompanied by some explanation as to what the resource is and why it is applicable. If for no other reason to clarify that the posted answer is in earnest. If the standard for a question asked is effort and thought , shouldn't a posed answer be doubly so? – ChaZu Feb 13 '14 at 12:03
  • @kukido Issue of expired link valid. While original (germane) content ideal for answers, would content from an outside link that gets copy/pasted into SO with appropriate citation (url, date accessed, etc.) be acceptable? Seems that would retain quality of site content as well as give proper credit where due. – ChaZu Feb 13 '14 at 22:47
  • 1
    @ChaZu: If the relevant content is copied, then it will not be a "link-only answer" anymore. The links are not disallowed, the discussion is about "link-only answers", meaning - no text :-) – kukido Feb 14 '14 at 1:10
  • 2
    It's an excellent question, given that those answers really ought to be being flagged for being very low quality, not for not being answers at all. Link-only answers can answer the question for now, but have no keeping quality. – Donal Fellows Feb 14 '14 at 20:57
  • @DonalFellows VLQ description says "answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing" which makes it a very (very) bad fit for link-only answers... (this has been discussed before) – gnat Feb 15 '14 at 9:32
  • @gnat: but then it's confusing having the "link only answer and not spam" canned comment available when selecting "recommend deletion" -- I can understand how someone can be confused. – Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 15 '14 at 11:32
  • @Qantas94Heavy agree, it's confusing. Link-only answers are slippery matters - that is, at SO, where neither moderators, nor SE team have made up their mind on them. In comparison, at Programmers this is a solved problem, not an issue anymore – gnat Feb 15 '14 at 14:37
  • Again, the comments here are not the place to debate this. These questions are for the moderator candidates to formulate their own responses, not for how we would react if asked. There are other questions about this on Meta, if you want to move the arguments there. – Brad Larson Feb 15 '14 at 15:16

As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators.

How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

  • 8
    It's not only the obvious stuff that is binding too. Voting to 'Leave Open' a question from the review queue removes that question from the queue - moderator votes in reviews are binding too. – JonW Feb 11 '14 at 17:23

Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

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

  • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  • 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?
  • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
  • 19
    A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said... - thank you for this! I feel it may not occur to some. This is important for the community to consider as well: how do [you] feel about all of [nominee]'s activity labeled as coming from a community-elected, and essentially "endorsed," user? I suppose the results of the voting will answer that question, though. – Trojan Feb 11 '14 at 3:45
  • @Trojan I imagine that since we're already at over 20 submissions, these bonus questions won't get asked lest someone posts them as a separate answer for review with the community's 8. – Grace Note Feb 11 '14 at 3:49
  • 3
    @GraceNote I think the 2nd "optional" question is an important one, so I've branched it off as a new answer. – nhinkle Feb 11 '14 at 4:28
  • @nhinkle's branched answer is here (who wants to Ctrl+F anyway?) – Trojan Feb 12 '14 at 4:45

If you became a moderator, would your actions be more like an Exception Handler or a Janitor?

To put it in other terms, do you think your moderation style will be more focused on allowing the community to run the site and you will only step in to handle exceptions, or do you think your style will be more focused on aggressively trying to "clean up" the site?

I realize a moderator's duties involve both roles, and that there is no right answer to this question. Identifying with either role is valid, and will appeal to different people.

  • 1
    This is an insightful distinction to make, although I think I'd be hard-pressed to judge where each current mod would fall. I'm not sure how the difference plays itself out publicly. Still, it's a question sure to get an interesting answer. – jscs Feb 10 '14 at 22:08
  • 4
    @JoshCaswell I hope it gets enough votes to get asked. I think both are perfectly valid moderation styles, and it gives voters a good idea of the person's moderation style. Also for me, the answer will greatly influence who I decide to vote for :) – Rachel Feb 10 '14 at 22:18
  • 2
    FWIW, personally I serve both roles, but am far more interested in the passive equine exception handler approach. Some cleanup roles are very straightforward - delete 100 non-answers in a single minute. Others, not so much, especially in cases where people just don't seem to know how to flag. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 11 '14 at 3:56
  • 2
    I feel like this question is too leading. The tone leads the reader to want to answer this as "of course im a janitor" mostly because "going out of the way" is tied to it. – Shawn Feb 11 '14 at 17:50
  • @Shawn I think that a moderator's duties include both roles, and am interested in finding out which role a moderator candidate will primarily identify themselves with, as it will likely tell me what their moderation style is. I think I see your point though, and perhaps we can reword it to be clear that either answer is equally acceptable. – Rachel Feb 11 '14 at 23:27

What are your views on the chat feature?

