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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. Well, one of the top 8 was taken from our prebaked but that just shows how much y'all really wanted to see that one asked!

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.

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!


  1. Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

  2. Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

  3. Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

  4. 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?

  5. Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

  6. 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?

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

  8. What will you do to breathe life back into Kronos's the Super User Blog?

  9. A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

  10. What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

  • 4
    I know you wanted to make this easy for them to copy/pasta but I just about had a heart attack with the lack of bullets/numbering. They can still use your link without any issues. – James Mertz Apr 28 '14 at 20:56
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1) Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

First and foremost, it needs to be a quality question, that somehow would find a much better home on another site. I do believe the current convention is that the person asking the question should be the one who initiates a migration by flagging, in any case. I'd ask myself a few simple questions - is the question already on the other site (no point migrating a dupe), does it have sufficient quality and can it be fixed up to improve on that, and whether the potential migration target is the best place.

2) Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

A good moderator isn't a loose cannon. I can't decide what is the right policy, simply based on personal views. Personally, I think the right way is to first bring it up with my fellow mods, with the view to bringing it up on meta. While bringing it up on meta, I'd make it clear this is a personal view, and I'd like to change the moderation norms from the current standard.

3) Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

I'd gently suggest its divergent/off topic, and suggest that maybe it needs to move to chat. I'd also probably wait till interest died down/mention I'll be doing it, merge anything that belongs on the post proper into the post, and clean up the comment thread.

If an argument is getting too heated, I'd politely suggest so, and let folk know they ought to calm down - the exact mechanism would depends on the wider context

4) 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've never actually allowed my actions to be dictated towards a possible political career (or a mod election). I tend to say what I think, try to be nice and polite, and try not to say anything I'll regret later.

If I get a diamond, it ought to be for precisely those things, and the soft power I've earned through it anyway.

5) Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

One of the unique things about superuser for me is that topicality is something that has evolved over time. For example, in the early days, software recommendations are on topic - currently they arn't though there's a workaround by asking them in context of a problem.

I'd look at the overall quality, and whether the question contributes to the body of knowledge as a whole when trying to decide how strict one needs to be about topicality rules. While I do believe they're necessary, and essential for maintaining the focus of the site, there's always exceptions.

In some cases as a user I've mildly disagreed with some topicality rules, spoke against them on meta, shrugged and moved on. With powers of life and death being able to close a question, in most cases, where I think I can rely on the community to decide, I'll likely leave it with them, except in a case where something is clearly, explicitly, and completely off topic.

6) 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 think that fact that he's a valuble user shouldn't majorly colour my opinion here. They ought to be handled like anyone else in the same situation - flags on their own merits, and comments for what they are. I do find on occasion arguments dig up things that the original posts may have missed. If its pure noise though, I'd clear them up and let the user know, politely, that his posts are rather controversial.

I'd also add there have been such users in the past, in my opinion, and quite a few left the site on their own.

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

I'll talk to the mod directly about it - mods arn't infallible, and knowing the reasoning behind the closure would help understand why and when to close things. If the mod changes his mind, great, otherwise you'd have a better idea of how that mod handles those situations

8) What will you do to breathe life back into Kronos's the Super User Blog?

Write. I'm having major writer's block, but the only real way to get the SU blog back on track is to actually contribute to it.

9) A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

Mods can superping. If the content isn't something that a reasonable individual - in this case the mods, or other users find offensive I'd reject the flag with an appropriate reason, and superping the user who was flagged. If there's a constant stream of flags, and they keep getting rejected, I'll probably end up sending a mod message to the flagger explaining in detail. A superping is public, and telling someone else someone else flagged his post would be a bad idea.

10) What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

I tend to handle things in a fairly standard manner. I tend to welcome them to the site, mention its not a forum, politely tell them where they went wrong, and reference them to the help site. This usually works well enough that some of my comments have possibly been adopted for per forma scripts.

  • 3
    I'm really excited to see you become the next mod of SU. I believe you're going to make a good fit – James Mertz Apr 29 '14 at 16:02
5

Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

If the question posted is off topic completely (i.e. software recommendation only, dealing with mobile phones not connecting to a computer, etc), then it should be reviewed for its quality, then migrated if it looks good. We don't like crap coming in, so we shouldn't send crap out. For those that are on topic on both sites, I would leave it here, unless the OP requests a migration due to not having answers here. Yes, we are Super Users, but we can't answer everything as well as specific professionals in certain other sites; I know I can't.

Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

Well, the great thing about being a mod on another site (Freelancing) is that there are specific rules and protocols to follow. I like having what I need laid out, in black and white. For the grey areas, that's where the Meta is for. On FL, we had made many rule changes based on what the community wanted, and thought would attract more and more professionals. It's not as large as Super User, but it's still in its beta, and growing more and more.

Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

Does it help the question? No? Fine, get rid of it. We are not here for personal squabbles in the questions. Save it for chat, or out of the SE network. If I had issues with a user, and I am not a moderator yet, Chat is the best place to discuss it, even if it's in a private room. As a Mod, I know there are other ways to discuss it, but they are only used for the most extreme of purposes.

If the information is being challenged as factual, and the person challenging says it's incorrect without offering any improvement, I would ask for them to cite a quality source (i.e. Microsoft, Apple, etc) before taking further action. Again, not everyone knows everything, but I like knowing I can back up almost all of my answers with sources, if required. Typically, I have in the past, and I don't see any reason why asking for a source to cite on certain issues would be wrong.

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 will not really change my posting habits. I have a diamond on another site, and people still treat me as a regular user, in regards to voting. I understand there are many users on this site with more reputation than I, but I'm not here for that. I'm here to try to make the site a better place.

Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

Well, let's take a specific example: software recommendations! Many issues we see here could be solved if only the perfect program was made for it! In fact, I used to support software recommendations in SU questions, and I argued on chat, tooth and nail, that they should be allowed! But, understanding how the SE model is, I can understand why it would decrease the value of the site as a whole. There were many lengthy Meta discussions about it, but the important part is that it involved the community (and SE staff). Does that mean the rule can't change in the future? Not necessarily, but understanding why is a big help for how the community shapes it.

When Windows 8 came out, SU ran a contest about it. But, we also know that Windows 8 can run on a Laptop (on topic), desktop (on topic), tablet (on topic now) and a phone (off topic). When it came out, the Meta post decided that the Surface Tablets (or other Windows 8 tablets) would be a wait-and-see, then it was decided that they would be allowed, especially if the issue was reproducible on a Desktop or Laptop. A perfect example of the community coming together to help shape the network.

