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:
Dissolve or relocate the tension by moving to chat. This gets lengthy, distracting, and/or meta discussions out of comments.
Look for resolution or compromise if it's practical or possible.
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:
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.
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.
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!