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It’s very important to pick the right moderators for the future of this community. Here is a first (grouped) question I would like to ask. I strongly encourage other members to do the same.

  1. In introductions I've seen many different way of describing moderation. I’ve seen words like serving, leading, navigating, guiding, facilitating, etc. Those are very different way of moderating. Could you explain in more details your way of moderation and why it will be efficient here?

  2. Regarding general criteria the owner specified in https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/election, could you please provide some concrete example on how you proven to be:

    • patient and fair
    • led by example
    • shown respect to fellow community members in their actions
    • and words and open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

To summarize, please describe how your moderation style will help this community to prosper.

  • @bigown: I'm following Jeff's advice (see his post about that on meta), and I don't think nominees can answer that in a comment. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 20:10
  • @bigown: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/1019/… – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 20:19
  • Here's SU's version: meta.superuser.com/q/1950/1548 – Ivo Flipse Jan 22 '11 at 20:35
  • Interesting Ivo! I've more questions, but I wanted to see how it goes with these first. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 20:38
  • I must say I'm disappointed by the number of moderators running with a very hands-off, respectful, patient style. I'm thinking about running as a close 'em, delete 'em and ban 'em candidate to give people some real choice round here... This place started going down hill the minute we got users and that's what we need to sort out. ;-) – Jon Hopkins Jan 24 '11 at 14:12
  • BTW, @Pierre - disappointed that you've not put yourself forward yet. Unless I've missed it. – Jon Hopkins Jan 24 '11 at 14:13
  • @Jon: I agree. I was about to post a question yesterday about that particular fact. I also think we should be at least 4 or 5 moderators, just because of the time zone effect. – user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 14:34
  • @Jon: I act as a moderator already thanks to my 10k. The way that I see this community is at odds with the role of moderator as proposed. And the rules in place which do not completely agree with. – user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 14:39
  • @Pierre - Fair enough, though you'd have had my vote had you chosen to run. – Jon Hopkins Jan 24 '11 at 14:41
  • @Jon: I highly appreciate that, just like all your contributions here. – user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 14:51
9
  1. The way I see it is that a moderator has two conflicting requirements. The first is to be there in the background, giving advice and taking their lead from the community. The second is to be up front leading the way.

    How does this affect my moderating style?

    In the first case it means I try not to jump straight in closing, migrating or even deleting posts. If I see something I think doesn't fit I'll wait to see if the other members of the community agree - either by casting their own close votes or flagging the post. If I see these indicators then I'll step in and speed the process along.

    In the second case it means that I'm not afraid to take these actions sooner rather than later if the circumstances warrant it.

  2. Regarding your bullet points:

    • Fairness is difficult to achieve, but I do try to be consistent and my actions are guided by my interpretation of the guidelines.
    • Leading by example - I've been active on this site since the private beta and I participated in the early discussions on meta about the shape and direction of the site.
    • Showing respect - perhaps the one thing I could do better in this area is provide more commentary that explains my actions. However, I am always willing to explain my actions if questioned. I realise that questions are asked with the best of intentions.
    • If this site is to succeed it needs to keep it's focus. There's nothing to say that that focus can't shift and evolve over time, but until we have those discussions we must keep to the rules and guidelines as they are currently set out.
  • Thanks ChrisF, you have a strong advantage: you have been moderator for a while now. It's easy for you to prove you match the criterias :) – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 21:10
  • @Pierre - Which is why it's important I explain the thinking behind my actions. I hope they match up most of the time. – ChrisF Jan 22 '11 at 21:12
7

After a lot of discussion and changes throughout the past few months, Programmers.SE is currently on the right track and there's no reason to change how we approach the challenges the site will face in the future.

That is, I don't think moderators need to pledge anything to help Programmers.SE to prosper in the future: through the hard work of the community, Programmers.SE is prospering now. We as a community should continue to keep doing what we're doing to keep it that way, and it's the job of the moderator to help keep the community on the same path.