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?

Use the Superping. Essentially, call him into the Ask a Mod chat or a private chat room, and explain what we are seeing as issues, and how we would like for the behaviour to change. Can we change it that way? Possibly. But calling out a valuable user in Meta would probably not be the best. On FL, we had an issue dealing with spam flags, and some of the highest rep users were flagging, then editing (which invalidates the flags, and reset the 6-vote threshold for silently removing spam without a mod). I made a meta post (without calling anyone out) explaining that we loved people flagging actively, but explaining the process wasn't quite all there. I realize this isn't the exact question being asked, but I feel it relates to how I would actually do it.

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

There is a mod chat room - Use it. I feel I can trust the current mods on here, as I have for many years. If they felt something needed to be closed, they would have found the reason and made the call. If I feel strongly about it, just talk in private. If the closed question (which can still be commented on) has lots of feedback explaining why it should be reopened, I will ask the commenters (commentors? Sheesh, that isn't in my dictionary either!) to either make the post acceptable (through editing) and letting the community decide; or I will tell them to make a Meta post. Community involvement is what I'm after here... And learning how to spell commenters.

What will you do to breathe life back into my the Super User Blog?

I'm not going to lie: I don't write for the SU blog. I would love to see it active again, but even seeing my own blog (link in profile, if you're curious), you will see I'm more about words, not necessarily pictures. The current posts we have in the blog are great, and I wish it could continue. I just don't feel I have much value to add to that one, while trying to get mine started.

Now, as a personal idea, I would love to hold a contest for some new blog writers, and possibly even ask SE for some swag to send out to some of the better posters, and then get the entries posted. If there is regular activity, I could see more and more people visiting it, and wanting to be a part of it.

A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

Well, to be honest, people can find anything offensive. Religion, politics, dirty jokes, nudity, etc. But are we the moral police? I don't believe so. However, if the material is obviously offensive, and trying to be offensive, then there would probably be no reason to not take action. If it is just the flagger's personal views, and it seems harmless (i.e. I see the picture in everyday life), then I would likely just ignore it. If it's borderline, I would confer with the other, more seasoned mods. Barring that, create a meta post, and find out if other people can possibly find it offensive.

What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

As I currently do, I use a userscript that inserts various comments auto-magically for me. The comments explain that the information they provided does not belong in an answer, and explains where to find the information in the Help Center. I also know of tags like [edit] or [help] for posting into comments. If the information is correct, there should be no reason to delete it. If it's very low quality, to the point it's garbage, I would add a comment for them. Simple stuff! We have rules and help pages that explain exactly what should and should not appear here, so it's just a matter of getting them to read and understand it.

  • 2
    I have heard that Canadians make good Moderators. – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 18:55
  • 2
    The fact that you've got your feet wet already as a previous moderator really make you stand out. I've also seen that you hold to the core SU values. You would make a great moderator. – James Mertz Apr 29 '14 at 19:40
  • Thanks to both of you, @KronoS and (at)Malachi – Canadian Luke Apr 29 '14 at 19:45
3

I'll try to keep this brief.

1) Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

On-topic is on-topic for SU, despite it also being on-topic for other SE sites. That being said, if a question is a better fit for another site and it's had an appropriate amount of time to be addressed by the SU community (and hasn't been successfully answered), I see no reason not to migrate it. After all, the entire SE network is about helping solve problems.


2) Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

I think the key to this sort of conflict is communication. The need to understand why it's the norm is just as important as what the norm is. If there is a legitimate reason to re-evaluate a standard that's been established, it's best to be brought up with the other moderators (or even the community as a whole) to determine what the best course of action is for the site, going forward. There is little need to deviate from a norm without first coming to a consensus as consistency is key.


3) Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

I am a firm believer in eliminating noise from the site. Anything that detracts from the issue and the information presented is noise and has no place in a Q&A format. Legitimate discussion is healthy! But acting in any way that isn't civil is noise no matter how correct or accurate the argument is; how you say something is just as important as what it is that you're saying.


4) 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 feel like it's an incredible responsibility to be seen in that sort of light within the SE community. While I may not like it, that's just how it is. That being said, I think it makes users with the diamond stop and think twice before making a snarky comment when having a bad day. You can never participate without the diamond, so there are some discussions you may want to stay out of as to avoid your personal opinion being interpreted as the official opinion. Being cognizant of what this diamond means is an important aspect of acting as a moderator. Personally, as this is a username that can be pretty directly tied to my real identity (e.g. LinkedIn on my profile), I always try to act professionally.


5) Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

The simplest version of my answer is that topicality is decided by the community as a whole. If a question is generating good information and is useful to a large audience, I tend to side with the community in saying that something is on-topic. There seem to be more cases of topicality boundaries being pushed as SU gets more exposure in the network hot topics feature and I think those questions have been given the benefit of the doubt by current moderators. While my personal opinion may be that these are off-topic, the community has spoken and these have remained open until their utility has expired. I think this is a good way to handle these particular cases.


6) 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 think everyone contributes in their own way to this community. If a user is creating a lot of noise surrounding their other contributions, the noise must be eliminated. Communicating with the user and explaining what the issues are should go a long way in helping the user to understand how they may be able to modify their behavior to avoid additional penalties.


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

I would approach the mod to understand why the decision was made and hopefully come to understand the decision. I would voice my disagreement if the decision was made with no real support, otherwise I would simply explain my position and hopefully expand both of our understandings. I would not go against another mod publicly.


8) What will you do to breathe life back into the Super User Blog?

Honestly, twice (see 1 and 2) I've left messages in the blog chat room without response and I'm not entirely sure why the drop-off in activity with it. I think without some sort of activity, users feel uninspired about creating content that may or may not be used in the blog. By having more activity in the chat room, contributors will feel more comfortable with putting time and effort into content and more willing to bounce ideas off one-another in an attempt to breathe life back into the blog. As indicated in my attempts to get involved, I'm more than willing to help out with the blog without a diamond by my name.


9) A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

If the flags are unsupported, they would be dealt with as usual. I would contact the flagging user to explain the decision that's been made and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings before additional penalties are required.


