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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.

Due to the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 9 questions.

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. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

  2. 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?

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

  4. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  5. 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?

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

  7. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

  8. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

  9. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

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    \$\begingroup\$ JNat Please see the first paragraph in my answer. I'm suggesting something different in arrangements to what is proposed officially re mod roles. Details in my answer, but, I consider that I would best serve the community by being giving the ability to better help newcomers that I can now. If elected I'd effectively be a mod (ideally an extra position) but would bias my actions toward trying to ensure that newcomers were given a better chance of posting a quality question. At present we treat many newcomers badly and nobody benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 27 at 14:36
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Voltage Spike's Responses:

  1. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

If the question needs a little work, I'll clean it up or ask the OP to clean it up. If the question is not salvageable, I vote to close. Many people misunderstand and take offense to closing a question, when it's part of the process. Bad questions get closed, and one is more then welcome to clean it up and nominate it for reopening. I have no problem reopening questions that meet the guidelines for the site and for SE. Many people don't understand this process, more often than not I try to let people know so that they can make fixes. We don't want people to be offended, but we also don't want poor quality questions on the site.

  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?

If the comments aren't abusive then a high amount of activity on the site could also be generating more flags, everyone has flags once in a while. If comments are abusive then they are abusive, regardless of how much rep you have. I don't know of any guidelines in meta.SE or in the help center that suggest you have preferential treatment if you contribute many answers when it comes to abusive comments.

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

I think the first thing would be to reach out to them and ask them why the question was closed, then show from the guidelines (that were voted on by the community or come down from SE) that it should be closed. If they still want to 'go against the grain' then there isn't much one can do at this point. One thing that can be done is to make sure your feelings don't get in the way on what is right.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators moderate, make sure that order is maintained and the quality of the site is maintained

I think Shalvenay said it best in the chat:

people forget that a SE moderator is much more janitor than ruler :)

https://chat.stackexchange.com/search?q=more+janitor&user=Shalvenay&room=15

  1. 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?

Granted, what I said in my first year on EE.SE is not what I would say now, but I don't think I'd need to go back through my history and delete any comments.

  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?

I don't know if it would make me more effective, but I would like to learn more about moderation and make the EE.SE community better. The few instances that I think it would make me more effective is if I see really really poor quality questions, I could close them down instantly instead of raising a flag, but I don't know if I'd call that effective because the questions get closed anyway.

  1. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

The first thing is to not take it personally and to cut them slack. Giving examples from the help center or meta is helpful. There are many repair questions that get debated

  1. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

I usually check the review ques a few times a day 4 to 5 days a week, I'm sure that a diamond moderator needs to spend a little more time and availability. I'm in the Pacific Time Zone for availability which may or may not serve the needs of EE.SE depending on where other moderators are located.

  1. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

There is a fair amount of reviewing that I've done, which can be seen in the review que history, in one que I have personally reviewed 8% of all the questions in that que on EE.SE so I think I understand how the process works.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Did your answer to #3 get truncated? \$\endgroup\$ – Joseph Sible-Reinstate Monica May 25 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I vote to close" Minor nitpick, but is it still voting to close when wearing a diamond? After all, if you hit that close button, the question is closed. Immediately. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast May 26 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JosephSible-ReinstateMonica Sure did, thanks for the heads up. I proof read this, but it was very late. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike May 26 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mast, "I vote to close" indicates what I do now when reviewing questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike May 26 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mast - Regarding your comment "After all, if you hit that close button, the question is closed.". Your statement is true, however, that same SE moderator has the ability to re-open a question just as easily. Any EE mod can open/close any question/answer (on the EE site), regardless of the mod who closed it. Sometimes, a moderator's "Vote To Close", gives the OP the "proper motivation" to do the right thing :) \$\endgroup\$ – VE7JRO May 28 at 1:12
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Michael Karas responses:

  1. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

Questions that are not well formed or are lacking in necessary detail have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. For some it will be obvious that they are off topic for this site and those will likely be closed right away. Leaving a comment asking the OP to clarify their question is the next step. A member that is truly engaged will be there to work at getting their question re-formed into an answerable form. Those obviously are obviously left open unless it starts to veer way off topic. For questions where the OP disappears with no engagement or appears to be unable to better state their query should be closed after some time. If the OP does return or starts to engage after the question has been closed the site mechanics have the re-open system in place to deal with this situation. As a moderator one can make an evaluation to support the re-open request.