Do you plan to spend time in the chat once you're elected and assist in its moderation?

  • 6
    make cv-pls.com/backlog part of SO! – cryptic ツ Feb 11 '14 at 17:33
  • @crypticツ it's called the 'close vote queue' and it's not doing too well (unlike the cv backlog) - another issue for this election :D – Benjamin Gruenbaum Feb 11 '14 at 17:34
  • @crypticツ - An API for searching? Have you tried google? It wont produce exactly who said what, but you can search phrases. For example, if you wanted to get a solid measure of how many wtfs were produced in a room you could google: site:http://chat.stackoverflow.com/transcripts/11 wtf to see a wtf count for the php room :) C#'s is 2880 (I will let you figure out php's :D) Serious portrayal of code review – Travis J Feb 12 '14 at 3:04
  • 3
    @TravisJ Google won't even come close to what is needed when it comes to searching. You can hit me up in the PHP room for a detailed explanation if you want. – cryptic ツ Feb 12 '14 at 4:59
  • 3
    +1 Helping deal with questions about proper moderation and behavior affects things that my chat group cares about (like what a bot is allowed to do or not do, which has come up). Being a chat user informs that. Yet I might expand this also to "how do you plan to make yourself personally available to moderate on a system that doesn't have messaging or provide contact information". Will it be with chat? Something else? – HostileFork says dont trust SE Feb 12 '14 at 5:58
  • 3
    Also, we have a lot of positive experience with mods that are active in chat like ThiefMaster, Gordon, Minitech, BoltClock and a few others like Robert that come every now and then. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Feb 13 '14 at 5:49

Are you on drugs?

  • 38
    I hate to say it. But this is actually a legitimate question. – Mysticial Feb 11 '14 at 0:18
  • 21
    Also: "Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense, felony or misdemeanor (exclusive of any marijuana related conviction over two years old;any conviction for which the record has been judicially ordered sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated; any misdemeanor conviction for which probation has been successfully completed or otherwise discharged and the case has been judicially dismissed; or any arrest for which a pretrial diversion program has been successfully completed? If yes, please state nature of offense(s), date(s), city and state and disposition." – Mysticial Feb 11 '14 at 0:24
  • 18
    Well I figure you'd have to be to run for SO mod ;0 – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '14 at 0:26
  • 88
    This should not disqualify you, we just want to know who's holding. – Bill the Lizard Feb 11 '14 at 0:33
  • 18
    Followup: Don't you think you should be? – jscs Feb 11 '14 at 2:00
  • 9
    Now rephrasing your Q: "Do you see flying unicorns?" A: "I'm not on drugs." 1. Proof that he was diligently following Meta. 2. He still needs a good pair of glasses. 3. He's a liar. – Roko C. Buljan Feb 11 '14 at 5:01
  • 3
    Yes, this such answer to this question is a brilliant demonstration of how upvoting/downvoting system works. – Alma Do Feb 11 '14 at 7:32
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    That question is too personal and offensive. The moderators aren't NSA spions. – Danubian Sailor Feb 11 '14 at 7:50
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    It's possible you missed the joke, @ŁukaszL. :) (Also, yes they are!) – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '14 at 9:38
  • There are many kind of drugs, those which are legal and those which are illegal. Drugs which are legal(treatment) and have an impact on the persons decisions and drugs which are illegal and have no effect on that whatsoever. – JimmyKane Feb 11 '14 at 16:56
  • @JimmyKane: Are you suggesting that all illegal drugs have no effect on a person's decision-making abilities? That's an interesting viewpoint. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '14 at 17:18
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    @JimmyKane: OK I think I parsed your statement wrong. But yes, like ŁukaszL, you may have made the mistake of reading this as a serious suggestion ;) Consider the following question on SO: "sir,,,how can i make a cattle prod in VB6??? plz help me to solve this prlbme thx" My response is typically: "are you on drugs?!" – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '14 at 17:51
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit haha seems legit with the cow. Yes I did the mistake :-( It's difficult to tell intentions via text only. – JimmyKane Feb 11 '14 at 17:59
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    What if there is a medical reason for it? My country doesn't have, but I do know some countries that use weed as medicine? – rockinfresh Feb 12 '14 at 5:33
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    @Thundar: Technically SO is a drug – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 17 '14 at 16:44

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do (and have done) will be seen under a different light. How do you intend to handle that responsibility?

