As Workplace SE grows, it may experience the problems of scaling, also known as "the forum problem". If elected, what will you do to help prevent the signal to noise ratio from becoming too low?
Close early, close often, and leave a helpful comment.
I also plan to edit where I can (or drop a question/answer that needs edit help into chat). I learned how to comment constructively by seeing what kind of comments the mods were leaving, hopefully other community members will follow my lead. Closing questions early, while seemingly harsh, still allows the community to re-open them after proper editing has taken place. I feel that by leaving comments that explain why something doesn't meet our standards, it is possible to be both friendly to newcomers and still maintain quality.
Answers cannot be closed and reopened, they can only be deleted and un-deleted. I would be hesitant to delete an answer that needs work because a mod's deletion of an answer cannot be undone by undelete votes from the community. I would prefer to use the other tools available, such as post notices and comments to nudge the poster to edit and improve their answer. I also feel that multiple answers competing for upvotes and the accepted flag provides a decent incentive to keep answer quality high. Since good questions tend to lead to good answers, I would prefer to focus on keeping question quality up and only deleting answers that are flagrantly breaking the rules, and otherwise let community downvotes take care of the answer.
What are the top two or three challenges facing the site as it moves forward, and what do you plan to do as a moderator to address them? What have you already done?
The top challenges I see are the comments problem and the forum problem. I discuss these in more depth on the specific questions as well.
To address the comments problem, I plan to get rid of non-constructive comments as soon as I see them (leaving a message explaining why). If comments are constructive and have been edited into the post, I'll delete them. If the comments have not been edited into the post, I'll post a warning that they will be deleted in time period X, then circle back and delete them after the warning period elapses. As a user, I flag problematic comments I see as well as post the "what comments are for" message using the pro forma SE comments script.
I would also leverage the newly released migrate comments to chat tool where appropriate.
To address the forum problem, I plan to close early, close often, and leave a helpful comment. Closing the question provides some breathing space for edits to take place, and allows the community to reopen it when they feel ready to do so. As a user, I flag to close since I don't have the rep to vote to close. I also leave comments about why I flagged it, with some additional guidance for how the users can edit and fix the question. I also suggest edits on questions where I feel that I have the time to do the question justice. This is sometimes grammar, spelling, and word choice fixes on fresh questions, or it is larger changes when a link is dropped into the chat room and help is requested on an older, abandoned question. I make sure to leave a comment explaining my changes, especially when the OP is a new user and might not be familiar with our system yet.
I don't really flag answers unless they are violating the rules. Because of the rep penalty, I tend to only downvote when I personally feel that an answer is truly "bad" and prefer to upvote the other, better answers on the same question. I will leave a comment if I see something missing from an otherwise great answer, and that something has not been addressed by other answers on the same question. As a mod, I would focus more on improving question quality and let the competitive nature of multiple answers improve the answer quality, stepping in to delete answers which violate the rules.
Do you think your actions towards lower-quality posts will be more like an Exception Handler or a Janitor? To put it another way, do you prefer to sit back and let the community try to resolve if questions should be closed or open on their own, or do you prefer to step in as soon as you can to try and resolve a question's state immediately using moderator actions? (I realize a moderators duties will involve using both styles of moderation depending on the situation, however I would like to know which direction moderator candidates lean towards first in cases that are not so clear)
Extremely low quality posts (spam or offensive) need to be deleted as quickly as possible. Hopefully the community can line up the spam/offensive flags to take care of that without moderator involvement, but I am fine to jump in as a janitor nonetheless.
To the larger question of low quality (but not spam/offensive) questions, I believe in closing early and often with a helpful, constructive comment along the lines of a janitor. Most questions have a seed of greatness, but that seed tends to be buried deeper on the low quality posts. Closing early can give both the OP and the community time to edit, comment, and grow that seed to the point where we have a beautiful question, ripe for answering. Each edit puts the question back into the reopen queue, allowing the community to use reopen votes when it does meet our quality guidelines.
I have a slightly different approach in mind for low quality (but not spam/offensive) answers. Questions can be closed and reopened by community votes. Answers cannot be closed and reopened, they can only be deleted and un-deleted. Furthermore, moderator deletions of answers cannot be overturned by votes from the community, they would need to be brought up in chat or meta and undeleted by a moderator. Because of the more limited community recourse, I would be much more hesitant to delete a gray-area answer and would rather put up a post notice, or add helpful comments so that an answer is improved through edits. I feel that my approach to answers is more of an exception handler.
Would you be willing to unilaterally close more popular questions such as this one which very clearly are off-topic, according to the site FAQ and guidelines, even if you are the only close vote? Oftentimes these questions can cause problems if not closed quickly as they pick up answers which make editing the question impossible.
Yep. Close early, close often, and leave a helpful comment. Closing the question will allow some breathing room for the question to be edited into a better form and the community can vote to re-open after it is on topic.
