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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community. Also at the request of the community, we have decided to provide all 5 questions we provided, for a total of 13 questions to the candidates.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!


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?

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

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

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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    $\begingroup$ Could you please clarify the scope of the "suspension" question. I do not care much in which way, but I want it to be clear if or if not this is limited to suspension on this site and how a network-wide suspension fits in. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 15 '14 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ I think candidates should also give permission to the moderators the verify the answers on the suspension question. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Dec 15 '14 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker you can verify my no answers. I was only put on a question block at SO when I first joined since I didn't know how to ask appropriate questions. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 15 '14 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ I think we, as candidates, should have answered these questions before voting opened. Once you vote, there is no reason to read this if your mind was pre-set; however, if they read these even with pre-set choices, they may have been swayed since they didn't take action yet. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 15 '14 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin There's still time before the election phase. Moreover, users are able to change their vote at any time in both the primary and election phases. That said it does make things easier for the voters if the responses are all up in the next two days or so. $\endgroup$ – Grace Note Dec 15 '14 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin: Remember that this is just to determine who's moving on to the next round; and that based on the answers here people might change their votes. If they care enough to read, they will care enough to reconsider their votes. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 15 '14 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila that is my concern. I think the motivation to read everyone's post diminishes once you have cast your vote and are satisfied. However, if we would have answered this prior to voting, I think it would be reasonable to assume more people would have read them since they couldn't have casted their votes yet. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 15 '14 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin: In that case, I imagine, it may reflect poorly on their final vote tally. Not necessarily though, if you go back two years, you'll find a candidate that joined in the last couple of hours to the race, and thus was effectively exempt from any pressure to answer to the questions. Despite my pestering to answer, his reply was that he is too busy at the moment; when he was elected I insisted and I got this vague reply that avoided the actual issue. And 'lo and behold, not a week (or two?) the issue that I'd asked about came up with that exact moderator. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 15 '14 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps we can have the name of the candidate (with links to their user profile and/or nomination) on the top line of each answer? It will make reading the answers much much easier. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 16 '14 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila You mean you are not going to print them out and put in a binder? $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 16 '14 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ I will probably be a bit late in answering. I am very sorry about this. Real life duties: end of semester chores, review / project deadlines, duties as an editor of IEEE Transactions on IT... Thursday most likely. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 16 '14 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: If you were in Israel you'd only be in the middle of the semester now, and you'd have time to loaf around the internet. Serves you right! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 16 '14 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder why some people downvote this. Do they not like the candidates ? Do they see the competition as unfair ? Are they angry they will not be a moderator ? Or do they consider the questions as nonsense or unneccessary ? Even if you do not like it , it is clearly neccessary. A mystery to me. $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 19 '14 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @mick Possibly the downvotes represent a lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the current SE election process. For example, you will often see remarks that the current process usually ends up electing the highest rep candidates. But there is usually infinitesimal correlation between rep and anything. Could it be improved? Probably much so, but SE doesn't seem to be doing much about it. Meanwhile, the site keeps losing valued contributors due to matters that could have easily been resolved by mods having not high "rep" but experience in mediation. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 20 '14 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Its an honor to receive a comment from you :) $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 21 '14 at 21:02

10 Answers 10

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Daniel Fischer's user profile and nomination.


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?

Working on the assumption that looking at the incidents confirm the user in question is at least to a large part responsible for the arguments, and the arguments are not only with a few particular users: We have the overall rule to be nice. If somebody habitually violates that rule, that is not acceptable. Nevertheless, except in the severest cases, one should check one's own judgment by asking for a second opinion, so consultation of fellow moderators before any disciplinary action is the default. The first step would be an unofficial request to moderate the behaviour/language. Many people do calm down when asked to do so politely. In severe cases, that stage could be skipped. Afterwards, if the situation doesn't improve, slowly escalate. The next stage would be a warning or moderator message (I don't know if those are different things, and if so, which is more grave, so this might be two stages). If necessary, suspension would be the next step, in unfortunate cases, repeated suspensions.

If the arguments are with only a few particular other users, it is likely a case of "it takes two". In that case, requests for moderation would be sent to all parties. The option to try and just ignore each other should probably be mentioned before sterner measures are taken. The following like above, where as long as no party moderates their behaviour, warnings/suspensions would be issued to all parties.

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

Discuss the case with the other moderator, laying down my reasons why I object to the action, and asking for the reasons that led to the action. If that does not resolve the dissent, involve the other moderators in the discussion. If that doesn't lead to a resolution - not necessarily complete consensus, a clear majority of opinion should suffice - it is probably the time to let the community discuss the matter here on meta (or, if confidential matters are involved, with the community managers).

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In short: mopping up in aisle seven, and cooling down disputes.

Judging by these data points, a large part of moderation is handling flags, as expected. I have no data about what sort of flags makes up which proportion of the flags, so I can't guess whether investigating suspicious activities (sockpuppet accounts, suspected voting rings, other things I can't at the moment think of) would be a rare or a not-so-rare duty. Hopefully rare. Part of flag-handling involves deleting posts-that-should-not-be, nonsense like asdfasdf posted as answers, questions posted as answers to other questions, troll posts, if those are not deleted from the review queues or by 20k users in a timely fashion; sometimes converting answers to comments. More serious are offensive posts, which ought to be deleted on sight, without waiting until enough users with the power to vote for deletion have seen them.

The most delicate part in flag-handling - except for the detective work about forbidden behaviour mentioned above - I can think of now is dealing with flags that arise from a conflict between users. There, a moderator's part is pacifying and trying to guide the conflicting parties to a compromise, to moderate.

Spam, I have learned, should be flagged as spam also by moderators, since deletion by spam-flags produces data for whatever anti-spam software is employed, which moderator deletions don't.

Also a large part (larger than expected by me) is apparently cleaning up comment threads, deleting obsolete, unconstructive or offensive comments, culling excessively long comment threads.

Then there are things also experienced users that aren't moderators do: editing posts in need of editing, explaining the workings of the site to newcomers, reviewing.

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?

Slightly uneasy, to be honest. But it's not much of a change. I already have my real name next to my posts and comments, and I prefer that to be associated to useful contents rather than inappropriate remarks.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

Concerning the things ordinary users can do too, but moderators can do more:

Flags would direct me to problematic posts that others have discovered, and not only those that I happen to come across while browsing the site. The one-click-deletion powers of a moderator would allow me to remove posts that really shouldn't have been made quicker than flagging as not-an-answer or low-quality, voting to delete, and waiting for enough other users to cast their votes too.

And a "please be civil, people" from somebody with the power to suspend carries more weight than one from ordinary users.

Then there are the things ordinary users can only flag and ask moderators to do, like merging duplicates or migrating questions (not without consulting the moderators of the prospective target site). And suspending users, which hopefully isn't a too frequent occurrence.

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

Not to my knowledge. A moderator is welcome to check for holes in my knowledge of that topic.

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?

I'm reading it regularly, so I have a rough idea about the current affairs. Occasionally, I can even answer a support/information request question there before somebody else does. From the history, I have only read parts. Though the traffic is low enough to follow current affairs, meta is too large to read the record completely.

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?

I think Ilmari Karonen nailed it, the biggest problem is size/growth. With currently between 600 and 700 questions per day, the site has grown too big for any single person to keep an overview of the entire site. The sub-communities will become more separated from each other, and will develop different strategies to deal with the increasing question volume and in particular the low-quality questions. The transition from the village where everybody knew everybody to the big city where every quarter has its own customs will not be painless.

Extrapolating from what I saw on Stack Overflow, seeing that my neighbour does things differently from me can cause a lot of friction. Suppose in tag , the consensus is that Problem Statement Questions are unacceptable and need to be closed put on hold prontissimo as well as downvoted, while in tag the users consider PSQs acceptable. Imagine the hilarity when a PSQ is tagged with both tags. I've seen such occurrences lead to very hostile comment exchanges.

What can a moderator do about that? Quenching the fire when conflicts arise.

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?

Like others, I consider PSQs undesirable.

