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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. Describe the current challenges specific to the PhysicsSE community.

  2. How much time do you expect you can commit to moderating the site? (A couple hours a month? Ten hours a week? Ten hours a day? Take a good guess) Also, do you anticipate any reason why that amount of time would significantly decrease in the future?

  3. Can you highlight some of your posts on Meta that have been received poorly, and describe what information you've gleaned as a result of those discussions/experiences. If you have no such poorly received questions, consider a case where your answer has a highly scored competing/contrary answer to your own.

  4. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments and chatroom messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. Do you feel like all the material you've posted on the site reflects that you would be a good moderator? Will becoming a moderator induces significant changes in what you do—and refrain from doing—on the site (outside the obvious addition of moderator duties)?

  5. 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?

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

  7. What are your thoughts about the homework policy?

  8. Do you have any Meta posts that you're particularly proud of, or that you feel best demonstrate your moderation style? (source) Alternatively, do you feel that you've contributed significantly towards some other aspect of site maintenance (e.g. reviews, flags, related/possible-duplicate comments)?

  9. What, if anything, would you do with a user who posts a steady stream of answers that derail questions to talk about their own personal theories, while not technically breaking any civility rules?

  10. Chat: How actively will you participate in chat (H Bar) moderation? Do you believe that it needs some more activity from Physics moderators?

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    $\begingroup$ To avoid having to comment on each answer, just, thanks to everyone who's stepping up and offering their time and services. $\endgroup$ – Nat Apr 29 at 4:54
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  1. Describe the current challenges specific to the PhysicsSE community.

I think the biggest challenge is sorting out what is and is not within the scope of the site. Physics is, in some sense, all encompassing and so we still don't always have clear lines for what is or is not on topic. Engineering, scientific computing, and math questions always seem to have a moving line on what works here, and I think it leads to inconsistent moderation and confusing policies for new users.

Ideally, whether a question on any topic stays open or not should not depend on which set of users happened to see it. There should be more consistency and clarity on where various lines should be drawn.

  1. How much time do you expect you can commit to moderating the site? (A couple hours a month? Ten hours a week? Ten hours a day? Take a good guess) Also, do you anticipate any reason why that amount of time would significantly decrease in the future?

I've been able to visit the site almost every day for many years (holy cow, it's been 7 years already!). My profile says I've visited 2386 days, which is 6.5 years out of the 7.5 years of total time. I pass most of my time while codes are compiling to poke around the site and other SE communities. A modest estimate would be an hour or two a day.

  1. Can you highlight some of your posts on Meta that have been received poorly, and describe what information you've gleaned as a result of those discussions/experiences. If you have no such poorly received questions, consider a case where your answer has a highly scored competing/contrary answer to your own.

Looking through my meta history, anything of substance has been moderately well-received. Although, part of that is because they evolved from conversations (chat, or other questions/answers) and so they tend to represent something that is a consensus among at least a few people who all agree.

I think the biggest thing learned/observed over the years is that many people are very passionate about the site and passionate about what they want to see done here. Sometimes that passion is a little too intense and it leads to problems. So it's important to remember that we all have the same general goals, but we might disagree on how to get there -- there is no one, singular, correct way to move forward and we need to build consensus where possible. And when we disagree, we still need to enforce the policies as they exist instead of going rogue.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments and chatroom messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. Do you feel like all the material you've posted on the site reflects that you would be a good moderator? Will becoming a moderator induces significant changes in what you do—and refrain from doing—on the site (outside the obvious addition of moderator duties)?

I used to be more openly opinionated and perhaps I don't need to be. It was uncommon that I would really get fired up back then, and now it's incredibly rare. I guess that's part of getting older.

My recent activity, aside from a few frustrated "Have you even tried to do this yourself" type comments has been benign. I don't anticipate getting too riled up or needing to worry about the extra weight of the diamond.

  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?

Generally speaking, we don't know how to solve N-body problems and it would require figuring out where the problem actually lies. I have seen instances of people being antagonistic and so maybe the user "generating" the flags isn't at fault and are being targeted. Or maybe the user is the one acting up and causing problems. It's hard to say what the correct path is for such a vague hypothetical, because each situation is different and may have it's own history or background of the people involved. That's where it is fantastic that we have a long-serving team who are likely well aware of any histories between people.

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

The first step is to talk to them. But realistically, it's okay to have diverging opinions on things. Understanding why somebody else feels an action is the correct one goes a long way, even if I don't agree. Ideally, a middle ground or clarity emerges.

  1. What are your thoughts about the homework policy?

Uggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

That about sums it up. We've had so many discussions/arguments/dust ups/whatever over the 7 years I've been here about this. We reached a middle-ground consensus that did not make anybody happy, but at least made sense and was clear where to draw the lines. All efforts to revise it have not gained any traction. I'm perfectly happy if somebody else comes up with a policy that works, but they need to understand the history and discussions for/against everything that was decided until this point. Because everything recently proposed has either been tried and failed, or was picked apart and rejected before.

  1. Do you have any Meta posts that you're particularly proud of, or that you feel best demonstrate your moderation style? (source) Alternatively, do you feel that you've contributed significantly towards some other aspect of site maintenance (e.g. reviews, flags, related/possible-duplicate comments)?

