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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. Due to the lack of submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as 2 of our back up questions for a total of 10 questions.

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!


A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

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?

Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial downvoting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targetting them, voting or otherwise. What would you 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?

  • 3
    I think it's going to be interesting to see the responses from candidates with very little to no meta participation regarding activity in meta. – yuritsuki Jan 19 '15 at 20:47
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    @rejectedregedit I think that fact that this post has been up for almost 1 week, yet only about half that nominees have posted their response shows that you make a good point. – JonW Jan 25 '15 at 9:09
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I'm 3nafish
(so that you don't have to scroll all the way to the bottom to figure out who's talking).

A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

I initially wanted to write something about this exact topic for my nomination post, but it was too long to fit.

To get some sense of my moderation philosophy, read Why is the “washing machine having windows” question opinion-based?. I agree with RobertCartaino's and JonW's answers to that question; I also believe that at such times, moderators can take a more active stance. Most of the time moderators should remain fairly passive, but questions like this are key time to become actively involved in the site. When a question that results in many opinion-based answers goes viral, it becomes a key time for UX.SE to present itself and the field of UX to the larger community. (For UX.SE, this is a chance to attract new members. For the field of UX, this is a chance to show outsiders that our discipline can and should be evidence-based.) At such times, I encourage all users to actively down-vote and flag opinion-based answers, and I think it becomes the responsibility of the mods to delete such answers. (I won't delete things randomly, but if several members challenge the quality of an answer—and if the author makes no effort to improve it—I will take the somewhat controversial position of removing it.)


A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

I would leave the following comments on the post:

Hi @username! Because this is an Q&A site, the etiquette is to format posts briefly and clearly. That means polite salutations may be removed to make the post more brief, while spelling and grammar can be improved to make it easier for other people to read the post quickly. (For more information, see the Help Center page Why can people edit my posts?.)

That said, the meaning of your post should not be changed by an edit. If you still feel that your posts are being vandalized, please ask about it in Meta


The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

I don't think we need to increase the number of questions. Instead, I would focus on making sure that the questions that are asked are of high quality and receive high-quality answers.


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 appears to be multiple separate situations.

If the user has a lot of arguments in comments, I would add a comment suggesting that the debate might be better located in the chat.

If the user has a lot of comments flagged as offensive, I'd send the user a private message (being sure to mention that I really appreciate the quality of the her answers before I raise the issue of the comments).

If the user has a lot of comments flagged as too chatty or obselete, I'd probably just delete them as the flags come in (unless there were a ton of them), but not follow up with the user unless she asked why her comments were being removed.


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

If the other mod deleted the question, I'd sent him a private message to say I think deletion is a bit to extreme, and ask if he would be amenable to closing it instead.

If the other mod closed the question, I would make sure there's a clear comment to the user explaining what can be improved about the post. Then I would trust the community to initiate re-opening it. Only after other members of the community started the re-opening, I would cast a re-open vote.


Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

I would spend most of my time on the Main site and Meta, going through the flag and review queues and typing polite suggestions about how posts could be improved.


A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

We currently have three ways a question can be closed as off-topic. Each warrants a different approach.

If it was a question about implementation, my answer would depend heavily upon what type of implementation was in question. For example, a question about how to use Axure to document a design decision is very different from a question about a particular CSS property. What exactly qualifies as "implementation" is still being defined. I would write a post explaining why certain types of implementation are off topic, make sure the Meta post was tagged as discussion, and try to draw out information on what types of implementation may be on-topic.

If it was a question about icons, I would close it as a duplicate after adding a comment reminding people that some questions about icons are on-topic (such as how well a certain icon is understood or what a good metaphor is to represent a particular action), but questions asking for a specific icon are off-topic because they're too localized and too opinion-based.

If it was a question about site reviews, I would add an answer explaining the rationale for why such questions are off-topic (they're too localized to one specific user in one specific case).


How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial downvoting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targeting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

The system automatically detects serial voting and reverts it with a script that runs every 24 hours. I would let the user know about this auto-detection, ask her to wait 24 hours, and ask her to flag a post for moderator attention if the downvoting was not reversed after the 24 hours so that we could look into 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?

It's a little odd to think everything I say would perceived as coming from a voice of authority. I'd have to be careful to keep in mind that people will perceive my comments as a lot more authoritative and to be sure to keep my tone soft and cheerful. On the whole, I don't think it will make a large difference in how I participate in the site.


