In connection with the moderator elections, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This is the same as we've done in previous years. It will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

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

Here's how it'll work:

  • During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, August 15th 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.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

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

  • At the end of the 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. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.

  • 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.

  • Perhaps the third sentence should be slightly reworded: Participation, which also includes responding to the community's eight questions, is completely voluntary.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 6:36

10 Answers 10


A number of site participants feel that one major problem at EL&U is that bad questions remain open too long and take too much effort to close; some of these participants have argued in favor of instituting reforms designed to make closing questions easier. But other site participants feel that some questions that might elicit interesting answers are closed too quickly and for reasons not especially relevant to their value as questions (most often, for lack of prior research). What is your view of the current state of question closure at EL&U, and what—if anything—would you do to try to change the status quo?


A perennial issue at EL&U is whether the site is unfriendly toward low-rep users and especially newcomers. Do you view clubbishness or hostility/rudeness toward recent arrivals at EL&U as a continuing problem? What can moderators do to help inexperienced users feel more comfortable and welcome here?

  • I don't see your name on the nomination list yet. Are you still working on the wording?
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 13:41
  • 3
    Sven, you're one of my favourites here. Would you like to be a mod? I'll vote for you.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 19:06
  • 8
    You guys are very kind—but I'm not in a position to handle the duties required of a moderator for the foreseeable future. (I recently unretired, which has wreaked havoc on my freedom to spend uninterrupted hours at this site whenever I want; and I prefer to spend the time I do have writing too-long answers to innocent questions.)
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 19:14

As a moderator, I often have to judge the difference between a short answer and a low quality answer.

What do you believe are the criteria for a short answer to be acceptable?


A new user to the Stack Exchange (member of ELU for 2 days, rep of 1, not a member of any other SE site) posts a rather basic question on ELU. Based on how the question is worded, it seems evident that this question is coming from a non-native speaker. Chances are, this user has not read this meta post, and is probably not even aware of the existence of English Language Learners.

Should something be done? If so, what?

  • Excellent question.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 12:47
  • 2
    I had considered posting a question that might partially duplicate this and might be edited in as an additional part or part of answer options (about what specific "something" might be considered). "Should grammatical errors and other indicators that the question is coming from a non-native speaker be edited out, or left in as a signal that answerers can use to help direct the framing, examples, and level of detail in their answers in a way that may intentionally make the answer more useful to the question-asker?"
    – WBT
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 4:18

There is a fairly substantial division in the ELU community over what we should do with medium-to-low quality questions. One group says that any question which can be understood can and should be answered. Another group says that it is better for the long term health of the site and its community for unresearched questions to be closed and not answered. (There are surely others who think something else, but these are the two big groups.)

As a mod, how would you mediate between these two groups?

  • 3
    Good question. I hope that it gets enough support from upvoters here to be among the questions that all candidates are asked to answer.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 17:15
  • How is this question different than Sven Yargs' suggestion?
    – Marthaª
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:11
  • @Marthaª Sven's question is asking what people think about the current policies and whether they want to change them. Mine is asking about how to mediate the community. Whether you like the current policies or think they need to change mediation will still be needed. Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 3:15

One of the things that seems to divide this community are (usually partial) answers posted as comments. Some are annoyed by it, others post them on a regular basis. As a moderator you will be responsible for handling comment flags – how will you approach this issue?


Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

  • 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?

  • 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?

What's your stand on obvious, often unsubstantiated, but correct and helpful answers to trivial questions?

  • It's an easy reputation grab that encourages more such questions which are not wanted on ELU.
  • Welcome introduction to answering that encourages both the one who asked and the one who answered to come back.
  • Something else entirely

I am referring to questions that have obvious answers because they should have been posted on ELL in the first place or are even too trivial for that site.


One of the most difficult roles for a moderator is to "moderate" users' behaviour. Users can get pretty indignant about being asked to improve their post or having their precious question declared off-topic. And of course some users appear to approach any well-meaning comment as an invitation to a duel.

What's your own tolerance for problematic behaviour - in particular, the "borderline" kind that some would interpret as acceptably robust debate, while others might feel are unacceptable shows of anger that breach the spirit of "keep it nice"? Would you aim to remove nasty, disparaging comments about our site as quickly as possible, or do you see this as freedom of expression that you would be loathe to censor?

  • 2
    I would like to up-vote this, but things getting heated in an Internet discussion is not an indication of a personality disorder. It is completely natural for written exchanges to cause communication problems. It's difficult to understand someone's "tone" and intent just by reading what they've written off-the-cuff. I think it's the exception rather than the rule when someone can accept criticism that may have be worded in a way that seems rude or brusque and ask for clarification. Frankly I think language of the type you've written here contributes to the "bad behavior".
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 12:36
  • I've edited out the reference to mental health, as I realise this was inappropriate. I think the substance of the question is still relevant: poor behaviour might be the exception, but when it does occur it can be very offputting. Is a snide remark ok? Sarcasm? If it's stronger than that but directed at "the site"? I'd like to know the candidates' views on this. Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 21:26

Moderators have a limited set of powers normal users don't, such as writing the custom close reasons, editing (part) of the tour and on-topic/off-topic pages, and liaising with SE staff.

What is something specific you would like to do to improve the site which you can't currently do through community moderation?

  • 1
    Your examples and second paragraph suggest that your question is about a specific subset of moderator powers, however liaising with SE staff does not really fit in there. Can you please clarify?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:43
  • @Wrzlprmft My understanding is that mods have more direct means of gaining SE staff attention, or at least that their pleas carry more weight. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:44
  • That is correct, but I do not see how this fits into the rest of your question. Anyway, I suggest to explicitly narrow down your question (e.g., to those moderator powers that affect the general behaviour and appearance of the site) as I suspect that you do not wish to ask the candidates how they will use their power to edit comments to help the site.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:52
  • @Wrzlprmft It's already very specific: it's asking about things which normal users can't do. Normal users can appeal to the SE staff on MSE, but real liaising is something that's really more of a mod thing. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:54
  • 4
    So, “I will use my suspension powers to banish trolls” would address your question? If yes, then I consider it overly broad.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:58
  • @Wrzlprmft All of these questions are broad! But I'm more interested to hear things like: do they think any of the custom close reasons need changing? What alternative question would they pick to go on the tour? Are there any interface changes they would want to champion to the SE staff (such as additional notices, or highlighting the help pages more, etc, as have been suggested by the community every now and then)? Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:02
  • @curiousdannii Then you could've asked those questions specifically. :)
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 5:34
  • 1
    @NVZ Is this any better now? I don't really understand the opposition to this question... it's no difference in substance to Grace Notes' question "In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?" Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 6:45
  • Why is this any different from 'In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?'
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 12:38
  • @ColleenV It's an elaboration, and its focus isn't on the effectiveness (ie. quantitative) of moderation, but on qualitatively going beyond community moderation. Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 12:52

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