The following is a "digest" version of the 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @GraceNote or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

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28 Answers

Grace Note Grace Note asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Simply instruct the new users about the ettitique guide, FAQ, and other documents. No user is ever "not worth the effort."

Sathya Sathya answered: I think few comments should be sufficient in providing them a little nudge in the right direction. I'm inclined to go a step further if they've shown that they can be valuable contributors(via edits/reviews/posts)

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: A post is flagged. All moderators have looked at it. No one's taken action/cleared it because you're all unsure what to do with it. What do you do now when there is no consensus?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Vote. Duh. Why is this a foreign concept with those working under Jeff...

  • mmyers mmyers asked: Vote in public or private?

    Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Votes in private have no value, and only a foolish public would trust them.

  • voretaq7 voretaq7 asked: What if the post is borderline offensive in some way?

    Evan Carroll Evan Carroll responded: Why does that change and who decides it? The Czar of Offended Sensibilities?

    voretaq7 voretaq7 replied: As a moderator you will be expected to make the call on what is/isn't offensive sometimes (to use the wonderful FCC term, you need to make the determination based on "contemporary community standards")

    Evan Carroll Evan Carroll responded: Ok, well then, if "offensive" entails "classification such that the material is no longer visible by the community", and if "making the call" excludes the community. My vote will be that nothing is offensive ever.

Fogest Fogest answered: Discuss the issue with another moderator, or two and decide upon what action would be the best. Looking at the flag individually may pose some issues if it's a tough call because each moderator may have a different opinion. If the moderators instead work as a team and discuss the issue, then a solution may be discovered.

Sathya Sathya answered: I've seen this often on Super User where I'm a Mod. More often than not, I'd clear it by taking action what I deem to be best for the situation - convert to comment if it doesn't answer but there's some information relevant to the question in hand, for instance.Obviously what needs to be done will vary with the situation in hand but yes after about ~8 hours of me taking a first look at it & if the flag still remains & all other Mods have taken a look at it, I'll act on it the best way I can

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phwd phwd asked: What's your stance on webapp-rec questions?


Fogest Fogest answered: I don't think it's the best sort of thing to see people asking for apps that do this and that as the answer is often a simple Google Search away, but in some cases it does not seem to be that bad, as often it can be hard to find websites that are unique and do what your looking for.

Sathya Sathya answered: Web apps, if asked right(and by done right I mean some prior research on what exactly is the task at hand and what options have been looked at) can work on webapps. Else "best for x" aren't really suited - they seem to work at first but all you end up with is huge list of "I use x" and that's really not constructive

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random random asked Evan Carroll: Do you have any idea of what is and isn't on topic for the site or should all questions by virtue never be closed?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: "Closed" and off-topic can be determined democratically by the users. A single guy with a bazooka is not the right tool. Even if that guy does have a charming beard like I do.

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


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I'd reopen the question and ban that moderator.

Fogest Fogest answered: I would contact said moderator, and get their opinion on the matter and work to obtain a resolution that both, the other moderator and myself agree is just.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'd pull the Mod into a private chat and try to understand the reasoning and try to understand the other Mod's perspective. If I feel that the decision is better off reversed then I will inform the Mod of what I'm about to do

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phwd phwd asked: How familiar are you with mod tools and what moderators do? Could you explain in your own words what a mod should be doing on a typical day?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Having more experiences with tools, doesn't make you the right guy to wield the tool. I can learn fast. I'm the rightmost guy for the job.

Fogest Fogest answered: I am not familiar with the mod tools, though I am a quick learner, and can pick up on new things in a timely manner. I think a moderator should be a role model to the community, and answer some questions, deal with flags and make worthwhile edits to lacking answers.

Sathya Sathya answered: Being a mod for over a year & half on Super User, I'm pretty familiar with the Mod tools. Generally my days goes like so -> Check Mod flag queue, check suggested edits queue, check review - first question/late answers queue, see if any posts on front page can be improved upon/answered -> back to work. Repeat after an hour or so

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Fogest Fogest asked Evan Carroll: The user Adam Davis will not be able to make it, but he would like to ask you the following: "I won't be here for the chat, but I'm baffled by one candidate's promise, "I promise to always publish conversations with other members and moderators," which seems to suggest one can't expect privacy when contacting moderators. I'd like to hear the other candidates thoughts on privacy vs transparency."


  • Evan Carroll Evan Carroll noted: That question seems explicitly aimed at other candidates. Being that there is only one other candidate here, I'll turn the floor over to the establishment. @Forgest have at it.

Sathya Sathya answered: There's a EULA for Moderators which we must abide to. Even with the absence of the EULA, if a user has a started a private conversation with me(or vice-versa, from the private messaging tool) I must respect that and it makes no sense to publicise a private concersation.

