2021 Moderator Election

nomination began
Nov 1, 2021 at 20:00
election began
Nov 8, 2021 at 20:00
election ended
Nov 16, 2021 at 20:00
candidates
5
positions
3

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 on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Our general criteria for moderators is as follows:

  • 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 (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

Full elections have three phases and an optional fourth phase (Primary):

  1. Question Collection
  2. Nomination
  3. Primary
  4. Election

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!

Additional Links

Questionnaire
The community team has compiled questions from meta for the candidates to answer.
  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?

[Answer 1 here]

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

[Answer 2 here]

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

[Answer 4 here]

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

[Answer 5 here]

aniline

I voted in another StackExchange election and was horrified by the answers to question 1 all but one candidate gave. I voted for that candidate (he was one of two winners). I'm not seeing such a candidate in this election, so I nominate myself.

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?

Is that user breaking the rules? Flags are meant to alert a human to look at something. Generating alerts is not a crime. Getting annoyed with a user on the basis of that user generating more work for a mod is bad, you might as well be annoyed with whoever flagged the posts.

If the user is in fact breaking the rules, action needs to be taken against that user. If s/he does not, perhaps action needs to be taken against repeat offender flaggers, probably starting with a post in Writing Meta.

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

SE needs content, and content starts with a question. I'll make a Meta post and invite that mod to discuss from a position of deference: can I do something to improve the post and posts like these so s/he would agree to keep it?

If there is something I can do, I'll be prepared to do it (and will not be angry at the mod if I fail and the question stays closed). Perhaps a piece of advice can be added to the question form to help such questions get approved in the future. If not, I'll accept the verdict.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators keep the community healthy. There's a feedback loop: good questions inspire good answers, which in turn invite more good questions; all of this attracts readers, who give upvotes and ask questions and give answers.

This loop breaks if the site is flooded with outright spam, if good new questions are lost among pointless and irrelevant ones, and if users are discouraged from contributing because it will paint a target on them and allow degrading insults to stick to their name until a rogue solar flare wipes the Internet clean - better lurk, or go elsewhere. Mods take actions to prevent these trends from developing and destroying the community.

Ideally, people should feel safe to contribute even under their real names, ifyouknowwhatimean.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

There's really one thing that worries me: if I give an answer, and someone else with a better answer will be reluctant to submit theirs because "the mod is probably right" or "the mod will probably win on points anyway". I can't think of anything else a diamond would change about my posts.

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

I don't know what stratospheric rep does. I want to be a moderator to help with janitorial tasks. I am not a power user and do not aspire to be one. I don't think mods need to be power users; I read a popular forum where mods seldom post other than to moderate, and it works OK. The user - now mod - who inspired me to run isn't a power user either.

Extra questions:

  1. On our site it can take a month or more for a question that deserves closure (e.g. for asking what to write, or for being primarily opinion-based) to receive the required five votes on the review queue. Some sites have a reduced three-vote closure, in particular to limit the opportunity for answers being posted on an off-topic question. What's your view on faster closure?

If it comes up for a community vote, I'll vote yes. (But I'm not committed to the answer, and whichever way the vote may go would be fine by me.) Letting bad questions stay on sets a bad community standard for new questions, and closing the question with a good effortpost answer depreciates the work of the answerer and discourages further participation by the asker, the answerer, and the audience ("those people were having a good discussion and the mods just had to barge in and ruin it").

  1. Stack Exchange is designed as a Q&A site rather than as a forum for personal opinion. On most sites, answers are expected to be both definitive and authoritative, typically supported by appropriate references. Our site is demonstrably different, with many questions seeking to tease out different approaches to a particular writing issue – which inevitably lends itself to a plethora of opinion-based answers. Should we try to limit this (and if so, how?), or do we accept it as part and parcel of a site devoted to the creative process?

Accept it as part and parcel of the creative process. Deferring to "professional writing advice" would be catastrophic.

Who are the professionals, anyway? I was signed up for a "writing advice" newsletter which mostly hocked workshops and editing services ("get published or your money back") and copywriting jobs ("earn money while waiting for your big break").

Pretty much every site on the SE network accepts questions from hobbyists. It is very likely that most users of Writing aren't professionally published and do not seriously aspire to be, they just have an idea for a book they would like to read and want to write one - maybe someone else wants to read it, too. Limiting answers to essentially publishing advice would be an unprecedented narrowing of the scope as well as a grave insult to the craft.

I feel calling Writing answers opinion-based is a bit unfair. I am a Python programmer. Consider some of the top, highly upvoted Python questions on StackOverflow:

What does ** (double star/asterisk) and * (star/asterisk) do for parameters?

How do I get the number of elements in a list?

How to get the last element of a list

How do I get a substring of a string in Python?

These are elementary questions. It is much easier to find answers for them in the documentation. And yet they've been taking up valuable real estate in the sidebar for 12 years, edging out questions which really need the time and attention of a human expert. Now this -

Correct way to validate GET parameters in django

\- is a quality question worthy of a human answer. The asker wrote "correct way", but s/he might as well have written "best way". Writing questions are like this, it only feels they're more "opinion-based" because the subject matter is "softer". Most good problem-solving questions are "opinion-based" to a degree. If Writing were to take after the first set of questions, perfectly definitive-and-authoritative, it would be reduced to spellchecking.

