2016 Moderator Election Q&A - Question Collection

Physics is scheduled for an election starting next week, September 26th. In connection with that election, we will be hosting a Q&A here for 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.

This is similar to how we performed the Town Hall Chat in the past, but instead of being a real-time chat system, it's a two-stage Q&A done through Meta.

Here's how it'll work:

• Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, September 26th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

• We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

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

• Please use link syntax using the [](URL) syntax instead of the syntax which puts the URLs at the bottom of the post - it will make creating the resulting questionnaire significantly easier if you do so. Placing raw URLs is fine as well.

• At the end of the collection 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 (up to) 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.

Normally, this process is started at the beginning of the nomination phase for the election. We're trying an experiment where we push the two sessions of this back one week - question collection beginning a week before the actual election, and then the questionnaire opening when nominations begin.

On the one hand, this will mean that the nomination phase will not exist for users to get information about candidates in order to formulate questions. On the other hand, this will allow candidates to have a fixed set of questions ready by the time they start writing up their nominations, and give them time to have their responses up before any actual voting begins.

If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

References

How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of answers with mixed or negative scores, but still manages to get thousands of rep (because upvotes count much more than downvotes)?

Q.What would be your highest priority between these options as a moderator?

-Growth of the site

-Quality of the questions and answers

For some moderator actions, the current mods wait for a consensus from the whole group before taking the action. We have varying preferences about when to do this and when to just take action directly without checking with others. Which mod actions would you wait for consensus on, and which ones would you just do without checking? If you're not sure about a certain action, are you more likely to be conservative and wait for consensus, or be proactive and just do it?

A somewhat obvious question that should be asked is:

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 think its important that we can rely on the moderator we choose to be there and actually moderate. Obviously, I'm not looking to vote someone in if they'll be absent long periods of time or if they'll only be online an hour a week or something. A permanent position means I expect the elected mod to live up to the responsibilities and be around for the long haul. If you don't think you can put the time into it, you shouldn't be running.

This is a modified version of a question from the "standard questions" answer by Grace Note: It is one of the optional questions. I'm putting it in a separate answer because it will otherwise probably not be selected, while I think it's a very good question.

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)?

Where do you think the boundaries of our scope should lie, in terms of level? That is, do you see this as primarily a site for physics students, or for physics researchers, or both equally? How is your stance on this likely to affect your actions as a moderator?

Where do you think the boundaries of our scope should lie, in terms of topic? In other words, where do you draw the line between "physics" and other topics, and how do you feel about questions that lie in the various grey areas between physics and other disciplines? Do you generally feel that our scope should be broader or narrower than it is now? How are your views on these topics likely to affect your actions as 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?

I've taken this question from the "standard questions" answer by Grace Note: It is one of the optional questions. I'm putting it in a separate answer because it will otherwise probably not be selected, while I think it's a very good question.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Not everyone agrees with every policy on Physics; there's always some disagreement. Do you think that, as a moderator, you'll be able to enforce, if necessary, a policy or section of policy you disagree with? Will you put your own interests aside for the community?

N.B. I don't have any particular policy, issue, or user in mind here, and I'm not aware of this ever being an issue on Physics Stack Exchange, but it could happen in the future, and I'd bet it's happened elsewhere on Stack Exchange.

• This is certainly not a purely hypothetical in the sense that I have never really like our Books and resource recommendation policies, but they are clearly the consensus of the users. I deal with it by mostly leaving moderation decision on those policies to others because I'm not sure that I get the distinction the supports of the policies are making. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 22 '16 at 21:26

Effective communication in the physical sciences, technology, and education relies on extensive internationally standardized terminology, nomenclature, quantities, units, symbols, and typography.

How seriously do you take conformity with these requirements with regard to this site? If applicable, what do you consider to be the roles of the moderators or other users in achieving conformity with the requirements?

What is your open/close/reopen/leave closed vote statistic?

Continuing the same proportion as a mod, what effect will it have to the site, and particularly to its growth?

• Unless I'm mistaken, the first part of this question is not actually easily available data (the total number of review tasks is, but the distinction by review decision is not). It could probably be recovered with an appropriate query from the Data Explorer. The second question is unclear to me: "Continuing the same proportion as a mod" seems to imply that the newly elected moderators will continue to review close and reopen queue elements like normal users, which they usually don't (out of the four current mods, only Qmechanic occasionally contributes the final decision on some reviews). – ACuriousMind Sep 23 '16 at 20:28
• How is that statistic useful at all? How does it inform us about the kinds of questions the candidates would be likely to close or reopen? (This is in addition to ACM's technical comments - that statistic is very hard to measure on the site, and the SEDE data is public; 'continuing the same proportion' makes very little sense as we expect candidates' behaviour to change when their votes are binding.) – Emilio Pisanty Sep 23 '16 at 22:11
• @EmilioPisanty Because a continously destructive voting history may be considered as a red flag in the eyes of the voters, thus it is a possibility to filter out the incompetent mods in the future. Probably some other voters will think this as an advantage. The SEDE is a good idea, I will use it. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 23 '16 at 23:23
• Well said peter. IMHO there's too many good questions getting closed by the same old names. – John Duffield Sep 25 '16 at 12:27
• @JohnDuffield Please take part regularly in close/reopen reviews, you have daily 24 vtc/reopen votes, if you want a better PSE, you shouldn't waste them. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '16 at 12:37
• I just did. Every time I come onto the site I go through the review queues. – John Duffield Sep 25 '16 at 12:39
• @JohnDuffield Good! There are around 4-6 regular destructors, if we would be 2 more, it will have a visible effect. And what is quite funny is... we would have them, I know them, but they've leaved the site... :-( – peterh - Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '16 at 12:41
• See . . . how is voting to close destructive? Obviously, there are people here who feel that almost every question should be left open, no matter what policy it violates, and that anyone who decides to enforce site policy is guilty of collusion to drive people away. This is blatantly not the case. Not every question is good, not every question is up to the standards of Physics Stack Exchange, and I guarantee you, the absences or recent exits are not because of what you believe is destructive behavior. – HDE 226868 Sep 25 '16 at 16:32
• On a different note, having talked to mods across Stack Exchange, it's clear that most of us have one thing in common: No matter how much or how little we voted to close or reopen while regular users, we do the same things much less often. Very, very few mods want to close unilaterally, even those who were once prolific close voters. Just because User X may vote to close a lot now doesn't at all mean he or she would vote to close nearly as much in the future. – HDE 226868 Sep 25 '16 at 16:32