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Mathematics Stack Exchange will be hosting an election on July 30th, 2018. In connection with that, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

As with last year's election, the nomination requirement remains 1000 reputation.

Update: The election has been postponed for two weeks after a discussion with the moderation team - nominations will begin on July 30th. Rather than put this on hold or similar, we will simply leave this question collection open during the delay."

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

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, July 30th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

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

  • If your question contains a link, please use the syntax of [text](link), as that will make it easier for transcribing for the finished questionnaire.

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

  • At the start of the nomination phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions.

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

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

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

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    $\begingroup$ Yay elections time! $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Jul 9 '18 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ Wasn't usually a chatroom created for discussions related to elections? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jul 12 '18 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ At this point it seems the election is more about finding two people willing to volunteer for the job, rather than an actual elections process. I think you're doing it wrong. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 13 '18 at 10:30

20 Answers 20

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Many moderator duties concern the removal of low quality content. Aside from this, what will you do to facilitate the creation of high quality content?

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    $\begingroup$ Good question. We need nurture for good content, not just pesticide against bad content. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 16 '18 at 5:27
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A classic, but crucial question, for historical reasons on MSE (Credit @Carl Mummert for the wording of this important question from $2017$):

Have you ever been suspended from this site or another StackExchange site? If so, please provide a description of the situation that led to the suspension, and how you have reacted to it.

Would you have suspended a user for a similar behavior today?

(Credit @AsafKaragila for the follow up question.)

(For the record, this question was posted and deleted earlier, with a net 18 upvotes)

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Why do you want to be a moderator?

There are questions about how people see a moderator, and how they think they could be more efficient, etc., which is somewhat related yet not quite the same. If I did not overlook anything there is none that asks bluntly and naively what even is the motivation for running.

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Imagine a time in which the site has become divided between two groups, each of whom desire a future which is anathema to the other. The status quo is unstable; it is all but guaranteed that one group will be seen as ascendant and the other will leave in frustration. And... You've been elected to serve both groups.

How might you approach such a situation? If you would seek compromise, how could you hope to garner agreement from enough people to make it work?

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    $\begingroup$ This situation sounds familiar. $\endgroup$ – user 170039 Jul 17 '18 at 14:03
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MSE generates a deluge of questions every day, a fair portion of which are "problem statement questions" or "PSQs". These are the kinds of questions that might be copied verbatim from a textbook and can typically be answered in a minute a two with minimal effort. They are often about material that might be found in a lower division mathematics course at a US university (e.g. problems from a precalculus, calculus, or linear algebra text), but this type of question may contain content of any level. PSQs are further typified by an imperative mode (e.g. "Find..." or "Prove..." or "Solve...") and do not show very much (if any) effort on the part of the person posing the problem (e.g. "I don't know where to start!"). A cynical person might conclude that these questions are an attempt to use MSE to avoid completing homework assignments.

There are two basic schools of thought regarding such questions:

  • PSQs should be quickly closed and deleted.
  • PSQs should not be closed or deleted.

Question: With which of the above camps do you more closely align? Why? As a moderator, how would you act to enable "your" camp in dealing with or accommodating PSQs?

