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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 part of an ongoing test, we're doing the questionnaire at the same time as nominations are being run. Please do not respond to this question unless you already have submitted your nomination.

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. Oh, and 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.

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. 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)?

  2. As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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)?

  6. 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?

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

  8. 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?

  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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tpg2114's questionnaire answers:

(Side note -- thanks to ACuriousMind's post for being the first and setting a format)

  1. 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)?

I understand such users can, in mild cases, generate resentment about the way the system works, and in more serious cases, gain access to the tools awarded high-reputation users that may be inappropriately used and/or abused. The disparity between reputation for upvotes and downvotes is a question I have raised previously for discussion.

The discussion at the time resulted in something that I still believe is true: a majority of high reputation users are not doing it for the reputation. They are doing it to educate others and to share their passion. So while some users may be able to game the system by producing mixed content, it will be relatively few. And I feel it would take a long time before they earned a high enough reputation to really do frustrating, site-harming levels of damage.

Long before that point, I would expect such users to either get bored or to mature to the point that it is no longer a problem. I don't think moderator intervention is required until actual damage is done, at which point the StackExchange platform and policies allow easy reversal of the damage and tools to remedy the situation with the user in question.

  1. As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

On some level, I challenge the premise of the question. I don't see that the two are diametrically opposed -- I believe the two go hand-in-hand. Quality questions and answers come from returning users, and the site grows by providing quality questions and answers so that users do return.

So, in that frame of reference, my focus would be on the quality of the site. By providing a wealth of information on a wide-variety of topics in physics, people will be driven to the site. And those who return will bring questions (and hopefully answers) that challenge and engage the users already here.

All that said, the role of a moderator in this process is relatively limited. Ultimately, moderators are an insignificant percentage of the content generators/handlers for the site -- the users must be engaged in quality and growth. To that end, as a moderator, my priority is ensuring that quality is maintained in a form that is welcoming and encouraging to users who want to be active participants in the goals of the site. Contrary to many of the debates the site has had previously, quality and friendliness are not opposites; rudeness is not required to communicate one's point effectively. This is, of course, balanced by the limited content length in comments (this is not a forum, after all) and the impersonal nature of the internet that may lead one to feel things are more personal and rude than they actually are.

  1. 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?

Consensus is essential when there is uncertainty. Or at the very least, advice and guidance from those with more experience is essential.

Some actions create obvious situations where action must be taken. I can't enumerate a list here, but I will paraphrase US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (read about the case) and Lord-Justice Stuart-Smith (the so-called Elephant Test) -- I'll know it when I see it. Spam, derogatory and offensive language, threats, etc. are all obvious and require immediate action.

More subtle topics, particularly those involving returning users, require some discussion and consensus building. Particularly because it may be a one-off instance or it may be a repeat problem, something that a new moderator (or even an existing one) may not be aware of.

  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?

Simply put, as much as is needed. It would be hard to estimate how much time I actively spend on the site currently, I generally pop in and hang out for 10-15 minutes at a time, every few hours. As a result, it would be easy to catch things as they occur and deal with it accordingly. Naturally, more important or time consuming tasks can be completed as needed with very few scheduling constraints.

In the next several months, I will graduate. Given my current position in my research lab, virtually any job I take will be less time-consuming than what I am doing now. I may not be able to spare 10-15 minutes every few hours during the workday, but I will be able to dedicate longer stretches of time as needed.

  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)?

Obviously I am biased in my perception, but I feel that all of my material on the site has been constructive, and most importantly, something I stand behind. My activity on Meta has been focused on formulating policies and helping to define the role of the site. I haven't won every argument, but I feel that I have always been civil, level-headed and supported the results, even when I don't agree with them. I have also engaged in discussions with users who, at various times, have rubbed others the wrong way or been rubbed the wrong way themselves. In the cases I can recall participating, I have tried to remain objective and impersonal.

Rather than champion myself, I would encourage everybody to review my participation on the site (and for that matter, on the entire StackExchange network). I will happily discuss any content, past or present.

The biggest change in day-to-day activity is refraining from pulling the trigger on the close vote since it is now binding. As a regular user, I have no problem expressing my opinion about whether a question is off-topic -- a question takes 4 others to agree and if I'm wrong as a regular user, no harm. As a moderator, that luxury no longer exists. On the other hand, I don't see putting a question "on hold" as a death sentence or a condemnation of the user or the topic. It is a chance to improve the question in a way that is fair to those who will spend time answering (nobody likes writing an elaborate answer only to have the question change drastically).

