# 2014 Moderator Election Q&A - Question Collection

In connection with the moderator elections, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.

Here's how it'll work:

• During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, December 15th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 3:00 pm EST on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

• We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

• This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.

• At the end of the phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

• Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.

• This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this new process, feel free to post as a comment here.

• I'd love to see a couple questions contributed (or endorsed) by the current moderators. They have the experience to ask the right questions. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 4:04
• @Asaf: I'm Arthur Fischer, a Mathematics Stack Exchange moderator, and I endorse your comment. – user642796 Dec 9 '14 at 10:35
• I have a question, but it is insoluble for man or machine. So I won't ask it, since there is no point in destroying The General again. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 21:42
• Hmm. There are some questions here that involve the candidate's views on issues the moderator has no power to enforce policies on - related to the way members are supposed to/not to vote. I wonder a bit about the wisdom of including those. I know that in the US it is a tradition that this kind of lithmus test questions are asked - congressional hearings of nominees to the supreme court come to mind. I'm not necessarily opposed to such questions, but I'm a bit disturbed by the number of such questions. After all, the heavyweight candidates' positions can be found in Meta, no? – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 10 '14 at 7:54
• @Jyrki: Not necessarily, unless that's part of your definition of heavyweight candidate (and even then not necessarily easily). It certainly isn't part of mine. – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 16:54
• @Brian: If my BMI is between 15 and 18, can I be a heavyweight anything? :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 17:21
• @Asaf: Depends: how tall are you? :-) – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 19:43
• @Brian: 1.78 meters tall. Right about average. – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 19:45
• @Asaf: No, at that height you would have a hard time being a heavyweight, even by my standards. (I'm only 1.61 m, and fairly slender.) – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 20:00
• @AsafKaragila maybe include BMI, height and so on in your list? :-) – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:22
• @quid: Which list? The personal information list? Nah. I'm not that intrusive. The next thing you'll have me ask is shoe size, cellphone model and the latest blood chemical analysis. – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 20:25
• @AsafKaragila, about The Prisoner, there is a theory about the dialogue in the opening credits; 2 says "i am the new Number 2" or similar, the Prisoner says "Who is Number One?" and the reply is just "You are Number Six." The theory is that it should be read "You are, Number Six." Not sure who told me that maybe it was you. – Will Jagy Dec 12 '14 at 1:17
• @Will: That last sentence sounds plausible. – Asaf Karagila Dec 12 '14 at 4:09
• Heavyweight? I stand at 1.92 meters and 115 kilos. That's 6ft4in and 250lbs+ for the metrically challenged brothers and sisters :-/ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 14 '14 at 13:25
• This question appears to be off-topic because Question Collection for 2014 Moderator Election is over. – user147263 Dec 16 '14 at 2:26

Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

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

• In your opinion, what do moderators do?
• 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?
• In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
• Please include all these questions in the Q&A. (And please vote this comment up if you agree.) – Asaf Karagila Dec 8 '14 at 20:09
• I don't remember ever seeing an insightful answer to "How do you feel about that?" question, but it's not worth splitting it off (also too late now). – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 5:25
• @Behaviour: And how do you feel about that? :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 5:27
• @Asaf Hah, more people want to see the extra 3 over the original two. I'll be locking them in then. Whether or not I'll make them take up 3 of the slots that the community would otherwise use... I'll figure that based on the turnout of the questions at the end of the collection period. – Grace Note Dec 10 '14 at 13:14
• Grace, I'm not sure if people prefer those over the original 2. These first questions are extremely important; I think that the additional 3 are also very important. If you can find it in your heart to make the questionnaire a bit longer, then I'm sure everyone will be happy. Of course, if the possible 8 choices only include 5 which are reasonable, and 3 more you'd prefer not to see asked there, then there's no issue. But surely having 12 over 10 is not a big deal (next year, 15 instead of 12; the year after that, 20; in ten years time it will have over 200 questions!). – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 16:01
• @Asaf The first two are fixed permanently. The request you made that everyone supported was to also fix the extra 3. Over as in addition, not superceding. – Grace Note Dec 10 '14 at 17:16
• Oh, phew! Thanks for clearing that up! – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 17:20
• I think the last question ought to be reworded to something more like: "How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users" - it'd be nice to word it in a way so as to more clearly apply to people who have reached 10k. – Milo Brandt Dec 12 '14 at 3:53

Since the meta site is a completely different website, where policy issues are handled, how versed are you in the meta site? If you're not posting many questions or answers there, do you at least follow it passively and read the discussions and the comments there?

• Yes, I have to admit that I follow it passively and read the discussions and the comments. Now, I follow this site actively. – Anastasiya-Romanova 秀 Dec 11 '14 at 16:49
• It definitely isn’t a “completely different website” since all privileges are based on ones of math.SE. Could you elaborate the text? – Incnis Mrsi Dec 12 '14 at 13:18
• @Incnis: It is because its users are a very small subset, the topics here are different, the etiquette is somewhat different, the voting is different, and the purpose of the two sites are different. Not to mention that the privileges play a far more important role on the main site; on meta we close and delete posts, but rarely compared to the main site, so really the three main things are posting, commenting and voting. All obtained by anyone of reputation 125 or higher (and registration is required for posting questions on meta). – Asaf Karagila Dec 12 '14 at 13:55
• Strictly speaking, not completely different; to be completely different, the sets of users would have to be disjoint, not merely having a large set difference. But sufficiently different for the question to be highly relevant (at least if "completely" is replaced by a more accurate word). – David K Dec 13 '14 at 3:41
• Oh happily there are so many mathematicians around… @David K, set difference in which order? Except for SE staff, do you really imagine a meta.math.SE regular not active at math.SE? – Incnis Mrsi Dec 13 '14 at 6:56
• @David: Assume the axiom of choice, now well order the reals in a minimal type. Are the two ordered sets not completely different? Why yes, yes they are. Even if the underlying set is the same. If the word completely bothers you so much that you think this question is not worth asking in its current form there is a little downwards arrow that you can show your utmost nitpicking through. Have a nice day. – Asaf Karagila Dec 13 '14 at 8:30
• @AsafKaragila As a matter of fact I already clicked the upward arrow (and I still have done so only an odd number of times). One other person was (I thought) troubled by the word "completely", however. So if I had written the question, I might consider a bit of wordsmithing--but on the other hand, people will pay more attention to the answers than to the exact question, so maybe I just wasted your time. It was an honest mistake. – David K Dec 13 '14 at 13:46
• @IncnisMrsi There are two set differences, as you observed. I said only that at least one of them is large. (And only on one side. ... No, that's the punchline to a different joke.) – David K Dec 13 '14 at 13:51
• @David: My apologies if I came off as combative. It was a strange morning, and I am sometimes tired of people nitpicking language choices like that. – Asaf Karagila Dec 13 '14 at 17:09
• @IncnisMrsi: There are "sufficiently many" meta (this meta) regulars which are not active on the main site. – Asaf Karagila Dec 13 '14 at 17:09
• @AsafKaragila No problem. I was being (inadvertently) nitpicky. – David K Dec 13 '14 at 18:15

