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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. We only selected the top voted questions, however, due to one of the questions being rather matching to one of the fixed stock questions, I've opted to merge the question into it, and have thus only ended up with 7 submissions. We thus added one of our backup questions to bring us to 10 questions.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes. Oh, and please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!


  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

  2. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

  3. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

  4. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

  5. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

  6. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

  7. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

  8. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

  9. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

  10. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  • Will add my answer tomorrow – Faizan Akram Dar Jun 15 '16 at 15:43
  • Shouldn't this be closed now? – fosslinux Jun 27 '16 at 0:08

12 Answers 12

17

Jacob Vlijm

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I live in the Netherlands, so +2:00, Central European Time. I have to work a normal job's amount of time, but apart from the teaching, most of my time is free to organize myself. In practice, I am on AU, spread over appr. 15 hours of the day.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I don't think I have ever given the moderators a hard job, always imagined myself in their position, which is in a way a vulnerable one, and acted accordingly.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

Not trying to be the amateur psychologist here, but those who are familiar with Belbin's theory on how teams work (looking at AU as a team), know that extreme creativity can easily flip over into negative behavior; seeking quarrels, being easily offended, unable to handle critic etc. The trick is then to "flip" the person back, with a combination of acknowledging his or her qualities, at the same time pointing out some aspects on the behavior are unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

It depends a bit on how far it is from "the edge", and if it is a single occasion or a structural thing. If it is a single occasion which could be interpreted both ways, I'd probably leave it as it is. If I completely disagree on a single occasion, I'd discuss with the moderator in question. If it is a structural and important difference in insight, I'd want to know the opinion of the team. Discussing it in public, or publicly even give the slightest impression that we disagree is not an option in any case.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I actually would be worried if we would never disagree. As a comparison: I don't expect my students so much to do what I tell them to do; I expect them to improve their arguments to do what they do, by giving them good arguments to do what I think they should do. In other words: I can very well live with an outcome that would not necessarily be mine, as long as the quality of the argumentation is sufficient and the decisions are within the shared scope.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

I am fully aware of the issue. I am not very fond however of closing factories, should preferably be done by the community, without the risk of co- voting. As long as there is no acceptable alternative solution, the periodic call for a clean up is the burden we have to accept I am afraid. Note as long as there is no acceptable alternative solution. We all should think about it, Don't have the solution at the moment though.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

The question is hardly answerable in a concrete way, without looking into both the "offenders'" profiles, see how they behave on other sites (if any), see if they often get involved in quarrels with others, and more specifically: looking how they got where the are. Not so much for making decisions, but to determine what "language" to speak. Actions in general should be based the assumption that, although some types of personality easily get caught into a quarrel, people who like to be in it are rare.

The idea would always be to maintain the site's rules without concessions, at the same time showing the way out of the situation, without losing their faces (if possible). A combination of pointing out that some aspects on behavior are unacceptable, at the same time acknowledging someone's contribution, often is an effective mix to change someone's mindset. In severe cases, I would ask another mod for his or her opinion, or "throw it in the group"

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

You'll have to take into account a few things:

  • Most likely, other users noticed, or at least suspected voting irregularities. Therefore you somehow need to take action publicly, to make clear that justice was done. On a longer term, the negative effect of a lack of trust might be bigger than losing the established users.
  • At the same time, you'd definitely want to prevent established users to leave; bad for the atmosphere, a big loss of quality and experience.

It would depend on if the used method(s) only effected each other's reputations, or there were some side effects on other users. You may hope for the latter: in that case you can officially state there were corrections, without incriminating anyone in person. At the same time approach the offenders personally behind closed doors, and make sure to communicate in a sufficient way to others who will be unpleasantly surprised by loss of reputation.

If the benefits were precisely towards a very limited number of accounts, there is a bigger problem, since anyone could see which users were corrected if you made a public statement. Impossible to answer then without having a concrete situation. This is therefore not so much an answer, but mostly a numeration of considerations...

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

Many times, the problem solves itself by either voting- or comments by other users. Furthermore, the motivation to answer in this setting usually does not last very long. To answer the question: in "severe" cases, a gentle pm might be effective.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators add the human factor to the system of the site and make possible imperfections acceptable, as how I look at it. Their main job is to cherish the best qualities of the community, if possible in an invisible way. In practice I assume a great part of the job will exist of handling practical stuff.

  • I really like your answers, but I'm not sure you exactly answered the last question ;) – Seth Jun 14 '16 at 2:56
  • @Seth Haha, is this better? – Jacob Vlijm Jun 14 '16 at 5:38
  • 1
    @JacobVlijm You have answered two of my questions and I really like the way you respond. :) – Anonymous Platypus Jun 20 '16 at 9:06
16

Terdon

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I'm in UTC+3. I work during the day, but I tend to keep an AU tab open when at work, so I will be around during working hours for stretches of a few minutes at a time. In other words, here for an emergency or the occasional flag but not for idle chatter. Most of my AU time is in the evenings.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

While I haven't directly interacted with all the current moderators, I have with most of them and said interactions have always been friendly and civil. I have most often interacted with Seth, Oli, fossfreedom, James and jokerdino who are most active in chat. They've never given me reason to believe they have any issues with me and I know I have nothing but respect for them and I'm sure we'll have no problems working together. Well, I'll admit they are misguided when it comes to the question of the editor war, but I guess we can work around that.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I have had to deal with this as a moderator on U&L. The bottom line is that useful contributions are not an excuse to act like a $#%&!@#$. While I am prepared to take the user's contributions into account and would be more willing to take the time to chat with the user and try to explain the situation to them, at the end of the day, the rules are the same for everyone and suspensions are an option no matter who the user is.

