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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.

Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community, plus 2 pre-set questions from us.

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.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, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

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!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  1. 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 than 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges we are facing? How do you think we should address them?

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

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

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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 of this election will be rerun as if two slots were available and the second person elected would then be invited to join the moderator team. – Lilienthal Feb 17 at 20:18
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DarkCygnus answers (nomination post):

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?

Last time I ran my motivation was to give back to the Community, and that is still part of my motivation.

On the light of recent events, I am also motivated by the idea of bringing stability to the network, and to stop this growing rift between the Community and SE Inc.. Perhaps I won't be able to do that for all communities, but for TWP surely I can.

I feel that Moderators will now have to be more aware and engaged to the site as a whole, as to timely and properly respond to the situations that are to come so the concerns of the Community are heard. Since my joining on the network and TWP I have become more and more engaged with it and am sure that this will prove helpful here. I periodically keep an eye on Meta SE and other communities, and that I feel has helped me become more aware of where we stand.

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?

Questions like these should be given more attention, and as a Mod I would keep an eye on questions like these when they come and while they are in the HNQ list (that is, check on them more frequently). This will help to quickly mend any situation that needs so.

As in any other questions, comments and answers given have to be respectful and constructive. Any rude, tangential or noisy comment or answer should be edited, moved to chat, or removed accordingly.

Ideally, one would like the HNQ post to develop and moderate itself organically (that is, by the Community). However, for extreme cases Mods now can remove questions from the HNQ list if necessary. Before doing this, I would consult other moderators on how they think this post should be handled.

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 my 2019 answer to this question)

Yes and no. If a question is too broad, off-topic or generally poor quality then it's understandable as to why they'd be closed, but most of the time they're shut down and then no further guidance is given to that person. It's not very welcoming to see your first post shut down as off-topic when you have a question about your job on a site called The Workplace.

I think more could be done to provide follow-up resources and a clear explanation of actually why it was closed. A new user to the site is not going to know these things. It's a well established fact that most people don't read the Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Rules, Guides and popups you get when you start out new on a site. That's not them being ignorant as such, but more so being new which is something we all do. Providing a link or two to those new users would be very helpful instead of just voting to close.

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?

(parts from my 2019 answer to a similar question)

If I disagree with something, surely it is minimal and expected given everyone's unique point of view. If some disagreement is reached, the way to reconcile it is to discuss and reach a consensus.

I would ping the moderator in chat, so we can discuss and reach an agreement. I also think that depending on the situation, a third mod could serve as a "neutral" part in case the disagreement is strong.

As it is in the Professional environment and workplaces, communication is also key in these situations, so the solutions reached work for everybody (or for most).

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.

(from my 2019 answer to this question)

I think that comments are a double-edged sword.

They can drastically help clarify or point out key aspects that improve the quality of our questions and answers, but at the same time they can completely derail or bias a post, or even become insulting or scare away new users. This is the dual nature of comments, and why they are such a fuzz.

I think that comments should stick to ask for clarification, minor suggestions or improvements, or even useful and constructive observations or corollaries...

...but not to argue about the post, discuss just about why you agree (+1 and move on instead) or disagree (post an answer with your point of view then), point out some tangential or unrelated case based on assumptions, and even less to insult or be rude. If you want to discuss or are feeling chatty The Watercooler is a better place for those things.

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

The first question to this Mod questionnaire already suggests to us the main challenge: a growing rift between the Community and SE Inc. that is threatening the future of the Network. And from this challenge is that all other challenges we are currently facing derive from.

This rift comes along with a growing perception of being forsaken, and many Community members feel that SE does not care for them anymore, and that they have stop responding to our feedback.

How can we solve this?... well, unfortunately we currently don't know for sure how to solve this (otherwise we wouldn't be facing this challenge still). But, that is the main reason why I am here and why I decided to run, so we can together build and reach a solution that works for us.

However, regardless of the fact that this solution is not 100% clear yet, things that will surely help get there include (but are not limited to): [as a mod] being that bridge between the Community and SE Inc., so we can reverse the perception of being forsaken and to strive to obtain answers to the feedback we give to SE; chose constructive/positive over destructive/apathetic behavior, as mentioned only with a positive attitude and constructive stance is that we can move forward in this new Era of SE; try to be more engaged than before, so we can put in that extra effort and love.

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?

No, it did not affect my decision to run. I was already thinking of running.