  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?

This really demands having some patience and a level head. When an argument or abusive situation arises it can be easily analyzed if one does not get emotional about it. The best way to diffuse the situation is probably to remove it from the site and move on.

My experience is that it is usually not the best strategy to join in the fray and try to tell people what to do. Better it to just remove the comments that contain the charged up discussion.

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

This site gets many questions and moderators share the load keeping the community on an even keel. The best way to handle this is to accept the other moderators actions and move on. If there is general community response as well then it would require some private moderator communications to negotiate the best way forward.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As I mentioned in the previous answer I see the moderators job is to help keep the community on an even keel. Part of that is to keep an active role as a normal contributor to the site. It is not to be a policeman swinging around a heavy baton.

  1. 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?

I have no issue with this. I feel everything that I have contributed to this site has value and I am proud that it is still being looked at years after it has been posted. I am pleased when votes to old postings come in and confirm that users find enough value to what I have contributed. In the past there may have been some content I added here that has disappeared because previous moderators had an issue with it and I accept that as well.

  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?

I am well past the rep range mentioned in this question. I think if the community selects me as a moderator it will be because they see that I can contribute in ways that were not previously possible. I do not think rep has much to do with my motivations. This is a community and I feel at home here and think I can provide some more in the moderator role.

  1. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

This requires case by case consideration so there is not a single answer that can be given regarding the position I would take. From my experience as moderator on the Home Improvement site I can say that the scenario posed in this question rarely ever happens but when it does the best course of action is to go with the flow. Actions taken as a moderator are made by a human that can change their mind if they made a mistake or if others disagree with the action.

  1. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

I log into multiple sites in the Stack Exchange network every day and often multiple times per day. When I became a moderator on the DIY Home Improvement site it surely started consuming a larger percentage of the time I spend on the SE sites. I do believe that the time I have available in early morning hours or at night will be more than adequate to serve the needs of being a moderator of the EE site if elected.

I have said it before that I believe the moderator position to be a supplement to my regular involvement in this site providing contributions and answers to questions here. I am located in the USA Pacific Northwest.

  1. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

I far prefer to spend the majority of my time on this site as a contributor answering questions and sharing knowledge. When I became a moderator at DIY I did not let that diminish how much was willing to contribute there and the same would be true here at this EE site. That said I truly believe that being a moderator helps with with the ability contribute here in all the ways possible.

Over the seven to eight years I have been active on Stack Exchange there has been a lot of change in the flow of users coming for help and the types of questions that that they ask. This site is surely an example of that and it appears to me that this means a broader participation of people that are not professional engineers. Taking part in a more diverse community like that requires a level head and steady hand. I feel that as a moderator I can in some ways help guide the path forward.

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Russell McMahon's responses.

I have not raised this formally, but I feel I may be able to be more useful role in targeting low quality questions by working with posters to improve their questions rather than treating them as we do now. What I mean by that will be clear from my comments below.
I suggest that if I receive among the top three vote totals that I would benefit the community most by being given a 3rd mod position which I use largely to pursue this area.
This could be for a trial period.

My profile
Network profile
My other 78 SE sites :-)

First - an "essay" :-). This relates in large part to site quality and the treatment of newcomers. I'd hope that a look at my (about 3000) answers and the amount of effort I put into assisting posters via comments and question editing will give an indication of my commitment to site quality and usefulness

My desire is to have a high quality site that

  • Meets the owners aims*.

    *While it's not commonly cited the perhaps major aim of the site, as stated by one of the original creators, is to create a set of high quality questions and answers, with persistent value that cause search engines to drive traffic to the site." The owners aim is ultimately revenue - but satisfying this also serves the next two aims.