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

I don't think I'm likely to reach 10k or 20k rep any time soon. Most of my activity on this site nowadays is reviewing the queues, welcoming new users, participating in meta, and generally helping to ensure that the quality of the site remains high so that I and others can read useful posts. Becoming a mod officially would support my moderation-centric approach to participation without waiting a decade to get 20k rep. It would also save the moderators time because they wouldn't have to deal with all my flags of chatty and obsolete comments.


I care a lot about supporting the quality of this site and this community. I would be honored if you select me to continue my positive contributions as a moderator.

  • can you elaborate on the "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?" point? While you cover what you would do for each individual situation, how would you handle it if the user persistently causes such trouble? They're a valuable user, but they're unsettling the community repeatedly. The quality of site content would drop if they left, but them being around is causing a lot of frustration. – JonW Jan 21 '15 at 12:25
  • @JonW, If the user was being continually disruptive and was not improving in response a private message, I would suspend that user for 3 days to indicate the seriousness of the situation. If that still didn't work, I would try a 7-day suspension or would ban the user. Suspensions and bans should be used as a last resort. (If the user was actively harming the community—and thus potentially driving away other users from contributing—then that counteraction of other users' contributions would offset the disruptive user's own contributions.) – Graham Herrli Jan 21 '15 at 14:32
  • +1 the automatic serial voting detection system is new to me! Thanks for sharing. You'd be a great mod! – Benny Skogberg Jan 24 '15 at 9:14
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Answer from Benny Skogberg

A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

The answers which really are comments would be handled first with a friendly message of how things work here, such as “Hi and welcome to UX.SE username! Unfortunately, this does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.”

The comments in answer field that do provide value would be converted as comments on the actual post they belong to. Comments in answer field that doesn’t provide value would be deleted, since a user can see its own post even if it’s deleted, and the comment of course.

For the question itself, I would protect it, to make sure new users unfamiliar to the StackExchange network rules don’t have the option to answer. The flags would be handled without actions, but be considered helpful. I would not close the question myself, but let the community decide. We have many users who are privileged to close a question like this. However, this is only true for questions that are in the blurry zone where it’s not apparent that they really are off topic, even if I think so. Instead I would try to UX-ify the question through editing, making it more on topic than its current state.

A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

I would first make a comment on the original answer providing a link to the page Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work? and explain why editing happens. I would also merge the answers to one grand answer if they were not conflicting with each other. It is possible to have several answers on the same question, but these occasions are very rare.

The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

There have recently been introduced new badges for questions such as Curious, Inquisitive and Socratic which is a step forward. I don’t know if these badges have made any change on the questions/day ratio since I don’t have access to the analytics tool.

Besides that I like the competition we had a few years ago on best question per week on a user nominated tag, with an amazon voucher for highest voted question within the tag. That competition creates incentive to ask good questions by high-rep users, which will boost question ratio during the event. I’d like to see these type of events on a more regular basis.

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?

Giving valuable answers does not give the right to comment in a bad manner. I would have a private discussion with the user and ask him/her to respect other users. If that does not happen, I would address the issue with other moderators and discuss appropriate actions.

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

I would start a conversation on why that happened in the moderator only chat room, and try to understand the reasons for actions. During my year as moderator of SharePoint.SE there have been a few discussions in this area, and there are often perfectly good explanation to these actions. I won’t override another moderator’s call unless he/she asks me to.

Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

This is really based on current events, and as such, one need to adopt accordingly as moderator. Sometimes a Meta question need great deal of work, another time it’s a viral question on the main site. There can also be a lot going on in the chat room. Therefore, I will spend my time where the attention is needed based on current situation. I don’t prefer one place to the other.

A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

It’s always good to review reasons of closure since the site is constantly having a growing number of users. If there have been long ago since we last evaluated close-reasons, it might be a good idea to implement a new featured meta-question as the previous one So, what exactly is off-topic for UX.StackExchange?. However, this doesn’t happen before a discussion between mods who collectively decide that the time is right for such a big change.

How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial down voting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targetting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

I would go through the posts created by the user and see if the claim is accurate, first. If true, we have a very strong unspoken rule at UX.SE to comment on down votes, to let the user know what they feel is wrong. If that hasn’t happened I would post a comment on each down vote post encourage users to comment the down vote. However, there is no way I can force a user to comment since votes are and should be undisclosed.

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?