If any, it gave us a better insight of what Mod actually do. At first perhaps we see and know Mods to be "exception handlers"... but as the answers to that question suggest, it's much more than just that.

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?

I think it's more of the latter.

The purpose of the site is nos just the Q&A answer database itself; forming Communities that generate high quality Q&A is more important than the questions themselves.

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?

(from my 2019 answer to this question)

If the answers are valuable and the problem lies on the comments only then it is a matter of taking care of those comments accordingly (asking users to stop, moving to chat or deleting, etc.).

Alternatively, I would also invite them to chat where I would ask them to stop posting such comments. I usually prefer to give the benefit of doubt, perhaps the user is not on his/her best days, and I would hope that such chat would have an impact on them. If the problems continue to escalate then more serious measures could be taken, and depending on the severity this could even end up with the user winning a time in the penalty box.

The fact that a user has high rep or contributes good answers doesn't excuse them to break the Be Nice policy, and they should take the consequences as any other user would.

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

(from my 2019 answer to this question)

If another mod did such action on a question it is highly likely that it was for good reasons. In any case, I would contact that Mod and ask him/her to explain his reasons for doing so. After that it is again highly likely that I would agree with the reasons.

However, if I still disagree, the call should fall upon the Community, and a Meta post should be initiated regarding the situation to reach a consensus.

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  • where do you stand on the Monica situation. Please motivate your answer in detail. Try not to be a fence sitter. – GwenKillerby Feb 28 at 16:40
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    @GwenKillerby ... perhaps you are not aware but Monica left SE at the end of January :(... as I see it there is no more "Monica situation", although it is undeniable that the repercussions of such situation remain and will for a time. Personally, I had the chance to interact with her several times, in TWP mostly, and I am really sad that she decided to leave, but nonetheless respect the decision she took. I hope to be as half as good moderator and member of this community as Monica was. – DarkCygnus Feb 28 at 17:07
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    @GwenKillerby This election has nothing to do with the Monica situation. Yes, the vacancies are due to the situation, but the situation is resolved. Do we like what happened, obviously not, but there is no point in dwelling in the past. Those that are still here and participating are doing so knowing an agreement between Monica and SE took place. Let's focus on the future, and the candidates here specifically. – Neo Feb 28 at 18:36
  • -1 I periodically keep an eye on Meta SE and other communities,… because I see very little recent participation on MSE in way of comments and actual posts – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 at 12:27
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    @Mari-LouA hey there. To address your comment, perhaps I have not posted or commented recently on MSE (nor did I state so on the text you quoted), but like I stated there, I am frequently keeping and eye, watching, reading, etc., what's on MSE. You don't necessarily have to post questions or answers to keep updated on the situation... (in fact, I think it's the contrary: reading and watching gives one more information about the state of things than posting) – DarkCygnus Mar 3 at 17:46
  • @DarkCygnus That is what I do as well. FWIW – Neo Mar 3 at 19:25
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  1. 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 than 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?

I adressed this in my nomination post, but I believe a key responsibility of moderators going forward will be to ensure their community is heard by the company. It is very unfortunate but the ways and effectiveness in which normal users can relay feedback to the company, especially as users of small sites, has diminished greatly in recent times.

Changes are certainly coming to the network, and to preserve the usefulness and our mission here, we need to ensure our concerns and needs are heard by the company. In that vein I believe it vital to use every opportunity given to ensure this community is heard.

  1. 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?

Comments are for clarification and requests for improvement. Miscellaneous discussion should be moved to chat - the format of chat is a lot better for that - and the comments deleted. Sadly this can only be done automatically once, but after that you can still "move" comments to chat by posting an inline-link to the comment in the chat room before deleting it, therefore preserving the comment.

If the discussion is not offensive, grossly off topic or violating decency, I don't believe we should permanently get rid of it.

Real situations real people face work best as questions, so something that is deliberately exaggerated or obviously fake should not be allowed. I would delete these posts. However, my bar for "deliberately exaggerated or obviously fake" is pretty high, so just posting a controversial question does not qualify for that. Nor are the moderators really in the business of reading all of an user's questions to check for plausibility. If it's obviously fake, we would need to deal with it, but otherwise not.

  1. 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?

We have some overzealous close voting. In general, the purpose of the close mechanism is to put questions on hold so they (hopefully) can be fixed and reopened when they're clear. It seems we have some problems communicating that to the users whose questions get closed.

