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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.

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 linebreak.

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!


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?

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?

How would you deal with situations arising from community differences on questions / answers related to disputed geographic territories? To explain, Travel Stack Exchange is in a unique position in the Stack Exchange network of sites because it gets questions related to politically volatile or disputed regions. These can tend to have loaded implications for many community members. How will you best defuse a situation such as these?

How would you deal with questions that overlap with The Great Outdoors or Bicycles Stack Exchange? One of the trickier situations we have as a community is that questions asked here on Travel Stack Exchange sometimes overlap with the remit of other Stack Exchange sites, specifically The Great Outdoors (for camping / hiking) or Bicycles (for cycling). How will you distinguish situations where these questions need to be migrated or allowed to remain here?

Were you always happy with the pro tem moderators? Is there anything you think you could do better?

How would you handle with off-topic questions? Close them immediately and reopen if they get improved or give some time to the OP to improve it?

  • Stupid captcha. I posted my answers, but didn't pass the test on being human, and all post gone. – VMAtm Apr 2 '13 at 6:15
5

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Generally, moderators should be invisible in 99% of the time. Only if there is a real problem, moderators should step in and solve this problem. The community here on StackExchange has a lot of power and as a whole can do almost everything a moderator can do. So I think moderators should behave like normal users and only step in if it is necessary, for example spam posts, really low quality posts, arguments between users, etc. Flags are a good indicator for that.

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?

Personally, I do not see much difference. I will have the same opinions, questions and answers as before.

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

Generally, as a 20k rep user, I can already access a lot of features a mod can use to. However, I really love this site and want to participate even more. Therefore, I think that I can use the functionality that only mods can use to improve the quality of this site even more.

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 think the first thing to do in such cases is always talk to the person. That is what private chat rooms can be used for. If this does not help, there are other measures available. For example, delete comments that are really off-topics or full of personal arguments. As a last measurement, it is always possible to ban as user, either temporarily or for good. I think this should be really used as a last resort if all other things failed, but generally, I believe that all users should be treated equally, independent of the quality of their answers/questions or their amount of reputation.

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

Personally, I think that the community has enough features, functionality and power to undo almost all actions a moderator can do. So I think, the community should decide if a closed question should be reopened. If it is getting a real big problem, there also ways to discuss this on meta or the chat room either with the whole community or only the moderators to reach consents.

How would you deal with situations arising from community differences on questions / answers related to disputed geographic territories? To explain, Travel Stack Exchange is in a unique position in the Stack Exchange network of sites because it gets questions related to politically volatile or disputed regions. These can tend to have loaded implications for many community members. How will you best defuse a situation such as these?

First of all, I think Travel SE should stay as unpolitical as possible. It is about traveling and discovering the world and not talking about geographic territories. Generally, I think we should establish some policies to avoid these situations in the first place. I know that it will take a long time to agree on a common policy how to tag geographic regions, but once we have achieved that, we can already solve a lot of problems before they even occur. As a concrete example, I personally would like to see that country tags have precedence over region tags, so that for example the tag Georgia refers to the country and no the US state.

For sure, there will be disputes nevertheless, but I think these will have to be handled on a cases to case basis. I'm sure that there is a way to find a tagging solution that will decrease the implications for anybody. As a concrete example, if there is a dispute about a Gaza question and tagging it with Israel or Palestine, I would argue to use both of them, or just neither of them a stick with a Gaza tag.

How would you deal with questions that overlap with The Great Outdoors or Bicycles Stack Exchange? One of the trickier situations we have as a community is that questions asked here on Travel Stack Exchange sometimes overlap with the remit of other Stack Exchange sites, specifically The Great Outdoors (for camping / hiking) or Bicycles (for cycling). How will you distinguish situations where these questions need to be migrated or allowed to remain here?

I think there is no strict line that can be drawn in this case. Generally, I would argue that if the main topic of the question is about traveling (i.e. getting to the place), it is fine for Travel SE, but if it is more about staying or doing things far away from civilization, I would say it is better suited for The Great Outdoors. However, I agree with the official guidelines that old questions and questions with a high vote/views shouldn't be migrated so easy.

Were you always happy with the pro tem moderators? Is there anything you think you could do better?

I'd like to mention that I didn't candidate as a moderator because I think the current moderators are bad. It is more that I just wan participate more actively too.

How would you handle with off-topic questions? Close them immediately and reopen if they get improved or give some time to the OP to improve it?

Off-topic questions should be closed and reopened if improved. I know that the current practice (at least from the highly active users) is slightly different, allowing new users some time to improve their questions without closing them.

5

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

We act as janitors, acting on guidance of the community (by flagging and voting) to clean up mess, sort out issues and arguments and help to keep the site working.

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 is already the case for me as a moderator elsewhere. I already know the effects of this - it does lead to more personal challenges, more direct insults etc., but also a sense of pride that I can be publicly associated with my actions.

