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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 submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 6 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.Please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

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!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  2. 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?

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

  4. 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?

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

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

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – whuber Oct 13 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ That two candidates for election have taken the time and effort to provide full answers to the questions speaks volumes about their qualifications to become moderators. I heartily thank them both. $\endgroup$ – whuber Oct 13 at 12:51
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Sycorax

I'm nominating myself for a moderator position mostly because I want the election itself to succeed. (To wit, if there are not enough participants in the election, then the whole election fails.) The stats.SE moderators themselves requested this election; it seems they would like some help in keeping up with the responsibilities of running the site. Therefore, I would like for the election to succeed so that stats.SE keeps running smoothly. Towards that end, I hope that additional candidates will stand for election so that voters may have a slate of candidates to choose among.

Tactical decisions aside, if elected, I'll do my best to make the site work more smoothly will encourage more answerers to participate and help answer our unanswered questions. I understand that this can take as much as an hour a day; this is time I have available and often already spend on stats.SE.

I believe in taking a broad view of what is on-topic on stats.SE. Stats.SE is a place to discuss statistics in all of its flavors: probability, regression, time series, machine learning, neural networks, and more esoteric topics. This is part of what makes it such a great place to learn.

Question time!

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The main task of moderators is to lead by example: show users new and old how to interact with the website and each other. Many of the activities that fit this description are actually available to non-moderator users -- voting to close, editing tags, or leaving comments asking for clarification. I appreciate that the diamond itself is interpreted as conferring special authority, but it bears repeating here that while moderators have access to specific tools and capabilities, most of those powers are already delegated across the website to hundreds of others who take the time to wrangle the review queue, edit tags and leave comments.

The second task is to remediate what happens when users do not interact well with the website or with each other. Scrubbing abuse, unkind remarks, bigotry and spam and the like are not pleasant, but are necessary tasks.

  1. 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 can't recall where I read this quip, but someone once said something to the effect of "All you have to do to be embarrassed by something that you've written is leave it in a drawer for six months and then take it out and read it again." The distance of time can allow one to see one's writing in a different light. In most cases, the edit features allow a person asking a question or writing an answer to fix any shortcomings. I sometimes revisit an answer years later to revise it.

Comments are a little different because they can only be edited for five minutes, so any poorly-informed or abrupt comments are, unfortunately, stuck that way.

I don't feel that the addition of a moderator diamond will alter the suitability of my questions, answers or comments. If there are any objectionable posts, then flagging them in the usual way seems appropriate and correct.

  1. 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 understand that the intent of this question is to highlight that the privileges of high-rep users have a lot of overlap with the privileges of moderators.

Right now, I have more than 60,500 rep and gold badges in and . Taken together, I have a very high level of privilege on this site, and can carry out a number of tasks, like voting to close, dupe-hammer, review queues, and edits to posts. In this sense, I have powers which are similar, but less exhaustive, compared to a moderator.

I have noticed that a number of unclear or low-quality questions will linger at 3 or 4 votes before the closure vote expires and the question remains open. I think this is just because we don't have a machine learning specialist among our moderators, who would otherwise also close. (This isn't a criticism or a slight -- our moderators are very knowledgable experts in their domains, but no person can know everything.) I think that I will be able to serve the community by closing these questions with useful feedback about how to clarify them.

But more broadly, moderators are the only users who can access specific tools, such as reviewing flags or unilaterally opening/closing posts. Access to these tools is the only thing that will allow me to carry out moderation tasks and keep the site running smoothly.

  1. 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?

There are several layers to this.

The first is that any and all comments which do not adhere to the community standards (flags for "harassment, bigotry, abuse" or "unfriendly or unkind" are plausible in this hypothetical) are removed.

The second is to address the pattern itself. I would remind all parties involved of the standards of discourse on stats.SE, with a link to https://stats.stackexchange.com/conduct.

The third is to consider where the behavior falls in the "Enforcement" portion of the Code of Conduct, and whether a warning or temporary suspension are appropriate.

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

Rather than attempting to reverse their action unilaterally, I would speak to the moderator about it. It's possible that my reasoning is mistaken, or that the other moderator observed a key fact that I missed. (Once I thought two questions about a certain inequality were duplicates, but actually the inequality was reversed. I'm only human; sometimes, I misread.)

Or it's possible that in discussing the question, the other moderator will come around to my understanding, or learn of a key fact that I observed in the question.

It could be productive to raise the issue in Meta.Stats.SE, to illustrate how moderators think about closing. There are sometimes disagreements about where to draw the line for closing, and discussing that can be helpful for reviewers because it clarifies where the line is and helps inform their thinking when considering a closure.

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

These meta questions have been well-received. I think they shed some light on my philosophy: there are places to make changes to how the site works, some small (reorganizing tags) and some large (how to fix the gap between questions and answers), as well as some elaboration about how broadly I imagine stats.SE's scope.


If there are any outstanding questions about what my views are about stats.SE or how I intend to use my moderation powers in the event of my election, please add a comment.