When you see a question or answer with major issues, such as being argumentative or poorly-written, what tool do you reach for first and why?
It depends on what the issues are as well as what the rest of activity on the site is like. If a quick edit is all that is needed to get the question back on track and I am in a place to make the fixes, I would edit it and leave a friendly comment about why I made those changes. If the question needs more work, I would put it on hold and leave friendly comments indicating why. After the question is edited and meets the standards, it should attract the necessary reopen votes from the community. As I've said before, close early, close often, and leave a helpful comment.
For answers, I am much more hesitant to edit (as they tend to be from more active community members), and would prefer to leave a comment explaining any gaps I see. After that gap is addressed and folded into the answer, I would delete the comment and upvote the answer if appropriate. If the only thing wrong with an answer is some grammar or spelling, I would be comfortable making an edit, but I would prefer not to interfere with an answer's content or meaning unless it was a truly extraordinary case. I also see the community's voting patterns as doing a decent job of improving answer quality.
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 would nuke the comments if they are not constructive. I would also discuss it with the other moderators to make sure that there is actually a pattern in the comments from that user and its not my own bias. The outcome from that discussion would probably dictate how I would proceed from there, but it would likely involve reaching out to the user in a private setting as well.
Context is also important as well. I would handle a user intentionally posting inflammatory comments differently than a user who gets flags and arguments from users that disagree with their perspective or point of view.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I would assume that I missed something, and reach out to talk to that mod in a private setting to understand their reasoning. If we were unable to come to an agreement, I would ask another mod (or some other third party) to arbitrate. In the unlikely event that we still couldn't reach any sort of consensus, I would raise it on Meta.
Two experienced users, both good contributors at times, just can't get along. Every time they interact in any way, sparks fly. Acrimonious comments pile up, distracting everyone from the actual questions being answered. Tit-for-tat flags and votes accumulate. Passive-aggressive meta posts ruin your buzz. You suspect the moderators on other sites are talking about you behind your back, clucking like so many biddy hens about your misfortune... What do you do about it? When answering, candidates should address how their responses change (if they do) if the two have a privilege imbalance, for example if one has a diamond (mod or staff) that allows him to make unilateral decisions (delete, close, flag rejection, etc).
I would definitely discuss with other mods or the CM team to get their input. As a new mod, I would lean on the collected wisdom of the other site mods for such a serious issue. Most likely, the solution would involve mediating the dispute by meeting with each individual one on one in a private setting, then meeting with both of them in a private chat or something like that and working through a mutually agreeable solution. If the users cannot play nice, then they may end up with a timed suspension to cool off. At the end of the day, we are building a repository of useful knowledge... comment/flag/vote wars do not contribute to that and should be removed lest they encourage others to do the same.
If there is a privilege imbalance, I would still reach out to both of the users in a private setting, but I would also reach out to someone who has the authority to take necessary action on the user with higher privileges. For another mod, it might be other mods on their site or the community team. For SE staff, it would be an uninvolved member of the community team. If there were mod privileges being used inappropriately, I would escalate that immediately.
Does The Workplace have a Comments Problem? If so, what do you believe is the problem, and how would you plan to deal with it as a moderator?
We do have a comments problem. I've seen threads go to personal attacks, and as a mod I would remove those as soon as I see them (leaving a comment explaining why). There are some more gray area comments, where it is closer to a debate about the post, so it does have some merit as far as constructive criticism of the post, but the problem I see is that either the comments never make it back into the post via edits, or that the edits are made but the comments are not removed by the owners.
Comments are a problem because I agree with what jmort253 mentioned in chat:
the value of any individual comment approaches zero with each comment added. When I google something and land on any SE page, chances are it is close, but not exactly the same as the problem I am facing. My goal is to figure out if the SE question and answer are applicable to my situation as quickly as possible. One or two comments on a post mentioning that a particular answer is out of date or pointing out some subtle detail are very useful. Trying to get through a whole wall of jokes, or +1/-1, or restatements of things already mentioned in the post just to get to those useful points is very frustrating.
Unlike vote to close/vote to reopen, I don't see a community mechanism to undo deleting a huge swath of comments and I know that it is plastered all over the place that comments are temporary, but given that the community still pushes back when comments are deleted, I would prefer to leave a comment mentioning that the comments will be removed in time period X, then come back and remove the comments after the warning period elapses.
I would also leverage the newly released migrate comments to chat tool where appropriate.
How would you handle an issue that has many members of the community on either side and the community is too divided to settle on an single conclusion?
I would post on meta or raise it in chat so that the community can weigh in and future visitors can see our thought process. If possible, I would try to find some acceptable middle ground that is not great, but is at least agreeable to everyone involved. I would lean more towards any available options that are more reversible so that our hands are not tied should the community evolve and change its mind later on.