I would prefer that PSQs are edited to become non-PSQs before they are answered. If they are edited to become adequate questions after they have been answered, that is still okay. But a lot of them never are edited, and I believe that having a load of verbatim assignments including the exhortation to "show your work" with answers on the site sends the message that it is okay to ask such questions here. I don't like that message. I think context (I tried this, got stuck there) makes the difference between "do my homework" and "can someone help me do my homework". I like the latter, but not the former. Therefore I think such questions should be put on hold until edited, and then reopened.

But as long as there is no clear consensus on the treatment of PSQs (and I don't expect one site-wide), I won't single-handedly put them on hold as such. I would have no qualms to single-handedly mark them as duplicates if they are.

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 have the Deputy badge, so a bit of experience with that side. Handling flags is a different matter, however, I have no experience with that yet.

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?

I expect my answering rate will drop considerably if I am elected, since moderation duties will take time. And my comment rate. Whether the time spent reviewing and editing will increase or decrease depends on how much time other moderator duties take.

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?

If the question is bad, merely having correct answers is in my opinion not sufficient to prevent deletion. The answer would need something that raises it above being merely correct. I have cast delete votes on questions having correct answers. Better answers have stopped me from voting to delete questions I would otherwise have been happy to see gone. One judges whether the gain from getting rid of the bad question outweighs the loss of the associated deletion of answers in the "Delete votes" queue (/tools?tab=Delete for 10k+ users) and casts or withholds the vote accordingly. Reasonable people can come to differing conclusions in such matters, so some posts leave that queue without being deleted, others get deleted and later undeleted, yet others get deleted and stay deleted. Since moderator deletions cannot be undone by ordinary users, being elected would end my casting delete votes there, it's up to the part of the community with sufficient privileges to decide in such cases, and the community must have the power to reverse such deletions on its own.

With regard to downvoting and the autodelete process, I don't think that is a matter moderators should be concerned with. Voting is everybody's own decision, and as long as it's not targeted at specific users, should remain private. While I don't like the practice, I have no big problem with it either.

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?

I do have difficulties imagining how other people feel, so that's a minus on empathy and emotional intelligence. But roughly fifty years of life have taught me to be patient and to stay calm when things heat up, or if I don't stay calm, to step back and calm down again. Mostly.

A further minus on preparation, I have no previous experience of moderating or leading a community.

But I am willing to hear out both sides of a dispute before forming my judgment, so I may be up to the task nevertheless.

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    $\begingroup$ I feel you did a better job than I did. Upvoted your answer; can I somehow downvote your comment? ;) $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Dec 16 '14 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ -1 To me, the "nail in the coffin" is your view that it is ok to delete questions with good answers. Your frequent deletion votes on such questions led to the deletions of many valuable answers. This is the primary reason that I left the site. I cannot in good faith participate in a site where a few users are allowed to destroy the work of others. This is a serious defect in the SE platform. Thankfully, soon other platforms will appear without this and other serious SE defects. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 17 '14 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Is it not in the answerers risk to answer a bad question? $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Dec 17 '14 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Alizter Valuable site content should never be at risk of vandalism. A user who has heavily engaged in such vandalism should not be considered a viable moderator candidate. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 17 '14 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Then why not abolish the closing system? As long as they have valuable answers it is fine to keep crappy questions? $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Dec 17 '14 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Alizter This is not the proper place to debate these matters. But it is the proper place to raise awareness of candidates stances on controversial matters. Here we have a candidate who has heavily engaged in the controversial tactic of deleting valuable content, combined with self-professed "difficulties imagining how other people feel ... a minus on empathy and emotional intelligence". That's a very dangerous combination. It scares me to think what will happen once his massive number of close and deletion votes become unilateral (binding). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 17 '14 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque If you read a bit further, you can read that I wouldn't delete such questions as a moderator, since mod-deletions can't be undone by the community. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 17 '14 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Dan Thanks for the clarification. But now I'm puzzled. The immense amount of effort you expended in closing and deleting "bad questions" (including many with good answers) seems to imply that you believe this to be an important contribution. If so, why would you trade such 10k mod powers for full mod powers? Do you think that there is something more important that you can contribute as a full mod? If so, what? Many users do not want to be a mod for this very reason, i.e. they don't want to lose the capability to vote due to their votes becoming binding. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 18 '14 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ To answer your question about investigating suspicious activities, these do make up a very small percentage of the flags we get; however, because investigating them is often extremely involved, it does take up a pretty good chunk of time. (At least, it does for some mods. We all develop preferences for which mod tasks we like best, so the amount of time we spend on this varies from person to person.) $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Dec 18 '14 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque there is a Q/A pair in the post to address this very question (mod vs 10k/20k user). It could save everybody some effort if you'd read the full post before asking for "clarification". $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 18 '14 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Just for the record, we're disagreeing on the "(having) good answers" point. And incidentally, on the "immense". Yes, I believe it is important to clean out bad closed questions if they don't have answers that add value to the site. But more important is that the site has a full team of moderators. Other people who I consider more qualified have declined to run, unfortunately. We need enough candidates to make it a real election. People whose judgment I value asked me to run. I think despite my shortcomings I can be a decent moderator, so here I am. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 18 '14 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Dan In any case, since you becoming a mod will greatly hinder your extremely destructive deletion campaign, then it does have at least one redeeming aspect - though I would much rather the mod slot be filled by someone who does not profess to lack some of the most crucial skills required (empathy, emotional intelligence, etc). Since SE has still not figured out how to competently run an election, you will win - as the highest "rep" candidates always do. I look forward to the future preservation of valuable answers and the consequent deceleration of loss of excellent teachers. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 18 '14 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: I am grateful for your sacrifice. I appreciate your clear and honest answers here. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 18 '14 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque, you're still raising the flag of the educator, although your ideas of education seems a little bit strange in my point of view. What is empathy, emotional intelligence for you? If by this you mean to give a full answer for every question that appears here, without making any concessions then, in the end, for those who asked the questions, the most probably result is lack of knowledge and lack of interest in the study. $\endgroup$ – Tomás Dec 19 '14 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Tomas Non sequiter, nothing was said above about "ideas of education", "giving full answers", etc. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 19 '14 at 15:46
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How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

This is a delicate subject. One would hope a user with valuable contributions would stay in the site. A sensible line of action would include warnings and or short cooldown suspensions, and eventually being able to control the user so that the ratio $\text{contributions}/\text{flags}$ remains as big as possible.

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

I would discuss the matter with the mod privately and use this to decide whether or not to reopen. Except in extreme cases, one hopes the community handles the closing of questions, rather than moderators.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A high volume of a moderator's work is flag handling. Then comes the janitorial work, as Jyrki has put it, and the peace-maker work: one deletes old comments, or offensive comments, cleans up posts and handles disputes between user. There is also some work put in looking at users with suspicious behaviour (like sockpuppets) and yet another portion of the work goes into deletion of useless posts, like rants or mindless self-promotion (which happens more often than one would like.)

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?

It doesn't really change my attitude towards the site. Having used my real name for most of my time here, I already take care (or not?) of my attitude in the site.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

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

I don't recall having been suspended from the site. I have been suspended from the chat (half an hour suspensions) a few times, but I wouldn't remember when. The reason was usually the use of curse words that some people might find inappropriate, but which I didn't find harmful.

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?

I usually follow meta passively and read discussions - you can see this by looking at the number of votes I've made on meta. I don't usually give my opinion on matters where I feel it won't matter greatly (for example, users complaining about downvoting or about how one answer got more upvotes than others) -- I am mostly worried about policies that affect the day-to-day working of the site.

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?

Users lack knowledge of how the site works. We're flooded by duplicates, for example -- users should learn to use the search engine (and learn the little codes it comes with) to find great posts that are archived in the site. Users should start thinking about the site as a small archive rather than a site where the only useful thing to do is using the ASK QUESTION button. The increasing wave of new users and questions doesn't help, since there's always a "loose herd" that hasn't learned its way through the site. This could be remedied by a longer tryout period on the web, and stricter requirements to read the FAQ pages and tutorials, for example. Experienced users could also help by working as guides to small groups of new users, so that they their way around.

Closely related to this point, I believe the site should increase the level of interchange in some posts. Some users prefer to get complete detailed answers, but this fails to help in the long run: I'd rather prefer that a user ends up answer his/her own questions in time after good "lessons" from more experienced users than seeing a user constantly asking questions and getting answer like a vending machine. One would hope this resembles more of an academic exchange than a dry Q&A site. How could we fix this? Perhaps more and more use of comment templates are in order -- this used to be common practice, but then seemed to wash away.

