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!

  • Is it OK for us to suggest minor edits to correct typos in our responses or formatting? I don't want to change things, but noticed two small typos in my responses.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:02
  • 1
    I think that's fine, yeah. I tend to notice some errors as I'm doing the digest, but we tend to avoid making unsolicited corrections to candidates' responses ourselves as a policy.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:06
  • 1
    never in my history of creating or reading town hall digests have I seen so many downvotes. Wow.
    – Josh
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 22:26
  • I was wondering if that was normal in terms of the meta membership expressing opinions about the questions asked this way. I wonder if we're to interpret it as dis-satisfaction with our collective answers or more directed to the asker.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:36
  • @bmike Hmm, that's a good question. I've always assumed that people were voting based on whether or not they thought that the question was something that provoked useful feedback from the candidates, but I haven't really looked at it in depth before.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:41

18 Answers 18


Nathan Greenstein Nathan Greenstein asked: What is the first thing you would do once elected? (It can be one particular thing or a general goal)

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: When first elected, I would ban the use of all acronyms, everywhere, throughout the entire world.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: Really try to learn the new moderator tools so I know what I am using :)

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: I feel that I've already been headed in the correct direction. There is an encompassing goal right now to breathe new life back into the blog, and I intend to provide more content in that direction. Not to mention doing my best to continue content-wise on the site, the podcast, and whatever else comes our way.

bmike bmike answered: Actually, I'm agitating to see if there is consensus to change the FAQ a bit.

Daniel Daniel answered: The first thing I'd do is listen. Listen to the current mods. Listen to other users. Listen to folks from other SE sites. Learn how the job is done well. And then I'd do everything in my power to make our birthday answerathon actually happen, albeit after the birthday is past.

stuffe stuffe answered: First thing I would do if elected, would be to investigate exactly what extra capabilities are available to me, and make it a point of learning to use each one appropriately as soon as possible, without going on a massive power splurge - there will be 3 new Mods all vying to make their mark, and we shouldn't be racing to the flags to prove a point


Nathan Greenstein Nathan Greenstein asked: In one sentence, what is a moderator’s job?

Moshe Moshe answered: A moderator's job is to lurk, take responsibility for making hard decisions regarding edge cases, and what @WheatWilliams said (below).

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: A moderator's job is to keep questions in line with the format of the site in a way that helps people find useful answers.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: "CLEANUP, ISLE 4", except it's not just one person's effort.

bmike bmike answered: A moderator is a safe keeper of the site. Primarily it's to handle the rare instance where someone is trying to disrupt or harm the signal to noise ratio.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I feel that the moderators job is to keep the community on topic and easy to use for everyone. To assist users and make decisions for the community.

Daniel Daniel answered: The team of moderators needs to handle any disruptions to the site (which have been blessedly uncommon), do basic janitorial work handling flags, reclassifying answers-that-are-really-comments, etc. A moderator's job is to be a good member of that team. That means communication, presence, regular appearances on the site, and making sure that across the team, issues are handled promptly before they escalate.

stuffe stuffe answered: Cleaning the toilets, polishing the mirrors - in short leaving the place as you would wish to find it ;)


kiamlaluno http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/f5ef1b81e1aeb3b921a3034d460ce6af?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG kiamlaluno asked: You see a user is reported for suspicious voting pattern for giving 75% of the votes to the same user. Do you think there is something that must be done, even if the votes given to that user are 40?

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel answered: It is my understanding that there is some algorithmic voter fraud detection, so I'd be mostly on the lookout for activity that is disrupting the community (i.e. malicious comments, etc.) and let the engine do what it does best in terms of watching votes. I was told earlier that mods couldn't see how users voted. Is that not true?

Moshe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/25e55d9b32a596d7b334fc18faec8170?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Moshe answered: 40 votes is potentially 200 rep, methinks. That's the difference between many of the basic privileges. That being said if it's just a few votes, it's not a big deal. I'd say, case by case. In many cases, the immune system should handle it.

jmlumpkin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/7e4fbb2efd3b3bbedcd75a726b694ae4?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jmlumpkin answered: I would have to rely on what tools are available to see what is next. As for how to handle it, not really sure, would have to be on a case by case basis.

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike answered: I'd want to learn from the current moderators what the site guidelines are. I'd want to protect the site from vote gaming, but would also want to look for plausible reasons why that user's actions could be seen in a reasonable light before taking action. I suppose a short chat asking how the user was finding the site - asking if I could help almost always scares off someone who knows what they are doing is wrong.

