# 2016 Moderator Election Q&A - Question Collection

In connection with the moderator elections, 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, July 18th 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 process, feel free to post as a comment here.

• Am I missing something here? Have we begun nominating moderators? Where is the nomination post? – GentlePurpleRain Jul 11 '16 at 20:21
• @GentlePurpleRain I think the sidebar just hasn't updated yet. The election is active, though, and shows up at http://puzzling.stackexchange.com/election. – user20 Jul 11 '16 at 20:30
• Off-topic, but I thought it was funny that ~11.7% of the letters used in the body of the text went towards spelling "question(s)". – SpiritFryer Jul 15 '16 at 5:18

On multiple occasions, there have been calls to make the dynamics of PuzzlingSE deviate a bit from those of StackExchange in general. For example, suggestions to increase question upvote to 10 rep to reward questions with superb effort, option to award bounties to questions etc. How do you feel about such special rules for PuzzlingSE and what effort would you make to support/discourage these changes?

• This is a really good question. – ABcDexter Jul 12 '16 at 9:16
• This is particularly relevant because Puzzling is an outlier (well, mostly) on the Stack Exchange network in that most "questions" aren't actually "questions" at all. Moderators are the primary communication channel between a SE site and the SE dev/community team, which is especially important for a site like Puzzling. – Doorknob Jul 12 '16 at 11:02
• I think that because puzzling is currently a very small comminity, in comparison to others, the reputation ampunts it gives should be higher as an incentive. However, that would mean giving older users an extreme jump in reputation. That could throw off sitewide statistics. Therefore, I am against such a change. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:22
• @TheGreatDuck: I have several issues with your response. Firstly, I don't think Puzzling can be called a "very small community" anymore. The fact that the site has graduated completely shows that there is a critical mass of users. Additionally, the change in question bonus is not needed to provide greater incentive to new users. It is in fact a way that we can truly identify those users who put considerable effort into making high quality content. – CodeNewbie Jul 18 '16 at 5:00
• @TheGreatDuck: If it grants older users (who have 100+ upvotes on quite a few of their questions) a rep jump, I would not find that undeserved. Even if the decision to increase rep for question upvotes is passed and the changes are not applied retrospectively, it still ensures that the right kind of questions garner the right kind of reward. – CodeNewbie Jul 18 '16 at 5:09
• @CodeNewbie I am thinking of global SE rep counts. Also, puzzling is way smaller than the other big communities on SE. It may be a big community but for a SE community, it is one of the smaller ones. It would rank lower in site population statistics. I find this good, IMO. A smaller site is easier to manage. – user64742 Jul 18 '16 at 5:14

As a moderator, your close, reopen, delete, and undelete votes will become binding. How will this affect the way you currently vote, especially with close/reopen votes? In general, will your moderation style be more lasseiz-faire or proactive? How so?

• I will be less likely to vote to close or delete things. In general, I am against closing except where it aids the community. For instance, a spam post will get deleted, but a porrly written riddle or one that is hard to solve will merely recieve an edit or an upvote from me as I think harder riddles are actually better than easy riddles. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:24

What is your personal opinion the "purpose" of PuzzlingSE should be?

( Yes, there is no overall consensus on this question, yet. This makes it even more imporant to know what would-be-moderators think. )

• A fun place where one can stop-by and relax solving puzzles or posting ideas
• A competition site where users compete to solve tricky puzzles
• A comunity-curated repository of creative, new and good puzzles
• A playground for both puzzlers ans puzzle-creators to test their ideas
• A knowledge database for all facts and questions concerning puzzles and puzzling
• ...
• This should be asked as it is a really important question. Good work :) – ABcDexter Jul 17 '16 at 11:13
• I think puzzling is a site where users create puzzles for other users to solve. This comprises the majority of the site. There are also puzzle related questions as well. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:38
• @BmyGuest I wish to answer them, unless that is a problem? – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:41

How much time per week (minimum) do you think that you can invest on moderation over the long term and continuously, and what would you do if you realize that life made it impossible to fulfill this commitment?