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?

It would depend on the particular question. Users shouldn't be so worried about their questions being closed if they have to be improved -- many times the community closes a question that shows little effort, work or research. We need to start caring about community feedback. There are some posts which are clearly a problem statement, and which people find interesting, while there are posts that are relatively elementary problems from books (for example: classify groups of order $pq$) which one expects the user to think and try to solve before posting. I think PSQs do more harm than good, in the long run.

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?


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?

Not really. I will keep doing what I usually do, plus the new duties.

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?

This is yet another delicate subject. The first step to avoid the situation we found ourselves in would have been discussing the matter before making the move. It was upsetting to many users (including myself) that things were done unilaterally. Some questions seem to have been quite useless, perhaps because they were duplicates or because they were very simple isolated problems, yet this is no excuse for deleting them without consensus.

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?

I am a tennis instructor (of both adults and kids), so I deal with frustration and conflict quite often. This aside, I consider myself to be very patient and rational when it comes to argument.

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    $\begingroup$ Being suspended from the chat is nonsense. Since the flags were (are?) handled by people who are not in the channel, not part of the conversation, and are not exposed to context. Surely you can find excerpt which are agreeable or disagreeable that has been said by pretty much anyone. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 17 '14 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I agree with you. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 17 '14 at 6:02
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    $\begingroup$ See? That, right there, is an example of something agreeable I said. Had I wrote something like "To hell with this Pedro guy! I want me some cheese." that would be an example of something disagreeable! (Also, is it visible that I just got out of bed 10 minutes ago? :-)) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 17 '14 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I am so confused right now. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 17 '14 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ i1.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/016/724/… $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 17 '14 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ And in your confusion you've turned to Star-Lord and his ragtag group of galactic guardians? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 17 '14 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ That's Andy Dwyer, Wikipedia says. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 17 '14 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ Users shouldn't be so worried about their questions being closed if they have to be improved -- many times the community closes a question that shows little effort, work or research. Could you clarify this quote? I don't quite understand how the part before the dash and the part after the dash fit together, but maybe I'm misunderstanding. $\endgroup$ – Strants Dec 18 '14 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Strants My point is users should consider the practice of closing questions normal as a tool to improve the quality of the site. Many times users feel attacked or unjustly treated when a question is closed, and sometimes post meta threads discussing the situation. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 18 '14 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ OK, that makes sense. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Strants Dec 18 '14 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ I notice that one of your answers is missing. Did you intend on finishing that? $\endgroup$ – epimorphic Dec 19 '14 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @epimorphic Ah, yes. I will do that tomorrow. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 20 '14 at 0:02
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Jyrki Lahtonen's answers, user profile and nomination.

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

I'm reluctant to give a generic answer because case-by-case judgement is clearly called for. It would not occur to me to act alone. Time for moderators to convene! If the flags are judged to be about extra-mathematical rudeness, we have rules. If the flagged comments form an attempt to "teach math like a drill sergeant" we might also try to:

  • Remind the accused of the fact that verbal attacks at students who have not learned the required way of thinking will only put them on defensive. And hence is not conducive to learning <- This might work on a young tyro. Not so sure about an older cynic?
  • Humor, anyone? (If judged that it might work)
  • Channel that mathematical rage in a way that benefits the community. For example, ask them to write a blog post (not sure about this either, but can't hurt to try).

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

I would first exchange messages with the fellow moderator in question. For example a new mod (rolls eyes) might do that largely unwittingly or mistakenly thinking that they are entitled to disregard the opinion of other moderators. If we cannot reach any kind of a concensus 1-on-1, then I would ask the other mods opinion. I would NOT overrule another mod's decision without consultations.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Wish I knew more about this - they are a bit secretive :-). Largely they handle the flags and tend to those requests that require the use of special moderator tools inaccessible to regular users (setting/resetting CW status, moving an answer to a comment, et cetera). Probably most of the work is not very visible. The peacekeeping measures form a (hopefully) small part only.

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

I will be a bit more careful about what I say. While mods are not employees of Math.SE I would keep in mind that I would in some sense speaking for the official Math.SE. The situation is analogous to real life discussions. If anyone wants to use employment status at a university or a company to add expert status (and extra weight) to an opinion, then one needs to express those opinions a bit more carefully. When needed, I hope to remember and explicitly state that now I'm taking off the moderator hat. Not that such a statement would entirely relieve me of my obligations to Math.SE - the association would still be there.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

I guess this is not unlike the difference between "Serve and protect" vs. "Swerve and protest"? A moderator is to be a bit more conservative and not follow all her/his whims, but not stubbornly conservative either. They also need to keep their ears open to the development of the popular opinion on site policies as those are forming in meta. We have the tradition that moderators are reluctant to e.g. cast a close/delete/undelete/reopen vote as that would be immediately binding. If elected I will uphold this tradition but not to the point of being timid to act in a clear case. If elected I will take the time to learn which moderator actions cannot be overruled by a group of concerned 10k+ members. I will exercise extreme care in those occasions. In a sense this makes me less effective but, me being moderate, the change to the site is hardly noticeable.

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

No. Once I lost my temper on meta so badly that I half expected a warning at least. But none came.

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?

I'm active on meta. I agree with the premise that moderators should follow the meta topics closely. The moderator team can, of course, arrange selected few of them to represent the team to bring up the moderators' viewpoint.

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?

Various growing pains. Below there are questions dedicated to some of these.

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?

I have elaborated on my views often, so it is probably better that you look here, here, and here. Revisiting those posts: while I still agree with the points raised in all of them I also notice a slight trend in becoming a bit more aggressive towards PSQs. This reflects the fact that as the overall volume of traffic on the site has increased, the problem has become more disturbing.

Another related answer by me. As a moderator I would put some effort into updating the FAQ. IMHO it is not asking too much from new users that they familiarize themselves with site norms. At workplaces, schools and such it is advisable that newcomers spend a little time learning about the local social norms. It's the same thing in internet communities, and here that includes learning how to ask a HW question well. I also want to repeat the point that getting a question put on hold simply means that the asker needs to put a bit more effort into the question, and they can then expect the question to be reopened.

Math.SE is not one of those internet fora, where "anything goes". I kinda like it that way, and I seek to keep it that way.

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 have this badge, but I'm not entirely happy with my flagging history. Learning about flagging was not a priority for me early on. My batting average suggests that I have been too conservative when flagging.

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?

Answering hopefully won't be affected much at all. Currently I spend quite a bit of time revisiting old interesting threads. While occasionally pleasurable that can go, and I would spend that time on mod duties instead.

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?

Another contentious issue. I like to leave this to the community. If the community does not want to protect some questions, it is not up to a moderator to get in the way of vox populi. It is immaterial how the question ended up deleted. My own sentiment is that correct $\neq$ useful. However, as a moderator I will not use my binding vote on such a question. It is important that regular 10k users have the ability to revert closure/deletions/undeletions/reopenings.

My meta posts on this theme can be found here and here. There I try to describe how I feel/think about this.

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?

This is not one of my strengths. I try to mediate when I can (some of the posts linked to above were written in such a spirit), but I don't think I have been very successful.

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    $\begingroup$ On your point (1), I am having visions of the moderators having a very serious discussion on the best possible joke to quell the situation. Do you intend on creating a bank of jokes for these situations, or will your jokes be bespoke...? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Dec 19 '14 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 LOL! Some tailoring will be necessary. And, at the risk of causing a groan that can be heard in a parallel universe, against certain kind of cynicism the mods themselves contend in vain. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 20 '14 at 7:15
  • $\begingroup$ I was going over this thread, wondering about when the future elections may occur, and I have to say I disagree with your last answer: in my opinion, you are one of the most open-minded people in resolving conflicts here, a really good choice by the community. Keep up the good work! $\endgroup$ – Jack D'Aurizio Mar 2 '17 at 0:48
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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?

Math.SE is more than a repository of questions and answers. It is a community of users. Some users offer singularly-exceptional answers, but by and large, not many users have a unique monopoly on the capacity to provide those answers. I would engage the hypothetical user in private polite discourse and remind them that the community is appreciative of their contributions, but the interpersonal elements are equally important to the community. If they failed to adapt their communication styles, I would work with other moderators to take a more punitive approach (e.g. ban).

