10

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 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. Oh, and 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.

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!


  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

  2. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

  3. 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?

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

  5. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

  6. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

  7. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

  8. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

  9. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  10. 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?

12

Right, so many questions! Here goes:

Mark Mayo

  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

One of the methods which has been pretty good that I've observed is where GayotFow tends to try and help in the comments straight away, clarifying what they mean. If it's visa related, ask for documentation, extra notes and the like. I think this helps get the info ASAP, and editing the questions to improve spelling/grammar definitely helps too, as it makes the question more appealing to others to answer, even if you can't. I do, however, believe in giving just a few hours of lee-way before putting on hold - otherwise we risk a) the wrong answers going on a question or b) a user getting crowd-downvoted for a 'bad' question that could be salvaged with a bit of work. It's ON HOLD, not closed, and we've seen many questions successfully reopened after some work from the OP and the community together. I believe a lot of it has to do with the wording. Quality is important too - if we don't put sub-par/unanswerable questions on hold, we degrade the overall quality of the site we all love.

  1. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

It's on a case by case basis. I've seen comments that a question like 'how can I take a gun on a plane' or ...'a parachute' are ridiculous, but then my family took a gun on a plane back in 1993 (oh the process!), and I've seen travelling skydivers ask about the parachute, so I've come to realise more and more that sometimes even the ridiculous might have a real basis. It'd be nice to clarify that the OP provide the case for why they're doing this, but we've also had some push-back on asking why someone is doing something, so again, case by case. It's also important to keep the comments on these on topic and limited, we've had some ... inflammatory responses on some of the seemingly outlandish ones.

  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?

When I was originally a mod on the site, we had a user (who is still a current valued member) who was like this. Inflammatory at times, but such a wealth of well written knowledge, you didn't want to lose them. For this user, and some others, I actually used to keep an eye on their activity on their profile so that I could nip dangerous activity in the bud, remove dangerous comments, and message them in the chat if possible too. The main user here settled, and I think one of the most amazing lessons you get if you spend time on here is seeing so many different world views, and that your view may not make sense in another culture, context or country. It helps soften arguments. Certainly, if they continue to offend, a short cool down or private message can help too.

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

That's another reason I like the Travel Chat - since the beginning it's been open, transparent and clear. We've had good heated discussions about individual questions, including between mods, and I feel an open community discussion is healthy. An advantage of several mods is that you can usually get a 'majority' and as long as we all respect the majority, moderation can be successful. All current mods on here have been amazing and supportive of users, helping to improve questions and discuss them when need be in the chat as well.

  1. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

First step is to comment. This is not just for the user, but for the others who come along. Wrong answers should be downvoted, that's what the downvote is for. For questions, I also do like the downvote unless it's a brand new user - we should be editing their questions, and asking for clarifications, helping them to use our site and join our community. The question can be put on hold temporarily until it's been cleared up.

  1. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

Remind them of the rules. This happened quite often in the first couple of years, and usually it's repeat offenders. A quick word or clear up of the offensive comments can help, and to post a link to the chat, asking them to take discussions there. Once there, we've at least got them off the question/answer, and can be handled more openly. If it gets more offensive/intensive, a warning and then a cooldown can be issued, people get the message, even if miffed about it at first, they usually realise when they're wrong. Usually.

  1. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

Remind people we were all new once. If it's about a spammer, fine, but if it's a new user asking bad questions, or a user asking inflammatory/controversial questions, remind them to discuss the question, NOT the user. If it's between people in chat, then as in Q6 above, removing offensive content before it escalates, but only if actually offensive, not just prompting - we don't want to be censors, or opponents of free speech. Warnings and cooldowns work too.

  1. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

I've said many times in the past in meta and in the chat - PLEASE don't downvote new users. We can edit their questions to have correct grammar, spelling, improve to make on topic, comment to explain why and what they could add to improve it, and welcome them to the community. Putting on hold after a few hours if they've not returned is acceptable to me, as many don't return and we need to manage quality, but always add a comment explaining that they can edit as per the [help] and ask for the Question to be reopened.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Herd cats :) Ideally, not much at all. The best moderator doesn't get noticed, because the community is humming along nicely. However, when there's problems, flags, spammers, that's when they can jump in and smooth over the situation, not drop a bomb, but just tidy up the problem to produce the least impact.

  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?

Pressure and responsibility, but also more power to help make a difference. I'm a power user in a couple of tags and having that extra power to close vote always makes me think twice. I think that's the real benefit of having moderators - they're users with power, who will weigh decisions carefully, rather than blundering in with a ban stick. Moderators are more valuable than most users of the website will ever realise, with very little reward, it's mods that care about the community that make the difference.

