# 2016 Moderator Election Q&A - Question Collection

In connection with the moderator elections, 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.

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:

• During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, February 8th 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.

• At the end of the 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 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.

• How about only one question per post? – ghosts_in_the_code Feb 2 '16 at 16:32
• Looks like we won't have a lack of questions from the community to choose from. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:45

One of the main difficulty for moderators (as well as high-rep users) is to consistently respect the scope of the site. There have been quite some discussions about it here on meta. But I would like to know the views of the candidates on two critical elements of our scopes, namely

• individual actions/plot questions

How do the candidates view those questions. Can they specify their limits and own definition?

• I wanted to ask this very question, I feel like our scope might be slipping at the moment. – overactor Feb 2 '16 at 7:07
• Is it worth adding "what if" questions into the list of contentious areas? – Tim B Feb 5 '16 at 10:25

Short and simple:

Why do you want to be a moderator?

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?

One looking to the future:

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the Worldbuilding site at the moment and how should we approach those challenges?

• Heh. I was coming here to ask this. – Monica Cellio Feb 1 '16 at 23:15

I'll post one of Grace Note's secondary questions as a separate answer.

Right now, a lot of the candidates are really high-rep users. If elected moderator, how will you be more effective than as a 10k or 20k user?

The scope of the site is generally the result of a consensus. As a moderator, you are expected to participate and to lead that continuous definition.

How do you feel about enforcing definitions on which you do not necesarily agree?

• Fixed a few slips of key in this one. Nothing that changes the meaning. – user Feb 2 '16 at 8:33
• Yes, a phone on the OP table isn't the best for typo-free typing... :-) thanks. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 8:35

During what (UTC) times of day, and on what days, are you most likely to be active on the site?

Our site is an active one, and having moderators able to check in on the site around the clock allows keeping closer tabs on activity and handle problematic behavior quickly.

Instead of asking which time zone a candidate is in, this aims to establish the times of day and weekdays on which a person is likely to be on the site. This is not an obligation. However, having two or three moderators with similar schedules and one with a radically different schedule can easily place undue burden on the last one.

Give times and weekdays in UTC to allow for easy comparison between different candidates.

• This is an alternative to meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/2997/29 – user Feb 2 '16 at 8:47
• While I agree with you in principle, I think that the best suited moderators should be elected, not simply the ones who best cover any given 24 hr period. – AndreiROM Feb 5 '16 at 15:08
• @AndreiROM I absolutely agree with you that this should not be the only determining factor. However, when choosing between two similar candidates, this can be a swaying factor. (That said, the main reason why I posted this was because there was clear interest in a question like this being included and none having been proposed.) – user Feb 5 '16 at 15:55

What do you like most about the current moderation and want to preserve?

• I'd be so tempted to just answer. "Me" :D – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 9:23
• @TimB I'd want to preserve you, too. Do we have a cryostasis tag? ;) – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:47

What has your review queues activity been like so far? How do you expect this to change when a single vote from you results in immediate action on the post?

Having a diamond associated to your name isn't just a fancy gimmick; it effectively means that you are no longer participating as a "mere" high-reputation community member. Particularly in this case, it means all votes (except upvotes and downvotes, which work the same as without a diamond) are binding and take effect immediately. (Suggestions to allow moderators to make non-binding votes have been repeatedly shot down on Meta Stack Exchange.) You can close, reopen, delete, undelete, spam-flag, migrate, etc. posts with just a few clicks regardless of how the rest of the community feels about the post. You can lock posts such that they cannot be touched by community members. Explain the ways in which your review queue behavior might change (or remain the same) in light of these privileges.

Since it's come up on a couple of other elections, and because I think it sets a good precedent of openness:

Have you ever been suspended on Stack Exchange (a main site or in chat), and are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement for the purposes of confirming or correcting this?