I find that we have quite a few voters who put anything on hold that for instance refers to a regulation or law, even if a reasonable professional in that field would easily know a (non lawyer) useful answer for the problem. I don't think these questions should be closed, but if elected I would be careful about overriding community opinion with a supervote. In the day-to-day, moderators are exception handlers after all.

In non-urgent cases I would resort to a meta post asking for reopening rather then forcing my view on the issue.

  1. 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?

When it comes to content-level disputes (fuzzy line close voting, delete voting, that kind of stuff) then community opinion holds. I believe moderators should use their super votes very sparingly for matters the community itself can deal with, and would act in line with that.

For disagreements with community consensus the (time consuming but proper) way is to argue my case on meta, not to use a super vote. There are exceptions to this, such as when the decision is substantially based on private or moderator only information, but for normal content level disputes that is rare.

Disagreements with fellow moderators is also a consensus thing. Working with other people in a team often requires to argue one's position, but also requires to accept being overruled sometimes. No single moderator should force their will upon the others, and disagreements within the moderator team should be handled by consensus, optionally a CM may be consulted in matters of policy.

  1. 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.

Comments are a rather poor tool for threaded discussion, and they're immediately visible underneath posts, so should be used for clarification, improvement requests or pointed critique mainly.

A site like this necessarily attracts a lot of (sometimes useful) discussion. I believe this is not fundamentally a bad thing, but that's where the "move to chat" functionality comes in. Right now, after moving to chat, additional discussion comments simply get deleted.

I would like a middle ground between that, namely posting an inline-link to the chat before deleting further extraneous discussion, to preserve the content of the comments. This is more work, but I think it's worth it.

  1. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges we are facing? How do you think we should address them?

Our top challenge is in my view the changes the network faces and our interactions with the company. For my view on how moderators factor into this, refer to my answer to question 1. As for users, it is now more important than ever to make our voices heard and to make sure our perspective doesn't get lost in the SO-centric focus of the company.

I think another big challenge we're facing is people who contrive questions to either hit HNQ or to save as entertainment material. While it's not really in the power of moderators to police how plausible someone's question is, except in excessively obvious cases, it is a big challenge to our credibility and usefulness as a collection of strong Q/A.

  1. 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?

I was already leaning heavily towards running before that post, and it didn't change anything in that regard. The activities outlined there are roughly what I expected.

  1. 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?

Somewhere in the middle between these. The ultimate purpose of the site is to assist and offer help and advice to people who need it. This can be most efficiently served by creating a database of common and useful questions and answers. The primary purpose is not specifically helping the OP, but that doesn't mean helping the OP is not important.

This site and its community excels at giving useful, actionable advice to people who need it, or more simply to gather valuable perspectives from a wide range of professionals, which people also benefit from.

  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?

That depends. Is the user actually doing disruptive things between the good answers, or simply a bit too harsh or abrasive for people's liking. Have they just made enemies who now take every opportunity to flag them?

Ultimately, being a good contributor does not make you exempt from the rules. That means if disruptive behavior persists and is a substantial issue, the normal course of disciplinary action (warning -> escalating suspensions) is appropriate.

However, often times disruptive behavior is only a symptom of friction an user experiences with the site, so understanding the why and how can be used to work with them on curbing the behavior. Ultimately, our purpose here is to help people and build a good Q/A database, so if a way can be found to retain an otherwise good contributor it is worth taking.

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

If the deletion / closure was substantially based on moderator-only information, I would raise it in the moderator chatroom and discuss there. If the mod team consensus is against me, then so be it and I won't pursue it further.

If not, I would open a meta question as the matter should really be left to the community to address. If consensus is against me and I'm not convinced, then again so be it.

