9

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. Due to the lack of submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as 2 of our back up questions for a total of 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. Comments: bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it?

  2. 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?

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

  4. Do you have some questions or answers of which you are particularly proud? Have you posted a particular question or answer that you think reflects the kinds of approach toward this site which you'll bring to your role as a Moderator? If so, which one(s)?

  5. What about this site do you best enjoy?

  6. What do you think Moderators could do (which they aren't doing yet), that would make The Workplace a better place?

  7. What excites you about being a moderator on The Workplace? What makes you nervous?

  8. Do we need to stronger enforce Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others norms over here? If yes, how? If not, why?

  9. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  10. 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?

  • Please number the questions 1) 1a) 1b) 2) 3) 4) ... and also group thematically-related subquestions together as 1a) 1b) 1c) ... I remember I asked you the exact same request on the SO election 2(?) years ago :-) Can we please make that format standard? It helps speed-reading quickly and searching for answers to "9) ..." I really want to skip over the soft-fuzzy questions like "What makes you excited..?" and get to crucial questions like "How to handle user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers..." and "...mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?" – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:05
  • Numbering them is a reasonable request; trying to impose a hierarchy/grouping where none exists is not. Each of these questions was asked independently and should be treated as such. You should also not assume that any given question serves only one purpose. – Monica Cellio Jul 27 '15 at 21:15
  • @MonicaCellio: clearly I only asked a hierarchy/grouping be added where it does exist. Possible example: "In your opinion, what do moderators do?" and "What do you think TW Moderators could do (which they aren't doing yet)" – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:21
  • I only just found out the Questionnaire was closed to submissions. Here are two of mine (paraphrase into general version as necessary): chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/23047029#23047029 1) How to handle Q which is interesting, but ambiguous, sprawling and lacks specific context 2) When vague title and retrospective title edit greatly changes meaning. – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:22
  • 2
    @smci just for you, I've added numbers :) I'm also not sure there are clear categories though so I've left them out. I'll respond to the extended questions in chat, as I'm not sure if we're supposed to add questions to the list at this point – yochannah Jul 27 '15 at 21:35
  • Thanks @yochannah. If there was a notification about the deadline for questionnaire entries, I didn't see it. – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:42
  • @smci from the question-collection post: "During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, July 27th 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. " – Monica Cellio Jul 27 '15 at 22:03
  • @MonicaCellio: that's not a notification. That was buried in the post. A notification would be a message title like "Submit your questions to TheWorkplace election questionnaire before July 27th". I'm an active user of 5-10 different SE sites and metas, plus other stuff. I cannot read every message in full. I guess I'll just assume in future the questionnaire deadline is 7 days – smci Jul 27 '15 at 22:11
8

Candidate: Jane S

  1. Comments: bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it?

I believe that comments play an important role on this site. That's not to say every comment is useful or adds value as sometimes a comment loses relevance over time if the question or answer has been modified. It's important to remember that the workplace is very much about the human experience; how we deal with people. There are times when a comment can not only enhance the question or answer, but an amusing or insightful comment can add a "human" side to the site. I'm a strong believer that humour is an effective tool for helping people to drop their guard ever so slightly. But we also need to remember that this is a professional site, and there comes a time when we need to rationalise which comments truly add value and discard that that do not.

I feel the way comments are currently moderated on the site is generally good, even though sometimes I don't always agree with a comment being deleted or not deleted. Often it's a judgement call (back to that word "human" :) ), but I would say that the signal:noise ratio is pretty good.

  1. 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 suspect this one isn't a rhetorical question :) There are some highly valuable posters here who have an inherently abrasive manner. But when it comes to the "be nice" policy we have in place here, how much rep or how many good answers a person gives has no effect on if a confrontational response needs addressing. I would treat each incident on its merits, regardless of whoever the responsible person is.

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

That's what meta.workplace.SE is for :) I wouldn't just reopen or undelete it; I would raise it so that it can be discussed openly, as I would hope that another mod would do if I did it. Moderators don't necessarily have all the answers; a mod's role is to guide, not to dictate. Getting input on meta keeps a transparency and allows others to give their input and perspective.

  1. Do you have some questions or answers of which you are particularly proud? Have you posted a particular question or answer that you think reflects the kinds of approach toward this site which you'll bring to your role as a Moderator? If so, which one(s)?