• I might just be a bit dense, but I'm not sure what you mean with the "are you willing to release existing moderators from the moderator agreement" part of this question. Could you clarify that part? – user Feb 2 '16 at 10:52
• @MichaelKjörling Because of the moderator agreement, moderators can't release details of users' suspension histories - hence, unless the user explicitly releases mods from the agreement for that purpose, mods aren't allowed to say whether the candidate is being honest. – ArtOfCode Feb 2 '16 at 12:13
• Ah, now I see what you mean. It's more general, too; generally speaking, a moderator can't disclose anything that an ordinary user couldn't see themselves. Here is the moderator agreement, for those curious: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/legal/moderator-agreement – user Feb 2 '16 at 12:20
• Sorry for disagreeing with you. But based on what happened on the SFF election, I think that this question has a lot of potential to spark a lot of uneeded acrimony and flamewar, spoiling and degrading an otherwise healthy debate into a series of accusations and aggressions. I hope that we have a calm and peaceful election, but this question just invites people to attack each other and force people to incriminate themselfes. – Victor Stafusa Feb 3 '16 at 1:55
• Also, it is hard to objective answer that. Suppose that someone post a terse answer "Yes" (which technically answers the question, but not in the way that other people might expect). Then someone accuses the candidate of being dishonest. Also, suppose that a candidate was once suspended in some other site a long time ago and forget about that. The result would be a rain of unneeded accusations of being dishonest. – Victor Stafusa Feb 3 '16 at 1:58
• @VictorStafusa To be fair, if someone's been suspended, I want to know because it affects their suitability for moderator. – ArtOfCode Feb 3 '16 at 7:56
• Unless they learnt their lesson from the experience.... – Tim B Feb 3 '16 at 9:30
• @TimB well of course. See scifi... But unfortunately, that's not the majority of users. – ArtOfCode Feb 3 '16 at 9:31
• If this question stays (and I don't think it should), I think that it should at least tell the answerers what exactly they need to post in their answer and what they don't need to post. We have a very recent case that went very bad on this in SFF - when what was answered was not what some other people expected to be answered. People accused the candidate of being dishonest, but he just answered what the question asked him to answer. We don't need to have this type of problem again here. – Victor Stafusa Feb 3 '16 at 13:09
• @VictorStafusa There were other factors at play in the SFF election that aren't at play here. Namely, a lot of bad blood. – ArtOfCode Feb 3 '16 at 21:08
• @ArtOfCode I really hope so. But anyway, this question showed to be problematic, so I guess that it should be either fixed (by adding some details to avoid problems) or otherwise just discarded. – Victor Stafusa Feb 3 '16 at 21:15
• I value the openness and honesty requested by this question. I'm not on the SFF community, but if this went down badly once we need it to not happen again. @ArtOfCode, perhaps you could add something like "If so, please explain what you learned from this experience." Even if they felt their suspension was unjustified, then they could explain how they understand the seriousness of a mod's actions and will avoid causing that painful experience to someone else, or whatever. Also, it avoids the assumption of "you have been suspended you must be a horrible person" by asking for an explanation. – Jerenda Feb 8 '16 at 19:27

Are you active elsewhere on the Stack Exchange network? If so, where and in what ways?

Are you active in non-SE worldbuilding communities? If so, tell us more.

• I'm aware of this question but am offering a broader form of it. (The survey should not include both, so if the community favors the other one, please consider me to have withdrawn this one.) – Monica Cellio Feb 2 '16 at 0:05
• Im prefer this version of the question since it encompasses the other and the new stuff it brings to the table is relevant as well. – overactor Feb 2 '16 at 7:10
• Note that as the author of the other question, I agree that both shouldn't appear. So since people tend to favour that one, consider mine withdrawn. I still live it there for historical reasons. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 20:35

A typical question, worth considering

Do you have previous experience with moderation on the network?

Also, are you currently a moderator? Where?

One of the things I've found from moderation in the past is that it's relatively easier to moderate a very active community - it takes more time but the community as a whole but will recover easily from moderation mistakes - too harsh or too lenient. WB.SE is currently a flourishing community, but it may not always have such an abundance of good questions.

How would your moderation methods change during highly active and "Question drought" periods? How would you help the community recover from an inactive phase?

Well, this question is actually a series of closely related questions that would likely be answered together in a single block. Here it is:

Your profile shows that you had cast $A$ upvotes and $B$ downvotes. You had $C$ votes on questions and $D$ votes on answers.

• Is that the voting proportion that you think is ideal for you? If not, what it would be?

• What you consider when voting on a question or an answer either up or down?

• Also if you downvote someone, in which circumstances you would or wouldn't explain your downvote?

• Do you think that the way that you vote for questions and answers will change if you get elected? If yes, how?

Comment: In many of the questions here, all the candidates are likely to present very similar answers. So I forged this question to know more about the differences, unique behaviors and specific personality traits from our candidates.