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    "we need to ensure our concerns and needs are heard by the company" How will you ensure that, given you have no decision-making power in the company? If that's your primary motivation to be a moderator and you find out later that the company doesn't actually hear the concerns and needs of the community, will you remain motivated to continue serving as moderator? – Uchiha Madara Feb 23 at 13:11
  • @UchihaMadara It'ts not my primary motivation to want to be a mod, that'd be actual mod things. It's a very important one though. It's by my estimation the biggest and most important issue we face at the moment, and I have reason to believe that if there is a chance small communities can get their feedback heard, it will have to be done at least in part by moderators summarizing and amplifying it. I do not plan to resign or reduce activity if elected if that turns out not to be the case. Normal mod work is plenty motivating for me. – mag Feb 23 at 17:31
  • To clarify, it is my primary motivation to run , but not to want to serve. I think any of the current candidate could do a perfectly fine job with normal mod duties from what I know about them. – mag Feb 23 at 17:36
  • I am not sure this platform will allow for your voice to be any louder. From what I can see, SE does pay attention to the main META site. I don't have a direct line as a moderator to anyone at SE. – Neo Feb 24 at 19:34
  • @MisterPositive you have the moderator team (where new initiatives, changes and features are often posted ahead of time for feedback) and the moderator chatroom. – mag Feb 24 at 19:39
  • @Magisch That is true, but I don't think this will give you more of a voice than you already have. You are already pretty visible on META. You are right in that you could give feedback maybe a bit earlier than all, but I don't think that will make you "more heard". I am hoping if elected you will focus on TWP first, and all the other issues after that. Many moderators have already shared the same points from an SE perspective as you have. ( or would ) – Neo Feb 24 at 19:42
  • Not me, but these discussions are often where the first rounds of tests are done. Small sites will do well if they have a voice in these spaces. I'm still obviously primarily running to help things here, if I had to put on a number I'd see the job as 90% here and 10% misc stuff, but the 90% can be suitably fulfilled by any of the current candidates in my experience, and the new stuff is well, new, so I'm giving more weight to it in my questionnaire answers. – mag Feb 24 at 19:44
  • I'm planning to focus first and foremost on TWP. Even in spaces outside of TWP, I'm planning to relay and make known the concerns and needs of this community, not just my own. – mag Feb 24 at 19:45
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dwizum's answers to the candidate questions:

I've done my best to significantly edit my answers down to something readable in length, focusing on what I feel the key points are in each question - which anyone who is familiar with my typically-very-wordy answering style will realize was a big challenge for me! I look forward to interacting on topics of specific interest in comments.

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 than 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?

With this all in mind, my motivating factor is doing the best job possible of representing The Workplace when it comes to Stack Exchange Inc and/or the larger community. On the one hand, it's very frustrating to see so many people getting upset about the recent changes, and many prominent community members have become very upset and felt offended. That's something that moderators can hopefully help mend or avoid in the future, because moderators have their hands right in the dirt alongside the general membership. So, rather than focus on the hurt and disruption of recent events, I plan to remain optimistic about the potentially larger role moderators can play with respect to representing The Workplace. Over the last few months, as a user, I've done my best to follow posts in Meta and the Stack Exchange blogs about the past and upcoming changes. I've done my best to reflect thoughtfully on everything that's going on, and I've tried to internalize and process the various events as best I can, rather than just having a gut reaction. I would see my role as a moderator continuing in that direction: remain educated and aware, try my best to keep a finger on the pulse of the community, and look for opportunities to help.

In terms of my qualifications with respect to representing The Workplace to the larger Stack Exchange community, I think that's a type of role I would do well, and I have a track record of similar roles in my professional life. I've spent my career mostly in IT leadership positions, both in a consulting firm and in several different industries. At several points in my career, I've been on boards of directors, user communities, or other groups representing a larger community to a specific vendor or organization. At my last job, I helped form a user advisory committee to represent user needs to one of the largest software vendors in Healthcare. In my current role in the Finance industry, I'm in a similar position where I'm involved in representing community needs to our largest vendor. This track record has given me significant hands on experience balancing the kinds of things that come up in these roles - namely, helping different groups with sometimes-competing needs agree on priorities and develop plans that can be executed against.

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?

Personally, I have a simple rule: When in doubt, assume good intentions. I don't think it's productive or fair for moderators to put themselves in the position of trying to judge whether someone's intent is genuine or not. And, often, the best way to take the steam out of a controversial question is to support people who are willing and interested in providing direct, accurate, helpful answers. That's what I believe a moderator's role should be for these questions. Sometimes this may simply mean upvoting answers that are meaningful (instead of sensational). Other times it may mean using moderation tools to enforce site guidelines on the intent of comments or other user content.

On the other hand, if a question is so clearly "made up" that the general community feels it is not valuable, then the good news is, the community has tools to indicate that - asking questions in comments for clarification, downvoting, or voting to close as appropriate.