Have you ever been suspended? If so, provide particulars, including when, why, and for how long.

• In my opinion it is a dumb situation that I have to ask this question, which should be asked as a matter of course. But in a previous election I learned too latr that I had voted for a candidate who had served a prior suspension. Had the election process brought this information to my attention, I would probably have voted for someone else. – MJD Dec 8 '14 at 23:38
• Suspensions are not always fair and/or justified, in particular when handed out by "external" forces... I have learned about good people having been suspended here in the past for no good reason. Therefore it is not sure if it should be a strict exclusion criterion. – Dilaton Dec 8 '14 at 23:56
• I didn't say it should be a strict exclusion criterion. But it should certainly be disclosed. – MJD Dec 8 '14 at 23:58
• ok I see, fair enough. Unjust and/or unfair suspensions are nothing to hide or to be ashamed about anyway ... at least not for the person who received it. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 0:02
• @Dilaton: In those referred elections the user in comment joined to the nomination minutes before the election stage began. So the user was effectively exempt of answering questions. Those who were versed in the details might have known that the suspension whether or not fair, was for reasons that should somewhat be alarming from a moderator. This is why the information as to what, how, when and why is relevant. Being suspended for a voting fraud or being suspended because of a heated discussion are two different things. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 0:33
• While I understand the motivation for such a question, I don't necessarily believe that a prospective mod must breach his privacy over a situation that (if they are not currently suspended and their account is otherwise in good standing) has already been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Your election vote should be based on observed behavior, not scarlet letters. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 8:03
• @RobertHarvey Being suspended is not a private matter, it's publicly written on a user's profile. And I have a lot of trouble coming up with a scenario where someone has been suspended, refuses to disclose (even without giving specific details) why but would be a good choice for becoming moderator. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 9:05
• @Robert: Would you vote Bernie Madoff to presidency if his sentence will be sweetened and he were to be released tomorrow? Knowing full well that the guy did those things? If someone was suspended for creating a web of accounts to boost their own reputation, and to effectively skew the little relevance that the voting system has on measuring the quality of some answers, would you vote them for moderatorship? – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 13:40
• @Robert: As MJD points out, not quite as irrelevant. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 16:32
• @Robert: I know the story, I knew the story back then. I'm not saying these should be public, but if someone wants to be a moderator, it becomes the interest of the community to know. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 16:34
• I would even ask that the question goes further. At least one of the self-nominees was not just suspended but banned from another site. It would worry me very much if this sort of situations are not acknowledge by the candidates and made public ahead of the election. – Andrés E. Caicedo Dec 9 '14 at 21:17
• Given history of this site that I will not re-hash here, this question is absolutely vital. – Carl Mummert Dec 10 '14 at 1:04
• I think it should be specified whether this is supposed to include suspensions in chat and suspensions on other sites, or whether you are only interested in suspensions on this site (or network-wide, which automatically suspends the user also here). – Martin Sleziak Dec 10 '14 at 7:22
• Yes, I've been suspended many times in home and in school but I've never been suspended on SE sites. – Anastasiya-Romanova 秀 Dec 11 '14 at 16:46
• Obviously nothing is stopping them. The question is if they are obliged to do so if they do not want to lie. – quid Dec 15 '14 at 17:53

What is the most serious problem facing Mathematics Stack Exchange today? And what would you hope to be able to do about that problem as a moderator?

• This is a really good question, as the answer should show quite a bit about the views of the candidate. – quid Dec 12 '14 at 2:22

How would you personally prefer that so-called PSQs [Problem Statement Questions] be handled? Given the current policies and customs of the site, how do you think that they should in fact be handled?

• What are PSQ`s? – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 7:57
• @RobertHarvey "Problem Statement Question". Basically, a question that reads like a homework assignment where the OP makes no effort at all and straight copied/pasted the question from somewhere. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 8:37
• Ah, a problem solved long ago on other Stack Exchange sites, which you apparently feel the need to rehash here. Psh, you even gave the problem your own name. A bad one, I might add; every good question has a clear, concise problem statement. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 16:20
• @RobertHarvey Thanks for the condescension. Anything else? (Given this question of yours, I can only guess that other SE sites solved this problem by allowing PSQ that include irrelevant tidbits about the question asker) – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 17:33
• @RobertHarvey what has been solved on other SE sites does not automatically have implications here. Brian's question is a very good one as this is still an open issue on THIS site. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 17:37
• @RobertHarvey Your question consisted of "Problem statement - Requirement that it doesn't use math past precalculus - Requirement that the answer is sufficiently well-explained that you can implement it without effort". I don't see any work shown. The fact that it wasn't homework is irrelevant. But this isn't the best place to discuss that. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 17:41
• @RobertHarvey It is a fact that SE developers encourage individual SE sites to develop their own rules, customs and traditions. Do you disagree with that? – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 17:42
• @RobertHarvey I don't think you're in any kind of position letting you make statements like that. I see you're a mod on SO - great, good for you. That doesn't mean you get to set network-wide policies, or that your opinion has any kind of relevance on sites where you hardly contribute. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 17:47
• @RobertHarvey Then like any user in good standing, if you're unhappy with how things work, you can open a meta thread. This isn't the place to discuss it. It will probably get closed as a duplicate, though. (Small precision: you enforce policy on SO, nowhere else) – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 18:00
• (I also realized that you don't even have enough reputation (150) to vote in the upcoming election -- take that as you wish, maybe the software itself has something to say) – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 18:26
• @NajibIdrissi: please keep the discussion on topic, and refrain from making statement in regards to the poster (Robert Harvey in this case) as opposed to the position he takes. – Willie Wong Dec 10 '14 at 15:20
• @RobertHarvey: I sense that this discussion is heading along the route of escalation. Just a pre-emptive suggestion to keep the discussion on topic (that is, whether Brian Scott's question is a good one to ask moderator candidates for this SE site). – Willie Wong Dec 10 '14 at 15:22
• @Willie: Is this how you spend your last days as a moderator? Moderating? :-) (Seriously buddy, we'll miss you!) – Asaf Karagila Dec 11 '14 at 11:06
• This feels a lot like a "Roe v Wade"-type litmus test, in that I certainly have an opinion on the subject, but I'm not sure whether or not a candidate's opinion matches mine says anything meaningful about their appropriateness as a moderator. – user7530 Dec 14 '14 at 18:36
• @user7530: It is not so intended: I have voted for moderators who did not share my opinion on the subject. But I still want to know, and I want to see how candidates express themselves on the subject. – Brian M. Scott Dec 14 '14 at 21:52

