The following is a "digest" version of the 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 @Rebecca or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

15 Answers 15


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Thank you for all your time, and organizing this. Whomever you choose to vote, vote; the community participation in these cases is very important.

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I think we have a great community, and I would like to help it more by being a moderator. I hope my answers showed it. In any case, thank you everybody for being here and following the event. And good luck @kiamlaluno.


Tim Stone Tim Stone 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?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I think it is important for the whole community to welcome and guide new users, and have already helped with that, by leaving encouraging and explaining comments when editing or voting to close new users' questions. I am certainly willing to do that - and more - in the future, and will do my best to accomodate and teach new users. Of course, it they don't pay attention to my efforts, or disregard it, I will at some point just apply the needed measures.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I am willing to help new users, as I am already doing on Drupal Answers. I think it's not worth helping somebody, if that user doesn't listen to who is trying to help, but I cannot say that until I didn't try, and try again.


Grace Note Grace Note 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?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I would talk with him about the situation, starting in comments for specific cases, and then in chat for a general discussion.

rumtscho rumtscho continued: If needed, I will try to get support from other moderators, or cite sources like existing meta questions or blog posts which outline the policy relevant in their case.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: If the flags on comments are right, I will handle the comment being flagged; if the flags are not correct, I will ignore them. If the user generates comments that are off-topic, they can be removed.


hobodave hobodave asked: What do you consider the most important job of a moderator?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: A moderator is needed to make the site better for the community. He or she should carefully remove unwanted content such as spam, edit for clarity, retag, etc., so the knowledge the community produces is available to the members without being outgrown by "weeds"

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I consider it helping new users, and giving a guide about which questions are preferable.


rfusca rfusca asked: Cooking gets many variations on the same food safety questions - "How long can I do <this suspected unsafe thing>" Attempts to generalize them have been largely unsuccessful, what do you think, if anything, should be done? Are they ok as is, or should it be a addressed and how?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I agree that this is starting to be a problem. The recent attempt by @derobert to create a canonical answer seems to be received well, we had a meta discussion mentioning a user printing it for offline reference. I think that other formats are possible, maybe food-related posts in a future blog. If this doesn't help, the question should be put for community discussion on meta, it isn't something a single moderator can solve

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: So far, I have not seen those questions as a danger. They tend to be repetitive, but there is nothing that can be done for that; they cannot be considered off-topic. Repetitive questions are something I have already seen in Stack Overflow (e.g. questions about doing something with a regular expression) and Drupal Answers; as long as the user makes a specific case, that is generally fine.


derobert derobert asked: You're running to be an additional moderator on Cooking, so in what way do you feel the site most requires additional moderation?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I think that the current moderation is already going well, I was in fact surprised that we have an election. But of course, as the site grows, there will be more moderation to be done, especially on a site where reputation accumulates slowly, so that we don't have many high-rep users yet and the moderators have to handle things like closing offtopic questions. With a fourth moderator, we could do some backlog items like retagging of old questions and deleting old closed q-s, when needed

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: So far, I don't see anything that needs additional moderation. I don't have complete access to the review page, and I cannot see flags generated from other users, as I am not a 10k user; those would help me in understanding where it is necessary more moderation.


derobert derobert asked: Followup to the question asked by @hobodave. All of the actions you mention (spam, edit, retag) are available without being a moderator; spam of course slightly less so. What are the important jobs of a moderator, that you can't do now without being a moderator?

rumtscho rumtscho answered: There are some situations where quick action is needed, but a moderator is not available to help and a 10k user does not have the tools to solve. For example, a comment war between users can't be resolved by non-moderators, I would be happy to be able to help in such a case.

rumtscho rumtscho continued: Except for such very specific cases, I don't think there are too many tasks I can't do as a 10k user, but of course, having the diamond may be enough to make new users see my suggestions with more respect and so prevent problems - for example, if I ask somebody new to stop an unwanted behaviour, they may be more likely to do so if they see I am a moderator, especially if they don't know the reputation system of the SE network.


hobodave hobodave asked: How would you handle the following situation? You have closed a question you considered off-topic. Without prior discussion another moderator reopens the same question because they feel it is valid.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I would leave it open. It is like when you edit a post, and somebody else reverts the edit. If would do something, it is asking why the other moderator thinks the question is on-topic, just to avoid the same situation. If more questions of the same type are asked, then I could open a question on meta to see what the other users' opinions are.

rumtscho rumtscho answered: When there is a difference in the opinion of two moderators, I expect that the question will be somewhere in a grey area. I won't be happy about the lack of communication, but will not let that change my future handling of the situation. I will bring up the case for discussion, either in the moderator chat (if it looked like a clear-cut offtopic to me), or with the broader community (chat, meta) if it is indeed unclear how much offtopic it is.