In summary, I believe that a moderator should facilitate the community's self-directed approach to controversial questions. If members get dragged into arguments or inflammatory behaviors, moderators should direct them back on topic.

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?

I do believe it's a problem. I did some SEDE queries a few weeks ago because this was concerning to me. I detailed the numbers in an answer here. We had 1,831 questions closed in 2019. I counted questions based on create date - we only had 4,149 questions asked in 2019. So we closed more than 44% of questions. To me, this means that either we are too aggressive with closing, or we don't go a good enough job of helping users understand what the close criteria are.

Of those 4,149 questions asked in 2019, 3,360 of them had at least one close vote. More than 80% of questions got a close vote.

Ultimately, whether I become a moderator or remain a user, I feel that's an unusually high close vote rate. I understand and fully support the idea of closing questions that must be closed, but I also believe that it's a very gray issue in The Workplace, compared to many more technically-focused sites in the Stack Exchange network. Almost all of our questions have some degree of off-topic aspect to them, whether it's opinion based or otherwise. Generally, I try to follow the same golden rule I mentioned above: when in doubt, assume good intentions. Rather than vote to close, I prefer to find the answerable aspect of a question and focus on that. Sometimes this means spending time editing the question, or asking for clarification in comments - which does take more effort than simply clicking the vote to close button, but hopefully the effort is worthwhile in terms of actually providing value to the end user who asked the question.

I believe we may need to take a multi-pronged approach to this issue, though. Besides just acting on single questions, I believe that moderators (as community representatives) can advocate with Stack Exchange for features or changes that will help the site's newer users find and understand the guidelines for how the site works. There's a trove of information in the help menus, but it's clear that it's not always helpful to new members, who may not even know it exists. There has been discussion in Meta and elsewhere over revamping the "ask a question" function specifically for new users, I'd love to participate in that as a moderator for The Workplace.

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?

Disagreements are inevitable. However, we have had a consistently high quality moderation team on The Workplace, and I believe that disagreements can be resolved when all involved parties have the site's best interests in mind. When in disagreement with another moderator, I would seek first to understand. Why do we disagree? Then, I would focus on finding the common ground. What general guidelines or site principles can we base a solution on? Ultimately, it's not my personal opinion that matters while wearing a moderator hat - it's the best interests of the site and the community. I'm happy to "disagree" respectfully, discuss disagreements, and work through problems, while putting my ego or my personal feelings aside.

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.

Based on information that current and past moderators have posted about their activities, it's clear that comment moderation is a significant portion of the job. I think the good news is, there are some pretty clear guidelines: comments exist to make questions and answers better. I believe they can be highly valuable when they stick to that principle. As such, users can comment as much as they want, as long as the comments are based on being helpful.

In practical terms, as a moderator, I don't expect that I would deliberately go out of my way to find comments to delete, but I would have no problem handling queues of flagged comments and deleting those that were not appropriate.

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

I think the biggest challenges we face are actually thoroughly covered in other questions here. I take that as a very positive sign - community members are aware of the issues we face, and interested in them. I've been in moderator or admin positions on other internet forums (dating back to the days when a 2400 baud modem was the norm) and I'm quite excited by the degree of engagement this community has, versus others where users just tend to leave or try their hardest to disrupt things. Instead, users on The Workplace seem focused on actually talking about issues.

Personally, I find that our close rate is too high, and I've covered my thoughts on planning to address that above. I also think we need to remain engaged in the larger Stack Exchange community - even when that engagement is disappointing. I don't find it effective to act out or disengage when things get tough. Instead, it drives me to engage more deeply. I truly believe that's the best way to handle any of our issues.

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?

That question was really fascinating to read through. I found it really informative and I am glad the current moderators took the time to answer there. It didn't really impact my decision to run, I was already planning on doing so. But it was enlightening to get a peek behind the scenes. Whether or not I am elected as a moderator, understanding how they work has given me a better perspective on how the site itself works, and has put me in a better position to interact with moderators and other users.

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?

I think it's all of the above, and more. The unique value that Stack Exchange brings in a sea of overwhelming internet forums and communities is the Question and Answer format. This structure allows a focus on actionable answers rather than just commentary or "me too" feedback. Ultimately, I believe that's the purpose of this site: To provide actionable help for people with career or workplace issues and challenges.