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: How would you deal with a user who contributes good content to the site, but consistently causes trouble in other ways (is rude, confrontational, makes bad edits/tag wikis, etc.)?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I would request that Jeff Atwood stop reclining in his retirement living off of the ad revenue on the site, and instead fund additional methods to bring true Democracy to these other areas you mention. No moderator should be banning users because of the moderators personal belief that the user was "rude." This is supposed to be a community run its users.

Fogest Fogest answered: If the users answers, comments, etc are helpful, yet rude I would make the appropriate edits to those answers to make sure they are not rude. If a user does this often, I would try to contact them and inform them that there responses/edits are not in the best of favours and they should be modified to fit within the rules.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'd invite the user to chat/send a Mod message(depending on the severity) and explain that it's not enough to post high-quality content, being nice is expected from participation Stack Exchange site. If the user still persists on being rude then I will have to place the user under the penalty box to cool down

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random random asked: Are you running to be a moderator for the site or just so that you can have something to play with regardless of any health or future of the site?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I'm running for moderator of this site because I love Web Apps; but, moreover, I love freedom. After watching the degernation of meta.stackoverflow.com I feel moved to see that it doesn't happen here.

  • jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: Which other site metas have "degenerated" as you claim Meta Stack Overflow has, and what do you feel contributed to that "degeneration" of those site specific metas?

    Evan Carroll Evan Carroll responded: Meta Stack Overflow has degenerated. Evidence of this can be seen from the switch of rhetoric about the community running the site. To backhanded dealings, secretive "question bans", a slew of employed moderators with money interests in seeing the status quo maintained, and Jeff wielding the ban hammer against personal political enemies.

Fogest Fogest answered: I truly care about the future of the web, as my application states, and I want to see this community grow, and help expose this great site to others who have never heard of it, and make sure there first experiences are the best. I do care a lot about the future of this site.

Sathya Sathya answered: WebApps.se is pretty huge in scope and can definitely help a lot of people on the Internet. I've been part of the site since day one, and would love to help in keeping the site running, no matter what

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ThiefMaster ThiefMaster asked: You are suspended on another site. While you cannot unsuspend yourself as a moderator on another site, would you use the moderator-only chat room to pressure them on unsuspending you earlier? Would you publish those discussions somewhere?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: ThiefMaster that's a compound question that's loaded. Please keep it simple.

Evan Carroll Evan Carroll continued: Freedom is under threat when people think appointing an autocrat to ban others for being "rude" is a good idea. As we've already seen in chat, there are those that would hint that such a strategy is appropriate. I stand opposed to them.

  • Fogest Fogest remarked: If you are refering to me, I would not ban a user who is rude, I would openly discuss to them the issue at hand, and work with them to resolve the issue.

Fogest Fogest answered: I have never been suspended and hopefully will not do anything that would pose me being suspended but if such an issue did arise. If the suspension was unjust then either way I would contact the proper user to discuss the removal of the suspension, but if I did deserve such a punishment I would not ask for it to be removed early.

Sathya Sathya answered: No, if I'm done something as serious as to deem a suspension, I must abide by it. Using my Mod privileges to force rollback of a suspension is a serious conflict of interest activity

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jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: What is your response to a user who registers specifically to post job offers for companies that aren't familiar with the Stack Exchange model?


Fogest Fogest answered: If it is out of the scope of the site, it is best to move it to where it's suited, or remove the post and inform the user about what type of site this is, and express to them how the site should be used.

Sathya Sathya answered: It depends - if the user's not registered on the site, then I'd treat it as yet another spam post and spam-flag the post and destroy the user. If the user's registered, then I'd send a Mod Message + suspend the user for astroturing.

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voretaq7 voretaq7 asked: Moderation on Stack Exchange sites is a fine balance between being the community's janitor (cleaning up junk left lying around the site) and a kindergarten teacher (encouraging all your users to play nice with each other and new users) -- How have you filled those roles currently within the Webapps community?


Fogest Fogest answered: When I do see, "junk", I will flag the answer/question or if it is salvageable I will make the appropriate edits. I do not see many rude users, but when I do I try to let them know that they could have said it in a better way, to make their post less rude.

Sathya Sathya answered: I often visit other Stack Exchange sites and perform janitorial activities, web apps is not too different. I've 104 flags marked as helpful, which is decent enough. I've done about 150 edits throughout my stay here, which I admit is a bit low but I'd like to improve that. My comment activity shows that I drop a comment or two if I'm VtC'ing a question

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jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: Do you feel that the Stack Exchange model of community moderation which escalates to moderator moderation which escalates to SE moderation is a valid system, or do you feel that the entire model is broken? If you feel it is broken, what can you, as a middle cog/janitor, do to improve that model?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Refuse to take action that would exclude the bottom cogs from the inner workings of my own layer of cogs. Make sure that the more privileged cogs are operating transparently for the lower peon-cogs to see.