8

So, Dirty-flow has the honor to answer first:

  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

We always try to be nice to new users, but more important for me is to keep the high quality of questions and answers. We need to ask for clarification and help the new users to understand how our site works. But if they are not willing to improve their posts, I see no alternative to deleting the post.

  1. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

In the most cases I would let the community decide it whether the question is off topic or not. Only if the situation is going out of control - a lot of flags, not constructive comments and so on - I would lock the post and wait untill it cools down.

  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 would talk to the user, in the chat or in the comments, and would ask him to be more careful with the comments. If the story goes on, we should probably suspend the user for a while, but that would be the last step. I hope that we can solve the problem without a suspension.

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

I would talk to the moderator and ask him about the reasons for his action. The current mods have much more experience than me and even if we have different views of the situation, I would trust them and accept their decision.

  1. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

If the information is wrong and could be misleading for the other users, I would ask for clarification or even delete that information - it depends on the case. Sometimes downvoting is enough - it will show that the community doesn't agree with the information / opinion. But leaving a comment is also very important, so that the user gets a feedback what was wrong and how can he or she do it better.

  1. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

I would ask them to stay constructive in the comments and delete the off-topic ones. I would advice them to ignore each other and stop the verbal fight. There is always the option to suspend one of them or both from the chat or the whole site, but I would really preffer to find another solution. Probably the other mods have more experience in such cases and I would study how they handle it.

  1. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

The users are different and have different opinions, so it's normal to see small fights in the chat room. It's a good place for a discussion and as long as they are not insulting the other users, I see no problem. If there are hate or insulting in the messages, they should be deleted and I would write a warning to the users. If it doesn't help - I would ask the other mods. Such situation could have big consequences and we should be careful.

  1. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

We should always write a comment and explain what's wrong. We should give the new users a chance to understand how our site works and what they have done wrong. We should close the question, if they are not good enough, but inform the user that it would be reopened as soon as it's written right.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are handling with situation that the community cannot solve - verbal fights between users, spam, flags and so on.

  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?

To have a diamond next to the user name is a big responsibility. I would assume that I have written some comments, especially as a new user, that are not really nice or polite. Now as an experienced user I would do it in a different way, but we are all humans and we're making mistakes. No matter if I get elected or not, I try to improve myself and my posts and comments.

8

JoErNanO answers your questions.

  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

On-topic quality questions should be salvaged. Duplicate questions should be flagged as such. Questions which are missing details should be flagged as unclear. Such actions should always be followed by a clear and polite explanatory comment, explaining the user what is wrong and encouraging them to edit their post to improve its answerability. We cannot guarantee that all new users will in fact come back and edit their post, and neither should we try to force them to do so. We should nevertheless make sure that the site rules are enforced, whilst maintaining an open and friendly attitude towards newcomers, remembering we were all new here at some point. I believe this applies to all users, moderators or not. Indeed this has been my approach on the site for a while now and will continue to be in the future.

  1. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

We've discussed this on Meta already, and I have voiced my opinion there plenty. Personally, I think that if a question is on-topic, as per our rules, then it belongs on the site, regardless of whether the user is posting just to attract attention and/or rep or not. If the question is malformed, unfit or off-topic it should be closed as such.

Some users on Travel often quote the sentence below, from the site help page on what not to ask, using it as an argument against hypothetical questions:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

One should note that the same sentence can be found on StackOverflow, Academia, and most (all) other sites on the network. This is to say that there's a chance this wording in automatically inherited from the main site of the network and that it might not necessarily be the best fit for our Travel site. In my opinion Travel questions are inherently more hypothetical than programming ones. Therefore, I think that we on Travel should allow for a larger wiggle room when it comes to 'Can I ... ?' questions compared to other SE sites.

  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 have seen this happen on the site as a normal user. My approach has always been to talk directly to the user. As a mod I would do the same. I would contact the user explaining the situation and asking them for a change in behaviour, and telling them that mods will be closely monitoring their activity to ensure this happens. If this doesn't work then one can always opt for a suspension. Of course it is always sad to see valuable users get suspended over such attitude problems. Nevertheless, in my opinion Rule 1 - Be nice is more important than reputation acquired by posting valuable content.