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 don't believe in "special" treatment in any form, really. If a user is providing valuable answers, that's really great. I'd upvote them as appropriate. But, if a user is getting into arguments in comments, the comments should be deleted and the user should be instructed on why that's happening. The fact that the same user might be providing the valuable answers and the inflammatory comments doesn't really change either scenario.

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

Per the above question on disagreements with another moderator, I would seek first to understand why the moderator took that action. Ultimately, I don't think it's appropriate for moderators to "overrule" each other or reverse each other's actions unless there is a really crystal clear issue - for instance, another moderator clicked a button by accident and then went on vacation).

That's it, please ask questions or let me know if anything isn't clear.

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motosubatsu's answers:

  1. 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?

I hope I largely addressed this in my nomination post - but to be more explicit my hoped-for goal as a moderator would be to represent the needs of the Workplace SE as best as I can to ensure we can keep on doing what we're here for; helping people navigate the world of work. Delivering good quality help to both people asking questions and those who have questions but can be helped by existing content.

  1. 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?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer - but taking each question case by case to ensure that it's still being productive. It's important to recognise that one person's "provocative topic" is another person's Tuesday, and vice-versa. Firm, even sometimes strident disagreement is not the same as the same as being offensive or abusive. We're all at least nominally adults here and I expect people to behave as such - insults and obviously antagonistic acts are just as immature as claiming that someone who merely disagrees with you is being mean.

  1. 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?

I've been outspoken on this before on meta and in chat - I do think that TWP can be too quick to close and too slow to reopen. As intended the "put a question on hold to resolve issues and re-open" mechanic isn't a bad one - but all too often people are eager to click on the link to vote to close and move on.

I also see all-too-frequent closures where it's plainly inappropriate - and has come from an inability to answer being translated into "I don't understand this question so it must be closed", particularly where the question is coming from a non-USA location. Or where the asker is trying to navigate around an issue relating to a policy or even a legal requirement and people go straight to the "Company specific/legal advice" closure reason, when often the policy question can be equated to many companies and situations regardless of the specific policy or legal aspects are entirely under something that competent HR people can provide information on.

As to what I would do about it? Well, there's isn't a magic wand that even moderators can wave to "fix" something like this entirely, what a mod can do is deal with specific instances and seek to slowly nudge behaviour in a desired direction by setting precedent.

What do I mean by this? Well in short if I think a perfectly suitable question is closed I'm going to re-open it. Because if good questions are left languishing in on-hold or closed then not only does that asker not get the help they came here for but we set a precedent that can and will be used to justify future closures of similar questions. The raison d'etre of this site is to help people navigate the workplace and I'd implore all users who have close/reopen voting privileges to remember that, if you're thinking of voting something as a duplicate for example take the time to read and digest the answers, check that they actually address the concern the new asker is having. Because if they don't you've basically just brushed them off.

  1. 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?

Hopefully we could handle any disagreements with civility and respect. Failing that.. dance off?

  1. 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.

Something in between, clearly they aren't completely harmless, humans have been using any and all forms of communication in hurtful ways since we first learned to communicate and it's not going to change any time soon. But that's what the flagging system is for, if chattiness is getting excessive or too far off topic then that's what moved to chat is for. Other than that though they aren't anything in particular to get worked up over.

  1. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges we are facing? How do you think we should address them?

In no particular order:

  • Trigger happy VTC -> see above for my thoughts on that.

  • US Software Dec centric mindset -> It's only natural that the majority of the userbase here (as with many SE sites) came here via SO. But this isn't a site exclusively for software devs in the US and their problems even if a lot of people assume it is and that mindset becomes self-perpetuating as we have a tendency to drive off users who aren't. I'm not saying I have an easy answer, but I do think it's a significant problem that the site needs to address if it wants to truly grow.

  • Bad-faith users -> I don't just mean trolls and spammers, if you aren't here genuinely to either seek or give help on Workplace issues you're a bad faith user IMO. You want to go on a power-trip? Go run your own site. You want to make people feel bad with your oh-so-cutting barbs? Go comment on YouTube.

  1. 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?

Actually it was reassuring - I had some concerns about whether I would have enough time for moderator duties but that question and answers eased that.

  1. 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?

Personally I say it's the latter - As I think my comments above show!

  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?