So, I would first try to talk to the user and explain that their behavior is detrimental to the site but, if they kept up their shenanigans, I'd start doling out suspensions. No user, no matter how technically knowledgeable, is worth disrupting the smooth working of the site.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I'd talk to the mod in question. Failing that, I'd talk it over with whichever other mod is available. If I'm reasonably certain that the mod closed it by mistake (yes, mods make mistakes), I'd undo the action. If it looks like it was on purpose, I'd leave a comment to the other mod asking them to explain their reasoning. Presumably, we'll be able to sort it all out. If not, and the other mod insists, I guess I'd probably leave it be. Unless it is some sort of egregious mod abuse, it isn't worth having a public disagreement over a closed question.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

If the majority of moderators are wrong disagree with me, then I'd back down. If it is over something that I truly feel very strongly about and simply can't countenance accepting, I would resign as a mod. However, I find it very hard to think of anything that would merit such an extreme reaction. There are many mods here, enough that a majority vote should always win and I would have no trouble accepting that.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

Sure, having a room could be useful. Although we are already doing this (a little) in the main chat room. In any case, the only choice I see here is for mods to mod-hammer things closed faster. Having two extra mods on board means two more users with unlimited close votes. We should use them.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

This is a hard one and I haven't found a perfect solution. The best I've come up with is to i) talk to both users and try to diffuse the situation. If possible, get them both into a chat room and try to reconcile them. ii) If that fails, forbid them from commenting on one another's posts on pain of suspension. They are, of course, still free to vote as they please but the absence of comments should help calm the situation. There's nothing we can do about their downvoting but at least, if they do it silently, the rest of the community is not affected.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

I would be in favor of invalidating any and all rep and badges gained through this. Assuming the evidence of wrongdoing is conclusive, I would also consider suspending the offending users. If they were actively trying to game the system, suspensions would seem to be in order. Having a decent amount of rep doesn't mean the rules don't apply to you.

In all cases, however, any action would have to be coordinated between the entire mod team and SE. It is very important for everyone to be on the same page when such drastic and public measures are taken.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

There's not much to do there. If they are just copying the comments (with correct attribution) I also don't see anything wrong with it. Dealing with bad/wrong answers is not a moderator's prerogative. That's what downvotes are for. If a user provides consistently downvoted answers, the user will eventually be automatically blocked from answering by the system.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Ideally, very little. On a healthy site, moderators are pretty much invisible. They work behind the scenes, cleaning up the trash and handling flags. The first role of a moderator is janitorial. Then, if an issue arises, the mod should step in and sort it out. I guess you could say that a mod is a cross between a janitor and a kindergarten teacher1. That's how it feels sometimes anyway :)

To use the SE terminology, moderators are human exception handlers. They should hover invisibly doing their janitorial work when everything is working smoothly but be ready to step in and ensure the calm and constructive nature of user's interactions on the site when necessary.


1This is not to say that users are like children. Only that problematic users often behave as children. A moderator has little reason to deal with normal, constructive users. It's the ones who act like squabbling children that are the problem and those can make one feel like a kindergarten teacher.

  • Have you debated their stance on edit wars in public on AU (meta, or chat), where we can see what's going on? – muru Jun 15 '16 at 0:56
  • @muru I don't understand what you mean. What edit wars? Whose stance on them? – terdon Jun 15 '16 at 7:27
  • question 2's answer, last line – muru Jun 15 '16 at 7:29
  • 1
    @muru oh, that's editor war, not edit wars! I meant that while I like and respect the current mods, most of them are misguided and confused and can't seem to accept the superiority of emacs. Kinda like yourself :p – terdon Jun 15 '16 at 7:31
  • 3
    I see. New information has been brought to light which compels me to seriously reconsider my vote for you. – muru Jun 15 '16 at 7:33
8

My name is Thomas Ward.


  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I am in the United States, Eastern US time zone. I am on throughout the entire day, and into the evening of the Eastern US time zone (until about 10PM eastern us time)

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I have a good relationship with the existing moderators, and think from both their perspective and the end-user perspective. I've done a large amount of moderation through flags and pinging them, and contacting them for help with problem users who refuse to do anything but be argumentative, and I have insight into how they operate, while also having the benefit of a logical mind, and being able to analyze a situation from both their side and a user's side, which helps to be equally fair with moderation duties and decisions.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I have seen several cases of this, with a lot of flags on such users' comments where necessary.

This is a tricky situation - we have a user who has good questions and answers, but won't accept critique, or takes every subsequent comment as an attack against them and their beliefs.

I've been in this situation myself - go back ten years, and I was extremely defensive with my positions, to the point of providing good responses but refusing to accept criticism. I've since acknowledged that I can be wrong, but this was after many people told me that I am very good at my answers, and approached me from that perspective first. That said, I was told that there are certain ways I handle situations that are incorrect and lead to argumentativeness.

With other users, a similar approach seems to work in a lot of cases. First, acknowledge that their input is valid, and they are providing good questions and answers. Secondly, calmly discuss with them the situation, that there are people who are acknowledging their capabilities and skill-sets, but calmly inform them that they are taking an attempt to help them improve (hence the criticism) the wrong way - that criticism or comments about their post is not meant to be an attack on their capabilities, but instead to try and help them improve for the future. By bringing it up in this light, users can start to try and learn that people are trying to help them improve, rather than cause drama or issues, and that it is not necessary for them to defend their position fiercely to the point of causing undue drama.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I've actually had this as a user - a moderator closed or marked something of mine something that shouldn't have been. The case of a moderator closing, deleting, etc. something that shouldn't have been hasn't changed from that of an end-user of this site - I would calmly discuss with the moderators what their reasons were, keeping my mind open, while discussing my viewpoint on the same question. I would not overrule their actions, though - I would only discuss with them to get their point of view on it.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I would accept their viewpoint. It would not stop me from making known to them in private what my viewpoint is, but I would accept their viewpoint, and continue to analyze the situation from their perspective as well as my own to try and see it from their point of view instead.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

I think that the queue is indeed a problem. I think that clearing the queue is a very complex problem.

The Close Vote Reviewers chat room is a good idea... in principle. In reality, I believe the core problem is both the vote cap of a relatively low number of close votes within a short period of time and the number of people actually reviewing at any given time, or over the course of the day, being extremely low compared to the number of 'problem questions and answers.'

I think this is perhaps a case of people not feeling that reviewing has any tangible reward, or that it's a waste of time because the number of incoming items far outweighs the number of reviewers and votes anyone has at any time. I also think this is possibly a case of people trying to review things, only to decide that they don't know how to do it effectively.

