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Stack Overflow 2021 Moderator Election

2021 Moderator Election

nomination beganOct 11 at 20:00election beganOct 18 at 20:00election ended5 hours agocandidates6positions2Election PhaseIn the election phase, up to 10 candidates advance to final community voting. Candidates are displayed in random order.Any community member with 150 reputation may vote in the election. Please make your selections in order of preference, with the most desirable candidate as first choice. You do not need to rank all candidates.We will calculate the winners using OpaVote with the Meek STV method, which automatically weights users’ votes in the way that does the most good for the candidates they have selected, in order of preference.When the election is complete, the ballot file will be freely downloadable from this page for the life of the site. Individual users’ voting choices are always private; only the aggregated tally will be made public.

On Stack Exchange, we believe the core moderators should come from the community, and be elected by the community itself through popular vote. We hold regular elections to determine who these community moderators will be.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege in our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Candidacy Criteria

Generally, moderators should have the following qualities:

  • patient and fair
  • leads by example
  • shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words
  • open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track, and resolve uncommon disputes and exceptions

For the Stack Overflow election, candidates must have all the following badges:
Civic DutyStrunk & WhiteDeputyConvention

…and also cannot have been suspended during the past year.

Furthermore, all moderators must abide by the moderator agreement.

Due to the size of Stack Overflow (averaging around 2,700 flags per day), moderation can be a significant responsibility — if you can’t dedicate at least 30 minutes daily to help shoulder the load, please defer to those who can.

Election Process

Every election has up to three phases:

  1. Nomination
  2. Primary (active only if there are >10 nominees)
  3. Election

Their descriptions can be found in the blue notice boxes at the top of each corresponding page.

For questions about the election process itself, you can search Meta, or ask in the election chat room linked in the section below.

Please participate in the moderator elections by ranking the candidates, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator.

Additional Links

QuestionnaireThe community team has compiled questions from meta for the candidates to answer.

Show QuestionsThis election ended 5 hours ago.The results of this election can be viewed online via OpaVoteDownload the election data and use OpenSTV for Windows or macOS to audit the results.
835,801 voters were eligible, 328,410 visited the site during the election, 83,182 visited the election page, and 28,754 voted

6 Candidates

NominationPrimaryElection

Daniel Widdis

I’m Daniel. I’m willing to serve the community as a moderator because I believe I have the knowledge and temperament to excel at the job.

There are already four fantastic candidates in this election, at least two of whom I know would do a better job than I would and the other two who might. Carefully consider what you think are the best qualifications of a moderator and rank your candidates appropriately.

I won’t even try to stack up to other great candidates in metrics like close votes, flags, edits, and the like. I think that many of the badges involved in the candidate score calculation represent a user demonstrating a minimum level of competence in user-level moderation and I’d like to think my 17/20 score in that portion has some relevance as such a minimum.

I’ve been an active participant on the site for nearly a decade, having visited 2057 days in the past 9 3/4 years. I appreciate SO from the perspective of someone who often searches for, and finds, valuable information and tend to be biased toward preservation of content.

I have experience in admin/conflict resolution in both the real world and online community for at least three decades.Questionnaire

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

All users should be treated on a level playing field, and good content does not excuse bad conduct. I would begin treating this user the same way as anyone, hoping that the same comments I would make to anyone would provide a learning experience for them. If they care enough for the community to contribute valuable answers, I’d hope that’d be enough of a nudge. If the conduct escalated to a disruptive level that was causing harm to the community, I’d likely seek a second opinion from another moderator to ensure I wasn’t acting in a biased manner, see how situations like this have been handled in the past, and escalate the responses.

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

I’d inquire about their reasoning, in the hopes of understanding something about the site that would improve my own response. If I disagreed I would respectfully share my reasons with that other mod in the hope they would consider them as well, but not demand any action or get in open/close wars. I’m sure many actions taken are judgement calls and I’m not going to pretend my judgement is better.

  1. A question is asked in a fairly active tag about which you have no firsthand knowledge. A gold badge holder marks it duplicate and another comes along behind them and reopens it and answers it. The first user raises a moderator flag, complaining that the new answer is similar to (or the same as) those found in the duplicate. They want the question closed again. In the meantime, both people have rallied their friends/fellow users and have closed and reopened the question twice more, prompting more flags in both directions. How would you handle this?

I would lock the question to stop the immediate symptoms, and then take the time to talk privately with each individual involved to get their perspective on the situation and understand the reasonings. Ideally the discussion could be held on Meta, although I’d want to avoid just moving the conflict there. My hope that would be that over time, cooler heads among the gold-badge-holders would prevail. I’d also look at previous times things like this have happened and what the resolution was, trying to stick generally to what’s been done before.

  1. In the face of a lot of the things that have transpired since the last two times we’ve had a moderator election (from about 2019 on), why specifically do you want this role?

As a developer, I love this site, regularly use this site, and evangelize it to the new generation of engineers on my team and even my kids. I want this site to succeed in spite of the challenges it is facing.

People make mistakes and bad things happen. I try not to hold grudges, and prefer to focus on the future of the site and not dwell on things that have happened in the past, other than learning lessons from them.