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 only a handful of extra capabilities a moderator has over a trusted user, as trusted users actually carry out most of the site direction, and day to day hygiene, but the ones I value most are around visibility of tools for growth and support of the site - the statistics help with targeting growth ideas and monitoring successful ideas.

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?

My usual technique here has been to firstly communicate- to help them understand what is expected behaviour, regular comment clean-up, then if that doesn't work, suspension. I have had some successes in this space previously, with 'difficult' members of the community becoming shining stars.

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

Discussion, either in chat or if necessary in the mod-only chat. We are all fallible so need to accept that any decision may be wrong. This goes for mods and the wider community - if anyone thinks a decision is wrong, talk about it. It may be wrong.

How would you deal with situations arising from community differences on questions / answers related to disputed geographic territories? To explain, Travel Stack Exchange is in a unique position in the Stack Exchange network of sites because it gets questions related to politically volatile or disputed regions. These can tend to have loaded implications for many community members. How will you best defuse a situation such as these?

Of all these questions, I think this is the hardest to give a definite answer, as these situations are all different. Where the terminology is challenging, as with questions about an area which may be named differently by different groups (such as the Falkland Islands/las Islas Malvinas), if they are challenged we need to look at perhaps using both names in the question. We also need to be aware that answers which are only correct for one group but not others may be better if updated with comprehensive alternates.

How would you deal with questions that overlap with The Great Outdoors or Bicycles Stack Exchange? One of the trickier situations we have as a community is that questions asked here on Travel Stack Exchange sometimes overlap with the remit of other Stack Exchange sites, specifically The Great Outdoors (for camping / hiking) or Bicycles (for cycling). How will you distinguish situations where these questions need to be migrated or allowed to remain here?

The way I have dealt with these on Security (which has overlap with Crypto, SF, SE and SO) is to look at whether there are answers or flags. If an overlapping question is flagged for migration before any answers, it gives moderators a good sign that it should be moved. Similarly, if there are no answers after a couple of days, it may be best served elsewhere. Another good indicator is if a mod from one of the other sites requests it.

Were you always happy with the pro tem moderators? Is there anything you think you could do better?

I think the pro-tems did an amazing job, and to be honest, if they were all standing I would have all my votes for them. I think they have helped guide an excellent community and if I am voted in I will try to continue in the same vein.

How would you handle with off-topic questions? Close them immediately and reopen if they get improved or give some time to the OP to improve it?

Generally close, with comments to guide the OP as to what would need to be done to reopen. Closing is only a temporary stage on Stack Exchange anyway - usual next steps being reopening, deletion or migration.

4

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I try to take my inspiration from Stack Exchange's A Theory of Moderation. In an ideal situation, the community itself will be self-regulating and over the past few months since we graduated, this has indeed been the case where question are increasingly being closed through community votes than casting moderator votes, engaged members of the community are leaving helpful comments for newbies, et al. I see this as an amazing development. Moderators should be human exception handlers.

At the same time, Travel Stack Exchange is a community that is still in its formative stages. It is often difficult to decide whether a question is 'on topic' or controversial etc. I believe this is one role where mods on Travel need to be particularly active, in guiding and shaping the community towards what it should be in discussion with the community through meta / chat.

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?

As one of the pro-tem moderators on this site, I'm already in this situation. I take the implied weight of the publicly displayed role seriously, in trying to be as courteous as possible when dealing with community members.

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

In addition the 10k/20k tools, the moderator tools allow you to investigate items such as suspicious voting patterns, reviewing tags across-the-board (and not just ones you have reputation in), and analytics for what content is gaining traction etc. All of these can be used for making informed decisions on how to shape the community.

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'd take it up with them in the chat room - either the standard public one or a private chat room. I'd also use the pan Stack Exchange moderators' chat room to discuss this with other mods on Stack Exchange and community managers to find out the best way to deal with any specific situation. As far as possible, I'd hope an amicable solution can be found.

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

I've faced situations like this on the current team in a slightly different scenario. The way the current mods deal with it is that in case we're unsure of how to deal with particular question/answer/comment, we flag it and ask other mods to weigh in. Communication is the key. However, in case something has already been closed / deleted, then I respect that decision and don't revert it; unless it's something I feel which is egregiously incorrect, in which case I'd raise it in a private chat.

How would you deal with situations arising from community differences on questions / answers related to disputed geographic territories? To explain, Travel Stack Exchange is in a unique position in the Stack Exchange network of sites because it gets questions related to politically volatile or disputed regions. These can tend to have loaded implications for many community members. How will you best defuse a situation such as these?

There's never an easy solution to situations like these. Once again, I like tapping into the collective wisdom of the community managers and other Stack mods on the mod chat room to make a better informed decision. For informational disputes, I tend to rely on the input of community consensus on the English Wikipedia for terminology, information etc since the discussions are well-documented on each article's talk pages.