With regards to the lack of a reward, many people may want a reward beyond just badges. My point of view on that is that "The reward of doing review duties is that the quality of the site goes up further. If you start doing reviews on a regular basis, or even when you have a few minutes to spare, we can start cutting down on the queue and help make the site better."

With regards to the case of people not being sure how to do it effectively, I think we need to provide some type of 'better guidance' (similar to how we do review queue audits, but less annoyingly) such as a 'training course' in which we go through different types of questions, answers, etc. and give options to users to learn the system, rather than 'wasting their votes for no benefits.'

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

This tends to need to be handled on a case by case basis.

However, from a theory perspective, I would handle this with a 'multiple strikes' system. Firstly, I would talk to both users one on one to try and get both sides of the situation. Secondly, I would then try and talk to both of them to explain that their actions are disrupting site operations, and that they need to maybe take a break from the site to avoid each other. I would then keep an eye on them to see if it continues to be disruptive.

On a second set of their feud afterwards, I would talk to them both again, but this time indicate that this is the second time I've had to touch base with them, and they need to either leave each other be, or face the possible chance of being locked out from the site.

Should the feud continue past that second warning, it may be time to consider a temporary suspension on both their accounts, with looking into reversal of their downvoting as 'serial' in nature. If it continues after the suspension lifts, it may be time for a more extended suspension on the accounts.

I know, we are supposed to avoid punishing individuals for their actions, but if a pair of individuals refuse to accept multiple attempts to defuse the situation by moderators, it may be necessary to 'force' the issue to make them realize their actions do have punishments.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

We saw this recently in retooling of the systems behind the scenes, but we also see this on a regular basis a few times a year, as shown in the example scenario.

Using the example scenario, I would find the sockpuppet accounts, suspend the sockpuppets, and then reverse their illicit actions. I would then reach out to the users privately and indicate to them that we have caught them in the act, and indicate that their illicit actions have been reversed. I would then caution them that if they do it again, they will get accounts, privileges, and access suspended.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

Funny story: I've caught this in the past. Typically, I would make comments to the individuals to stop, and indicate that constantly copying data in from other locations verbatim without verification of the information doesn't contribute to the site. I would also make a note that it can perhaps lead to complaints of infringing upon others. Ultimately, I would let the notices sit, and where necessary delete the posts if there's community agreement, and ample reasons, to remove their posts and notify them privately if they keep it up that they need to stop, and need to look into whether their posts are actually contributing to the site, or whether it's being disruptive. That said, I would also give the individual pointers on how to better contribute to the site.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A moderator's job is to provide gentle, yet firm, oversight to the community. In most cases, we should not have to even be here, and only be here to review flags and such which come forth. Where we do have to act beyond going through flags, reviewing posts, and closing blatantly-close-worthy items on the site (offtopic posts, etc.), we should mediate disputes in a civil, calm, non-punitive way to help users become better, or to defuse situations. Punitive measures are a last resort - and should only be used in extreme cases of disruptivity of which multiple cases of mediation have proven ineffective, which should only ever happen rarely, and of which are the exception to the norm.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot, removed my comment. Have a good night :) – Jacob Vlijm Jun 14 '16 at 22:25
  • Oops I had a break on the app. TL;DR summarizing the comment from Jacob and mine which got deleted: we had a minor run-in a couple months ago on chat - the run-in was caused by my high irritability due to a rough college semester and extremely high stress from crippling debt - both of those issues are now resolved, I better know when to not be online, and I apologize for the original incident. – Thomas Ward Jun 14 '16 at 22:38
6

My name is Dmitry aka Pilot6.

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I am in UTC+3. I do not have a fixed working/life schedule. I visit the site at almost random times, including late at night, weekends, etc.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

This moderation policy of this site is great so far. I see no reason act a different way. If there are doubts what do do in a specific case, a restricted chat for moderators is always available I guess.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I would resolve the flags and contact the user asking them to change the behavior. If that does not help, I would keep resolving flags ;-) Until it is not unacceptably offensive, I would not do anything like bans, etc. But it is a matter of discussion between moderators.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I would try to resolve the issue with that mod in a private chat.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I will argue ;-) but accept the majority decision.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

This year the Close Vote queue is not that long. It used to be too long because not many people did reviewing. A chat room can't solve this problem. I am on the second place all time in the Close View and I do not feel like I need anything but the queue itself. But if it is helpful for other people, why not?

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

I would talk to these users and try to calm this down. Anyway serial downvoting is to be reverted automatically. I would remove some offending posts. Life shows that this does not last long in most cases.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

The main point is that the goal of this site is to generate high-quality content (Q&A). The scoring system (rep, badges, etc.) is one of the means of reaching this goal. It is not sports as some people may think where the score is most important.

That's why I do not think that we could sacrifice good users in favor of purity of the score system.

SE is designed a way that illegal activity should be detected automatically and illegal votes to be reverted. This does not work perfectly as we all know. In some cases manual actions are needed, or some scripts to be run.

It is important to revert illegal votes in time. It is not good to revert thousands of votes after year(s) of illegal voting.

Illegal activities should be detected and escalated as soon as possible. I know that it easier to be said than to be done, but anyway.

Mods can contact the suspects, try to talk to them and escalate the problems to admins, if the activity does not stop. It should be done as soon as possible.

Also a temporary voting ban may be useful. But I am afraid this function is not available at SE.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

I do not think anything special is to be done. I would comment on such posts and delete them.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I think that moderators mostly resolve flags, do reviewing and resolve issues with problematic users.