  1. 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?

I feel this area, more than any others, is the best use of my skills as part of the moderation team. I have started several conversations directly regarding this area:

  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

as well as extensive participation in related areas (as well as the dreaded "homework" topic):

  1. Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics
  2. It is on-topic to ask about computer software useful to do some particular task?
  3. Network science can be a branch of physics
  4. Adding computational science to the list of on-topic items in the Help Center
  5. Realistically, are atmospheric physics questions on topic and acceptable?
  6. Are questions about mathematics used in physics always off topic?
  7. Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics

I firmly believe that we should not look at Physics.SE as isolated from the other sites in the StackExchange network. The entire network is like a library -- there is no reason to go to the physics shelf if I have a question about chemistry.

Gray areas are okay, provided the content is asking for an underlying explanation of the physics. My favorite punchline whenever this comes up is this: This is a site of physics, not physicists -- asking for a good apple pie recipe is not on-topic just because you are a physicist. Likewise, how to take derivatives are not on topic just because it came up in a mechanics class.

As a moderator, I would continue to bring up topics for discussion that may reside in these gray areas. I want to make sure the community can provide clarity for what it expects, and I enjoy leading those discussions.

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

There are two simple answers: first, I will become more effective because I will get access to the moderation tools immediately; second, many flags and interactions with users require moderators and are not available to high-rep users.

My reputation-earning participation on the site has always been in a small subset of the community, the questions. Because it is a small subset, it would be difficult to get from 10k to 20k and so I would be able to contribute more, immediately, as a moderator.

  1. 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?

This is a site for researchers of physics and students of physics. This is subtly different from physics students and physics researchers. I feel this site is best served by catering to those whom require and can share knowledge of the many areas of physics and not by catering to those who happen to be students in a physics class.

A business major desperately trying to pass a kinematics class is a physics student and not the target audience. But an engineering student who needs to understand why a bridge may collapse is welcome (provided the questions and answers are about the underlying physics) because such a person is a student of physics.

Likewise, we are not limited to physics researchers (those who research topics one would classically consider physics). A chemist who would like to understand the statistical mechanics underpinning of chemical reactions is welcome here.

Now, as a moderator, I don't see how my views directly influence my actions. The community decides the scope of the site and it may grow, shrink, or otherwise adapt over time. My position as moderator is to lead the discussions, help formulate the resulting policies, and help educate users in the enforcement of the policies. The community is self-policing and will enforce the standards set forth.

  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 takes a broad view of a users activity to understand whether there is a problem or not. We've all had bad days and so maybe the comments are out of character. It is also possible that, given the limited length of comments, that some things come across as rude/abrupt because they are succinct. This generally is the case when relatively new users feel slighted because they expect the site to behave like a traditional forum.

The nature of the flags must also be considered. No user, no matter how knowledgeable, no matter how much reputation, may be threatening, post spam, nor make extremely offensive statements. To a lesser extent, ad hominem attacks are not welcome either. Content should be criticized, not people. And even in the criticism of content, it doesn't need to be rude to communicate effectively.

All of that said, the approach would be to build up a good understanding regarding the track record of the user in question and try to determine the motivations. It may be temporary, it may be targeted (the users in question may have a history together), it may be an overly-sensitive person flagging, or it may be a legitimate problem. And in some cases, it could be a combination of all of the above. Once the problem is understood, it can be approached accordingly.

  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 open a dialogue. Just because I feel something shouldn't have happened, doesn't mean that I am correct. It also doesn't mean that I am impartial -- perhaps I feel something shouldn't have been closed, but the policies are quite clear that it should have been.

I don't think that moderators should create policy, but they do act as arbiters of policy and as a result, their actions may lead to policies expanding or contracting without it ever being formally written down. As this happens, it is important for other moderators (and especially for the users) to start a dialogue when they feel the actions have extended beyond the scope of the written policy. Maybe the result of the discussion is the actions should be formally written down because it is better for the site; perhaps the result is that the policy is clarified in an opposite direction of the actions taken. In either case, the role of the other moderators is to lead a discussion with the community.