That said, answers to technical questions ("how to make a template for a visual novel in Scrivener"), questions about publishing (market data, how to submit), facts about writing advice ("what advice did Mark Twain give about ending a novel") should be well-sourced*.*

F1Krazy

I've been a pro-tem moderator here since the previous election last year, and would like to continue in that capacity on a permanent basis. Even before my appointment, I've been one of the more active users in terms of flagging, close/delete votes, and other curation activities, as well as Meta participation. I intend to keep up that level of activity regardless of whether I am re-elected or not.

It's been an honour and a privilege to serve as moderator here for the past year-and-a-bit, and I hope to be able to continue to do so.

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've come across users like this on several different SE sites over the years, including here on Writing.SE (albeit before I became a mod). Essentially, positive contributions don't really matter in this scenario: a disruptive user is a disruptive user, and if they are consistently violating the Code of Conduct, then they need to be dealt with, regardless of their rep or general post quality.

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

I'd discuss it with them in the private moderator chat. Just a friendly "hey, can you explain why [question link] got closed? It seems fine to me because XYZ". Maybe I'm wrong and the question should remain closed, or maybe they're wrong and it should be re-opened. Either way, it's best to discuss it first, rather than just hammering it back open again.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

My understanding of the SE model is that moderators should be "human exception handlers". Most moderation actions, such as closing questions or deleting content, should be carried out by regular users, and mods should only step in for a) things normal users can't do, like suspensions; b) things that should be dealt with ASAP, like spam or R/A behaviour; and c) situations where, for whatever reason, regular users have not made the correct call.

At the same time, Writing.SE is a bit of a special case, in that there are very few active users who actually have moderation privileges (especially deletion privileges). So I do have to step in and close/delete content for the simple reason that, if I didn't, it might not actually get done.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

Well, that's already been the case for the past year, so... yeah, I'm used to it at this point.

I'm acutely aware that my actions are binding, and that they reflect on Stack Exchange as a whole. As such, I try to make the extra effort to be polite with users, not take action unless I'm 100% certain about it, and explain those actions wherever possible (and to the extent that moderation guidelines will allow me).

As for my past contributions to this site, I don't believe any of them would look problematic with a mod badge next to them.

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

It's mainly a matter of speed. As a moderator, I can deal with off-topic questions, non-answers, and offensive comments much faster than I could as a regular user, especially considering the lack of power users mentioned in my answer to 3).

Of course, as I touched on in my answer to 4), this also means I have to be responsible and make absolutely sure that something is worthy of being closed/deleted before I hit the button. There have been questions I would have voted to close before that I have instead left alone, as I couldn't be 100% certain that they were off-topic, and I no longer have the buffer of requiring four users to agree with me. The mod hammer is an extremely efficient weapon, but one that must be wielded with utmost care.

linksassin

Hi, I'm linksassin, you might recognise me from meta posts such as the Community Check in and further back our tag challenge, from the various comments I leave around the site, or for those that are aware of it, our writing chat room. I've been serving as a pro-tem mod here since I was elected last year and have been actively working to try to grow this community since I joined.

I'm also an elected moderator over on RPG.SE so I'm around the site at least once a day, handling flags and checking out the latest questions. I pride myself on being welcoming to new users and trying to help workshop questions and answers to promote high quality contributions.

If re-elected I will relish the chance to continue serving this community. I will also work with my fellow mods and the community to try to increase participating and engagement across the site.

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?

In my time as a mod I've come across this situation a few times. Enough to know that there is no simple answer. What may be true for one user isn't the correct approach for another.

Generally I try to talk to the user and ensure they are aware of the issues and work with them to resolve them. However not all users, particularly those that generate strings of flags are responsive to this kind of gentle encouragement.

In cases where discussion doesn't work, I consult with the rest of the mod team to establish a plan of action and decide where we will collectively draw the line. Should the user continue to cross that line I don't hesitate to use the moderation tools available. No amount of good contributions gives a user the right to be rude, disrespectful or argumentative.

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

Mod teams have a private chat room where we can discuss questions/situations we are unsure about or even potentially disagree about how to handle. Thankfully moderators I have worked with so far have been very open to feedback and discussion and it is exceedingly rare that disagreements occur.

When the rare disagreement does occur we can either get a third opinion from another moderator or take the issue to meta, or a Community Manager if meta isn't appropriate. It is never a good solution to simply overrule their actions without some kind of discussion.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A moderators role is to help the community run smoothly and keep it a engaging and inviting community to participate in. On larger sites that means removing spam, handling flags and performing the exception handling that regular users can't.

Here at writing.se, as a smaller site with less active high-reputation users we have the additional roles of; moderating problematic content (low-quality, off-topic, etc.), promoting high-quality content, and providing leadership to the community.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I've already had this situation on my two most active sites for over a year and don't think it has caused much concern. Having the diamond means I take more care in how my words may be perceived, taking the extra time to ensure I explain myself correctly the first time to avoid confusion.