Jason Salaz http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9904b127bff836c939152dcd300ea9ea?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jason Salaz answered: Something to make the fellow mods aware of, and discuss. Like others, there is no 100% correct answer to this question in all cases. Could just be the fact that there are some users on Ask Different with a ton of high quality content.

stuffe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3e1998e4b4514fc0d75eb6bd60691f0a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG stuffe answered: I am not sure that I would ever "see" this, and would hope that automated system would pick on this sort of issue far faster than expecting a mod to be on top of the activity of every user. I wouldn't look at every question and might easily miss such behaviour as I don't intend to change my question surfing habits other than as directed by relevant flagging et. I can even foresee a time when this might be reasonable, if the questions in, er, question, are all on an obscure tag


Shog9 Shog9 asked: How much experience do you currently have using the user-moderator tools on Ask Different?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: None to speak of, to be honest.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I have been using both the flagging feature and editor as often as I can to correct things. On both Ask Different and SO mostly.

Moshe Moshe answered: I have no experience on AskDifferent, but plenty on StackOverflow.

  • Shog9 Shog9 asked: Why none on AD?

    Moshe Moshe responded: I'm don't spend enough time on AD to moderate or to have enough rep for the tools. To be honest, I've slacked on AD and I plan to shift my focus from SO to AD.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: Hard to quantify. But I've touched on tag wikis (creating and voting), I have edited plenty of questions/answers before 2K, and have since graduated to having my edits accepted automatically, I have approved numerous edits, and used the 'review' tool at large. I've been part of plenty of question closures (though no reopens, to the best of my knowledge). And... there's more? Flagging... yep, I think I've touched every user mod tool at least once.

Daniel Daniel answered: I'm at 234 helpful flags, and handled 84 suggested edits. I've voted 1779 times. As far as flags go, that's the one area where I've done more than even our superstar bmike.

bmike bmike answered: I'm quite comfortable working with the existing moderators and have been lucky to have earned the trusted user - so I've been reviewing / flagging / approving (and rejecting) edit suggestions by lower rep users for some time now here.

stuffe stuffe answered: I have used those tools which are available to me by reputation, and have edited questions and answers belonging to other users where appropriate. I've used the flag tools, but relatively sparingly as I believe in allowing the OP opportunity to make changes their own way. Without being able to see a list of flagged messages It's hard to do much more, but I have by chance come across the odd post with an edit waiting for approval which I have acted on.


bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike linked to a question: Should we expand site scope to include iTunes Connect?

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike answered: As a moderator I would expect to help guide this and keep the questions on scope.

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel answered: you know where I stand on that. I wasn't originally on board with @bmike's proposal, but he's convinced me, and I want to help with that.

Moshe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/25e55d9b32a596d7b334fc18faec8170?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Moshe answered: Then my App Stores proposal is @moot. :P

  • Many of us missed this as it was rendered one-boxed. And it wasn't starred either. Oops. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 17:45
  • Indeed - I didn't intend to ask each candidate their feelings on the issue - but I certainly wanted it in the mix to address that despite personal opinions either for or against this - the moderator duty is first to identify consensus and serve that above their personal views.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:18
  • I actually thought it was a follow-up to @bmike's answer to this question
    – Daniel Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 3:02

Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: 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?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: I'm fine with that as long as the powers that be will give some grace to somebody new in the role to make a few mistakes and then atone for them. I don't mind anybody knowing my whole history; that's why I use my real legal name instead of a screen name.

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams continued: The key to all this is to answer questions and leave out personal opinions or feelings. As long as you keep that in perspective, Ask Different is easy to use and to participate in.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I am fine with this. I use the SE network of sites for both professional and personal use, and thats why I use my real name as well.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: It's mildly unnerving. I'm sure I've done something that would cast me as less than graceful/courteous. Everyone has bad days, and it's just unfortunate when they "go public" with it. (Or bring it with them into the public.) It was a big deal to me to start using my actual name instead of my nickname, doubly so considering my very very distinct avatar/usericon is now completely associated with my identity. But I did it, it's here, I stand by it.

bmike bmike answered: I'm hoping to find out how it feels, but I've been participating in online (permanent) discussions since the late 80's and have a good internal pause whenever I might feel I need to let loose or lose my cool. Having that diamond would be a reminder to pass the things I say through a second check since I would be speaking in an official role as a moderator. I don't think much would change in my participation here.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'm careful about what I say anyway. I just need to slow down a but before clicking on that delete button, that's all.

Daniel Daniel answered: I'm comfortable with that. I've flagged, voted to close, commented, and done a lot of other things that I knew would be judged by the people involved. Moderator isn't a change in nature, just degree. All active participants on the site are in the spotlight here.

stuffe stuffe answered: Mods are will act like a giant gravitational force attracting the worst that the community has. You can't please all of the people, all of the time, and I would expect to get some spikes of problem users. As per the blog we found only yesterday abusing Nathan and Kyle. Best you can do is be consistent, and never get personal. You've a role to fulfil, not a name to make.