This site is strong enough now that I would be hard pressed to imagine a truly egregious action would not be called to attention by regular users. And I hope that is the case -- the users are the ultimate resource of the site and the wishes of the community need to be respected. I would encourage users to discuss the rules and moderation of the site openly -- and most importantly -- in a civil and constructive fashion.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for challenging #2. I'm a heavy sec.SE member and can witness to the fact that there some 80% of the best questions there come from new and inexperienced users. This is because sec.SE is a field that is not well settled (policies change with new discoveries) and produce discussion. That is not very different from PSE, where new research places a new insight quite often. $\endgroup$ – grochmal Sep 27 '16 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ How we deal with these new user questions is by editing them ourselves, or, quite often, by a moderator stepping in and editing the question. All this does not mean that most questions by new users are good, they aren't, but we work towards getting them better (unless the question is completely unsalvageable). So yeah, my penny to this discussion is: You will not have good questions if you do not allow questions in, and then look after them. You have my vote. $\endgroup$ – grochmal Sep 27 '16 at 13:12
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Jim's questionnaire answers

  1. 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)?

That really depends on the specifics of the situation? Is the user trying their best? Are they a form of technically proficient troll? Is is simply a matter of poor use of language skills? It's difficult to judge at a glance. I'd probably have to go through several of their posts and try to establish a trend. Even then, the system itself allows for this to happen. Obviously, you need to keep an eye out for suspicious voting patterns. Make sure there is no sock-puppets. However, in the general case where it's purely innocent, there's not much that can be done. Perhaps I could encourage the user to consider what they write more carefully; properly format their posts; and possibly include references wherever possible. However, if they are getting enough upvotes to sustain a score in the thousands, then I'm not going to take negative action against them without them doing something directly against policy and regulations.

  1. As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

My highest priority would definitely be quality of questions and answers. In my opinion, our size is large enough to be sustainable for the long term. Furthermore, as a moderator, I feel that maintaining quality and standards is a necessary responsibility of the role. I could not sit idly by and let the quality of posts on this site slip all in the name of allowing it to grow larger.

  1. 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?

At first, I think I'd be generally unsure of actions. I'd probably ask more established mods for advice. Overall, I'd say I'm in the middle. For small tasks or things where the course of action seems fairly obvious, I'm likely to go ahead and take action. But when it comes to an action with significant ramifications or non-refundable results, I'd probably wait for consensus. I generally like to give everything proper consideration. I like to get all the facts I can before deciding, and I always try to ensure I've considered the perspective of whomever I can. Being a moderator is about being moderate; impartial; reasonably stand-off-ish. But when all is said and done, if an action must be taken, I'm the person that won't hesitate to take it, won't hesitate to admit when I'm wrong or don't know, and will ask for help or consensus when I need to.

  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'm usually not around on the weekends. I'm off and on most of the day otherwise and I can try to give a solid 1-3 hours at the beginning of my day (I'm on eastern time, fyi). It's not much, but that's all I can offer for sure. I can't imagine any reason why that should diminish in the future. I'll always have time at my computer first thing in the morning. In fact, it might increase in the future. Really depends how my life plays out.

  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)?

Yeah, I think I've been fairly impartial and diplomatic so far. The added responsibility means I'd probably be a bit more serious (dang it) and I'd probably stop complaining about users (all 3 times I think I've ever done that). But seeing as I usually end up telling people "This is nothing personal, this post is simply not a good fit for our site" or something like that, I'd say my tendencies are already fairly in-line with moderating. Although, I won't lie, I'm definitely going to joke around about my having a diamond on my name. So be forewarned, if you don't have a sense of humour and can't understand that me joking about my omnipotence doesn't actually mean I'd ever consider abusing power, then 1) you should probably avoid all contact with humans in the future and 2) be prepared to be offended.

  1. 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?

The question of our scope and topics is something that is user-defined. Therefore, it falls to the community to decide the appropriate scope for the site. What I believe is irrelevant. I can offer my opinion of what I think the scope should be on meta, but once decided, all I have to do is enforce it. If a question belongs in another discipline according to our community, I'll move it. If not, it stays. If there's a grey zone and I'm not sure what to do, I'll ask for input from others. It really isn't my call how the site should evolve. That's the community's choice. I would just moderate.