This is aimed to the candidates which do not have the Deputy badge, and no reviewer badges for the queues available to them.

How do you think you'll handle flags, when you've yourself flagged successfully only a few times?

• I ask this every time, and while it's less of an issue since there is an established mod team to help out newcomers, and so on; I still find it a good question, if only to have the moderators be aware of the future issue which may come up (and it usually always comes up). – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 3:56
• I think a similar question about the "reviewer" badge could be helpful. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 8:42
• @Najib: Excellent point. I've added that part. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 10:23
• @Arthur: I demand an explanation in the form of a visit to The Oracle on your side. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 16:54

What is your opinion of efforts to delete questions that have correct answers? Does it matter whether they are votes to delete or downvoting to help the autodelete process apply to the question?

• Should we tag this [forcing]? :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 3:51
• I'm not clear on the distinction between "force deletion" and "delete", if there is one. Is the former referring only to cases in which posts are downvoted in part to help the autodelete process apply to the question? Or does it also include direct votes to delete the questions by 10k+ users? – Jonas Meyer Dec 9 '14 at 4:13
• @Jonas: I was thinking specifically of the former when I wrote the question, but I can imagine the distinction making a difference to some people, so I’ve modified the question to ask about both. (I think that it still qualifies as essentially one question.) – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 4:25
• Thanks for clarifying, and I agree that this is good as essentially one question. – Jonas Meyer Dec 9 '14 at 4:27
• In my opinion the question would be more interesting if it were not just to ask about "your opinion" but rather what if anything a candidate thinks they can/will do or what could/should be done regarding the matter, especially in relation to their potential future role. (Sorry for the double post, but the list is long so I handle it locally.) – quid Dec 9 '14 at 7:14
• This is a very important question. Many users may not be aware that some users have been abusing the site's mechanisms to delete many questions and answers. They downvote the question and then when it has a negative score, delete it, along with its answers, even when the answers (and often the original question) was upvoted. In my opinion, this is the most important issue currently facing the moderation team. – MJD Dec 10 '14 at 19:17
• @MJD: Based on your comment, I suspect you're not aware of how autodelete works. Here is a reference: meta.stackexchange.com/a/92006. Also note that for questions that have been closed for a few days, 10k+ users can vote to delete, even if scores are positive. – Jonas Meyer Dec 11 '14 at 20:09

Do you expect being a moderator to affect your involvement in other aspects of the site (e.g., review queues, editing, posting questions/answers)? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

As a moderator, you will often find yourself interfacing with upset users, resolving conflicts, or issuing suspensions for out of line behavior. These situations require empathy and emotional intelligence.

Do you practice compassion in your non-mathematical life? In what ways have you prepared to facilitate a harmonious community?

• Nice question, Alexander. – Namaste Dec 9 '14 at 15:54

What is your view of moderators casting binding votes. How do you vote (close, reopen, delete, undelete) in such situations? What effect would having an answer of your own in the question have on your considerations?

Do you think that moderators should use the binding vote only in the clear cases (obvious spam, an obvious not an answer, etc.)?

Or is it ok for a moderator to cast a binding vote even for other reasons, it they are pretty sure that the closure reason would be correct? (For example, closing as a duplicate or marking a post as off-topic for "lack of effort" on the OP's side.)

I am aware that this is now a less of an issue, since also some regular users can use dupehammer on some of the questions, but I think that this might be still interesting to know.

To add an explanation for the users who do not know what I mean by binding vote: Generally, questions are closed/reopen after 5 users voted in that way. If a moderator votes to close or reopen, the action is done immediately, there is no need to wait for 5 votes. This also concerns some other actions - I was not able to find quickly documented somewhere which exactly. If you are interested to learn more about it, you can find some information in the posts on meta.SE tagged binding-vote.

• Explain what a binding vote is, for those who don't know. Other than relative tag expertise, the same issues apply to the dupehammer as they do to a moderator binding vote. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 8:06
• @RobertHarvey I have added an explanation. You are right about dupehammer - I have mentioned it in my post. – Martin Sleziak Dec 9 '14 at 8:21
• Would you consider integrating aspects of my question for the candidates into yours, or do you see your question and mine fundamentally different that they should be two separate ones? – user49763 Dec 9 '14 at 19:39
• @MichaelT I have made the question community wiki. This should lower the reputation needed for editing. Feel free to edit the question, but please try to somehow keep also the spirit of the original question. If you still cannot edit the question, let me know. – Martin Sleziak Dec 9 '14 at 19:50
• Thanks for your edit @MichaelT. (I see the you also have add a short note to your post explaining that your question has been - in this shortened form - incorporated into this post.) – Martin Sleziak Dec 10 '14 at 5:13
• The wording of this might be tweaked a little. On this site, we have a strong prejudice against binding votes, except for clear cases of vandalism, spam, etc. So the real question, I think, is to ensure the candidate is aware of this practice and the reasons for it. The wording of this question suggests we have a bunch of current moderators casting binding votes on questions they've edited. – Carl Mummert Dec 14 '14 at 12:48

What is your opinion of upvoting unclear or mathematically incorrect answers, or those that give full solution where OP requested only a hint?

