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, May 12th, 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 new process, feel free to post as a comment here.


11 Answers 11


A user posts something you find (off-topic/wrong/offensive) and you (close/delete/migrate) the (question/comment). The user posts about it in Meta and the post gets a lot of upvotes. Answers are posted both in favor of you action and and criticising your action; both get upvotes. How do you decide what to do next?

(In case you're wondering, yes, this happens all the time.)


A quite specific question: what is your position with respect to undergraduate questions?

A significant part of my moderator actions have been to arbitrate if a question was on-topic or not, because it was somehow related to undergraduate studies. It can often be argued that some questions can however easily generalise to graduate studies, which would make them on topic. So, what is your position:

  • Anything related to undergraduate should be off-topic. If a question can be generalised, then it should be generalised first, and then it can be made on-topic.

  • Anything related to academia should be on topic, regardless of the level of studies. Other factors should decide if the question should be closed or not (too localised, too broad, subjective, etc).

  • Undergraduate questions could be on topic, but "shopping-list" questions are not (e.g., "which degree should I choose?", "which university should I go to?").

  • Any other position.


How will you use your "binding vote" moderator privileges?

  • Let the community weigh in first on most close, reopen, delete, undelete, etc. operations. That is, I won't use diamond mod privileges to unilaterally perform operations that can be done by the community (with a few very rare exceptions).
  • Let the community decide on things that could conceivably be subjective, but for things that are definitely not going to be controversial (e.g. closing a question on "Why doesn't this code compile") I will use diamond mod privileges. Why prolong the inevitable?
  • Vote as if I was a normal user. That is, I'll vote to close/delete/open/etc. according to my understanding of how this site works, without much special consideration for the fact that my votes are binding.
  • Use diamond mod privileges deliberately to keep the direction of the site on track. I have an idea of what this site is all about and I was elected because others agree with this idea, now it's my job to enact it.

What change would you like to make in how the site is currently moderated, and how would you go about implementing that change?


What is your position on boat programming questions?

Whereas some questions are clearly off-topic (e.g. "what is 2+2?"), some questions could be on topic, in that they are related to academia, but Ac.SE might not be the best place for the question. We have had several complex situations where a question could technically be asked on different sites, with some users asking for migration, while others asking for the question to stay. In such a situation, what would you do? (especially considering that only mods can migrate questions).

  • If it's not 100% academia-related, then it should be migrated.
  • As long as it is academia-related, it could stay.
  • I'll wait for the question to be closed to decide whether to migrate it or not.
  • I'll migrate it only if the OP wants to.
  • Other approaches?


As suggested by aeismail, some examples of questions (for which I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong decision):

I think that in general, we have many intersections with, e.g., WorkPlace (is working in Academia that specific?), ELU (is writing an academic paper that specific?), CrossValidated (many academics use stats for work), etc.

Some of the questions could have been migrated, some could have stayed, it probably wouldn't have been a problem. But a significant responsibility of the moderator is to arbitrate the migration, and since there is no strict on/off-topic line, it would be good to know on which side of the line our moderation team is.


How would you moderate postings where your opinion or the community's opinion and official SE policy disagree?

  • I would hope that this would not need to be asked.
    – eykanal
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:37
  • 1
    @eykanal This question was taken pretty much directly from the questions proposed for the 2013 CrossValidated election, where it proved interesting. And given this line on your nomination post: "We also feel deeply that we should set our own community standards—differing from the rest of the Stack Exchange network, if necessary" I'd rather like to hear your answer to it.
    – Fomite
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:50
  • Huh. I would think that a more interesting question would be "how would you moderate postings where community opinion and official SE policy disagree", but that's just me.
    – eykanal
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 20:06
  • @eykanal It's been edited to reflect that.
    – Fomite
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 23:18

Under what conditions will you delete comments?

  • 2
    This is a really stupid question.
    – JRN
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 5:13
  • 2
    The moderators in this site are really (some negative adjective).
    – JRN
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 5:16
  • 2
    This reminds me of a blogpost I made here.
    – JRN
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 5:17
  • 2
    Wow, it's been a long time since I last saw you here. How are the kids?
    – JRN
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 5:18
  • If you think this answer was helpful, then please upvote it or accept it.
    – JRN
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 5:23
  • 2
    Don't run. Walk!
    – JeffE
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 13:41

What is your time zone? What is the time period you are available for moderating our site everyday? Please specify the answer in UTC format.


What is your position on the following statement from aeismail: "In the long run, Stack Exchange sites are not just about answering people's questions, but providing long-term curating of the answers"?

We have some very active users who look at old questions/answers, and curate them, for instance by flagging for comment removal (typically because they are obsolete, too chatty, not constructive, etc). Will you support them in this task? Or do you rather think that content should be left unchanged as much as possible?


What activities on the site suggest that you would be a good moderator? If you are currently a moderator, do you believe you've carried out the role effectively?

  • Been wrestling with this one, but I think the first bit is relevant for myself and one or two other candidates, and could probably stand to be answered.
    – Fomite
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 15:04

What should be done with the popular "Don't walk. Run." comment that shows up on questions. If a user begins systematically flagging the comment as "non-constructive" what will you do?

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