  1. How would you deal with a situation when a fellow moderator had made a mistake, which led to the affected user asking a meta question, but the moderator is persisting that they were right in the face of the contradictory evidence?

I would not attempt to argue this on my own, other than (if necessary) attempting to calm the discussion. As answered to a previous question, my first instinct would be to understand the reasoning involved in an attempt to understand the facts and whether I was mistaken in thinking it was a mistake in the first place. There are many moderators and if one single moderator is insisting contrary to everyone, then a “more tenured” moderator is likely better suited to handle this particular situation.

  1. During the election phase, moderator candidates will each have a Candidate Score posted which is intended to correlate in some way with an expectation of their ability to fill the role. Do you feel that your score is an adequate metric for measuring your potential moderation abilities, or if it is not, can you explain what it doesn’t measure that adds to what’s already measured or mitigates any perceived shortcoming?

Full Disclosure: I asked this question. Was it a plant? Well, you voted for it.

As mentioned in my intro, I think that many of the badges involved in the candidate score calculation represent a user demonstrating a minimum level of competence in user-level moderation and I believe they largely serve that purpose.

I think the reputation portion of the score is a poor measure. I recognize that I still have much to learn in the way of user-level moderation, having not yet even reached 10K. My expertise is in a low-visibility tag that often attracts new users, and I am not interested in farming rep just to improve my candidate score. I do, however, have the Unsung Hero badge.

The nomination criteria states the qualities a mod should have: patient and fair, leads by example, shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words, open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track, and resolve uncommon disputes and exceptions. I believe I have those qualities.

I’m older, seasoned, have a thick skin, and have experience in conflict resolution in both the real world and online community for at least three decades. I have been in helper/moderator positions in CompuServe chat/fora since the early 1990’s, and have been an administrator on games in the MU* genre since the early 2000’s. In the real world I have 20 years of experience in the military, leading and managing people with diverse backgrounds. In these decades, I have often been called on to mediate conflict and present an unbiased approach, listening carefully to both sides and taking the time to investigate the facts.

In the (likely) event I am not elected, I am welcome to feedback from the community in areas that I should focus my time to grow and improve, that you’d like to see in a future election.

  1. The Low Quality Answers and Late Answers review queues include guidance that one of the actions to complete the review is to: “Delete answers that do not address the question at all, are link-only, or are incomprehensible.” Many users recommend deletion from within these queues for answers that are technically incorrect or contain code without an explanation. General consensus is that this is not appropriate. Occasionally, moderators override these users by dismissing the review task or deleting and undeleting the answer to clear any delete votes. Do you think this use of the review system is a problem? In what situations do you think this misuse of the review queue requires moderator intervention, and would you provide additional education or penalties for such users?

I mentioned in my intro that I am generally biased toward preservation of content. As such, while I don’t think I’d do this regularly, I can’t much disagree with the actions of those moderators who work around the system to do so. It’s not much different than waiting for a question to be deleted by the system and then undeleting it if it has value.

As far as “what situations” require this intervention that’s clearly a judgement call. I don’t think “penalties” for users are appropriate for judgement calls, and “education” from a moderator may feel like bullying. My general approach would be to try to contribute in a more positive way to discussions on changing the system to reflect what the community wants.

In the event clearly good content is voted for deletion and the user makes obvious mistakes, I’d attempt “education” privately in the hopes of improving their review performance.

  1. Some actions (moderator messages, including suspension) are anonymous, so users cannot get back at the moderator who send the warning/sanction. Some others leave “breadcrumbs” (a few examples: deleting a NAA post, deleting a duplicate answer with a comment, nuking a potential spam post without applying the spam penalty, commenting to defuse a toxic comment thread instead of sending private messages…). Those actions can lead to users getting back at you personally with revenge downvotes for instance. If you process a lot of flags, you’re not going to be able to make a relation with the serial downvoting. How would you handle such attacks if you’d decide to handle it? Would you rather not delete a post by fear of revenge / meta post that you’d possibly have to answer to (and possibly get a lot of downvotes, because, hey, this is meta)?

If an action is the right answer to take, I’ll take it. I’m not afraid of downvotes and I’m sure I’ve been called worse things in my life. I use my real name on the site and have regularly participated in some user-level moderation without this worry.

  1. A user has replied to an increasingly heated comment chain and used an ambiguous yet colloquial word that can be gender neutral to many people, but carries an implicit male context by itself (“dude”, “guys”, etc.). This comment draws a few red flags, including a custom moderator flag that accuses the person of violating the pronoun code of conduct. There’s nothing else flag-worthy about the comment. How would you handle this?

It would seem to be rare that such language would be used in a comment that had value that should be preserved on the site, and deleting the comment chain quietly seems the best response in most cases. If a user has a pattern of this sort of language and repeatedly gets flagged, I’ll communicate this fact to them and hope that their understanding that they are causing offense to others motivates a change. If they continue past this point, my assumption of good faith will be lost and I may escalate the actions I take.