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    $\begingroup$ Not start a tired debate, but I would put my support for the latter camp slightly differently: a lack of context to a problem may not indicate a lack of effort or taking the community for granted, but instead a lack of English language skills, a lack of familiarity with the site, a lack of a clue even where to begin, or just general maths anxiety. Closing their questions may serve to dissuade them from the site (and possibly maths in general), so I prefer to help them to some degree (but encourage them towards better questions, especially as their rep goes north of 200). $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 10 '18 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @TheoBendit: That is a common excuse, to put it straightforwardly. Nobody has shown any evidence that sincere learners of mathematics have left the site due to closure of please-solve-questions. In contrast, it seems that the sincere learners who post poor questions at the start do indeed improve their questions after closure, and the same users who close their questions often then reopen and upvote those questions. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 10 '18 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ In my view, I am more concerned with sincerity. Anyone who is not extremely lazy can type out an intelligible question here to get his/her homework done, and they know very well that rep hunters here will eagerly do it for them in a jiffy. I do not feel those questions deserve to be allowed on Math SE (look at the downvote button tooltip!), much less upvoted. I would much rather have questions with the asker's thoughts and attempts (briefly), even if less clear. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 10 '18 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 I don't know how to even begin collecting evidence based on the rest of the reasons, but I have helped people here with no clue. I can tell they're sincere by the number of comments with questions and clarifications they leave, but they really didn't know even the first thing to put down (sorry, no link at hand). I'm sure plenty of people come back, only mildly daunted, to edit their question. But my experience of helping people IRL tells me that mathematics is intimidating enough without having their mathematics question being closed for being "off-topic", of all reasons. $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 10 '18 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @TheoBendit: I consider replies in the comments as adding context. In fact, I often help these people by telling them that they can improve their question by transferring certain comments into their post, and sometimes I do it for them if I've the time. But the group I do not want to welcome are the cheaters and those who do not even have the courtesy to respond to comments on their own question. Like if you write a plain question on a piece of paper, hand it to your teacher without a word, and refuse to answer anything your teacher asks you. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 10 '18 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 These comments don't usually appear without some input. Sometimes it suffices to say "What have you tried?". Other times, something approaching an answer is necessary. I've had people not recognise, for example, the term "completing the square". I had to write out an example before they realised what it was (or that it pertained to the question at hand). What I'm saying is, it's not so easy to separate the ingrates from the newbies. The latter sometimes need help in even asking a good question, and a sign saying "not good enough" is not helpful enough to them. $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 10 '18 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ @TheoBendit: Well you're going to have to give specific examples before I can give any specific views. Anyway, it might be a tired debate lol... $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 10 '18 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy Well, I'd like to hear those arguments sometime, because I think "spoonfeeding" is exactly what some people need. Sure, they're not 2 years old, but mathematically, that's the kind of support some people need to get off the ground. These are people who are eager to learn the mathematics they want or need to learn, and they are willing to work with us to better understand mathematics, but they need us to put in some steps first. They don't have the mathematical maturity to string together enough logical steps to ask a "good" question. $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 11 '18 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ It's easy to assume mathematical maturity when you have it, but it does take time and confidence to build. It's also easy to confuse a lack of mathematical maturity with a lack of genuine interest. Helping these people is certainly less fun than someone who asks a good, interesting question, but I'm kinda tired of people trying to make me feel guilty for helping people. $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 11 '18 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ I find this question a bit confusing. It is partly stated as if it were about PSQ in general but then seems to focus on very elementary and generic PSQ. Clearly, PSQ can deal with advanced problems whose solution is of broad interest. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jul 11 '18 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of people, and a lot of recent (and old) debates about PSQ suggest to me that some people which are more lenient towards PSQ are so precisely due to wanting "to create an encyclopedic repository of interesting questions about mathematics with corresponding answers". The argument being that if the question is interesting, they do not care to be possibly playing baby-care or if someone is cheating or being spoonfed or not (which is, sometimes, the argument of people against PSQ), in order to increase the "encyclopedia". $\endgroup$ – Aloizio Macedo Jul 11 '18 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ Can I suggest, please, that the role of comments is to help improve the quality of the answer that I have provided, and not to debate what the "correct" response to that answer is? I posed the question because there is a clear schism in the community here, and I think that an informed electorate would like to know where a potential moderator sits with respect to that schism. If something that I have written is unclear, please help me to improve the answer by commenting (I've already tried to incorporate feedback from chat, and I have tried to address your comment, @MichaelGreinecker). $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 11 '18 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson It is not clear to me if you didn't see my comment as intentioned to improve the quality of the answer you provided, but it was. I will elaborate: I think it may be best to put the dichotomy "PSQ's should be closed / PSQ's should not be closed" and let the candidates elaborate on the why's or why not's (and even the nuances inbetween). You are putting too much specific information on a dichotomy (imho). The comment was intended to illustrate that by means of saying that there may even be contradictory motivations under some points of view. $\endgroup$ – Aloizio Macedo Jul 11 '18 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ It is like making a poll with two options: "You prefer seeing movies, because you like seeing things in action, dynamics and the fact that it is only two hours long and you won't waste much more time"/"You prefer reading books, because you like to imagine the scenery, slow build-up and to build a relationship along the reading". One can like movies not because they are short, as the first option implies, or like books not because they are long-termed etc. "You prefer movies"/"You prefer books" and "Elaborate." seems more adequate, as I think is the case here. $\endgroup$ – Aloizio Macedo Jul 11 '18 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ I think the last sentence of the description ("A cynical person might conclude...") is perhaps a bit too much. It feels a bit "judgemental" to me, and there might be a risk that mentioning homework will distract from the actual problem. $\endgroup$ – Arnaud D. Jul 26 '18 at 8:57
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How will you deal with enforcing policies that you disagree with, if you are elected as a moderator?

