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In connection with the 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, March 28th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT 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 process, feel free to post as a comment here.

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14 Answers 14

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What would you do in this situation as moderator?

A new-ish user posts a well-posed challenge that quickly gets many answers. An hour later, they edit in a restriction that invalidates most of the existing answers. An experienced user whose answer was invalidated comments that doing this is bad, and rolls back the edit. The poster insists on the change and re-adds it, and the two get into an edit war. Someone flags for moderator attention.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @ghosts_in_the_code The comment section here is not for answering the questions - they will be asked to the moderator candidates later during the election cycle, and the candidates will answer them. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Mar 22 '16 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I know that. I only was (and still am) having some difficulty understanding why this question is a good one to be asked (and why there is no single obvious answer to it). \$\endgroup\$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 23 '16 at 10:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ghosts_in_the_code I think there's not a single obvious answer, and even if all mods agree on the general course of action, there will be differences to note. It's hard to discuss though without discussing the question itself, which would bias the candidates, so if you're skeptical, I think you'd best just downvote. Maybe you have an alternative scenario-style question you think is more interesting? \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Mar 23 '16 at 10:49
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One of the biggest difficulties for moderators and high-rep users is to distinguish certain posts from being in-scope or not. There are three critical elements of the PPCG.SE scope, namely the three close reasons:

  • Too broad
  • Opinion-based
  • Unclear what you're asking

What distinguishes a challenge as too broad or opinion-based? How clear does a challenge need to be to be in-scope?

Can you specify your limits on these types of close reasons and your definition of each?

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What is the threshold for using your mod-hammer vs. letting the community take care of issues?

In other words, will you be mostly laissez-faire with posts and let the close/delete vote system sort out the good posts from the bad? Or will you personally decide that a post doesn't meet quality standards and mod-hammer it (note that this does not apply to obvious spam and the like).

Laissez-faire

Pros:

  • Community reaches a consensus

  • Close/down-voters (sometimes) give feedback

Cons:

  • Can be slow

Mod hammer

Pros:

  • Sometimes, executive decisions need to be made

  • Fairly quick process

Cons:

  • Community might not agree with actions
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This is one of the questions listed in the default set, but not guaranteed to show up unless it's split off and voted on. I think it's important, though, and would like to see it asked (and expanded on a bit):

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

This has different implications for different candidates, as some have already reached the permissions thresholds.

For high-rep candidates: What are you looking to gain with the diamond (or what do you feel you have gained if you have one)? As a fully-privileged user (on beta at least, I'll be missing the 20k mark when the limits change), I truly don't feel I need a diamond to help the site in many various ways. Why do you?

For lower-rep candidates: Why should these tools (and more) be given to you, instead of having to earn them the usual way? In what way are you more qualified than someone who already has many of these tools and has proven they can use them responsibly?

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    \$\begingroup\$ And yes, I realize rep isn't everything. Privileges are important, though, and rep is the usual way to gain them. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Mar 25 '16 at 15:05
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How will you help the site fit in with the SE network better?

We are not a Q&A site! However, a most of the features built in to the site are designed for Q&A sites. Will you effectively

  • Be an ambassador for our site, and help us get site-specific customizations to fit our mission better?

  • Help the site narrow it's scope to fit that of a Q&A site better?

  • Something else?

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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?
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What would your average moderation schedule be like?

When will you be active?

What day(s)/time(s) would it be best for people to contact you in case of a need of a moderator?

(This is of course an estimated schedule, and nobody will hold you accountable to it)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is a very important question right now, because of the relatively low traffic we get relative to other SE sites. From my experience, any time there's enough traffic for issues to arise, there's enough high-rep users who can take care of it. Issues that require a moderator to take care of them are rare enough that having to wait a few hours for a mod to see it isn't that big of a deal. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Mar 23 '16 at 19:32
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Initially suggested by @HelkaHomba in chat. (Emphasis mine)

What's your opinion on letting experienced users essentially re-write a challenge that has potential but is badly worded or specified? I've done this once or twice because rewriting is far easier for me than explaining what is wrong (possibly multiple times).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is fairly similar (although admittedly not identical) to xnor's question. While it might be nice to have a different angle on the matter, I think it might be better to use the limited questions we have to cover a broader spectrum of scenarios and opinions. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Mar 22 '16 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is different from my question and wouldn't mind both being possibilities. It's about a general rewrite, not a single change, and it's about etiquette, whereas mine is about resolving a conflict. \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Mar 23 '16 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is more of a site policy question than a moderation question. I'd rather see this as a meta discussion than a question in the moderator Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Mar 23 '16 at 19:29
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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?

This is a question from the set of general questions posted by Grace Note.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just in case the downvote is because someone thinks reposting one of the questions is pointless, quoting from Grace's answer: "or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8" \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Mar 22 '16 at 18:59
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What would you change to help new users get up to speed with the rules and procedures we have here regarding posting good questions and answers?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would argue that this is more of an expectation for the community and not specifically the moderators, and thus not a good question for the moderator Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Mar 26 '16 at 10:36
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What do you like most about our current moderation model/system?

What would you keep the same?

What would you change?

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Would you agree that we (as a community) are sometimes too quick to close questions as duplicate/unclear/opinion-based/too broad, when not obviously warranted, and that tends to discourage (especially new) users from participating? If you agree, what do you plan to do about that?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that this is a pretty important question, but I'm not sure that it belongs here as written. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Mar 28 '16 at 6:17
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What plans do you have to expand our site?

We have had frequent requests for new challenge criteria, but to little avail. We occasionally see new challenge formats (such as the "build on the last answer", and "format your code in a shape"), and at other times, really great original challenges. These ideas is really what keep this site running, in my humble opinion.

I've broken the above question into a couple of sub questions:

  1. The Sandbox plays a large role in generating and refining these ideas. Do you have any ideas on how to improve our process of using the Sandbox?
  2. Do you feel there are current rules/guidelines that hinder our growth?
  3. Do you have any other ideas on how to spark creativity here?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I personally think that expansion of the scope of the site is not a good idea for graduated sites. The whole point of beta is to refine the scope to make sure that questions can be easily distinguished between on-topic and off-topic. I am all for new, creative challenges, but just because one user made a certain challenge with a certain creative aspect doe not mean that others can assume that challenge is on topic. Forgive me if I misinterpreted this post. \$\endgroup\$ – GamrCorps Mar 22 '16 at 1:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ While I agree that the majority of "defining the scope" happens before graduation, there's a reason sites still have a meta after graduation. Sites still evolve and grow after graduation, but the change isn't as rapid and dramatic as pregraduation. (That said, I agree that scope isn't the right word, so I removed it) \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Mar 22 '16 at 1:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ None of this seems to me to have anything to do with the moderator role. To me it reads as "Do you have any ideas which you could have proposed on meta yesterday but didn't?" \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Mar 22 '16 at 10:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor I'm not looking for new ideas, but ways to promote new ideas. You are right that moderators technically have no additional powers in this respect, but as respected members of the community, they often have more social power to do these kinds of things. This question is effectively "Do you have a vision for the future of this site" \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Mar 22 '16 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Promotion and expansion of the site are not moderator duties. They're things that every user should be doing. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Mar 23 '16 at 2:53
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What are your weaknesses?

Everybody is human and has faults; its important to recognize them.

What parts of moderation do you think you would struggle with the most?

How do you plan on improving in those areas?

Perhaps this is too interview-y, but I feel that its important.

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