I have found that this has improved my communication skills in general and has even had a positive impact on my professional work. Having the diamond taught me to think more before I speak, and this won't change with or without the diamond going forward.

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

The tasks I regularly perform that I couldn't do as simple a high-rep user include; migrating posts to other stacks, single-handedly closing blatantly off-topic questions, merging tags and moderating problem users.

I believe these actions are a benefit to the community, particularly since it can often take some time for off-topic questions to be close with a small number of high-rep users checking the review queues.

Laurel

Hi! I've been on Stack Exchange now for 5+ years. I've been a user on Writing for nearly 3 years, and visited the site most of those days (840 days total and counting!). I want to do my part in keeping our sites healthy.

Feel free to check out what I've been doing across the network. Here's my network flair.

As you can see, I'm an avid writer on Stack Exchange. I hope to be able to bring my unique expertise from sites like English SE, ELL, Meta Stack Exchange, and even Stack Overflow to help moderate this site.

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?

This is a tricky situation. If the user doesn't have a history of bad behavior, I would try to get them back on the right track. Sometimes talking to a user is effective; they might not realize how they come off to others. After that, for users who continue to be very disruptive and break the rules even after clear instruction, moderators need to discuss, then step in, escalating as appropriate. The rules apply to everyone.

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

I would ask the mod privately first, in chat. Did they see something I missed? Vice versa? And from there, act accordingly. If it's a difference of opinion, then it might be something worth brining to meta, to see where the community stands. Ultimately, my moderation actions are guided by community policy.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are essential to keeping a site alive. There are duties that only they can perform, such as locking/unlocking, handling flags, and handling suspensions. It's also their responsibility to step up their involvement in the direction of the site. Comment to guide others. Open meta discussions. Help as many people as they can.

As for meta discussions, I can use my experience to help users on our meta. I also hope to represent Writing SE on other meta sites (namely MSE and MSO), where the activity that shapes new features and policies happens.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

Having a diamond next to my actions here wouldn't change much for me. I'm a pretty chill person (or so I think!): when I do find myself too involved in something I take a step back. And in those cases where I do regret doing something (like voting to close a post, then realizing I misunderstood), I try to make it right (editing, then helping to reopen).

Of course, going forward, most of my actions will be unilateral, so I'll be more restrained when I do take actions like close voting. And, on the flip side, I'll be more liberal with actions like leaving comments, as it's a great way to help.

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

My main motivation for becoming a moderator is to keep the site alive and healthy. While some of this I can do as a regular user, a site needs those willing to take the extra responsibility and handle even the most unglamorous of tasks.

I must say, the coolest thing that I could do with a diamond is to singlehandedly delete abuse before it hurts anyone. (Though of course I hope this isn't something I have to do often!) That embodies the tone I want for this site, a safe place for Writing Q&A.

----

Thanks for reading! I'll try my best to address any comments here.

motosubatsu

Like F1Krazy I'm one of the Pro-Tem moderators who was elected here last year (where does the time go?) I'm also currently an elected mod over on The Workplace SE. I've enjoyed my time here as a mod so far and I've been proud to help the community survive continue to build.

I'm about on the site most days, handling flags and other moderation tasks as and when they come up as well as participating in the site itself. And regardless of whether I am reelected I intend to remain an active part of the community.

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?

Providing good content is not a license to be disruptive or mistreat others. The Code of Conduct does say "unless you provide good content" but applies to all regardless. Fortunately this hasn't been a large problem on Writing during my time on the team but I've encountered users like this across the network and handled them directly elsewhere.

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

I wouldn't simply reverse their actions unilaterally, instead I'd communicate - that mod likely had a reason why they did what they did, and I usually find asking them makes that clear to me. In the (extremely) unlikely event that an understanding can't be reached there's always the option of going with the majority.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

We're here to keep the site and community running smoothly and a pleasant environment for users to participate in, whether that's handling disruptive users or deleting spam. That also includes picking up and handle the situations that the normal community moderation can't or where it will take too long. Like many smaller SE sites Writing doesn't have a large number of active users with the site moderation privileges so that sometimes leads to using the diamond to speed up certain housekeeping like closures or deletions.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

You have think a little more before you say something when it's something that pertains to the site's operation or others actions, and you have to have a reasonably thick skin so as not to take things personally at times but I've had diamond here for over a year and on Workplace for 8 months or so I'm pretty used to it by now.

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

The thing about spending a fair amount of time on a stack, especially at the higher rep levels is that it gives you a good sense of the rhythm of the site, what sort of behavior is OK, who's acting out of character, what topics are likely to kick up a storm. What new user might be a frequent troll under a new guise. That sort of thing. Being a moderator not only increases your knowledge of these things it gives you the ability to act, I'm sure most long-time SE users would be able to remember a time when they saw something turn unpleasant but were unable to do something about it or had to wait for enough high rep users to chime in before it was dealt with. Being a moderator allows you to shortcut that, and of course there are certain things only the moderation team or SE staff can do.

This election is over.