Like ChrisF, I have the advantage of having some history to elaborate on my nomination, and I think my record through moderation and participation on the meta discussion site speaks louder than describing moderation styles in the abstract.

If elected, I will continue to act as I have been as a moderator pro tempore and as an active member of the site since the first day of private beta. If my style of moderation and participation, as demonstrated through my actions, works for you, I encourage you to vote for me. If it doesn't, I encourage you to vote for someone else who's demonstrated the type of moderation style you'd like to see.

  • Thanks. Could you tell me a bit more about what you mean about being of the right track? – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 22:11
  • @Pierre Programmers.SE is better off than it was 3 months ago, and it's continuing to get better: in 3 months, given the same community and moderation focus, it'll be even better than it is today. – user8 Jan 22 '11 at 22:15
7

In introductions I've seen many different way of describing moderation. I’ve seen words like serving, leading, navigating, guiding, facilitating, etc. Those are very different way of moderating. Could you explain in more details your way of moderation and why it will be efficient here?

I view moderating as serving the community. What that means to me is being present to uphold existing standards of quality and environment. What it doesn't mean is always going with the popular opinion. I like where P.SE is now. We get many great questions and answers daily and I want to see it remain that way. It can be sometimes difficult to judge if a question fits well on P.SE due to the site's inherently subjective nature, but I do my best to keep the six guidelines and the FAQ in mind.

I used to run RPG games back in the day (anyone else here from the MUSH crowd?) and there it was all about coaching new players to greatness and making sure the experienced players had fun and stayed within the bounds of the rules. I see P.SE in a similar light. New users sometimes need a little help to get acquainted with how SE sites work, and old users want to have a place they enjoy coming back to.

Unlike other candidates, I don't have pre-existing SE moderation experience, but my plan is to continue what I've been doing up until now even without mod powers: leave comments on posts that can be improved, vote to close as needed, and upvote good questions and answers. I check the site several times daily and have a pretty good handle on which questions are new, which have been around a while, or which ones are likely duplicates of something we've seen before.

Regarding general criteria the owner specified in https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/election, could you please provide some concrete example on how you proven to be:

For concrete examples, I invite everybody to examine my answer and comment history. I believe it will paint a better picture of my communication style than I can describe here.

  • patient and fair
  • led by example

As ChrisF said, fairness can be difficult to achieve, but I too try to remain consistent. I'm always happy to explain the reasoning behind a decision or to accept that I've made the wrong call or had a wrong opinion.

I've been an active participant on the site over the last few months. I don't ask a lot of questions, but that's usually because most questions I come up with are something that's already been asked. I make use of answers and comments as appropriate. What my activity history won't show is the times when I've typed up an answer or a comment and then decided against posting it because I felt it might be too abrasive or pointless. I do a fair amount of thinking before posting, which I think is a good example to set.

  • shown respect to fellow community members in their actions and words

I've done my best to remain civil and diplomatic even with people I perceive to be intentionally pushing against the limits of the rules and constructive communication. I avoid sarcasm and strive to maintain a neutral and non-aggressive tone. Even when I disagree with someone (and most notably I have disagreed with a number of close reasons), I communicate that in a reasonable manner.

  • and open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

This one's hard for me to provide an example for, since I haven't yet been a moderator. I think the site is doing well enough right now that it doesn't need heavy moderating, but at the same time its subjective nature requires consistent moderating from people who can justify their decisions. I believe I can do that.

2

In introductions I've seen many different way of describing moderation. I’ve seen words like serving, leading, navigating, guiding, facilitating, etc. Those are very different way of moderating. Could you explain in more details your way of moderation and why it will be efficient here?

Moderating isn't about playing the middle, it's about bringing things to the middle as best as possible through community encouragement, judicious editing, and a flexible view of what the intention of the user is. There have been quite a few questions that with the collaborative editing power of the community have been excellent topics for discussion. Then I say discussion I mean answering.