10) What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

A lot of new users are overwhelmed or confused by the Q&A format - they are used to forums. Taking the time out to link them to the relevant help and explain how the site works can go a long way in making them feel welcomed rather than pushing them to simply find another avenue to solve their problems. As a diamond, I would need to take the extra time to make sure the information they need is provided to them and the tone of the delivery is not condescending or too harsh. A lot of users want to participate in the right way, but get scared off by the tone of those trying to guide them.

3

Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

I believe that the goal of Super User (and any Stack Exchange site for that matter) is to connect people with the information they need to learn. With Super User specifically, this usually equates to people wanting to learn so that they can fix something / build something / etc.

When I see a question that has a topic that overlaps with another SE site, I try to recall this goal. One, the user asking the question (if they've clearly asked a good question, shown research effort, and is stuck) deserves to get connected with people that can answer their question well. Two, that question (and the answers that follow) should be in a place where it would best be reached by people who are looking to fix the same problem.

Those two criteria are what I feel is the best measuring stick. If a question is flagged for migration, and it's in that thin grey area, my first concern would be connecting that user with the information they need. If I feel they would get better help on Apple.SE, then migrate. Does it seem like a question that would gain more attention and help more people on Superuser? Then keep it around.

Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

I've said this once before on Meta and I'll say it again. 99% of the time, when a norm is established by the community, it's probably best to accept it and go with the flow. Why? Because the norms tend to work, and they're there for good reason.

Should I log on one day (as a mod) and discover that things changed, and I don't like those changes, my first step would be to ask fellow mod(s) why that particular practice is there. Perhaps there are things I'm not considering (after all, I'm human!). There could be hypotheticals that I haven't considered, and all it takes is someone pointing them out for things to click.

Should I still feel that a rule or practice should be changed, I would still voice that to my fellow mods and see if there's anyone that agrees. If so, I might foster some discussion to put that change into motion, or look into it further with people higher up the food chain for perspective. If anywhere along that chain of events my idea was not popular, I would probably drop it, because, as I said, usually established norms are there for a reason.

Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

Well, hey...I posed this question! And I asked it even thinking of a particular past discussion in mind. A user thought that a particular feature of the site was stupid. They misunderstood what it was used for, and were very strongly voicing their disapproval. It became a long, drawn-out back and forth that was getting nowhere.

Had I been a mod in that situation, I probably would have done close to what I had done as a regular user then. I invited the user to go to chat, and discussed it with him there. I did this because the discussion was meta, and didn't belong in comments.

In cases of trolling / arguing / ranting, certain cases obviously call for swift ban-hammer action. But in many cases, people simply disagree and aren't budging, or worse, voice that stubbornness in inappropriate ways. When that happens I would follow a three-step process:

  1. Dissolve or relocate the tension by moving to chat. This gets lengthy, distracting, and/or meta discussions out of comments.

  2. Look for resolution or compromise if it's practical or possible.

  3. Encourage the user(s) to change their behavior, especially if it's habitual. Suggest to them ways that they can give back to the community, and if necessary, warn them of the consequences of their actions continuing.

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?

As I've grown used to this community, I've made it a habit to go back through my questions, answers and comments and judged it as objectively as possible. If something I posted was challenged, downvoted or otherwise commented on, I try my best to see the other person's side of things.

A couple times, I've deleted answers or questions when factual issues were challenged or if someone pointed out problems. At the end of the day, I don't want misinformation coming from me, and I want my discussions to be relevant and helpful. I'm confident that what I've posted on that site has been at least my best attempt at those things.

Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

When evaluating a question's topicality, my first priorities are providing the OP with as much helpful information as I can. Ultimately I want to make a decision as to whether or not the question is on-topic, and get that person's inquiry either to become on-topic through edits or moved somewhere that someone can help them. Closing a question and not giving them any information isn't helping anyone. And as I stated in my answer to the first question, the ultimate goal of Stack Exchange is to connect people with helpful information, not to create strict, frustrating dead-end roads.

I would apply this by encouraging users to edit their post if I feel it can be further pushed out of the grey area and into the realm of on-topicness. If I feel it's a better fit for another SE site, I'll migrate it, because they (and other people) deserve to get good information. At the very least, I'll explain to the user how they should best proceed to get their question to better fit. I refuse to close a question and not provide any info as to why it's closed.

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?

Firstly, talk to them. It's not my job to be a therapist, but I would certainly be willing to talk to a user and understand where it is their coming from.

Second, I would argue to them that there's a reason why their upvoted content is valuable and why their flagged content is harmful. If you can get someone to recognize that they are rewarded for good behavior and not-so-much for bad behavior, they might do less of the latter.

Every situation is different, and the outcome will depend on the willingness of the user to cooperate and be respectful. In cases where the user ignores the warnings, it might be necessary to sacrifice their steady stream of good answers/questions to prevent them from picking fights. We want people to like coming to Super User, not think of us as a community that tolerates jerks.

At the same time I would be happy to see a user change and become a valuable member of the community, contributing both helpful questions/answers and engaging in relevant discussion. I would do the most I can to encourage that to happen.

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

Firstly, I would talk to the fellow mod. See their side of the story, because perhaps I didn't consider certain points. If I still felt they were wrong, I would politely explain why and ask them what they think about my assessment. If at the end of the discussion we were still at odds, I would weight two options:

  1. In the long run, one question is not the end of the world. If a mod closed a question because they legitimately felt it should have been, I would probably give them the benefit of the doubt and pick my battles.

  2. If this became a habitual problem with one mod in particular, I would probably voice my concerns with either another mod or someone higher up (if there are such people to talk to). See what they think and get advice on what to do.

  3. If I felt the mod in question was closing questions because of bad intentions (for instance, doing it to get back at a user or otherwise causing trouble), I would speak to someone higher up and point out the behavior.

What will you do to breathe life back into my the Super User Blog?

I'll be as transparent as I can - I didn't know about http://blog.superuser.com until it was pointed out in the questionnaire collection! I've spent the last few days reading and one idea in particular comes into mind.

It seems that a majority of the blog entries are posted by regular users (as far as I can tell). Why not get people from other tech media sources to write up posts? Super User isn't a gated community, and I'm sure people from other blogs would love to contribute. It would also be great if we could interview tech startups or celebs and get some of their perspective on technology topics. If we already do this, well let's do it more!

Secondly, I think it would be good to regularly select questions (not necessarily popular ones) and dive deeper into discussion about the technologies in question. As a novice in quite a few fields, I love exploring the inner workings of things I use every day.