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    $\begingroup$ (I am keeping this short and vague on purpose, since it serves as a Rorschach test.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 16 '18 at 4:03
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It is an unfortunate yet incontrovertible fact that some users see Math.SE as a way to cheat on homework and tests.

What ethical obligation, if any, do you believe the moderation team has to investigate and combat academic dishonesty? What actions, if any, would you take if an instructor flagged potential dishonesty in a Math.SE question? Is it ever appropriate to sanction a question-answerer for abetting academic dishonesty?

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Do you think that your meta participation is enough to know about the current problems the community is dealing with, and the complicated views that people hold about them? How do you justify not participating enough on meta?

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    $\begingroup$ "How do you justify not participating enough on meta?" To me, it is not exactly clear what you mean here. Do you mean the person answering (this is my first reading)? Or do you mean this more broadly? Or still something else. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 13 '18 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Mason: Did you even read the question? Are you sure you're commenting on the right question at all? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 18 '18 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ How close is this to the intended question: "How confident are you about your grasp of the issues the community struggles with? Describe your plan to maintain balance between meta presence and the types of admin duties you will fulfill." $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Jul 19 '18 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ This question is spot on; if a candidate cannot answer the question because they've never visited meta, perhaps users need to know that. I highly doubt anyone who who never, or only rarely, checked in to meta has any full grasp of the issues on this site. If a candidate does not have experience on meta, and can say so, while also summarizing their grasp of the issues the community struggles with, let them describe those issues, so voters can vote accordingly. I'd suggest commenters here spend more time crafting a "better question" than tearing down others' questions. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 25 '18 at 20:37
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You're not a moderator in isolation, you're part of a team. What do you know about the other moderators and where do you see yourself supporting or supplementing the work the moderating team do?

It seems to me that moderators are as entitled to disagreements between themselves as anyone else, but overall moderation is most effective where there's either a consensus, or a majority-minority split with agreement on how to proceed. This question seeks to find out if candidates have done their due diligence (homework? :) ) with regards to what they'll be doing if elected.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 9:50
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Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

  • How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
  • How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

  • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  • A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?
  • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
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What will you do about mathematical nonsense (Cantor-denial, anti-logixers, ...)?

I think that as a mathematics site, this is the least we should do to ensure that beginner students are not misled by pseudomathematicians posing as experts, of which there are quite a number who are active on Math SE as well as on Meta. So it is important to know what potential moderators will do to tackle such nonsense. Note that the linked post is written by a current moderator.

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    $\begingroup$ Given we're looking for moderators, I would say "almost certainly". With a probability of $0.\dot{9}$. But not $1$, because it's not an absolute certainty. :-) $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 10 '18 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ Surely downvoting and deleting nonsense is a job for high-rep users, not for moderators? $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Jul 10 '18 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor: Opinions differ on this. I happen to be of the view that the moderators on any mathematics site have to be reasonably proficient in mathematics so that they can actually judge correctly the mathematical content of posts for which the experts agree are useless or misleading but are unable to act on (not all nonsense are gotten rid of, especially those that tag along with a hot-network-question and garner drive-by upvotes from visitors from other SE sites who often can't judge properly whether something is nonsense or not). $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 10 '18 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ I have a slightly different perspective on this, which is that not everybody answering a question does so claiming to be an expert, moreover answering should not be the sole reserve of experts. An answer is placed into the forum to be judged by the upvote and downvote mechanism. It is also by answering of questions and not just by the asking of them that users learn, and by submitting attempts into the forum of public judgement we put our skills to the test and receive the privilege of having them measured by the community. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ The question is vague. Better ask what (if anything) they intend to do against it. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 10 '18 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertFrost One should not answer a question, solely with the aim of getting feedback on their answer, and suggestions for improvement. One needs first and foremost to consider the best interests of the asker, and answer with what one is confident is a helpful answer for the asker. That is, one should not view answering a question as a means to help the answerer, but primarily, as a means to help the asker. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 10 '18 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy I have no disagreement with that. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 11 '18 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: I've edited. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 11 '18 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ You may consider linking one or two examples of Cantor-denial and "anti-logixers" to make your post more complete. $\endgroup$ – user 170039 Jul 11 '18 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ +1 on this proposal, but because I think it would be to the detriment of the site to have a new moderator who was overly concerned with supporting this crusade. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 11 '18 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor a candidate that is of that opinion could answer this. Plus if a user is persistent in posting certain things it is conceivable that it does become a moderator issue. // I am surprised the question is received so relatively poorly. I think it's an interesting one as opinions are mixed on how active a moderators should be in this. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 13 '18 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ @quid it seems that lots of nonsense happens in logic/set theory. Those who are active in these area might suffer a lot more. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Jul 13 '18 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: It's because of sample bias. The nonsense-producers are in fact one of the most vocal and persistent 'groups' overall, even though there is a big spectrum. People who don't produce nonsense don't irritate others and hence do not come to Meta to make a lot of noise about censorship because they didn't write any junk posts to begin with. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 14 '18 at 19:02
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What role, if any, can a moderator play in making the site more welcoming to new users?