  • Provides an excellent technical resource both for people with 'original questions' and through the existing Q&A base

  • Encourages newcomers to feel welcome and to want to stay, to learn how the site works and use it properly, and to grow to become members both of the SE community and the international EE community

I consider that we meet the first and second aims reasonably well, but that we fail reasonably badly at the last. I consider that in our attempts to maintain quality we too closely adhere to tight interpretations of what were intended to be guidelines towards an end, and that we are unreasonably hasty in the manner in which we 'get rid of' newcomers when alternative approaches which could be more effective are available.

I'm aware that the idea of "allowing newcomers a little more time to 'get their act together' and to understand what is required of them in order to use the site properly" is not universally popular and is in fact violently opposed by some. The opinion of those who wish to rapidly close or delete very low quality newcomer's questions is that this improves overall quality (which is true in a simplistic sense), and that newcomers whose questions have been closed have simple and easily understood means of improving their questions and having them reopened - which is far from the case in reality.

Even technically competent newcomers can be completely blindsided by the sites requirements, can and do struggle to meet the minimum requirements, and their efforts to have their questions reopened are frequently unsuccessful. We have lost many people who could have easily enough become functioning members and a few of world class technical capabilities who have been essentially "driven off" through misunderstandings.

I note that, for whatever reason, those with English as a second language and women seem to be at a special disadvantage. I don't expect all readers to be in agreement with that assessment. eg

  • A French expert in CCD imaging astronomy was driven off by a series of increasingly acrimonious exchanges solely because he used the word "demand" [Fr: Demande - ask] meaning it to convey the sense of "ask" and was misunderstood.

  • An Indian newcomer whose products had been used in an LEO satellite was 'rough handled' enough over several questions that she also never returned. [She was fluent in 6 languages, but her English was non-standard enough to stand out].

Add to the above the fact that we are an international site and that not everyone is able to check for responses as soon as they are provided - So that a person in a "foreign" timezone may ask a question and then not be able to return for a day or few, only to find that a question has been closed long before they have any chance to react to comments.


  1. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

My usual approach (which has evolved over time) is to point out why the question should be improved, and to ask a series of numbered questions relating to what needs to be provided. The point of numbered and targeted questions is that people (not just in this context) tend to not address all points raised. The numbering allows them to provide related answers and allows me to efficiently point out areas they have not addressed. "Can you please answer questions 2,3 & 7."

Closing a questions is often "the kiss of death" for a newcomer. Far superior is giving them time to show that they are serious about interacting with us by addressing comments and input and making an effort.

Where a question is closed and it looks potentially redeemable, comments are a very poor way of interacting with the OP. In saveable cases I like to provide an "answer" that gives as much information as possible and which also provides guidance re what is required. This may well result in material in the answer which will be deleted in due course - it's still a legitimate part of the answer initially.

One site user (who I'll not identify - they may self identify if they wish) stated that my practice of opening interim answers was a major abuse of site practice and would be a major issue if I was a moderator. I, of course, disagree with their basic premise. While what results initially is not "High quality Q&A that will drive search engine traffic to the site" it is a far better way of ending up with this than the alternatives.

Once a "working answer" has been opened the question can be closed if necessary as a much more structured form of dialogue can take place.

NOTE: If the above is anathema to your ideas of how newcomers should be treated I may not be the moderator you want :-).

  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?

Talk to them privately - as much as possible as a friend. While I have occasionally encountered people who do not wish to engage, it's not the norm if a polite and private approach can be taken.

