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The following is a "digest" version of the 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @GraceNote or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

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18 Answers 18

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Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Do you feel like a representative percentage of the community participates in your site's meta? Based on that, how strongly do you think feedback presented on meta should factor into your decision making as a moderator?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: Meta participation is a bit low on the site, but we typically don't have a lot of issues that require the use of Meta

  • Vebjorn Ljosa Vebjorn Ljosa noted: We have scope issues (shopping questions, etc.) that we have not really resolved yet.

Steven Steven answered: I can't speak for other sites, but on DIY, most of the meta comes from a small percentage of users and is typically specific to question types; I haven't really seen too much regarding moderator feedback. That being said, because it is only a small percentange of well known users, I value their input very much so and would certainly take it into consideration!

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I think meta is very important but is mostly missed by daily users. As a moderator the meta is a very important way to make sure decisions are within the majority of agreement before doing anything drastic

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: The meta discussions must guide the moderators, as meta is likely to be populated by the most active core users from the community. One of the mod roles should be to try and increase participation on meta, but at the end of the day when a site is moving well, there may not be much need for a high level of meta activity.

  • Vebjorn Ljosa Vebjorn Ljosa noted: I don't think increasing meta activity is a goal in itself.

    Vebjorn Ljosa Vebjorn Ljosa added: Echoing Jeff Atwood, it is a sign of health when I site does not have the need for huge wars on Meta

BMitch BMitch answered: Since even I haven't spent enough time on meta, I don't think there's a good representative percentage there. For the most part, I believe we're easy going enough to handle a majority of the questions without much conflict or debate. But when that doesn't happen, it's important to follow up with the chat room, and get the question highlighted in the bulletin board.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: How much time do you expect to spend per day performing moderation duties? Or will it just be "as it comes," whenever you have the time or get in the mood?


BMitch BMitch answered: Whenever I see the icon light up in the tool bar, or as I see activity on questions that requires intervention. I probably refresh a dozen times per day.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: If I were chosen as a moderator I would spend more time. As it is I am busy during the day and only sign on during silent spots. But I still try and provide decent content.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: Currently my go-to times for most SE sites are between 0700 and 0930, lunchtime, and after 1900 (British time :-) )- or if I am commuting I do tend to sign in on my Android

Tester101 Tester101 answered: Since it sounds like moderation is a light duty job on DIY, I'd probably not spend much time on moderation tasks. But since I already spend way too much time on the site, dedicating time to moderation tasks (if there was an influx) would not be a problem.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: With a diamond after your name, everything you say and do on the site will be perceived in a different way. How do you plan to handle this, especially when having discussions about site policy and scope decisions?


Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I already accept this from my mod role on Sec.SE - it doesn't change my behaviour. I always want my behaviour on SE sites to be seen as positive and supportive.

Steven Steven answered: Well, I think there is an onus on moderators to really think twice before replying to ensure that their response is fair, reasonable and respectful of the OP. There is definitely an expectation of professionalism from moderators and this is especially true on the SE networks which IMO, are known for high quality content. It is my goal to maintain that view.

BMitch BMitch answered: When it comes to the binding votes, I'll hold back my decisions until there's community agreement for all but the most clear issues. For other topics, I'll make sure to point out what's my own opinion if I don't feel it represents the overall community.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I think that I will spend more time into investigating site rules and asking for advice before acting on behaviour that might be off topic or bordering on being to wide. As always I will keep on getting rid of spam content, flag inappropriate questions and always help new comers to the site- with edits, up votes and a welcoming comment

Tester101 Tester101 answered: I'll continue to do as I've always done, and base comments on what I think is best for the community.

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ChrisF ChrisF asked: What do you see as being the moderators role on a relatively small site like DIY?


Steven Steven answered: the same as it would on a large site :) To keep the content on-topic, appropriate, and guide users through the process of adhering to policies!

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: Helping the community. Thus far DIY hasn't had the trouble some of the larger sites have had with bad behaviour, so my assumption is that moderator activities will include helping the site grow, as well as clean-up, exception handling etc.

BMitch BMitch answered: Mostly helping new users stay within our format with comments, edits, and moving things around for users that don't have the rep to put it in the correct location (e.g. comments in the answer box).