• I think that this question is the most important for this community coz we have already witnessed the unwillingness of moderation of this community of two moderators out of three. – manshu Jul 12 '16 at 10:59
• While one moderator has been very active on site, I wouldn't go as far as calling the others unwilling. Less active yes, but they did chip in during serious disputes – BmyGuest Jul 12 '16 at 22:18
• Sorry, I must have gone blind/inactive during those serious disputes. – manshu Jul 14 '16 at 6:08
• @manshu Way before your time on site (according to your 7months membership). There were rather heated discussion of the way the site should progress, as originally it was a site much like all other SE sites with questions about puzzles and puzzling, but not puzzles themselves. Not everybody agreed with the way the site was moving, and while it is hugely popular (I think), there is still need to steer & moderate its direction. – BmyGuest Jul 14 '16 at 6:41
• Per week? Probably around 50 hours. I already spend that much time on SE, and I see no reason why my activity will not increase. Once my college semester starts in the fall, it will be even easier for me to find access to a computer and whatnot. So if anything, I only see it increasing from here. As for what I would do if I found it to be impossible...? The only way that is happening is if the computers break, and in that situation... i will drop off never to be seen again. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:24

As is witnessed in every human interaction, and has been seen in the past on this site, no one gets along with everyone. As a moderator, how would you remain neutral towards a user/users who you find yourself disliking?

• The simple fact of the matter is that I really do not care what others think of me, and while posts are annoying, I rarely remember names let alone a list of people I do not like. The only people I dislike are those who are flat out rude or disrepectful. Besides, on a community based in Q&A I rarely get to know other users in any way other than them being well known. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:41

Scenario: An user posts a strangely-written challenge. Some people flag, post comments doubting the OP's intention, downvote or vote to close it because it seems to be unclear, off-topic, overly-broad or something like that. After some debate in comments and/or chat, the OP insists that it is a very clever puzzle and that it is perfectly valid, possibly even triggering a close-reopen war.

Questions:

1. How do you react to that sort of puzzles?
2. What if the user is very experienced in this site and already posted lots of extremely well-written questions or answers?
3. What if it is a newbie posting his first question instead?
4. What if after being severely downvoted, ranted and attacked, when the solution is revealed, it is shown to be a brillant puzzle afterall?
5. What if after being severely upvoted and praised, even if no one could understand anything initially, when the solution is revealed, it was in fact shown to be a very stupid and lame puzzle?

Pardon me if this is a lot of questions smashed together, but all those questions in fact are very closely related and expected to be answered together within a single answer.

The purpose of this question is to evaluate how a moderator candidate would handle such situation, something that is somehat common in puzzling, but probably never happens anywhere else in the Stack Exchange network.

• I would not look at the opinions of others or how it was closed or reopened. Instead, I would attempt to determine a solution on my own if only to see if the question does in fact make sense and to prove those who are trigger happy wrong. Then, if the answer is revealed and seems logical I would proceed to leave a comment/answer explaining said logic. If this devolves into an vote war, I will probably post that we choose a common ground to have one final vote so as not to annoy other users. If it is still an unclear decision, then I will insist it stay open so as not to punish the user for it. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:55
• TLDR: better to leave a post in the middle of a controversial decision open and risk mild confusion then to punish a user for something we cannot even make clear of ourselves. We should have our affairs in order with a majority aggreement before we decide to randomly close a post. Of course, this only applies to a close vote war. Otherwise I am likely to ignore it other than an idle pole at the post out of curiosity. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 21:58
• @TheGreatDuck Good to know. However, when the nomination phase ends, the 8 highest voted questions from this questionnaire will be joined together and posted as a new meta-question in which each moderator candidate will be able to answer (and debate to some degree). So, instead of answering here in comments, there would be a proper place for answering them altogether, just hold on your impulse for a few more hours! If some question that you wanted to answer don't get into the list, I see no problem if you answer it anyway. – Victor Stafusa Jul 17 '16 at 22:38
• @TheGreatDuck Also, it is good that you are formulating your answers in advance. Hope to see you in the soon-to-be-posted meta-question! – Victor Stafusa Jul 17 '16 at 22:39
• I was not aware of this. I thought it was just a general forum for the mods to answer questions. – user64742 Jul 18 '16 at 2:26
• @TheGreatDuck Post here your answers: meta.puzzling.stackexchange.com/q/5114/5044 – Victor Stafusa Jul 19 '16 at 6:44

Do you consider your role as a moderator to be...

• Passive/reactive - taking action when prompted by other users. Having a close ear to the comunity, but keeping back with own opinions and ideas if not prompted for them. Mainly acting to solve/disarm disputes and keeping this a friendly place.

• Proactive - trying to push the site forward. Initiating new discussions/developments, i.e. starting meta-post questions to get the comunity developing itself over time.

• Editorial - Constantly monitoring and editing content according to established guidelines and enforcing these guidelines, but not influencing what the guidelines are...

