- 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?
My first point of call would be to touch base with our existing moderators. I’d want to know what precedent has been established for this type of scenario. I’d be surprised if there isn’t one, but if that were the case I’d still assume the moderators were already aware of this particular user, so I’d want to try and reach consensus with them first on the way forward.
However, if I was the only moderator available, my approach would be to invite the user to a private chat and try to build some sort of rapport with them. I’d be sure to start on a positive note (such as commending them on the time they spend formulating such good quality answers). Then, when bringing up the issue at hand, I’d want to give them the opportunity to express their thoughts on what was going on, and give them the chance to suggest a way forward. Basically, I’d try to find some sort of common ground so that we could avoid a suspension.
Either way, after a bit of an uncomfortable conversation such as this, I’d want to finish off on a more positive note. I’d be sure to remind them just how valued their answers are and how much we appreciate their efforts. My hope would be that this approach will achieve a win-win situation for the community as a whole.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I’ve always been a team player and get along with most people, so I would just ask them about it. This way we’d quickly establish what their reasoning was and, if I had an alternative view, I’d be able to express that as well. If an error was made I’m sure the other mod would change it themselves. In the end, I think we’d generally reach a consensus one way or the other.
As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators.
How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?
I always try to take a Stop-Think-Do approach to most things, so I don’t think I’ll need to adapt how I currently flag and vote. In fact, 99% of all my flags have been rated as helpful by the existing mods. I’m happy with that and hope to continue that standard regardless of whether I'm elected as a moderator.
- In addition to moderation activities (e.g. dealing with flagged posts, deleting spam, etc), what other role do you see that moderators can play to improve the overall success of our community?
My view is that the number 1 thing moderators can do is to lead by example.
Some ways of doing this are easy to measure (e.g. answering questions, dealing with flags, deleting spam, editing posts, and so on).
Other ways are not so obvious.
For example, I think moderators have a role to play trying to calm things down if they come across a heated debate in comments (e.g. posting a comment like I think it’s great you’re all so passionate, but can we please agree to focus on the specifics of the question rather than getting bogged down in a debate about…).
This type of thing is hard to measure, but it's definitely a role that moderators can play.
- As a user of this site, what would you say is the number one issue we face moving forward? And, do you have any thoughts on how we tackle that issue?
George (@grgarside) has already raised the issue of tags and I tend to agree as I find myself regularly changing the tags used on questions. So I like what George has to say about this and would support his approach.
However, for me the number one issue is improving engagement between users and the site. I'll try and explain what I’m getting at:
Since its launch, Ask Different has had over 164,000 registered users. Of these, only 0.024% of them have ever reached a reputation score of 200. Using the last 30 days as an example, we’ve had 2,930 new registrations in that time. Of these, 2,540 (86.7%) were totally new to the Stack Exchange network. Unfortunately, only 180 (that’s 0.07%) of these now have a reputation above 1.
Now, how is this the case? Is it just that the site has an issue of low voting? Or, is it because the overwhelming majority of new users don’t ask and/or answer questions?
For me, the only way to tackle this type of thing is to measure it. I believe if we can measure it, we can improve it. So if I’m elected as a moderator one of my side projects would be to really start measuring/analysing site usage and trying to work back from there. If it’s clear that we need to encourage voting, then we’d try to find ways to educate users on how important voting is. If it’s something else, then we tackle that.
This is just one issue (e.g. about one-third of the site's questions - that's over 26,000 - remain unanswered, likewise many questions/answers have no votes whatsoever, and so on).
The point is, unless we do the analysis to begin with, how will we ever know?
- Since being a moderator requires you to commit a significant amount of your time, as well as having to perform a number of mundane activities, I am wondering why you've nominated for this role? What is it you feel you have to offer that makes you worthy of our trust?
I’ve just checked and I’ve been active on the site for 444 days, and I’ve actually visited the site for the last 300 consecutive days. So I guess I’m already investing a fair bit of my time here.
If I’m elected, it’ll probably be more about how I reprioritise that time. In terms of mundane activities, well, I’ve already been doing most of these types of things anyway (reviews, edits, flagging, etc), as I’m sure many other users can relate to as well.
So I’m putting myself forward because I feel I can contribute to the success and growth of the site. For example:
- I have an analytical mind and like measuring things to see how we can do them better. As a user I’ve already started thinking about the site and how it’s being used.
- I’m already contemplating ways to improve engagement. For examples, see these meta posts: WWDC Keynote Live Chat Event and Ask Different Blog.
So, why am I worthy of your trust?
For starters, this is not a power grab for me. I hadn't considered nominating for a moderator until recently when one of the current moderators mentioned they hoped I’d volunteer. So for me, being a moderator isn’t something I've been working towards for any sort of personal gain, or just as part of some sort of ego trip - it's really more a calling to serve.
Along with many of you, I have dedicated a lot of time to making this site the wonderful resource it is. Anyone here can go back and read the entire history of my answers and/or comments and see for themselves that I’ve always tried to help users, and I’m not shy to encourage them. I’m also a prolific voter of both questions and answers, regardless of whether the user was above or below me in the ranks.
Other examples of me putting the site first include my volunteering to:
While the above doesn’t necessarily prove I’m worthy of your trust, it does show my motivations have been to put the site first.
- If there is one thing you could/would like to change in the way the site is moderated, what would it be?
The current moderators do a fantastic job. So much so that when this election was called, my first reaction was to jump straight into Chat and ask why we were having an election. That’s because things generally run very well.
However, there are two things that could be improved:
Having more time to manage meta posts, as some of these do require a bit of follow-up work. Sometimes these are followed up pretty quickly, and other times they’re left sitting there with no real resolution. I do not blame the current moderators for this, I genuinely believe this is just a consequence of the fact we’ve only had four moderators for quite a while now. By way of comparison, the MathOverflow site basically has the same number of questions and answers as we do, but has seven active moderators.
Having a moderator presence on a 24/7 basis whenever possible. At present we have four moderators, three based in the US and one in Europe. As someone who lives in Australia, I regularly find there’s a bit of a gap in terms of coverage. This isn’t usually a problem as we all have a role to play in moderation, but if we had some more time zones covered it can only be a good thing.
The first point, and maybe even the second, will be rectified simply by having these elections.
- A question is asked and receives some very good answers. The asker then flags this question and asks for it to be deleted because having it up will cause them trouble at work or school. Do you delete the question?
The short answer is no, especially since users have gone to the trouble to provide some very good answers. Instead, I’d invite the OP into chat and ask them what specifically could create problems for them. This allows us to address the issue. For example, the question itself can be edited to remove any offending elements. Likewise, the OP’s profile can be edited to remove any identifying information. Regardless, I’m sure we’d be able to find a resolution that didn’t require the need to delete the question.
- 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?
I’d feel no different to how I do now.
As I mentioned previously, anyone can go back and read the entire history of my answers, comments etc, and see for themselves that I’ve always conducted myself appropriately. I basically aim to always help users whenever possible, so having a diamond next to my name isn’t going to change that.
How would you handle situations involving less than warm welcomes given to new users?
For example, a new user posts a well written first question consisting of a clearly defined problem statement, admission of a high level of domain ignorance, and a request for the proper solution methodology, but no actual attempts to tackle the problem.
Said question receives many downvotes and impolite comments. The asker gets upset about the situation and complains to you directly on chat and/or meta.
What would you do?
Firstly I’d review the question and comments. Any inappropriate comments would be deleted and I’d apologise on behalf of the community for any offence caused.
Finally, I would try to help the user to reformulate their question so we could get things back on track.