In a few cases it is evident or possible that users have mental health issues. Such people can be valuable contributors. Learning their strong points and establishing a respectful relationship can be useful. (This sounds like 'manipulation', but is not meant to be. Finding ways to get on optimally with people is part of life.) (Most of use find that some people take a disliking to us for reasons that we can't understand, and which they may not either - so be it. A mod has to try to ensure that's a one way thing)

  • An excellent example of differing with a person without disliking them, is my friend (which may surprise some :-) ) Olin - who sadly no longer contributes. We have known each other for decades - long before either of use joined SE. We both respect the other (he's said as much re me, and I respect him in many ways) - our differences do not prevent appreciation. His and my ideas on treatment of newcomers are diametrically opposed - we both want the same thing from the site and both want newcomers to become valuable site members. How that is achieved we disagree on. I am a moderator 'elsewhere'.
  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

As above, talk to them. Mods must be able to work as a team. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand'. IF my concept of being able to add a working answer is acceptable then that could be achieved by a reopen, add answer close action.
If that is in fact diametrically opposed to the site ethos then I may not belong.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As little as possible.
Ensure that medium to long term the prime directive is met

  • "Quality Q&A sets that persist and drive search engine traffic to the site".

Short term: stop utter rubbish happening, attempt to assist people to convert initial rubbish into pearls, close what shows no sign of making progress, burn spam off the face of the site relentlessly, watch for interpersonal interactions that are liable to impact on community quality. Discuss with other mods how various 'rules' are interpreted.

  1. 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?

Not concerned - or, no more concerned than I am already. I try to remember that everything I commit to the internet may turn up at some later dare against my account - and not always in the correct context or interpreted as intended. I've been an EE for 50+ years - so I'd been one for 40+ years when I joined stack exchange.I learn ongoingly but doubt if I'd present too too differently then than I do now.

  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?

Having (checks) ~= 130k rep means that I find rep a largely meaningless concept - it gives my answers and comments technical credibility (usually :-) ) but otherwise doesn't count for much. The moderator capabilities would allow me to help others more effectively.

  1. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

I don't see migration as liable to be a major issue. I have occasionally been surprised at migration decisions but very seldom enough to be inclined to dispute them.

I'd generally be more inclined to attempt to assist and hold off closing - and if differences on that met with significant ongoing community complaint I'd have to look more closely at where I fitted in. BUT I'd hope that any impact I had on such areas would be seen by most to be productive - even if that was not initially their inclination.

Other: I am often surprised at what people consider to be "shopping questions". Designing a system may (but rarely does) involve assembling a cpu with discrete transistors, and equally may consist of linking together commercial modules. Design is more fundamental than the level of integration of the components. But often, questions which involve high level components require as much engineering as one which deals with eg transistors and resistors - but the former often gets classified as "shopping" and closed. I'd hope to have some discussions with other mods on where the boundaries are and why. I also feel that questions involving which specific components to use are liable to be seen as inappropriate. In all the above cases I feel a key is "what engineering is involved, what EE aspects can be learned from this and how relevant and valuable is this liable to be to others. I'd hope that this sort of yopic could be discussed amicably between mods and/or in meta.

  1. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

I check in often during most days (too often :-) ).
I spend too much time on the 'net and on SE.

I'm in GMT +12 for Northern spring & summer and GMT+13 for Northern Autumn & Winter