I think it's hard to point to any particular post. I will crib from my questionnaire in the 2016 Moderator Election answers and say that I have worked hard to address the challenge of designing scope (but have not fully succeeded, if success is even possible):

  1. What is engineering and what is experimental design?
  2. What is the fate of the engineering tag?
  3. Should we allow software questions? (take 3)
  4. Big list resource questions
  5. Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics
  6. It is on-topic to ask about computer software useful to do some particular task?
  7. Network science can be a branch of physics
  8. Adding computational science to the list of on-topic items in the Help Center
  9. Realistically, are atmospheric physics questions on topic and acceptable?
  10. Are questions about mathematics used in physics always off topic?
  11. Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics
  1. What, if anything, would you do with a user who posts a steady stream of answers that derail questions to talk about their own personal theories, while not technically breaking any civility rules?

Personal theories are not on topic, regardless of how politely they are stated. The way to handle it is the same as how to handle anybody who repeatedly breaks the rules -- point them to the applicable policies, give them some time to cool down and think it over, and wash-and-repeat until they get it.

  1. Chat: How actively will you participate in chat (H Bar) moderation? Do you believe that it needs some more activity from Physics moderators?

I used to be much more active in chat. But it became fairly toxic and I did not enjoy spending time in the room anymore. This was really due to a select few users.

My view on moderation, both in chat and elsewhere: This is a site for professionals and students, and so in addition to communicating physics knowledge, we should be communicating professional norms for behavior in professional environments. That means we should be able to discuss topics without resorting to insulting, demeaning behaviors. It means we should be comfortable with what we put on here being seen by a Human Resources department of our employer. If I were having a conversation in chat, it should be just like having a conversation on my workplace Slack/IRC/whatever. If something is said that HR would find unacceptable, then it should also be unacceptable here.

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    $\begingroup$ While participation in chat is in no way a requirement for a moderator, you might want to at least have the occasional look again (if you don't already do that) - I suspect it has changed quite a lot since you last were active there. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Apr 28 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind Certainly -- I'm not saying I won't ever go back. But I haven't been missing that side of the site as a lurking user, either. I do sometimes scroll through the transcripts to see who is around. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Apr 28 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Great answers. You have my vote, along with Chris. $\endgroup$ – Marc.2377 May 1 at 20:22
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Describe the current challenges specific to the PhysicsSE community.

Physics is a discipline with many reluctant students, and so we get a flood of low-quality homework questions, which take a significant amount of time to remove and end up diluting the quality of the front page.

There are also issues with marginally on-topic questions making it to HNQ and blatantly incorrect answers receiving a ton of votes there, but I suspect that's not really unique to PhysicsSE, but a problem for many sites network wide.

How much time do you expect you can commit to moderating the site? (A couple hours a month? Ten hours a week? Ten hours a day? Take a good guess) Also, do you anticipate any reason why that amount of time would significantly decrease in the future?

Probably a few hours a week for now. In the future, I may have more free time.

Can you highlight some of your posts on Meta that have been received poorly, and describe what information you've gleaned as a result of those discussions/experiences. If you have no such poorly received questions, consider a case where your answer has a highly scored competing/contrary answer to your own.

I only have a handful of questions and answers on Meta, but they've all been relatively well received.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments and chatroom messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. Do you feel like all the material you've posted on the site reflects that you would be a good moderator? Will becoming a moderator induces significant changes in what you do—and refrain from doing—on the site (outside the obvious addition of moderator duties)?

I feel that the material I've posted on the site is consistent with the idea that I could be an adequate moderator.

As close and reopen votes by moderators are binding, I would restrain myself more on close and especially reopen votes. I would also take special care to always leave a comment on any action I take.

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?

My first inclination is to warn them via PM/email and suspend them temporarily if the behavior doesn't improve. I would want to discuss this with the more experienced moderators, though.

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

Discuss it with the moderator, and possibly opening a question on meta to clarify how the community feels about it.

What are your thoughts about the homework policy?

The policy is fine as is. My impression is that most of the flood of homework questions come from people that didn't read the policy in the first place. Perhaps the small blurb in the "Ask Question" section needs to be more clear about what exactly is needed for a homework question to be on topic.

Do you have any Meta posts that you're particularly proud of, or that you feel best demonstrate your moderation style? (source) Alternatively, do you feel that you've contributed significantly towards some other aspect of site maintenance (e.g. reviews, flags, related/possible-duplicate comments)?

I've contributed significantly with reviews (5/6 Steward badges), flags (984 helpful flags), and edited posts (252).

What, if anything, would you do with a user who posts a steady stream of answers that derail questions to talk about their own personal theories, while not technically breaking any civility rules?

Remove the answers (assuming they go against the "only mainstream physics" rule), and PM/email the user with a warning.

Chat: How actively will you participate in chat (H Bar) moderation? Do you believe that it needs some more activity from Physics moderators?

I don't spend much time in chat, largely due to a lack of time. That might change next year, though.

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    $\begingroup$ There's nothing unsettling about any of these answers. +1 $\endgroup$ – John Duffield Apr 28 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ I broadly agree with @Chris' previous comment on homework. On the one hand, maybe you can expand a bit on the first question beyond homeworks. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Apr 28 at 15:14

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