  • consider putting your name at the top of your post ;-) – Severus Tux Jun 14 '16 at 10:39
  • I am puzzled why I need to put my name. Everyone can see it at the bottom. But I can do it. – Pilot6 Jun 14 '16 at 11:45
  • 2
    @Pilot6 Actually he meant your username Pilot6 and not your real name :) It's just because those posts are pretty long and it's useful to see who's answering right when you start to read it without having to scroll down first. – Byte Commander Jun 14 '16 at 11:47
  • But what is the purpose of posting the nick? All answers are signed. My real name can't be secret because I contribute to the kernel. ;-) – Pilot6 Jun 14 '16 at 11:49
  • 3
    @Pilot6 the idea is that these answers can be pretty long and it's nice to know whose answer you are reading before you've read through the entire thing. – terdon Jun 14 '16 at 13:33
4

consider putting your name at the top of your post

I'm Andrea Lazzarotto. :)

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I live in Italy, therefore my time zone is UTC+1. I will likely be most active in the afternoon and in the evening.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I deeply appreciate the work of current moderators and I think that I've always see them acting in the best possible way. My opinion is that this derives from the fact that this network is governed by a set of clear rules, which are easy to understand. For this reason, the behavior of different moderators is consistent as it should be.

I expect them to trust me as a moderator based on my previous and current behavior on the site. I have spent some time reading the rules and I try to be as friendly as possible with everyone. I hope my contributions (in terms of answers, flags, edits and reviews) are considered valuable and show that I can be trusted.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I would try to explain to them that written communication is easier to misunderstand than spoken words. I would tell them that they are providing useful content, however they might unintentionally act unfriendly in comments and chat. Most likely it will be possible to find a way to solve the issue collaborating with them.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I would definitely contact them requesting clarification and trying to explain why my point of view is different. I would not start a kind of "edit war".

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

Ask Ubuntu is not a regime. There is no reason why a moderator should do what they want if all the others are against their POV. However, I would express the need to understand their POV if it is not clear to me. I might ask to repeat their points so that I understand them better.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

To be honest I am not very much "a chat guy", however I find this idea to be really neat. Gathering with other reviewers together will most likely improve engagement by users who might otherwise not review that much.

Nevertheless, we should also keep in mind that the CV queue is reserved for users above 3k rep. E.g. I cannot access it yet. Of course this is for good reason, newbies should not be granted access, but it takes a bit of time for users to reach that level. As time goes on, I am confident there will be more engaged users and therefore more manpower to deal with close votes.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

In this case a third party (i.e. the moderator) is definitely needed to solve the issue. In most cases, both parties in a feud have some good and bad points. The first step would be to listen both POVs carefully to understand the situation better. One cannot mediate if they do not know the matter well.

If mediating does not solve anything or things end up going terribly wrong, I would enforce sharper disciplinary actions. In the case when it is really needed, I think a strong response has to be given.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

If we are talking about the example scenario, i.e. users who «have cheated the system out of hundreds of thousands points of reputation» I would either consider the following two options to be appropriate actions:

  • dropping those many points got by illicit means
  • banning them

It is my opinion that intentionally cheating and/or harming the community for a long period of time deserves a harsh punishment. Sorry for that.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

I would leave a couple of comments under their answers explaining why they should improve them and more importantly what I think is wrong with them. Mentioning errors politely is useful criticism.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I really like the definition of human exception handlers. It means that the situation is best when moderators are not needed. Moderators should try to become useless. ;) This is achieved by analyzing flags, mediating disputes and use punitive actions just as an extreme last resort.

4

Consider putting your name at the top of your post

I'm Michael but you might know me better as Videonauth on this site.

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I'm residing in Germany so I'm actually at UTC +0100, and I'm bound to my home due to a health issue, so I'm mostly around all day long and even on weekends. The moments where real life needs me to answer its call are seldom.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I know the most moderators only from in chat discussions, and questions around the review cue, not to speak of the casual smalltalk, and I think they see me as someone who is considerate in his actions. The site anyways is governed by a clear set of rules which makes the moderators actions foreseeable and consistent.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I would seek the dialog with this user and try to explain to him where he could improve. If this might not help I might consider giving him some time in calm to think about.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I definitively would seek the communication with this moderator and try to find a consent with him about that question, but only if it is really that I feel this moderators actions are wrong, and if we cant find a solution on two maybe introduce it into a larger audience to the other mods as well to we find a democratic decision about it.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

Then I will accept their decision and review my point of view. I believe in democratic actions.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

I'm not so sure if we need an extra event to clear out the close review queue, I think raising the number of reviews everyone can do by lets say 5 or even 10 more would clean this queue in a relatively short time and as long not suddenly we have a drop in people reviewing we shouldn't have such high numbers again.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to down-vote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

I would try to mediate between them and/or try to get them into a constructive dialog with each other.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

This is a hard one to answer, because it should get viewed at by a case by case basis, what is sure is the illicit gained reputation and badges should be reversed. All other actions should be discussed within the moderator team or even be done by higher instances taking the moderators thoughts on the matter into account.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

If theres obvious flaws in a users answer first trying to point out those flaws in a comment and give the user time to work on it. If this doesn't happen and continues on searching the discourse via chat or mail.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In the best case a moderator has to do nothing, but since we don't live in a perfect world a moderator as far I can see it does the following, handling flags, evaluate posts, deleting/cleaning posts which not belong on the site.

4

Paranoid Panda

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I live in the United Kingdom (GMT+0). I am likely to be most active in the afternoons and evenings, but sometimes I may be active in the mornings too. My intention would be to sign on for a good deal of the day every day.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I believe that I have been around long enough and contributed well enough to prove that I am to be trustworthy. I greatly respect the work of the current moderators and believe that though a lot of pressure is put on them they handle everything very well. And that they do always try to do their best.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I would speak to the user in private and try to explain to them that while their good contributions are appreciated, that their behaviour is not, and is only harmful to the smooth workings of the site. I would try to explain calmly to them the situation and try to get them to understand what and why they need to stop. If however they refused to change their behaviour I would give them one formal warning and then give them a suspension (if the issue only appears in chat then a chat ban would suffice). Because no matter the quality of a user’s contributions, if they are harming the experience for others and refusing to stop then their behaviour should not be tolerated.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I would first speak to the moderator in question to try to understand their point of view on the matter, I would also put across mine and hope that we could come to some agreement in our discussion. If we don’t manage to come to an agreement and I believe that the matter is important enough to ask the rest of the moderation team then I will put it to them for consideration. If still nobody agrees with me then I will try my best to see it from their point of view and leave it at that. I do not believe that information on the disagreement should be released publicly for people will start to lose trust in the moderator team if they feel it is divided. That does not mean however that we should be divided and hide it, I highly value the expertise of the long serving moderators and hope that I will be able to learn from them and not let us be divided.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I have already answered this question in my answer to question 4.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

I agree too that the review queue and its growing size is a huge problem, especially when I have seen it grow to over 1000. I think the main reasons why there are not enough people voting are:

a) Users do not feel rewarded enough for doing it and may therefore find it to be time wasting – badges aren’t enough of an incentive for many, and there are only three badges for each queue.

b) Reviewing requires a lot of attention and concentration if done properly (by properly I mean by actually looking and reading the questions/answers as well as going to the actual item to see the other answers and comments to see the full picture rather than just casting the vote because others did) and some may just not have the time or interest to do it.