Tester101 Tester101 answered: Increase site traffic, clean up content, help new users ask effective questions.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I would have figured trying to add link backs to DIY to other sites, such as my personal blogs, other forums that ranked higher than DIY.SE for specific questions.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: How would you handle a user who makes valuable content contributions, but causes significant disruptions to the site in other ways?


  • Steven Steven asked for clarification: Can you be more specific as to what you mean by disruptions?

    Grace Note Grace Note clarified: Ill demeanor in comments, starts being abusive in chat, gets extremely confrontational and contradictory... that sort of stuff

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: initially, use comments, or discussion in chat, then moving to editing their posts, and moving to suspensions if required. Have had to use this a couple of times on Sec.SE and had good success in changing the user's behaviour.

Tester101 Tester101 answered: Hell ban.

Tester101 Tester101 continued: Leave comments to the user, and try to encourage them to change their behaviour.

Steven Steven answered: Well I think you have to start by removing offending comments. Sometimes people are just too quick to hit "submit" and don't really think their postst through. IF it became a chronic problem, first step would be to address it directly with the user, and if still not resolved, would seek a ban or other suspension type (assuming these exist on SE)

ppumkin ppumkin answered: As it is impossible to contact a member directly to try and establish the problem that are being cause. A ban or some sort of flag would be inevitable.

BMitch BMitch answered: So far, we've been lucky to not have this issue, to the best of my knowledge. I believe in comments first, then edits, and if necessary, a temporary timeout.

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ChrisF ChrisF asked: Give the physical nature of the site's subject matter, what would you do if you saw someone posting potentially dangerous advice?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: The same thing I've always done, comment why it's dangerous, and down vote.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I'd want to check with others first - the community here is much more experienced than I, but if it was confirmed it was dangerous I would want to downvote and comment. If they had a high vote so were appearing at the top, I'd take guidance, but potentially delete to remove the answer.

Steven Steven answered: If it was "uber dangerous" I would remove it immediately before other people have time to see it and try it. But if its just poor advice then downvote as well as providing a comment with references to other questions/answers/information as to why this answer is incorrect and dangerous

ppumkin ppumkin answered: As this is DIY- any advice is potentially dangerous. When I feel that an answer or comment can lead to some sort of harm- it boils me up and I must place advice against it- or atleast provide a safer alterantive

BMitch BMitch answered: Comment and delete if it's clearly life threatening. Otherwise, I would comment with a description of why I feel it's dangerous and ask the user to consider editing or deleting.

  • ppumkin ppumkin remarked: I think dangerous should not be deleted.. because other users might not know that danger. It should be cleary marked as dangerous and adequate alternatives provided. In health and safety.. you learn what not to do..

    BMitch BMitch responded: So far, I've yet to see anything that would meet my criteria for deletion, but you make a great point.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: I have no problem guiding new users, and helping them understand how the site works. They are always worth the effort.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I am always patient, and willing to give almost everyone the chance. There may be a couple of exceptions (known SE network-wide :-) but even for those I'd rather comment in the first instance to try and guide them

Steven Steven answered: At first, assuming the questions were still relevant, I would at first edit the questions to remove the problematic areas and leave a comment as to why the edits were made - sometimes people just need a nudge in the right direction. As long as the questions were still relevant, and not illegal then I'd try to work with the user to improve the question quality. If they are just completely off (racist, demeaning, etc.) then I would only give it a couple tries to resolve then seek to ban.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: Many users are one time visitors that might return much later or refer a friend. On other SE sites there are users that abuse the forums and never contribute back. I think its best to try and make that users questions more constructive even if he himself is relucatant to the idea of SE. I do not think any bans are in order. Sometimes people ask good questions.. but could not be bothered to contribute back. A good question is worth 2 answers!

BMitch BMitch answered: I search for value in either the questions or answers from the user. When there's value to the community, I believe in working with the user until it's clear to me they are intentionally making things difficult. At that point, I would review with other moderators before taking any action against anyone.

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Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: When you see a question with major issues (poorly-written, argumentative, etc.), what tool do you reach for first?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: edit

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I reach for brain power, then google built in spell checker.