It would depend on why they were being flagged - providing quality answers doesn't get you off the hook for having to be a decent person. If you can't play nice you can't play at all. If the flags were more of, shall we say an abrasive personality that outright bad behavior I'd have a private discussion with the user and ask them to consider either moderating their tone or just taking it a bit easier and commenting less.

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

I'd have a discussion with them and find out why they did what they did. I may come to the same understanding or I may not but I don't think I'd outright reverse what they did unless it was something I felt extremely strongly about.

Dukeling's comment was something I felt I should address:

Would you take any steps to try to address the divide between people like yourself who think others are too quick to close and those, like myself, who close a lot of stuff and think others are too quick to reopen without considering whether a question really belongs here and how it could be improved? From your responses it seems you think people who are too quick to close are simply wrong and they just need to stop without seeming to consider that it's quite subjective and they may have equally valid and good (if not better) arguments for doing what they're doing.

There's a fair bit in my head to unpack here but I'll do my best! Over the last few years I've had quite a few conversations with people here regarding the balance between erring on closing and erring on remaining open and I've made no secret of the fact that I would prefer the balance to shift more to the open side.

While I don't know how helpful it is to think about in terms such as people being "right" or "wrong" per se as it is quite a subjective opinion-based thing but of course I think I have the "correct" opinion (if such a thing exists) because if I thought a different one was correct that would be my opinion instead. I suppose what I'm getting at with my response to the formal question above is that my opinion on this issue wouldn't change if I were elected - and if I saw questions closed that I genuinely believed should not have been I'd be re-opening them (and the same the other way).

Does this mean that the site would become some sort of anarchistic free-for-all where everything goes? Of course not - I've cast a grand total of 213 votes to re-open in the time I've had the appropriate privileges here, that's less than 7 a month. Since as mod I'd only cast such votes where felt sure (no borderline cases) I'd expect it to be even less than that if I wore a diamond. For comparison in the same time period I've cast 357 close votes!

Would you see questions re-opened that you would prefer remain closed? Possibly, but if there was a question a user felt particularly strongly should be closed then I'd listen - I'm often around in chat in most days, and there's meta.

I understand that for some users on the site, this isn't going to be a popular stance, but it is my stance and I'm not going to do the electorate the disservice of pretending otherwise and if it's a dealbreaker for them then I'm realistically not the candidate that they should be voting for.

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  • @JoeStrazzere I don't pretend to know all the needs of TWP - I think (hope) I've got a decent grasp of the main goal of the site and would do whatever I felt best towards furthering/continuing that goal. If there was specific issues that I was unsure of how the community felt then probably a meta post to try and get a steer would be appropriate. – motosubatsu Feb 18 at 13:15
  • Makes sense. Thanks! – Joe Strazzere Feb 18 at 13:17
  • @JoeStrazzere [cont] I would hope that were people to vote for me that they would be looking at my general history, and what I've said here and in my nomination post, and saying "yeah that flaming rubber duck might be a bit silly but the person seems to share my goals for the site" – motosubatsu Feb 18 at 13:17
  • How would you determine whether someone was acting in bad faith or not? Doesn't that require some insight into the person's motives? – Old_Lamplighter Feb 18 at 20:14
  • Would you take any steps to try to address the divide between people like yourself who think others are too quick to close and those, like myself, who close a lot of stuff and think others are too quick to reopen without considering whether a question really belongs here and how it could be improved? From your responses it seems you think people who are too quick to close are simply wrong and they just need to stop without seeming to consider that it's quite subjective and they may have equally valid and good (if not better) arguments for doing what they're doing. – Bernhard Barker Feb 19 at 14:50
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    @Dukeling I didn't feel I could do your comment justice within the constraints of comments so I've updated my answer to expand on this for you. – motosubatsu Feb 19 at 16:03
  • @motosubatsu Thanks. For what it's worth, for the more subjective cases, I don't consider my own opinion on what should and shouldn't be closed to be "right" / "correct" (or "wrong"), but rather it's a matter of what we're trying to build here, what SE's official stance is and how handling individual questions aligns with those goals. It's fine if different users are trying to build different things, as long as these goals are roughly compatible (but they don't currently seem to be all that compatible). – Bernhard Barker Feb 19 at 16:57
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    "Failing that.. dance off?" - Dance-off, bro, me and you. – V2Blast Feb 24 at 20:06
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    @V2Blast Oo-oh child, thing's are going to get easier – motosubatsu Feb 25 at 12:49

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