  1. Rumor has it that moderators get informed early on and in private about upcoming changes in functionality. On such occasion a change is proposed you wholeheartedly hate. I mean, seriously, you can’t stand it. But, you see the benefit the feature will have for the community and you feel it will be welcomed / received well when publicly announced. What will your initial internal response be and how will you proceed once the feature goes live / gets Meta attention / you’re faced with it for real?

If I see the benefit for the community, I certainly can’t imagine “wholeheartedly hating” it. But I’ll play along here.

I worked for three years at Amazon which has a leadership principle “disagree and commit”. Before a change is set in stone, disagreement is welcome, particularly with supporting evidence. However, once a decision is made, support of the feature going forward is expected. I anticipate I’d act similarly here — oppose the decision if/when I had the chance, but support it once it became public.Read morelinkhistoryposted Oct 16 at 18:23Daniel Widdis
member for 9 yearscandidate score 23/40

  • reputation 6k
  • moderation badges: 7/8
  • editing badges: 4/6
  • participation badges: 6/6

reviews | meta posts

Ryan M

Hi, I’m Ryan. I’ve spent a lot of time as a user helping curate site content via review queues and SOCVR, as well as fighting spam and abuse in Charcoal. I also answer questions about Android.

I’d like to be a moderator so that I can do what I’m already doing, but more effectively—fixing situations myself instead of writing them up in a flag for someone else to re-check and handle.

What I lack in SO reputation (the main thing lowering my candidate score), I think I make up for in experience with curation and user-level moderation, and I’ve got the stats to prove it.

By the numbers

  • Network-wide reputation: 40k
  • Reviews: 21,040
  • Helpful flags: 4,085 (99.37% helpful)
  • Network-wide helpful flags: 6,729 (99.41% helpful)
  • Close/reopen votes: 19,746
  • Up/down votes: 6,431
  • Delete/undelete votes: 888
  • Edits: 1,040
  • Posts reviewed for spam/abuse in Charcoal: 11,142
  • Patterns watched for spam/abuse via Smoke Detector1,000+
  • Meta.SO net upvotes: 1,421 (across 87 posts)

Questionnaire

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

It depends. Why are they generating these arguments/flags? Have they actually done something wrong, or does another user have a grudge for some reason?

Assuming they have done something wrong, and on multiple occasions, I’d consider their intent. Glancing ahead to question 9, perhaps they’ve unwittingly done something that offended someone, and the behavior can be corrected with some information on why their behavior is problematic. Maybe it’s more blatant (condescending or unkind comments, perhaps?), and they need a wake-up call in the form of a moderator message. Or perhaps they’re just screaming profanity at users in the comments (probably unlikely, but possible…) and need an immediate suspension to cool down.

Ultimately, I’d try to tailor the response to the behavior, and aim to encourage and allow for reform/improvement/education where possible, but I wouldn’t hesitate to suspend a user whose persistent uncorrectable toxic behavior was harming the community, even if their contributions were otherwise valuable.

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

Again…it depends. Was it a clear mistake, where I can see and understand the reasoning behind their decision-making, see what they missed, and see that they would have done the same if they saw what I see? In that case, I’d reverse their action and possibly ping them to follow up later. Otherwise, I’d most likely try to contact them and follow up on the post at a later time once we’ve had a chance to talk.

  1. A question is asked in a fairly active tag about which you have no firsthand knowledge. A gold badge holder marks it duplicate and another comes along behind them and reopens it and answers it. The first user raises a moderator flag, complaining that the new answer is similar to (or the same as) those found in the duplicate. They want the question closed again. In the meantime, both people have rallied their friends/fellow users and have closed and reopened the question twice more, prompting more flags in both directions. How would you handle this?

I’d be looking for patterns. If this is a one-off dispute about a single question, resolving such disputes is generally not the purpose of moderator flags. In that case, I’d most likely decline the flags, asking the users to take the dispute to Meta or the reopen queue.

If it’s about a pattern (e.g., “this user constantly reopens obvious duplicates to answer them, to the detriment of the site”) and there’s evidence (I’ve heard tales of some very vague flags about this, which were properly declined), I’d look at the evidence. Has the moderation team handled previous flags about these users? If so, how were those handled? If not, I’d try to find a way to evaluate the evidence (hopefully another moderator familiar with the subject matter), and start off with warnings via moderator message—I assume that gold-badge holders are trying to do what’s best for the site by default, even if the way they’re doing it is misguided. I would also look to related Meta questions about similar disputes (as they often end up there periodically) to try to gauge the community consensus on whether these questions are being handled properly.

  1. In the face of a lot of the things that have transpired since the last two times we’ve had a moderator election (from about 2019 on), why specifically do you want this role?

I’m an optimist. Much of what I’ve seen from the company lately has given me reason to be optimistic about the network’s future. Whether that’s folks on the Community team being accessible to the community, a VP-level seat for the Community team, or investment in curation tools (even if the execution needed some work), the company has shown that it intends to learn lessons and try to do the right thing for the community.

Oh, and I really enjoy making spammers’ lives difficult. Finding a bunch of well-hidden spam posts over in Charcoal is always satisfying, and the tools available to moderators would make this easier.

