I'd be interested to hear how candidates feel about the existence of English Language Learners, and whether/how they intend to preserve/promote the distinct identities of the two sites.
My relationship with ELL would be to work with their moderator team to understand which questions they feel are appropriate merge candidates. I would not support merging questions that would also be on-topic for ELU but I would much rather see a question merged and answered than simply closed and forgotten.
I don't have any particular interest in helping define ELL's purpose -- I think that is a question more suited for their community and their moderator team to figure out. But I would do my best to fully support them in their decision and I am comfortable working as a liaison between their community and ours.
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?
I do not feel that "arguments" are inherently bad as long as they don't impede the function of the site, don't clutter up the comments too much and don't cause ill will or uneasiness among the community. Ideally, any lengthy arguments would take place in chat -- and would take place with mutual respect between participants.
Therefore, my first action would be to understand whether the behavior truly is negative in nature or simply an overly zealous user who cannot contain their passion for debate. I would also discuss the user's actions and behavior with the full moderator team in order to get as much information about the situation as possible.
If I felt further action was necessary, I would then attempt to resolve the situation by contacting the user privately and discussing the issue. I would want to know whether they are aware of the controversy and whether they would be willing to help lessen any negativity during the arguments.
If the behavior of the user does not improve I would then warn them kindly but sternly that ELU needs to keep an eye on negativity during arguments. Long comment chains that are flagged may be deleted or pruned as necessary.
If they still did not improve their behavior, I would discuss further action with the moderator team and look to the past to see what actions have been taken in similar situations. I would not progress further without strong support and advice from the moderator team.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I would contact them and ask them to help me understand the whys behind the action. I don't see a particular reason why my perspective would be more correct than theirs and I assume they would have a good reason for acting the way they did. I would not undo the action unless I had support from other moderators.
If there is constant debate about a particular topic than I would urge the moderator team to post a question to the community on Meta.ELU and would volunteer to write up the post.
If I felt that the moderator's actions were truly unjust or unbecoming I would still contact them first and then escalate the issue to the full moderator team and, if necessary, the admins.
A lot of single-word-requests questions get asked. Many users find that these undermine the quality of the site. What is your stance on single word requests?
I have actually written many posts on Meta about single-word-requests (the most recent suggesting that we merge single-word-requests and phrase-requests tags) but I can summarize my opinion as such:
- Some of these questions are interesting, valid questions but a great many of them are poorly disguised thesaurus questions.
- I don't have an inherent problem with the tag but I don't think the tag is a valid excuse for writing poor quality questions or answers.
- I think that users who have a distaste for the tag should:
- Vote to close if they feel it is appropriate
- Feel free to downvote questions they think are unhelpful or not useful for the site
- Ignore the tag entirely and choose to leave the questions unanswered
How can we distinguish native from non-native participants? Should we?
I am not convinced that questions from native participants and non-native participants should be treated differently. Answers to questions should certainly take the asker's context into consideration but we should always remember that our purpose as a site is to answer questions for all users who visit. A non-native participant can ask questions that native participants find interesting or helpful and I welcome the alternative perspective non-native users bring.
Non-native users, however, absolutely should not be ostracized or ridiculed for their lack of knowledge. There is no excuse to berate someone for lack of knowledge while they are asking for assistance on that very topic.
That being said, I have no special way to identify such users. If I was curious, I would simply choose to ask them if they are a non-native speaker.
How do you resolve differences of opinion between yourself and the general community? For example, if you have strong opinions about what questions should remain open or closed but there is a significant portion of the community that disagrees, what would you do about it? Would you ever override the community opinion and act as you think is best? Would you ever defer to the community entirely?
As a user, I was very vocal about my opinions and fought hard to win others to my side of the debate. But as a moderator, I do not see that behavior as completely appropriate. My job as a moderator is to represent the community -- not decide things for them unilaterally.
As such, I would resolve the differences by engaging the community directly in order to understand their perspective, their wishes and their reasoning. I imagine most of this discussion would occur on Meta or in Chat. If the differences are not resolved, I will act in accordance with the community's wishes even if I personally disagree with them.
Do you believe EL&U is sufficiently welcoming and friendly to new users? If not, what do you think should be done to change that?
I think that we can always be more welcoming and friendlier to new users. New users have a handful of extremely unique challenges and it is sometimes hard to remember how these users see the site.
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult problem to solve. My job as a moderator would be to calmly remind regular contributors that their actions are not always perceived in the manner intended -- new users visit from many different internet cultures. We need to go the extra mile and not assume that new users understand us.
The flip side is that we do need to protect our contributors from burnout. This means that we will act in ways that new users will find inherently unfriendly. Part of welcoming new users will be to help them understand why we took the actions we did and how they can avoid the issues in the future.
It is a difficult balance but one I take very seriously.
How much of "English Language and Usage" is, or should be, opinions? Whose opinions?
I don't have a direct answer to this question. ELU is an interesting topic for a question and answer site because there is a lot of subjectivity to a language's correctness. I am not actually that interested in debating how much of ELU should be opinions. I am more interested in expressing opinions honestly and sourcing evidence or experts when you can.
If a handful of opinions to an answer disagree, I expect the community to help resolve the issue with upvotes, downvotes, comments and by helping edit sources and evidence into answers.
Will you be available in chat for questions related to the site? What topics are you willing or not willing to discuss?
I will be available in chat periodically and anyone should feel free to ping my username if they have topics they want to discuss.
I would be willing to discuss anything about the site, the English language in general, any questions about my particular actions as moderator or concerns about something that has occurred on the site itself.
I would not be willing to discuss the actions of any of the other moderators, general gossip about users or anything not directly related to the site. (You can still ask about these things; I just probably won't discuss them.)
What is the most convincing reason we shouldn't make you a moderator?
I have a limited availability due to responsibilities in my career and to my family.
The second most convincing reason is that I tend to be very opinionated and fight very strongly for things I believe in. These opinions are not always in line with the core group of posters on Meta. My promise to you, however, is that I will tone down my argumentative side significantly if I were to become a moderator. I do not see moderators as "super users" -- I see them as representatives of the community and it is more appropriate for me to listen than it would be for me to dictate.
How do you feel about a rule of needing two mods to agree before closing a question as being duplicate, off-topic, or POB? Should such a rule be a "soft" rule or strict? All too often this decision appears to be unilateral, and at times, taken in haste. The consensus of two mods would guarantee greater objectivity and hopefully, limit those instances where a question is put on hold based on a question's title and not on its content.
I am of the opinion that moderators should only be closing questions they feel (a) are unambiguously closable as per the guidelines or (b) extremely low quality in order to "pause" the question for editing or clarification.
Therefore, I see a rule about needing two mods as counterproductive. In both of the above cases, the post should be closed as quickly as possible in order to avoid confusing askers or wasting contributor's time.
If a question is successfully edited and reopened by regular users, then the system is working properly. If the moderator feels that the reason the closed the question has been resolved and chooses to reopen the question, then the system is working properly.
If, on the other hand, the community reopens the question without any editing having taken place, I would urge the moderator to update their "insta-close" parameters to avoid closing similar questions in the future. As a moderator, this is the approach I would take.