Shog9 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/ae15c48f686a0ecb39848f980b296611?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Shog9 asked: A question asking for favorite opium tea recipes is asked. Do you: close as not constructive, or close as off-topic?

rumtscho http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c345be66512ee14f08acd1e27e387c4a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG rumtscho answered: As was mentioned, something similar already happened on our site. In such a double-problematic case, I may take the easy way (offtopic for being a recipe request) to quickly squash the question, then start a discussion (probably both on meta and chat) about how to handle new questions which are in accordance with our guidelines, but illegal. My own opinion is found in a comment in the linked meta discussion about the opium butter.

rumtscho http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c345be66512ee14f08acd1e27e387c4a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG rumtscho continued: If the community decides that the question is acceptable, the question can still be reopened, so no harm done.

kiamlaluno http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f5ef1b81e1aeb3b921a3034d460ce6af?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG kiamlaluno answered: I would close it as not constructive; it asks for a favorite tea, and everybody has a favorite tea. The answers would be equally valid, and the question is subjective.


derobert derobert asked kiamlaluno: For the hypothetical, assuming the flags are valid, what other actions will you take if the flag-able comments continue after you've deleted the first (send, third, ...) batch? Do you believe additional actions should be taken?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I would comment about him using the flags inappropriately, but I don't think there is something more that should be done. Accounts are suspended for voting irregularity, but not for generating unhelpful flags. If something should be done, that is avoiding that a user that generates too much unhelpful flags can flag something in the short period, similarly to what done with rejected suggested edits.

  • derobert derobert clarified: My apologies, I must not have written clearly enough…Assuming the user (from @GraceNote's original question) continues to leave comments that are flagged by other community members...?

    kiamlaluno kiamlaluno responded: Oh… I misunderstood the question, from @GraceNote. I think that if a user keeps writing comments that are flagged as offensive, then something needs to be done. If the flag is about off-topic comments, then it is something "less important," in some way. What should be done is something that needs to be decided together the other moderators; it's not something that can be decide unilaterally.

    kiamlaluno kiamlaluno continued: For sure offensive behaviors that could keep away the other users are something that require attention.


Mien Mien asked rumtscho: You are a regular in the SA chat room. In there we talk about a lot of stuff, even personal stuff. How can you reassure us that a personal conflict with a user, won't affect your moderation? Also, for both candidates, do you think you can notice it yourself if you're being subjective with a specific user? If you notice it, what would you do?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Yes, I can notice if I am being subjective with a user; in that case, I would let another moderator handle what done from that user. Even in the case I have the feedback from other users who think like me, I would let another moderator handles the user. If there would be a flag about an answer from that user for not being an answer, and I think it is not an answer, I would flag it for that reason.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno continued: In that way, the other moderator would notice there is more than a user who thinks the answer is not an answer.

rumtscho rumtscho answered: I agree that I have come to consider many of the chat regulars as friends. I hope that I can stay impartial (you probably have noticed in chat that I am mindful of my own behaviour and notice my own biases), and the transparent StackExchange system really helps. We have some hard rules, and I can go by these, even if it means I have to take action against a friend.

rumtscho rumtscho continued: If there is an especially problematic case, I could always ask a fellow moderator, who is not emotionally involved in the situation, for support. Besides, the way SE works, I couldn't hide questionable behaviour, so even if I should be tempted to do that, I know there is no sense in doing it. Lastly, moderators are not almighty, other moderators and SE employees can revert a moderator's actions. Which means that even if the worst happens and I turn renegade, the site won't suffer.


Shog9 Shog9 asked: Iced tea: sweetened, unsweetened, or "a bit of tea in my sugar, please"

rumtscho rumtscho answered: not a fan of iced tea, but if it has to be, lightly sweetened is OK. Or completely unsweetened.

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: Sweetened, thank you; 3 tea spoons of sugar are enough for me. :)


derobert derobert asked: Do you believe that site moderators should at least occasionally pop in to chat, to get feedback, become known to the community, etc.?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I think a moderator should use the chat, especially if somebody called him for asking something about questions to ask, or an opinion about a question. Lately, my time on chat is reduced, and I gave the priority to the chat for moderators (as I am a moderator on Drupal Answers).

rumtscho rumtscho answered: Moderators are here for the community, so they should use all available channels to get information on what the community wants. As such, chat can be a great place to communicate with the more regular users. While I don't expect the moderators to be present in chat all the time, especially in a room which generates immense amounts of offtopic content such as the frying pan, I think that they should at least use chat for special cases...

rumtscho rumtscho continued: ...such as when @Aaronut asks the chat users how they feel about a problematic question.


hobodave hobodave asked: How would you handle a situation where you, or another user, felt another moderator was being reckless or abusive with their powers?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: I would try asking to the other moderator the reason why s/he did what s/he did.

rumtscho rumtscho answered: The best way to solve conflicts is communication, with the least amount of judgment possible. I would talk with them about it, and if that doesn't solve, involve other mods and in the worst case the SE team.


rfusca rfusca asked: What is the moderators role in the community aspects of the site? Do they have one?

kiamlaluno kiamlaluno answered: The main role is that moderators are human exception handlers.

rumtscho rumtscho answered: The moderators are just as much members of the community as other members. They don't have to do anything more special for community aspects than other frequent users, but it is nice if they do it out of their own accord.

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