• ...

How will being a moderator change your participation as user on this site?

For example, will you still post your own puzzle-questions and solutions, or will the diamond at your name make you more reluctant to do either?

• I will still post the same. I will be more active in reviewing and scrutinizing posts but little will change. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 22:02

### What makes you emotionally charged when dealing with moderator tasks or user-interaction on site?

Yes, you're calm and level-headed and stuff, but is there really nothing that rises your blood-pressure and makes you potentially judge hastily/emotionally?

And if you notice that your temper goes up, how do you usually handle it?

How would you handle a situation in which a user is upset at a moderator action that you have taken? For example, if someone posted on meta "This mod deleted my question/answer/comment and is abusing their power," how would you react?

• Just delete the meta post + permanent ban. Anyone who provoke a diamond should burn in SE hell ! – Fabich Jul 12 '16 at 9:20
• I'll write my view point as a detailed answer. Then wait for the community's take, it's up to them to decide ( by up/down voting on question and answer). – ABcDexter Jul 12 '16 at 17:50
• @Lordofdark That's the spirit! No chance for complaints. Mods should be unreachable. – Avigrail Jul 13 '16 at 14:00
• If I was the one who is the moderator in question, I will likely just apologize and explain my behavior. I won't care what the upvotes/downvotes say. Until I am told otherwise, I will stand by my decision. If the post was spam, then it should stay closed or deleted. I cannot conceive any other instance of me deleting a post. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 22:01

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?

When you evaluate the opinion of other users from their posts (comments, answers, discussions), what influences their 'opinion weight' for you? (And why?)

• Just the pure facts which were posted
• Style and spelling of the posts
• Complexity and detail of the posts
• User reputation on puzzling
• Overall user-reputation
• History and track-record of the user
• The comunities reaction to the post
• Whether or not the opinion matches yours
• ...
• Well, everything except for reputation has a little bit of a play in it. Ordinarily I would say a user's track record isn't relevant however, a notorious troll saying "let's add a new tag called "graphical"" is going to be met with skepticism. However, that's where the communities opinion comes into play. If the community is vividly claiming such a post to be spam and the user had a history of bad behavior, it's a no brainer. Obviously, I would still use my own opinion. After all, my purpose would be to NOT jump on the bandwagon. Otherwise, there would be no point for elected mods. – user64742 Jul 19 '16 at 1:19
• One could just arrange for everything to be voted on by high rep user in different queues. Then it would be the popular opinion most of the time. – user64742 Jul 19 '16 at 1:19

How would you handle a new user, the 7th you've seen today, and the 352nd this month, on this website that posts one or two frowned upon (don't want to say low-quality) questions like the type of those listed below?

• What's the next number: 1, 19, $\pi$, $a$, $IV$ ?
• I have 10 sheep and my neighbor has -2. How many do we have in total?

[Thanks @BmyGuest for the improvement]

• Good one. I would maybe extend to "How would you handle the 1000th new user...." as it will be a questons of patience and effort. – BmyGuest Jul 12 '16 at 11:10
• @BmyGuest Ha. good idea. I will edit it. – Marius Jul 12 '16 at 11:11
• Dude the first puzzle is greater than most of the number sequences :p – Fabich Jul 12 '16 at 11:43
• @Lordofdark. Do you have a solution for it? Because I don't. I will give you a bounty even. – Marius Jul 12 '16 at 11:45
• @Marius I have. It is 42. – dryairship Jul 12 '16 at 11:49
• @Hackerdarshi. nope. I just solved it and the answer is 'bugs bunny'. – Marius Jul 13 '16 at 10:57
• @Marius Ok. But I know that my solution of the second question is correct. It is ∞, because if the neighbor has -2 sheep, then he is a ghost, who has, of course, also (along with -2 sheep), ∞ sheep, and the total is again ∞. – dryairship Jul 13 '16 at 12:03
• Nope. The answer is 0, because the first one said the number in binary. – Marius Jul 13 '16 at 12:09
• If you are lost and lonely in a remote mid-ocean island, and your dog's boat which was flying got all the five tires flat, how many timber will Sandy need in order to build a stone car, so a half-chicken would lay an half-egg that takes your aunt out of the island in a nuclear rocket landing on Mars? – Victor Stafusa Jul 13 '16 at 17:58
• @VictorStafusa: I vote to close as off-topic. – CodeNewbie Jul 14 '16 at 4:53
• @VictorStafusa The answer is (i^i)*V*dx/dt where i is (-1)^1/2, V is the volume of the stone car and dx/dt is the differentiation of the distance of the island from Mars with respect to time. – dryairship Jul 17 '16 at 12:06
• I will tell them as I have always said, please ensure that your post has a unique solution. If it does and it is clear, then there is no need to do a thing. If it has many other (more than 15) possible solutions that fit the conditions you gave without error, then please delete the post. We do not want to induce high traffic questions due to wild mass guessing. However, high traffic questions due to amazing quality are welcome. And then I might link to the help center. – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 22:05

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 shamelessly copying this filler question from Grace Note's answer, because I think it's important enough to put on the full list.