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

I believe in open communication. The first thing to do in this case would be to contact that moderator to discuss the issue. I don't think that I am always right. On the contrary, since I'm the one with the issue there's a high chance that I might have misinterpreted something about the question. Contacting the moderator will allow me to understand their position and maybe even learn something new about the site. If, after discussing, the two of us can't resolve the problem, I believe that summoning the rest of the moderator team for an open discussion would definitely help to reach consensus. In addition, on Travel we have several active users which can be consulted to aid in solving disputes like these.

  1. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

In my opinion 'naive' and 'stupid' are both subjective criteria and should have no bearing when making decisions on posts and users on SE sites. On the other hand if a post is lying or missing information and it is salvageable then it should be salvaged. The first thing I would do would be to leave a comment asking the OP to improve the post by adding the missing information and/or removing the incorrect one. If the post is a question I'd vote to close it so as to avoid attracting wrong/misguided answers. I would then wait a few days to see if the situation changes. If not then I would opt for the deletion of the post due to its low quality.

  1. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

Once again, direct contact is IMHO the way to go about this, using private messages to ask both users to calm down, followed by a clean-up of the comments in chat. The goal of the site is to gather quality questions and answers. Snipey comments add no quality to the post.

In the chat one could be more lenient, provided that the users remain respectful of one another. We've had several more or less heated discussions on Travel chat already. It happened that some people took words too far and were temporarily suspended. No abusive, offensive, or rude behaviour should be tolerated anywhere on the site.

  1. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

As a new user I did not find the chat scary. I actually found it much easier than the main site, since the chat rules seem to be softer. For this reason I often invite users to the chat, so that one can discuss with a bit more freedom. New users should be welcomed and not bit. This applies to the chat too. Mini fights or group hates should have no place on the chat. However, heated yet polite discussions can, and probably even should, happen freely.

  1. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

Downvoting new users is not the way to go. Moderator or not, if the question is salvageable, what I always tend to do is to leave an informative comment below the post stating the reasons I think the question is off-topic/unfit for the site, and linking to the help. I also encourage the user to edit the question so as to fix the problems, to render it answerable. The goal being to teach the new user how to use the site whilst being as pedagogic as possible. This method will work only with those users that are not just trying to find a solution to their query, but actually have a genuine interest in contributing to the site with their activity and content. Unfortunately this seems to be a little minority. However, this is the minority we should strive to keep on the site. Being nice is the way to to go about it.

Concurrently I will also vote to close for whatever the reason is, as I think that such low-quality questions should be closed as soon as possible. Swift closure ensures that the rules (linked to by the afore-mentioned comment) are enforced. Moreover, leaving unfit questions open encourages new-ish users, i.e. those users who have decided to stick around and are looking to gather some reputation, to answer them thus indirectly authorising the OP to breach the rules by posting unanswerable (SE-wise) questions. Allowing this would be detrimental to the whole process of teaching new users how to use the site.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I like the idea of moderators being human exception handlers. Moderators are here to ensure that the site runs smoothly, taking care of anything that can't be handled directly by the community -- spam flags, offensive flags, user suspensions, etc. Ideally moderators do as little work as possible as they silently watch the community self-handle itself using the tools regular users have at their disposal. Sometimes moderators might have to step in nip issues in the bud. When this happens their actions must be visible, and therefore accountable, firm and just.

  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?

As a non-mod I strive to ensure that the site rules are respected by all, including myself, in my day to day activity on the site and in the chat. I often go back to clean-up my posts and comments to make sure this is and remains the case. Having said this, I am by no means flawless and always ask others, mods and non-mods, when I am in doubt about a decision. I believe that making correct and informed decision requires interacting with the rest of the team rather than single-handedly deciding for all. The diamond, along with the powers and responsibilities it represents, is undoubtedly a heavy weight to bear on one's shoulders. With the help of my fellow moderators I know the weight will be more manageable.

6

First of all I'd like to say that my program is clearly anti-establishment and includes a plan to build a wall against Expats.SE, paid for by the Expats. It's about damn time they stop sending over questions about long-term migration!

JonathanReez

  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

If there is a clear question posted with grammatical errors, typos and mistranslations, it is the duty of the mods and active users to fix it (even if this requires a complete overhaul of the question). I frequently do this myself, for example here.

On the other hand, if the post lacks a clear and answerable question, I see nothing wrong with closing it for being unclear. It's perfectly okay if they never return to the site, as we should focus on quality rather than quantity.

  1. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

While I'm personally against completely ridicilous questions (such as Can I carry a bazooka on-board?), there's nothing wrong with hypothetical questions, as long as there is a reasonable expecatation that many people will benefit from an answer. At the end of the day we should use common sense, rather than making a zero-tolerance rule.