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno asked: Do you think that participating on Meta Stack Overflow helps with being a better moderator? What is your participation on Meta Stack Overflow?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: I have not participated in Meta Stack Overflow at all. I have not felt that it was important to being a participant here. But it has occurred to me before today that if I become a moderator, I'm going to need to participate in Meta Stack Overflow.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: My participation is very low on meta right now, but I would like to change that. I have been wanting to give back more, and thats a great place to do some work at as well. To answer the first part of the question, I think it does help. Communication is always great :)

Moshe Moshe answered: I'm active on the Meta Tavern, sometimes on Meta proper.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: It's great to do if you can participate on MSO considering what a high traffic center it is. My participation is particularly low except for a few 'hot button' topics that are not just confined to Ask Different. I feel that MSO needs to become Meta Stack Exchange, a true network-wide meta, and MSO should be Stack Overflow specific. Participating there helps, though not required.

bmike bmike answered: Yes - this actually is a critical aspect to the site. By having a place to ask about policy, bugs, gray areas - the main site is kept clean. A clean and focused site tends to run itself better as people don't like to throw that first piece of trash on a beautiful lawn.

bmike bmike continued: Meta also is where I learn from others - what is the scope - how do you like to handle edits for grammar, etc... It builds consensus outside the main channel of information here.

Daniel Daniel answered: I can't speak from experience, because while I am quite active on meta.Ask Different, I have read only experience with MSO. I do find that reading MSO is very helpful to understanding how the SE engine works, and would expect that a moderator on AD would have to be involved on meta.AD

stuffe stuffe answered: I think it's key, because the Meta community is by it's very nature populated with people who want more than just to ask a question and get some help. It's filled by people who want to help more than ask. The key to moderation I feel is consistency, and this means being consistent in your own actions, but also aligning your methods and approach with the other mods.

stuffe stuffe continued: The mods do not (or should not) set the tone, they gauge the tone from people in Meta, and work to make changes in a way that has community support. I've asked and answered a number of Meta questions, some practical (CSS bugs) some hypothetical (Non bumping edits a good idea?)

stuffe stuffe concluded: My original response to this question neglected to actually, er, answer the question, as I mistook Meta AD for Meta SO. To answer it properly, in a word, no. I don't think there is particular relevance now in the same way as there might have been when it was more of a role model for the few new sites that came after it. The Mod ethos spans the site, and doesn't reside in the old throne room.


Wheat Williams Wheat Williams asked: What other Stack Exchange sites are you active on besides Ask Different?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: For me it's Musical Practice & Performance. I'm a musician, too.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: Stack Overflow, Programmers, Gaming, and Super User. I also visit Photography, UX, and a few others as well.

Moshe Moshe answered: StackOverflow, Meta SO, Judaism.Stackexchange. I've been active on SU and Programmers.SE as well.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: Regularly? No others. I visit sites that are relevant to topics that I may be interested in, but I can't honestly say I'm nearly as active on any site besides Ask Different. I don't visit any other site more than once a week at best.

Daniel Daniel answered: I'm active on Ask Different. I read meta.stackoverflow, but I don't post there.

bmike bmike answered: SuperUser and The Great Outdoors are my most likely hangouts. I learn a ton from SO but don't answer except for in rare cases.

stuffe stuffe answered: I have posted and earned a sliver of reputation in (in order of appearance!) Wordpress Answers, Gaming, Parenting and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Mainly as a bottom feeding question asker without giving much back yet.


Daniel Daniel asked: What activities in a user's history on the site do you think best demonstrate that someone is qualified to be a moderator?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: I'm not into metrics.

  • Daniel Daniel asked: OK, speak qualitatively, then. What traits would you look for a person demonstrating if you wanted them to be moderator?

Moshe Moshe answered: An absence of low quality posts is a good sign. Good edits, tagging are also symptoms of a good moderator. Some people even have a great repertoire of answers to go with that. (erherhm @bmike) :-)

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: While scores/metrics are one way, but also the entire audit of their actual history, from answers, flags, edits, etc. I also think the way they communicate with users and others is a big deal, because if they can not communicate, it makes that task harder

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: Consistent improvement, in any manner. Not just rep, not just badges, not just flags. The definitive proof is invariably their ability to ask/answer/manage Questions and Answers appropriately, everything else (rep/badge/flag count) is just further proof.

bmike bmike answered: I'm voting for the people I see helping others learn in a gentle and positive light. Especially there are three candidates I've seen step in when a normal user was a bit short and help the situation out with a great edit or a counterpoint.

