The following is a "digest" version of the 2011 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.

(A big THANK YOU TO REBECCA CHERNOFF for organizing these town halls!)

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 @Josh me and let me know!

  • Thanks Josh! Looks good.
    – hobodave
    Feb 17, 2011 at 1:36
  • Sure thing @hobodave. Let me know if you see any corrections!
    – Josh
    Feb 17, 2011 at 14:34
  • Once again, great job, Josh!
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 17, 2011 at 16:52
  • Thank you @Grace!
    – Josh
    Feb 17, 2011 at 17:16

17 Answers 17


Shog9 Shog9 asked: What do y'all see as the biggest challenge when it comes to moderating Seasoned Advice?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @Shog9 Honestly I think our biggest challenge is going to be trying to teach the SE paradigm to non-technical people who have never worked with Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange before, without scaring them away.

hobodave hobodave answered: @Shog9 For me the biggest challenge is finding the right ratio between letting the community handle itself and stepping in and using the mod votes. Thankfully the community has really started to take care of itself in the past few months, making the challenge much less of one.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: How would you handle an off-topic question that gets lots of upvotes/answers that the community likes/supports?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff If it's really and truly blatantly off-topic? Close it. As we know from Stack Overflow, those questions are broken windows.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: If it's borderline: Bring it up on meta, let the supporters state their case as to why it should be exempt.

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff If it's blatantly off topic I'd close it. Ideally this happens before the question becomes popular.

hobodave hobodave continued: @RebeccaChernoff If it is ambiguous however, I'd rather discuss it with other moderators and bring it up on meta.


Rebecca Chernoff http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d8c43bb4c449d8054aebdd4ad98c6f6c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Rebecca Chernoff asked: How do you handle someone posting on your meta complaining about a moderator action you took?

Aaronut http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/b724ebca1ce4dc031f4db1215b70825e?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff This one's always fun. I believe we always need to be accountable for our moderator actions, but complaints need to be accompanied by facts, first and foremost. I respond to vague complaints with a request for more information. If the complaint turns out to be valid, then I will take steps to correct my previous actions.

hobodave http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f0965aae8a531d1f3599ac46d13f8f66?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff I will explain my actions to them. If I make a mistake, then I will apologize and take steps to correct that. Here's an example


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts?

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff I'm hungry, can I eat now?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff Re: Final thoughts - mainly I just hope that we get a good number of people actually voting. I'd like to confirm that the reason for relatively few nominations is that we're doing a good job and not because nobody cares. ;)


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: 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?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @MichaelMrozek I would first try to bring it up politely, through a few tactically-placed comments.

hobodave hobodave answered: @MichaelMrozek That depends a lot on the nature of the comments. If they are appropriate I would direct them to meta. If they are inappropriate or profane then I would message them directly.

Aaronut Aaronut countered: @hobodave: If the comments are completely off-topic (but not offensive) then meta might not be the right place, but otherwise I agree and have done the same.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: Obviously if this person fails to acknowledge or respond to repeated complaints and warnings than a suspension would be in order (final reply to last question).


Josh Josh asked: Candidates, what's your opinion of the new "Everyone Can Edit" feature? Are you in favor? Does it make your jobs easier?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @Josh Absolutely. We've had one or two members putting it to great use already.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: One of them - zanlok I think - completely rewrote a question that was almost unreadable. I love that feature.

hobodave hobodave answered: @Josh I love it! I'm surprised it took us this long to come up with it. Editing is one of my less thorough areas of moderation. It's very nice to have the community members editing, and making my job as simple as clicking yes/no.


Shog9 Shog9 asked: time for me to leave and eat wings, but one little question 'fore I go: how much slack should you cut users experienced in the subject matter but new to SE?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @Shog9 Presently and historically my answer is "a lot". We've had a few members in the past feel slighted and complain because behaviours that are common on SE seemed hostile or made no sense to them.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: Over-the-top reactions to downvotes are especially common amongst the best (inexperienced) contributors, so some patience is in order.

hobodave hobodave answered: @Shog9 In general, lots. It depends more on what kind of slack though. To me acceptable slack means, going out of your way to explain the (weird) way SE's work and making it very clear that we appreciate their contributions. On the other hand, unacceptable slack is letting new members get away with whatever just because they are new, e.g. recipe requests


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Do you think the Seasoned Advice community generally gets the SE engine? What is something you think the community still needs education on, and how can you help improve this?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff I see evidence that some new members pick it up fairly well. Whether or not all of the community gets it is hard to say; I think there will always be a few people who just don't, no matter how hard we try.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: To answer the second part of the question: Documentation like the new(ish) privileges page helps a lot, as do the "How to Ask / How to Answer" pages, but I'd like to see more on the whole philosophy of SE and why it's different from a forum.