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

Tough to say. It'll certainly give my word more weight (which, as King of all Jims, says a lot). I suppose I'd also be able to do something about obvious sock-puppets more than simply following them or flagging for a mod. I'd also be able to read the new posts by new users to old questions and actually be able to get rid of the random garbage ones (like "PHYSX SUX!! LOLOLOL!!1!") rather than just flagging them. At the moment, however, I'm not entirely sure what all the moderator tools are yet. I have no doubt they'll improve my ability to moderate, much like how reaching 10k rep significantly improved that ability, I just don't know what way that will be yet.

  1. 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?

I think I adequately covered this question under #6. This even starts out the exact same way as #6. I'm not answering the same question twice.

This question has been marked as a duplicate by: Jim

  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?

Life isn't black and white. Things are complex. Stop asking me what I'd do in a situation without any specific details whatsoever. I have no idea how I would handle this yet. Is the person genuinely passionate about an obscure realm of physics? Are they trolling? All manner of details need to be discovered. If they produce valuable answers, then they're worth keeping around. Comments are transient and mostly don't matter. Remind them to be polite and civil and keep my actions within protocol. Consult the Jedi Moderator Council if I really can't decide what should be done but am sure that an action should be taken.

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

Take the other mod aside (likely to a private chat or something) and discuss with them why I think they were mistaken. You don't want to show mod in-fighting in front of our subjects. Hash it out with them, agree on what should be done, then do it. If we can't agree, then call in another mod for a tie-breaker. Or open it up to the community, depending on the situation. I'm not going to subvert the authority of other mods. I respect that they may have a perspective I lack and I'm not going to get into a war with them. Things can be handled with words. If I'm overruled, then I can accept that.

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    $\begingroup$ +1; May the Force be with you ;) $\endgroup$ – user36790 Sep 27 '16 at 14:10
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  1. 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)?

In the first place, I'd trust the community systems to sort things out. Physics.SE doesn't (so far) have issues with controversial high-vote, zero-score answers. Controversial answers in this community tend to instead attract more clearly-written answers from other users. So a string of low-quality contributions is, at best, an inefficient way to gain reputation. So to some extent I challenge the premise of the question: this doesn't really seem like an issue for a moderator.

The moderation issue arises if a moderate- or high-rep user who provides consistently low-quality contributions also annoys or drives away users who produce high-quality content. Then we have to have a conversation about what the people involved are trying to achieve and what sorts of behaviors can and can't be tolerated. But that's a conversation that can be had out in the open, at a relatively slow pace, and the first few times it happens I'll be able to draw on the experience of the rest of the moderation team.

  1. As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

Quality drives growth, not the other way around. There are attractive, high-quality questions and answers at all levels of expertise.

  1. 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?

I expect that I'll start off cautious and become more proactive as I grow into the role. For edge cases I'll take the (in)action that seems likely to cause the least damage if it's wrong. The most obvious cases where I might have a doubt and not want to wait for consensus would be if some sort of comment-thread discussion goes off the rails into argument territory; the right response is to move it to a chatroom and try to de-escalate.

  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 expect to contribute a half-hour to an hour most days.

  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'm proud of my contributions to this site in the past. I have made a point, when reviewing questions, to be welcoming and encouraging to new users and to encourage high-quality answers, especially from commenters. I see this role continuing whether I'm chose as a moderator or not.

  1. 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?

I tend to swing broader on this question than some other contributors do. There are plenty of questions asked here that have one foot in physics and another foot in biology or chemistry or engineering or information theory or some other interesting discipline that get closed as "not physics" but which could benefit from an insightful answer with a physicist's perspective. Currently I vote to keep these open when I see them in the close queue and vote to reopen them if I notice they've been closed. As a moderator I would want to be more cautious about unilaterally reopening these sorts of questions; I suppose I would work harder to find them better home elsewhere on the SE network, and reopen if this really is the best home.

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

See the previous paragraph for an example.

  1. 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?

I think we should be open to interesting questions at all levels. I don't vote to close questions because the answers are "obvious" or "trivial" to me, because they weren't always; I don't vote to close questions that are over my head.

  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?

I'd invite that user over to my house for dinner. At dinner, we'd have a conversation about what it means to be a part of a community. Probably we would both learn things. (Nota bene: if you'd like to come over for dinner, generating flags is less efficient than just bringing it up.)

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

I'd ask about it, and we'd have a conversation.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm flagging this post because you've never invited me over for dinner $\endgroup$ – Jim Oct 4 '16 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim When is good for you? $\endgroup$ – rob Oct 4 '16 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ lol, any time. The problem is the where is probably not good for me. Alas, that's the troubles we accept when using the internet $\endgroup$ – Jim Oct 4 '16 at 13:24
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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)?