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

I would first address them directly and inquire why such action was taken. What happens next depends on whether their opinion has changed my own. If it has not, I would seek rapid consensus before it explodes onto meta.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators meter the temperature of the community and keep its course and heading roughly aligned with its objectives. A moderators primary job is not to police, but to serve as a gentle nudge to ensure that the community continues on the path desired by consensus of its own users.

More specifically, moderators must habitually and regularly evaluate flags, share opinions of whatever the issue du jour is, and constantly self-reflect whether their own actions are representing the community standard.

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

I feel confident in that regard. I stand by my opinions and own up to my mistakes. For a while, I used my real name on this site. I changed from that not to become anonymous, but because I wanted a Google search of my name to return more than just answers and comments from this site.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

The reputation privileges are for community involvement. The moderator powers are a study in jurisprudence. Moderator powers exist to enable the community's will through the voluntary efforts of a few trusted people with the time and nuance to evaluate the issues at hand. Whereas a regular user can err on the side of caution and flag more liberally, a moderator must be sure whether or not the action taken reflects community ideals. I would only use moderator tools when necessary, preferring to let community action be the main driver of actions such as closing, editing, re-tagging, etc.

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

I have never been suspended.

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?

I am very well-versed in the meta site. I participate both visibly and non-visibly. Often times, I find myself in agreement with other opinions; in such a case, voting is my principle activity. I find no need to add an opinion unless I think it offers a unique stance. When I do find it necessary to add my voice as a community member, I do so (and I don't worry if others disagree).

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?

I feel that the biggest problem facing this community is that it does not do enough to reach out to users who are not themselves part of the math community by choice, but rather find themselves consumers of mathematics, e.g. engineering students looking for homework help, random users who remembered a math puzzle from their childhood, or SO castaways looking to code some mathematical function.

We are the biggest, most active community of mathematicians on the internet. We can be better ambassadors and advocates. Sure, not every engineering undergrad will stick around and contribute. But if, as many insist, one of the main purposes of this site is to promote learning in math, wouldn't we be better served by showing those users that we're more than just a bunch of stodgy cods who can only talk abstractly and don't like it when their space is invaded? I know that's the solemn pledge that's taken when we receive our office keys in the campus math building, but it doesn't have to be the case here ;)

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?

I support closure with commentary and providing explicit opportunity for what is necessary to re-open. If someone has a legitimate question, they should have no problem communicating its legitimacy.

That said, I think we need to be more lenient when people admit that they don't know where to start. If they don't know where to start, how can they show what they've done? We also must recognize that many questions do not come from trained mathematicians. Most users I've encountered don't know how to start because they've never learned to value the preciseness of a definition or a hypothesis (because math education is so often skewed towards algorithmic computation).

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 have the deputy badge. Incidentally, I received it a few days ago. I flag often, either by processing the review queue or flagging as I see issues arise.

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?

I do expect it to affect my involvement somewhat. With a diamond next to my name, I feel as though I am sacrificing a portion of my voice as an individual user. I believe that the community must set its own policy. User involvement is the keystone to that policy. Moderators must step aside to let users maintain the community standards, otherwise the diamond tends to lend too much weight.

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?

I do not see sense in this. A well-formed question with a correct answer should stand as a matter of record. All it costs is some storage space, and we don't pay for it. What impact can it possibly have on the average user?

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?

I have led online communities in one way or another for over a decade. My career involves regular communication between folks of different backgrounds and different disciplines. I balance my work, my life, and my studies. I try to converge toward equanimity whenever possible. When I can't... that's why I play hockey ;)

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Ilmari Karonen's user profile and nomination.


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?

These kinds of cases always need to be considered on their individual merits, since every person and every situation is different.

That said, my immediate response would be to try to defuse any active conflicts the user may be involved in, using the tools and authority available to me as a moderator. This could involve contacting the user privately, as well as removing any overheated and unproductive arguments and any individual comments that clearly cross the line.

In the long run, the two main questions I would ask myself (and other mods, if necessary) with regard to such a user would be:

  1. Is there anything I can do to help this user behave in a manner that is less likely to put off others, and are they likely to actually change their behavior, if encouraged to do so?

  2. If not, is this user's presence, on the whole, doing more harm than good to the site?

Sometimes, in any online community, hard decisions do need to be made, and sometimes that includes deciding that a particular contributor, while productive as an individual, is doing too much damage to the rest of the community. In such cases, it may be necessary to kindly tell that individual that, unless they can adjust their behavior to be less noxious, their participation is no longer welcome.

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

I would generally start by contacting that moderator, and discussing it with them. It might well turn out that it was a simple mistake, or that there might be reasons for the action that I was not aware of.

If the issue did turn out to be a genuine difference in opinion and/or interpretation of policy, I might seek a third opinion from other moderators, SE staff, and/or the site community (via meta). The same would apply if I was, for some reason, unable to contact the other moderator in a reasonable time.

I would not generally undo another moderator's action unilaterally, unless I was reasonably confident that action had been an obvious, unintentional mistake (e.g. a simple mis-click), or that the situation had changed sufficiently that the original reason no longer applied (e.g. a question closed by another mod as unclear was edited into shape).

In any case, if reverted myself, I would not repeat my action without discussing it — wheel wars are never a good thing.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As I noted in my nomination, I believe that there are two main parts to the job of a moderator:

  • On one hand, a moderator is a janitor — someone who makes sure the floors stay clean, someone you call in when the toilet is overflowing. In concrete terms, this involves things like handling flags, deleting crap and generally handling all the boring stuff (like, say, merging duplicates, migrating questions or editing comments) that only moderators can do. It's a dirty and often thankless job, but someone has to do it.

  • The other part of a moderator's job is to moderate — to step in when tempers get too hot and ensure that, despite our differences and misunderstandings, we all mostly get along. This is the (mostly) non-technical side of moderation, and is why we have the diamond after our usernames and, hopefully, a long temper. It means trying to understand where every user, no matter how seemingly difficult, is coming from; it means delving into heated disputes to understand what started them, and, more importantly, how to resolve them; and it also means, if necessary, gently but firmly telling a user that "this is not how we do things around here."

In any case, both parts serve the same overall goal: keeping math.SE running smoothly, so that all of us can enjoy it and learn from it.

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

I post under my real name, and generally try to avoid saying or doing anything that I wouldn't want my name associated with. I hope that, as a side effect, I've also managed to avoid doing anything foolish enough to embarrass math.SE as a whole, should I be elected as a moderator.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

There are plenty of things that ♦ moderators can do that even 20k users cannot, such as handling custom flags, deleting and undeleting comments, merging duplicate questions and migrating questions to arbitrary sites (just to mention a few off the top of my head). I do hope that I will be able to contribute to the smooth operation of math.SE just by taking care of such chores.

Of course, moderators also need to deal with the interpersonal aspects of the community here on math.SE. I've been told that I have a long temper; I rarely get angry, and I generally try to understand both sides in an argument — both traits that I expect will come useful for a moderator.

Finally, I should admit that I have a specific personal interest in getting access to the moderator tools on Stack Exchange: I'm the maintainer and primary developer of SOUP, an unofficial client-side interface patch for Stack Exchange sites that fixes a number of bugs in the SE user interface and adds some missing features. While I've previously been able, with the help of other moderators, to include some improvements to the SE moderator interface in SOUP, becoming a moderator myself would allow me to do that much more easily, and also more generally to develop tools to facilitate the work of both myself and other moderators.

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

No, I've so far never had that pleasure. ;-) And yes, you're free to check that.

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?

I do try to keep an eye on the meta sites of any Stack Exchange site I participate on, so as to have an idea of how the community norms are evolving, and, when appropriate, to contribute my own two cents.

In addition to meta.math.SE, I also actively participate on the global meta.SE site, where network-wide Stack Exchange policy and technical issues are discussed. I would hope that, as a moderator here on math.SE, I would sometimes be able to bring a useful wider perspective to things.

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?

I believe that the biggest "problem" math.SE is facing is that it's grown big. By total question volume, we're currently the second biggest SE site after Stack Overflow, edging out even Super User. By questions per day, the margin is even wider.

We have big city problems, now.