This happened to me little over a year ago at SharePoint.SE, and it was a bit scary at first. It changed my view of answers, and I make sure that everything I write is valid. However, it doesn’t stop me from answering questions that I do know the answer to whether it’s Information Architecture here or Office 365 at SP.SE.

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

There are very powerful tools that comes to live when you are a moderator, and I would use them when needed. I’m already a 20k+ user here and a moderator at SP.SE and there are a huge difference on what actions to take. A close vote from a moderator immediately closes the question, and I would let go of that specific review queue until I handle a flag of something to be blatantly off topic.

On SP.SE, I have destroyed several SPAM-users, and if needed I will do so on UX.SE as well.

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    +1 for the suggestion of a competition for best question around a tag. That could create some fun buzz. I also like your suggestion of transforming the viral comment-like answers to actual comments on the question. It's friendlier than just deleting them, but still keeps the site clean. I wonder how it would work for long posts....do you know if it's possible to split an answer into multiple comments? – Graham Herrli Jan 23 '15 at 5:57
  • @3nafish Thanks! Converting answer to comment is an already implemented moderator tool, where you in one action can delete answer and post it as a comment based on post-ID or URL (found on the share link on each answer and question). The problem is when you don't know where the comment is best suited. – Benny Skogberg Jan 23 '15 at 6:53
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A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

I would try to see how far this question is from acceptable UX topics. If existing members in good standing are managing to provide high-quality answers, then the question isn't likely to be completely off-topic, it's probably at least borderline relevant. If I can improve the question to bring it closer to "mainstream UX", I will. If not, I'll try to understand how much of a bad precedent it might set, and whether it throws the site off course, or is it more likely to be a one-time thing. If it seems to be harmful to the site, I'll close it down. Will bring in other mods if necessary.

A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

I would explain to the user the rules of the SE game, explain why we're deleting the polite stuff and that most newcomers have been through this, provide references from relevant MSO discussions, and try to get him to see how this editing policy helps us reach the SE endgame of having objective, universally helpful high-quality answers to topical questions.

The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

I would encourage newcomers, try to salvage questions before closing them, try to split questions that combine more than one topic, and try to see if the discussion around a question could be more fruitful as a separate question.

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 contact him directly and privately, explain how much we appreciate his contribution and try to get him to see how his behavior may be offensive to others. In most cases this works well. If it doesn't, I would try to direct his attention to instances of the problematic behavior publicly, "in the act". If it doesn't help, discuss with the other mods and if things escalate, take disciplinary measures, up to banning him from the site.

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

If I see a way to improve the question so that the reason for closing is no longer true, I would to that first, and if I'm satisfied, I'd reopen it. If I feel that there's nothing to improve, I would discuss it with the closing mod and try to work it out. If we don't agree, I'd bring in the other mods into the discussion. If I'm still outvoted, so be it, I guess I'm wrong then :).

Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

"More" than what? I would spend more time than now on Meta and in the chat. But I would still spend more time on the main site than on Meta & Chat, because that's where everything actually happens. Most of the mod's work is still "in the field", it's not a desk (=Meta) job.

A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

I would discuss it with the other mods. If they seem to have a case, I would suggest that we research how it plays out historically - what kind of questions were closed for that reason. If they usually seem a bad fit, I would be inclined to keep that closing reason in place. If the closed questions are good or borderline, I'd create a new poll on Meta, present our findings, and try to get a wider consensus.

How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial downvoting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targetting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

If the evidence is there, I would love to see it, just to understand whether they have a case. Even if they do - there's no rule against serial downvoting. Being a community means having both the advantages and the disadvantages of interpersonal relationships, and this is one of the disadvantages. as long as things are kept civil (or at any rate anonymous), there's nothing we can do about it. If this were a phenomenon that SE wishes to fight, I guess we would introduce a mandatory reason for downvoting, but that kind of changes is out of the mod's reach.

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?

Despite of what I say in my next answer (not doing them in order of appearance :) ), I usually try not to say things that might embarrass me in the future. So I don't expect anything too awkward to pop up. I've probably said my share of noob nonsense before I got the lay of the land around here, but that would be equally embarrassing with or without the diamond, so it doesn't matter all that much.

