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The Workplace Stack Exchange is scheduled for an election starting next week, February 11th. In connection with that election as we have done in previous years, we will be hosting a Q&A here for 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.

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:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, February 11th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 3:00 pm EST 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.

  • Feel free to check out the previous runs of the Q&A for questions asked in previous years. 2014, 2014 Summer, 2015, 2017, 2018

  • 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.

  • At the end of the collection 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 (up to) 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.

Note: We are looking for one new moderator.

  • I've deleted a few similar questions here after Monica wrapped up those into a single, coherent question. – user44108 Feb 8 at 7:29
  • A reminder on the following process here might be needed. When the questions open next week, discussion is allowed so that candidates can be questioned on their answers to these questions. There will also be a chatroom that voters and candidates are encouraged to use. – user44108 Feb 8 at 7:31

11 Answers 11

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The Workplace gets a lot of hot questions on provocative topics. Sometimes the questions seem so incredible that people question whether they are genuine. Sometimes the questions seem genuine but evoke strong negative reactions. Either way, these questions attract a lot of attention, comments, flags, and discussion in chat. How should questions like these be moderated?

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Comments: They are the 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?

For context, we had over 8,000 comments posted on The Workplace in the past month.

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Concerns have been raised about how welcoming we are to (a) newcomers, (b) marginalized people, and (c) those from outside the IT field. Some say we are not welcoming enough, and others say we go too far or do not properly evaluate vocal claims. In your opinion, how are we as a site doing in this area, what do we need to do differently (if anything), and how will you as a moderator address the situation? If you feel we have a problem now, what have you personally done about it already?

In answering, consider interactions with new or marginalized users, established users, other moderators, and the greater Stack Exchange community.

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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?
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What do you feel are the top two or three challenges currently facing our site? How do you think we should address them?

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If, upon election, you had the power to create a new flag reason*, what would it be and why? How would this help moderation, the users, and the quality of the site?

* This won't actually happen, it's just a hypothetical question...

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(copied over from last year)

A significant proportion of our new questions get put on hold. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, what can we do to improve the situation?

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What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

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How would you deal with moderators from other stacks stepping in and changing the tone of enforcement.

What would you do about gossip about users in the moderator chat?

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    For the purposes of irony, this conversation has been moved to chat. – user44108 Feb 6 at 15:38
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What is your field of expertise?

A lot of questions on here seem to focus on people in the computer sciences, but the standards in those fields may be very different from others so it can be beneficial to have alternative points of view.

  • 1
    Can you explain how you feel this relates to moderation of this site? Are you mostly just curious about what the candidates do? Worth noting, being a moderator doesn't necessarily imply that the person is an expert in the topic. While the "moderator" equivalents on some websites may be the most knowledgeable, that's not actually what moderators do on Stack Exchange. – Catija Feb 8 at 4:55
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    I note that answers from persons outside of the computer science industry tend to catch a fair number of down votes on this site and I am curious how much of that stems from a difference of perspective. For example, in software, it's very common for someone to work a job for 2 or 3 years and then move on as SOP, but in other fields like engineering, that's very unusual and indeed undesirable. As a lot of questions focus on perceptions within the field, it can be helpful to have a moderation team that includes a broad expertise to help guide questions and answers as appropriate to the field. – Pyrotechnical Feb 8 at 13:40
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    Guiding questions and answers isn't something we expect moderators to do because they're moderators. All users should be doing this. If someone is a plumber or a teacher or developer, that doesn't really impact how they handle flags for abusive content or decide that something is off topic or maintaining tags or rewriting close reasons. Do you have a specific diamond moderator behavior that you feel this impacts? Here's what we expect from our mods: workplace.stackexchange.com/help/site-moderators – Catija Feb 8 at 20:19
  • @Catija from your list, diamond mods are expected to lead by example. If every diamond mod on the stack is in the software field, their posts, comments, flag responses, etc. will be filtered through that background regarding what is reasonable or not based on that field. I believe it is beneficial to see a diverse background in the diamond moderators on a stack dedicated to not just one workplace, but presumably all. What behavior is reasonable in a plumbing office may be completely unreasonable in an accountant's office. – Pyrotechnical Feb 8 at 20:32
  • You're talking about judging content validity. Flags that say "this answer is wrong and should be deleted" are declined specifically because moderators aren't here to judge if content is correct or not. If a comment says "this answer is stupid and you're an idiot for writing it" and that comment is flagged as rude, do you think a plumber or teacher would have a different opinion on that? – Catija Feb 8 at 20:37
  • @Catija, no, I'd expect their response to be the same. But that's a very straightforward case. But what I find odd when I skim through the list of questions is that they all appear to be from office settings only, you very rarely see questions inquiring how to navigate school politics or a plumber's office. You also don't see much in the way of opinions from the public sector. I'm simply seeking to have more diverse viewpoints on the mod team and think it's worth knowing what sort of background candidates have. – Pyrotechnical Feb 8 at 20:51
  • Regarding a flag that says "this answer is wrong and should be deleted", well that might be declined because a mod isn't there to judge that. But a mod could leave a comment based on their experience on how to improve the answer. Either citations being required or a request for more information related to personal experience that they know is likely out there based on their own background. – Pyrotechnical Feb 8 at 20:52
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Do moderators have fixed terms? Or do they have to retire before they lose moderator status? Can we vote to remove them for pursuing their own agenda to the detriment of the site? Or inactivity for an extended period?

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    Do you mean to ask this as a question about SE, or is it a question you want candidates to answer? If the former, please post a new meta question so that people can answer it there (and so we don't confuse the CM who'll assemble the questionnaire). Thanks. – Monica Cellio Feb 5 at 23:27
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    I've answered this in chat but feel free to create a meta question if you need more details. – user44108 Feb 6 at 7:54
  • This is already answered in the FAQ on Meta Stack Exchange. – gparyani Feb 10 at 17:50

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