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The following is a "digest" version of the 2013 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!

  • This thread doesn't need to be bumped by Community. What's the best way to prevent it - closing the thread? – Peter Taylor Apr 23 '13 at 9:15
  • Community will stop bumping the topic if at least one of the answers has an up vote. – Tim Stone Apr 23 '13 at 12:56

14 Answers 14

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: In your opinion, what do moderators do?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: I think the best quick summary is doing the few cleanup-type things that can't be accomplished entirely by the community. All the various voting mechanisms (and even potentially flagging) can handle most things, but there are bits and pieces that can't really get done that way for various reasons.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: Sometimes obscure questions can't accumulate community close votes fast enough, it'd be tricky to allow comment deletion by non-mods (especially deletion of connected groups of comments), and so on.

Jefromi Jefromi concluded: Along with that, sometimes it's helpful to have a more canonical response, like when questions are closed and there's a lot of discussion in the comments muddling things up.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: In terms of Seasoned advice - as little as possible. I find the community-led nature of SE, coupled with a core of regulars who take a real interest in the quality of the site, tends to mean Seasoned Advice is almost self moderating. However, there is obviously a need for a few (hopefully) trusted and willing users who are responsible for overseeing those efforts and setting an example for newer users - the mods

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Mien Mien asked: Nasty question: why should we pick you over the other contestant?


ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Well, I don't know Jefromi all that well, so I can't list his faults (though they are no doubt few and trivial), so I will simply say that I am around a lot, I have been an active user for 2 years, I like to think I know the site and its regulars (Belgian or otherwise), and I'd like to help out.

Jefromi Jefromi answered: I'm going to have to answer along the same lines as Elendil here: I think he's a great candidate. In terms of differences that I'm aware of, I think I may have a tendency to be slightly more outspoken, and would be in chat less often, but I don't know if those are reasons to pick one or the other of us.

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


Jefromi Jefromi answered: For practical reasons, I think it may just be the culling of the really bad stuff, be it spam, offensive, or just wildly off-topic, however rare it may be. A lot of that can be on posts that a lot of users are seeing (new or popular questions), so it can look really bad for the site, while at the same being slow or impossible for normal users to remove. A lot of the other jobs are important too, but this one strikes me as less replaceable.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: I would say the most important mod job is also the most common one - checking every flag that pops up and dealing with it appropriately, whether that's duplicates, off-topic posts or spam.

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SAJ14SAJ SAJ14SAJ asked: Why do you feel we need any additional moderators at this time, given the low activity level on SA?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: I'd hardly call it low - it obviously doesn't look anything like StackOverflow, but we've got a decent amount going on. I do think the present mods have things pretty well in hand, nonetheless; they're all great. The biggest thing I can do that other mods can't, honestly, is practical: I'm in Pacific time (UTC-8) so I'm often around later than any of them, and could deal with a few things that would otherwise wait til the next day.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: And of course, it's always nice to let mods who've been doing this a long time take it a little easier if they'd like, and pick up some of the slack.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: I think that's perhaps more a question for SEHQ than the candidates, but I guess it's a matter of redundancy and 'keeping things fresh'. Users come and go, and the time they dedicate to a site varies for various reasons, and that includes mods. So it's good to have some backup. Many hands make light work. Also, I'm not entirely sure that the activity on SA is all that low, it's just a fairly civilised, well moderated site.

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SAJ14SAJ SAJ14SAJ asked: What contribution will you add as a moderator that is different from our current moderators?


ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Well, given that our tasks would be identical, I'm not sure I'd bring anything majorly different per se. I am a fairly active chatter, especially in UST daytime, so I am generally around to be called upon if necessary.

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rumtscho rumtscho asked: Imagine that a user accuses you on Meta of abusing your moderator powers, e.g. "This Nazi mod deleted my perfectly good answer!". What do you do?


ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Firstly, I would consult with my fellow (more experienced) moderators to see if they agree with my deletion. If they do, then I would reply to the accuser in a professional manner stating clearly and politely the reasons for the deletion. If it was decided the deletion was unreasonable, I would stand corrected and reverse it.

Jefromi Jefromi answered: It depends a bit on the circumstances. If we're talking about a really obvious case, like spam by a new user, then there's not much to do besides a straight-up explanation of our policies.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: But I suppose the most likely people to complain on meta are people who've been around for at least a bit, so I'd have to go back and make sure I did the right thing (asking others if necessary) and then write as polite as possible of a reply, with references to faq or other meta posts to avoid excessive discussion. If appropriate, I'd also include some reasonably summary of the content that was deleted, so that the community can see what happened and voice their opinion by voting.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: What can be done to bring more people to the community? Do you feel that's part of your responsibility as a moderator?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: The main thing that anyone, not just mods, can do to grow the community might be better described as turning one-time users into members of the community, rather than just anonymously posting or even just reading. There's a lot that contributes to this: having lots of high-quality content, responding in a friendly way (to bad questions as well as good), having interesting questions that people will want to answer, and so on.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: A mod can generally contribute to this in all the same ways that a normal user can, and I already try to do what I can in this department, so I'd naturally continue. But I don't think there's necessarily much of a special role/responsibility here, beyond obviously that mods should set a good example, doing the kinds of things hopefully many others do as well.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: Perhaps the most critical place to set a good example is in responding to bad posts; that's the place where the community can normally get the least friendly.