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    $\begingroup$ This topic is important. But I think people other than candidates should take part in the discussion. Possibly a bit wider version of it. Still, it is ok to also here candidates comment on this. I haven't voted on this question, yet. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '18 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I couldn't imagine any scenario in which a moderator would be likely to get involved in this but I thought others might. It's another area where I see users butting heads. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 11 '18 at 3:04
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This question was asked during the 2017 moderator election.

Most users here have multiple commitments. And likely, those commitments aren't going to go away if you are elected to be a moderator on MSE.

Can you provide any assurance that you now have, or you'll make, the time, as needed, to moderate on MSE? This may only amount to an hour each day, consistently (perhaps more on some days, and less on others).

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps it should be mentioned that this question was posted and deleted earlier. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 18 '18 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: Indeed it would. But given the circumstances (as you can see from here onwards and in particular here I decided not to make explicit reference to its eventual deletion. $\endgroup$ – user 170039 Jul 18 '18 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ Seems odd. One question was leading the league at +18 when it was deleted, the other was well in positive territory. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 18 '18 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: That's why I decided to stay out of it and simply posted the question. $\endgroup$ – user 170039 Jul 19 '18 at 14:03
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This is a question that was asked in the last election, which I think is very good. Thanks to Jyrki Lahtonen for proposing the question last time 'round.


The following is basically a refinement of In your opinion, what do moderators do. I just feel like making it a bit more ... role oriented.

Question: Do you see your (eventual) moderator role primarily as one of (assign weights, pick three, whatever):

  • Civil rights advocate
  • Senator/congressman leading the formulation of policies
  • Judge
  • UN Blue Beret, i.e. peace enforcement
  • Detective, police officer
  • Home plate umpire/ referee (depending on whether baseball or association football is your sport)
  • Janitor
  • Other

Please explain how this will influence your actions as a moderator.

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  • $\begingroup$ While I agree this is an interesting question, I also think that different people might see these tasks under different lights. And the reality is that a moderator needs to be a mixture of these things. It oversimplifies a complex situation. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 12 '18 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I feel like the direction to "assign weights, pick three, whatever" kind of addresses the fact that it is a mixture, n'est-ce pas? $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 12 '18 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ But things are complicated. One day you're a peace officer, the other you're a detective. Sometimes you're a janitor. Yes, it's a complicated issue, but I don't see why this question is useful. It sort of helps calibrating the expectation of the nominee, yes, but the reality is always more complicated and more intricate. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 12 '18 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I am not denying that things are complicated. The question invites complicated and nuanced answers (though it doesn't require such). I still don't understand the objection... $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 13 '18 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the clearest example of "different people might see these tasks under different lights" is this: does a judge's rôle include investigation of alleged crimes? Someone from a common law culture would say no: someone from a Napoleonic code culture would say yes. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Jul 14 '18 at 12:57
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Do you have multiple accounts and if so, would you be willing to share links to the profiles of your other accounts?

The purpose of this question would simply be for the moderator to disclose if they use other accounts as a way to hide certain behavior.

