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The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.


English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is scheduled for an election next week, 2022-03-14. In connection with that, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

Here’s how it’ll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until 2022-03-14 at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • If your question contains a link, please use the syntax of [text](link), as that will make it easier for transcribing for the finished questionnaire.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into currently.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The following two questions are guaranteed to be included:

    • How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
    • How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?
  • The community team may also include the following three questions if the community doesn’t supply enough questions.

    • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
    • A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?
    • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
  • At the start of the nomination phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. We exclude any suggested questions that are negatively scored.

    • We will post the final questionnaire on the Election page. Candidates will have the option to fill out the questionnaire, and their answers will appear beneath their intro statements.
    • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

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  • 3
  • 1
    Only 7 days to collect the questions to candidates before the nomination round. We all know that meta on EL&U is not visited by many users, and yesterday SE suffered continual outages/attacks throughout the day and night. Realistically, if a user writes up an answer on a Sunday there's no way it's going to reach the top of the pile. Can this stage be extended until Tuesday 15 March please?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 13 at 9:10
  • I wish the new candidates all the best! I hope things are good for mods new and existing now.
    – NVZ Mod
    Mar 13 at 12:51
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    @JNat The deleted answer by DanBron looks like a list of multiple questions, but as he notes at the end of the post, is really just one question, which I'd summarise as: "How would you demonstrate / showcase your historical involvement with the EL&U community?" I think that is a valid question to ask of moderator candidates. Please consider undeleting the answer.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 15 at 17:33

9 Answers 9

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There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention.

Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard.

As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

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    This would be the most important question to me. And I think the "3 votes to close" mechanism has exacerbated the matter, though I feel that the endless critical comments are the biggest problem. Mar 10 at 23:06
  • This kind of behavior permeates SE, sadly
    – Machavity
    Mar 14 at 15:01
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    I'd also add that I'm fairly confident that this type of behaviour is keeping erstwhile frequent contributors at bay and has contributed to the dwindling number of visitors to the site. (comment reposted without typos) Mar 15 at 1:43
  • This is an excellent question that focuses on how moderators need to operate on 3 levels simultaneously: the problem, the people involved, and the crowd of onlookers. All while trying to make EL&U a desirable place for those who contribute towards making EL&U a desirable place.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 15 at 17:11
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Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

(This question overlaps with one of Mari-Lou A's questions.)

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  • Margins-of-language faction forever! Down with the OEDists!
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 10 at 19:52
  • @DanBron Seeing as your post was deleted by JNat... why not edit and delete bullet points 1-2 and 5-6, the remaining points are related and still allows voters to get to know the candidates better. Then we can ask the CM to undelete the answer. Whaddaya say? P.S for the newcomers, posts deleted by mods cannot be undeleted by the community, not even by veteran users.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 12 at 21:09
  • @Mari-LouA I considered rewriting it, but it’s too much work to finagle the details I want the candidates to use to support the ultimate question into the format required by the exercise. I really don’t see the problem with how it was phrased — it’s one question asking for supporting evidence that speaks to familiarity with the site and reflects upon the candidates’ disposition forwards the several camps on this site. But, rules is rules. (Plus, by this point, it wouldn’t catch up enough in votes to rank for the final list.)
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 13 at 3:25
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Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on?

As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

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    You should run, and see if you're blocked or not. An unimpassioned assertion that your recent suspension was unwarranted might well be successful. Mar 9 at 2:53
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore.- in what sense are you “not here anymore”?
    – user 66974
    Mar 9 at 8:30
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    @user66974u in the sense that he no longer posts answers. I for one would love to see Araucaria make a full comeback. Meanwhile, I cannot run for moderator because I was banned on MSE nor do I really want to. It's not for me. I prefer to be independent.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 9 at 10:04
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Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol.

How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

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    I don't think that it is a consensus among the regular contributors that it is a requirement of this site 'that answers quote a source'. What, I take it, is expected by everyone is that the answers be supported by reasoning that is appropriate to their content, which may often include quotations to the relevant sources. It is only some contributors that interpret this expectation as an absolute requirement that every answer contain a quotation. I would reformulate this question accordingly, but it is a question that may play the central role in the campaign.
    – jsw29
    Mar 9 at 16:49
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Language changes, and so do web sites. EL&U has thousands of answered questions (hard to search) and many knowledgeable and experienced contributors. Within the Stack Exchange framework and given these resources, how do you envision EL&U’s development in the next few years?