Daniel Daniel answered: I'd look for a history of moderator-like behavior. Someone who comments well. Someone who flags appropriately. Someone who participates in chat, and meta, and guides users along. Some who has good edits. Someone who builds up the community.

stuffe stuffe answered: It's easy to count flags and create a formula to score candidates, but I think that the most important activity is interaction with users, and the attitude you show when you do it. A bazillion answers is wonderful, but it mainly shows how clever you are, and knowing a shedload about every Apple product ever doesn't mean that you are able to communicate well with people who may be upset or offended with something you or someone else has done


George Edison George Edison asked: A user asks an off-topic question and you promptly close it as such. Then the user begins downvoting a bunch of your posts, posting less-than-helpful comments on some of them, and generally being obnoxious about the whole thing. What will you do (if anything) to deal with this user?

Moshe Moshe answered: The user must be dealt with, because they won't stop at a single mod who they disagree with, but not by myself. I'd pass it to another mod. We've seen this on Meta.SO, where people were abusing the system and the issue was dealt with by someone other than the victim of the abuse.

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: This is a tough one, because on Stack Exchange you can't directly send a private message to a user. Is banning users a function of the moderators? I would be reluctant to handle that kind of situation.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: This is a hard question, but a task of the moderators. I would really talk to some of the other moderators before taking any action. Use this input, and previous examples, etc, to make a decision.

  • George Edison George Edison noted: It is unfortunate, but such a scenario has happened before.

    jmlumpkin jmlumpkin responded: Sad to hear. Hopefully there is a decision made by the community (or just the mods) on the 'correct' way to handle this

    Kyle Cronin Kyle Cronin added: as a footnote w/r/t the contact/ban feature, it's something that I've never used on Ask Different, and it's only ever been used once on the site

    Kyle Cronin Kyle Cronin continued: so it's pretty rare that you'll need to use it, but it's good to know about

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: I actually don't know what rules if any are in place for this situation, so currently I don't want to answer something so specifically that is likely already described by SE. At a high level: First step is contact them, second step is subject to the severity of the issue.

Daniel Daniel answered: Never act out of annoyance. Talk to other moderators first. Be fair, be kind, give users the benefit of the doubt, but if there is a consensus among the moderators that someone is damaging the site and acting maliciously, use the appropriate tools (warning, account suspension, etc) to prevent the user from damaging our community

bmike bmike answered: Oh - that's easy. The automated scripts to detect pattern voting will clear most up, but they can down vote me till the cows come home. As long as they aren't defacing the site - I'd let the other mods know what's up and we all can watch it. I'd get consensus if it's better for me to handle it directly or if having another mod also comment will make the OP realize they are taking it personally.

bmike bmike continued: I'd also reach out for confirmation I was being fair - since being a mod does have an aspect of absoluteness - it's nice to know others are watching and helping us.

stuffe stuffe answered: I would avoid getting personal, and entering into a tit for tat edit/delete cycle with the user. The moment I see it as being directed at me, I would step back and request another mod to deal with the user and to amend any inappropriate comments etc.


Nathan Greenstein http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d137f0688480f16238308ad0f9b234ff?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Nathan Greenstein asked: In what ways has Ask Different served as a resource for you personally?

Moshe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/25e55d9b32a596d7b334fc18faec8170?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Moshe answered: I've asked some questions. Gotten some answers. Recommended it to friends.

Jason Salaz http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9904b127bff836c939152dcd300ea9ea?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jason Salaz answered: apple.stackexchange.com/users/… All of my questions asked on Ask Different. I consider them quite challenging for the most part. Part of the reason why my acceptance rate is unfortunately low. There is maybe 5 times as many times I've come across something beneficial than the number of question in this list. No need to ask a duplicate question, of course.

Wheat Williams http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3f98968b2d85fe5deaf4132bbecf9132?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Wheat Williams answered: For me personally: 1) It's helped with configuring my system in going from Snow Leopard to Lion; 2) It's helped remind me of the kinds of questions that newbies need answered, and how best to help them. 3) I really enjoy working with "switchers", which is to say those who are figuring out how to move from Windows to Mac. There's a big need for that here.

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel answered: Like @JasonSalaz, I first came here to ask questions. But it's a resource too because it's an outlet for creative problem solving, a chance to learn AppleScript and Automator, a chance to chat, and a chance to help people with their computers.

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike answered: I've met some great people and been able to participate in my first podcast. I've also come to learn as well as to share what I know about apple products and software.

jmlumpkin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/7e4fbb2efd3b3bbedcd75a726b694ae4?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jmlumpkin answered: Ive learned a bit of peoples workflows and scripting, which has inspired me to do even more with that. Moreso, it really has helped me grow with my Apple knowledge in general, by being able to help people and learning something new at the same time.

stuffe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3e1998e4b4514fc0d75eb6bd60691f0a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG stuffe answered: I've asked 7 questions, and to be brutally honest, haven't got the answers I wanted on most of them. But that's not why I come on here, I use this site in the same way other might sit and do a crossword of an evening, it's a minor challenge that allows me some focussed time to dabble in things which usually results in learning something I didn't previously know. I don't know half the things I answer with until I research them because the question interests me.