I am particularly proud of this answer: How can I stop being badgered for "leaving early" without hurting my co-worker relationships? What I like is that it's an issue that is not just resolving the asker's issue, but can be of use to others in future. And that is the intent behind the Q&A format of the Stack Exchange sites, otherwise we wouldn't care about duplicates, wouldn't worry about the quality of questions or answers as long as it solved the OP's problem. We are trying to provide a knowledge base, that can help many people, not just one :)

  1. What about this site do you best enjoy?

What I love most is helping others. I keep saying this, but the workplace is a human experience, and it's important for us to recognise that when people ask questions here, it is because they need help to deal with a human issue. I get a great sense of satisfaction if I can successfully help someone make their workplace a less stressful and as far as possible and enjoyable place to spend so much of our lives :)

  1. What do you think Moderators could do (which they aren't doing yet), that would make The Workplace a better place?

If they could make me a coffee in the morning, that would be great :) Failing that, I honestly believe that the moderators are doing exactly what they should be doing - guiding the tone of the community and maintaining the intent behind it.

  1. What excites you about being a moderator on The Workplace? What makes you nervous?

The reason I applied to be a moderator is because I feel that as a mod, I can help to maintain the fabulous community that The Workplace is. However, if I am unsuccessful in the election, I will continue to do exactly as I was doing, to try to help others and use my voting/flagging authority to keep the community at the highest standard we can.

Now what makes me nervous is that being a moderator is a very great responsibility. You are in effect an ambassador for the community, and your actions are no longer just your own, but reflect on the community itself. I want to make sure that I can be a good ambassador, and not slip up too often :)

  1. Do we need to stronger enforce Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others norms over here? If yes, how? If not, why?

I think in general we do a pretty good job here of enforcing "Back It Up" and "Don't repeat", simply by voting for questions or answers, or flagging duplicates. The community, particularly those who are very active, catch these well.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are ambassadors for the community. They help guide the direction of the community and have the tools to keep it clean and in line with the key values. A gentle touch is how I have found to work best for me to achieve this.

It's very important to remember that moderators are first and foremost members of the community, and can be wrong just like anyone else :)

  1. 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?

I am confident with how I have behaved within the community, and have always tried to stay professional and above reproach. I'm also far from perfect, so like anyone I've no doubt made the odd stupid mistake and I hope that I've managed to admit and address most of them :) But mostly, I am comfortable with adding a diamond to what I have contributed and hope that it is indicative of how a mod, or indeed anyone should behave within the community :)

6

Answers: yochannah

  1. Comments: bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it?

Comments are a great way to clarify questions and dispute/discuss finer points of an answer. If there's one or two, I usually feel like it's fine for even irrelevant ones to stay there indefinitely, but otherwise longer discussions should be edited into the question or removed entirely. Rudely reactive comments should be flagged as soon as they appear.

  1. 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?

For most part: remove the comments if it seemed necessary with a polite reminder to keep things cool, and hope they'd get the idea. If they didn't, then discussing it with the co-mods would be my next action to agree upon an appropriate action to take.

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

It depends upon the severity. If I didn't feel strongly, I'd leave it - but if I did think it was a really bad choice, perhaps putting it to the community would be the best way, either by posting a meta discussion, or nominating it for re-opening and letting others decide. Simply opening it again would be silly.

  1. Do you have some questions or answers of which you are particularly proud? Have you posted a particular question or answer that you think reflects the kinds of approach toward this site which you'll bring to your role as a Moderator? If so, which one(s)?

I'm particularly proud of the positive response I got in meta.stackoverflow for my question about handling all the thousands of Google Code answers that may break when Google Code goes poof. On a more Workplace-ey note, though, I think it's important to answer the question the OP is asking, but also to infer what else they are not asking, but maybe should.

  1. What about this site do you best enjoy?

Helping people. It might sound naive, but I get that warm fuzzy feeling when people update the question saying they took my advice.

  1. What do you think Moderators could do (which they aren't doing yet), that would make The Workplace a better place?

I honestly think The Workplace is a pretty great place already, and I think the mods are thoughtful and use their powers wisely. That's why I spend time here :)

  1. What excites you about being a moderator on The Workplace? What makes you nervous?

Exciting: being able to help out by assuming more responsibility. I'd be really privileged to be selected. Nervous: the possibility that handling conflict as a mod might become personal. I'll have to remember the old "sticks and stones will break my bones".

  1. Do we need to stronger enforce Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others norms over here? If yes, how? If not, why?

