Sometimes, a new user doesn't understand how the site works. They will ask questions that are off-topic, they ask for product recommendations, their posts don't have enough information to be answerable, etc. They will keep asking questions, not stopping to ask why their posts were closed, and will quickly accumulate multiple closed questions. Assuming the close reasons are accurate (the questions should be closed), how would you handle a new user that asks several questions that get closed in quick succession?
Take one of their questions and walk them through bringing it up to the standard. Perhaps, do some of the editing myself. However, this would have the desired effect only if the person is diligent, and his only shortcoming is that he hasn’t wrapped their head around how the site works.
As a moderator you'll be able to instantly re-open any question put on hold by the community, when would you feel that was appropriate? Can you think of any circumstances where it may actually harm the person asking the question rather than help them?
If the question has been edited and improved by the original poster or by community, and the reasons for which it was closed are no more, then I could make sense to fast-track the reopening of the question.
According to the FAQ Arduino is explicitly on topic on EE.SE. But there is also Arduino.SE in Beta. What characteristics in a question on EE.SE would make you decide to migrate an Arduino related question, leave it on EE.SE, or close it? What is your view on migrating questions to "competing" stacks? The above question specifically mentions Arduino because it is explicitly mentioned in the EE.SE FAQ, but a somewhat similar challenge goes for Raspberry PI for which many questions are on topic on EE.SE. Some programming questions are a good fit for SO.EE, similar issue.
I'm glad that @jippie, who wrote this question has put "competing" in quotes. They are overlapping, not actually competing. Here’s my short list of stacks which overlap with EE.SE (in alphabetical order):
Not quite overlapping, but worth mentioning. EE.SE trades questions with these stacks continually and uneventfully:
- DIY.SE (home improvement stack)
- Mechanics.SE (motor vehicle maintenance stack). Public beta.
For this Q&A, I’ll limit the scope to Ardiono.SE and StackOverflow.
The common theme is: Make the situation such that the qualities of EE.SE don’t suffer, the O.P. gets a good answer.
Arduino.SE had a thorny path to public beta, but the 6th attempt made it to public beta, which is doing fairly well [knock on wood]. What could be behind such persistence?
Arduino uses its own dedicated hardware and software, and has its own hardware standards. A lot of seasoned people on EE.SE are not familiar with Arduino standards. The statement “I’m using Arduino model B with shield C and library D” would require a lot of looking up from somebody who is not into Arduino stuff. On the other hand, somebody who is into Arduino would have an idea of what that is about, because he’s familiar with the Arduino field. This is even more prominent, when it comes to reading Arduino code.
Case in point. This Arduino question didn't get any traction on StackOverflow. Pretty much the same question by the same user on Arduino.SE got a +2 and 3 answers (also with upvotes).
We get Arduino questions that deal with issues that are endemic to Arduino ecosystem, such as: problems with Arduino IDE, coding for Arduino, compatibility of Arduino hardware. I've dubbed such questions as “too Arduino and not enough EE”. This is where Arduino.SE's built-in familiarity with Arduino ecosystem benefits all.
We get other questions, which are tagged arduino, because the O.P. happens to be using Arduino. But the question is about electronics design. The word “Arduino” can be mentally replaced with “microcontroller”, and the question would still work. Case in point.
Finally, Arduino consumers should be aware of the Arduino.SE existence.
Sometimes purely software coding questions are posted to EE.SE. For example, somebody asking about how to set up a
for loop in ANSI C to iterate through an array which is declared in RAM. While they are running it on a μC, that doesn't have an impact on the question, and the answer still comes straight from Kernigan & Ritchie. We can migrate such questions to StackOverflow. But there are not very many of such questions. Over the period of last 90 days, we have migrated only 2 questions to SO.
At teh same time, we should keep programming-related questions that:
- Have ties to hardware: interrupts, registers, etc
- Require familiarity with specialized professional IDEs for embedded work: IAR, TI Code Composer Studio, etc. I suspect that EE.SE community knows more about these tools than StackOverflow.
There may be a larger question lurking behind this: are (and should) the stacks defined mainly by subject, or mainly by user population? Neither empirical nor theoretical answer to this is straightforward.
If you had the ability, is there anything in the site that you would change? How would the mod privileges help you in that?
- EE.SE chat is underutilized. It can be a useful tool for users to pre-process their questions. Unclear questions can be clarified. Questions that are too broad can be narrowed. I have asked quite a few questions in chat, which would get closed if they were posted on the board.
- We need to improve migration options. If the subject of Arduino.SE is too hot at the moment, we can leave migration to Arduino.SE per se out of the discussion, and revisit it 3 to 6 months later.
As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?
The instantly binding vote will take some getting used to. I have some experience with community moderation. I think that community moderation works very well on EE.SE. I will not interfere with that. For instance, I’ll somewhat cool down my enthusiasm towards Close and Reopen queues, at least in the beginning.
(Interestingly, long time ago there was a feature request for non-binding option for diamond moderators. The feature request was denied.)
How would you respond to the accusation that our site is unfriendly towards "newbies"? Do you consider it a real problem? If so, what steps are you prepared to take to curb any perceived unfriendlyness?
EE.SE has high standards for questions, but it doesn’t have prejudice against “newebies”. If the person is diligent and considerate, many EE.SE’ers will work with them on improving their question. If the person is chronically helpless and inconsiderate, they will perceive humor as unfriendliness.
Is there a particular issue or problem on the site that, as a moderator, you believe you can address? What is it and what steps would you take to resolve it?
Educate newcomers about standards on EE.SE.
I’ll check if I can set up a zero- or low-reputation chat room for newcomers. It could be done as an experiment at first. (This is not a new idea. This was previously brought up on meta.)
Improve ties between EE.SE and the rest of StackExchange ecosystem.
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?
This depends on:
- The nature of the flags. There is a difference between very caustic humor and trolling (abuse for the sake of abuse).
- The quantity and quality of their answers
In that order.
There is a good method of dealing with difficult people: try to look through their eyes and see what pains them.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Talk to that other mod, understand what his rationale was. Either try to gradually convince him that his decision should be reversed, or agree with his rationale.
In your opinion, what do moderators do?
Moderators maintain smooth operation of the board. This is true for moderation functions which are built into a community. This is true for dedicated diamond moderators, which are trusted with certain potent tools, because they can be called to step in as human exception handlers.