• A counterpart of this question. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 6:36
• In my opinion the question would be more interesting if it were not just to ask about "your opinion" but rather what if anything a candidate thinks they can/will do or what could/should be done regarding the matter, especially in relation to their potential future role. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 7:12
• Why would voting be a moderator concern? – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 7:57
• @RobertHarvey Beats me. :) I am merely echoing the other question. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 8:01
• "What is your opinion of upvoting [...] mathematically incorrect answers" ??? I don't think anyone is okay with that... – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 12:55

What time zone are you in? (And at what times are you usually active on the site?)

• This question always makes me itch to run, if only so I can answer "UTC+2/3, usually always." :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 15:33
• @Asaf If we ask it three times, will you change your mind and run? – mrf Dec 9 '14 at 15:34
• I am not Will Ferrell's character in Austin Powers, so no. Also, I'm not Candyman. Also, you don't wear the magical shoes from the Land of Oz (and those only work for arriving back home, anyway). – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 15:35
• How do you know about my footwear? – mrf Dec 9 '14 at 15:36
• Because there was a unique such pair, and I was made sure it's destroyed. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 15:37
• One might sinclude this in @Asaf's question meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/17618 – quid Dec 9 '14 at 15:39
• Just to centralise some information here, if the "location" on their profiles are to be believed, the current moderators are located in the following UTC-timezones: UTC +1 (Arthur Fischer, Michael Greinecker, Willie Wong(*)); UTC -3 (Mariano Suárez-Alvarez); UTC -5 (mixedmath, Alexander Gruber); UTC -6 (Alex Becker); UTC -8 (robjohn). – user642796 Dec 9 '14 at 16:19
• @AsafKaragila I'm pretty sure they're extant. :) – apnorton Dec 10 '14 at 0:03
• @anorton: That's a movie prop, I was talking about the real deal. :-P – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '14 at 3:32

Note: This is a specific (and explicit) question that is now covered as part of another question. Unless this gets sufficiently high votes and GraceNote likes it, this question should probably not be part of the questionnaire. However, I'm leaving it here as there is some interesting discussion in the comments.

1. A question that you have answered has been closed. As a moderator, you have the ability to reopen a post with a click. What action do you take?

2. A question that you have answered was deleted via the automated deletion scripts. As a moderator, you have the ability to undelete with a click of the button. What action do you take?

• Does this change if the question was deleted via delete votes from users?
• Somewhat redundant with meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/17632 – quid Dec 9 '14 at 17:18
• @quid possibly. However, I've seen mention here (and on other SEs) about people acting to "protect" their answers/rep by systematically casting reopen or undelete votes. Given how contentious delete votes and the community delete scripts are here, I felt this would be appropriate to ask in a very up front way - your answer has been deleted. I am certain there are people who would cast undelete votes because of that, not the merits of the question or the answer. – user49763 Dec 9 '14 at 17:22
• "I am certain there are people who would cast undelete votes because of that[...]" Maybe so. But how many will tell you in an election-interview? – quid Dec 9 '14 at 17:25
• If we're worried about candidates lying about these questions, why are we asking them at all? – Ampt Dec 9 '14 at 19:14
• @Ampt for the same reason why I think it makes some (limited) sense to have journalists interview politicians before an election; while I would consider a journalist asking "Do you intend to abuse your power for your own personal benefit?" as not useful. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 19:21
• I think that that's far from the situation here. Clearly there is a question, and an answer, and through some means it was closed either by people, or an answer. It's not far off to try and rationalize re-opening or un-deleting such a post. – Ampt Dec 9 '14 at 19:23
• @quid to have down on some semblance of a record. Furthermore, to make them think about the types of problems they may encounter. I honestly hope that every single candidate will say "I won't reopen or undelete a question that I have an answer in and let other moderators deal with it." However, seeing how much of an issue this has been in the past, it would be interesting to see if any have conflicting statements in the past about how they would like the site to behave that they can be asked about. If it isn't asked, it's not in the thoughts of the voters, and it should be. – user49763 Dec 9 '14 at 19:25
• @Ampt and MichaelT perhaps I was not clear enough about the following: I agree that the question as written in isolation is a relevant one. My only concern is that it is in my opinion very similar to an existing one and the global number that will be taken is somewhat limited. One could try to expand the other question to integrate this personal aspect, too. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 19:36
• @quid I lack the 2k rep to make edits on this meta and meta doesn't have suggested edits. Thus, my new answer. I've commented on the other one asking the author of that one if mine could be integrated in, or if he considers our two questions to be sufficiently distinction. – user49763 Dec 9 '14 at 19:40
• @quid I changed the question to CW. (So MichaelT should be able to edit it now.) Feel free to edit my post too, if you wish to do so. – Martin Sleziak Dec 9 '14 at 19:50
• Nice question, and expected answer – Aditya Hase Dec 10 '14 at 3:12

I would like to know what courses (or a selection if too many) a person may have taught, perhaps as teaching assistant. Also tutoring. Not sure what I want to know if someone is still in college or high school... the reason is that some of the most bitter conflicts on Meta have been based on the nature of mathematics instruction, both generally and in this specific environment. That is the thing I do not know about many users who are near my age (I'm 58), what have they taught? Was it in a classroom with living, breathing students, with responsibility for giving grades? Please believe me, it is not the same as answering on MSE. Now that I think of it, teaching is also very different from presenting research to peers.

For users asking questions on Main, I have found that people get up in arms if I seem to want to know who they are. Fine. But I still want to know the source and context of the question, along with those aspects of the user's mathematical background that show how to present a possible answer.

What is your opinion of downvoting reasonably clear, mathematically correct answers that do not violate an OP’s request for hints only?

