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The following is a "digest" version of the 2011 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

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

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

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

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Jonas Teuwen Jonas Teuwen asked: @ZevChonoles What is your opinion on the fact that users "guess" that something might be homework while it might be not. Do you think we should tag things as homework when we suspect it is?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @JonasTeuwen I think that if there is strong reason to think that a question is homework (e.g. imperative mood, nothing in the post other than the question) and after some amount of time, the OP still has not responded to people asking them whether it's homework, I would not be opposed to adding the homework tag; however, I don't think it's essential. It's more important that questions have the right tags identifying their subject matter.

Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles continued: @JonasTeuwen Besides, if it's obvious enough that it's homework, the people who already would be concerned about not giving the OP a full answer will make sure that they don't; the people who would give a full answer regardless of whether it was homework or not are going to ignore the tag anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it is useful to know that a question comes is homework (because it allows us to provide more useful answers), but I don't particularly find it useful to turn this information into a tag: I cannot imagine anyone searching for the 'homework' tag! $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jun 18 '11 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Mariano: Well put! $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Jun 18 '11 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ People might want to ignore [homework], though. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Jun 19 '11 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Mariano: Looks like you're wrong. I favorited the homework tag. :) $\endgroup$ – Beni Bogosel Jun 20 '11 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Beni: How can I be wrong if I only claim that "I don't find it useful" and that "I cannot imagine anyone searching for the tag"? :) $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jun 20 '11 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Mariano: Maybe you need more imagination! $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Jun 22 '11 at 12:16
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Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Moderation requires decisive action. You may find yourself in a position where you're unsure of what action to take, but can't immediately discuss the situation with a fellow moderator. Are you more inclined to act swiftly or wait for additional input, and how would you decide where to draw the line?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @TimStone That's certainly a good question :) I think that in a situation where I'm not sure what to do, the best thing would be to wait and see. In addition to having the time to potentially get advice from a fellow moderator, I would also want to see how the community is reacting; presumably, if it's a contentious matter, soon enough flags will be raised, comments will be posted, and maybe votes to close will be made.

Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles continued: @TimStone I would never act swiftly if I weren't confident in what I was doing (e.g. deleting spam). As I made the point in this meta thread, if the +2k (or +3k, or +10k) users have the power to do something, they should be the ones to do it (again, excepting only the most clear-cut of cases, in which case the moderator might be proactive if they so choose).

Eric Naslund Eric Naslund answered: @TimStone: I would be more inclined to wait for additional input. Acting swiftly usually feels like a much idea then it is. The few cases where it is pertinent to act immediately tend to be very clear cut.

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    $\begingroup$ If a situation needs to be resolved immediately, then it should be resolved immediately. But that kind of situation is rather rare, and I think that the überpowers that come with moderation are better not used: users with sufficient reputation can deal with most problems, and there are quite a few of them by now. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jun 18 '11 at 15:05
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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: What do y'all see as the biggest challenge when it comes to moderating Math SE?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @RebeccaChernoff I think the biggest challenge would be those (hopefully very) rare occasions when users need to be contacted about their actions privately. I think it's pretty uncomfortable to have to tell someone they're misbehaving, and it can definitely be difficult to do so in a way that's respectful while firm.

Eric Naslund Eric Naslund answered: @RebeccaChernoff: My answer is similar to Zev's for this one. Dealing with users, and the arguments arising from user actions would be the biggest challenge. From my experience with meta and the arguments which appear there, the most heated are always about a particular users actions on a particular thread.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, the SE software provides moderators with several "form letters" for privately contacting users about various types of problematic behavior and they usually don't require much modification. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Jun 19 '11 at 20:09
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Grace Note Grace Note asked: Relations between Math and the rest of the Network are occasionally in rough spots. We don't get to see much of you outside of your own Meta site. So my question is, how interested are you in the capacity to be more active in visiting Meta Stack Overflow, the mod chat room, and to enhance associations and improve relations with the rest of the Network's moderation staff, employed or otherwise?


Eric Naslund Eric Naslund answered: @GraceNote: I would definitely be interesting in visiting Meta Stack more often, I think it is a good thing to do. I was unaware that the relations between Math and the rest of the Network were in "rough spots," but if true, this is certainly not desired, and should be improved. I don't know what the mod chat room is, but I would definitely like to try it out.

Eric Naslund Eric Naslund continued: @GraceNote: Lastly, I believe it is a given that it is very important to have good relations with the other moderators and stack exchange staff. Otherwise, it would be near impossible to work together, act as a team and help improve the site.

Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @GraceNote Also a great question. So far I've mainly only been lurking on meta.stackoverflow, but I think it's incumbent on a moderator to keep up with what's going on with the SE network as a whole, and if I'm elected moderator I would certainly do so. I'm also very interested in maintaining good relations with the moderation staff, and between Math and other SE sites - these are essential to keeping the site running effectively.

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The Chaz The Chaz asked: @ZevChonoles What is a reasonable estimate for how much time you'll spend on MSE daily?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @TheChaz I expect to be on the site at least once a day, for at least one hour per day, although I expect there may be a day here and there when I need take some time to do my homework :)

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Grace Note Grace Note asked: What timezone are you / what hours of the day do you expect to be available during?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @GraceNote I'm on the East Coast, which is currently UTC-04 due to daylight savings, and UTC-05 normally. I expect I would normally be on in the evenings, somewhere between 6-10 PM (and, knowing my sleep schedule, I would additionally be on often much later than that...)

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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Alright, we're out of time, final thoughts from @Eric and @Zev?


Zev Chonoles Zev Chonoles answered: @RebeccaChernoff I can't think anything else off the top of my head. So, I'll just say, thanks for all the great questions everyone!

Eric Naslund Eric Naslund answered: @RebeccaChernoff: I can't think of too much either. It was good chat, and hopefully it was helpful for the voters.

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