Aaronut Aaronut continued: Also I think most people are still a little bit apprehensive about editing or even retagging... I'm not sure what the solution is, but I'd like to find some way to communicate that it's okay.

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff It's kind of hard for me to say overall. As a whole I think our community is very knowledgeable about how SE works. It's a bit harder to know how many people are stopping by, contributing, and then leaving in frustration. As far as the role I can play in improvement... I think making sure we have some easily understandable and accessible FAQ meta questions for new users to read is great.


Josh Josh asked: As a related question to Rebecca's, What can we do to bring more people to the community? Do you feel that's part of your responsibility as a moderator?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @Josh Eventually I think search engine traffic will become dominant. Until then I just talk about it to people I know. I'd like to do more, I'm just not really an expert on marketing, so I'm always open to ideas.

hobodave hobodave answered: @Josh I do feel that's part of the responsibility of a moderator, but I also think it can and should be a responsibility shared by other passionate community members. There's no special abilities moderators have w/r/t promotion. I've certainly done my share of word of mouth advertisement. One idea I've had is to post some form of flyer/business card/something in supermarkets. I don't know how practical or effective that would be though.


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

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff It's happened. We talk about it in chat, usually. I look for compromises. Usually it involves editing the question. (hobodave will know what I'm talking about, cf. the "honey roasted almonds" question)

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff Yea this happens. The easiest solution is to just discuss it in chat. I'm actually opposed to reverting another moderator's actions without discussing it with them first.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: What's your favorite type of ice cream?

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff LOL! Ben & Jerry's Phish Food

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff Amaretto gelato.


Josh Josh asked: Do you have any experience moderating any other online communities which you feel would help you in your position as a moderator of Cooking.SE?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @Josh I've moderated a few forums (medium traffic, a bit more than Seasoned Advice). I think my experience as a pro-tem here has taught me a lot more than those, though.

hobodave hobodave answered: @Josh Not really. Well, wayyyy back in the day I was a "Guide" for a MMORPG called EverQuest. Other than that, no.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Is the community active in meta and in building/caring for the site? If passive, is there something you, as a moderator, can do to improve this?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff It seems to wax and wane; I get the feeling that several community members read meta but don't have a zillion questions to ask (that might not be a bad thing). I do also try to direct members to specific meta questions if I feel that they're relevant to a particular comment thread or question.

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff Our meta activity has been rather low in the past couple of months. I'm attributing that, however, to the fact that things are flowing smoothly overall. Our site has been markedly "drama free" lately in comparison to our early days, as well as in comparison to some of the other SE sites.


badp badp asked: Let's say that by the way moderators are elected, you end up being the only European/American moderator, which means you'll be the only mod online during American/European night (this is what's going to happen to me on Gaming). How'd you feel about it?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @badp I'd love to be accompanied by European moderators. There's so much cooking terminology and customs that are localized, it would help sort out the occasional dispute. But as for timing - no biggie, I'm used to acting alone on flags and such.

hobodave hobodave answered: @badp I wouldn't mind. From the looks of it the new mod batch is going to be all North American. It would be nice to have European moderators to balance it out some, but I keep strange enough hours that I can cover quite a bit.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: How do you feel about a diamond being attached to everything you say and do on the site?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @RebeccaChernoff It definitely changes the way I act. I'm very careful about how I word things on Seasoned Advice.

hobodave hobodave answered: @RebeccaChernoff I barely notice it anymore, but I do try to stay cognizant of the fact that others do. There have been a couple situations where I've said something in passing or made a suggestion that was interpreted as "policy".


Grace Note Grace Note asked: If you had to create a restaurant devoted to creating meals that shared one key ingredient, what would it be?

hobodave hobodave answered: @GraceNote I'm not sure that would be a successful restaurant unless that ingredient were something basic like bread, or pork. I'd go with pork, because you get bacon.

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @GraceNote Salt. That keeps the options pretty wide open. Chocolate is my second choice.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: What do you plan to do to assist the site outside of responding to flags and standard close/delete maintenance?

Aaronut Aaronut answered: @GraceNote Represent our interests to the SE team. Facilitate discussion around gray areas and policy-making. Try to smooth relations with inexperienced users if the community acts heavy-handedly.

Aaronut Aaronut added: @GraceNote Oh, and I've also been proactively trying to manage the tags with synonyms, merges, etc. And I occasionally use the /review, although there's not much to see on Seasoned Advice yet.

hobodave hobodave answered: @GraceNote Well, I'd like to help with promotion of the site but I don't think I'm a great source of ideas in that area.

  • Oh, Aaronut also had this addon as an answer to this question. ♪
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 17, 2011 at 16:52
  • Thanks @GraceNote, updated the answer.
    – Josh
    Feb 17, 2011 at 17:17

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