We're lucky in one way, though — we're only the second-biggest SE site. Many of the problems we're now facing here on math.SE are things that were problems on Stack Overflow already years ago:

  • We have "problem statement questions." SO has "gimme teh codez!"
  • We have endless low-quality homework problems. SO has endless PHP questions. ;-)
  • We have users gaming the automatic deletion system to get old, marginal questions deleted. On SO, people wish they had more users doing that.

OK, I may have been a bit facetious with some of the examples above, but the point stands: SO has faced many of our hurdles before, and survived. (Note that I say "survived" here, not "solved" — there's no magic bullet for most of these problems.) I believe that, as a community, we can learn from the experiences of other SE sites, including SO; both from the mistakes they've made, and from the practices they've found to work.

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?

Personally, I feel that questions consisting of just a problem statement, with no explanation of where the problem comes from or why a solution is needed, are generally bad questions. I downvote them when I see them, and encourage others to do the same. I also don't personally wish to contribute to cheating or other academic dishonesty, and thus try to avoid answering questions I suspect to be attempts at such.

On the community level, I feel that there really are only three effective options we could choose for dealing with such questions:

  1. We could simply accept the existence of PSQs on math.SE, and learn to live with them. This would not mean that anyone would be personally compelled to answer or upvote such questions, but it would mean accepting that some members of the community do.

  2. We could try to shift community consensus, and encourage more users not to answer such questions, but to downvote them off the front page instead. If, and only if, we can get a sufficient fraction of the active users on this site to agree that we don't want such questions here, this alone would be enough to deal with the problem.

  3. Finally, there is the "nuclear option": set up a clear and definite policy permitting (and mandating) moderators to instantly close any and all questions consisting of only a problem statement on sight, using an explicit and specific close reason (e.g. "This question consists only of a problem statement with no accompanying explanation [...]. Such questions are not permitted on Mathematics Stack Exchange."), and to delete any answers to such questions.

    Yes, this would be a drastic action, and would likely result in the loss of many valid and even valuable answers, and probably many contributors as well. I believe, however, that it would be the only possible way to force this issue, in the absence of an effective "grassroots" community consensus. Personally, I don't think such extreme measures are called for yet (if ever), but that's what it would take.

In any case, I don't really feel that the current "middle ground" practice, of a fraction of the community trying to close such questions by voting (using the generic "missing context" reason text), while another part is busy answering them, is particularly optimal for a number of reasons (which I started to enumerate here, and then realized that this isn't really the time nor the place, and this answer is long enough anyway). That said, as long as close-voting such questions is considered reasonable here, I obviously won't try to stop anyone from doing so. I do wish those people would at least also downvote them, too.

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?

While my flag count here on math.SE is fairly low, I do actively flag problematic posts on any and all SE sites where I come across them. I currently have 235 helpful flags on Stack Overflow (out of 298 total), and I estimate my total network-wide flag count to be at least twice that. I believe that's enough to give a fairly good idea of how flagging works, at least as much as anything short of being a mod does.

(Also, as I noted above, I just might have a little bit more experience of how flags get handled than most non-moderators would.)

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?

Being a moderator takes time, and obviously that time has to come from somewhere, so I expect that, as a moderator, I will likely spend somewhat less time actually answering questions.

On the other hand, as a moderator on math.SE, I would certainly be spending more of my time on this particular site, and coming across more potentially interesting questions here, which might well increase my participation here (while, presumably, stealing time from other competing activities).

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?

IMO, what matters most is not whether an answer is correct, but whether it's useful. For better or worse, the "long tail" of math.SE is full of trivial, over-specific questions with trivial over-specific answers that, while perfectly correct, are unlikely to ever help anyone except the original poster of the question.

That said, I'm certainly not saying that anyone should go on a massive deletion spree to eliminate all such old questions. Not only would that be a quixotic quest, but those long-tail questions and answers, while doing very little good to anyone, are also doing very little harm. Mostly, they just lie forgotten, deep in the dim-lit halls and dusty corridors of math.SE, and IMO, it's often best to just let them stay that way.

As for gaming the system by using "tactical" downvotes to push marginal questions under the auto-deletion threshold, I feel a bit ambivalent about that. On one hand, such tricks can be abused, and certainly it would be more open to just submit such questions to the normal deletion process. On the other hand, if a single downvote is enough to push a question below the threshold, it can't have been a very good question, or have had very good answers, to begin with (or else we have more serious problems with our voting process). Thus, while I'd like to see people first ask for community feedback before carrying out any large-scale "cleanup" campaigns like that, I can't really make myself get too worked up over small, isolated cases of such trickery.

(I am glad that the technical issue that made such automatic deletions irreversible for non-moderators has been fixed, though.)

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?

I've been told, by several people I know, that I'm a very calm person, and hard to upset.

I was not always so — in fact, I used to have a lot of terrible tantrums as a child, over principles I was not willing compromise over, but I eventually grew out of it, as I realized that such behavior is generally not very productive, and that there are far better and more effective ways to make the world a better place than to dig in one's heels at every slightest perceived unfairness.

I do still tend to feel bad, at a visceral level, when I see someone being treated unfairly, through no apparent fault of their own. One thing that has changed for me, with maturity, is that I've come to realize that most conflicts in any human society — at any level, from playground fights to geopolitical crises — are, at their roots, based on some sort of miscommunication and the inability to see things from the other side's viewpoint. Thus, I generally try to see arguments from both sides, and to understand where the participants are coming from and why they might hold the beliefs and attitudes they do, even if I may not personally share them.

On a practical level, I do have quite a bit of experience with how interpersonal conflicts tend to develop in an online environment, where the lack of facial expressions, tone of voice and other instinctive emotional cues can often hinder communication. I've been on Usenet, with its often all but endless unmoderated flame wars, since the late 1990s, and a contributor and administrator on Wikipedia, with its often convoluted community politics, since the mid-2000s, and I believe both experiences have taught me a lot.

One lesson I learned on Usenet, and mentioned in my nomination for adminship on Wikipedia, is that "The endless arguments can be frustrating too, if one is personally involved, but when it gets too hot, I feel that the smart thing to do is to pull your head out of the fireplace, lay back and watch the flames from a safe and comfortable distance." Those are still words I try to live by.

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

I would first need to determine why arguments are occurring with this user. If members are provoking this person, both the members and the user in question need to be addressed. The reason being is off hand or snide comments which may not get flagged due to not being overtly offending can still cause ire. With that being said, if other users are making such comments, this needs to stop too. Once the root cause is identified, I would address the party or parties about civil discourse but showing empathy to the fact everyone will get frustrated from time to time. I would then let them know that when we do get frustrated, we all need to be cognizant of this so we can step back from the situation before commenting.

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

I would take two actions. (1) I would wait a bit to see if the users of the site take action by voting to re-open. If this doesn't occur, I would re-examine the question to see if my original thought was incorrect. (2) If I am still adamant that the question should be open, I would consult with the closing mod to see if they can see my point of view. If they still don't think it needs to be closed, I would see what the other mods thoughts are. If the other mods are in the same boat as me, I think we, as the mods, could make a vote to re-open the question.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators address conflict, remove unacceptable forms of communication whether it is an answer, question, or comment, help maintain the content flow of the site, address user flags on question which can be duplicate, PSQ, or spam. Moderators also keep content organized by moving post from one exchange to another when the post is deemed to be better suited else where. Moderators should participate in answering meta question when it comes to concerns with the site as well as pose questions in order to receive member input. Additionally, moderators will be involved with many tasks such editing, commenting, answering, and asking (if they wish) their own question on the site.

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

I wouldn't feel any different about the diamond. However, I wouldn't want to make a mockery of the position so I would take the utmost care in the phrasing of responses and interacting with members so as to not put them off to the math community and stackexchange as a whole.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

As a moderator, I would be able to handle flagged comments and post. With this power, I would make sure all user are being treated fairly in the comments and post that don't belong are handled in a timely manner when I am online.

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

No

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?

I have posted a handful of questions and answers at present but I do follow meta. I answer when I believe I can add value or knowledge to the situation of concern.

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?