Here's one you might hear at a job interview:

What are your weaknesses? In other words, are there any reasons people should not vote for you?

• Generally I think this is a bad interview question, which will also make it a bad moderator question. – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 8:52
• @TimB Maybe it is, although it might be important for people to be honest about their negative sides. – HDE 226868 Feb 2 '16 at 15:58
• Right, so we're having a bunch of people working too hard, and paying too much attention to details. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 20:38
• Just to clarify, it is a terrible interview questions because no one actually answers truthfully. And the best you could test is the imagination or preparation of the candidate. And as a candidate, hearing that question in an interview usually shows one of a few things: the interviewer is old fashioned, they are lacking imagination, they have no interest in you. Any is a bad image of the company. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 20:44
• I think it's a good question because, letting someone tell his/her weaknesses, by the answer it's possible to understand the honesty and the force of the will about it: the more the answer is open, honest and detalied, but says why they're not important, the better you can "judge". – Eithne Feb 3 '16 at 16:22

Have you ever been caught in a quarrel with another user? Or have you been asked to intervene in one as a Moderator? Assuming that this might happen, how do you manage this kind of situation?

• In the case of current SE moderators, this seems like it potentially borders on violating confidentiality. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:43
• @MichaelKjörling why? – Vincent Feb 2 '16 at 17:46
• Because such things are generally to be handled outside of what is visible to the community, most often via moderator private messages. The contents of mod messages is confidential, and it could easily be argued that even the fact that a moderator is communicating with a particular user is confidential. By the time a situation degenerates into a "quarrel", it's well overdue for taking somewhere other than publicly visible to everyone. Hence, the details on such a situation cannot be shared in public. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:54
• @MichaelKjörling I never said that it needed to explain a specific case. – Vincent Feb 2 '16 at 17:56
• Additionally, this has the problem that every situation is unique. So no two situations would be handled in exactly the same way. I think the only way this could possibly be made to actually work is to invent a hypothetical situation, describe that in excruciating detail, and ask how a candidate would handle it. Which would still be difficult because (a) details may be left out that would be relevant and (b) not everyone (and certainly not those with no previous SE mod experience) is familiar with all the available tools and their implications. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:57
• (The alternative seems to be so broad as to be basically useless for the purpose of judging a candidate...) – user Feb 2 '16 at 18:01

What do you want to change about the current moderation?

• This sounds a bit like a variation of meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/2993/29 – user Feb 2 '16 at 11:00
• This is the inverse of this question. I don't think it would be unreasonable to combine them into a single question, if folks wanted to do that. – Monica Cellio Feb 2 '16 at 17:16
• I, for one, prefer the other. I prefer to keep a positive view. In any case answering what we want to keep somehow gives an idea on what we consider to change. – clem steredenn Feb 4 '16 at 7:24
• Change can be positive. And there are too many aspects to enumerate all those that one wants to keep. The reverse is a little better: the things that you don't want to change are the ones that you want to keep. But I think that having both questions allows people to quickly name one or two answers to each. It lets us know what each candidate finds important. – Brythan Feb 4 '16 at 22:22

How much time do you expect moderation to take up in your day? Does this fit with your available free time?

And the slightly more personal addendum: Is there any life event in the next year that could adversely affect your ability to actively moderate? How do you plan on dealing with that?

I feel this is important to ask as I know how suddenly the amount of free time you have can change. 5 years ago I was a student who was online almost constantly. Then I started working and I was only online occasionally during the day and consistently in the evening. Then I had a child 18 months ago and I'd never have the time to moderate now!

I'm not asking for a detailed description of your personal life, just an "activity risk assessment" and a contingency plan should your ability to get online to the same level change. Obviously this is linked to the first question - if you only plan on doing 30 mins to 1hr or modding a day and can justify why this would be sufficient, then only having 30 mins a day won't be an issue!

How would you use the unique usage data that moderators can access to monitor and boost the site?

• Note that access to site analytics is a recently added, high-reputation privilege. In our case, it's currently at 5,000 rep. I don't know how much is accessible to diamond moderators that isn't accessible to high-rep users, though, because I don't have the required rep anywhere else to make a comparison. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:25
• I've got access to them on Stack Exchange. They are different but not very different, basically they get the same stats that Moderators do but don't have as much flexibility about how they are presented, date ranges, etc. And obviously they only have aggregate stats rather than any of the more specialist moderator tools. – Tim B Feb 3 '16 at 9:31

How frequently are you on Worldbuilding Stackexchange?