(Branched off from Grace Note's backup default questions list).

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    I'd vote for any candidate who promises to make it a heart instead. – paddy Feb 12 '14 at 1:11
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    @paddy: I'd be happy to make that promise, if you'll be understanding that moderators have no control whatsoever over that. – Wooble Feb 17 '14 at 17:52

All of you feel that being a moderator will make you much more effective than simply being a high-rep user.

What moderator ability, if any, do you think can be given to high-rep users instead to make the community in general more effective? If this ability was given to high-rep users, would you still want to become a moderator?


In what situations should a moderator delete a question themselves?

  • 2
    Delete own question? – Danubian Sailor Feb 11 '14 at 7:51
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    No, the sense is to use exclusive right of deletion (moderator can do that while in normal case it's required some votes from community) - i .e. in which cases that right should be used – Alma Do Feb 11 '14 at 8:51
  • They should not delete - so people can learn and there is an opportunity to clarify the question if it has been misunderstood in any way. – BillyBigPotatoes Feb 17 '14 at 14:12
  • Are there currently no guidelines on this? – smci Feb 17 '14 at 19:49

How would you handle a single user that is upset at a moderator action you have taken?

For example, if someone posted on meta "This mod deleted my [question|answer|comment] and he is abusing his power," how would you react?

  • I have been "that guy" and it was on one of the beta sites. – JGallardo Feb 11 '14 at 19:23
  • What does 'handle' mean? Would they reason with them, flame, ignore or retaliate? There isn't a working complaints procedure, so are you suggesting there should be one, or what? – smci Feb 17 '14 at 19:51
  • @smci By that, I mean "how would you react"? What would you say? – Doorknob Feb 17 '14 at 19:52
  • My point to you is that 'talking things better' is not the only possible action, and some mods don't even do that. Are you satisfied that there is a functional complaints procedure for bad mod decisions? And specifically do mods with patterns of bad actions get sanctioned? I'm not. – smci Feb 17 '14 at 20:12

You see the question which was put on hold by another moderator (not with 5 votes of community). But you think that this question is good and should not be closed. What will you do?


There are lots of people on StackOverflow, and their opinions on "how the site should work" also differ a lot.

Some people are mainly driven by a desire to help and/or participate; as a result, their activity might not be regarded as efficient or even desirable when viewed under a certain light. For example, they might choose to answer a question even though it has been obviously (to a regular) asked and answered before.

For these people, directly helping another member has immensely more value than clicking buttons (which they might still do, the two actions are certainly not mutually exclusive).

On the other end of the scale, some people are driven by StackOverflow's "one quality answer site to rule them all" aspirations; as a result, their activity might stick to the letter of the law and make it harder for others to get the answer they came here for. For example, they might downvote/delvote questions and answers because the answer already exists and therefore another one might be detrimental to a future seeker's ability to discover the canonical version.

For these people, maintaining the site's knowledge base has immensely more value than handholding a newbie (which again, they might do).

Given that both of these groups are entitled to their place in the sun and in fact have to cooperate in order for maximum value to be produced,

How do you intend to moderate both these types of do-gooders so that everyone goes home satisfied at the end of the day rather than deciding that SO is full of undesirables? Do you have a strong opinion of your own on the matter? How will it affect your stance as a moderator?