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

I feel that the few actual additional privileges that you get as a mod aren't really a game changer here. The thing that changes for me is how heavily do I weigh my words on interpersonal matters. Without the diamond I feel that I can speak more freely and not worry about appearing impartial and objective, I can easily side with one user opposite another, based on personal preference alone. The diamond doesn't let me do that and forces me to think really hard about each comment that I make. I don't know whether it's a measure of effectiveness as asked in the question, but for me that's the biggest difference. And purely in terms of effectiveness - the words of a mod tend to carry more weight than those of a user, they tend to end arguments more quickly and not let things get out of hand.

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Charles Wesley's response:

A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

These types of questions are sometime viewed as "problem" questions that need to be contained the answers cleaned up. For "trivial" questions that don't go viral, this is the correct approach.

However, when something goes viral and we have a huge influx of new users--many of whom will bounce--I see it as an opportunity to turn casual interest into a focused curiosity that may draw new voices into our community. A moderator has an opportunity to help shape the response in a way that clearly illustrates what kind of answers we value, but in a way that helps to guide the enthusiasm productively.

Additionally, I don't view this SE as an academic institution that is narrowly defined as merely the study of UX in the abstract sense. Ultimately, this UX is valuable because it is useful and gives users value. A viral question is clearly a topic of interest to many users, and if a moderator comes down too harshly and swings a fire axe instead of using a scalpel, the user's experience may be so negative that they are not only turned off to this site, but to the practice of UX in general.

Viral questions are an opportunity for demonstrating our values as a community and a practice and can be an avenue for new membership and students of the craft. We should be careful not to squander that opportunity for the sake of keeping the site pure.


A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

Reaching out to the individual is the best and first approach. It is important to stress upon them that as a community we are all contributors and while our questions and answers result in individual reputation points, our contributions are communal by nature and we are all empowered and really duty bound to contribute in many ways including making sensible edits for clarity, accuracy, and readability.

If a user is approached in a respectful and consistent way, a reasonable person would acclimate to community norms and have a greater opportunity for success in the future. Truly combative or negative users can be dealt with using moderator tools such as temporary bans, etc.

The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

I truly feel that this is one of the most important questions facing this community.

From my point of view, we as a community can do a better job of creating a collaborative and open community that is open to considering questions that are broader in nature.

We have a bad habit of downvoting and closing questions that are not sufficiently pure. This is well intentioned, out of a desire to prevent the community from becoming less valuable (the graphic design SE is often pointed to as an example of a community that has become over-run with tutorial and how to questions that drown out questions about the craft of graphic design itself).

But there is a danger that we become too narrow in our definition of what is acceptable. While some may not find questions about the practice of UX to be on topic, there is a population of the community that does. We are a small enough community that we can be multi-dimensional in our questions and answers.

When we define our community norms in narrow "pure" terms, and when we are very quick to close any question that is even arguably off topic (I'm looking at you, implementation!) it has a chilling affect. Users self-censor and don't even bother to ask a question out of a fear or assumption that it is going to be serial down voted and closed.

To me, this is a problem that exists today. To encourage questions and improve this metric, we should be open to broadening the scope of topics we consider. This will improve the volume of questions, which we can hold to the same quality standards as others with regard to answerable questions that are backed with evidence and outside resources.

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?

A firm line needs to be drawn regarding the back and forth that may result from questions. Valuable answers and input aside, there is not much room for poor collaboration or community behavior. It is up to a moderator to step in early and consistently in these situations to remove off topic comments and prevent a low simmer from escalating into a full on fight.

A moderator cannot appear to be choosing sides, and must hold any party to the same standard regardless of whether one side is "right" or "wrong". For the problem user, a reminder of community standards is in order. For those fighting against the problem user, a reminder that the tools of flagging for moderator attention and chat are proper avenues for escalating these types of issues to moderators to address.

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

While I have voiced my opinions above that do differ from current norms, I believe it is important for all of the moderators to work as a team. There are moderator only chat rooms where moderators can collaborate and discuss these types of issues. I would seek to express my take on a situation and come to an understanding about how the situation should be handled in the future. It is a moderator's duty to ensure the community feels that moderators treat the community norms with equal respect and consistency.

Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

I think different moderators bring different strengths to a team, so I would play to my strengths. I have reviewed many first posts and close votes and feel that one of my strengths is being a consistent eye on the comings and goings of various questions. I would use my moderator responsibilities to try to curate the best possible environment for the community to do what it does best, which is ask and answer good questions.