A suggestion of mine on how to motivate users to do more reviewing would be to get SE to make some sort of game (people seem to like them) where in order to level up or unlock some special ability or something the user needs to go through the review queues and also not fail any audits.

Probably SE won’t do this, but I don’t think that badges are going to do it either. Another idea would be to have something similar to Winter Bash Hats where if you earn a certain amount of badges you get to unlock something like a hat, or just something else fun (use your imagination).

Or if it turns out I was wrong about how users feel about badges, then perhaps adding more of them would do it. Another thing which could work would be to increase the maximum level of items a user can review per day. Perhaps users with a higher reputation level should be allowed to review more items than those at a lower level.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

I would start by privately talking to both users separately one on one and explaining that they are damaging the user experience for others on the site and that they should take their arguments elsewhere, or preferably, stop them completely (depending on what they are). If the users continue their behaviour after my polite word with them I will issue a formal warning. If they still continue to disrupt the site with their behaviour then I would start by giving them a short suspension (somewhere between two days and a week) so that they can think about what they have been doing, and realise that their actions, if bad, will have consequences especially if they refuse to change them when a moderator is forced to contact them. I would also try to have the downvotes reversed on the basis that they would be of the ‘serial’ type.

A useful technical solution to this problem though could be a functionality which would allow two users to be isolated from each other in the sense that their accounts would not be allowed to vote or comment etc on each other’s posts. Though this would have to be used sparingly and only in extreme circumstances.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

(A lot of what I say is specific to the example scenario given.)

In my mind the fact that the users are established just makes it worse, they knew what they were doing, they deliberately and malicious cheated the system out of votes. Making their crime even worse, letting them off would be like the police letting a bank robber off because they had stolen so much money that it would be a huge amount to take away from them and because they had done other good things in society even though they were getting to the top of it and controlling it through illegal and unethical means.

Also letting them off would undermine the system as well as the trust of the users in the moderators, and it would just lead to more and more people getting the idea that it’s fine to do this if they do it long enough without getting found out and if they contribute good enough quality posts at the same time. It may seem a little harsh to some at this point to just reverse all of the maliciously earned votes, but if they were allowed to continue it could get a whole lot worse, they could start bribing and corrupting other users into doing what they want, they could even blackmail some by saying they would serially downvote them if they didn’t do as they say.

This could even lead to the users in question becoming moderators for they may get control of other users through the means I mentioned above and then get them to vote for them. Though this is perhaps unlikely, it is possible so the situation should really be stopped before it can get too out of hand.

Before taking any action on the matter however a meeting of the entire moderator team on the matter would be needed and we would also likely communicate with SE on the issue before taking any proper action. If it were fully up to me though I would reverse all the votes, suspend or delete the sockpuppet accounts, as well as send a formal warning on the matter to each of those in the guilty party, I would also stress the severity of it to them and that if they continue a lengthy suspension is likely to be given and the possible deletion of their accounts. Perhaps it would be possible to impose a further reputation penalty of x% of the illicitly gained reputation (it wouldn’t deter bank robbers if all they had to do was to return what they had stolen)?

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

It is not really the job of the moderators to deal with incorrect answers unless they are actually dangerous, so the system of users just downvoting the answers and the system automatically giving them an answer ban after a certain amount of unpopular answers should be enough.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In my opinion, as little as possible. For the most part a moderator’s job is just working in the background of the site cleaning up spam and dealing with flags. And if the behaviour of a user becomes malicious or damaging to the site, it is the job of the moderators’ to deal with such a user.

Moderators are also ambassadors for the correct and accepted conduct, they will keep the site in line but only act if a user crosses the line, as I said in my nominations post, I believe it very important for a moderator to keep their personal moods and feelings separate from their moderator duties.

And that is really the art of it, they deal with the background workings to keep everything running smoothly, they set an example for how to behave and they deal with any unpleasant situations between users.

3

Andrew Strong (andrew.46)

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I live in Australia so I will tend to be most active when my northern hemisphere colleagues are fast asleep :). So I am more than happy to fill the other 12 hours!

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

At the moment I do not yet have a close relationship with the existing moderators but I would expect that to change with consistent effort on my part even if I am not elected as moderator. Trust would have to be won and built up with time.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I think that participation, especially of a positive nature, should be encouraged at all times. If a user is veering towards a more negative participation in Ask Ubuntu there is a good case for close monitoring for a period and if a pattern of negativity is developing a friendly chat would be in order. Emphasis in this chat would be participation in a positive way.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

In this case I would hope that I had built up enough of a relationship with this moderator such that we could discuss the closure/deletion between us and come to a resolution that left both of us satisfied that the right thing was done.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

If the majority of moderators were opposed to my point of view I would concede the point and spend some time reconsidering my own views.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

This sounds like an excellent idea and I would be keen to be involved, either as a moderator if successful or as an ordinary user working through the review queues :).

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

My own vision of Ask Ubuntu is that users would cooperate and work together to produce a great site with interesting questions and insightful answers. Feuding between users as described dilutes such a vision and is quite counterproductive for all involved. As moderator I would be more than happy to be a mediator by working individually and together with the 2 parties to set both back on a productive path.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

My own view is that this sort of behaviour should not be part of Ask Ubuntu and I am more than happy to be part of a moderator team that is prepared to monitor for such activity and act smoothly but firmly if it is found.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

I have noticed that bounties seem to encourage great answers and once my own reputation bulks up a bit more I would be keen to start promoting great answers by giving out bonuses to carefully selected questions, in a conscious imitation of Jorge :).