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    $\begingroup$ While I think that I would like to know the answer to this question, I don't believe that there is a really reliable way of verifying that a candidate is telling the truth. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 17 '18 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Your question is no less unverifiable, but it also assumes that such accounts exist. If someone answers "No," it may be because they have no other accounts, but the question is phrased in a loaded manner, so that a negative answer can be easily misinterpreted. Again, I think that it would be interesting to know if someone has sockpuppet accounts, but there is absolutely no way to verify an answer (contrast this with the "Have you ever been suspended?" question, which can be verified. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 18 '18 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ +1 What I am aiming for is the reduction which makes it vacuously verifiable: This comes with the major downside of reducing the question to asking basically nothing. You are right about the loaded part how about: Would you be willing to share links to profiles of any other accounts you may have? Either they are willing to share or they are not. By removing the direct question "Do you have ___" we have removed anything that needs to be verified. $\endgroup$ – Mason Jul 18 '18 at 15:13
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It is frequently stated, on Math Meta and in main-site comments, that a user or group of users repeatedly bully others on the site for disagreeing with their approach to its management.

  • What is your experience of such situations or a culture of bullying here, if any at all, and/or is this really an issue on Maths SE?

  • To what threshold must actions such as comment barrages, collective down-/delete-voting, commentary on personality and the like rise before you consider it bullying? (as opposed to merely a bad day or an abrupt approach or necessary pressure-cleaning)

  • To what extent do you believe this is a problem that would/should be handled by the moderator team, beyond clear individual violations of the Be Nice Policy?

I think the reasons for this question are obvious and the intent nearly so, but the subquestions may be more ambiguous than we prefer. Improvements that help remove any remaining bias or loadedness are appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ You should also probably add a sub-question: To what extent is collective upvoting, or a user's serially upvoting, allowed to rise before you consider it defacing the work of other community members, and hence, bullying? $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 20 '18 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ You have touched an important theme, but I won't upvote this for it is a bit one-sided. We all should make compromises to use this shared resource. But the anti-C.R.U.D.E. gang doesn't really come to meta to discuss what kind of compromises they would be willing to agree to. This has lead to the two sides digging themselves into a deeper trench. TL;DR; Props for coming to meta with your concerns, but I think we need a wider group of inclusionists to be able to really discuss and look for compromise. Otherwise, the outlook is kinda grim. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 28 '18 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not involved in the debate either way, I just turn up and read mathematics. This is a question that has always struck me from an outsider perspective, so calling it one-sided may only show a bias in the reader rather than the text. You're welcome to reword the questions if you don't think they're neutral enough now. $\endgroup$ – Nij Jul 28 '18 at 11:55
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Question: Would you put your faith in the upvote / downvote system to suppress unpopular content, or be more supportive of its proactive elimination via closure and deletion?

MSE has an inbuilt upvote / downvote mechanism by which content is curated. Rather than eliminate poor or even wrong content, it keeps the "wrong" content and marks it with a cascade of downvotes and negative comments, thereby informing users not only of how best to approach maths problems, but also of other approaches they may be considering, accompanied by a wealth of feedback regarding how and why they fail, and what the flaws are of such approaches or beliefs. By the upvote system, the most useful content rises to the top while the erroneous material is marked as erroneous and available for examination too - for those willing to dig down to find it.

Conflict arises between a highly active minority of users who prefer to destroy this information - I have no doubt whatsoever out of genuine intent to raise standards, and another category of user who prefer to keep it. Where would you stand in this matter?

