# 2017 moderator election Q&A - question collection

Cross Validated, as has been noted, is scheduled for an election next week, August 7th. 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.

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

This is similar to how we've done things in previous years here, except this time the question collection will happen before the nomination phase, allowing prospective candidates to review what they might have to answer ahead of time and then allowing answers to the Q&A show up at around the time they submit their nominations.

Here's how it'll work:

• Until the nomination phase, (so, until at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 3:00 pm EST 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.

Several tag-related tasks require moderator attention. How well do you feel our community deals with them presently? Would you be able & willing to improve the situation (if it is needed)? How?

1. Tag burnination. Mods can ask SE admins to delete (aka burninate) a tag. We have a list of tags that should be deleted: Tag-candidates for removal, but no action has ever taken place. See my unanswered question: Dear mods, what should be our protocol for tag burnination?

2. Tag synonym merging. We have large number of tag synonyms that are not merged. There is a good case for merging all established tag synonyms as a matter of course (only mods can do that): Should all our non-merged tag synonyms be merged (or removed)? -- but it is not being done.

3. Tag synonyms. We maintain a list of suggested synonyms: Current tag synonym candidates, and most good suggestions do eventually get implemented, but sometimes it takes ages to pull through and often requires substantial effort to organize enough votes, whereas mods could implement it easily.

• I could post it as several separate questions if this is the preferred format. If so, then I would perhaps only post issues #1 and #2 because #3 is less pressing. – amoeba Jul 31 '17 at 20:23
• They're pretty closely connected so I think think is probably okay. I think this (tag management) is an important issue. – Glen_b Jul 31 '17 at 21:54

What do you see as the biggest problem facing our site and what would you do to help address it?

Do you have any Meta posts that you're particularly proud of, or that you feel best demonstrate your moderation style?

• +1 I think this is a very useful question to have. It would be strange to have a mod candidate without a history of active and well-received Meta participation. – amoeba Aug 3 '17 at 11:27

One of the issues which crops up frequently on this site is the dividing line between a statistical question and a computing question. At the moment custom and practice is that requests for code or package suggestions are seen as off-topic. Do you think we have the boundary in the right place? If you do not what is your suggestion for the new boundary?

• I agree this is a big issue, though personally I would separate the package requests (which seem broadly similar to reference-requests - indeed I often wonder how many would be on-topic if e.g. R package requests were rewritten explicitly as requests for references that could be answered with the vignette from the appropriate package!) from the code requests (which generally hope that someone will provide original code). I'm not sure it's that a mod election is the best place to discuss it - I'd rather moderation policy was consistent across the issue, as now, than that different mods .... – Silverfish Aug 6 '17 at 10:38
• ... who ran on different platforms execute different decisions. I think probably this is something that the community as a whole needs to discuss and formulate some kind of consensus on (possibly the status quo, possibly something else) that hopefully the moderation team can follow consistently. I think issues like Community Wiki, which is both more subjective and more at the mods' discretion, are better suited to discussing at election time, since the mods may differ in personal style over it. – Silverfish Aug 6 '17 at 10:40

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?

There is some controversy surrounding our use of Community Wiki status, see What is and what should be our policy on making questions community wiki?. Our current policy is not sufficiently clear, is not being consistently implemented, and is arguably suboptimal (though opinions might differ). What is your opinion on all that? Do you see any of that as a problem? What is your preferred policy? Would you be willing to work towards formulation of some consensus policy and enforcing its consistent implementation?

• (+1) though "Would you be willing to work towards formulation of some consensus policy and enforcing its consistent implementation?" may be a little optimistic... the decision itself is always going to have some subjectivity, and so this area is one where I'd always expect a certain degree of "one mod would have done one thing, another mod another". But I think the possibility of variation in moderation styles on this issue makes it an extremely relevant one for election questioning. – Silverfish Aug 6 '17 at 10:42
• (Incidentally the "rep" issue makes Community Wiki decisions far more contentious than they perhaps deserve - for most readers, the difference between reading a Q&A that is CW and one that isn't will be small, and I doubt many notice at all - yet I don't think even the most fair-handed and diplomatic of moderators, or the ability to point to a "conclusive" Meta discussion, will ever fully defuse the feelings of someone who feels unfairly rep-deprived. So I'm not expecting to see candidates put forward magic answers, but would like to know how they'd handle potentially heated situations.) – Silverfish Aug 7 '17 at 2:12
• @Silverfish Good points. Feel free to edit my question formulation as you see fit. – amoeba Aug 7 '17 at 6:38

What do you propose to do about the host of unanswered questions?

Do we close questions (for any reason) too much, or too little? Why?

• Can you clarify how you see this question as distinct from @mdewey's above? To me, they seem to be getting at the same issue. – gung - Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '17 at 12:41
• @gung his question is about coding vs stats. I ask about closing in general, we close question for multiple different reasons. – Tim Aug 6 '17 at 12:47
• So do you mean 'off-topic' in the general sense (e.g., duplicate, self-study, unclear, too broad, opinion-based, etc.)? – gung - Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '17 at 17:44
• @gung yes that is what I mean – Tim Aug 6 '17 at 18:02
• I tweaked the phrasing to make your intent, & the contrast w/ @mdewey's question, clearer. See what you think. If you don't like it, roll it back w/ my apologies. – gung - Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '17 at 18:13

Is there anything we can do with the high rate of unanswered questions?

• – amoeba Aug 7 '17 at 10:54
• I totally agree with this question getting answered by potential new moderators! That's why I posted it a couple of days ago ;) – IWS Aug 7 '17 at 11:08