• Sounds like a couple of different questions. You might want to post some separately. – HDE 226868 Feb 2 '16 at 15:58
• I agree with @HDE226868; the fact that you are using a numbered list suggests that this should be multiple separate suggestions. Also, #1 is pretty well covered by meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/3007/29 -- I don't think we need more than one question that covers that close to the same ground. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:29

Do you have other major real-life commitments that would detract from your ability to moderate on Worldbuilding? (children, a 16 hr/day job, etc)

Do you have other major moderating commitments that would detract from your ability to moderate on Worldbuilding?

What would you do to help the new users to know and explore better the site?

I've noticed that sometimes is not really easy for a new user to know everything he/she should know about the site, especially if he/she doesn't speak really good English.

More of an information request but it involves a bit of opinion:

Also (for both non-moderators and moderators): Please point out three of the most interesting/debatable moderation examples (comments, discussions, actions taken) of a moderator (other than yourself).

A lot of us aren't going to sift through the many (interesting and important!) comments left over the year by each of the moderators, which means that we'll miss out on the less known mods and their work.

• This is a good question, but you should broaden it slightly to make it clear how all the non-moderators can answer. – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 8:54
• Kudos @Tim B. Added "other than yourself" for both mods and non-mods. – Nahshon paz Feb 2 '16 at 9:28
• Keep in mind that non-moderators can still take moderator action, through flagging, comments, meta posts etc. Might be worth asking about that instead? – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 9:46
• To be honest I've been thinking about this question and I've removed my upvote as it's very hard to answer even for a mod. Things like mod messages are private. A lot of the comments we make we later delete once they've been acted on, etc. I really like the idea behind the question which is to look at the history of moderation actions already taken but I'm not sure it works in its current form. – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 9:52
• @Tim B, from a mods perspective, you're right. From a non-mod, voter perspective, I have little to go on, being a relative newbie on the site. I guess I can skim the public comments on each of the moderator's pages or something, but to get a good picture, I'll need more time than what I got (and there's that thing that keeps grabbing my attention away, "real life", I think it's called). Or I could ask something like "point out your most [...] examples that are publicized"... What do you think? – Nahshon paz Feb 2 '16 at 10:42
• I think I see where you are going with this, but I'm still not at all sure it's a good question to ask in a moderator election Q&A. As a moderator, if you are uncertain, you are supposed to take no action -- simply because any action taken carries a lot of weight. Often in practice, what this means is that if you are uncertain, you discuss the matter with other moderators (either on the site, or cast a wider net and talk to other sites' moderators) and reach agreement before taking any action. Sometimes the appropriate thing to do after such discussion remains taking no action. – user Feb 2 '16 at 10:59
• Does this page help at all? elections.stackexchange.com/#worldbuilding.stackexchange – Tim B Feb 2 '16 at 16:20
• Sure @Tim B, I've looked over the stats and recent mods activities as much as I could. I still feel that we're missing something more concise, but I'm gonna stop bitching about it :-) Thanks. – Nahshon paz Feb 3 '16 at 7:56

When reading questions and answers, what are some patterns you notice in yourself?

E.g. things you like/dislike, things you find effective/ineffective, things you wish were done differently, things you hope to emulate, ....

• I'm honestly not really sure how this applies to moderation. – user Feb 2 '16 at 17:40

Probably not the most important question, but it might be interesting to spread the different mods.

In which timezone are you generally?

• Suggestion: asking when the candidate is (or expects to be) most active on the site might produce better information. If you have two people in the same timezone but one is active during the morning/day and the other not until after dinner and then into the wee hours, timezone didn't tell you what you needed to know. – Monica Cellio Feb 1 '16 at 23:17
• @MonicaCellio, you should consider writing a separate answer. you have 7 upvotes on your comment, and there are none on my answer. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 8:38
• meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/3007/29 // cc @MonicaCellio – user Feb 2 '16 at 8:45
• @bilbo_pingouin I commented so that if you agreed you could just edit your answer, but Michael has now posted the alternative so we're good now. :-) – Monica Cellio Feb 2 '16 at 14:16
• @MonicaCellio I think those are two different questions, but yours is actually more useful. – clem steredenn Feb 2 '16 at 14:39