Thirdly, I asked myself "why is it that I've never heard of the blog?". Maybe I just don't pay enough attention to when it's mentioned, but I never knew it was there. Let's promote it, link to it in the navbar, post it on the SU twitter feed and point people to it wherever we can!

A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

Before I give my own uninformed answer, I would first say that I would follow whatever protocol the mods have in place for the situation :)

If the content didn't appear to be at all offensive (and there's no way that I can construe it to be), I would wait until both users were available to explain the issue. I wouldn't delete the content if it wasn't against the rules, and especially if I can't find a reason as to why it would be offensive. The deleting of the content could be seen by others as hasty and intrusive, and that's not how we should operate. If the flags continued beyond that decision, I would explain to the user that the flags are invalid based on my assessment.

If I could see the content as being offensive, I would probably get another mod's perspective before taking any action. If they could construe it that way as well, I would remove the content until the user it belongs to was available to explain it. I would only take this action if it was clear that the content could reasonably be seen as offensive. It would have to be obvious, in which case I think deleting the content would be appropriate. But followup and clear communication would be absolutely necessary.

What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

At one point, we were all new somewhere, and we all know it's frustrating to go somewhere new for help and to not get what we expected. When a new user comes along, a priority of mine would be to make them feel welcome. This increases the chances of them sticking around and contributing useful content.

But it is just as high of a priority to make sure they don't make a habit of posting content that doesn't fit or is of low quality. This takes patient and polite explanation of how we work. Because of the traffic that SU gets, we get a lot of new questions from a lot of new people, and a lot of them need some work.

My approach is to direct them to the help center, because first of all, that's what it's for. New users might have no idea what the help center is or that it's there. They might be the kind of person that simply has to read it once and they understand what needs to change in their question/answer, and they make the change. I also invite them to ask questions on meta if they don't understand a rule or practice.

An example would be something I see a lot: a question is quickly closed because it's a software recommendation. If I noticed that the user was brand spanking new, I would welcome them, give them a brief explanation as to why that is off-topic, and how they can get help if they modify their question. At the end of the day both me and that new user want the same thing: a good answer to their question. But the question needs to be of a certain caliber before the answers come, and if I can communicate that effectively, we all win!


Hopefully I've answered everything as clearly as I can. If I can clarify anything, please comment and let me know!

  • 2
    Thirdly, I asked myself "why is it that I've never head of the blog?". That's something I've been struggling with for a long time now. – James Mertz Apr 28 '14 at 22:12
  • @KronoS (heard of*) sorry that was a typo. I don't follow, though? – Moses Apr 29 '14 at 2:40
  • 2
    I've been trying to get the blog more internal attention for a long time now. – James Mertz Apr 29 '14 at 15:56
  • @KronoS Perhaps it would be good to get an idea of the history of the blog. I've only been here a year. When did you start it and what changes has it gone through since then? I know that's probably a long story, but I'm interested in how it's evolved over time. – Moses Apr 29 '14 at 16:10
  • It hasn't gone through any changes, really. It's been hard getting people motivated in writing for it, which also goes hand in hand with the low exposure the blog has on the main site. There's almost no endorsement. – slhck Apr 29 '14 at 17:31
3

1. Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

I'll go with established policy here: do not migrate if the question is on topic for Super User. Migration would send a confusing and wrong message to the OP about what is considered on topic here. Super User is for questions about computer hardware and software and home networking, and OS X and bash questions are entirely within this scope.

If the question is not getting any answers or poor answers from the community, I may post a comment suggesting that it may be better on another site, making sure that the user is advised not to cross-post:

While your question is on topic for Super User, you may get better answers if you posted it on [site]. If you'd like, you can delete this question and repost it there, or you can raise a moderator flag asking me to move it there for you. However, please don't cross-post the same question on multiple sites.


2. Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

In general, I won't act against policy unless the situation truly demands it or if there is consensus among the moderators or by the community to do so.

If I disagreed with a policy for a particular situation, I would try to evaluate all options, take the appropriate action, and explain in detail, either in a comment or a Meta post, why I made a particular decision. If I disagreed with a policy in general, I would bring it up on Meta for further discussion with the community to determine whether it is a good idea to change it.

I normally consider established policy to be a standard which should be followed as much as possible so that the community can rely on it. Moderators represent their communities, so I will always seek community input before making any major policy changes.


3. Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

A key part of being a moderator is to moderate discussions among users, so dispute resolution is core to the job. There are many tools at the moderators' disposal to handle these situations, and I will use them judiciously.

In the event an argument occurs, the first thing I would do is politely ask the users to stop arguing. I may delete any messages that are obviously offensive or are flagged by the community as such. Where chat or Meta are more appropriate venues for the discussion, I'll consider moving the comments and direct users to continue the discussion there.

In more serious cases, I may delete some or all of the comments in the argument without them being flagged and move the discussion to Meta to obtain community input. I may also temporarily lock the post, but since locking the post prevents voting and other normal activity, I would prefer not to have to do so.

Where the subject of the dispute is of a borderline nature (such as a question which can be seen as both on- and off-topic), I will exercise caution in making a decision and may seek community input via Meta, knowing that the statements I make as a moderator can have a substantial long-term impact on the site.

In any case, I will always treat users fairly and respectfully, because moderators set examples of how users should behave on the site.


4. 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?

­­While there may have been a few missteps in posts I've previously made, I've always taken the quality and accuracy of my contributions very seriously. I fully understand that as moderator, my words can and will be seen as authoritative and representative of the community, so I will exercise added care when contributing content to Super User. It's an honor to have this opportunity for my work to truly shine and to represent the community I know and love.


5. Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

Most questions which in some way intrinsically involve a computer (whether a desktop, laptop, Windows 8 tablet, or home server) or equipment used primarily with computers (including keyboards, mice, printers, scanners and other peripherals) are on topic, with certain notable exceptions such as for questions primarily involving programming or shopping recommendations. Generally, questions about other devices such as smartphones and DVRs are off-topic unless a computer is integral to the question.

If a question is mainly about a non-"computer" device but intrinsically involves a computer in a non-obvious way (which I've run into several times), I may edit the question to make it clearer that a computer is involved or post a comment advising users not to vote to close to avoid confusion. For devices which behave like traditional computers but differ in significant ways (such as PC-based embedded systems), I will generally decide based on whether the question is of a nature which can be accurately answered by the Super User community and how similar the device is to traditional computers.