Meta should be used more as a public square for openly discussing community norms, such that we are constantly evaluating what the community feels so that we can ensure we are on message with what our users define as being of value. Facilitating these conversations by encouraging users to argue for or against close votes, for example, is a way that a moderator can take a user that had a bad experience and empower them to channel their passion and energy in a positive way. A well argued and collaboratively approached meta post could result in community norms reflecting a different outlook that ultimately improves the site and helps to sustain growth.

A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

This is an example of what a challenged community norm would look like in practice. I don't have a magical number of when a norm should change, but in this case, what I would suggest is that the degree to which we enforce a close reason could be dialed back for a period of time (several weeks or months?) and the community can see what this change does in terms of volume, type, or quality of questions and answers.

Reasons for closing questions are by necessity broadly written. The community norms of how tightly or loosely to interpret those close reasons has a dramatic effect on what the community sees. A moderator can help to facilitate that process so that we ensure we are not too firm and not too liberal with close votes.

How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial downvoting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targetting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

It is important to me that nobody feels that this is an unsafe place for them. I would assure the user that if any evidence of a specific person targeting them can be found, the offending party will be addressed in proportion to the offense.

If it is not possible to determine if the user's perceptions are real or imagined, I would encourage the user to focus on the quality of their questions and answers. Truly well researched and presented questions and answers will attract enough votes that the malicious actions of one or two people will be more than drowned out by the support from the rest of the community. Focused energy on making the questions and answers the best you positively can do is a constructive way to "fight back" and will make you a better resource along the 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?

I feel it's an important responsibility because it carries weight in the community and it is a tool for making constructive contributions beyond simply asking and answering questions. It is important that any comments or contributions live up to that responsibility.

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

Being a moderator is largely about being self-less. You aren't rewarded with reputation points or badges (necessarily) that are proportional to your contributions. You are rewarded with the quality and nature of the community that you help to curate. I feel I can be much more effective as a member of the community in this role than by simply contributing via questions and answers.

It is an important question as a voter you should ask yourself: are you voting for someone because of what they have done for themselves (through reputation points) or for someone who has done more for others?

There are several candidates who have done much more for others than myself, so I by no means imply that this is a quality that I possess singularly. But as a candidate with less than 10,000 reputation, I feel it is important to address this.

Thank you for your consideration!

1

Evil Closet Monkey's (potentially evil) answers:

A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

Given the described state of the question presented it would likely already be closed, through community-review, by "the morning". In the event it was not, the flags would serve as an indication that it needed to be closed as not being on topic for this particular Stack Exchange site. When closing the question I would write a much more detailed explanation than the standard "it's off topic" closure reason. Since both existing members and new members are seeing the question with such frequency it would be important to be very clear as to why such a popular question would be closed.

I would clean-up on the answers as well. Removing the "I like this question!" type answers and paying attention to community-flags on more subjective answers that may not belong in a Q&A format. Flagging answers as subjective and giving the authors a chance to improve them would allow those (presumably) newer users to understand how the site works and improve their answers, instead of just having their efforts suddenly disappear.

A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

A comment directed towards the user would hopefully enlighten them to how editing generally works under the Stack Exchange umbrella.

I would describe to them that the individuals editing their questions/answers are not being malicious or actively seeking to undermine their efforts to contribute to the community, and that we appreciate that the user is contributing in the first place. I would point them to the Help Center for more insight in asking & answering and, more specifically, point them to "Why can people edit my posts?" to help show why other individuals are taking the actions they are.

The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

"Advertising" on other Stack Exchange sites does not seem productive, at least in the traditional sense of the word. Most adds disappear from the site when a user hits an easily reachable reputation. I've honestly not noticed any other type of cross-site "advertising" beyond the Hot Network Questions sidebar.

I think an effective effort to grow the community could come from increasing ones presence on other SE sites, which may have crossover questions to UX - StackOverflow, SuperUser, and GameDev come to mind, as well as OS-specific sites. Helping those communities in answering questions with a little UX flare and linking back to appropriate UX.SE questions could bring in more direct traffic and questions.

For example, I gave an answer to the following question here at UX.SE: What is the purpose of “press any key to continue” falling directly before a menu?. In it I was able to provide links back to two other Stack Exchange sites, which some users may now be visiting more often than previously.

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?

In cases like this it is unfortunately that private messages are not supported on Stack Exchange, as a more direct conversation would be beneficial.

I would attempt to have as private a conversation with them as possible, illustrating to them that how you use comments is just as important how you ask questions or answer them. If public comments are the only solution in reach out, I would hope to communicate with them effectively without making them feel as if they are being backed into the corner.