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

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: Final thought: If I get elected, I'm going to need to do a lot of remedial homework on the inner workings of the Stack Exchange community. And I always enjoy that kind of challenge.

Moshe Moshe answered: I'd love to be elected, but I see that there are some pretty qualified candidates here (aside from my-self-perceived-self). Best of luck to all. Oh, and I've been a member of StackOverflow for over two years. Consider my experience with the system when voting.

bmike bmike answered: Yes - we do like magpies here since they are intelligent and a bit territorial. I do hope we get a mix of new and older members in our next class of moderators. Having 5 people to shape the site is something that will really give Ask Different a good balance to it as it grows this next year.

bmike bmike continued: Oh - If I were king for a day, I'd change the URL to be askdifferent.stackexchange.com

Daniel Daniel answered: SE is moderated by its users. Many of us have been acting as moderators for months (or years, in the case of @JasonSalaz). You don't put a diamond next to someone's name to make them a moderator. You find people who are moderating the site and give them the diamond so they have better tools to get the job done that they are already doing.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: Good luck to all of you. This process is always exciting (and a bit hectic in the case of the Town Hall!). Have a good weekend, and a better Tuesday. It's been a fun 1.33 years, here's to 1.33 more, and even more than that. Also, Magpies.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I really want to give back to this community in any way I can.

stuffe stuffe answered: Not a lot to add, other than to say that whilst I would enjoy being elected I will still be around even if I am not, and will look to try to stick around in Chat more and maybe participate in the peripheral activities like the Blog and Podcast because I think there's a room of sensible clever and mature people in here whom I would willingly get to know better.


kiamlaluno kiamlaluno asked: What is the main problem (including problems on how users use the site) that you actually see in the site you would be moderating, if you are elected moderator?

Moshe Moshe answered: I know that there has been a low rep problem for a while. Perhaps there's been some improvement, but that's something that might be looked into.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: We already see an unfortunate swath of low quality content due to our inevitable bump in reception after the advertising that has been done, and our gradual increase into higher Google rankings. The problems I forsee are no different than most of the SE sites, or active moderation in general. Adequately managing content and users (but mostly content) in a meaningful way.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I can't pinpoint a 'main problem' with the moderation of Ask Different, other than the community seems to continue to grow, and therefore more moderation will be required. I also have noticed that some of the users have very 'frantic' questions, that are hard to understand. I would hope to help convert those into actual questions, to get that user help

Daniel Daniel answered: I think our main problems are related to participation rates that are too low. We need more voting. We need more answering. That isn't the moderator's job, per se, but it is the job of the community, and moderators play a key role in guiding the community. I'd like to see our birthday answerathon address both of these issues.

bmike bmike answered: The only problem I see is we've got a lot of work for two moderators. I think we have only to season in this year's additions to have lots of room for growth.

stuffe stuffe answered: I don't think that Ask Different has many active "problems", just a steady stream of occasional inappropriate usage that are nothing more than minor business as usual cleanup tasks. I see very little Spam, abusive content or vindictive voting, but this may be because the current mods are doing such a great job

stuffe stuffe continued: One of the things I would like to see change is the relatively low voting ration that we seem to have, but I don't see that as a problem as such

  • The post by Wheat Williams, is it really an answer to this? Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 17:04
  • @DanielBeck No...Seems it was addressed to the wrong person. Will fix, thanks for pointing it out!
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 17:11

Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: Usually moderator candidates have spent a lot of time flagging problems as a user before switching roles and handling those flags as a moderator, but in this election quite a few users have very low flag counts. Why would you want to be a moderator if you haven't been interested in flagging before now?

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: I have a high flag count. I'm letting that flag fly.

  • Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: Was this a serious answer? I thought you were going to revise it; you have 16 helpful flags. Not as low as some people, but other candidates have hundreds. I was looking for why there's such a discrepancy

    Wheat Williams Wheat Williams responded: Michael, I've been on AskDifferent for six months. What do you consider a good flag count for that period of time?

    Wheat Williams Wheat Williams continued: Okay, Michael. What I need to say to you then, is that I'm not interested in metrics or statistics. I'm interested in helping people. If you want to look at my metrics, fine, but I don't know what they are, and I'm not interested in looking them up myself.

Moshe Moshe answered: Again, I've been more active on SO than any other site. My reason for this is probably because I've been a member there for over 2 years vs much less everywhere else.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I have been interested in flagging, but in the case of Ask Different, usually I have so few to flag (versus SO, where I have found many).

