- We have many answers posted as comments. Some of them are right, some of them are wrong. What do you think of this situation? Does it need to be addressed? If so, what will you do about it?
I certainly do think that this is something that should be addressed. If the comments are correct, they can stay (at least until the question is answered), if they are incorrect, they should be deleted - As we know, comments are not meant to be permanent, so deleting comments that are not helpful should be no problem.
In an effort to address this, I think there are several things that can be done. If there are unanswered questions with comment answers, I would encourage the people who posted the comments to consider writing them as answers and including more detail. Because I'm sure it's unlikely that this will get much of a response, I would recommend we consider having a monthly "Answer Challenge". Here is an example of a similar challenge on Movies & TV.
Essentially, we would have a Meta topic where we explain the purpose of the challenge and the goal of answering unanswered questions (most likely ones that are at least a month or two old). As a reward, the answer with the most upvotes at the end of the month would receive a bounty reward.
Yes, the questions have comment "answers" but they still appear on the "unanswered" list, so the challenge could include all unanswered questions. I strongly feel that this would be even more successful than it's been on M&TV since many of the unanswered questions there have answers that are unknown. Many of the unanswered questions on ELL are known, but may be difficult to explain... or very easy to explain.
I discuss this issue to a greater extent in my answer to a similar Meta question here.
- What do you feel our questioners need that they're not getting, or not getting enough of? What would you do to remedy this?
I think one of the biggest places for improvement is in our recommended resources list. We get pretty regular requests for books and language learning resources and, while this list is certainly very long, it's almost too long and the quality of the contents is debatable. In fact, I was recently chatting with a regular ELLer and she said that she would never send anyone to our resources list because of the lack of quality resources on it.
We should work with the learners and educators on the site to determine which resources are actually well-written and helpful and do a better job of updating the list and keeping it useful.
- ELL was originally formed as a place for non-native speakers to get answers to questions that didn't really suit the original intentions of ELU. In the beginning, some were opposed to the idea of two English communities on the Stack Exchange, thinking it might be too confusing, citing specific advantages of having a single site, and not seeing a convincing argument for splitting ELL off from ELU. Now, ELL is graduating, yet I still frequently see questions on ELU that seem like they would be a good (if not better) fit for ELL. Many of these are asked by users who (a) are new to the Stack Exchange, and (b) do not seem to be native English speakers. Is this a problem? If so, what should be done about it?
I think that deciding if this is a problem is a matter that should be discussed with the ELU mods. If they have a question asked by a learner and they're willing to accept it as an ELU question, then there's no need for our involvement there. Ultimately, if the question isn't off-topic for ELU, it's up to the user to decide which site to post the question on.
As a member of Movies & TV there is a regular discussion about whether a question should be on M&TV or on Sci-Fi and, really, it's up to the user to decide, provided the question is on-topic. As part of this, M&TV occasionally gets comments that say "you would get better answers on Sci-Fi", which leads to some discord between the two sites. To avoid similar feelings between ELU and ELL I would not encourage posting comments on ELU questions telling users that they should ask that their question be migrated to ELL.
If ELU believes that the user would be better served asking their question on ELL or they believe the question is inappropriate for ELU entirely, then it is certainly possible to migrate the question to ELL... provided the question is well-written enough to not be closed immediately (more on this below).
- There has been a recent trend of questions on ELL, in which the author writes the question, along with the answer, and asks if they're correct in thinking that way or not. These questions tend to attract "Well done Marsling!"; either as comments or answers. If they get it as a comment, the question is going to remain unanswered. If it's gonna be an answer, it's hardly a good answer. Furthermore, a lot of these fit the definition of "too localized" and aren't likely to help any other learner. As a mod, what's your POV on this?
This really depends on the question itself. If it seems that the OP is simply trying to ask "is this right?", I'd likely encourage him to visit the chat rooms if he has minor questions about whether he's phrasing something correctly.
If the question seems like it could be salvageable with minor edits, I'd make edits to the question so that it's asking more about why a particular usage is correct in the situation rather than if it is correct. This use of explanation makes the question more useful to a wider group of people.
If a question requires a larger edit to remain open, I would recommend making such an edit (if the underlying question is worthwhile) but encourage the OP (in a comment) to re-edit the question if the content of the question was corrupted too much from their original intent.
I find that edits are often appreciated by the users here, since they may be uncomfortable with English to a degree that they're not sure how to phrase their question.
- 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?
The central rule of the SE network is "Be Nice".
To that end, my first move (after deleting the necessary comments) would be to talk with the user to directly address their behavior issues and see if it is possible to find a way for them to continue to contribute to the site but to change their commenting habits in an effort to make them aware of how their comments are perceived by the other users. This may include recommending that the user take some time away from ELL in the form of a voluntary absence.
If this behavior continues, and the other moderators agree, it may be necessary to suspend a user to force them to take some time away from the site.