  • I think the grey line here is that sometimes old answers are dated and the old answers no longer apply, or are partial answers. – Shawn Feb 11 '14 at 17:45
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    @Jon One of the most important questions for me. I think it's a red herring to think there is not a way both sides can win. (Wait, I'm not running for moderator, am I supposed to answer the question?) There's a big difference between clicking "close as duplicate" vs. getting medieval with silent downvotes (or noisy snark) on someone who may be a kid in a distant country, on a 300 baud modem, struggling with their first post to an English-speaking site. To me, a moderator must actively care about discerning spam from beginners. Ignore that concern and I won't care about this site anymore. – HostileFork says dont trust SE Feb 12 '14 at 6:18
  • @HostileFork: I certainly did not want to imply that it's a contest with a single winner! My concern is that, as in all democracies, different groups have different priorities yet all of them must somehow be accommodated -- a balance must be struck. – Jon Feb 12 '14 at 9:13
  • Best question I've read so far. – Andrew Cheong Feb 17 '14 at 9:35

You see a Meta post calling out a user for spamming the site with edits containing referral links. After checking the details, you notice that this is not your typical spammer. Instead, the user has more than 2000 reputation (and thus also able to edit posts directly).

Because of the rather nasty kind of spamming - adding his spam to posts from reputable users - people call for the user to be deleted immediately. How will you deal with this situation?

  • Deleting that user? That's kind of harsh. His account could have just been hijacked. – Stephan Branczyk Feb 15 '14 at 4:17
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    @StephanBranczyk: this is a potential question for nominees to answer (much like how we have example questions in Area 51 proposal definitions), not an actual question posed to everyone. – Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 15 '14 at 4:41

What is, in your opinion as a potential future moderator, the biggest problem that Stack Overflow currently faces? If you were to get elected, what actions would you take towards resolving these issues?

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    This seems too vague – JGallardo Feb 11 '14 at 19:22
  • It's purposefully vague to provoke thought and reveal as much information about our candidates as possible – Flyk Feb 11 '14 at 19:25
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    The candidates already stated similar comments in the nominations, so this would be redundant. – JGallardo Feb 11 '14 at 19:52

While the moderator position you're nominating yourself for is a voluntary position, there is a minimum amount of time that you would need to be available in order to be an effective moderator.

How much time would you be able to spend on mod duties at Stack Overflow, and are there any known circumstances in which this will change in the future?

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    Should we make a point of differentiating between "time spent on SO" vs "time spent on mod duties on SO"? – Rachel Feb 10 '14 at 21:09
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    @Rachel Definitely. – H2CO3 Feb 10 '14 at 21:09

Based on my experiences and observations as a mod, I believe that a new mod should prepare to commit to devoting one hour per day, 5 days per week to handling flags in the flag queue, for the first year. Here's why:

  1. Stack Overflow raises somewhere between 1000 and 2000 flags per day
  2. During any given time, only about 25% of the mods on Stack Overflow are actively moderating (we currently have sixteen mods, which means our active base is four).
  3. The period of maximum productivity for new mods seems to be the first year. After that, a certain degree of burnout sets in (let's be honest).
  4. It takes about an hour to handle 100 flags, once you gain some experience. The top performers handle 200 to 300 flags per day. Currently, we need to be processing about 200 more flags per day, and there are three open moderator slots.

Would you be able to make such a commitment?


If a post has thousands of views and at least +50 upvotes, why would it be a good or bad idea to put it under a historical lock instead of deleting it?


  • The question itself is off topic or out of scope (regardless of when the community came to its senses)
  • The answers are obsolete, or so many that two-thirds are variations/duplicates on the first set of answers posted.
  • 3
    Every time a Hacker News comment cries about a question being closed an angel of ►☼◄ gets its wings – random Feb 11 '14 at 5:58
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    More important: what are the alternatives? For example, converting the whole topic into community blog entry... – Danubian Sailor Feb 11 '14 at 7:52

You've had a bad day at work/home/school. How do you make sure you don't unfairly take it out on poor innocent posts/users?

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    It's a good question but one of those questions you often can't get an honest answer about. We all think we're better, calmer, or more in control than we actually are under the influence of emotions. Probably better to get a feel for this indirectly through answers to other questions. – Andrew Cheong Feb 17 '14 at 9:41

How would you deal with SO users with a revenge oriented mentality? (Down voting questions and/or answers of others, those down voted or commented on them)

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    There isn't much that they can do, even if they wanted to, at least in almost all situations. Even mods don't have enough visibility into who voted for whom to take guesses at this, nor can they know why someone voted any more than you or I can. There are cases of serial voting that can be addressed, but the script handles almost all of that. – Servy Feb 11 '14 at 14:25
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    Stack Overflow supposedly already has algorithms in place to deal with serial downvoting – Michael Dautermann Feb 13 '14 at 20:57
  • But if someone planned to do that in a time interval, what to do in that case? – arun Feb 14 '14 at 5:51

Describe your perfect day. (This is a trick question, the only correct answer is to "Flag as off topic").