  1. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

I spend less time on review queues than many, but non-zero.
I'm more likely to see low quality or VTC questions and improve them and/or interact with the OP. I tend to place 'useful' technical comments on questions. If answers appear good but missing in some component I may add a "complementary" answer - one which is not aimed to be complete but which is useful. I'll suggest answer additions or changes in comments on existing answers. This approach does not optimise attaining 'rep' - what would I do with it? :-) . This may not be seen as formal moderation but the aim is to improve site quality and both querant and answerer satisfaction.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Glad you answered my question 1 honestly and I don't mind identifying myself as the person who brought up "placeholder" answers as abusive. My main objection is you never clean up this junk yourself even when prompted to do so, for example this answer (10k only) while well-meaning was posted on a joke question of yours and since deletion could count towards an answer ban for them. I'm not sure you have a good enough understanding of the SE system to really know how some things that seem kind can harm new users and drive off experienced ones. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ May 28 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterJ Thanks for the input. The example you raise is very much an exceptional one - I've done that twice as a Christmas greeting. It's been well received and attracted a small volume of responses - including Andy Aka and Olin Lathrop. Yes - it is outside normal SOP here. || All other "quick initial answer" are/were for technical reasons, I do aim to clean them up as / if required (and a search indicates that I manage to do so) - they are intended as the best answers I can give at the time with the intention of helping the OP and improving the question. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... I usually add "Editing" at the bottom. A search of my 3000 ish answers 2 days ago turned up one question where I'd not removed that and the actual response was complete. So - Yes, I'm not saying that others invariably do or should like my "quick initial answer" practice, but I do say that the aim is to help both OP and site and that I believe it achieves that aim almost invariably (or hopefully always). || My aim is always to help.While we all get things wrong sometimes, I believe that I manage to improve things in the very large majority of cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 1:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterJ I missed the point of your "answer ban" comment initially. Yes. fair comment. | Re your comment on things affecting new users - what you say in this case is correct but that would be an extremely exceptional example. ie it potentially applied to that one question (and could have to one other) out of 13 total questions I've asked - and to none of my 3000 answers. Conversely - I have spent great effort digging a few newcomers out of answer-bans when they had utterly no idea of what had happened and why, the "clear if you knew how" rules did not help them, other "experienced" users ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... were pillorying them or at best just utterly confusing them and nobody else cared whatsoever. One such was the Indian I mentioned who had had one of their projects included in an Indian satellite (a custom built thick film module) and spoke 6 languages but who was identifiably non-English enough to have fallen foul of the new poster knockers. (That was before the "be nice" edicts and a major user used to - based on their personally stated practices - actively attempt to drive off newcomers who did not meet their standards. Really. || ie overall - I genuinely appreciate the gist of ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 2:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... your comments, but feel what you are identifying are a very few very extreme examples of my activities which happen as much due to my significant engagement in the area. | I don't expect you to necessarily agree with my perspective, but I hope that I have at least informed your perspective :-). || Re driving off experienced users: Those few who have expressed very extreme opposition may have had the same objectives as me of improving site quality - BUT their methods were usually specifically stated as to drive away those who were "unworthy" . ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 2:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... One such was Olin who I have the greatest of appreciation of in almost all areas except this one :-) :-(. [He would spend large amounts of time and effort assisting those who were duly subservient, and freely gave away a development framework for PIC processors that greatly assisted many]. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 29 at 2:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except which one area? This is not clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Mortensen May 31 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterMortensen Sorry - Olin's approach to newcomers who he felt were not making the grade was to make life as hard and unpleasant for them as possible with the intention of driving them off. He clearly stated this on a few occasions. His ratoionale was ~= that people should be respect (his term) those with experience who saw fit to give their time to help and should acquire information on how the site works and how to ask questions before attempting to participate. Those not willing or able to meet his minimum standards should be discouraged as actively as possible. He and I ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 31 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... and numerous others discussed the alternative approaches on and off - probably over more than 20 years (7 or 8 on SE, elsewhere before that. He and I agree well enough on what the ultimate site aims are wrt quality of Q&A - we differ on one should encourage (or discourage) newcomers on the journey. ||Elsewhere Olin would (as he specifically acknowledged) provoke inadequately respectful newcomers into angry responses which caused admin action to be taken against them. [We see some newcomers here managing that with minimum help from others. ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 31 at 1:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ NB I'm not saying anything that I think Olin would not acknowledge. He has always been quite open about his understandings and approaches. | He is also helpful, patient (if you meet his criteria), and about as competent in his (wide) areas of expertise as anyone. Also generous in providing free resources when he could charge and low cost products when he could charge more. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 31 at 1:53
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MadHatter's Responses:

  1. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

I would and have left questions like this. If another user points out that the question can be fixed, then I believe it is only fair to give the OP ~24 hours to update before casting close votes or flags.

  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?

The same way I deal with top performing engineers in real life. At some point everyone is replaceable, and if you are constantly bringing the rest of the team down, or creating a hostile environment, a conversation needs to be had. If behavior is not changed, then you may be asked to kindly leave. I have witnessed this situation on here years back with a few higher rep members, and while people like that leaving does potentially produce a hole in knowledge, someone who may have been scared away by them might just fill it.

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

I would like to say I would have a side conversation out of view of the public. If they have a justification and there is not outcry from the users, then I think I need to respect there judgment even if I disagree.