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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy it wasn't my intent to dramatise, I was being as objective as possible. My contributions are, by and large, downvoted entirely justifiably in my opinion - a fact which has no bearing upon this proposed question. Given that I do prefer the downvote for curation because it is less destructive of information, how do I reword the question to restore balance? Perhaps I emphasise the harm erroneous information can cause? $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy p.s. by what means have you assessed the size of the "we prefer curation by downvote" camp given that voting (unlike close/deletion) is anonymous? Anyway, if my claim is valid that there is a small but more proactive (and organised) "camp" in favour of elimination of unwanted content, this question should see an initial cascade of rapid downvotes followed by a slow recovery. If that doesn't happen then I will have no problem accepting I was mistaken. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy nobody's acting out of spite, no matter how their actions may make you feel. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ This might be a bad question to judge candidates by, but IMHO voting to delete this answer is just plain abusive. Let the up/down-vote system work. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Jul 10 '18 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy I tried to adjust the wording of the proposed question in the hope you found it less offensive. I still think any candidate's approach to this matter is important and I hope there are other users who would like us all to put more faith in the up/down vote system to do its work. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers the irony of being hoisted by my own petard! $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 10 '18 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ It's quite awful to say "Oh, I made a crappy post about how voting is horrible, and it got downvoted, thus proving my point". It really is. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 10 '18 at 23:55
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with @T.B here. We are meant to post questions we would like to ask the candidates. Robert has done that. If you don't want Robert's question to be posed to the candidates, by all means vote it down. It's currently at minus 7, and if that's any guide, it won't be posed to the candidates. I see no reason to vote to delete it. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 11 '18 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Nonsense. I made a sincere proposal to ask candidates where they would stand on putting trust in the upvote downvote system over and above over-zealous deletion, because I thought it would be important for the site. The downvotes on this proposal, I totally support - we should ask candidates what the majority of end-users want to ask. The deletion votes are idiocy, potentially destroying the information all can see here that this proposal is unpopular. What's so awful about that? $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 11 '18 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy i just noticed your edited and somewhat strange claim that I feel victimised often. There is occasional bad behaviour which i quickly and easily deal with, but it is difficult to victimise users and stay within site policies. I don't think your claimed mastery of my feelings is on topic for these comments. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Jul 11 '18 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy Please don't speculate about how other people feel here. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jul 11 '18 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertFrost The same goes to you, don't attribute positions of others to subjective feelings onless they said so explicitely. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jul 11 '18 at 7:28
-3
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Where do you want to move the site?

  • You want more content, friendlier atmosphere, lesser mean quality?
  • Or, you want lesser content, many closed - deleted posts, but higher mean quality?
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    $\begingroup$ How about more content, friendlier atmosphere, and higher quality? I'd vote for that. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 20 '18 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Well, it is undeniable :-) $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 20 '18 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ I would hope that no candidate is running for the sole reason of changing policies, precedence, etc. I think the ability to engage constructively with others who may not see eye to eye occasionally supports a user's ability to be a constructive member of a moderator team, not a lone-wolf determined to get their own way. It's okay to support one, or the other, or both, or neither; what matters in the end is the candidate's ability to articulate positions, to genuinely listen and seriously consider other team members' input, and to constructively, and respectfully engage as a team. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 20 '18 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy The moderator may run for the reason of changing the community. For example, to change the current inclusionist community to a deletionist one. It would be good to see clearly in this. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 20 '18 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ Even wrt that goal, opinions vary on what the "ideal" community would look like. If one is not able to recognize that their personal view on that isn't universal, and unable to recognize that no one person (including them) can claim to know "the truth" of the matter, then we're likely looking at a candidate who may very well be unable and/or unwilling to listen to and respect other mods' perspectives on this. No mod team can work constructively with a member who is on a campaign to direct and revolutionize the community, according to his/her vision. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 20 '18 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ And it seems that you are suggesting that one and only one of the two bullets will be best for the community, as a whole. Choosing strictly one or the other position disrespects a majority of community members. I'm wary of any autocrat that is convinced they know what's the best for the community, and are determined to make this community conform to their vision. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jul 20 '18 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ "current inclusionist community"? Are you kidding me, peterh? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 20 '18 at 23:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Other sites are worser, I compared it to them... :-( $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 21 '18 at 5:38
-4
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What moderator decision or action have you disagreed with the most? How would you have handled the situation differently?

This is meant to mean any past or present site moderator (even if the identity of the specific moderator who took the decision/action is unknown), but not Stack Exchange employees, such as Shog9, Adam Lear and Grace Note, who also have diamonds associated with their usernames.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think that in the earliest days of m.se, before the first moderator elections, the moderators were SE employees. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 21 '18 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I think that the way it works is that in the earliest days of a site (private beta and start of public beta) there are no moderators, but community managers step in to take care of some moderator actions because of the vacuum (eg, suspending users who grossly misbehave). For math.se, private beta began on 20 July 2010, public beta on 27 July 2010 (see math.se page on Area 51), and the first set of site moderators appointed on 3 Aug 2010. So about 2 weeks w/o site mods. $\endgroup$ – бір-төрт-төрт-үш-жеті-бес Jul 21 '18 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ At any rate, disagreeing with SE employee actions is a different matter, as SE employees would generally take actions in accordance with site-wide policies which site moderators have little say in. And once a site is running fairly well, they seem to be fairly hands-off, unless things are really going off the rails. $\endgroup$ – бір-төрт-төрт-үш-жеті-бес Jul 21 '18 at 5:13
-7
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What will you do as a moderator to protect the work of - and respect - the highest-repped users, the long-time contributors, the legendary answer writers, so that they don't leave the site?

