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

The Workplace is scheduled for an election next week, February 17, 2020. In connection with that, we will be holding a Q&A with the 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.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until February 17, 2020 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.

  • 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.

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

  • At the start of the nomination 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.

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

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    We need a moderator! Please ask any constructive, positive question you can think of so that we elect the right candidate!! – Neo Feb 11 at 0:57
  • Is there a page that describes all the tasks required of a moderator? – Joe Strazzere Feb 11 at 18:16
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    @JoeStrazzere Most of this is still applicable: stackoverflow.blog/2009/05/18/a-theory-of-moderation To expand, I would think of Moderators as Exception Handlers as the community usually can handle issues themselves. – Neo Feb 11 at 19:22
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    @JoeStrazzere Another one: stackoverflow.com/help/site-moderators – Neo Feb 11 at 19:23
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    And finally, the biggest difference to me is my votes are binding and immediate, so I use my mod super powers sparingly @JoeStrazzere – Neo Feb 11 at 19:24
  • @MisterPositive - thanks – Joe Strazzere Feb 11 at 19:44
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    General Note - We are currently looking for one new moderator but it's possible that we may decide to need an additional pair of hands afterwards. If we believe we should bring on an additional moderator within a few months of the election the results are rerun as if two slots were available and the second person elected is invited to join the moderator team. – Lilienthal Feb 13 at 21:58

12 Answers 12

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Recent events have seen this site lose 3 of its formerly 5 moderators. Moving on from the tremors of the past, with the wide spread loss of trust between Stack Exchange and the community, it is abundantly clear that the traditional job description of a moderator as purely a human exception handler no longer holds exclusively.

There are plans for a moderator council for guidance on all sites, and site features are often shared for feedback with moderators prior to release. In that vein, our moderators have become representatives for our community to the company.

When the company missteps, our moderators are now the ones who argue on our behalf and represent us to them. Willing or not, they have become more then janitors for advanced tasks.

Since you're standing for election, what is your motivating factor in offering to serve as moderator, and how do your skills and qualifications factor into the changing role of moderators outlined above?

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    Note: This is an attempt at a neutral question that finds out essentially what one's intrinsic motivation for wanting to serve as a moderator is. I assume this situation will come up in the election anyways, so there's no use in shying away from it. – Magisch Feb 11 at 8:12
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    It doesn't seem all that neutral to me, based on the lead-in statement. You seem to admit that by saying "there's no use shying away from it". – Joe Strazzere Feb 12 at 16:06
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    @JoeStrazzere I've interpreted this as neutral in the sense that it is stating established fact. It is the main reason we are looking to reinforce the moderator team and it's sensible for the community to ask any prospective moderator perhaps not how they see the situation, but rather if and how it affects their decision to run. Edit: reading the last sentence in isolation, it's clear that "what is your motivation" is not the real question here but it's specifically about the recent developments so perhaps this should be rephrased to make that clear. – Lilienthal Feb 12 at 16:40
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    @Lilienthal feel free to re-formulate the question as necessary, i'm not married to the exact text. I'd like to see the sentiment preserved though. – Magisch Feb 12 at 16:50
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    (shrug) I interpret this more along the lines of "The site is going to hell, and most moderators are fleeing a sinking ship. Why on earth do you want to step into this mess?" Sorry for the blunt language, but I want to convey the sense I'm getting from this and other candidate questions here. Perhaps it's more rorschach than neutral? – Joe Strazzere Feb 12 at 16:51
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    @JoeStrazzere In composing this, I thought of the reasons I want to run (I plan to), namely that I love this site more then I dislike the decisions made by the company. I also know, from being active on MSE, that every candidate who stands will get significant heat and will be questioned in that way, and I wanted to provide a way for the candidates to get structured thoughts out along the way, and so they can prepare themselves not to be blind sided. I'm not ready to call this a sinking ship and this was not my intent in writing this question. – Magisch Feb 12 at 16:55
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    @JoeStrazzere I don't see it quite that way. It's true that there has been a lot of turbulence here and that could affect a decision to run just as much as it has affected the decision of former moderators to part ways. When someone here decides to run they are doing that at a very particular time in our network's history and I'd like to know if and how that has affected them. Potentially the answer for most is (I hope) "I have my own stance on the situation but I want to join the moderation team to help run this site". – Lilienthal Feb 12 at 17:20
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    If the answer is "I want to be closer to the CT to give them a piece of my mind" then that's just not what we are looking for. Nor do we need people who run only to resign in protest immediately. I don't really expect anyone who has these reasons in mind will answer this particular question honestly of course, but these are extremes. Many people will be wondering about this element that sparked the election so the question should be asked. Does that make more sense? – Lilienthal Feb 12 at 17:22
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    @Magisch - it's your question. I'm just expressing what I felt when I read it. I hope you do run. – Joe Strazzere Feb 12 at 17:26
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    @JoeStrazzere I very much value your judgement. Do you have an idea to reformulate the question to be more neutral while preserving context? – Magisch Feb 12 at 17:29
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    @Magisch - sorry, no. I wouldn't preserve the context. Asking "Why do you want to be a moderator" is fine. Leading the candidate as you have done above should be avoided, IMHO. But it's your question. If it gets enough votes, apparently it will be included as a candidate question. – Joe Strazzere Feb 12 at 17:31
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    @JoeStrazzere It's indeed only my opinion, decisions are always left to the community. Speaking from my personal experience the recent events have had a dramatic impact and deciding to accept the situation and abstain from public comments on the topic was not easy for me. Several other moderators decided to distance themselves for reasons that are personal to them but were nonetheless sparked by the events. And this is unlikely to resolve itself any time soon meaning that moderator candidates need to carefully consider this and I feel the community deserves to know that they have. – Lilienthal Feb 12 at 17:57
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    Note: Based on feedback from several users I trust, I have significantly edited the lead sentence of this question and expanded on my motivations for asking it. I believe this does not substantially alter the intent of the question or potential replies, further feedback is welcome. cc @JoeStrazzere – Magisch Feb 12 at 19:17
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    additional cc: @Lilienthal – Magisch Feb 12 at 19:17
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    @Magisch An interesting change but I would argue this merits reposting as it has significantly altered the way I read this. Asking about motivation in light of recent events is one thing. Presenting the "new role" of moderators as a fait accompli reads quite a bit like a loaded question to me. – Lilienthal Feb 13 at 20:33
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We get a good amount 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?