In borderline cases, such as using Python scripts to automate system maintenance or other administrative tasks, I will prefer not to move the question unless the community believes otherwise. Once again, I may use chat or Meta for community input before making a final decision.


6. 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 probably start by posting a comment reply to one of that user's comments, like the following:

@user, you've contributed great answers to Super User, but many of your recent comments have tended to be argumentative or were flagged by the community. We expect all users to be civil here, so please be nice and stay on topic. For guidance, see the help center.

If the behavior continues after several similar comments have been made, I would send a moderator message to the user about the issue. As an (absolute) last resort, I may suspend the user for an appropriate period of time.

It's vital that users are treated fairly and respectfully throughout the process. As I've written in this Meta Stack Exchange post, civility is expected of all users, whether beginner or veteran. It's my goal as moderator to be a role model and set an example of how we as a community should communicate to users, especially to newcomers who may not understand how the system works.


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

I would bring it up in chat to discuss with the moderator who took that action to understand why the action was taken and see how the community feels about it. If the best action to take is still unclear, I'll solicit community input on Meta as appropriate. Of course, in the rare event the action was obviously incorrect, I may act to reverse it before notifying the moderator who originally did so.


8. What will you do to breathe life back into Kronos's the Super User Blog?

There are two major reasons for this issue.

  1. The blog hasn't been given much attention in the website UI. The only link to the blog is in the Stack Exchange dropdown box (the link in the footer goes to the Stack Exchange global blog). Given this lack of attention, it isn't very surprising that the blog has become idle.

  2. The blog hasn't received any interesting posts recently. Given the lack of proper attention to the blog, this isn't very surprising either. In addition, because of the broad scope of Super User, it's hard to pick a particular topic to write on.

The main solution to this problem is to promote the blog. The community promotion ads provide an ideal venue to do so. A Meta post about the blog and how we can get it running again would also be helpful, and I would include suggestions about good topics to write about (the vulnerability, for example).


9. A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

The flags would be handled as appropriate, and I would try to notify the users involved through the global inbox and discuss the issue in an appropriate venue (chat would be ideal, but we are assuming neither user can use chat). If the flagging continues, or if the user cannot be reached by more appropriate means, I would probably send a moderator message to the user about how the content isn't offensive, based on the content in the profile and my interpretation of the rules. If the user continues to raise meritless flags, I may send another message giving a sterner warning or possibly suspend the user.


10. What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

At present, I would add a comment to the new user's post explaining the problem, then vote to close or flag as required. I maintain a set of boilerplate comments which I customize as required to politely and accurately notify the user about the issue, and plan to expand these comments as needs evolve.

As a moderator, I would continue to post such comments as before. Questions which should be closed will be closed immediately, but I won't delete them immediately unless completely unsalvageable. Answer posts that are not answers will be deleted quickly, but not before the user is notified about the issue through a comment.

For more systematic cases, I may ping the user through through the global inbox and, assuming the user has sufficient reputation, invite the user to chat so that I can more easily help the user as needed.

All too often, questions are closed and answers deleted without users understanding what went wrong. I aim to ensure users understand why this was done so that they can avoid the same mistake in the future.


If you have any questions or comments about these responses, please let me know by posting a comment below. I welcome and value your feedback.

1

Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

Superuser already has a strong policy of not migrating questions when they are on-topic for multiple sites. That policy is sensible in that it allows a user to feel comfortable posting where they are most familiar, so in most cases of scope overlap I would simply leave the question where it is.

In the case where a flag is suggesting that a question be moved then I would most likely follow current policy and leave the question as is unless that flag was raised by the question poster themselves. I would expect the poster to raise that sort of flag as a result of them being told by one of our community members that migration may benefit their question as it may be better suited on another site.

In that case the migration makes sense, the user experience continues to be good, he is aware that we are not simply moving his question "for the sake of it" and his and everyone else's experience remains to a good one. We end up with one new user happy on two sites

Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

In the first instance I would always follow current policy and try to maintain experience for the users of the site.

In the background though I would consult with other moderators as to the reasons for the policy and how they felt about them. I would try to discuss how I felt about the policy and how I thought it could be improved. If reception with the other moderators was good then I would ask if we thought that policy could be changed and possibly start canvassing the wider audience, potentially involving the larger community via either the chat rooms or meta.Superuser.

If overall reception was good then I would continue to look towards changing the policy or behaviours in more official ways.

In short I would try to work with other moderators and the community to change or update a policy, I would not simply assume that I know best and work independently or against the wishes or interests of the community.

Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

If I saw an argument or disagreement beginning in the comments section I would suggest that the chat rooms may be a better place to discuss their points of view but that they should try to keep their comments civil to each other. I would monitor the conversation to ensure it does not further degrade and try to keep the discussion civil if possible.

If the argument got worse I would attempt to encourage both users to drop the matter for now and come back when they have calmed down. If it had moved to a chat room then I would potentially lock and close the room if it got particularly aggressive, before that happened though I would try my best to reason with the two users and calm them down.

All being well the situation should pass rather simply as an exchange of opinions on chat without further sidetracking or discussion on the original question.

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?

While I am sure that have on occasion been terse or overly jovial I am on the whole happy with how I have behaved and do not believe that having a diamond attached will significantly alter the interpretation of my answers or comments.

The idea that my comments will be seen differently due to a diamond makes me slightly apprehensive, but I still stand by what I have said and done.

Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

I think the topicality rules are quite clear as to what is on and off-topic on Superuser though there is often overlap. It is often the case that a webserver question or domain networking question could be on topic both here and on ServerFault but as the help centre clearly states we do not deal with corporate IT support or networks. It is a fine line for a question to take and it would depend on the question itself as to whether I felt it needed migration.

If the question was regarding a very specific problem with a piece of software that many "casual" users are likely to see then I would leave the question here, if it is only likely to be seen in a corporate network environment then I would most likely migrate it.

Every question is different though and would have to be treated on a case by case basis.

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?

From a moderation perspective I would deal with each of the flags on a one-by-one basis and not let previous experience affect how I deal with the flags from the user. The flagging system has safeguards in place that would eventually trigger and restrict the user in the long term.

In the short term though I would try to contact the user through chat or other means that may be available to try and discuss their habits and try to provide advice as to how they might better interact with the community. I would try to reason with them and talk through why some of the things they are doing might be counter-productive and how they affect their standing in the community as well as potential long term ramifications.