Jefromi Jefromi concluded: But since we get most of our completely new visitors from search engines, the place with the most bang for our buck is in keeping those visitors around.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: To answer this in reverse, I think any user who is active in the site and enjoys using it should try and spread the word, on and offline, if they can. I would like to see more networking being done with other, relevant sites to drive users our way. Photography, for example, has links with Gawker, running competitions occasionally. Given that food sites are so popular, there should be any number who would be willing to work with a prestigious site like ours.

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Mien Mien asked: How much time/effort are you planning on investing in the site, once you're elected as moderator?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: As much as it takes to get the job done, I suppose. I don't think it'll be all that much more time than I currently spend; I already visit most questions, trying to vote liberally, editing, and so on. There'd be a bit more to accomplish as a mod but again in the vein of community moderation, I feel it's more of an extension of being an active, attentive user.

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rumtscho rumtscho asked: Imagine that you have a user who contributes valuable information (his/her answers are very good, in-depth, get high upvotes) but is also disruptive to the site, picking up flags for rudeness, starting flaming discussions, etc. What is your reaction?


ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: I would initially ask the user (i guess via e-mail, I assume that's the policy rather than in chat) to stop flaming etc. If it continued I would warn them of the consequences (which I assume is a ban), and if it still hadn't stopped, I'd consequent those consequences.

Jefromi Jefromi answered: There are built-in protections to some degree, right? If I recall right, the system does things about users who get flagged sufficiently often, so normal moderation taking care of the flags would help. I don't remember details there, though, so assuming that doesn't happen for the user in question, I'd try to have a private discussion to avoid escalating things further.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: This has always been really frustrating to me, because with a user like that, ultimately if they can't be persuaded to be less hostile, they are bad for the site, and we'd have to give up good content, so I'd really try to diplomatically avoid that.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: Going back to my first answer, it wouldn't be a huge difference. High-rep users can do an awful lot - and that's why Stack Exchange sites look so great. But it does exist, and those little things can be pretty valuable. Rather than flagging an obviously offensive comment and waiting until a mod happens by to deal with it (and hoping not too many people see it in the meantime), I can just take care of it right then.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: And even the little things can be a big deal in terms of making the site polished and welcoming. I think there are a lot of perfectionists around here who appreciate the difference it makes.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Essentially the extra abilities such as migrating and immediate closing of off-topic posts etc. simply means I would be able to 'garden' the site more efficiently

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


Jefromi Jefromi answered: If I thought it was a misunderstanding, I might respond on the question. Otherwise, depending on how big of a disagreement it was, I would either post on meta like I would today, or discuss privately with the mod. There's a bit of a balance between open discussion and community decisions on one hand, and avoiding public arguments between mods on the other hand. (We place a lot of trust and authority in our mods, so that's not so great for the site.)

Jefromi Jefromi continued: In any case, the key element would still be discussion and attempting to reach consensus about what should be done. That's what I hope anyone would do if they disagreed with one of my decisions.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Well, we're all grown ups, so I would simply discuss it with the mod in question and the other mods to see if the situation needs changing.

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Grace Note http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/e1b643b1cabd740a5f4580f365b21407?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Grace Note asked: Microwave - sin to real cooking, or a useful tool for a chef?


ElendilTheTall http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/682a0e031289a04432bacab1a7887b43?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG ElendilTheTall answered: I would hope that no chef would use a microwave, but for the home cook on a budget with leftovers to defrost or baby food to warm? It's acceptable. It may be worth noting that I don't have one - make of that what you will.

Jefromi http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/54425be214686bd220d34185310e0bf9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jefromi answered: Useful tool. I'm not snobby about my cooking. If it works, use it. And microwaves are great for plenty of tasks, like melting butter, cooking single servings of some things, and so on.

Jefromi http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/54425be214686bd220d34185310e0bf9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jefromi continued: We even have a question for this: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/6695/for-what-foods-is-a-microwave-a-preferred-method-of-cooking and of course, it's a list-of-answers question.... oops.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Is there anything in becoming a moderator that makes you uneasy or nervous?


ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: No.

Jefromi Jefromi answered: Having a diamond next to all of my comments, particularly when disagreeing with someone, does make me a little nervous. I've always seen that as a meaningful little symbol, and so I'd feel it even more important to be careful not to offend.

Jefromi Jefromi continued: But it wouldn't stop me from saying what needs to be said!

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?


Jefromi Jefromi answered: I'm excited to be running, because I love the site and would like to do what I can for it. I'd of course be honored to be chosen and would do my best at it, but I'm also happy that no matter what the result is, we'll get a good mod and the site will continue growing and being generally awesome.

ElendilTheTall ElendilTheTall answered: Jefromi evidently knows what he is talking about, and I think I do, so I am sure that whoever wins, the site will be in good hands. Viva Seasoned Advice!

  • Jefromi Jefromi added: Yes, everyone, Elendil's a smart cookie and knows what he's talking about too.

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