• Why would voting be a moderator concern? – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 7:58
• @RobertHarvey If good posts are being downvoted, that means that users are being punished for contributing good posts to the exchange. I think that it's important to ensure that the vote system is still incentivizing quality contributions, and moderators may be in the best position to ensure that. – Axoren Dec 9 '14 at 8:53
• @Axoren: I disagree with the premise that it is desirable for moderators to intervene in voting choices generally, but how would that even be possible? How are moderators "in the best position to ensure that"? – Jonas Meyer Dec 9 '14 at 12:27
• @axoren: Even if it were possible (it isn't; moderators do not see who votes for what, and are not given tools to modify voting practices), it would be a really bad idea; the moment you allow moderators to get involved with voting, the democratic nature and integrity of the voting process collapses. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 16:28
• @RobertHarvey there are people who systematically misuse the "democratic" (down-)voting and closing process to unilaterally get (auto) deleted large chunks of useful information, which seems to be an abuse of the system but nobody so far seems to have been seriously willing to do anything about this. This is an example of a situation that does warrant moderators getting involved with voting. Actual members of the community know what I am talking about. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 17:32
• @Dilation: I know exactly what you're talking about. In general, voting practices are only considered abusive if they target a single individual. SE believes (rightly, in my opinion) that if information is genuinely useful, it would attract at least one upvote; that single upvote would cancel the Roomba deletion. You have the power to preserve any zero-voted post by upvoting it, in other words. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 18:00
• @Robert: Attracting an upvote isn’t enough when several people have targeted it for removal. – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 20:27
• @BrianM.Scott: Majority rules. The reverse is also true; downvoting is not enough when several people have targeted it for preservation. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 20:59
• Brian: I agree with @Robert, but the solution is easy. Vote early, vote often. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 21:36
• @Asaf: That does not actually address the problem of delibertely misleading votes. What is an OP to think when a good answer or two appear and are quickly hit with downvotes, as I’ve seen happen quite a few times since I returned? – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 21:42
• @BrianM.Scott: One person's vandalism is another person's taking out the trash. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 22:18
• @Robert: You, like the vandals, are conveniently choosing to ignore the damage done to unsuspecting readers. And frankly, your opinion is worth little: your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, you are an outsider, not a functioning member of the MSE community. – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 22:27
• @Robert: I made one. You ignored it. – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 22:38
• @Brian, many times I have left a comment, waited a day for a response, left a second comment, waited another day for a response, lodged a downvote, and only then was there any action taken. I can't prove that it was the downvote that led to the action, where the comments had failed, but I do feel comfortable taking that as a working hypothesis, and as evidence that a downvote can add something useful to a string of comments. – Gerry Myerson Dec 10 '14 at 2:22
• @Dilaton what is relevant and good quality is still subjective. In addition there are professional mathematicians that are of the opinion that this downvoting (as well as direct deletion) is justified. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:52

This is to expand on Alexander Gruber's excellent question. I agree wholeheartedly with the quote below. It does take a lot of social skills and coolheadedness to take care of querulants and other borderline trolls.

"As a moderator, you will often find yourself interfacing with upset users, resolving conflicts, or issuing suspensions for out of line behavior. These situations require empathy and emotional intelligence."

I would like to add that I think experience is also a great asset when handling users like these, which leads to my questions:

1. Do you have any experience from using other internet forums or social platforms?
2. If yes, how deep was you engagement and for how long did you participate?
3. Have you ever been a moderator for said site(s)?
4. Can you name one or more of the sites you were involved in? (Not sure if this is too private information to demand from candidates.)
• Stack Exchange is not an internet forum. Experience moderating a Facebook page or some phpBB forum, where the goals and standards are completely different from SE goals and standards, may actually be a liability. See: a well-known case of a former Math.SE mod. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 22:23
• People skills are universal, @Behaviour. Cold reason does not build a healthy community, no matter what its objectives are. Though I see your point that the SE platform is not designed for discussion, moderation often functions outside of this platform, in private messages and chats with users, team discussions with the other moderators, and on the meta site. Social graces aren't sufficient for the job, but they are necessary. – Alexander Gruber Dec 10 '14 at 0:10
• @AlexanderGruber This then raises however the question why restrict to the internet? Your question is (at least) more universal. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 1:19

How do you think that moderators can best contribute to helping new users to feel welcome on the site?

• Who are new users? – Incnis Mrsi Dec 12 '14 at 13:48
• @IncnisMrsi What I have in mind is people posting questions or comments for the first time. I suggest the question first, because it is difficult to remember what it was like to be new, and the development of the site depends on new people joining in; and second because there are a range of behaviours around new users - like rapid closing of questions which need to be brought up to standard, and treatment of answers which are really comments when the user doesn't have the reputation to post comments - which may or may not be a problem. – Mark Bennet Dec 12 '14 at 14:45
• To continue ... I thought the question would allow candidates to expand on their view of the site, and who it is for, from a perspective which has not been endlessly debated (PSQs, homework etc). I put it up as a different kind of question to see whether others might find it interesting to ask. – Mark Bennet Dec 12 '14 at 14:49
• And to add to previous comments - since the question is open, the answer "pretty much nothing" is also available and valid if the view is that welcome is a community function rather than a moderator function. So the question would explore a little the boundaries of the moderator role. – Mark Bennet Dec 13 '14 at 23:18

I don't want a faceless internet moderator. I want a person to have a drink with when I'm in town for a conference.

To the candidates whose user profile is not complete with real life details, what is your full public profile? Tell us about yourself in real life a little bit. What is your name, how old are you, where do you live and what do you do in your professional life.