That being said, Brutal Honesty here I have to admit I have never used the chat.stackexchange.com portion of the site, at least I believe that would be the only place to do it. So learning opportunity?

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I believe 99% of moderators work is identical to that of an exemplary user with privileges to close etc. Handle the lists of edit requests, first questions etc. That being said, the 1% remaining is important work, such as dealing with users identified in question 2 above, and making judgments about questions to lock or protect based on their value to the community.

  1. 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?

I believe my answers will stand on their own, most decent and something I can be proud of. As for comments, I'm sure I'm guilty of having conversations in answers, as well as what I would consider a high level of sarcasm or less then helpful comments at times (for a moderator). I believe I have gotten better over the years and continue to lead better examples all the time. TL;DR; I'm sure there are comments I would not be proud of having a diamond next to, but that is why we have elections, let the community judge me for past actions.

  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?

As stated in question 4, I'm not convinced diamond will magically make me more effective at anything here. Maybe that means I do not deserve one, or maybe that means I'm ideal for one... I think it is important to have people that value this site and the community as moderators. If others step up, great, I'll continue 'moderating' to my ability as a common user. (Now that I can cast close votes, I feel a bit more useful then when I could only flag)

  1. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

I think I would need to take a step back, re-evaluate the situation, and admit my actions were in error (And revert the action). Frankly I find it hard to believe a large portion of the community would find an action wrong that is correct. There have been multiple high profile examples on SO lately that highlight this. I'm not sure as an 'elected official' It should ever be my way or the highway.

  1. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

I do not want to over exaggerate my availability. I often say a few blocks of 30 minutes a week. That being said, I find myself scrolling through the site on mobile during down time throughout the day. Unfortunately the Android app does not have great mod tools, but using the mobile version in a browser would allow me to check queues multiple times a day. So maybe that is something I need to work on, mod or not.

I'm US based, CST. If anyone cares to know.

  1. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

Since I only got the 3k rep a few weeks back to cast close votes, the best I could do was approve edits and comment on new users etc. Which I believe I have done a fair share of. Often I visit to find the edit, quality, first post ect. many questions deep and do my best to weed through what I can help with.

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Mark Harrison's responses:

  1. If you look at the front page and see a question from a new user that clearly cannot be satisfactorily answered in its current form without additional information would you instantly close it or leave it be for a while? Can you explain why you'd take that particular course of action?

I would leave it be for a while.

  • If you close too quickly, you rob other members of their chance to help. This is important... If you help somebody and good things happen, you feel good, you feel tied in, and you're likely to help even more. A virtuous upward spiral!

  • From the new user's point of view... nothing is more discouraging than having the door slammed in your face. That's a signal it's time to pack up and try elsewhere. Be sure and post to reddit how much you hate the stackers on the way out!

  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?

First, let's consider why this happens. Sometimes it's a person who is smart and generally pedantic. You will get the answer, but not until you phrase the question exactly perfectly correctly. Sometimes it's a person who feels underappreciated, and responds in a way that escalates the situation. Sometimes it's just a jerk, looking to cause trouble, confident in the fact that their brainpower is so valuable that the site can't get along without them.

I've dealt with all these types of people, at work and in my moderation over at DIY Drones. There's two basic approaches that need to be taken.

  • First, let the person know you truly appreciate their contributions. Underappreciated genius is a real problem, and sometimes just knowing someone out there likes you is enough to stop lashing-out behavior.

  • Occasionally, you have to make the person understand how they're coming across. What in real life would be a clever remark followed by an innocent grin can be something quite different typed online.

  • Finally, from the other direction you have to make it clear that while you appreciate their contributions, it's possible to be more trouble than you're worth. "I would hate to lose you, but I'm hating all the turmoil even more." In many cases, facing that unhappy consequence is enough to make a person consider more constructive behavior.

I often invoke Harrison's Rule of Urgency. The first question is, "Will anybody die in this situation?" A couple of times in your life this will be true, and you should respond accordingly. Next is "Will anybody be seriously injured?". It goes down to "Will anybody be majorly inconvenienced?" and "Will anybody besides you even know there's something going on?"