  1. How would you deal with a situation when a fellow moderator had made a mistake, which led to the affected user asking a meta question, but the moderator is persisting that they were right in the face of the contradictory evidence?

This seems…unlikely? The moderation team here has struck me as a generally reasonable bunch who tend to own their mistakes, a philosophy that I try to follow myself. I have to imagine that such a “mistake” would most likely be a difference of opinion on how to make a judgement call. Ideally, I’d want to try to form a consensus among the moderation team about how to handle these in the future, and create a policy for handling that type of situation that we can (mostly) agree on and document on a meta post, so that we can at least handle similar situations consistently going forward.

  1. During the election phase, moderator candidates will each have a Candidate Score posted which is intended to correlate in some way with an expectation of their ability to fill the role. Do you feel that your score is an adequate metric for measuring your potential moderation abilities, or if it is not, can you explain what it doesn’t measure that adds to what’s already measured or mitigates any perceived shortcoming?

As I’ve tried to highlight up top, I think it doesn’t reflect the volume of user-level moderation and curation work that I’ve done on the site. I’ve done 20k+ reviews across all the queues, and almost 15k in the close vote queue specifically (putting me at #29 across the site). I’ve raised over 4k helpful flags, including many custom flags for complex issues like spammers who’ve gone undetected for years.

  1. The Low Quality Answers and Late Answers review queues include guidance that one of the actions to complete the review is to: “Delete answers that do not address the question at all, are link-only, or are incomprehensible.” Many users recommend deletion from within these queues for answers that are technically incorrect or contain code without an explanation. General consensus is that this is not appropriate. Occasionally, moderators override these users by dismissing the review task or deleting and undeleting the answer to clear any delete votes. Do you think this use of the review system is a problem? In what situations do you think this misuse of the review queue requires moderator intervention, and would you provide additional education or penalties for such users?

Yes, as a reviewer who’s particular about reviewing accurately, I think it’s a problem. It means that we’re a) deleting potentially useful content off the site, and b) providing bad education in the form of incorrect audits to other reviewers. I’ve flagged this sort of thing many times.

As a moderator, I’d provide user education on proper reviewing via (short, then increasing in duration if needed) review suspensions (as this is the tool that the platform provides for this), and try to handle flags about such reviewing quickly (currently, they tend to take a few weeks to process, giving the reviewers plenty of time to incorrectly review hundreds more posts).

  1. Some actions (moderator messages, including suspension) are anonymous, so users cannot get back at the moderator who send the warning/sanction. Some others leave “breadcrumbs” (a few examples: deleting a NAA post, deleting a duplicate answer with a comment, nuking a potential spam post without applying the spam penalty, commenting to defuse a toxic comment thread instead of sending private messages…). Those actions can lead to users getting back at you personally with revenge downvotes for instance. If you process a lot of flags, you’re not going to be able to make a relation with the serial downvoting. How would you handle such attacks if you’d decide to handle it? Would you rather not delete a post by fear of revenge / meta post that you’d possibly have to answer to (and possibly get a lot of downvotes, because, hey, this is meta)?

This one’s an easy one: my name is on many thousands of closed posts, over a thousand comments (many offering advice on improving posts), and hundreds of deleted questions. No, I’m not afraid of this.

I’m open to criticism, and I am always willing to discuss why I did what I did. Despite my long curation record, I’ve only had my actions questioned on Meta once that I’m aware of (which resulted in me editing the post with the additional context and getting it reopened after communicating why I’d voted to close in the first place). I’ve also had my requests in SOCVR questioned from time to time (as I question others), and have agreed on some (retracting my vote and request) and explained my reasoning and held my ground on others.

  1. A user has replied to an increasingly heated comment chain and used an ambiguous yet colloquial word that can be gender neutral to many people, but carries an implicit male context by itself (“dude”, “guys”, etc.). This comment draws a few red flags, including a custom moderator flag that accuses the person of violating the pronoun code of conduct. There’s nothing else flag-worthy about the comment. How would you handle this?

Assume good faith where reasonable, but strive to educate and improve. “Increasingly heated” sounds like the sort of extended discussion that needs to be moved out of the comments section. I’d edit the comment if warranted, mark the flags* helpful, move the comments to chat if warranted, and consider informing the user(s) involved about the importance of using people’s correct pronouns (especially if the commenter has drawn multiple such flags).

* I note that this says “red flags,” which cannot be raised against comments. I’m assuming that “red flags” is being used colloquially, and that they are standard comment flags, not actual red flags.

  1. Rumor has it that moderators get informed early on and in private about upcoming changes in functionality. On such occasion a change is proposed you wholeheartedly hate. I mean, seriously, you can’t stand it. But, you see the benefit the feature will have for the community and you feel it will be welcomed / received well when publicly announced. What will your initial internal response be and how will you proceed once the feature goes live / gets Meta attention / you’re faced with it for real?