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

In the first instance I would contact the moderator who closed the question and ask why. I would discus why it was closed or deleted and why I think that should not have happened.

If it was simply a mistake then we would reopen or undelete the question and take any necessary action to apologise or clarify the mistake to the user(s) involved.

If it was not a mistake but was intentional then we would come to a mutual agreement as to how to deal with the question. Hopefully we would be able to agree the future of the question.

If that moderator was not available then I would try to discuss it with another moderator if I felt that more immediate action were required. Hopefully time would allow me to speak with the original moderator, but sometimes we all have other commitments or are otherwise unavailable and the other members of the team should be able to help work out a problem.

I would not simply re-open the question and put the moderator in the position of having to explain themselves to the community at large.

What will you do to breathe life back into Kronos's the Super User Blog?

The blog is one of parts of the site that is under-used and not as visible as it needs to be. I would like to see it better integrated into Superuser culture and life.

The problem is though that a blog is a hard thing to tie into the fluid nature of the main site. We used to have Question of the Week (QotW) which was interesting and useful, but questions move too quickly and often it is difficult to choose a question that will have enough meat to make a post yet not so much that it becomes irrelevant before it gets posted.

It would be good to use it to discuss StackExchange wide changes that affects Superuser specifically but that would not interest the majority of users. It could also be seen as simply parroting the main Stackexchange blog which would not be constructive.

Regular competitions would be good but again the problem is choosing topics that would involve or interest the community at large. We covered the Windows 8 release with sitewide games, but they were gone quickly and had nothing to replace them with. Maybe we need to think more seasonal and have Easter egg hunts and Christmas raffles and things. The problem is always going to be keeping it current and topical.

There are always software manufacturers looking to get their products reviewed, but we don't want the blog to simply end up as a "free software review" site. The same goes for hardware. A very tight line would have to be walked to keep the site relevant if we allowed reviews for these sorts of things.

I would like to see the blog return to prominence and actually see a link to it on the main site, but this would take a significant investment of time and planning and involvement at all levels of the community from the new users right up through the chain to those who hold overall power over the site.

It can be done but before anything could really be started we would need to look a lot more at where we want to take the blog and what we need to get there.

I have some ideas, and want to see the blog rise up once again but there isn't going to be a cure-all bullet that fixes everything.

A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

I am sure that I have previously seen that flags can be responded to with personalised comments, I would in the first instance attempt to use this to let the user know why the content is not considered to be against site rules.

If the activity continued then I would try to suggest via a comment on a recent answer or comment, if they were harassing the user via comments, by the user asking them to contact me to discuss the situation.

What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

We often get questions or answers which are severely lacking in detail. Either the questions do not describe the problem in enough detail or the answers simply link to other sites without describing what the information at the other end of the link will achieve.

As it stands at the moment I often rely on a script to inject comments such as "Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference."

I also encourage users via the generic responses available in the /review tools.

For questions I try to leave a list of questions that will help clarify the the question so that it is more easily answerable.

These are perfectly good tools that are useful to give new users an idea of what they are doing wrong but as a diamond moderator I feel that this could be a bit too "impersonal". I would make a conscious effort to make more helpful comments and describe what can be done to improve the question or answer.

  • The blog is one of parts of the site that is under-used and not as visible as it needs to be. I would like to see it better integrated into Superuser culture and life. I love you ;) – James Mertz Apr 29 '14 at 16:05
  • I have few read flags: 1- bypassing fellow moderators! If reception was not negative then I would ask if we thought that policy could be changed and possibly start canvassing the wider audience, potentially involving the larger community via either the chat rooms or meta.Superuser. 2- If that moderator was not available then I would try to discuss it with another moderator. – Ruskes Apr 29 '14 at 18:26
  • @Buscar웃 I would not be bypassing my fellow moderators, For 1; I would be consulting with them "behind the scenes" before I would look to involve the wider audience. At no time would I intend to overrule or circumvent the people who would be my greatest allies. as to number 2. it would be a discussion, with the intent of working out whether I should simply wait to discus with the moderator in question or whether something needed doing more immediately. – Mokubai Apr 29 '14 at 18:38
  • Here is candidate which is hard to choose for me between you and Candian Luke. But I hope soon I will choose and get the right one for us. ;) – avirk May 1 '14 at 14:35
-4

I am only going to answer a couple of Questions, there are several Mods already and I believe that one Mod will not be required to do everything all the time, meaning that I should specialize in a couple of mod aspects to compliment the rest of the mods creating a good team atmosphere.

I do realize that I will have to handle things that are not my strong point, but I think that I will be able to find a good solution, even if it is a temporary calm to the storm until I can discuss with other moderators.

I know how to put out fires


Question #2.

  • Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

This would be something that I would discuss with other moderators in the hopes that they can help me understand why it is done this way. I am sure that there won't be an instance where this occurs with me, but if there is I am sure that there are steps to follow that will allow me to voice my opinion to the rest of the moderators and put it up for discussion to either explain it in a way that I understand or make changes where necessary (based on whatever concepts of problem resolution are already put in place to handle these situations)


Question #9

  • A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

I would reject the flag with my reasoning, and if the flags continue from said user I would attempt to engage them in discussion on the issue in chat by superpinging them into chat where others (probably moderators) could also help the user understand what is going on and why there flags are being rejected. another possibility is a Meta post where the community can ring in on the situation, after all this is a community built by it's members and moderators are really just Exception Handlers for things that can't be resolved by the community through communication and understanding.


Question #1

  • Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

I think this is a pretty easy question, mostly because there isn't an edge case specified where the decision would be hard.

  • If the post has low views and no answers and it fits the target site more clearly than Superuser than I would probably shoot it straight.

  • If the post doesn't fit the target site, then it would stay (unless there is something wrong with it where it shouldn't stay here either)

  • If the question has answers and it becomes hard to tell whether or not it should be migrated because it is equally on-topic here and there, then I would let it stay (depending on whether or not the answers are truly answering the question, in which case the question should be migrated to where it will receive good answers)

  • If the question is borderline on-topic here and on-topic on target site, migrate away.

Depending on what the question is asking it may be a better fit for Superuser but not being given a specific instance makes it hard to throw answers out there.