What do you think this site's biggest challenge is? (E.g. post quality or quantity, too many/few closures, bad tools/guidance, etc.) What do you think should be done about it (by anybody: moderators, users in general, Stack Exchange staff, ...)?

• This is by far the most important question! – Avigrail Jul 14 '16 at 7:48
• This is an example of a post that I would delete. It is something that has the makings of a spam bot. There is a weird meaningless statement, a link, and an avatar that looks like a company logo. Spambot indeed, lol! (Just kidding. I know this is a fake spam post.) – user64742 Jul 17 '16 at 22:07
• @TheGreatDuck Not spam! British in-joke. In this country every aspiring politician has to run the gauntlet of politically influential online forum Mumsnet, and they always get asked 'the biscuit question '. I plan to base my voting in this mod-election entirely on biscuit preference (not really - but maybe 75%)... – A E Jul 18 '16 at 17:41
• Oh, I thought it was a fake spambot post as a joke. Y'know cause a moderator questionairre containing spam would be ironic. – user64742 Jul 18 '16 at 20:15

What questions (pick at least 10) from this site do you think are representative high-quality questions this site would need more of?

Note, the focus here is on what you think are examples of high quality not on what type of puzzle is welcome here.

Similarly, what answers (pick at least 3) from this site do you think are representative high-quality answers to questions?

This question shows the 'content knowledge' a candidate has as well as his opinion on 'quality standards' by example (as there are no strict comunity rules on quality yet.)

As an side-effect, we might get a few "curated" lists to be kept on meta which we can link to when explaining newcomers what good content is like.

• I don't think the answers to this question are relevant. This will not make you a good moderator or a bad one. It will just highlight the preferences for different puzzle type. For example I like alphametic puzzles but I know they are not really the most intriguing puzzles on this website. But I still like them because ... I have no reason. And it's not (only) a moderators job to keep a high quality on a website. It takes a team effort. If 100 people say a question has high quality and the moderator does not like it this still means it's a high quality question. – Marius Jul 12 '16 at 10:54
• @Marius: I was thinking the same first, but as we do not have real "guidelines" for quality content on this site - and have been strugglign to define one as a comunity ever since early alpha - I for once would like to give my moderator-vote to a person whos 'overall ideas' I share. As "quality" is sooo hard to define for this site, "defenition by example" is the next-best proxy I can think of. – BmyGuest Jul 12 '16 at 10:59
• I understand your idea. I've read your post above 3 times. I agree that some guidelines need to be established and is not an easy job to do. But I'm almost sure this is not the way to do it. I can predict what's going to happen. Some of the people will list the top questions in their favorite tag, others will just pick 10 from the top 20 most voted questions. – Marius Jul 12 '16 at 11:02
• @Marius Fair point, and UV/DV on this post will help sort the questionaire. I agree that "some" candidates will only do this the "quick and dirty" way, but that by itself is informative. The questions is also a way for the candiates to "show-off" their knowledge of existing content, which would be helpful. – BmyGuest Jul 12 '16 at 11:05
• oh...and by the way. I didn't want to start a DV trend on this post. It was just my opinion and I added a comment to why I think so. It seams the other downvoters didn't want to give a reason. Come on people. you can write 10 words about why you don't like this. – Marius Jul 12 '16 at 11:07
• Personal opinions on what constitutes a good question aren't really that relevant - it's the SE standards that matter. – Mithical Jul 12 '16 at 11:23
• No downvote, but I think this would just be some high-voted questions. – palsch Jul 12 '16 at 11:33

What moderating experience have you had before this?

• I don't particularly like this question, because this is like expecting a young vibrant 25 year old with 30+ years of industry experience. A new moderator could be just as good as someone with experience if they have spent enough time on the site and understand how SE works and what PuzzlingSE needs to grow within that framework. – CodeNewbie Jul 14 '16 at 4:56