If all else fails, having them take a short break from the site may be effective.

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

I would communicate with the other moderator to discuss their rationale and to give my arguments for re-opening it. We may come to an agreement in the end, and the question remains closed or is re-opened. If we continue to disagree I would likely flag the question for community review, with my arguments.

If the roles were reversed I would certainly not take the issue personally.

Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

The main site and in meta. I honestly forget the chat feature is there at all much of the time, in part because I just don't enjoy how the the system works... it's just a personal preference.

I obviously spend the majority of my time on the main site now, and would continue to do so. I do visit the meta site once a day (or every other day), but our traffic is low enough there that anything I might normally be able to contribute to has already been addressed. Though I would increase my presence there.

A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

I'd ask what the cost/benefit (so to speak) would be. The reasons to close a post are pretty tight as they are and removing one would only drive more traffic to the "Other" option, which can sometimes be vague. Unless we have statistics that show the option is never used, or frequently improperly used, I would reply that the reason does not have merit.

I would certainly entertain suggestions on adding entries to the "belongs on another site" option though. That entry is sorely lacking.

How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial downvoting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targeting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

There are some mechanisms in place that help to capture such situations across the Stack Exchange network, as described here: What is serial voting and how does it affect me?. But, given UX.SE's traffic volume this may not capture such a situation.

Making sure the member understands that we have no real visibility into the potential serial nature of the downvoting, I would make a suggestion to flag such instances, perhaps through comments by the "downvoter" has made, when they truly believe such a situation.

I would take the time to also make the point that a downvote here-or-there doesn't really hurt. It doesn't feel good, especially when you feel someone is specifically targeting you, but if you are contributing to the community the other members will quickly absolve any downvote with several upvotes for a well written question or answer. If you continue to be an effective contributor to the community the "serial downvoter" will likely quickly lose interest.

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 feel that I have said or expressed myself, certainly not purposefully, in a way that would make me feel uneasy about suddenly have a diamond attached to my name.

Though I can not think of an instance at this moment, it is certainly possible that I have phrased comments in a way that sound fine in my head but did not translate well over text. Such comments may have been interpreted much differently, and possibly in a very poor light, than what my intentions were. I would certainly take extra care to avoid such instances.

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

I honestly have no clear answer to this. I don't know how "effective" I am at 10k or 20k, since I'm not there. I'm honestly not familiar with the full range to tools available to a moderator over a 10k/20k-user.

I would continue to visit the site and contribute by answering; being a moderator would not make me any more effective in this task.

I know that close votes by moderators avoid the community-review queue. This would certainly be something that I use, as all other moderators use. I would take great care to make sure that use of such tools is only done when I'm very clear and very confident with my stance. Given the speed at which our community-review queue clears out and the solid efforts our community already puts into the review cycle, I would have no problem with skipping something, and continuing to use flags, when I am not sure myself.

  • Quick note; private message facilities are available for mods (but not general users) to send to users. These are used only when deemed necessary though. – JonW Jan 26 '15 at 14:24
  • I would guess that alters the corresponding answer slightly to use such features when appropriate, to avoid unnecessary public finger pointer. – Evil Closet Monkey Jan 26 '15 at 18:17
-1

A very popular, trivial question is posted (something like: "Why don't Segways have seats?"). It receives a lot of votes and answers and generates a large degree of comments and discussions. It has clearly been linked to from an external source and is bringing in lots of new users, some are leaving clearly useless answers ("I like this question!") and others are leaving brief, subjective answers ("I think it is because it looks nicer that way"). It also has answers from existing site members with good reputations and include citations and well though-out reasoning. It was posted overnight when you weren't available, and you only see this when you first visit the site in the morning. This post gets flagged as being off topic by several users, and you are pretty sure it is off topic for the site (it's not really about User Experience, it's more of a "Hmm, what's the deal with this thing not being how I want it to be" question). How would you deal with this?

First of all, clean up would be done; useless answers and comments would be deleted.

Then, if it really was off-topic in my opinion, I'd get with the other mods here and try to come to a decision about where it would be on-topic and see if we could migrate. If deemed we should migrate, then I would interact with the mods on that SE site and clarify that it would, indeed, be on-topic there.