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Many questions on this site get closed, but, because they don't fit the criteria for automatic deletion, remain on the site. If you are elected to be a moderator, you will have practically unlimited power to delete any such question. How would you exercise that power? Do you see deletion of closed questions as something that should be done only rarely, or you think that the reasons that led to closing a question usually create a strong presumption in favour of deleting it as well (assuming it was justifiably closed in the first place)?

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Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily.

Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers.

From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

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  • The framework of the Stack Exchange already allows for perceived duplicates to be merged with the original question, rather than closed, but that is, so far as I can see, rarely done. So, as an elaboration of this question, the candidates could be asked when they think the duplicates should be merged with the original question, as opposed to closed.
    – jsw29
    Mar 12 at 16:06
  • Why ask that of candidates, when it is such a rare occurrence and almost never a concern for mods, let alone regular users? It is reserved for only the situation where a totally terrible question that should be deleted instead of used for signposting, has received brilliant answers and is closed as duplicate of an excellent question which should be matched up directly.
    – Nij
    Mar 14 at 2:10
  • @Nij That doesn't seem at all to be the case. Much more frequent is that a good question with large numbers of views and at least one, quite often several, very good answers gets closed as a dupe of a terrible question with incorrect answers and hardly any views. Mar 14 at 16:22
  • @Nij Ooops, and forgot to add that sometimes that question has already been closed as a dupe of another question which also has no views and few comprehensive answers to the new question. I say 'sometimes' because, actually that other question is also itself also closed as a dupe of another question, sometimes with no answers at all. And so forth. Mar 14 at 16:31
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    Adding to Araucaria's comments, I note that a significant proportion of questions closed as duplicates are closed on the grounds that, if an answer to a distinctly different question addresses the the substance of the newer question, the question qualifies a duplicate. But the effect of such closure is to force people who want to to know read answers to the posted question to go through multiple answers that may not speak to the newer question at all, even if one of the answers is relevant.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 14 at 21:46
  • This is a poorly-framed question that should not have made it into the mod questionnaire (at least not as currently phrased). It's clearly very biased against those who close questions.
    – TylerH
    Mar 15 at 14:20
  • @TylerH That calumnous comment is silly. What on earth makes you think that the Anton, or the other commenters under here who agree, don't vote to close? We all vote to close, we just object to it being done in an idiotic fashion. You don't HAVE TO vote to close badly to vote to close. You can do it well instead. Mar 29 at 16:34
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Reasonable argued. I wanted to know candidates' opinions about careless and unjustifiable closure, not about closure itself, which is a necessary part of the site's operation..
    – Anton
    Mar 29 at 21:24
  • @Anton My comment may not have been worded very well (often the case with me). I was trying to support your important, astute and useful contribution, with which I am in total agreement, and defend it from TylerH's accusation that it was biased against close-voters! Thanks for writing the post. Mar 29 at 22:40
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. I was grateful for your comment and should have said so clearly and removed my reasonably/reasonable typo. In my question I could perhaps have made it clearer that I dislike careless closure. Had I done so, TylerH would not have fallen into the logical trap of thinking that “I dislike black cars” means “I dislike cars”.
    – Anton
    Mar 30 at 6:43
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Calling a statement biased is hardly defamatory, thank you very much. My comment also makes no claim about Anton or anyone else's close voting tendencies. Please don't put words in my mouth.
    – TylerH
    Mar 30 at 18:26
  • @Anton wanting to know moderator's opinions on unjustified closure is fine and warranted, and I have no issue with that. I have issue with this question, though, because it poses a false dichotomy for candidates to address: it suggests that there are only two options for users here: answer a question or close it for inaccurate reasons. If you have an issue with users closing things for the wrong reason, ask about that. If you have a question about whether to answer duplicate questions or close them as duplicates ask about that. The two things are not the same, and should not be conflated.
    – TylerH
    Mar 30 at 18:28
  • @Anton That you have done so does suggest an issue with those who vote to close rather than answer, period, rather than those who misuse close votes or vote to close for incorrect reasons.
    – TylerH
    Mar 30 at 18:30
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It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers.