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: I believe I'm second in flags only to Daniel (at least with regard to the candidates), we've both been very proactive in identifying and working on issues as they come by. Sometimes no action is able to be taken on the flag, sometimes there's merely discussion in the chat room, but this is all the correct process in my opinion.

bmike bmike answered: I'm a big flagger and voter on the site - and I would hope that all the new moderators have spent some time here both flagging and down voting questions. It's nice to see what sort of questions/answers need some help or guidance and which ones instead should be closed for an edit or potentially be deleted.

Daniel Daniel answered: I have the highest flag count on the site. But others might not flag very much because frankly, there isn't that much that needs flagging. I'm hyper-vigilant about it, and I've only managed to amass 231 flags. The mods act on them very quickly. So really, there isn't a lot of opportunity for most people to need to flag here. And that's a good thing about the site.

stuffe stuffe answered: I see flagging as a last resort. It's not fair to produce a huge pile of work for the Mods when you are able to attempt to effect the change you think is required without the mod tools. The mods have the power, but we should all share the responsibility to an extent, and I believe that a comment here and there directed at the OP suggesting improvements is often better than pointing a mod at the question...

stuffe stuffe continued: ...who may well just do the same initially, as well as having the fringe benefits of fostering a peer to peer attitude of mutual respect rather than a tiered system of importance.


Nathan Greenstein Nathan Greenstein asked: How would you deal with a user who repeatedly provided answers that were low quality (but not spam)?

Moshe Moshe answered: I'd give them a little encouragement via a message, explaining what they were doing wrong. Point them to the FAQ, and/or offer a little explanation of my own. New users need explanation and encouragement. On StackOverflow, I've commented countless times "welcome, here's the FAQ. Choose a username and make yourself comfortable." It's what grows the sites - an encouraging and welcoming community.

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: As a user, I have posted polite messages to a user asking them to clarify their question, to do more research and provide more background, and the like. Some are eager to do this; some just stop posting altogether, presumably going to other sites to look for answers.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I would contact the user to see if I could help. Many of the low quality questions I have looked at before were really hard to understand due to language barriers or lack of details. If the user continues, I would usually just continue to ask for more details if they are legit questions.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: The response to this doesn't change when you're a mod. Especially considering mods are not judges of content. (Quality, yes, to an extent. Correctness/Content, no.) In the past, my action has been to edit if possible, comment always, and NOT "downvote and move on". This won't change.

Daniel Daniel answered: In my experience, comments combined with constructive edits can be very helpful. Some people learn and improve a lot. But I agree with @JasonSalaz that this isn't a mod issue; most of us have been doing this all along. It's a community issue.

bmike bmike answered: Again - voting and editing are good tools for minor issues. In general, it's nice to find a really awesome answer or provide that - then the low quality answers are clearly that. When they cross the line to spamming - that's when the mod tools can be used to shape or protect the site for honest attempts to participate.

stuffe stuffe answered: I see this place as a learning experience, the users are sort of in class, nor on parole, and so if need be you direct them time and time again to improve their answers, providing suggestions, or making edits and commenting on why you changed the answer. Downvoting should be used, but as a carrot not a stick.

stuffe stuffe continued: If this was consistently happening, I would invite the user into chat and engage in conversation about the site, and how best they can integrate into it. If they are doing it a lot it proves their enthusiasm to contribute, so they need encouragement to improve.


Shog9 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/ae15c48f686a0ecb39848f980b296611?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Shog9 asked: After all these years, there's still a bit of (usually light-hearted) culture-warring between dedicated Apple users and fans of other brands. As a moderator, you'll occasionally find yourself interacting with users from other sites with different attitudes and cultures - how would you handle this?

Moshe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/25e55d9b32a596d7b334fc18faec8170?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Moshe answered: Politely. People talk about how fast technology evolves, but they're usually talking about why they aren't buying the latest and greatest. People who still talk about "Macs being for artsy types" are using Pentium III logic. They forget that the same logic of evolution applies to these arguments. Hence, ignore. If that's impossible, politely coerce the conversation in a different direction.

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike answered: I have a simple method for filtering criticism. When someone is attacking a product, or software or things - that's valid discussion and I do welcome most any opinion - especially if the person stays engaged and discusses things rather than dumping and leaving.

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike continued: When they attack a person, then it's time to step in as a moderator and warn or edit or delete. Disagreements are great and often needed to learn or make a point. I love passion as long as there is respect.

Wheat Williams http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3f98968b2d85fe5deaf4132bbecf9132?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Wheat Williams answered: Somebody coined the term "platform agnostic" but I don't like that term because it implies that you don't really believe strongly in any platform. I describe myself as "platform-pantheistic". Whatever your needs are, on Windows or Mac, I will help you. I use both every day equally. I am equally knowledgeable, trained and skilled on both platforms. You can diminish the rivalry by acknowledging that each one has its uses and strengths.