One of the problems I noticed in the last few days is the posting of PSQ. Theses questions seem to have magnified recently but it may just be due to the end of the semester at universities, colleges, and schools so students are studying for finals. As a moderator, we need to continue to put the questions on hold telling the OP we would like to see what they have done in their attempts to solve the problem, and if the OP doesn't want to make these simple edits, then closing and deleting the questions from the sites should be the next course of action.

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?

I believe in the status the quo unless I see or find compelling arguments to deviate it from it. If the user isn't willing to show any work, why should the members spend their time reconstructing a solution from scratch? It just doesn't make sense to ask that from the members if the OP isn't willing to meet them half way.

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 have deputy and review badges. I just don't have the 1000 review badge in first post and the reviewer in late answers (not many come through there), low quality, and suggested edits which I obtained access to recently, but I will get there in time. Additionally, On TeX, I have access from first post to reopen votes so none of these tasks are new to me.

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?

I don't see it affecting the way I review since I don't mind doing those task. The only review I would be hesitant to participate in is the close voting since my vote would shut it down. I would only cast that close vote if the post is an obvious duplicate. As for posting, I will still answer when I can and ask questions as they arise. As for why, when it comes to reviewing, I hit the limit of 20 on many occasions so I can't do to much better there, in regards to answering, I really can only answers questions I feel I have a handle on, and when it comes to asking questions, I have no problem looking to the experts on the site for help when I need it.

It was pointed out to me that I may have been unclear here. The reason for being hesitant to casting a close vote would be because as a mod, my vote would instantly close the post whereas it takes a handful of votes by the regular voting members

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?

It depends on why the question is being deleted. If the question has a correct answer and it is duplicate (with answers) which is why it garnered the downvotes, then I feel the decision was the correct one. If the question isn't a duplicate but received the downvotes for being a PSQ, then (1) the user should have edited his post to when it was put on hold or closed (2) or the members are capable of editing the post to make it fit in with the sites values for appropriate question asking. If no one wants to take action, then there isn't much to do since the community silently voted against the question at hand.

Can matter that there are votes to delete and downvotes but that isn't the end all be all. In some cases, the question could have been edited but the downvoters never returned to see if they are willing to go neutral on the question so the question may not now be represented as it would be if it came in the form it is now present. A similar circumstance can occur with votes to delete. Once you vote, you are more than likely not monitoring that post to see what transpires.

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?

The Dalai Lama said it best with, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." In my daily life, I try to live up to this quote since the Dalai Lama is correct. When you can put yourself in other peoples shoes, you can see strife and hardship through eyes only then can you have the slightest idea on what they are feeling. By having just an notion of their emotional state, I can make a better decision that doesn't seem unjust, unfair, and brash.

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    $\begingroup$ I would +1 this simply for what I think is the best answer to the first question so far, but could you clarify what strikes me as a contradiction in your answer as currently posted/read by me? You say that as a moderator you need to be careful with close votes; but, in 'current challenges', also that for PSQ "As a moderator, we need to continue to put the questions on hold". The two statements seem to be at odds, or could be seen that way. $\endgroup$ – gnometorule Dec 16 '14 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ @gnometorule generally the post are put on hold first to give the OP time to correct the deficiencies. If the author doesn't correct them, then of course it should be closed, but I think the OP deserves a chance to make corrections. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 16 '14 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ @gnometorule mods need to be careful with casting close votes since it only takes their vote to close the post as opposed to 5 or so when regular members cast votes. Is my meaning clear now? $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 16 '14 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ If the user isn't willing to show any work, why should the members spend their time reconstructing a solution from scratch? You overestimate the ability of some posters to provide work; I’ve no doubt that most of the posters who say that they’ve no idea how to begin are honest. Moreover, it’s properly the business of individual users to decide whether they wish to spend time on such questions. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 17 '14 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott I disagree with the part about overestimating their ability to show work. If they are taking a course, reading a book, or studying some material on the matter, there are approaches they could try or else the problem wouldn't be assigned or in that section. I didn't say user are commanded to not spend their time to help. I said why should they? It is a rhetorical thinking question. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:51
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin: You may disagree all you like, but I’ve four decades of teaching experience that clearly indicate that you’re wrong. They often haven’t a clue how to apply what is in the book or other material. And when you advocate closing such questions, you are in fact proposing to deny us the opportunity to offer hints or other answers. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 17 '14 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott you didn't read everything I wrote if that is what you took from my post. I said posters who don't take to the suggestions of adding detail should be closed. The ones who put forth work don't deserve that. I even suggested having an automatic comment direct to users who receive such flags for closing in a recent meta post. This way they are informed the moment it occurs of the what the community would like to see not after it is on hold. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 17 '14 at 5:57
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin: On the contrary, I read the entire post and all of the comments preceding mine, and I grant that your position is rather less extreme than some. I also thank you for making your views quite clear. I think that you simply don’t recognize a significant consequence of your position — largely, it seems, because you don’t realize that a significant number of posters really can’t add any detail. I will stop now; I’ve made my point and have no wish to belabor it further, especially in a venue that isn’t altogether appropriate in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Dec 17 '14 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ I am in complete agreement with what @Brian wrote above. Further I'd add that the current policies are greatly robbing teachers of the opportunity to turn-on students to math. I've lost count of the number of times that I've seen students come looking only for an answer but leave with a new appreciation of the beauty of math. Some of those students were so enlightened that they changed their major to math. The ability to spark interest in math is one of the most important features of a site like this. What a shame that it is now seriously hampered by narrow-minded reactionary policy decisions. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 20 '14 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque I understand what both of you are saying. I, however, do agree with the consensus that some amount of effort should be shown. In most cases, stating the definition of what ever topic you are working on will point you in a few directions. How is that too much to ask? Most people on the site view that as showing something and those posts stay open. If they are down voted, those are other reasons at play. $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 20 '14 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Considering many candidates have a similar view, why am I the only being target for my view on the subject? $\endgroup$ – dustin Dec 20 '14 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Dustin Only Brian can say why he placed his comments here. I simply elaborated on them. As far as "consensus" you should keep in mind that by far and away most members of this site have little experience teaching. One should feel lucky to have such easy access to advice of highly experienced teachers. This was much harder to obtain when I was a student. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 20 '14 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque what do you think about this? Also, I have heared that you are developping a new platform, which might be a good idea if things become to egregious too ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Dec 22 '14 at 21:32
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How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

I would try to suggest that user to behave in a more appropriate way: see also my last paragraph.

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

I would try to contact that person to clarify the situation. Since hardly a moderation action is irreversible and (I hope) we are among reasonable people, this does not cause me any particular concern.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Take the necessary resolutions that only a human being is able to afford. This is about handling flags and spam, inappropriate questions/answers/comments, upset users, and try to keep high standards for the quality of MSE.

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

I do not agree about the different light. I would try to give valuable contributes just like before, and I would be honoured to receive the diamond to testify that my commitment to the community goes beyond the mathematical contents I gave or my reputation points.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

I think this is a rhetorical question. A moderator has certainly more power and more responsibility than a common user, even with $200k$: moderator attention required has a precise meaning. Additionally, a moderator tacitly agrees to invest a good part of the time spent on MSE in non purely mathematical activity, but vital for the proper functioning of the site.

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

I have never been suspended.

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?

Although my active participation has not gone much beyond the debates on the tag bessel-functions, I follow the discussions taking place on Meta constantly.

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?

I think one of the biggest problems is the fact that some contents are hard to find, and some users propose questions without making sure of the presence of a similar question in the archives. This causes a great flourishing of duplicate questions. I think I can do little against users laziness, but for sure, in addition to encourage the reporting of duplicates, a moderator is able to merge questions and make some order.

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?

I have answered this question already in my previous speech: I am in favor of closing questions that sound like "please do my homework", in which the OP shows no efforts. This as a rule of thumb: concretely, I think it is more appropriate to judge them case by case, possibly saving questions being of interest from some point of view.

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 flagged a few times because very often I preferred a vote of closing or cancellation, but I think I will demonstrate myself competent about flags handling.

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?

I think that any activity of moderation could affect the volume of the answers I provide almost daily; certainly an important task takes time. Apart from that, I do not think that my participation will be adversely affected, indeed.

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?

I am in favor of the (auto-)delete process for questions with serious issues, even if there are correct answers. About duplicate questions, I think it is time to develop a policy about merging.

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?