As a mod, I would close the Can I carry a bazooka? question, but leave the Can I carry gold? question.

  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?

Prune the comments or send them to chat. All answers which make a clear and honest attempt to answer the question and don't break any rules are acceptable, even if they tend to anger a certain part of the demographics.

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

In descending order:

  • Post a comment on the question directed towards the mod, asking to reopen the post
  • Post a comment in chat, asking for a discussion
  • Send a PM to the mod, asking to discuss this in person
  • Escalating to the Stackexchange mods

Seeing how the current mods are very much reasonable, I don't think it should ever be necessary to do more than have a short convo in chat.

  1. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

Edit the question or post a comment asking for an edit. If the user complies, leave the question open. If they don't, close it for good. If it's a border case, downvote and keep an eye out to make sure no further rules are broken.

  1. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

Invite them to a mutual chat, ask them to follow the rules and hash out any personal differences in that chat. Remove all "snipey" comments which were posted in public.

  1. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

Remind the chat to keep it civil and to avoid breaking the rules. Send out a personal message to the user in question inviting them to participate in the discussion - as this often helps to clear out the conflict.

In the worst case scenario the mod can always temporarily ban the most offending users, although such problems are exceedingly rare on Travel.SE.

  1. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

See my answer to question #1.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Same work as the police does in real life - maintaining law and order :) Some police departments are good, some are bad, some are corrupt, but overall that's the function of the mod team.

  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?

Mods should avoid creating the illusion that they are more knowledgeable about a certain topic just because they're the mods. So I would try to include a disclaimer every time I'm posting an answer where I'm doubtful, asking users to evaluate my answer with a grain of salt.

1
  1. This site attracts many questions from new users, a number of whom may not be native speakers of English, especially for visa-related questions. Many such questions are closed due to missing details, poorly-written questions, questions that belong on Expatriates, and other issues. Many of these users seemingly never come back. How do you believe the community, and specifically the moderators, should address these questions? To what extent do you believe questions should be "salvaged" vs closed? How can, or should, we better welcome and assist these new users, even when their initial questions may not meet the guidelines?

Typically, I prefer avoiding closing questions, unless really necessary. But, nonsensical questions or questions completely out of the scope of the site obviously need to be closed.

(In addition, I suspect that a bigger reason for users never coming back has less to do with what does and doesn't pass for a valid question, and more with the relatively spartan look and feel of the website. I like this no-nonsense approach to design, but many find it daunting and off-putting.)

  1. In the past there have been instances where questions have been asked which did not seem to arise from a real travel need, but which were of a hypothetical nature and sometimes about very unlikely subjects. (For instance 'Can I carry X on a plane', X being an very unusual item). This has caused some discussion and some unanimity among the community, as some saw the questions more as a means of attracting attention than a genuine need of a traveller. What is your stance on this and how would you react as a moderator should such a situation come up again?

Each case is different, but as a general rule, the novelty factor of questions like these can be both interesting and entertaining, and therefore a good reason to keep them.

  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?

Valuable answers are valuable answers. Large comment threads should be moved to chat.

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

Besides exercising basic rights, discuss!

  1. You see a question / answer that you personally consider naive, stupid, lying, missing info, etc. How do you handle this as a moderator? How do you respond to the user?

Softly voice concern, address the issue I think I see. Depending on the context, perhaps privately.

  1. Two users are fighting, leaving snipey comments on questions/answers, in chat, etc. How would you deal with this?

Try to softly intervene, addressing what appear to be the underlying issues.

  1. Every so often the Travel Chat Room devolves a bit into mini fights between users, or worse, a group hate of a user on the site who has no knowledge of the chat. How would you engage and prevent the chat from scaring off new people, causing problems and starting disagreements?

It's nearly impossible to change people's innate behaviour. Yet, curbing extreme behaviour before it occurs is key.

  1. There's been quite a few first questions by newcomers that get closed or down voted very fast, because they're too vague or too broad (not considering the blatantly off-topic and attention grabbing). How as a moderator will you choose to retain new users while making sure we keep quality questions yet remain a welcoming community?

This is very similar to the first question.

The nature of the site allows for some leeway, but only to some extent. Invalid questions are invalid questions. Users are more likely retained by engaging content, in this context probably media rich destination information. We don't offer that. So, what remains is to be lenient, resolute and friendly.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They're like regular users, but with more power. And, with more power comes more responsibility.

  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 feel that it might be a wise move to distinguish between comments made by moderators while they were moderators and while they were not.

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