I can think of one such user, Andre Nicolas, who never seemed to be interested in Meta, editing, closing, or other community moderation tasks. He was all about answering questions, and his answers were truly awesome. Yet, he voiced his concerns about having his work deleted, edited without notice or reason, and the community responded to him in a harsh manner, calling him self-indulgent and not entitled to special treatment. He has since left, citing "health issues", which I believe was a nice way of saying "goodbye, math stack exchange, it's been real."

The example of Andre leaving was one that highlights how poorly mismanaged math stack exchange can be, and while the higher-repped users didn't care for him leaving, the rest of the community undoubtedly suffered and felt a sense of loss.

What will you do to prevent a repeat of this situation with another well-respected, high-rep user, particularly the expert users that simply answer questions, help others, without desiring to be a part of community moderation tasks?

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  • 7
    $\begingroup$ What's the point of speculating the reason behind the leave of Andre? It is just another form of disrespect to him. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Jul 19 '18 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ This is not an question but an unrelated rant $\endgroup$ – user223391 Jul 19 '18 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Zachary, I'd say it's a question wrapped in a rant. The question part could be useful, if the rant part were discarded. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 19 '18 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ OK, I see "self-indulgent", and I think the reason my search missed it may be that Google can't see hidden comments. I don't see "special treatment" there. And I do see people sticking up for Andre. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 19 '18 at 6:15
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    $\begingroup$ When you put something in quotation marks, as if you're quoting someone, it's expected that it's actually a quotation, not an implication. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 19 '18 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ I undeleted this post. I think in discussions of what should be asked in elections we should be especially open. I don't endorse this post in any way. But OP has a right to have their question heard. Yes there is a bit of unrelated commentary there, but it is not as bad as to warrant deletion, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 19 '18 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ If somebody will explain why this must be deleted I'll consider it. But please don't try to delete it again without discussion. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 19 '18 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson that del-undel and alike is a well-used mod-hack to "clear" votes. It does not work all that well for del, as they can be recast (unlike close votes). $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ "mod-hack" is a euphemism for "subvert the rules", @quid ? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 20 '18 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I would not know which rule would be subverted there. Anyway it's common practice. I am surprised you even ask about it. You should have seen it often, here and elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 1:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @quid, if SE wanted moderators to be able to "clear votes", then I expect they would have given moderators a straightforward way to do that, the same way they give moderators a straightforward way to close questions, delete comments, and so on. So I reckon your mod-hack is a way to do things SE never intended for moderators to do. Also, never underestimate my ability to be oblivious to things other people think I should have seen. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 20 '18 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry well, let's see. If a mod deletes a post that was undeleted then SE wants that users cannot undo this. SE also gives mods the ability to make sure that a post they do not want deleted in fact cannot be deleted by users (via a lock). As a combination of these two I would say my attempt to keep a post undeleted while avoiding the side effects of a lock is quite in line with related abilities granted to me specifically by SE. Also note what John Ma said. If you want to further discuss this, here is a room for this chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/80239/d-election $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa exactly, so, related to what Gerry said t it seems I should be well in my right to do this. The inconvenience of waiting for delete is that then it will be deleted for some non-trivial time.The reason for my action was to avoid a "blinking" post (or to minimize the frequency at least), which would sometimes be deleted until I notice etc. The other thing is that it would show up in list of posts that have delete votes which might attract further votes or attention. Yes, I noticed that vote, thanks. I'll leave it for now. If it stays at one, it does not matter, at 2 I'll clear again. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 7:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @amWhy my first undelete vote was the third vote (nothing unilateral about that). When casting this vote I wrote a comment asking that if somebody wants the post deleted they discuss it with me and do not just vote to delete again. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 22:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @amWhy in my first comment I said "Yes there is a bit of unrelated commentary there, but it is not as bad as to warrant deletion, in my opinion." This was meant to communicate that we should be especially tolerant in such a thread, but that there are still limits. Regarding the shower question specifically, if you care to know this and could explain why you care to know this, please feel free to ask the question. It is a bit intrusive in my opinion, but maybe not as bad as to warrant deletion. Would you ask,about still more intimate subjects, I would likely intervene. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 20 '18 at 22:45

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