This is a curious hypothetical. Why do I hate it, but think that everyone else will love it? I suppose I’d first consider if I’m just flat-out wrong. Perhaps the advantages outweigh the costs, and I’m just looking at it from the wrong perspective. After that, I’d consider whether what I hate about it can be addressed without breaking the value proposition. Maybe my feedback can be addressed and make the feature loved by even more members of the community.Read morelinkhistoryposted Oct 12 at 21:46Ryan M
member for 11 yearscandidate score 32/40

  • reputation 13k
  • moderation badges: 7/8
  • editing badges: 6/6
  • participation badges: 6/6

reviews | meta posts

Stephen Rauch

Hi, I’m Stephen Rauch, an avid user who enjoys improving the quality of the site. I equally enjoy helping new users produce better posts, and deleting the irredeemable. I have been a member here for almost 5 years.

I am currently an elected moderator on datascience.se, so I am already familiar with the moderator tooling, as as well as hunting voting rings, and needing to hand out the occasional review suspension. I handle most of the flags on that site, but this is only about 1.8k flags in the roughly 900 days since I was elected there. This is only about 2 flags a day, and will not have an impact on my ability to spend time on SO.

Philosophy? Bullies and Trolls are incompatible with Be Nice!

And since stats seem to be thing here: network wide I have performed roughly 65k reviews, 10k edits and 14k Close votes. In addition, I have visited SO Meta for the last 1060 consecutive days.

Also, I previously ran for moderator in 2018linkhistoryposted Oct 18 at 19:59Stephen Rauch
member for 4 yearscandidate score 40/40

  • reputation >= 20k
  • moderation badges: 8/8
  • editing badges: 6/6
  • participation badges: 6/6

reviews | meta posts

Dharman

I’m Dharman and I love Stack Overflow. I’d like to do more to uphold the high-quality standards of this site and ensure that my fellow developers can easily find the best solutions to their programming problems.

Why would I be a good moderator?

I’ve been active in user-level moderation already for some time. I am very familiar with all rules and quality standards. I enjoy performing the janitorial work that is often required of moderators.

I like to think of myself as a humble person, who is not too proud to admit they made a mistake when a situation calls for it. At the same time, I stand firmly by my decisions and am not afraid to explain the motivation behind them.

Stats that say more about me than candidate score

  • 5th most helpful flagger of all time (89k helpful flags; 99.61% helpful)
  • 34k up/down votes cast
  • 39k posts edited
  • 6k deletion votes
  • 27k closure votes
  • 7.6k reviews

Questionnaire

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

The more a user contributes to the site, the more flags their actions are expected to generate, whether well-founded or not. However…

It doesn’t matter who the user is. If their comments draw a significant amount of valid flags, they need to be warned. I would try to help them understand in what ways they are breaking CoC and what they can do to improve their behaviour. We don’t want to lose a user who is posting valuable contributions, but at the same time, I don’t want to show that certain users get more leeway when it comes to CoC.

Users deeply involved with the site might be more willing to listen to reason and take a step back.

We must all remember to be respectful to each other and sometimes that requires someone to remind us of it.

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

Depends on the context really, but if it’s something I am an expert in and I believe they made an honest mistake, I would fix it without involving them. If this happen more often, I would definitely ping them to understand why they chose such action.

If this is an action on a post I am not an expert in, then I would first reach out to that moderator and ask for more context and their justification of it. There could be a reason that is not immediately obvious to me.

In general, if there’s something I have doubts about, I try to seek advice, whether it’s from the person who handled the initial situation, other mods, SOCVR or Meta community. My judgement is just that, my judgement, and it is wrong sometimes.

  1. A question is asked in a fairly active tag about which you have no firsthand knowledge. A gold badge holder marks it duplicate and another comes along behind them and reopens it and answers it. The first user raises a moderator flag, complaining that the new answer is similar to (or the same as) those found in the duplicate. They want the question closed again. In the meantime, both people have rallied their friends/fellow users and have closed and reopened the question twice more, prompting more flags in both directions. How would you handle this?

The first thing I do is lock the question. I post a comment asking all parties to take the discussion to Meta. Flags are not the right medium to handle such disputes. Moderators often lack the necessary domain knowledge to adequately decide what the right action should be. They rely on experienced members of the community to know which action will have the best outcome for the knowledge base we are trying to build here. If SMEs can’t agree on the right course of action, then a broader forum is required to discuss the topic.

Nonetheless, I will try to analyse the situation and investigate each flag separately. All flags should be heard by moderators and analysed separately. It could be that the situation has a clear resolution and the intervention of a moderator was required.

  1. In the face of a lot of the things that have transpired since the last two times we’ve had a moderator election (from about 2019 on), why specifically do you want this role?

This site still exists. Developers all around the world still find answers here led by their Google searches. As long as the site fulfils its mission, there need to be people who will moderate it.

I hope that the company will keep on making improvements to the main Q&A site while staying profitable and true to the original goal.

  1. How would you deal with a situation when a fellow moderator had made a mistake, which led to the affected user asking a meta question, but the moderator is persisting that they were right in the face of the contradictory evidence?

If the other moderators agree that this was a wrong decision, I would try to mend things, if that is possible. In situations like this, I would rely on the experience of fellow moderators to suggest how to handle it.