How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

A Question about OS X doesn't need to be migrated just because it is on topic on Apple.SE , if it fits here and stays on-topic than I would leave it alone unless the OP asked me to migrate the question, then I would only migrate if it were on-topic on the target site.


Question #4

  • 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 know that having that diamond will add extra weight to my responses to users questions or even my own questions, but I don't think that I would do anything to disgrace the Superuser community or give it a bad name, I think that everything that I have said was polite and helpful.

I don't think there needs to be a change in the way that I carry myself via questions, answers, comments and chat.

I do feel that I may need to be a little more cautious about typing things out before reading the question a second or third time, but everyone has those kinds of days.


Question #6

  • 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?

Follow them

No, seriously though I would try to gently nudge the user to not do the things that are generating the flags, the arguments may be something that require warning messages, a "cool down" period, or just a friendly comment on whatever it is that is causing the issue whether it be a comment itself, a question, an answer, whatever.

The big thing is that every situation and individual is different and will require different means of intervention to calm the issue to where the individual is in a state where they will respond well to advice(correction, whatever you want to call it)

We are all here to Learn (or make big rep and look good doing it, you people know who you are) and no one can do that if people are upset with each other, calming the situation and understanding is what needs to happen sometimes, and other times a "Time Out" is needed.

Trolls will be pushed in front of oncoming trains.


Question #10

  • What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

New users are the people that will keep this site alive so I take this kind of thing very seriously and hope to make learners and avid users out of every new user that I come across.

Each of these situations has occurred in the past I am sure, so there are probably many meta posts for these circumstances with which in addition to a brief explanation can help guide a user to understanding why we do things the way that we do on Superuser (and StackExchange).

Earlier today brand new user posted a good answer that lacked meat, it only carried a link with it, it was sitting at -2 vote count. normally I don't like to change other peoples answers because that isn't how we do it on SO or CR, but I was able to find a SU.Meta post that says it is allowed here, so I went to the link and grabbed the information that the user wanted the OP to see and added it to the answer in a nice logical fashion, this showed the user what we are looking for in an answer and also gave them some Rep in the process so that they aren't a 1 Rep User anymore. Things like this help people feel good about them selves and help the community grow.

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    I should specialize in a couple of mod aspects while I understand what you're trying to say here I have to disagree. Moderators have to be versatile and able to handle any and all situation that may arise. There's a high chance that you may be the only mod on SU and a ton of situations may arise. You'll have to be able to handle them all as they come to you. – James Mertz Apr 29 '14 at 16:04
  • I apologize but that is what I meant @KronoS, master of few things and able to do other things. that is why I worded it the way I did. I believe that one Mod will not be required to do everything all the time – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 16:31
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    that is a (-1) from me, for been completely disorganized and for your choice of skipping important questions. You are missing the opportunity to have us learn about you. My conclusion right now is you do not have the time to do the job. – Ruskes Apr 29 '14 at 18:17
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    From the answers to these questions, you appear to be woefully under-qualified for this position. – nhinkle Apr 29 '14 at 18:21
  • thank you for your input @Buscar웃 but I have plenty of time to do the job. Are you upset that I didn't put the questions in order? – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 18:21
  • @nhinkle, how so? – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 18:21
  • If I am upset or not is not the question here. The way it is written, points to a person not been very organized and tends to shoot form the hip. – Ruskes Apr 29 '14 at 18:31
  • I find it odd that I agree with everything that @JourneymanGeek wrote in his answers and think in a similar manner on each issue, and yet somehow that all gets lost in translation, because I don't have the same writing style as others or maybe because I don't have the same amount of reputation so I am down voted to oblivion. Maybe it is my lack of Time spent on this site. I won't Withdraw, I can see myself as a mod, maybe not this time, maybe not this site, so I will ride it out until I can ride no more. – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 18:53
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    The issue is not that your writing style is different from anyone else. The issue is not your reputation. The issue, at least insofar as I see it, is that what you have written here feels unsure. Whether or nor you intended it this way, it comes across like that, and the community in general doesn't care for that kind of hesitancy in moderators. (There's also the fact that your activity on SU was. . . sporadic, at best, up until April 22, and your Meta participation non-existant. That's not relevant to this particular question, but it might explain peoples' reaction to your self-nomination.) – Jonathan Garber Apr 29 '14 at 20:55
  • @JonathanGarber, the type of activity I see here is sporadic, I see questions and answers with no votes either way, I also see plenty of questions that should have been closed right away (and those are 2-3 years old) that is the kind of activity that makes me not want to be active in a site, this site needs more voting, more searching through the questions to weed out the bad ones and raise up the good ones. I have had answers that sat since the last time I was active with no votes or views, I thought the site was dying so I left I am back now. and will go for some badges. – Malachi Apr 29 '14 at 21:21
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    @Malachi the type of activity I see here is sporadic, I see questions and answers with no votes either way - I have had answers that sat since the last time I was active with no votes or views, I thought the site was dying so I left yeah that shows how far you're disconnected with the community and expectations if you think activity here is sporadic. Lack of activity on one of your questions and you believed the site was dead. I have no words for that. – Sathyajith Bhat Apr 30 '14 at 2:41
  • not just one of my questions, nearly all of them. even an accepted answer with no votes. answers with no votes don't count as an answer on a question until they have one positive vote, so technically those are unanswered questions. – Malachi Apr 30 '14 at 13:07
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1) Super User's broad scope overlaps with several other Stack Exchange sites, including but not limited to Ask Different, Ubuntu, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, Software Recs, and others. How do you intend to handle issues of scope overlap? How would you handle a flag suggesting that a question about OS X be migrated to Apple.SE, or a question about bash migrated to U&L?

As with other sites where this is an issue, such as ServerFault, the general agreement is something being on-topic elsewhere is not sufficient by itself to be reason to migrate it. So, in most cases, the flag would declined, though there are certainly times when it makes sense to migrate a question to a different site where it is on topic, particularly when it is not attracting people capable of answering it on the more general site.

2) Stack Exchange has established quite a few norms over the last years, which dictate the default action to be taken in several situations. After a few weeks of moderating, you find yourself in strong disagreement with one of these policies. Would you take different actions and deviate from the norm based on your personal assessment of the situation, or would you follow the established rules in order to keep the moderation coherent? If you thought a policy needed changing, how would you approach that?

The best approach to being in disagreement with a policy is to recuse one's self from matters where it applies. There are other moderators who presumably don't have strong opinions on the matter who will be able take more impartial actions.