If a user, regardless of their contributions to the site, continues to make ELL an unpleasant place for the other users, that is a major problem and can not be allowed to continue.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
The first thing I'd want to do is get a good understanding of why the mod made the decision she did. It's completely possible that there is something about it that I missed, some context that went unnoticed, and so I would contact the other mod in a private chat (with all of the other ELL mods), hoping to get an explanation.
I would then consider what she said, present my thoughts on the subject and have a discussion about what should be done. If we can't come to a conclusion about the question and we both feel strongly about it, I would then take it to the other users with a Meta post, present both sides of the argument and ask for the community's opinion.
While I don't think that big decisions should be made outside the public's eye, I do think that it's best practice to maintain a level of professionalism between mods, so, rather than questioning a decision made in a public place, it's best to address it initially in private and then to present a general, non-sided front to the community.
Particularly as a new mod, I would certainly take the greater experience of other mods into account as well.
- It's often pointed out that comments within SO should primarily (only?) be used to improve Questions or Answers (by seeking clarification, or constructively criticizing, for example). But in practice many users post many comments that can't be justified on that basis. What's your view on "housekeeping" for obsolete/ephemeral/chatty comments on ELL? Is current practice "about right" in terms of the level of such activity? What about the selectivity? Should mods be deleting more/less comments? Are they choosing the right comments to delete?
I'm probably a bit more open to comments than the strict SO rules... that being said, chains of comments that should have long since been moved to chat should not remain on questions, particularly when they veer off course and stop even discussing the topic at hand.
I'm a big fan of deleting obsolete comments and will often delete my own comments if the suggestions made in them were addressed. As a mod, I would certainly consider deleting unnecessary comments, particularly after the question ages a bit. And, in the case of long comment chains, they can always be preserved by using the moderator ability of moving the chain to chat and leaving a link for anyone who wants to see it.
I don't have any issues with the current level of comment moderation. Usually if I've asked comments to be removed and given a good explanation, the moderator has agreed and removed the comments.
- How do you view the ELL relationship with ELU? What, if anything, do you believe needs improvement. How would you work with the ELU mods to determine if a question is better suited to ELL or ELU?
I'm not aware of the behind-the-scenes interactions between mods on the respective sites. It certainly seems like there is a level of interaction.
My main concern is the quality of questions that get migrated here. I recently was present in a discussion about migration with Shog9 and he made a really important point that I feel is often ignored:
As a general rule, if the form of the question wouldn't be acceptable on your site (regardless of topic), then dropping it onto someone else's (where the author may not even have an account) is rude: it's probably not gonna get better. When in doubt, drop in a link to movies.stackexchange.com/tour and suggest that the asker read it and re-post.
Always acceptable to NOT migrate. If you're gonna migrate or ask someone else to do so, try to make sure the asker looks good when his question appears on the new site. Failing to do this creates a bad experience for everyone involved.
I'm not saying there are a huge number of bad questions migrated here from ELU. Most of them are fine... but I do feel that the quality of some of the questions is extremely poor due to lack of detail or context and often causes the question to be closed, which leaves it in limbo since we can't reopen migrated questions that have been closed.
Imagine the frustration of an Asker to have your question migrated to another site where you don't have an account and then have it closed... it could certainly make you feel as though your question is unwanted.
To help with this, I feel that it would be good policy to make sure the mods of both sites are aware of and familiar with the quality requirements of both sites and to keep an open dialogue to minimize the likelihood of a question being closed. I feel that keeping in mind what Shog9 said (above) will certainly reduce this issue.
- What's your viewpoint on chatrooms? Do you wish to participate in them, either for community-meta decisions or English language learning?
I use the chat space on SE quite a bit. I really enjoy participation in the chat rooms. I feel they're a great way for users to get a quick response to "is this how you would say this" and, if the question is too complicated, you can always encourage them to ask it as a question on the site.
They're also a great place for community building, getting to know the other users and getting to quickly see if anything's up.
While I certainly think that discussing some of the finer points of Meta could be done in Chat, I'd hate to lose those voices in the actual Meta posts, so it would be important to me that we make sure important points made in chat are reiterated in the questions and answers on Meta.
- What general guidelines do you follow when editing or deleting content? Modifying and removing content can cause some angst, so what steps do you take to minimize the negative impact when a post is not clearly "bad" but may need some intervention?
My number one rule when editing is to be respectful of the author's intent and (in the case of more major edits) to make sure the author is aware that they can still edit the post themselves if my edit was wrong.
Particularly in questions, I feel that the sample sentences in the body and title should go untouched (other than formatting) as any errors should be addressed in the answers. Other than that, I will retouch the remainder of the grammar, spelling, capitalization (etc) in the body of the text and make sure that the question title adequately explains what the question is asking.
Formatting is very important in both questions and answers, and, as such, many of my edits are for formatting purposes. Having sample sentences in quote boxes makes them stand out from the question text and makes it easier for users to answer directly.