Wheat Williams http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3f98968b2d85fe5deaf4132bbecf9132?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Wheat Williams continued: I've been a Mac professional for 24 years, and a Windows professional for more than 14 years, but I don't like metrics.

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel answered: If it's light hearted and on topic, so be it. Rants aren't questions or answers, though. I've flagged quite a few of them, and if there isn't any q or a content to salvage, really there isn't anything to do but delete them gently. But specifics of strengths or weaknesses of software or hardware, when relevant to the question, can be helpful. Flamewars have no place here.

Moshe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/25e55d9b32a596d7b334fc18faec8170?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Moshe added: The other candidates bring up a valid point - it depends on the content and the direction of the remark(s) in question.

Jason Salaz http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9904b127bff836c939152dcd300ea9ea?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jason Salaz answered: In chat, we've been cross-site friendly for some time. We have a resident Ask Ubuntu user (and mod hopeful!) who frequents the room, and on more than one occasion someone has come in to pre-screen a question with us. Even just today a user came in to ask if a Eudora/Rosetta Snow Leopard question was out of scope. Chat has been spirited, and more importantly, civil.

Jason Salaz http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9904b127bff836c939152dcd300ea9ea?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jason Salaz continued: On the site, it depends on the extent of the 'war'. Really culture warring questions are the same as any other, the quality of the question determines it's survivability. I've seen a few questions about using $x android phone under Mac OS X, and to the best of my knowledge they've gone just fine, because the question was of more than acceptable quality, or was edited to be after some comments/discussion.

jmlumpkin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/7e4fbb2efd3b3bbedcd75a726b694ae4?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jmlumpkin answered: I have been a Mac user for almost 16 years, and a Windows developer for the last 6. Even though I prefer Macs (and Apple in general), I always consider them tools. You use the best tool for the job. If the user has a valid discussion, I like to work through that, and I have very good understanding of many platforms.

stuffe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3e1998e4b4514fc0d75eb6bd60691f0a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG stuffe answered: I have spent my entire working life baiting users of other computing infrastructures in a light hearted way. Unix guys hate windows. Windows guys hate Apple. Everyone hates Mainframes. It's part of the fabric of identity to be able to have a bit of fun. They key to me, is that you can't really take part unless you know both sides of the story. And as per my candidacy bio, I have used more OS's than I have fingers and toes, in the last year alone!

stuffe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3e1998e4b4514fc0d75eb6bd60691f0a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG stuffe continued: In short, it's not an Issue for me. Mac OS X isn't even my favourite OS, I'm not precious about it, there is good and bad in every OS, some things in Windows I love, some things in OS X I hate, I can even find things to like about Ubuntu although I am largely anti-Linux given that my professional life includes 13 years of "proper" Unix like Solaris and HPUX etc.


Michael Mrozek Michael Mrozek asked: Ask Different has a reputation for liking "soft" questions that would generally be closed on other sites. Do you agree? Is this a good thing? Is it something you'd want to change as a mod?

Moshe Moshe answered: If it aint broke, don't fix it. It's not broke. I personally never like the cut and dry wholesale closing on SO, of questions that didn't necessarily fit. I see the reason for it, but don't agree. I think being "soft" adds personality to AD.

Moshe Moshe continued: Also, if it's part of the "Googlable Stackexchange database", no reason to close unless there's a strong reason to do so.

Wheat Williams Wheat Williams answered: I generally don't like "soft" questions, but I would consult with other moderators before I did anything drastic. What I prefer to do as a user is to post a comment asking the person to further clarify and narrow down the question.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz answered: Anyone who knows me knows that I love CWs, within reason. I love the "Tiny Things" questions for iOS 5 and Lion, I curate the iOS 5 CW heavily, and pitch in on others. There are some that didn't/don't deserve to survive ("What would make Safari perfect" and "Terminal Tips/Tricks in Mac OS X", notably). Case-by-case basis. Quality and community (both users and mods) decision as needed.

Jason Salaz Jason Salaz continued: I assume this is a CW question at least, re-reading it it might not be. And I actually have a distinct answer. Apple is a company, an ecosystem, it's "level of skill" ranges from "learning to right click", to "programming an app" (and really, much harder). We're "softer" on some questions because it's relevant to the community. That probably shouldn't change. Ask Different is unlike almost all of the rest of Stack Exchange, scope/content-wise.