As to changing the policy, the option in the same as it's always been: waste spend time writing up your opinion and supporting evidence, post it on meta.stackexchange.com and wait for it to be downvoted, ignored, closed as a duplicate, or some combination of the three.

3) Super User is a community of people, and often people disagree (whether on the topicality of the question, correctness of an answer, etc). While many users discuss things civilly, some don't. What is your approach on handling arguments that get out of hand, or are distracting from the original topic?

The most important thing is to stop the argument. This would generally involve leaving a comment telling the participant to behave themselves, locking the inciting post temporarily, removing the comments, and then doling out whacks from the modhammer as appropriate, the primary tool being a temporary suspension.

Of course, as we see in that blog post, the penalty box is viewed in StackExchange as a chance for a user to learn from their mistakes and come back better for the experience, so I would do everything I could to make a sure user knows why they got sin-binned. Instead of, for example, saying:

Your account is being suspended for [X days] because of the [your remarks here], in which you acted like a massive jackass

The proper approach would be something along the lines of:

Your account is being suspended for [X days] because of the [your remarks here], which are inappropriate on Stack Exchange. You should consider using the time to consult with a qualified mental health professional in your area to resolve your apparent personality disorder before participating on SuperUser again.

In this way, the offending user knows both why they got in trouble in the first place, and has possible actions he or she can take to address the root of the problem.

4) 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 can't say I care in the slightest. It was right when I said it without a diamond, it's right with a diamond applied retroactively.

5) Topicality (that is, whether a question is on-topic or off-topic for the site) is broadly described in the Help Center, but there are often questions that test the boundaries of the topicality guidelines, causing some users to disagree on the topicality of a question. Describe in a few sentences your personal view on the topicality rules of Super User, and how you might apply them as a moderator. You may cite other content on the network as a reference for your answer, but answer in your own words.

Computer hardware, software and networking are on topic on SuperUser, excluding programming, video games and console, websites and webservices, mobile devices, IT infrastructure and shopping questions/product recommendations.

I would apply those rules by ruthlessly hunting down and closing off-topic threads and reveling in the slaughter.

6) 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?

Possibly by deleting the offending comments, if warranted, possibly by telling the comment flaggers to stop being such overly-sensitive weenies, if warranted. When it gets right down to it, without the people who provide the valuable answers, Stack Exchange is just a bunch of people asking for help and not getting it. The content is what matters, both in terms of Stack Exchange's footprint on Google, (and its resulting ad revenue) and in terms of being able to attract a community of experts or power users. If someone who doesn't contribute has a problem with comments from someone who does, well, that non-contributing person can piss off back to Yahoo! answers, as they have no value to the site anyway.

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

I would head over to the mod chat room and explain to them why they are wrong, and work out the best way to undo their wrongness.

8) What will you do to breathe life back into Kronos's the Super User Blog?

Raise community awareness and contribute. It's a self-reinforcing cycle - the more awareness there is, the greater the likelihood of attracting quality contribution, and the more quality contributions there are, the more awareness there will be of it, so jump-start that cycle.

9) A user takes major offense at content in another user's profile (e.g. about me text, or avatar) and repeatedly flags posts by that other user within a few hours, demanding that you remove the offending content from the profile. You look at the user profile, and it doesn't appear to be against the rules. Neither user is available in chat. What do you do?

I would send a moderator message to the flagging user to inform them that 1) the content is not against the rules, 2) I don't respond well to demands 3) I am getting annoyed by their frivolous flags and 4) I ban things that annoy me.

I would also try to work in something about how this flagging user could improve themselves, though I don't have any bookmarked articles on "not being a whiny bitch"... therefore, if elected, I would remedy that and find some resources on how not to be a whiny bitch, so that I could assist any users I would interact with who are suffering from the problem of being a whiny bitch.

10) What is your current approach, overall, to handling new users when they come into the site and appear not to understand our rules/customs/guidelines? If you became a diamond moderator, how would that approach change, if at all? For the purposes of this question, you may assume that the new user is not posting something worthy of the "Spam" or "Offensive" flags; that would make the question too easy to answer ;) Instead, just imagine that the new user has posted an answer with quality problems, or asked a question in an "Answer" post, or asked a question that has been asked many times before and is widely duplicated -- something along those lines. Pick an example and explain how you deal with it.

My current approach is to ignore such users. When particularly bad, a flag/VTC and downvote are "awarded" to the post in question. As a moderator, I would be held to a higher standard, and would do my best to inform and punish/correct such users.

First off, I would throw a downvote on the post and add a comment. The downvote, of course, serves to feed the auto-ban algorithm that cuts off low-quality contributors from spraying more of their crap around the site. Then I would dispose of the post as appropriate (closing it, converting it to a comment, protecting the other users from being afflicted by it with a deletion, whatever).

Of course, much like with my answer to question 3, the comment would serve to inform and offer suggestions at improvement.

Users who use answers for things that are not answers would be informed of their error, offered a handy link/definition of the meaning of the word "answer" and be advised to consult their nearest elementary school teacher for more information.

People who seem to believe that posting here is the same as sending a txt message to their BFF would be advised that we are not, in fact, a gaggle of tween girls, given a link to a spell checker, and advised that their manner of discourse makes them look moronic. Depending on whether the low quality is due to stupidity or laziness, I would then be able to provide the poster helpful tips on improving their mental functioning (mental exercise, certain foods, education services, etc.) or tackling their motivation/misinformed opinion that SuperUser is their mother and will clean up their crap.

People who seem to have managed to avoid reading the help center or topicality guidelines will be informed that this is their error, and directed to helpful resources to address their problem - programs to help them learn to read, programs to help the victims of adult illiteracy, and so on.

For egregious cases, I may just skip ahead, nuke their crap, smack them with a suspension, and send a moderator message at them to correct their impression that I'm willing to tolerate people flinging feces around like ill-behaved monkeys, and direct them to quality animal trainers who may have success in helping them stop that behavior.

And of course, between the auto-ban algorithm and the mod-hammer, I'm confident that we'd experience a sharp decline in problems with repeat offenders of community standards.

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    Your answers only reinforce the poor attitude expressed in your nomination. A moderator must be firm, but do not conflate that with being a total arse to anybody who might dare to disagree with you. – nhinkle Apr 29 '14 at 18:19

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