We definitely do. I've asked questions that have spawned tens of similar responses in the past, resulting in it becoming a community wiki question (when that was still a thing that happened to popular posts). The worst thing is, when I suggested it be de-wikified, it spawned another new answer months later, when it was already badly in need of maintenance. Oops. A prune of some of the older questions would be beneficial, as would swift locking of me-too type questions.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

For most part, let the community manage things, but respond to the non-standard queries and quandaries, be they firefights or proactive actions to improve the quality of the site. I'd favour involving the community over authoritarianism. The Workplace generally has a great vibe and I think we should keep it that way.

  1. 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?

Pretty cool. I figure if it's on the internet, it can be viewed by anyone, so I should probably do my best to be nice. I don't think I've said anything on SE I'd regret. (Now I've said this, please don't go finding things to make me regret these words ;))

  • 1) What about reactive comments or legitimate dissension where a poorly-phrased question/ ambiguous/ insufficient context/ retrospective edit changes things greatly, to the point of invalidating answers and setting them for a tsunami of downvotes? I gave two examples in my link above to chat. Downvoting is not the fix to all ills. Sometimes, question posters are behaving carelessly and wasting everyone's time. – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:45
  • 2) What is legitimate discussion, what is clarification, what is 'argument'? Are we agreed legitimate discussion and clarification are good and healthy? Discuss wrt specific examples if possible. I see many questions asked here are vague and lack context; we beg the asker to supply, but they don't. Should we sit and wait, or just write a good-faith answer and expose ourselves to downvote, grief and cranky comments if they subsequently invalidate their own question? It seems unfair. What to do with users who are habitually vague and badly-behaved like that? Slap them with the clarity stick? – smci Jul 27 '15 at 21:47
  • @smci these questions have been addressed extensively in the mod election chat, so I'm not going to add a lot here. I'm curious though: how do you feel they should have been handled? – yochannah Jul 28 '15 at 20:51
6

Rory


  1. Comments: bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it?

Depends on the comment. Comments asking for clarification, or steering the topic serve a purpose and then once that purpose is complete can be deleted. I consider "Me too" comments not very constructive so I delete them. My response on other sites I mod is dependent on the OP. Brand new visitors get left a comment and a link to the tour and answer pages. Old hands get the brief comment. 20k+ folks... a prod in chat to ask why :-)

  1. 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 have had to handle this a few times - initially ask them in comments to change behaviours, but if that doesn't work, mod message and short suspensions, followed by longer suspensions... The ideal end result is a member of the community who provides valuable content without the drama. Another outcome is, of course, that they decide not to remain...

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

Initially discuss it in chat. If no resolution is found, then ask the community. This is the way I tend to work on other sites I mod - and it seems to get the best buy in. Mods go with the community view.

  1. Do you have some questions or answers of which you are particularly proud? Have you posted a particular question or answer that you think reflects the kinds of approach toward this site which you'll bring to your role as a Moderator? If so, which one(s)?

I think my top two answers here are fairly indicative of my approach to life - communicate, and be open:

Recruiter contacts me, and Answer to an email.

  1. What about this site do you best enjoy?

Workplace is a very practical site in the Stack Exchange family - questions and answers here are very relevant to my work life. And both on Stack Exchange and in real life I get a lot of pleasure from coaching, mentoring and helping others develop.

  1. What do you think Moderators could do (which they aren't doing yet), that would make The Workplace a better place?

I don't know, actually. Problem posts don't last long here, many sorted by the community, and the rest by the mods, and as a lurker I have not seen that much drama, compared with some sites, so my aim would be to keep on doing the same - being a fair and moderate moderator.

  1. What excites you about being a moderator on The Workplace? What makes you nervous?

The opportunity to bring my moderation experience here is probably the most exciting and interesting piece. I'm not nervous about it at all - and while that is mostly because I am very happy working as a mod in the environment Stack Exchange has created, there is a wee bit that stems from knowing my two rivals in this election are much more likely to win than I :-)

  1. Do we need to stronger enforce Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others norms over here? If yes, how? If not, why?

Definitely! I am a strong supporter of closing as dupe, and this needs to be steered by the moderator team. It is something that the community must support, though, identifying duplicates, flagging and so on, but mods need to close/merge these quickly and cleanly.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

On a graduated, mature site - mods are the exception handlers and janitors, helping the community handle things, but not standing in the way of the community. There is also a role in publicising and running initiatives or competitions.

  1. 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?

Most of my SE interactions to date have had a diamond attached. I like the fact I am held accountable. The only downside to holding a mod role is that you have to be able to distance yourself from personal attacks - as they are aimed at mods a lot more than at other members of the community.

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