As moderator I would also expect that I would need to spend some time carefully monitoring posts and answers to ensure that sloppiness in answering does not cheapen the value of Ask Ubuntu.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I believe that in a perfect world the moderator would not have to do all that much :). Certainly the 'official' requirements are here:

Moderators:

  • are patient and fair
  • lead by example
  • show respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words are open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

and I would have no problem following these points as I already follow them in my life away from Ubuntu...

  • 1
    The only problem I have with your answers is the site name. It's "Ask Ubuntu", not "askubuntu" :P – Seth Jun 14 '16 at 5:46
  • Ooops :). Fixed now... – andrew.46 Jun 14 '16 at 7:00
3

Name : Serg

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I am located in Denver,Colorado, which is Mountain Time Zone. I spend large portion of my online time on AskUbuntu ( via cellphone or laptop ) , so availability shouldn't be much of a problem.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

My relationship with the present moderators is fairly good : I spend big chunk of my time in AskUbuntu General Chatroom, so the present moderators know me well not just as another user but as regular person, so trust is not an issue. The only ban I ever had was from Oli , and I requested that by myself to finish a homework assignment (true story).

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

As Ubuntu Code of Conduct states, "...disagreement is not an excuse for poor manners". Valuable questions/answers don't change the fact that user's behavior may be inappropriate in interactions with other users. I'd give the user 3 strikes: a warning, a short timeout from chat (probably multiple ones if necessary), and finally a manual suspension (probably very special case of someone who disregards even mod's warnings).

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

Discus it with the mod in question and see their reasoning, maybe ask for opinion of another mod. I've had a good example of such discussion with muru over a command-line type of question in the chat once. Jacob Vlijm had such discussion with me several times in the AskUbuntu chat. We always remain respectful and provide reasoning for whether a question should remain closed or re-opened.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

Majority rules - that's the core of democracy; plus , sometimes it's better to step down and let popular decision win. If I am 100% dead on certain the majority is wrong and the site is about to be broken by that decision , then I might contact StackOverflow employees/developers/whoever is next in the authority ladder, but it would have to be very special case.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

There already exists AskUbuntu General Chatroom where people ocasionally ask for suggestion on a review. Clearing out the queue lacks incentive for the users, and I don't see another chatroom as a good incentive.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

Such feuds negatively affect the community. If it's a single discussion, move it into chat and let them discuss it in private. If it's multiple posts/multiple downvotes , a warning should be given to both : "Hey, behave professional and don't make a show for the community". If they don't stop - might need to place them on a timeout ban.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

Wrong is wrong, whether it is an established user or not. A reversal on the reputation is probably the best option. But it's better if people correct their behavior; otherwise it's just going to be a vicious cycle of reversals. Frankly, I don't have experience with this particular question, so I'd seek suggestions from other moderators first.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

Leave a comment or multiple on the post(s) of the user. If the user still doesn't comply , invite them to a chatroom ( if they're present on the site ) and try to discuss the matter.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They review and handle issues that automated system cannot handle: offensive, rude users, or users who gain privileges via unfair means. They're also regular human beings , who have families and work outside of the site, so they can't handle everything or be on the site 24/7 , and probably don't earn nearly enough respect they should.

  • This has been drafted fairly fast, so let me know in the comments if there's anything you'd like me to clarify or expand on – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Jun 15 '16 at 4:23
  • "another chatroom" is not an incentive (dunno why you thought it was). – muru Jun 15 '16 at 5:57
3

Wild Man

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I am in the Central Time Zone UTC-06:00, I will be on and off during the day hours because of my business but available every evening from about 5 PM to about midnight Monday Thru Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

To be honest I do not know any of the moderators well because I just have not been in chat when they are on for the most part but I do talk to one from time to time.

I believe the moderator's and the community in general on Ask Ubuntu can look at my past history as a moderator on the Ubuntu Forum and see that I am a trustworthy moderator and my profile on Ask Ubuntu suggests that I am a solid member here as well. I believe that the Code of Conduct is the basis for moderation.

I am sure there are guidelines also that all moderators follow that makes all moderators actions pretty much predictable when dealing with the issues that come up as I have been use to for the past four years.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

First I would send him a friendly email telling him that he and is answers are valued and appreciated on Ask Ubuntu but his behavior is not in keeping with the spirit set out in the Code of Conduct. Then I would explain if the bad behavior continues I will have to add his account to the penalty box, which is suspending the account for a certain amount of time between 1 to 365 days.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I would ask the moderator about his thought process for deleting the question and make it a learning moment if his reasoning is sound. At the very least I will gain a better understanding of how that moderator deals with questions.

No person is above making mistakes and we all learn from each other.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I would be surprised if we were all in agreement as individuals from different backgrounds and experiences I would expect to have a lot of different view points and after a discussion if my idea is rejected I am okay with that.

Usually from my experience a little bit of suggestions from several people end up the right answer when they are all put together.

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

I do like the idea of a chat room for people to discuss close reviews but I would not want the discussion to influence their decision whether to close or to leave open the questions. Only close the question based on its merits.

I think it would be a good idea to hold an event at the end of the year to clear out the close review queue before starting the new year and possibly come up with a new badge to offer just for the event.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

I would talk to both parties and get both sides of the story and let them know that they are valued members of the community but that their behavior is not appropriate for Ask Ubuntu and ask them if they will agree to stop if not I would put them in the penalty box until I could discuss the situation with other moderators.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

I would recommend in a discussion with the other moderators that all reputation gained from their cheating be removed and that an additional amount of reputation to be determined in the discussions should be removed as a deterrent for this kind of behavior happening again.

I would also recommend given the seriousness of the misconduct that if it happens again their accounts be removed.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

I would talk to them and explain that they are wanted and welcome here but that we have a standard of quality for answers that must be maintained.

I would then explain that they should always research the issue they are trying to solve before posting and not to just copy and paste someone else's comments or answer.

Then I would explain to them if they really want to learn to solve issues let's say wireless for example then use google and read all the answers from the best people on Ask Ubuntu and even talk them into being their mentor.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Mostly the moderators duties will be house keeping, reviewing flags, removing spam, merging questions, removing rude and bad language questions.