If yes, simply migrate it. If no, I would do 1 of 2 things:

  1. Close it as off-topic preventing useless answers, yet allowing good answers to keep their reputation.

  2. Turn it into a Community Wiki allowing continued answers and discussion since it was bringing in lots of people.


A new user has left several answers to questions, and many of these have been edited by the community to generally tidy them up, improve the grammar and remove any "I hope this helps, yours, {Username}" unnecessary elements. However this user keeps flagging these changes as well as rolling back these edits and leaving comments like "Stop vandalizing my answers". What would you do here?

I would decline their flags first leaving a message that would simply educate the user on what is happening and why. If there was not a flag yet, I could leave the same message as a comment to see if they would accept the advice. If after a while they hadn't and continued to do it, maybe some disciplinary action might be in order (a suspension or ban). I would obviously confer with the other mods to see if they agree before any disciplinary action was taken.


The UX community have great stats when it comes to answer percentage, compared to other sites with the same age and the same number of users. The number of answers are remarkably equal to these other sites, but there is one figure, which is low compared to other sites: The number of questions. The entire site generates 11 questions a day, which is half or less, compared to other comparable sites. As a moderator, what would you do to increase the number of questions on the User Experience site?

Three reasons:

  1. Since I'm a Senior Software Engineer and am on Stack Overflow quite a lot, I would start advertising UX.SE in my answers through links that pertain to the post.

  2. We could run ads that appear on the more popular sites.

  3. At the very least, I could start asking more questions instead of just answering.


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 probably seek the advice of the previous mods and defer to them while learning the ropes on how they've dealt with this in the past.

Otherwise, if it were solely up to me, I'd probably clean up the argument comments and leave a comment telling them to take it to a discussion and warn them if it continued, a possible suspension could occur and eventually a ban if they refused to listen.


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

I would ask the mod why they felt that way. I'd hear them out, weigh their reasoning, ask other mods their opinion, and then go with a democratic / majority wins type of decision as to re-open or un-delete the question.


Where do you see yourself spending more time, using your mod powers for good, of course, given that you may only have a certain amount of time per day/week to give? The main site? Meta? Chat? Hanging with mods? Do you feel it even matters?

I personally see myself doing a little of everything. I would try to be more active on meta and chat, as I haven't done so as much. As per usual, I would go through the review queues, flags, hot questions, just to see if anything needed to be done.


A user posts a suggestion on Meta to remove a reason to close questions. It has been decided before what is on topic and what is off topic, but this specific suggestion receives six up votes and one down-vote and is now a +5 question. What is your reply to that suggestion?

I would wait and see. +5 isn't enough for me. It would need more of a Guru badge of +40 to change something that big, unless it was just overwhelmingly obvious it needed to be removed, at which point, I would confer with the other mods and get their opinions and we would make a group decision.


How would you handle the situation where someone creates a flag and brings to your attention that they suspect someone is serial down-voting them? Moderators cannot see votes but there may be other evidence that the user has observed of someone targeting them, voting or otherwise. What would you do?

I would get with the other mods and we would discuss if there is enough evidence. If so, I would talk with them and tell them to stop nicely and I could also cancel out their down-vote by up-voting, if nothing else.


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?

The diamond carries more weight so:

  1. Questions and Answers will tend to get up-voted more regardless (from what I've seen).

  2. Comments are a different story. It seems it could help some your arguments be seen in a more positive light, but in some, you could be seen as taking advantage of the diamond and be seen in a more negative light. So that's a tough one. I would definitely take more care in what I say and how it could be interpreted from now on.


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

Reaching 10k or 20k just simply means you've in some way earned that reputation and access to their respective tools, but you don't have to do anything with them. Furthermore, you could've earned the rep by leaving an answer on every question and received only a few votes per question. You could've hit the Hot Network Questions jackpot and got it that way. Basically, reputation is just a number, and doesn't always mean they know what they are talking about or that they deserve more respect.

Being a moderator means your ultimately responsible for the content on the site. You have a duty to perform and it doesn't matter what your rep is. You exist to make UX.SE the best it possibly can. Period.

It would make me more effective in that I believe it would immediately give me more respect. As the police saying goes, "Respect the badge," I believe the same saying could be said here, "Respect the diamond." We are here, as volunteers, to help you and everyone else on this site. Along with that, it would also help me to intentionally be more active.

  • I find it funny that I am the first to answer and am sitting at -1. My little hater follows me everywhere it seems. Never leaves any comments, just down-votes. I know who you are. – Code Maverick Jan 27 '15 at 6:14

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