Since it is not explicitly stated otherwise, I assume the user is not violating any current rules and thus, the question should be instead How would you deal with those that complain about this user?

On my view, this site is an experiment in community moderation. It's been interesting watching the site and myself evolve over the time that I've participated here. If I were a moderator, I would act to let the experiment continue with only the occasional intervention now and then when it's clear that genuine malice towards this experiment is involved.

As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

Growth, or lack thereof, would not be a priority at all. The quality of questions and answers flows directly from the quality of those that freely participate here and, as long as one behaves as an adult, one is free to participate here. I know that for some, this state of affairs just wont do. I do not share that view.

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?

If it is my judgment that immediate action is necessary, I will act in accord with my judgment based on the knowledge I have at the time and I'll be prepared to accept the consequences. If immediate action is unnecessary and I'm unsure of the proper action (including no action), I'll seek advice.

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?

No more than an hour a day on average.

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?

No.

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 don't know.

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?

If the question is interesting and has some relationship, even if small, to "physics", it's a good thing.

Do you generally feel that our scope should be broader or narrower than it is now?

Broader is fine with me.

How are your views on these topics likely to affect your actions as a moderator?

Very little if any at all.

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'm sorry if I misunderstand but this questions seems to be asking if I feel being a moderator will make me more effective as a moderator. I think I'll just move on...

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?

Even rank beginners can ask interesting questions and producing a quality answer that a beginner can understand is not trivial and often rewarding. The downvote button hover over includes "This question does not show any research effort" but does not include "This questions is not at a high enough level".

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 depends. Life is full of valuable people that just don't know how to play well with others and there is no one 'formula' that works in every case.

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

I don't recognize it as a situation requiring action. However, if I find that I often disagree with another mod's close/delete/etc. actions, I'll begin by asking what it is that I'm not seeing, i.e., help me understand what you see in these questions that make them, on your view, close worthy?

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ACuriousMind's questionnaire answers

  1. 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)?

While I am rather dismayed that it is possible that this happens, I don't think this is a problem that can or should be solved by moderator intervention - at least, not by using any of the additional privileges a moderator has. That this is possible is an inherent property of the SE engine and the weights it attaches to up- and downvotes. Of course, if significant support for the idea of raising the weight of downvotes was present in the community, it would perhaps fall to the moderators to present this position to the SE team - but then again, everyone can make such a feature request at the mother meta.

If the question intends to imply that maybe moderators should delete the answers of such users or suspend them, then I don't think that either can be justified. Also, deleting their wrong answers potentially leads to the users gaining more reputation, depending on what exactly the vote count on the wrong answer was, which doesn't solve the problem at all. Selectively deleting only the answers which contribute to their positive reputation would appear capricious and targeting a specific user instead of specific posts, which is generally inappropriate. Suspensions are only appropriate when an explicit rule was broken - and "posting wrong stuff" is annoying, but not in violation of any policy.

  1. As a moderator, what would be your highest priority between "Growth of the site" and "Quality of the questions and answers of the site"?

Quality. I do think the general voting behavior on this SE currently encourages questions that are much too lazy and ill-thought out. I wrote about this some time ago and although the numbers are of course off by now, I still stand by everything I've written there. However, I don't see how this priority of mine would be any more relevant as a moderator than it was as a high reputation user - the primary means of quality control is upvoting high-quality questions and downvoting low-quality questions, which is completely unaffected by moderatorship.

  1. 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?

I would certainly wait for consensus regarding suspensions, except in cases where one is immediately needed for the user to "cool off". I would also, at least at the beginning, wait for input before dismissing custom moderator flags, but perhaps not before validating them, if the case appears clear cut. I would not wait for consensus when reopening or closing a question, but I expect to be casting both reopen and close votes much less than I currently do since I don't want to overuse the unilateral character of these votes. I would also not wait for consensus before deleting obsolete, rude or irrelevant comments, since those are supposed to be ephemeral by design anyway.

  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 can guarantee a minimum of an hour per day for at least the next year. My time "spent" on the site is usually more, but I'm often doing other things while occasionally checking the site, so the actual time invested into the site is difficult to determine.