• Let me just make a point as to why I asked this. I do believe that using your real name is helpful on this site. This is (1) helps avoid the rudeness and offensive tones anonymity may encourage; and (2) I really do want to think about moderators as people, real people, with real names. And I really do expect to have a beer with them when I am in town. Just ask Arthur and Michael. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 4:42
• So, you need to know their age to make sure they are legally allowed to drink beer with you? :) Seriously, I think this is a slightly impertinent question (the age part). – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 4:56
• I think you should make the list of things you ask about a bit longer and/or different. My real name is William Chen, I am 26, I do not have a webpage is not that interesting, is it? [In case you wonder, none of the aforementioned is true, for me.] Especially one might ask (with or without realname info) what the candidates qualifications are to moderate a site about mathematics (viz. education, profession etc). – quid Dec 9 '14 at 7:20
• @Behaviour To be fair age is not unimportant when considering someone for a moderator position. I don't doubt there are 14 year old out there who are mature enough to be good at this job, I've simply never met one. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 8:35
• @NajibIdrissi Maturity is important, but... are you going to be satisfied with someone claiming to be X years old? Or will it be another round of "show us your birth certificate"? :) I'd say that maturity can and should be observed through the user's actions on the site, which, after all, is what really matters. There are successful teen moderators around SE: minitech was 15 years old when elected on Stack Overflow (of all sites), manishearth modded multiple sites, then there are Doorknob (became a mod at 13), hichris123, and a few more. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 8:55
• @Behaviour Whether knowing someone's age would be helpful in deciding if they're fit to be moderator and whether it's enforceable are two different questions. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 8:57
• Past demonstration overrides age. If you are thinking of taking marks away for some age less than $n$, think again. Demonstrated history of behavior overrides that. – J. W. Perry Dec 9 '14 at 9:08
• @J.W.Perry: Yes, but when you have someone aged $<n$ years old whose meta (and other moderating related) participation is scarce, how do you judge? – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 10:20
• To avoid any speculation or misconception: when I thought which name to use I arrived at William Chen by looking on a page for common given names (in the US) where I saw William and by recalling a name that Anton Geraschenko used for about the same purpose years ago on meta.MO; he used Victor Chen or maybe it was Vincent. The combination gave William Chen. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 0:01
• I do think that the age of moderators is a relevant data point when considering how to vote. – Carl Mummert Dec 10 '14 at 1:16
• My main issue with this question is that we'll miss out on potentially good moderators who are for some reason reluctant to disclose such personal details to the faceless audience of the Internet. Life is complicated, and even more so after graduate school. – user147263 Dec 11 '14 at 9:00
• @Behav: While I don't think this should be as strict as, say MathOverflow (where I do believe that moderators should be using real life identities), I think that this community has sufficiently real-world connection for this to be important. And if someone prefers to remain faceless, then I prefer them not to have a diamond. Life is complicated, and you probably know that they are full of trade offs too. – Asaf Karagila Dec 11 '14 at 9:09
• @Anastasiya: Faceless is not someone without their photo. It's someone without a real life identity. Arthur and Michael Greinecker both have complete profiles here, as do other moderators. The exception is robjohn and mixedmath which have given real life information several times in the past (including, if I remember correctly, their election campaign). – Asaf Karagila Dec 11 '14 at 16:31
• Mr. @AsafKaragila Unfortunately, I can't reveal my true identity here other than my face because I have promised to my parents as a consequence my participation here. Only few people around here (not on MSE, but other SE sites) that know my true identity. – Anastasiya-Romanova 秀 Dec 11 '14 at 16:41
• That's ok @Anastasiya-Romanova秀. For women in particular disclosing too much personal information may, unfortunately, put their personal safety at risk. This may be a stretch of facts on our site, but bad things happen in the internet. Surely your parents act with your well being in mind. – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 14 '14 at 23:26

Q: What is the best question you have asked on the main Math.SE site, and what is the best answer you have written on that site? What about the Meta.Math.SE site: what are your best question and best answer?

I think that the answer to this kind of question can tell a lot about the personality of the candidate. Of course, we can see their history, but this lets them show us their own choice.

• I think this is an interesting question, and I agree with the sentiment behind it. What I would pick as my "best" answer is not highly up-voted, and is probably not what others would pick. I would guess that everyone else is also their own personal unsung hero! – user1729 Dec 15 '14 at 17:05

I think a good moderator would have shown traits even before becoming one. So my question is :

How does your history of participation as a user on the main site and meta support your candidacy and your claim that you will be a good moderator?

To expand on the question, what I am looking for is history of involvement in day to day house-keeping of the site (e.g. participation in editing, closing/reopening, etc.) + good and helpful attitude in dealing with less frequent controversial issues.

The question is mainly for candidates who have been active on MSE for some time (something like at least a year), I don't think users with less history are suitable candidates (they may make good moderators but it is difficult to tell without some history and involvement in issues that arise on the main and meta).

• Big overlap with this question. – Najib Idrissi Dec 14 '14 at 9:34
• @Najib, that question is (only) about how they will handle flags when they become moderators, I am asking how they have participated so far, I don't see much overlap. – Kaveh Dec 14 '14 at 10:45

Do you have an agenda? That is, is there anything you would wish to try to change on math.SE in the long run? If so,

1. Will you use your new superpowers to make these changes?
2. Do you think that there is any issue with this?

For example, the-user-currently-known-as-Behaviour (aka 147263) has an agenda of improving the quality of the content on this site. However, this often involves deleting low-quality questions, along with their answers. Naturally, there are two sides to each argument. Clearly, user147263 would have much greater power to complete their quest if they were a moderator. My question is: if you were in such a position, would you use these powers? And do you see any issue with this?

• (I do not mean to single out Behavour's quest - there are many quests, such as the PSQ quest.) – user1729 Dec 15 '14 at 17:28
• This is redundant with several other questions. – quid Dec 15 '14 at 17:35
• @quid Which ones? I had a good read through them all, and couldn't find this being asked. – user1729 Dec 15 '14 at 17:38
• Gerry Myerson's question hits the same topic, but is phrased much better. In any case, I doubt this will get enough support in the remaining 3 hours to be featured on the list. – user147263 Dec 15 '14 at 17:44
• The one of GM was already mentioned and mainly I had this one in mind; the binding votes one touches upon this too; finally the one of AF on future usage of the site (but this lst is perhaps a stretch). – quid Dec 15 '14 at 18:03
• I disagree that these cover my question. My question is trying to ask if they consider moderator-ship to be a political position. It is about motivation rather than action. Although I agree with @Behaviour that it could be better phrased... – user1729 Dec 15 '14 at 18:17
• I do not want to come about as sarcastic or something but: either way it seems it will be be somewhat irrelevant as "you are late to the party." – quid Dec 15 '14 at 18:45
• Very good question, exactly to the point! – Dilaton Dec 15 '14 at 19:02
• @quid Yes, I am late to the party! I gave been away/busy recently. However, my motivation for suggesting this questions was not for the sake of trying to say something in the election. Rather, I would like to know if our prospective janitors think of themselves as police or politicians. Because I am interested – user1729 Dec 15 '14 at 19:04
• I did not mean to imply this I merely meant to express, perhaps poorly, that I do not intend to further discuss the matter, as I think it will be somewhat irrelevant for the actual list of question. In principle I agree that the issue you rais is a relevant one. However, I continue to think that it is covered, at least implicitly, by other questions. – quid Dec 15 '14 at 19:08

This is aimed to the candidates which do not have the Sportsmanship badge.