It's a good way to calibrate how strongly you should be responding to something and is pretty good for helping people get a grip on what they're doing.

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

First, I would mention it to them. I'm assuming there's a place for moderators to talk among themselves. Generally asking "I think I'm missing the reason for such and such, could you loan me a clue?" is a fine way to start.

From there, you can discuss the different points of view. Keep the focus on the action, not the person. In most cases, all the moderators can come to a consensus without too much fuss. When that happens, go with the flow. Sometimes people disagree with you when you're right, but sometimes they disagree with you when you're wrong too.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Mostly clean up and facilitate the members in contributing to the site. At DIY drones I deleted an awfully lot of spam. Occasionally taking out the trash, metaphorically speaking. I hope the SO team has better filtering than Ning! Moderators are definitely not responsible for the success of the site. That depends on all the users. Good participation, good site. It's also not to fret and worry that somebody's getting things all wrong and then jumping in and fix it.

  1. 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?

I'm fine with that. I try to conduct myself in a genial and professional manner when out and about, and I don't think that will change.

  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?

I think the world in general admires achievement, and high rep is more of an indicator than being a moderator. I'm pretty high rep at SO, and I don't think it's changed things much. I was under the impression that I would occasionally receive large boxes of money in the mail for my contributions, but that seems to sadly not be the case.

  1. If a large part of the community disagrees with a particular action you took (migration, closing, ...), but you still feel, deep in your heart, that you made the right decision, how are you going to address this? Corollary: If the community clearly says (e.g. by a poll on meta with a clear vote result) that it wants to interpret some rules differently than what you wish, what position would you take?

You lose some and you win some. If it's me vs everybody on EESE, I would bet my money on EESE being right.

  1. What sort of time per week would you be able to dedicate to moderation and would it be something where you'd be in a position to keep your eye on things for a large portion of the day or would you be limited to after work / school / weekends etc? It might also be useful to know your timezone and any other information about your availability.

I'm good for a couple of hours/week on a regular basis, checking in most days. From my experience moderating elsewhere if it takes more than that then something is terribly wrong. Like large parts of the tech world, I'm in the U.S. West Coast time zone.

  1. Stack Exchange sites can largely be moderated by regular users with sufficient reputation. If you've performed a relatively low amount of work handling review queues and voting to close / reopen questions in the past it can make it hard for the community to evaluate your moderation style. If you fall into that category can you explain why you'd like to be a diamond moderator when you haven't performed much community moderation in the past? Otherwise if you feel that you have done your fair share of moderation either here or on other SE sites feel free to highlight the work you've done.

I did a lot of community work when SO was first ramping up. I live close to Jeff, and we would meet regularly for lunch. I was the person who suggested Meta to him -- I know from my super-ancient Usenet work (I wrote a book for O'Reilly back in 1991 about it) that you had to give people a place to talk about the place that wasn't the place.

Likewise, I helped organize the original site questions pages. The infamous "how do I write a good title?" That's me! Check it out, and be sure and complain that you would have chosen better examples.

After a while it made me tired, and I dropped out for a while. But I appreciate the help I've received on EESE and am happy to jump back in the saddle for a while.

If you've gotten to this point and are sadly disappointed that I've run out of words regarding moderation, you're in luck! I copied the DIY Drones Moderation Culture and Values document to my blog. It has a pretty good summary of my approach to moderation and all of life, and a very nice compliment by Chris Anderson of Makers fame.

(update) Somebody asked me why EESE, when I'm a member at 40-odd other SE sites.

I think it's because I came in totally green and new... a poor software engineer who didn't know which end of the soldering iron to hold. I've learned so much here... enough to teach electronics classes, and (what I never expected) to build my little arrbots from scratch... hardware, software, NRF radio protocol, everything. And to help other people to learn from what I did.

So, thanks all EESE old hands, your patient and kind tutelage paid off! Enjoy my robotics class video... most of what I learned I learned from you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J-Vjh5LXns

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