  1. During the election phase, moderator candidates will each have a Candidate Score posted which is intended to correlate in some way with an expectation of their ability to fill the role. Do you feel that your score is an adequate metric for measuring your potential moderation abilities, or if it is not, can you explain what it doesn’t measure that adds to what’s already measured or mitigates any perceived shortcoming?

Badges are definitely not a good indicator of whether someone would be a good moderator. Reputation is an even worse indicator. My score is definitely not an adequate indication of my moderation skills.

Helpful flags, edits, votes, and reviews provide better information about a candidate. If a user is involved in these activities, it shows that they are interested in maintaining high quality on Stack Overflow.

Besides that, candidates interactions on Meta Stack Overflow show how they feel about certain decisions, rules, and agreed practices.

  1. The Low Quality Answers and Late Answers review queues include guidance that one of the actions to complete the review is to: “Delete answers that do not address the question at all, are link-only, or are incomprehensible.” Many users recommend deletion from within these queues for answers that are technically incorrect or contain code without an explanation. General consensus is that this is not appropriate. Occasionally, moderators override these users by dismissing the review task or deleting and undeleting the answer to clear any delete votes. Do you think this use of the review system is a problem? In what situations do you think this misuse of the review queue requires moderator intervention, and would you provide additional education or penalties for such users?

Code-only answers aren’t great, but they are still an attempt at answering. They should not be deleted unless they are incomprehensible without an explanation or they look like they might not even be attempts at answering at all. Vigilance is required to determine whether an answer should be deleted or not. The purpose of the queue is to let users use their judgement to decide whether the answer is good enough to remain visible or it has absolutely no value in its current state.

Deleting low-quality answers only becomes a problem when it becomes a pattern for certain users. I have flagged certain reviews in the past as they were obviously invalid in my opinion. Users that perform incorrect reviews, need to be reminded of the general guidance. We have plenty of material on meta that can be used to improve our review skills.

  1. Some actions (moderator messages, including suspension) are anonymous, so users cannot get back at the moderator who send the warning/sanction. Some others leave “breadcrumbs” (a few examples: deleting a NAA post, deleting a duplicate answer with a comment, nuking a potential spam post without applying the spam penalty, commenting to defuse a toxic comment thread instead of sending private messages…). Those actions can lead to users getting back at you personally with revenge downvotes for instance. If you process a lot of flags, you’re not going to be able to make a relation with the serial downvoting. How would you handle such attacks if you’d decide to handle it? Would you rather not delete a post by fear of revenge / meta post that you’d possibly have to answer to (and possibly get a lot of downvotes, because, hey, this is meta)?

I would certainly delete it. If they get angry because I did what I had to do, it sounds like a they problem.

I am constantly a victim of spite downvotes, rude comments, and even comments outside of the network and emails. This is not the correct way of handling disputes. Raise a moderator flag or use the Contact Us form if you have a problem with my moderation.

A polite request for clarification of my action would be well-received as a meta post. Certainly, the main reason for users getting mad is because they don’t understand why things are the way they are, and an explanation provided on Meta can go a long way.

Any rude actions taken towards me would be handled the same way I do right now; I raise an appropriate flag. For rude comments, a flag should be raised to retain that information by the system. For serial downvotes, an escalation to CMs might be required.

  1. A user has replied to an increasingly heated comment chain and used an ambiguous yet colloquial word that can be gender neutral to many people, but carries an implicit male context by itself (“dude”, “guys”, etc.). This comment draws a few red flags, including a custom moderator flag that accuses the person of violating the pronoun code of conduct. There’s nothing else flag-worthy about the comment. How would you handle this?

I will clean up all heated/irrelevant comments and lock comments on the post for some time to let the conversation cool down. It sounds like the whole comment chain has no value.

I will assume good faith. If the situation requires it, I will point the user towards resources on how they can avoid causing offence to other members by an unwise choice of words.

I will investigate what triggered the flags and if there’s a previous pattern of that user making similar comments or using certain words in a derogatory context I’ll issue a moderator message. If they have been warned about this behaviour in the past, I’ll consider suspension.

  1. Rumor has it that moderators get informed early on and in private about upcoming changes in functionality. On such occasion a change is proposed you wholeheartedly hate. I mean, seriously, you can’t stand it. But, you see the benefit the feature will have for the community and you feel it will be welcomed / received well when publicly announced. What will your initial internal response be and how will you proceed once the feature goes live / gets Meta attention / you’re faced with it for real?

If I see the benefit it will have for the community then why would I hate it? Instead of just hating the feature, maybe I can provide constructive feedback on how it can be improved. Hatred isn’t helpful in any situation and only leads to feeling bad myself.Read morelinkhistoryposted Oct 13 at 19:18Dharman
member for 8 yearscandidate score 39/40

  • reputation >= 20k
  • moderation badges: 7/8
  • editing badges: 6/6
  • participation badges: 6/6

reviews | meta posts

Zoe

I’m Zoe, and I’m running for mod as another way to contribute to this fantastic resource.

Why not me?

  • Thanks to the pandemic (and 2019), I know when I need to take breaks (and often lean towards early breaks to avoid another burnout). See also Q4 in the questionnaire.
  • I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always the best at communication, and knowing when I should’ve disengaged five comments ago, but I’m always learning.