Fogest Fogest answered: I think it works great. Often on sites that have a moderation team you will see people getting full of themselves and of the power they have, but with this style there is a more spread out type of moderation with multiple eyes seeing everything, preventing the sort of power abuse that can arise.

Sathya Sathya answered: I think Stack Exchange's escalation model is probably one of the best that I've encountered - some of the trivial ones can be handled by users who're interested in doing the janitorial work(with the added rep prerequisite so that it doesn't get abused) while allowing for Moderators to step in when things spiral out of hand

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voretaq7 voretaq7 asked: As a moderator your votes are binding -- If you see a question and deem it close worthy it can be gone with just your vote. How will this change the way you use close votes, if at all?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: That kind of vote no one should have. I'd never use it. I'd probably also emancipate all previously closed questions.

Fogest Fogest answered: It will not change how I use them, as I do not have access to them yet, though if I did, it would still not change.

  • voretaq7 voretaq7 remarked: In your case you'll have these powers and more dumped on you if you're given a diamond :-)

    Fogest Fogest responded: Yes, that is correct, and if I was given that diamond I would use those newly obtained powers responsibly.

Sathya Sathya answered: Initially I'd have said "no", but looking at my experience on Super User, I'd say I'd make use of the binding close only on cases where the question's egregiously bad or offtopic, else will wait till the community picks up the votes. Here at webapps we have a unique situation where the number of close voters are low, I hope that improves soon

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: What is one contribution you feel demonstrates that you can be a good moderator?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I have lots of EXPs on the Stack Exchange network, and many people can attest to my kind demeanor and passion for justice.

Sathya Sathya answered: I can't think of a single contribution - but my overall presence at WebApps, my edits, my comments are a good indication

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Do you feel like a representative percentage of the community participates in your site's meta? Based on that, how strongly do you think feedback presented on meta should factor into your decision making as a moderator?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I really like the idea of meta. I'm willing to cede 100% of my decisions to Meta. This is one of the reasons I like open discussion.

Fogest Fogest answered: I think there is an okay amount of meta participation though I don't think you could consider it to be enough to affect my decision making. Yes it would have an affect, but it depends upon a case by case bases.

Sathya Sathya answered: Meta participation on [webappse.se] is rather low, IMO. I would like for more community members to participate in Meta. More meta participation is likely to yield a better understanding of how the site/community works. Having said that, despite the low participation, I'd like to get all major decisions/proposals vetted by Meta. Stack Exchange sites are often run by the community, having the community be on the same page as the community leaders is something I feel must happen

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phwd phwd asked: What's the main problem/improvement area (if any) in your view, that you see on WebApps and how would you resolve it?


Fogest Fogest answered: WebApps is pretty fine overall, and what it really needs is members, which comes with time.

Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Jeff claims that every site is protected by "Question blocks", and "Answer blocks". I'd demand he remove them because they're probably the least transparent part of the site right now. Who knows what kind of good contributions Jeff's secret sauce and personal vendettas are keeping out?

Sathya Sathya answered: I think the voting(or the lack of it) here on webapps is something which bothers me. Majority of the posts are undervoted. I don't know if it's a selective bias, but getting more votes on your answers is huge motivational boost. TBH, I'm not sure what's the best approach to this - unregistered/hit-n-run users form a chunk of web apps users - if we could convince these users to stay on for a bit longer and participate, that could help a lot

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phwd phwd asked: How much time do you allocate for WebApps? How much of that time can you use for moderation solely?


Fogest Fogest answered: It all depends on the day. I will have at least 2 hours everyday to dedicate to moderation and any additional time I have will go toward a mixture of WebApps and moderation

Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: It'd create a Fund Razr campaign, if the community wanted to fund my moderatorship, I'd probably quit my job. Usually Jeff just ends up employing the moderators and they become voices for the establishment. If the people need a mouthpiece, I'd step up to the plate! Shy of that, I'm willing to give 16 hours a day to the people.

Sathya Sathya answered: It's hard to put in exact hour count, I've a Stack Exchange site (often Super User) open every time I have my browser open and my browser's open pretty much whenever I'm seated in front of my laptop. I think an hour or two would be a decent conservative estimate

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Two highly respected members of the community get in a comment war on a question. They both flag each other's comments and are flipping out and it is clear that this is beyond a heated argument. What do you do, what don't you do?


Fogest Fogest answered: I would remove the comments if they are off-topic and ask that they discuss this in a private chat, with a moderator present if avalible.

Sathya Sathya answered: I'd ask them to cut it out in comments first. If they don't listen then the next step would be to clear out the comments and lock the post to prevent further heated debates. Ask them to relax and take a break

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voretaq7 voretaq7 asked: What do you see as the role of your site's chat room, Google-fu in growing and maintaining a healthy community?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I'd tell people to use irc.freenode.net/#google-fu . Let's not get overly locked in propriety. Freenode has done a great job helping organize online communities in the past. And, it isn't subject to the caprice of Stack Exchange.