On rare occasions deal with the more serious issues like people not getting along with each other.

3

ByteCommander

Profile | → Nomination

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I live in Germany ( CET / Central European Time / UTC+1 ).
Usually I can be active during the whole day on weekends as well as the evenings of working days. Within the next couple of months I'll have even more time though.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

So far my relationship to the present moderators has been very positive, I often get to talk with some of them as I'm actively using the chat. I already help them by notifying them of issues on the site which I can't handle on my own yet (e.g. strange user behaviours) either directly in chat or using the official way of raising a moderator flag where possible.

They can trust me because my principles of moderation are transparency and openness. This means that I would like to perform all moderating actions as publicly as possible without hurting anyone's privacy. There should always be a dialogue between the moderators on tricky issues which could generate more than one single opinion and I am going to behave with this in mind. I of course may make mistakes as well as we all do, but I think I am able to accept constructive criticism and learn from them.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

First of all, I would see myself as a rather friendly type of moderator who always tries to see the positive aspects in everybody (may sound naive, but that's how I would like to approach all users, at least until they prove the opposite).

We also can agree that the focus of Stack Exchange is to produce good content, i.e. mainly questions and answers of high quality. Comments and the chat are second and third level posts which contribute less value to the site.

That said, it would be really counterproductive to ban somebody or take other drastic actions if the user only makes inappropriate comments or remarks in chat. Instead I would first reply directly on the offensive comments/messages and ask the user politely to calm down, informing them that such language is not appreciated on the site. Deleting the offensive posts is obligatory.

After this first soft approach, I would go on monitoring the actions of this user directly and of course by observing the flag queue. If they behave now, everything is fine. Else we continue with phase two:

I would send the user a private moderator message. There I lay out how we all appreciate their great contributions to questions and answers, but that they need to calm down a bit and try to handle criticism (which probably caused the bad reactions in comments - just taking this as assumption here) not as personal attack but as help to further improve their contributions. If we're talking about chat messages, adding that all of those messages are recorded and publicly visible forever and asking whether they want to represent themselves like that seems good to me too. Finally it's necessary to explain that the community does not want such inappropriate content on the site and that if they don't stop, we would be forced to suspend their accounts for some time to protect the interests of the community as very last action. This should never have to happen though.

Of course the outlined procedure is just a general plan, the detailed actions I would take have to be adapted to every single case and it would be also useful to ask other moderators for their opinion if it looks like a tricky case.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

In this case I would definitely approach them and politely ask them to explain their thoughts to me. If their reasons are conclusive, I am happy to have learned from them.

However, even moderators sometimes can make mistakes, I have seen it a few times already (on other sites as well) that a moderator was partly unsure about a close vote and casted it, not thinking about that their vote immediately closes the question instead of increasing the counter like a normal user vote does. This can happen and in such a situation we would have to discuss which action would be more appropriate.

If no consensus can be found, in a first step I would consult the other moderators and see if we can get a clear majority on the topic. In case this can not happen because there is no real ground on a specific topic yet, it's time to formulate a Meta post to ask the community how they want cases like this to be handled.

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

As I partly mentioned above, if there's a clear majority in the moderator group for one opinion and they managed to explain their reasons in a conclusive way, I am okay with this as I could at least learn something.

On the other hand, if it's a rather weak majority or their arguments are not really good, I would propose to take this discussion to a broader audience by filing a Meta post and letting the community decide (or at least gather more opinions which could improve our discussion).

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

At first sight I appreciated the idea of having a separate room dedicated to community moderation tasks like closing, flagging, editing and deleting posts.

I knew of the SOCVR before, but have never really looked at it because I have not been that active on Stack Overflow. Now I just looked into it and read through their quite impressive set of rules. Actually the whole thing looks more like a machinery to me than an open room.

Coming back to Ask Ubuntu: Our site is much smaller than Stack Overflow and so are our review queues. I know it had about 1000 items in the last weeks, but currently it dropped to less than 300 which is an acceptable size in my opinion.

However, let's expect it will grow again. What would an "AUCVR" improve? Actually I don't think there would be much of a difference. Those who review and chat are already coming together in the Ask Ubuntu General Room and if there are posts that need closing or deleting votes, people can and do post there. Pushing these activities off to a separated room will probably reduce the traffic, because I think there are more people who do occasional reviews and cast a vote when pointed to something in the General Room than we could get to frequently join a close voting room.

The SOCVR makes sense on Stack Overflow because not only their site but also their chat rooms have a much greater volume. They do not have one general room but many rooms for each sub-community, e.g. a Java room, a Python room, etc. On Ask Ubuntu we do not have such groups, if somebody wants to chat, there's basically one place for everything.

So instead of adding (or reviving) a separate room for close voting, I think it's far more effective to encourage people to review by using the existent structures. However, it could be very motivating to schedule reviewing events, maybe once a week. We could encourage people to join the Ask Ubuntu General Room and review the largest queue together. We would have to provide guidance and support and help if people are not sure how to handle a specific post.

Additionally it might be a motivation to add a badge for using all available review tasks on a day, similar to those for using all available votes on a day or reaching 200 reputation points on a day. There could be bronze badges for when this happens once in a queue, Silver badges for e.g. 50 days and gold badges for e.g. 250 days.

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

The procedure here would be similar to the one I described below point 3.

As a first step I would leave a regular comment below their negative comments and ask them politely to reconcile their differences. I would tell them that comments are there to discuss the respective post only and invite them to chat to finish their discussion aside of the main site and in a watched and protected environment. If their dispute is really strong, a private chat room with only them and moderators might be more appropriate than the main chat. Again, deleting the offensive posts is obligatory.

If they accept the invitation, I would ask each of them for the cause of the dispute and their view. The aim is to find a compromise and end the argument an a way which is acceptable for both of them.

In case they do not react on the invitation or ignore what has been discussed there and continue offending each other, a private moderator message is my next action. This time I warn each of them that continuing their rude behaviour will lead to temporary suspension of their accounts, together with another invitation to a private chat room.