  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'm confident that 99% of what I have posted will not reflect badly, and that most of it reflects rather well. I can remember some stray comments and chat messages where I might have been less charitable than I should have been, but there is nothing that I would be ashamed of. The most significant change to my routine in the site would probably be that I don't do the "ordinary" review queues anymore, which I currently visit almost every day, and that I might be a bit more careful to distinguish site policy from my personal opinion when commenting.

  1. 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?

I think our scope is generally quite alright as it is. The very nature of these interdisciplinary questions is that it is difficult to make general policies that cover them - this is where community moderation has to shine, hashing out whether a given question is "just enough physics" or "not enough physics" by several close/reopen cycles if need be, or just by a bit of comment/chat/meta discussion about the specific question. As a moderator, I would refrain from casting my unilateral votes in any binding manner on those questions, i.e. I would only cast them as fifth votes. We don't elect moderators to make policy, after all.

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

It won't make me more effective. Moderators aren't supposed to be "more effective" versions of ordinary users, they're supposed to be trusted janitors who clean up the messes and do the behind-the-scenes work that's unsuitable for community moderation but nevertheless needs to be done to keep the site running smoothly. I love this site and I want to be part of the reason it's working. In the past, I've done so by participating in the review queues every day, which is something I strongly encourage every user with sufficient reputation to do. Now, I get the opportunity to do so in another role - if you want me to.

  1. 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?

I don't think there should be boundaries in terms of "level", and I don't think there currently are. There are good and bad questions at a layman's or high schooler's level, and there are good and bad questions at research level. I've seen plenty of all of those. What I expect from a question is a reasonable amount of research effort, and an attempt to communicate clearly the conceptual question the asker is having. I strongly dislike all stances that think questions have merit simply because of their level. Questions have merit because they are good, well-posed questions that can be answered with physical insight. Note, however, that just because you can write an amazing answer to a question that doesn't necessarily make the question itself any better.

In the case where I see a question closed merely because of its level, I would strongly consider unilaterally reopening it. We don't have a policy about "level", and I don't think we should have one.

  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?

Depends on what kinds of flag exactly this user generates. Generating a lot of "obsolete" flags is a good thing, since it indicates the user leaves a lot of comments leading to posts being improved, making the comment obsolete in the process. Generating a lot of "not constructive" or "too chatty" flags is worse, although it might just indicate a chatty user. I'd advise the user to use comments only for relevant communication and take longer reply chains to chat instead, but probably take no further action. On repeated offense, I'd be more quick to move the discussions to chat, but if everything's civil, I don't see a need for other actions.

Generating a lot of "rude/offensive" flags is a lot worse, and would probably warrant a suspension if warnings to be nicer do not succeed. As I said above, I would not impose a suspension without waiting for consensus from the rest of the moderators, unless the user is currently generating those flags and no end is in sight. In that case I would impose a short "cool off" suspension to de-escalate the immediate situation, and then consult the other moderators.

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

I'd first make sure I understand the reasons for which the other moderator took that action. If I still disagree with the result, I'd take the issue to meta. Moderators should not make policy on their own, so if two of us are in strong disagreement what to do with a certain question, this indicates that the community's larger position on that type of question is unclear or needs to be re-evaluated.

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    $\begingroup$ "this is where community moderation has to shine, hashing out whether a given question is 'just enough physics' or 'not enough physics' by several close/reopen cycles if need be" <-- I think this approach is strictly wrong. Close votes should only be used to implement policy, not to determine it. (That's what meta is for.) The reason for this is simple: who ever heard of a democratic system where a motion is passed if (votes in favour - votes against)%10 >= 5? The close vote system isn't intended as an implementation of democracy and is completely broken when used for that purpose. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Sep 27 '16 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover, I think an important part of a moderator's job is to step in and prevent people from trying to influence policy by abusing the community moderation system. If that happens the close/reopen votes should be removed, the post locked, and a discussion started on meta. I would not vote for a moderator who isn't willing to do that. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Sep 27 '16 at 4:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel Please note that I a) said that I don't believe making general policies covering interdisciplinary questions is possible, so we necessarily have to work on a case-by-case basis and b) explicitly offered comment/chat/meta discussion as an alternative to close/reopen cycles. However, I'm not going to lock any questions that sit on the boundaries of physics unless they additionally generate unpleasant or off-topic comments. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Sep 27 '16 at 12:08

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