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    $\begingroup$ Many thanks for standing. I think you're an outstanding candidate straight away, and not just because of your machine learning expertise, but because of your track record generally contributing on so many levels. Whatever else follows from me is small print or additional. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Oct 7 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ Spam is usually obvious when it occurs. Bigotry I've hardly ever noticed, but it is undoubtedly obnoxious when it does. The bigger deals that I've noticed more often are (a) people new to the site who won't accept that their questions are poor by our standards (b) longer-term users whose style sometimes strikes others as too pugnacious and/or whose content is often erratic. (a) is more common while (b) can be more of a challenge to moderators or high-reputation users interacting with them. Do you have any comments on such cases? $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Oct 7 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ More specifically, I note that comments can be deleted (or deleted and rewritten), and (as @Scortchi points out elsewhere) if you are elected you can go back and edit them any way. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Oct 7 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox Thanks for your support. The odd thing about contributing to stats.SE is that one often "works in parallel' to other contributors whom they come to regard highly, but rarely ever actually interact or express that admiration. All that to say -- it means a lot. Thank you for your confidence. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 7 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ Guiding new users in how to ask a good question is a challenge. There were two recent meta threads where new users asked that their questions be re-opened without making any significant progress towards articulating what it was that they wanted to know. We, as a community, can provide feedback about what is unclear and ask probing questions, but if that becomes an impasse, I don't know what more could be done. Indeed, these meta threads have become stalemates. Some comments even include some insults. At a certain point, the obstacle is not statistical in nature. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 7 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for standing, +1. I look forward to voting for you. That said, your first paragraph makes it sound like you are more in it so the election does not fail, less so you can be a good mod. I believe I recall a mod at some time estimate that modding takes about half an hour per day. Are you prepared to invest this time, or will you consider your "duty" done if the election finishes with two newly elected moderators, and then ghost CV? (Sorry if this sounds accusatory; I honestly don't mean this question seriously, but simply wanted to have this out in the open.) $\endgroup$ – Stephan Kolassa Oct 7 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ @StephanKolassa That's a fair point. I should have clarified that I'll gladly serve if I'm elected! I've edited my answer. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 7 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @StephanKolassa Have you already made your mind up who you shall be voting for ? "I look forward to voting for you" $\endgroup$ – P Sellaz Oct 9 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @PSellaz: good point. I have three votes. I am almost-sure no three people more qualified than Sycorax will self-nominate. I would be happy to be able to reject this null hypothesis. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Kolassa Oct 9 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Sycorax I think there are 3 $\endgroup$ – P Sellaz Oct 9 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Some downvotes are per a suggestion by Stephan Kolassa in stats.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5325/… Another reason is that some answers have 0 score and are bumped by the robots; I try to engage up/down voting those answers whenever I notice a robo-bump, but often these overlooked answers are poor. I also regularly review all of the questions asked on certain "high activity" tags like machine-learning or neural-networks and these tend to attract poor questions. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 12 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ If you're looking at voting overall, a large portion of these votes were attached to a dedicated effort to clean up low-quality questions which accumulated over years of neglect in these tags. This concerted effort meant that I was giving a large number of downvotes in a short duration of time; people who did not engaged in this concerted effort will not have this pattern present in their voting histories. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 12 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ Some of the criteria I most commonly use to decide whether to downvote a question or answer are "Does this answer address OP's question?" and "Is this answer more than a link?" and "Does this question show any research effort, or is it just a photo of a homework assignment or a vague ramble?" I leave comments in cases where I think some elaboration or explanation could be beneficial, but these are contextual -- have I read other of the user's posts? How does this user react to feedback? $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 12 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ It must be the difference between posts that are still live and posts that were deleted (either automatically or by users). Since I undertook a concerted effort to remove low-quality posts in specific tags which were not amenable to getting good answers, it's not surprising that I'd have a higher number of down-votes compared to a person who did not undertake that effort. If I were a moderator then, such an action would not have been necessary because I could simply close the poor questions unilaterally and robots would eventually remove them. $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 12 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ @forecaster For moderators (among whom I include high-rep, active users), voting is a tool to encourage (or, sometimes) discourage behaviors. Different moderators use different strategies, they focus on different kinds of topics and tasks, and engage with the site in different ways. Their voting records simply aren't comparable. In moderating several SE sites over the last decade, about the only rules I have found that stand up to scrutiny over time are (1) a good, active moderator votes extensively and (2) wise moderators strongly favor upvoting over downvoting. $\endgroup$ – whuber Oct 13 at 12:56
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Kjetil b halvorsen

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Helping the site function better ... resolving disputes, being an example

  1. 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'm not sure I really like that! Maybe I will have to go back and edit some of my first answers here, which was not very good. One of the effects of participating here is training in communication, good for aspies --- I still have much to learn here!

  1. 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 am already way beyond 20k, so maybe not much ... but the site needs more effective closing and marking as duplicates, and I can be more effective at that. There are way to many unanswered questions which are unclear, and abandoned by their owners, better to close.

  1. 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'm not sure how big a problem this is ... valuable answers is important, so I hope some diplomatic hinting would help, suspension should only be an ultimate resource.

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

If this were an old, abandoned post, I would leave it. Otherwise discuss it with the other moderator, so trying to reach a common viewpoint.

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

Not really, one post that I think made a difference at its time was What to do about long review queues?. Maybe we should try to followup on @Sycorax answer in that thread?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm looking forward to voting for you! +1 $\endgroup$ – Sycorax Oct 11 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your contribution for this site. $\endgroup$ – forecaster Oct 12 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ Voted because I've seen you around :) $\endgroup$ – confused Oct 13 at 0:50

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