Fogest Fogest answered: The chat is not used much, and I don't think it is essential to helping in growing a healthy community.

Sathya Sathya answered: considering chat requires some rep before users can participate, I think it's imperative that we get users to stick to Web Applications first. From what I've seen, few people like to drop by chat, for various reasons. Having said that, a healthy chat room would be nice thing, would encourage more users to participate, improve their posts and have the word about the site spread out more.

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


Fogest Fogest answered: Obtaining 20k can be a tedious task on a community of this size, and I would like to help this community out during that time it takes to obtain 10k or 20k rep. I feel I can contribute to the site in greater ways before hitting those high rep levels.

Sathya Sathya answered: on a low-voting community like Web Applications, reaching those rep levels is a slow process. Right now, most of the things that need Mod attention(totally close a question, delete bad posts) need to be proxied via a Mod, and although I don't have the numbers, I do believe that it puts an lot of weight on the current Web Apps mods. Being a Moderator would help me relieve some of the burden, and hopefully lessen the pressure

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phwd phwd asked: Follow up to webapp-rec questions, there are more than a couple highly voted webapp-rec questions that are closed as "Not Constructive" / "Off-topic, what is your stance on this? Throw them under the rug (i.e. leave them), edit so it could be reopened (if so how) or kill it with fire (delete)?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Reopen them all. If they're highly voted the community wants them, and is happy with them as is.

Fogest Fogest answered: There are voting features for a reason. If something is highly upvoted, I would assume that the community found the question helpful, and would not mind having it opened.

Sathya Sathya answered: there are very few questions that can be redeemed, at least they were I last saw them. Having them on site creates the broken windows problem, better off deleting them.

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phwd phwd asked: Would you ever see yourself in disagreement with SE Staff over changes you would like to see take place on WebApps and would you hold firm to your opinion?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: If my opinion is right -- it usually is -- of course I would hold firm.

Fogest Fogest answered: If I have an opinion, I will do my best to get my point across. It's an opinion, they do not have to agree but atleast I know they have heard my opinion, and may consider it. There is not a need to sit there and keep pestering them about it. Yes I would hold firm on my opinion, but not in a way of being a bother.

Sathya Sathya answered: It's my opinion, I would hold on firmly to it - I might not agree with the changes proposed/done but yes I will stick to them

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phwd phwd asked: Would you ever get bored of moderating when the flags are low?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Just create a post in meta and ask for community input. Sounds easy enough.

Fogest Fogest answered: No, I would not get bored, there is always something you can do.

Sathya Sathya answered: well, no - there's plenty of other things to do - check suggested edits, review queues, post some answers, go for a walk ;)

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phwd phwd asked: You have a feature request and a pile of bugs that appears to have been ignored by the dev team. How do you escalate it?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: I have Jeff's personal number. He calls me.

Fogest Fogest answered: Communicate to the dev team these bugs, in a direct manner.

Sathya Sathya answered: I assume there's already a meta question on the bug, so I'd ask the Community team to take a look at it and perhaps have it looked at by the dev team.

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voretaq7 voretaq7 asked: As communities grow their definition of on-topic changes -- Do you feel that this is a natural/appropriate evolution for a site?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Sure, and then the community will vote to hold the questions to the standards and guidelines they've layed out.

Sathya Sathya answered: it's quite natural for a site to evolve and have the definition of what's on topic change - for instance, Web Applications has done about a U-turn on recommend me a site questions, a decision which I agree with. Over at Super User we're in the progress of having tablet questions, once a strictly no-no thing, ready acceptance. As time moves, things change and we should be ready for such changes

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Barry Barry asked: A new user posts their first question on Web Apps. It contains lots of rambling, poor grammar & poor formatting, however there is a good question hidden in there somewhere. What do you do?


Fogest Fogest answered: Edit the question, and explain in the comments what the user could do better next time.

Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Edit it and assume he was ok with it. If he reverts the edit raise the issue in meta.

Sathya Sathya answered: If I'm convinced that there's a genuinely good question, I'd cut out the fluff, rambling, fix it up. Else I'm likely to close it as Not A Real Question

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?


Evan Carroll Evan Carroll answered: Do the right thing, elect me.

Evan Carroll Evan Carroll continued: Your kids will thank you.

Fogest Fogest answered: I truly care about the future of the site and want to see it grow. If you want a person like this, then consider voting for me!

Sathya Sathya answered: WebApps has been the first site coming out of Area 51, and I hope the site and community continues to grow. My best wishes to other candidates - even if I don't get elected, I will continue in helping out with the site.

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