How would you deal with questions that overlap with The Great Outdoors or Bicycles Stack Exchange? One of the trickier situations we have as a community is that questions asked here on Travel Stack Exchange sometimes overlap with the remit of other Stack Exchange sites, specifically The Great Outdoors (for camping / hiking) or Bicycles (for cycling). How will you distinguish situations where these questions need to be migrated or allowed to remain here?

I try to determine what the major component of the question is, and if it matches that of a sister site, then migrate it over to that.

Were you always happy with the pro tem moderators? Is there anything you think you could do better?

As a current pro-tem, I can't really answer this question except hope that on the whole I did a good job!

How would you handle with off-topic questions? Close them immediately and reopen if they get improved or give some time to the OP to improve it?

I'd definitely close them immediately and then give suggestions to improve. I know this can appear hostile to newbies but the point is this by giving feedback on how they can improve and reiterating that once edits are made, they can flag it for mods to take a second look should defuse most situations. Many people tend to forget that closing is a changeable state. It's important to close an off-topic question pending edits at the earliest possible opportunity though since it sends visible, public feedback to all community members on what's on-topic and what's not - leaving them open sends the wrong signal.

4

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As is a common practice on SE sites, moderators step up when the community can't or won't correct itself. High-rep users are supposed to bear the bulk of the site cleanup effort through closing, flagging, deleting, retagging and editing. Moderators should "put their mod hat" only in extraneous circumstances -- deleting quickly offensive or spamming content, suspending users etc. Mods can also steer the community (although by no means required to do so) and be the main drivers in engaging current members and recruiting new ones.

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?

For starters, I'll have to cut down on the double entendres in chat and comments, to be sure :) In all seriousness, I always try to be polite and tolerant towards the others, discuss matters in a friendly way, and additional responsibility would only make me more careful not only what I say, but how I say it.

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

Of all mod-only tools that are not available to high-rep users, tag organization seems the one I might use the most. I do occasional checks for single-use tags, suggest synonyms, remove single-use, unneeded tags, etc. Excluding the heavy ordnance (ban hammer, eraser pen), there's little that mods can do which trusted users can't.

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?

Try to reach out to them in chat -- pretty much all of the regulars hang out there. I'd try to communicate in a friendly way that their behaviour causes grief to other users -- they might not even realize they are doing something wrong. If the user ignores the request for discussion and continues behaving in the same way, some private messaging might be the way to go. If all else fails, and the community feels strongly that the individual is disruptive to the site, some temporary suspension might be warranted.

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

Privately communicate my view with the mod in question, and discuss the issue. I'd refrain from overturning their decision unless there's something very wrong with the way the mod acted -- I'd rather discuss and let them revert their decision themselves if I manage to convince them they made a mistake.

How would you deal with situations arising from community differences on questions / answers related to disputed geographic territories? To explain, Travel Stack Exchange is in a unique position in the Stack Exchange network of sites because it gets questions related to politically volatile or disputed regions. These can tend to have loaded implications for many community members. How will you best defuse a situation such as these?

Try to keep a neutral stance, whenever possible. Sometimes a less-than-ideal solution might be required in the interest of keeping the peace -- for example, awkward tags. The community should be engaged in the discussion (e.g. on meta), to gather opinions or suggestions. Moderators themselves should steer clear of voicing their own opinion (especially when they do feel strongly about the issue) and instead moderate the discussion which hopefully will yield a satisfactory solution for all involved.

How would you deal with questions that overlap with The Great Outdoors or Bicycles Stack Exchange? One of the trickier situations we have as a community is that questions asked here on Travel Stack Exchange sometimes overlap with the remit of other Stack Exchange sites, specifically The Great Outdoors (for camping / hiking) or Bicycles (for cycling). How will you distinguish situations where these questions need to be migrated or allowed to remain here?

I've already posted an answer about this recently but to summarize: questions that are on-topic on Travel-SE should stay here, even if they are a better fit somewhere else. One of the main reasons is that the OP might not have accounts on the other sites, and wouldn't want to manage yet another SE account. There's a high chance that the account would be abandoned after this one question, and that doesn't help anyone. That doesn't preclude advising the OP that their question might be answered better on another site, and the question can be migrated if the OP agrees to it.

Were you always happy with the pro tem moderators? Is there anything you think you could do better?

I think all our pro tem moderators did a great job. We never had significant issues, the community grew and from my perspective I can't recall if I've disagreed strongly with any of the significant decisions concerning the site. Frankly, I'd be happy if I manage to do as well as them if I were to be elected.

How would you handle with off-topic questions? Close them immediately and reopen if they get improved or give some time to the OP to improve it?

Definitely close, but commenting should be encouraged. Right now, some questions are closed very quickly with little to no commenting why. The OP typically can't see the close votes and would only find out that the question is closed after the fact. I feel better communication and guidance to new users are important for the growth and vitality of the community, and we should do a better job welcoming new and potentially valuable contributors.

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