When you look at the other extreme end of the spectrum you find questions that simple need to be handled swiftly and efficiently, whether it's off topic (technical SO questions chief among them), or not real questions (spam, advertising, etc). Closing for reasons of not constructive and too localized I view as too subjective to be handled by one person alone unless there is a strong precedent to lead with.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not always the most patient, but I do try to be as fair as possible.

I have tried to provide complete answers whenever possible. I do appreciate a certain terseness. I have left comments for the majority (if not all) of my downvotes in an attempt to promote better answers / questions. I have had a few controversial answers, but those a rare now.

0

Further to my post on the nomination page, I'd just add that my "moderation style" will be that of a teacher rather than a disciplinarian.

Moderators do have a difficult task given them — keep a site that is open to community-created content clean and in-line with the site's purpose; at the same time being civil, courteous and helpful.

Even users who have posted several questions and have significant reputation may end up posting questions that don't seem in line with established rules or guidelines.

  • This doesn't mean that those users wish to fill up the site with junk
  • It doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't aware of the guidelines
  • It doesn't even necessarily mean that they don't understand the guidelines.

They may just have a different view of them (I've been there myself). I believe this can be a learning experience for all involved. The question may be in fact in a gray area. Maybe situation doesn't fall neatly into any category of guidance. Very likely, there is a good question in there that just isn't worded in the most productive way.


The tools that moderators and even members have should be used very carefully. An experience I had just a few days ago illustrated this to me. I was closely watching a question that was interesting. A new answer was posted that I very much disagreed with. It was well written and a valid opinion, but to me, personally, it was philosophically wrong. So, I downvoted the question. However, I appreciated the perspective it added to the answers, because I felt like it brought up an angle that had not been addressed.

A few minutes later, I realized it had been deleted. The user had obviously thought that by getting a downvote so quickly, it was better off to just get rid of it.

I regretted having downvoted so quickly and wished I had let more members of the community read that opinion and see what they thought. I didn't consider the impact my downvote would have to the poster, and I think that I should have commented prior to downvoting so early.

I take this same view with the close-vote and the tools a moderator has. They are not just a mop and a broom (what Wikipedia administrators refer to their tools as). Here, I believe, we have a great responsibility to teach — ask questions first and early, give suggestions, help, etc., and clean up (vote to close/delete) if needed.


To address Pierre's point about being "firm" - I absolutely understand that no matter how nice or helpful a moderator has been, it doesn't mean that conflict will never arise. When it does, I don't believe a moderator is out of line to act authoritatively — I would simply be careful to make sure that I have exhausted my ability to be helpful prior to taking any action that could be viewed as unilateral.

In the end, I would simply be asking of my actions "is what I'm doing helping the community reach the potential it has?"

-1

My moderation style would be to give users time to edit their question before closing, never close based on the quality of the answers and consider the popularity of the question when deciding whether or not it truly requires moderator attention.

Here are some examples of helping a user on Meta to edit a question to get it reopened. This is how I would guide users to making changes to their questions rather than welcoming them with a closure.

This question should not have been closed.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/16618/what-will-be-considered-harmful-next

(or not)

Is my question that bad, or am I totally out of it?

And, in the interest of full disclosure, here's something that got me banned from programmers.SE for a day.

P.SE: User is creating bad tags for personal harassment

I add this to explain that I believe in retagging, the use meta-tags within the paradigm, and until the feature is deprecated using tags to filter out junk you don't want to see. Also, I am committed to I asking questions on meta before I go it alone and when I make a mistake, apologize.

  • 3
    You don't answer the question and I don't understand your answer – user2567 Jan 26 '11 at 19:32
  • @Pierre, I obviously don't have any moderator experience here, but I have on occasion helped users to craft better questions that have gotten the question reopened. I try to see the question within the question (or make one up) and give the question askers the benefit of the doubt. – Peter Turner Jan 26 '11 at 20:49

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