Steven Steven answered: First tool is my brain :) When I find such questions, I always try to see if I can figure out what is being asked at the root of the question. If it is clear I will edit the question to highlight the relevant parts and remove unnecessary info, especially if it is argumentative in nature. If I don't understand what the OP was asking then I will post a comment asking the OP to edit and clarify

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: edit - first tool, every time

BMitch BMitch answered: If I understand the question, then I frequently favor the edit button first to improve the question. If there's disagreement with my change, it can always be rolled back. I often comment to explain the reason for the edit. But any time it's not clear, I'll start with a comment to request more details.

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Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Is there anything about the way the site is currently run that you would like to change? If so, what would you try to change if you were to become a moderator, and why?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: Nothing site works great.

Steven Steven answered: you know, I think the DIY site is really a gem among the SE sites. It seems to run really really smoothly. All the mods are doing a great job! I hope if I win I can live up to them!

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I don't think so - the mods do an excellent job as it is. My goal is to support them as we grow, whether or not I become a mod here.

BMitch BMitch answered: I think the moderation here has been fantastic and my biggest hope is to take some of the load off of the existing moderators so they can focus more on the complicated issues, and enjoy some more free time.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I love the way SE runs- even though there are things that could need chaning.. implemeintgin those changes can be very difficult. I would seek guidance from meta users

  • Vebjorn Ljosa Vebjorn Ljosa asked: Any particular things that need changing that you would like to elaborate on?

    ppumkin ppumkin responded: At this stage. I cannot remember.. but there was something

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Moderating is a lot of work. Do you expect to be able to keep answering questions or will you spend all your time here moderating?


Tester101 Tester101 answered: There is always time to help users who have questions.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I expect to spend more time on the site as a moderator and definitely try and stay longer to resolve any problems that have been spotted

Steven Steven answered: I think if the site gets to the point that time spent on moderation exceeds everything else then there is a larger root problem that needs to be addressed - so I really do hope I can continue to answer lots of questions!

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I would hope to spend a bit more time here, but that would all be moderation. My answers are only on things I tend to know well, and like I said, there are many here with greater DIY knowledge than I so my questions and answers probably won't suffer at all.

BMitch BMitch answered: I have a fair bit of free time these days, and most of that is working from home. So I expect to be able to handle the additional workload without reducing how many answers I give. I personally spend more time reviewing other people's answers than I do providing my own anyway, since there's always something one can learn.

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ppumkin ppumkin asked: How do you feel about doing all this hard work for this site as a Moderator, while the larger entity benefits financially on traffic based revenue?


Steven Steven answered: That's life in the real world, isn't it?

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I spend time working as a mod already for no financial gain (if you exclude a couple of excellent t-shirts:-) - my take on it is threefold: 1) I spend a lot of time as a mentor anyway so this doesn't change my day, 2) it is good public recognition, and 3) I kind of believe in karma - I enjoy helping others as they have helped me

BMitch BMitch answered: Wait, someone's making money one this? :) I don't mind SE making money since I have received much more value than I could ever give back, mostly from SO, but also from all the tips and tricks I've learned on DIY.

Tester101 Tester101 answered: No problem working hard while others profit. Been doing it all my life.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Two highly respected members of the community get in a comment war on a question. They both flag each other's comments and are cussing and it is clear that this is beyond a heated argument. What do you do, what don't you do?


Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: Delete the cussing and suggest they initially go to chat. If that doesn't work straight away, if they are respected they should know better, so the threat of a suspension would be the next step, closely followed by an actual short suspension if they don't immediately sort themselves out.

Steven Steven answered: Remove all of the comments and temporarily lock the question until it cools off. Send them both a message asking them to respect eachother and the community and to not tarnish they well respective status with a comment war. I would not get involved in the comment war nor make threats like "your account will be suspended"

ppumkin ppumkin answered: Across several forums I have not seen this. But if it were to elevate to such a situation it is pretty clear there is a personal dis like between the moderators; It has to be as moderators should set the example of keeping things clean and help each other out. Possibly suggest they start a meta question..

BMitch BMitch answered: Ask them to take a breather, move it to a chat room, and voluntarily delete their comments. Otherwise, give them a short timeout and delete the comments myself if other mods agree.

BMitch BMitch continued: And also point out that they are talking to another living person, even if they are on the other side of the computer screen.