Why me?

  • 27000 flags, 17000 close votes, several thousand edits, and hopefully more in the future. (read: lots of experience with moderation on this site, as well as the rests of the network)
  • When I do get in the mood to crunch flags, I’m generally efficient. While that may not always apply to mod flags, I’m more than happy to learn.
  • I err on the side of caution when I’m in doubt, and I don’t mind double-checking my decisions, or admitting to being wrong when faced with sufficient evidence that I’ve made a mistake.
  • I care about the quality and future usability of the Q&A, as well as the community on it.

Questionnaire

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

I’d start off with the standard warning if the comments genuinely push over the line. I don’t entirely understand what “arguments” is meant to refer to in this context – a “regular” chain of argumentative comments is potentially fine, but depends on the context.

I’d potentially give some more leeway (implicit bias and whatnot), but a consistent pattern of comments clearly over the line is a consistent pattern of comments over the line whether that’s from a 10 rep user or a 1M rep user.

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

Depends on the close reason and the context. If it’s a dupe, I’m more inclined to take action first and explain later. That said, when it comes to undoing moderative actions, I’m generally careful. I’ll rather check unnecessarily (either with the mod in question, or other users) if I believe whatever action that was taken to have been wrong.

That said, as a mod, checking with the mod who took the action would be my first step on some postsI don’t have more details to give here — it’s context-dependent and I don’t have any examples, to eliminate invisible details I can’t immediately see from the question, including plagiarism, reposts, or other factors I can’t think of on the spot. The point is that not all context that justifies certain actions taken by moderators is immediately visible just from the post – I’m aware certain problems require more investigation and context than a single post can provide.

  1. A question is asked in a fairly active tag about which you have no firsthand knowledge. A gold badge holder marks it duplicate and another comes along behind them and reopens it and answers it. The first user raises a moderator flag, complaining that the new answer is similar to (or the same as) those found in the duplicate. They want the question closed again. In the meantime, both people have rallied their friends/fellow users and have closed and reopened the question twice more, prompting more flags in both directions. How would you handle this?

Locking generally makes sense here, though that’s just a temporary solution. I know from several meta discussions that questions like these aren’t easy territory, and in the case of duplicates in particular (I’ve found that dupes require domain knowledge a lot more frequently than a few of the other close categories), getting more eyes on it before taking action matters.

Essentially, the lock is a quick, dirty solution while trying to find someone with domain knowledge, or at least with enough experience to make a (semi-)educated guess.

Failing that, I honestly don’t know, but the advantage with at least getting more eyes on it is that I can rely on other mods with more experience. This is definitely one of the situations where I’d prefer erring on the side of caution, from a lack of relevant knowledge and it clearly being a heated and/or very active situation.

  1. In the face of a lot of the things that have transpired since the last two times we’ve had a moderator election (from about 2019 on), why specifically do you want this role?

I ran in 2019, prior to all the fun stuff™. I quit the site for a good few months, and came back in a heavily reduced capacity in 2020, when I for unrelated reasons got hit with some pretty bad burnout. Consequently, I acknowledged that I wasn’t in a position where I’d be a “useful” mod and didn’t run.

’19 and ‘2+ put a few things into perspective for me, including my motivations and capacity (the latter being important).

I mentioned in the nomination itself that I know when to take breaks, and I listed this as an argument against electing me because it means I don’t mind taking breaks. I can spend 5 minutes daily on flags, but similar to my current try at Duolingo, some days are gonna be bare minimum, while others are gonna be crunching flags like there’s no tomorrow. (similar to my current situation here on Stack, though the bare minimum is 0 minutes instead of >0 minutes)

My main “problem” when deciding on the 2020 election was avoiding a burnout. Aside a certain global pandemic, a bit of hopelessness on the future of Stack Overflow didn’t help my motivation to run.

Things still aren’t peachy, to put it like that (the current problem being Collectives), but the situation has gotten to the point where I’m able to focus on the Q&A-side of things again. That’s why I’m running this year.

While I’m worried we’re gonna get into another enormous situation where I agree with the side against the company, I’d rather focus on the value of the Q&A. The Q&A is under a permissive license, regardless of mistakes done by any “group” affiliated with the network. The value of the content and community lives on somewhere, and I’d be honored to contribute to that.

  1. How would you deal with a situation when a fellow moderator had made a mistake, which led to the affected user asking a meta question, but the moderator is persisting that they were right in the face of the contradictory evidence?

Realistically, I wouldn’t be alone in handling this. I’ll show support for the user in question if no one else gets to it before me, and I’ll gladly dismantle a few arguments, but I’m just not sure how to deal with these situations. That’s where the other mods come in.

  1. During the election phase, moderator candidates will each have a Candidate Score posted which is intended to correlate in some way with an expectation of their ability to fill the role. Do you feel that your score is an adequate metric for measuring your potential moderation abilities, or if it is not, can you explain what it doesn’t measure that adds to what’s already measured or mitigates any perceived shortcoming?