I believe that social intelligence plays a vital role in everyone's life, and in Mathematics, too, as an important part of my life. I'm not a very talkative type, I have always been rather reserved, but I made this (maybe) weakness into strength, learning to listen to the views of others and not to be overly stubborn. I am a peaceful person and if there were times when I seemed rude, I swear it was just because I am not a native English speaker. To practice empathy on MSE it might be a good time to also strengthen my language skills.

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

I would first try to find out the nature of these arguments/flags. For instance, it could be that the user contributes in a constructive but unpopular way towards certain subjects, like those the general public know about but don't quite understand. From this I shall decide (on a case-by-case basis) whether to take further action.

Next up, if I (and other moderators) think it is warranted, I'll send the user a polite message suggesting ways to improve the user's content in future.

Further action would then depend heavily, following the message, on the behaviour of the user and the amount of flags the user receives.

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

It depends on the context, I suppose. If it's nothing particularly drastic, I might simply trust the other moderator's decision(s).

On the other hand, if it's quite clear to me that the question really ought to have lived, I'd ask the other moderator for clarification then, failing that, approach the person who asked the question (or indeed the community in a meta question) about fixing the situation.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators use the privileges of the position to handle special cases that would otherwise be tackled automatically by the review system you're all familiar with. For me, it is pretty much like what the job of a good politician-slash-janitor should be, except more honest.

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?

It would, of course, be a huge responsibility; I would be honoured. I'd hope I'd have the courage & patience to be an exemplary member of the community, as required.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

I am less interested in earning rep points than in producing & maintaining high quality content. Although the numbers by my username are low, my behaviour I hope is already of a user with a much higher reputation. I would use the powers of a moderator to expand that outlook; to encourage & nurture the behaviour of those with good, actual reputations; and to discourage those abusing the privileges of the site by playing rep games.

Have you ever been suspended?

No.

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?

I follow the discussions passively. As you can see from my review statistics, I spend a lot of my time actively engaged in moderating. Please forgive me of that. There's only so much I can do.

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?

Abusive content; namely, questions with little to no effort and short answers with no sympathy. The former is difficult address (as you know) besides swift closure for all users and stern warnings for repeat offenders. The latter could be tackled in two main ways: respectfully suggesting more learner-friendly answers from repeat offenders and encouraging people to edit explanations into existing answers.

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?

See above.

I have little sympathy for them, especially for repeat offenders, but that's not to say that I won't treat each user with as much respect as deserved.

Close them without answering until effort is shown.

However, some questions clearly aren't homework/rude by dint of their difficulty, novelty, or nature, so one needs to pay a fair bit attention to the content of PSQs. Such PSQs should be held in the same esteem as any other question.

Do you expect being a moderator to affect your involvement in other aspects of the site (e.g., review queues, editing, posting questions/answers)?

Yes.

If so, in what ways?

I put a lot of effort into my questions and answers. This is time-consuming. Thus if I become moderator, either the effort I put in or the amount of such content I produce will surely decrease. I'm hoping for the latter.

I suspect that I'll be involved in reviewing even more than I am currently though. It'll be on my mind so naturally . . .

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?

Again, I'm afraid I think this depends mainly on the context. Insofar as others might learn from the (unique) questions, I'm in favour of keeping them alive regardless of the method of attempted deletion. I shall try to respect the wishes of the person who asked the question too. If the person seems distressed by the existence of the question, it's got to go if it cannot be salvaged somehow.

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?

I sure hope so! I try to be forgiving as often as possible. I can be fairly laid back but also stern & assertive if necessary.

In what ways have you prepared to facilitate a harmonious community?

I'm very keen to try!

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    $\begingroup$ Could you please update the link at the top of your nomination to point to this answer? Thanks in advance. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 17 '14 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ I was under the impression that this would be done automatically, @quid. Whenever I tried to it took me over my word count. Let me try again. Thank you for pointing this out. $\endgroup$ – Shaun Dec 18 '14 at 8:43
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How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

I would directly message the user with a warning and if the user continues the misconduct, I would consult other moderators.

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

First, I would discuss the issue with the moderator and explain my point of view while still paying heed to their point of view. If we do not resolve the issue amongst ourselves, I would take a decision at that point right away, since I feel disturbing the environment of the boards or disturbing other staff would be unnecessary. If I had an extremely strong opinion about undoing the other moderator's action (which would be very rare, as I am not very opinionated), I would just undo it. Else, I would just let the action be. The latter would happen with more than 90% probability so you could basically ignore the case where I undo the mod's action since that would be very unlikely.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

While the tempt of the diamond is pretty strong and suggests the amount of power a moderator has, in theory, a moderator is primarily handling two departments: flag-handling and post-removal. Dealing with particular users and posting are not particularly the main area of focus for a moderator.

Flag-handling is tough for two reasons. First, there are many to deal with. Second, because it involves making a decision which may not please 100% of the crowd. Flag-handling, in the past, has got the better of me, as I often rushed in making decisions [see the question about suspension], but I think I have learned my lesson and I think the key aspect of maximizing productivity is to spend more time on it. Going back to the question: a moderator is one who has been allotted the duty of handling flags and closing/reopening/deleting/undeleting posts based on the flags and his or her own opinion. The diamond is not an allocation that the moderator is always right, rather it is a sign that the community most likely trusts the actions of the moderator.

Post-removal falls sort of under flag-handling so I will not say more about it.

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

As I said in the previous question, the diamond, for me, is a badge of trust. Outside of that, it doesn't affect me in any way. Most of my time on Math.StackExchange so far has been split in janitorial flag stuff, which is a moderator gets more involved in, and answering questions. The latter is completely independent of the diamond while the former makes the responsibility of flagging a little more serious. But nothing to feel nervous about, IMHO.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

I would use the private messaging system to effective use. While the flag-handling is probably the biggest aspect of being a mod, the biggest difference between the $ \ge $ 2000 reputation powers and the mod powers is, I feel, the private message system. PMs are powerful in that you get the attention of the user at hand more quickly and the user takes the message more seriously, thus making it more likely for misdemeanor to lessen.

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

I have never been suspended from making posts or flagging or anything else that might be in the scope of my imagination. However, earlier this week, I was given a 3-day suspension for reviewing posts as I rushed many of my decisions in reviewing. I have promised myself that, when I get my powers back tonight, I will spend at least 30 seconds as opposed to my previous 5 seconds to read every post at least twice before deciding on how to handle it.

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?

I read the meta multiple times a day, almost about as much as I read the math posts. I refrain from posting much, as one might notice, simply because many of the posts which I have the ability to answer are opinion-based and I feel like I need more experience before answering such questions in detail. However, I have made comments and answers where I feel I am well-versed. All in all, I am very familiar with the meta site but posting answers has been on a lower priority (note that this does not mean I will always keep this at the backseat).

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?

Although others have mentioned this already, I'd have to answer the question from my end and I'll say it again $-$ the growth of the site. While this may seem like an explosion, I feel that the fact that we have multiple moderators does help a lot. We have about 10 moderators at present on the math site and I think this is just about enough for the present size of the community.

As an individual moderator, if I am elected, I hope to be able to do at least as much as all the others do. This does not mean that I would try to compete with the other moderators. Rather, I'd treat it as a challenge for myself to not be the one doing less on my part that I am capable of doing. I'll treat the other moderators as role models to set the standard for time input, patience, and perseverance and use their efforts to judge mine.

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?

This has been discussed here. I also discourage PSQs. That being said, I think the members of the site are dealing with PSQs pretty well. Sometimes, of course, PSQs are replied to with full answers. I'm not a fan of this. I'd rather have people ask the OP "please show us what you have tried" or something of the sort and then guide the OP and maybe, eventually, convert to an answer. I see this happen often and this is what I prefer. As a mod, I wouldn't bee too picky about giving or not giving an answer (exception: cheating). I'd care more about the process that goes into giving an answer.

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 have the Deputy badge. Furthermore, I have several of the reviewing badges. I have explained earlier that I plan to spend more time on reviewing in the future, regardless of whether I am elected mod or not although if I am elected mod, I’ll spend double the amount of time handling flags and such.

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?

My participation on the mathematics aspects of the site will remain unaffected, as my passion for the subject will not be affected by my moderator position. Instead of spending less time participating on the site, I will spend more time on Math.StackExchange in general so I can make time for both participation and moderator duties. Again, I plan to allot myself more time to review and (if I am mod) deal with flags.