Tester101 Tester101 answered: Delete all inappropriate comments, and warn the users that if they cannot be respectful to the community they will be put on timeout until they can behave.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: You strongly disagree with an action taken by a fellow moderator. How do you proceed?


ppumkin ppumkin answered: As a fellow moderator try and communicate in the meta forum. I would not delete anything just because I disagree with it - I would most likely leave my own opinion on the subject after a few days of unresponsiveness

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: If it can't be resolved by a quick discussion with that mod in meta, I'd usually ask for guidance from the wider mod community over on TL.

BMitch BMitch answered: Take it to the moderator chat area or meta depending on how sensitive it is.

BMitch BMitch continued: Or if I mildly disagree with @ChrisF's UK spell check, I'll revert it back to the US spelling and leave a comment. :)

Tester101 Tester101 answered: I'd probably start a private chat with the mod. If we could not come to an agreement in private, I would post a question on Meta to see how the community feels about the situation.

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BMitch BMitch asked: What is your preferred screw type?


Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: Badum tschsshshshs - I mean, flat head, obviously :-)

BMitch BMitch answered: The correct answer is a framing nail gun :)

Tester101 Tester101 answered: Torx.

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ppumkin ppumkin asked: How well do you handle being down voted?


BMitch BMitch answered: With a reason, I handle it as a learning experience. Without a reason, I handle it with confusion.

ppumkin ppumkin answered: I handle it the same way as giving out down votes. Not very well and hope for it to be as little as possible.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: Very well - I tend to look at why - to see if there was an improvement needed, and if I can, I do. So far, I think my main downvotes have been from not spotting a duplicate before I ask my question - which just shows I should put more effort into the search function :-) I don't take it personally though.

Tester101 Tester101 answered: If there is no explanation, I would post a comment asking what was not correct in the post. Once I had an explanation, I would make corrections to the post. The number one goal of all questions, answers, and sometimes comments is to provide the most accurate information possible.

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Niall C. http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c310c0454f3734954e59094072c3ddad?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Niall C. asked: With one exception, the candidates have no prior experience of moderatorship and little involvement on meta.SO. How do you plan to learn the ropes?


BMitch http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/b6975c494d3d9c404dd3d7af2edf3133?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG BMitch answered: To start with, I'll use the cheat sheet, which should be required reading for anyone that's elected: Moderator Cheat Sheet

ppumkin http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/2cc90cec13a0801926f6ea3396f22d17?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG ppumkin answered: It definitely means Ill be asking more questions to existing moderators.. but first I will be clicking on that cheat sheet just posted.

Rory Alsop http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/af1ed0816ed5a2164a4e343ad09309ad?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Rory Alsop answered: The cheat sheet is useful for all moderators, not just those new to the role. Meta and the Teacher's Lounge are very useful resources as well.

Tester101 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/0038a597da931baa88ec1dcbdc504a87?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Tester101 answered: Meta and chat are how I learn about any feature of the site, so those would still be my go to tools.

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Vebjorn Ljosa Vebjorn Ljosa asked: As a follow-up to the previous question, do any of the candidate have experience moderating other forms of online communities, such as public mailing lists?


ppumkin ppumkin answered: Yes during the years I have moderated various sites, mailing lists, forums blogs and other publicly and private bulletins.

BMitch BMitch answered: I'm on my HOA board, which means keeping a lot of differing opinions happy. I've also organized teams at my local Habitat for Humanity chapter, which is a lot like herding cats in a mine field. For the Habitat group, I've setup their internal mailing list and help with adds/removes.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: A little bit outside SE - blogs and mailing lists mostly, but my core experience is from the last year and a half as a mod for SE. I also lead two professional communities in Scotland (ISACA and IISP) - but most of my effort for them is offline, managing events, membership, budgets, governance etc.

Tester101 Tester101 answered: I've done a little work with the Blog, Does that count?

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: As we approach the end, closing thoughts from candidates?


ppumkin ppumkin answered: It has been very pleasant to chat with fellow users and learn more about your views. I have been as honest as possible and hope all the best for everybody. Thank you for your time @GraceNote

BMitch BMitch answered: Vote early, vote often, and thanks for participating since this is community is for the users.

Rory Alsop Rory Alsop answered: I would be delighted to join the mod ranks here, but if not, I'll support whoever does get voted in. Let's keep the site a success.

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