The candidate score is a combination of reputation and badges. While some of those badges are moderation-related, most of the score isn’t. A score of 39 doesn’t demonstrate that I’m capable at moderation. Completely out of context, it just demonstrates that I at some point did the bare minimum to get the badges. This isn’t the case with me, and I have numbers to back it up.

Instead, I feel my numbers speak for themselves. I’ve voted to close over 17000 questions, I’ve flagged over 27000 posts, and I’ve made almost 15000 edits. A candidate score of 39 doesn’t reflect that. I know there have been candidates with less experience, but a higher score.

Even these numbers just reflect a few actions, though. They don’t represent communication, or other aspects or values of being a moderator. I consequently don’t see the candidate score as an indication of ability or how good a moderator any user would be, but rather as a very, very, very rough indicator of whether someone may have the values we’re looking for in a moderator. I personally look more to contributions, both in terms of answers and questions, and moderation, as well as values presented surrounding the nomination when I decide on who I want to vote for – not the candidate score.

  1. The Low Quality Answers and Late Answers review queues include guidance that one of the actions to complete the review is to: “Delete answers that do not address the question at all, are link-only, or are incomprehensible.” Many users recommend deletion from within these queues for answers that are technically incorrect or contain code without an explanation. General consensus is that this is not appropriate. Occasionally, moderators override these users by dismissing the review task or deleting and undeleting the answer to clear any delete votes. Do you think this use of the review system is a problem? In what situations do you think this misuse of the review queue requires moderator intervention, and would you provide additional education or penalties for such users?

I do believe it’s often a problem. In the case of code-only answers, a few of these do indeed have value, and deleting them consequently removes valuable content.

Code-only answers are one of the very few categories where I some times nudge the answerer in the right direction, because it’s the category of posts with the highest potential of being improved into a full-on valuable answer.

I find that the review system doesn’t provide all the info needed for a few of the edge-cases of the review queue. I’ll take action when this comes to my attention, but what I’ll do depends on the user. If I have reason to believe the user isn’t aware, I’ll inform them. Otherwise, a suspension might be appropriate.

  1. Some actions (moderator messages, including suspension) are anonymous, so users cannot get back at the moderator who send the warning/sanction. Some others leave “breadcrumbs” (a few examples: deleting a NAA post, deleting a duplicate answer with a comment, nuking a potential spam post without applying the spam penalty, commenting to defuse a toxic comment thread instead of sending private messages…). Those actions can lead to users getting back at you personally with revenge downvotes for instance. If you process a lot of flags, you’re not going to be able to make a relation with the serial downvoting. How would you handle such attacks if you’d decide to handle it? Would you rather not delete a post by fear of revenge / meta post that you’d possibly have to answer to (and possibly get a lot of downvotes, because, hey, this is meta)?

No.

Some users stepping far over the line when faced with resistance and lashing out isn’t my fault. I’ll admit that I’ve stopped commenting on NAAs because I don’t want to take the time to deal with arbitrary toxicity. But if the means is to defuse a toxic comment thread, deletion of a genuinely bad post, or voice my opinion somewhere it’s important, I’ll gladly tank the potential for revenge – says more about them than about me, which has taken a few years to realize.

  1. A user has replied to an increasingly heated comment chain and used an ambiguous yet colloquial word that can be gender neutral to many people, but carries an implicit male context by itself (“dude”, “guys”, etc.). This comment draws a few red flags, including a custom moderator flag that accuses the person of violating the pronoun code of conduct. There’s nothing else flag-worthy about the comment. How would you handle this?

If there’s a pattern, I’d send a friendly reminder about how it could be perceived, but disconnect it from the last discussion that triggered the flags. Otherwise, I’d let it slide. If it’s a heated comment chain, the entire thing is going to be nuked anyway, and I don’t see a reason for a non-pattern in a heated chain to have “hard” side-effects. Things happen in discussions like that, that normally wouldn’t.

  1. Rumor has it that moderators get informed early on and in private about upcoming changes in functionality. On such occasion a change is proposed you wholeheartedly hate. I mean, seriously, you can’t stand it. But, you see the benefit the feature will have for the community and you feel it will be welcomed / received well when publicly announced. What will your initial internal response be and how will you proceed once the feature goes live / gets Meta attention / you’re faced with it for real?

I don’t want to comment much on this because, as is the case with several other questions here, depends on context. I’ll voice my opinion internally if I believe it’s necessary, but if I see real value to the community, I’ll be more inclined to be in favor of it in the first place.Read morelinkhistoryposted Oct 11 at 22:14Zoe
member for 5 yearscandidate score 39/40

  • reputation >= 20k
  • moderation badges: 7/8
  • editing badges: 6/6
  • participation badges: 6/6

reviews | meta postsCandidate’s nomination was withdrawn Oct 21 at 22:00. Any votes for this candidate will not be counted.linkhistorywithdrew Oct 21 at 22:00Shree
member for 10 yearscandidate score 38/40

  • reputation >= 20k
  • moderation badges: 7/8
  • editing badges: 6/6
  • participation badges: 5/6

reviews | meta posts

This election is over.

Categories: Uncategorized

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