Quoting Jyrki's comment

That badge is by no means necessary to be a valuable contributor to the site, but a person who does not read and vote on others answers has taken an approach vastly different from mine.

How would you explain your approach (attitude)?

• Voting is one of the rare aspects of the website that is not affected by being moderator (unlike voting to close/delete, asking/answering questions, commenting (because of the diamond)...) I'm not really sure this question is relevant. – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 12:57
• It seems that Jyrki Lahtonen took that suggestion back. Sportsmanship correlates with posting in tags where questions tend to get more than one answer. There are tags where most questions get either 0 or 1 answer; the users posting there, where the answers are most needed, are a long way from the badge. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 19:21
• @Behaviour nailed it. I rarely see competing answers nowadays myself. My sentiment is an echo from the happier days, when clicking "next" twice took you to yesterday's questions, and you could take the time to enjoy most of the questions on the site. I still would like to know the reason why a candidate never upvotes answers, if such a candidate shows up. But I would not call lack of such activity bad sportsmanship. Rather bad teachership as it amounts to never giving a passing grade to a student answering. Thanks for the props, but it may be better to drop this. – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 10 '14 at 13:24
• @JyrkiLahtonen Yeah, You're right, Should I delete this? – Aditya Hase Dec 10 '14 at 13:27
• No need to delete IMHO. – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 10 '14 at 13:40
• @JyrkiLahtonen This is off-topic but, Why Don't you nominate yourself as a moderator election candidate? Are you waiting for someone to add a nomination request on this thread? – Aditya Hase Dec 12 '14 at 10:11
• @Integrator: Still undecided. Need to make the decision tomorrow - shouldn't/won't leave it to the last minute. – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 12 '14 at 10:38
• @JyrkiLahtonen I hope that I will see your nomination then :) – Aditya Hase Dec 12 '14 at 10:43

What is a moderator supposed to do and why do you want to do that?

• "In your opinion, what do moderators do?" is on the list posted by Grace Note. – user147263 Dec 10 '14 at 1:28
• @Behaviour: Yes, it is a good question. – Lehs Dec 10 '14 at 1:31

Do you believe that a strong mathematics background is needed to contribute meaningfully to the Math.SE community? As a nominee for moderator of Math.SE, you surely have at the very least an interest in mathematics. How strong is your mathematics background? Do you believe your strength or weakness in mathematics will affect your ability to contribute to the community as a moderator? If so, how? If not, why not? What other of your strengths can you rely on as a moderator?

• Voting on this question appears to reflect disagreement on someone needing a math background to moderate, and not the efficacy of the question itself. – Robert Harvey Dec 10 '14 at 17:30
• @RobertHarvey: How can you tell? It doesn't appear that way to me. – Jonas Meyer Dec 11 '14 at 19:36
• @JonasMeyer It's interesting that 4 people (at the time of this comment, his) agree with him, however. Maybe those who disagree should upvote Jonas' comment to show disagreement. In this same Q&A we have a question about whether or not a moderator should be concerned with downvoting etiquette of users. – Axoren Dec 11 '14 at 20:02
• These two situations are different however. This downvoting should not warrant moderator intervention, in my opinion. It's just interesting. – Axoren Dec 11 '14 at 20:03

I will not entrust moderation to a person never seen in a conflict situation during his/her online career. A moderator who systematically avoids any conflicts would be a burden for the community.

Please, show one or two histories of conflict and its consequences available online. Preferably, conflict with “superior powers”: numerically superior opponents, an establishment member of a site/channel/group/mail_list, entities with influence IRL, community members on whom you depended in some way… Preferably, in a communication medium where cover-up and censorship are hindered technically or aren’t ubiquitous, such as wiki sites and Usenet.

• Um... actually, in the purely theoretical case where the mod team wants to get together and engage in some serious censorship and cover-up, I don't think you guys will be able to find out. (Though on the other hand, the community team can, and those directly affected would know also.) My point is that when I look at your list of properties of conflicts, I do not see in it much of my past interactions with community members. Sure, once or twice there had been unpleasant developments, but never had we had the need to deal with, for example, "superior powers". So I don't see this as a prereq. – Willie Wong Dec 10 '14 at 16:48
• ... especially since SE does provide moderators with some decent tools to handle the duties they are entrusted with. – Willie Wong Dec 10 '14 at 16:49
• @Willie Wong: I can’t do anything with it since you are already a moderator of this site. It is sad that you raise quibbles about “cover-up and censorship” without signs of understanding what is it about, but you are nobody, wrt me, to explain your anything about Internet conflicts. – Incnis Mrsi Dec 10 '14 at 17:01
• It is not a quibble. You gave a list of experiences that you expect of moderators. But I don't see your list as reflective of either my experience dealing with the users here, or the wide array of tools that are available to the moderators on SE sites should they want to be evil and oppress users. // I agree wholeheartedly with the second sentence of your post; but not at all with the rest. – Willie Wong Dec 10 '14 at 17:07
• @Willie Wong, Behaviour, and their sympathizers: any privilege starting from “close” vote can be used for (significant) oppression of users. If there is one moderator and a brigade of 2000+ bullies willing to exploit respective privileges (the physics.SE case), whereas all other moderators don’t intervene, then we see an oppressive system. – Incnis Mrsi Dec 10 '14 at 18:36
• The question seems interesting to me; while the tone is a bit problematic. To know how somebody behaves in a situation of conflict or tension, is interesting to know. When everything runs smoothly it is easy to be nice and all. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:20
• Apart from the merits of the question, I see no point to include mission statements such as "A moderator who systematically avoids any conflicts would be a burden for the community." in a question. – Michael Greinecker Dec 12 '14 at 23:57