What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

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    Just curious, do you think moderators can change this? I don't really see how? Mar 10 at 14:19
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    I don't think mods can stamp it out completely, but they can encourage established users who are leaving low quality answers to up their game a bit. Mar 10 at 14:54
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    I've been visiting Quora recently. They seem to sandbox questions until they get enough votes to release them to the general public. It doesn't stop LQQ from getting through, but it sounds like an interesting idea. An SE version of this would be to have a [pending] label in the title, and have these questions visible only to higher-rep users. Maybe allow comments but not answers while [pending]. It's not something that mods can do, though.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 15 at 17:24
-2

Have you ever broken a rule on Stack Exchange and did you get caught? If you did break a rule (whether or not you were caught), how does that experience affect how you would go about enforcing Stack Exchange rules and policies?

If you haven't broken any rules, do you think someone who got away with breaking a rule in the past (but is currently a member in good standing) should be excluded from being a moderator? Why or why not?

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    I ask because accusations of unresolved past misbehavior caused issues around ELL's election, not because I think moderators should have pristine records. How a potential moderator views the enforcement part of the role is something I think is important.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 11 at 17:37
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    I am skeptical as to whether asking this question is likely to be productive, because most of the rules are sufficiently vague that it can always be argued both ways whether a rule has been broken in a particular case. Most candidates can probably in good faith say that they have never broken any rules, in so far as they have never done anything that they themselves regard as violations of the rules. The question raised in the second paragraph would be better raised on a separate page and addressed to everyone, rather than specifically to the candidates.
    – jsw29
    Mar 11 at 21:33
  • @jsw29 I don't care whether there is proof they broke a rule, or what rule they might have broken, or if they perceived it as a rule and I don't. The purpose of the question is get the candidate's perspective. If they didn't interpret what they did as breaking a rule, but got a mod message anyhow, and they are going to do things differently if they're elected, I want to give them a chance to talk about that. We already have an active veteran ELU user who can't run for mod even if they wanted to because an appointed mod on Meta suspended them. This stuff matters.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 11 at 21:42
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    Can you give examples of what these rules that were broken are? I think the answer is it depends.
    – Mitch
    Mar 12 at 3:50
  • How can we expect a moderator to recognise behaviour that crosses the line when others do it, of they can't even recognize it in themselves? It's one thing to nudge the line (I and many other existing mods regularly skim it, especially in private) but another to cross it far or frequently enough in public to get suspended.
    – Nij
    Mar 14 at 2:14
  • It’s weird that everyone is so opposed to asking a candidate if they’ve ever broken the rules. These questions aren’t accusations; they’re information gathering. If someone breaking the rules was disqualifying, then any suspension ever received should automatically prevent you from ever being a mod. I assume most candidates have never broken the rules, but if one has, it would be better to get that out in the open and let them explain it so we can cast an informed vote. I know of mods who had been suspended for serious infractions before they straightened up who went on to be fine mods.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 14 at 3:08
  • @Mitch I think leaving it vague lets a candidate make what they will out of the question. How they perceive what is a rule and what is a guideline, or whether they think the rule they broke was irrelevant to being a good mod, or they feel guilty about that one time they cross-posted helps me understand their perspective on the rules and how they should be enforced. I think people who have faltered and recovered tend to be more aligned with my pov on enforcement. Others may not want a mod who admits they broke a rule. It’s information to help us choose, not a way to put someone on trial.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 14 at 3:21
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    @ColleenV I'd like to see this question asked (but by current voting it may not). I guess I don't know what the rules here actually are. Also I don't know what kinds of rules/guidelines we're talking about - are you thinking of content suggestions (like what is a good form for a SWR) or answering in comments and what to do about it (which is a rule only sometimes) or are there other kinds of 'rules' that you're thinking of. Sockpuppeting? serial down- or up-voting? etc. Crossposting is a rule? When things are off-topic, we suggest to go somewhere else... that's not crossposting?
    – Mitch
    Mar 14 at 15:12
  • @ColleenV But you've already addressed that in the first sentence of your response to me. I guess I'm just curious, outside of this election, what the 'rules' are. I get what you're driving at though re enforcement which is exactly the kind of thing we'd want to know about a mod.
    – Mitch
    Mar 14 at 15:14
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    @Mitch Some things are obviously rules (anything in the TOS or CoC), some things are obviously guidelines (write to the best of your ability), and some things are rules to some of us and guidelines to others (don't answer in comments). Some people like rules that have little room for misinterpretation and prefer punitive enforcement; others prefer a more judgement-based, empathetic approach. Everyone falls in a slightly different place on that spectrum and should have enough info to be able to choose the candidate that matches their view.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 14 at 16:34

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