In all seriousness, questions that have been edited more than 10 times by the asking party are converted to community wikis. Do you think it is appropriate to rollback the community wiki status upon request? Further, what is your opinion of this policy in general (do you see as punishing the asker for improving the question)?

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    Would the down-voter mind explaining their reasoning? Did the levity in the first part of the question bother you? I thought this was a pretty valid question... – Elle Feb 11 '14 at 2:09

Let's consider this situation.

You happened to close a question on Stack Overflow but the close reason wasn't very much acceptable. The OP brings up that issue on Meta where the community feels that it was wrongly closed. Another moderator walks by and opens the question, suggesting that your action was indeed questionable.

"How/What" would you, as a Moderator, "react/respond/do" in such a situation?

  • 1
    "proving"? That sounds like you are throwing the balance in one direction. – ypercubeᵀᴹ Feb 11 '14 at 13:04
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    @ypercube - I didn't look into the words I was using that much. Thanks for bringing it to my notice :) I hope it sounds better now :) – SudoRahul Feb 11 '14 at 13:07

Real-time case:

A desperate user has posted the same question (some borderline between programming and configuration) to many SE sites. The problem is badly defined, but there are SCREAMINGS that this is URGENT and he BEGS FOR HELP.

The user is surely aware that posting his question everywhere to increase the chance of getting an answer is a bit of an egoistic behavior, but he thinks his problem is more important than the others.

How would you deal with such users? What measures would you take:

  • simply closing as off-topic and informing that is off-topic and why
  • downvoting
  • comments informing that such behavior is unacceptable
  • spam flags or any other attempts to block such user
  • something else?
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    How's this a moderator topic? Regular users should do all these – DVK Feb 11 '14 at 20:36

A user calls you out on Meta, screaming bloody murder over an action you felt was completely justified. They probably get some responses from the folks on Meta before you even learn there is an issue, but even if the community agrees your decision was perfectly fine, the user will sometimes be disgruntled and move on to other places (their blog, Reddit, Twitter) calling you all sorts of terrible things, and by your full name. (And if you were actually mistaken in your decision, then may God have mercy on your soul.)

It will most likely happen to you. There is no way to avoid it, no matter how carefully you moderate.

This aspect of moderation takes a certain amount of thick skin. Do you have it? What would you do if a conflict with a user "gets to you"?


Frequently it is noticed that some users who are active in the review queues on Stack Overflow are merely clicking "No Action" or "Accept". As a moderator, what action is appropriate to take against these so-called "robo-reviewers", and would you be willing to investigate instances such as these and take that action?

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    I think this could be more useful if rephrased. Currently, the answer is "Yes" or "No." While most candidates would probably expand on that, it could be more revealing to ask how they would do so, or why they wouldn't (if applicable in each case). – Trojan Feb 11 '14 at 5:35
  • Feel free to edit – Flyk Feb 11 '14 at 9:32

A new user has arrived and doesn't really understand the way the Stack Exchange system is supposed to work. They're complaining that people keep editing their posts and a roll back war has started on a question that they've asked.

You need to step in and moderate the situation. What actions do you take?

  • 2
    I think a more general question about keeping the whole community informed about the rules and guidelines is due here. Because it is not only new users who misuse SO. This is again, not because these users are bad, they are just not informed. – sashkello Feb 11 '14 at 0:02

What would your stance be on educating new users on how to ask questions, and the consequences of asking too many poor-quality questions?

The growth of the Close Votes queue and the frequency of What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"? type questions here on Meta seem to indicate that we're not in an ideal position on that front.

Although we do have resources such as How to Ask (and many wonderful others), do you think we could do more to help newer users take advantage of them? Or do you think we are already doing enough as a community, and should hold new users accountable for not already taking full advantage of the resources at their disposal?

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