• The Math SE community has rightly so its own standards and cultures, -1. If the community thinks hints are useful and appropriate in some situations, this is exclusively their business. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 9:34
• Good question! This is a policy that was not discussed much lately AFAIK, but still very relevant. // @Dilaton So what? If a candidate thinks this standards exists "rightly so" they can reply this, preferably providing a rational, if they don't, they can reply something else. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 13:50
• It should go without saying that a (good) hint is frequently the most appropriate answer to a question. MSE isn’t MO. – Brian M. Scott Dec 9 '14 at 20:29
• @BrianM.Scott Very nice example of a non-sequitur! :-) – quid Dec 9 '14 at 20:40
• @quid: Not in the least. I'm pointing out that the question ought to be completely unnecessary (as indeed I very much hope that it is). – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 19:34
• @BrianM.Scott maybe discuss how obvious this is with JDH. Anyway, I did not even complain about you saying that this is frequently the most appropriate answer but you suggesting it is a consequence of MSE not being MO. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 19:36
• @You misunderstood: I was not saying that it was a consequence of the fact that MSE is not MO. My point is that since we are not MO, there is no reason to expect that what constitutes a good answer here will necessarily be the same as what constitutes a good answer there. – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 19:52
• @BrianM.Scott Okay. But how in the world is that relevant then? OP is not even active on MO, and MO is not even fully part of the network, and whatever the policies are on MO it has essentially nothing to do with networkwide policies. For example, link only answers are fairgame on MO. The fact that hints are not given much on MO, while true, is quite irrelevant to the question proposed. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:00
• @quid: It’s relevant to the issue of the appropriateness of hints, irrespective of the grounds on which that appropriateness is being questioned. It was also shorthand, albeit perhaps opaque, for ‘MSE has its own culture and purpose’. – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 20:21
• @BrianM.Scott yeah I know both on math.SE and MO there are some users that feel everything is so special about their sites. I never quite understood why and am always a bit embarrassed by it. We really represent our profession somewhat poorly here. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:31
• @quid: I don’t think that MSE is special; different from many other SE sites simply because of its subject and history, but not special. I don’t have much of a sense of how folks at MO feel; I’ve occasionally found useful things there when searching online, but I don’t care for the atmosphere and don’t read the site. – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 20:35
• @BrianM.Scott I do not see any reason intrinsic to the subject, and as I reminded you other members on the site did not share your opinion on hints. Anyway, the hostility against this question is quite strange. The argument the answer it is too obvious for it being asked is really weird. I have a hard time to take it seriously. By contrast the fact how emotionally some react to the question shows that it would be a good question to ask. – quid Dec 10 '14 at 20:43
• @quid: Mathematics is obviously far more likely to attract homework and homework-like questions than many other SE sites. And for most of my time here, my opinion on hints has been the norm here. If anything, people complained about answers that they thought were too complete. – Brian M. Scott Dec 10 '14 at 20:50
• Sometimes questions ask for hints rather than solutions, and I see full solutions posted rather too often in response to such requests. There are two types of question "please answer this" and "please help me to answer this". There is also an issue with treating questions of the different types as duplicates of each other. – Mark Bennet Dec 11 '14 at 8:53
1. What is your stance on edits that only correct small pieces of the formatting of questions? For example, turning plain-text equations into latex. There was actually a recent meta question about minor edits a month ago. Since the problem in that meta question was about the necromancing of old questions via edits, would your stance change if these edits were on recently asked questions? And where do you draw the line on what a significant edit vs. a minor edit is?

2. On the topic of necromantic posts. If a question was answered long ago with a correct and satisfactory accepted answer, but it made to the front page of the question list again because of an edit, how would you respond? How would you respond if it was bumped due to a new answer?

• In mathematics, good questions do not lose their valitidy in the course of time, there is nothing wrong with them appearing again on the front page from time to time such that new users or people who have missed them can see them too. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 9:37

Would your decisions, in any way, be dependent upon the SE philosophy and goals?

• This is extremly vague. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 7:13
• They damn well better be. – Robert Harvey Dec 9 '14 at 8:08
• @RobertHarvey Would they be get dismissed from their job, if they do not adhere SE policies strictly? – user103816 Dec 9 '14 at 9:10
• @RobertHarvey nope, the the Math SE community has its own long-standing standards and traditions. – Dilaton Dec 9 '14 at 9:38
• @Behaviour actually, I meant to point out two. Giving hints and misusing MJ for pointlees formatting hacks. But, both are more bad habits than traditions, I agree. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 17:35
• @quid: I strongly disagree about hints as a "bad habit". I think that giving a good hint is as valuable, or maybe even more valuable than a mediocre answer. – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 18:43
• @Asaf this is a little off-topic here. I agree (if this is agreement) that it can be appropriate to give an answer that does not spell out all details, or few details or maybe even no details but only sketches in general terms how a solution can be obtained. However, considerable parts of the "hint culture" are really bad. I will not be able to find it but "HINT: use induction" is really bad (especially when it is wrong). Now, fine, this is bad hint and bad hints can happen just as answers. But the problem is that one can almost automate giving such hints. This is the tip of an iceberg. – quid Dec 9 '14 at 18:52
• @AsafKaragila There is some spectrum of hinting answers; I did not have yours in mind. The ones that irritate me the most border on abusive: a user saying, sometimes explicitly, that the question is bad, and a bad (unhelpful) answer is all it deserves. Then this "answer" gets upvoted from the peanut gallery... I'm of the opinion that putting one piece of crap next to another is not what the site is for. We should work harder to get a good question out of the asker, and give a good answer to that. – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 19:16
• @Dilaton Things are not the way they were before. Silent downvoting on main site has increased, especially on PSQs and questions asked by new users, which are unfamiliar with the rules. Nearly a month ago I answered a PSQ. There were total two answers to that question, the other answer was upvoted. Nearly a week later that question and both the answers got some mysterious downvotes which triggered the auto-deletion. You can see many downvoted questions on the main page, nowadays. The culture is being changed. [...cont] – user103816 Dec 10 '14 at 11:13
• [cont] Perhaps this election would be the cause of the final change of the long-standing culture--you know anyone with 100 rep can vote. – user103816 Dec 10 '14 at 11:16
• Yes, the outcome of an election is usually not determined by the local community but by the whole SE network. Things going bad can probably not be prevented, this is why I already some months ago offered some help for people who are not satisfied with the current changes to legally correct (!) migrate (copy) the part of the community (including users and as much of the content as they wish) outside the SE network to keep up the old nice community spirit and traditions elsewhere, if they wish to do so ... – Dilaton Dec 10 '14 at 11:31