Should even this not take effect, our only remaining option is said temporary suspension.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

Similarly to question number 3, I think that keeping the site's quality on a high level is the most important thing that we have to ensure. So even if some users multiplied their own reputation through bad behaviour, their contributions must have been valuable, as it would be nearly impossible to cheat reputation with low quality posts. Therefore I am sure that bans or deleting their accounts would not help anybody.

Instead, it is important to thoroughly investigate this issue.

First, we have to identify all sockpuppet accounts of the involved users (if existing) to merge them into the main ones, which should invalidate votes between them.

Second, we must find a way to invalidate serial voting patterns between the involved users. In my opinion, simply dropping all votes ever cast between a set of users is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead the moderator group should come together with some members of the Stack Exchange staff and think about a rule about what counts as serial, targeted votes and what not. Once these limitations are defined, it's our duty as moderators to enforce this and invalidate the votes that match these criteria. Ideally after this has been done, there should still be votes remaining that do not look suspicious.

Before performing those actions, it would be preferable to privately contact the involved users and confront them with that we found out how they cheated the system and that we're going to revert this. We should give them a chance to explain their actions and admit that they did something wrong. If they regret their actions and promise not to do it again, we can let them participate (at least as spectators) in the discussion about the actions to be done. That way our process becomes transparent and will be seen as justified action by the affected people instead of a simple punishment. It helps them to accept the reversal actions as necessary and will keep their trust in the site and the moderators.

After everything has been carried out, it's time to inform the public through a meta post that some bad things have been going on and how we fixed them. Naming the involved people is not necessary here, at least if their malicious behaviour has been minor and not directly affecting the entire community.

I think this way is the best to keep the users as valuable contributors on the site while restoring justice and equal chances for the community and keeping both trust and respect from the involved users as well as the community.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

As a first step, deleting obviously copied answers that are not correct or duplicates of existing answers as well as leaving a polite comment mentioning that they should try to come up with their own content and verify their resources.

If somebody is converting a valuable comment that answers the question into an answer, ideally giving the appropriate credits, that would be okay though.

Once I notice that a user is posting low-quality content over and over again, sending them a private moderator message which explains that we appreciate their will to contribute to the site and describes how they have to improve their posts to meet our quality standards, showing them links to the respective sections of our help center.

If I remember correctly, a high number of low-quality posts (downvoted, closed, deleted, ...) should lead to an automatic temporary posting ban by the system anyway. My private message would also include a warning about that.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators should be the glue between the community and the site. It's their job to act as representatives of Stack Exchange towards users and to represent their site and its community towards the SE staff. They must mediate between those two parties if there are concerns from either side and find good solutions.

They should also not act as if they were commanding the site, instead they have to assist the community to moderate itself. Most moderation tasks on Stack Exchange are delegated to the community based on privilege levels and it's the task of those experienced users of the community to handle most standard situations like closing questions.

This does not mean that moderators should not help with these reviews, but they also must keep in mind to be very careful as a single moderator close or delete vote has a higher weight and immediately performs the action. Their main task is instead to handle exceptional situations that can not be done by regular users, mainly handling moderator flags and providing guidance in unclear situations concerning the site.

1

Nomination

Faizan

  1. What timezone are you in and when will you be most active? The moderators we have now cover quite a broad range of times throughout the day, but there are a handful of times when there are no moderators around (Friday evening, PST, for example).

I am from timezone UTC + 5:30. I will mostly be available at late evenings daily and weekends.

  1. As the site gains more and more moderators, it will become increasingly important for the existing moderators to think and act alike so that we the laymen can can know what to expect, regardless of which moderator is acting. Describe your relationship with the present moderators and why you would expect them (and not just us) to trust you as a moderator as well.

I have been very positive with moderators. Whenever I had some confusion with respect to any decision made by any moderator like serial reversal,etc I used to put things in chat. I always try to leave a comment when flagging or down voting a post. I respect all my fellows and deal with them patiently.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable questions/answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags in comments and chat?

I will not argue with that person rather I will listen to him with patience and then will tell him accordingly to behave properly with fellows when I feel it is the right time as there are always times when people understand your words.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I will discuss with them and check their reason for closing the post and also tell them my reasons for feeling of not closing the post

  1. The existing moderator team doesn't always agree in private (the joke is if you ask 10 people the same question, you'll get 15 answers). What will you do if the majority of moderators are opposed to your point of view?

I will accept their opinion as unity is strength

  1. What do you think about setting up something like the Stack Overflow Close Vote Reviewers chat room (SOCVR)? Aside from a recent surge in first posts, our close vote review queue has always been rather large. Every year or so, we see posts to clean it up: 1 2 3. This has been suggested before, and IIRC, there is such a room, but inactive (and lacking publicity). While having a room by itself is not the issue, the queue size is. It's been agreed repeatedly over the years that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it. Thoughts?

People who have review rights should be encouraged and moderators should have a weekly meeting to discuss these issues

  1. How would you deal with a feud between two users? Consider a case where two users have it in for each other and tend to downvote and/or negatively comment on each other's posts.

Tell them patiently not to downvote for no reasons, if they don't agree warn them about their account being suspended, if they don't agree remove their downvote privilege for sometime.

  1. How do you deal with established users who have gained reputation, badges and privileges by illicit means? This might seem silly but it has real world applications. Things like this, where >1k rep users do something really quite wrong, happen a couple of times a year. Dealing with it smoothly is important to the continued success of the site. Example scenario.

First tell the culprits directly in private to admit they have done wrong and repent from the sin, if they don't agree remove some of their reputation and badges but not all. Also a private chat meeting with other moderators excluding the culprits and discussing how to deal with them.

  1. How would you encourage users to improve their answer quality? For instance, someone who consistently copies another user's comments into an answer, more or less verbatim, without verifying that the information they're supplying is correct.

By commenting on those places and if the person doesn't agree, remove some of his privileges for sometime

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderation is about keeping the Ask Ubuntu community clean like flag spams and inappropriate answers reviewing low quality posts, suggested edits, late answers, etc. It also includes community building by actively posting meta site. And at last it requires one to be patient and show respect for fellow members and users.

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