In connection with the moderator elections, as with our last session in 2013, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

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

Here's how it'll work:

  • During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, March 23rd 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, none of the posts so far really follow the request of "please only post one question per answer". I'm happy to attempt to answer all the questions that have been posted when the time comes (I count 13 across the four posts beside Grace Note's default set), but I think we should be trying to take the request more seriously. By its nature, the requested format restricts the kind of question one can ask; presumably that's actually the intention (or why restrict it at all?). ... (ctd) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 22:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (ctd)... [I also think that questions should avoid "coaching" candidates about what kinds of answers to give or not to give, but that's more a personal opinion. If candidates give an inadequate/naive/impossible answer, that's an important indication in itself, I'd have thought.] $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Glen_b I understand a "question to a candidate" as "posing an issue and requesting the candidate's stance". So necessarily, it is a series of highly... correlated questions that all together make a whole. Speaking for my question, if, say, I had only asked "In your opinion, is there a serious threat/challenge that Cross Validated currently faces?", I believe that most candidates, if they had something in mind, they would answer all other questions in the sequel. "So why write them down, if they are self-understood?", one could ask. (CONTD) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Glen_b CONTD ...Well, I have learned to be particularly alert to how much different content can "self-understood" have for different persons. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Asking a string of questions that are all inter-related (like follow-ups or just are part of one more composite question) is fine. No reason to consume multiple question slots on essentially the same question. That said, with ones as long as whuber's... let's just say I'll need some time to figure out how to condense it, haha. On a personal level I also prefer questions that don't "coach" as Glen notes, but there's no restrictions against those here lest y'all vote otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 19:51

6 Answers 6


Do you have a vision for the future of the site that is different from how it is now? In other words, do you hope to move the site in a new direction in any respect? If so, what, and how would that be an improvement?


What other sites on SE system are you active on, if any? Compared to these sites, how would you characterize the atmosphere and style on CV, if it is any different? How are you going to handle questions and topics that are borderline between CV and these complementary areas of expertise?


The multiple objectives of any SE site create an inherent tension, forcing us to make decisions that trade off between

  1. Being accommodating to people (especially new visitors) who just want a question answered (quickly),

  2. Creating high-quality, canonical answers to clear objective questions,

  3. Establishing a well-functioning set of semantic links to make it easy for people to get answers themselves, and

  4. Rewarding community members for their participation.

As an example, a visitor might post a question that is not initially perfect: it might include a request for code (off topic) with an indication that a statistical procedure is needed (on topic). It might refer to a procedure that is obscure to the wider statistical community (unclear) but well-known within a subcommunity (such as "cumulative match scoring" in the face-recognition literature). Any of the actions available to us--closing, deleting, commenting, editing, up/down voting, flagging, and even private conversations--will have positive and negative ramifications. With many questions (and answers), there is no one best action to take.

How should we act? As a general moderation strategy, should we lean towards

  • Providing friendly welcoming comments and editing new posts for readability, even when they initially are not up to our standards (objective 1),

  • Quickly closing any questions that require improvement--especially those that seem to be code-oriented--so that we are not plagued by bad questions and a low answer rate (objective 2),

  • Insisting on appropriate tags and evidence of prior research--such as providing links to related questions--before we allow a post to stay open (objective 3), or

  • Making sure "bad" questions and answers are closed and deleted as soon as possible so that people don't accumulate reputation and badges merely for a large quantity of bad work (objective 4).

Each of these strategies, if pursued dogmatically, can be carried too far.

Moderators routinely have to make difficult decisions that will be good for some of these objectives but bad for the others. A good moderator is aware of this and has a principled, consciously developed strategy for making them.

As a moderator, where do you plan to strike a balance among these objectives?

Please don't say you will accomplish all four: we have extensive evidence that it can't be done. What principles will you apply when no possible action is good? Which objectives do you want to favor the most?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ To me this elegantly, concisely and comprehensively captures the most common, and the most awkward, dilemmas that recur daily on this forum. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 19:50

In your opinion, is there a serious threat/challenge that Cross Validated currently faces? If yes what is it? Do you believe that as a moderator you could contribute more towards dealing with it, and if yes, how?

  • $\begingroup$ I think this is a great question - concise but covers some very important ground not in Grace Note's "general questions" $\endgroup$
    – Silverfish
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 18:14

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?
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The idea of "simply reaching 20k rep" is always amusing to me :) $\endgroup$
    – hairboat
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 16:59

Cross Validated has struggled with finding the line between statistical questions that happen to involve programming, which are on-topic, and programming questions that happen to use statistical tools, which aren't.

Please explain how you will draw this line, ideally by providing examples which are just on either side of that line.

  • $\begingroup$ As I understand the system, questions should have been submitted before the start of the election phase, which is now under way. Let's hope that the candidates address this question somehow. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 20:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree w/ @NickCox, that this question may have been posted too late. That said, when you write "on-topic", did you mean off-topic? Questions purely about programming have always been off-topic, but maybe I misunderstood the description of the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 20:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yup, probably too late. Oh well....I figured it was worth a shot since there were <10 questions. @gung, I think there's some disagreement about what constitutes "about" programming. No one wants "How can I read a file in R?", but there's some wiggle room for things like "Why doesn't <function> converge?", which could be statistical (the model stinks) or could be something more programmatic (you're passing the data in wrong). $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MattKrause, that sounds right to me (eg, I agree that 'why doesn't... converge' can be on-topic). I just think your descriptions of the questions (eg, 'happen to use...') are ambiguous & I wonder if you meant off-topic where you wrote "on-topic". $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 21:36

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