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?

If a question is simply terrible and makes no sense, it needs to go. If, however, the question tolerable but just bad, it will depend on if the answer gives new insights into the discussion at hand. If the answer is just answering the question, which is, in some sense, vague, or does not provide any details or background, I would probably want to delete it. If, however, the answer provides additional details (which others have explained), I would keep it.

Exceptions would be contest problems, such as USAMTS or MIT-PRIMES problems, which people post here before the deadline has passed for cheating purposes. Whether or not the answer is beautiful, it needs to at least be locked until the deadline has passed (with answers deleted).

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?

This is most likely my strongest point and the main reason someone might want to vote for me. Besides having years of past experience (and when I say years, that’s a lot considering I am 15 years old) of moderator and leadership duties both online and offline, I am also much more mature than my age might suggest. I cursorily mention this in my nomination message but, due to the character limit, I was unable to elaborate. Now is my chance.

First, I shall discuss my online duties. I have been a moderator on AoPS for about three years, on Brilliant for about one year, a community TA (which included moderator duties) in several edX courses for two years, and have been a moderator on Expii for a few months, which is a significant amount since Expii itself is less than a year old. All of these moderator duties have been unique and have demanded different roles, but of them, the sites that have tested my mental stability the most, IMHO, are AoPS and edX, and now, I will go into further details.

On AoPS, I have had to lock and move several posts and threads and be in involved in the temporary and permanent banning of several users, from ages 10 to 70. Naturally, there were a variety of reactions I had to tackle and it was a challenge. Right from the age of thirteen, I have made tough decisions and have exchanged sensitive conversation with offenders of the site. Among my hundreds of encounters in these three years of AoPS, I have never had a major lapse. I must admit one minor lapse, but it was resolved very quickly. Still, an almost perfect record is pretty good I think. I also won the “Most Courteous” and “Favorite Moderators” on AoPS in, if I remember correctly, 2012 and 2013, respectively. I not only have been kept as moderator ever since I joined but I have also been promoted gradually from the moderator of one forum to the moderator of almost 100 forums (more than most other moderators on AoPS). My experiences on AoPS has been awesome and my fellow moderators there have taught me a lot; they are good role models for behavior, so it’s hard to survive as an AoPS moderator if you don’t practice good behavior and maturity.

edX has been a completely different ballgame. For those of you who don’t know what edX is and do not want to read the website, it is an online MOOC initiative founded by MIT and Harvard where various colleges provide their courses with exams, etc. online free for students. There is a discussion forum component for each course where students can ask questions about the course, homework assignments, etc. or in general about the subject and students may respond. When about a quarter of the course is done, the staff invites a few students to be community TAs on the boards. Community TAs are those who help moderate the forums and help the course staff beta-test course material. A green badge is given to community TAs (not unlike the StackExchange diamond) as a “this person is probably right” endorsement. The course staff end up assigning $x$ TAs where $ 1 \le x \le 8 $ and $x$ is most likely to be less than 4. On edX, I recently broke the record of most number of courses as a TA with ten (the previous record was seven).

Enough background info; the discussion boards are often more sensitive than AoPS forums and are probably, among all the forums I have moderated, the hardest to moderate, probably due to the large crowed and the number of ways students can violate the code of conduct. First of all, each edX course has an honor code that students must display in outside sources and on the discussion forums. Many do not read these rules and openly violate the honor code on the discussion forums. As this is a learning environment, the TAs have to be careful about not depriving people of the opportunity to learn while still making sure the moderation is kept under control. Overmoderation occurs a lot (although never by me) and undermoderation means you’re not doing the job. Moderation at edX was a great challenge because there are many people sensitive to any type of reaction that deviates from their beliefs. Many people are also outright rude and insensitive (but sometimes helpful), so there are a variety of things to deal with and I have been extremely successful with this, probably more than many other older TAs (sorry if this sounds like bragging; I’m trying to prove my caliber while answering the question).

Outside of the Internet, I have taught people from ages 6 to 20 in math, physics, computer science, statistics, and other related subjects both via my own fundraising project and via MIT's Educational Studies Program (I was the first ever high-school ESP teacher). These classes have been quite successful and are great practice for building maturity. There's not much else to say about it $-$ the job title itself should be enough to state the level of sensitivity I need to have for the emotions of kids.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do not see direct links to this candidate’s accounts at AoPS, Brilliant, and (unspecified) other leadership positions. Does he expect we should search the Internet ourselves? ☺ $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Dec 20 '14 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @IncnisMrsi I did not include links to my profiles to AoPS, Brilliant, Expii, edX etc. because for most of these websites, profiles can only be viewed with memberships, thus making the links useless for many. Additionally, you cannot find out that I am moderator in any of these unless you visit the particular sections where it shows that I am a mod, which again requires extended privileges on the site, so these links would be useful. Most of the other leadership positions that I have not mentioned are face-to-face positions which would not make much sense to the reader in context. $\endgroup$ – Ahaan S. Rungta Dec 20 '14 at 15:11
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How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

It depends on the exact situation :

1) I would give a warning if that person is rude to others. 2) If that person is simply wrong I will try to explain it to him. 3) If the arguments are pure mathematical (like statistical arguments) I will probably not have issues.

I think those are the 3 most occuring situations.

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

I respect other mods but also the OP. So I would talk to the other mods about it. I feel one-man action might be unappropriate and unrespectfull in that case.

But if I happen to have more knowledge about the subject I would undo it. If many mods disagree we can talk about it again then.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They keep the site clean and polite.

HOW they do it is is by :

1) handling flags 2) removing posts 3) private messaging or comments 4) merging or deleting duplicates 5) dealing with fights between people

In the appropriate way.

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?

It does not bother me.

How would you use the powers conferred to moderators to be more effective than just the powers earned by standard users for hitting 10,000 or 20,000 reputation?

I would use my powers wisely. I find it a bit rhetoric in the sense that I would have powers that 20k people do not have , so I will use those powers to the benefit of MSE and that is how I use them.

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

30 min from chat if that counts. It was a long time ago and probably wont happen again. Im friends with everyone.

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?

I read it. It feels alot like debates over the working of the main site there and I have no disputes about how the main works. That is the reason im not so active there.

At the moment I find the debates about moderation actions not so relevant to me since Im not a moderator yet.

If I will be I might be more active on meta.

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?

I see no big problems at the moment. We need more users. I think that will solve everything assuming things stay as they are.

Some people disagree and say we have to many users , but users without much rep have little power. The system works fine and the moderators of the past have done an excellent job.

More users means more good answers and questions and maybe an Insurance for moderators in the future.

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?

Depends on the exact problem.

For homework problems we can ask to show what the student already knows and tried.

In fact we might add that to the tag to avoid needing to ask over and over again.

The rest is handled by the voting.

For Original problems , Im happy to see them if they are nontrivial.

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 just see if the flag is appropriate or not. Im confident that I will do well.

It depends on the situation what I will do , Imho I think the answer lies in the other answers I have given.

The reason I do not flag alot is basically because the mods are faster than me.

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?

I might be more active on meta because debates on moderation are held there. Probably also more active in general.

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?

I prefer not to autodelete.

I think deletion requires comments or moderation first.

Btw I have not seen many bad questions with good answers ... that makes little sense to me. If it happens then its a good thing.

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?

I have empathy.

Too much compassion is not good. Just be fair to all.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to ask more.

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    $\begingroup$ I edited the answers ! $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 17 '14 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ Why do I get the most downvotes ? -100 downvotes ?? -11 in general ? Did I say something wrong ? $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 18 '14 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ I deem up/downvotes in this thread are an atrociously unfair endeavor in general. There are situations where users should think, not push arrows, and elections is one of them. $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Dec 20 '14 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @IncnisMrsi -- Please read the "What's Meta?" page. Voting indicates disagreement and/or disapproval, and it is COMPLETELY justified here. $\endgroup$ – Robin Goodfellow Dec 20 '14 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ How do you mean "COMPLETELY" ? The caps indicate something. I asked what I said/did wrong before with no answer ? $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 20 '14 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hehe At least I got more votes then some :p $\endgroup$ – mick Dec 20 '14 at 23:41

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