( some of this is from the last election )

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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?

From last election

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Moderating usually requires working hand-in-hand with the other moderators and community-moderating users who take care of the review queues and flag inappropriate content. How would you handle a disagreement with your fellow moderators?

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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 get thousands of comments posted on The Workplace.

( some of this is from the last election )

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What do you feel are the top two or three challenges we are facing?

How do you think we should address them?

From last election

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We seem to have a lot of questions that closed within a short period of time after being posted.

Do you think that is a problem? If so, what might you do about it?

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    Does this question from the last election that was posted previously cover your question? – Lilienthal Feb 14 at 17:18
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    @Lilienthal - sure, just about the same. I was trying to emphasize the "short period of time" aspect, but I guess one question could cover it all. – Joe Strazzere Feb 14 at 17:37
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This election sparked a meta question on what the day-to-day activities of the moderation team are. Both of the current moderators gave their perspective there. Has that affected your decision to nominate yourself? If so, in what way? Did anything in particular resonate with you or has anything given you pause?

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A user has been posting valuable content for a while but in the same time refuses to follow the site's guidelines (bad usage of comments, unkind if not rude remarks to other users, angrily ranting on meta when they disagreed with something about the scope). What do you do?

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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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How would you describe the purpose of this site?

Is it to create an exhaustive and definitive database of challenging workplace situations with clear advice of what to do about them?

Is it a community of professionals dedicated to giving advice when people are unsure of how to proceed with the challenges they are facing?

Is it something else?

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You (TWP mods) have been thinking about introducing a new feature (e.g. lowering the close/reopen threshold from 5 to 3, changing the comment policy, refusing questions on a certain topic ...). Would you push it right away or would you ask the users before whether they agree with the changes? Why?

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    Do you imagine any candidates would opt for the first option here? Are you asking about the approach a candidate would take in pursuing a new feature? – Lilienthal Feb 12 at 16:44
  • It's the latter yes. Sorry that was unclear. It's a thing that's encountered from time to time and it's usually not be taken lightly so I was curious how a candidate would approach this (this is based on my own experience of moderation on another stack). – avazula Feb 12 at 20:38
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    Makes sense, you may want to edit this to make that clear as I think you're burying the lead to some extent by phrasing it like this. – Lilienthal Feb 13 at 20:30

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