  • bmike bmike noted: I think Jason has formulated my thoughts a bit better here. It's not an excuse to allow soft questions - but I think that some more advanced users look down on beginner questions as soft or obvious. I feel the balance is good but could always be better and having better questions is something moderators can make room for by helping cull the topics that lead to confusion / dissension and idle chatter.

    bmike bmike continued: I'm all for closing questions that are too soft since they rob space from the ones that need room and attention to grow. I'm also of the mind that the CW / poll type questions have to really, really shine to be worth keeping around. That's something the moderators will need to be in agreement to keep the site both fair and focused.

jmlumpkin jmlumpkin answered: I agree that Ask Different does have a bit softer questions, but I don't think its a bad thing. I feel that if the question can have a valid answer, and stay mostly on topic, it is fine. I wouldn't want to change this that much. And I agree with others that on SO, I really don't like the cut and dry or you are wrong feeling there. It seems even worse on programers.se

bmike bmike answered: Simple - the site belongs to the users. Apple users are as a class less likely to be computer scientists or linux admins, or super users or heaven forbid programmers.

  • Jason Salaz Jason Salaz remarked: I actually completely disagree with that, but let's take a note and save it for a podcast :).

    bmike bmike answered: Your call - I feel we need to curate great questions that solve problems people face within the scope

    Jason Salaz Jason Salaz clarified: I disagree with the 'class / less likely' part, that is. I don't disagree with the "site belongs to the users" part. Sorry :).

    Jason Salaz Jason Salaz added: I do want to discuss it elsewhere, on a better dedicated medium.

    bmike bmike agreed: Let's - I'd love to podcast again with you and Nathan and Kyle

bmike bmike continued: The barrier to entry for an iPod touch is can you walk - so we do have users with entry level questions. I think for the volume the site gets, these softer questions generally get low votes and also have yielded some outstanding users.

Daniel Daniel answered: I'm not out to dramatically change the site. But yes, I'd like to see slightly fewer "What about magpies makes you smile?" questions, recognizing that some of our Community Wiki questions have produces some true gems of answer sets. Don't eliminate our "softness" -- we're friendlier than some sites, and that's not bad. But I am cautious that we don't go too much further town that road.

Daniel Daniel continued: And what @bmike just said, too.

stuffe stuffe answered: The key to the soft questions like the Community Wikis is allowing them to run their course. It's no good allowing a bad one to start, then stopping it after 2 days. Some are great (Tiny things), others straight up wrong (Making safari perfect). I would (and have) propose that this sort of thing could be taken on by the mods, canvassing opinion on topics via meta/chat etc...

stuffe stuffe continued: And only allowing them to start after they have been pre-vetted, thus allowing the enforcement of strict rules of formatting and language etc. Allowing anyone to make one, which is then turned into a CW results on patchy questions.

  • 1
    FWIW, @bmike re-read this after the Town Hall was over, and realized that he did indeed misstate his thoughts regarding Apple users 'as a class'. See chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/38?m=3311529#3311529 and chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/38?m=3312274#3312274 Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 18:18
  • Yes - I think this is good to hear criticism about the site but I wish I had put more of a clear wording on my answer - I clearly don't believe all Apple users are as a class less savvy. I think we need to be sensitive to building users up to asking great, hard questions. I'll certainly follow up with other moderators to see where this "soft" reputation is founded as this was the first I've heard of this and don't know if I agree or not with the characterization at this point.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:28

Shog9 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/ae15c48f686a0ecb39848f980b296611?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Shog9 asked: What tiny thing on Apple.SE makes you smile or has caught you off guard?

Jason Salaz http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9904b127bff836c939152dcd300ea9ea?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jason Salaz answered: Makes me smile: When it's called Ask Different.

bmike http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/9bb29ef7c65ae04b3a8a98ea1c481db9?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG bmike answered: I really like how the discussion can get into the tiny things about a piece of software - the SO/SE way of running a site has really found a great community here.

Wheat Williams http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3f98968b2d85fe5deaf4132bbecf9132?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Wheat Williams answered: The fact that we get very experienced users and total newbies who can barely phrase a question, and everything inbetween, and we seem to be able to help each of them.

jmlumpkin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/7e4fbb2efd3b3bbedcd75a726b694ae4?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG jmlumpkin answered: The community, honestly. Im amazed at how spread out the knowledge is, in a very good way. As being a long time Mac user, I always am learning new things.

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel answered: To build on the promptest of answers by @JasonSalaz, yes, Ask Different has a distinct culture. We have our own name, sometimes acknowledged by the system, sometimes not. We have our own traditions about Community Wiki questions. We have a podcast, and a chat regulars, and a distinct community.

Daniel http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/a6f769d150aa072ac88620414706dd3c?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Daniel continued: I'd really hope that any newly elected moderators , if they do want to make changes, can work within the existing culture and with the current moderators.

stuffe http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/3e1998e4b4514fc0d75eb6bd60691f0a?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG stuffe answered: I sort of gravitated to Ask Different because I found that on a lot of other support forums, like the official Apple Discussion pages there was far too much competition to "win" the question. Over here, people support other peoples input, and don't try to go toe to toe with it. I like that, because I dislike online ego.

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