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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. Due to the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as two 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!

Answers so far in order of posting:


  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

  2. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

  3. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

  4. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

  5. Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

  6. 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?

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

  8. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

  9. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

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

  • Quick links to candidate answers would be helpful. Can we have them? :) – NVZ Aug 23 '16 at 15:10
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    What do votes on these answers represent? Endorsing the candidate, disagreeing with their answers, or what? I hope the votes were locked, for the same reason election votes aren't public during the election. – M.A.R. Aug 23 '16 at 18:33
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    @DEAD I suspect this is a very philosophical question. Each person probably has their own reasons why they clicked the button since it's not clear if the elections follow the typical meta rules or not. I think I'm going to up-vote everyone's response because I think they are all "useful" like the tooltip says. I will cast imaginary down-votes on the responses that don't exist and are therefore "not useful" ;) – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 18:57
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    Well, it was rather rhetorical @Colleen. I'd take the Occam's razor (it was his razor, right?) that all votes were cast by merely showing approval or disapproval of the candidates. I wish people didn't do that. – M.A.R. Aug 23 '16 at 19:06
  • @DEAD I follow Colleen on this. I got here, saw answers were garnering votes and figured it was turning the Q&A into a poll; so I upvoted everybody, just to help everybody look more positive. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 23 '16 at 22:04
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    Votes on the answers represent "We can't currently create the Q&A in a vote-locked place because we do not have the means to lock a post on votes alone, and we're just using Meta for this at the moment". In an ideal scenario you wouldn't be able to, or need to, vote on them but people still do because they can. As for including links to the responses in the main post, that's a fair option to do, one I'm considering just including in the base template moving forward. – Grace Note Aug 23 '16 at 23:18
  • @StoneyB Thank you, sir. I believe the votes mean love or hate towards the candidates. I have a zero candidate score, and I think, maybe that's why people drive-by downvote mine the most. People aren't willing to read what I have to offer. – NVZ Aug 24 '16 at 5:35
10

snailplane's answers

What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

We should edit these posts. Why? For future users. We're creating a library of knowledge about the English Language. Questions aren't just supposed to be useful to the original asker – they're supposed to be useful to all the people coming in from Google trying to get their questions answered. And for these people, English that's difficult to understand is a roadblock.

The question says "which do not impede comprehension", but it's hard to judge which errors those are. Native speakers can easily correct for all sorts of problems while they're reading, but it can be significantly harder for learners to do so. What if a post seems understandable to us, but to a learner coming in from Google, it's difficult to understand?

If the question isn't easy to read or understand, that's a problem that needs fixing.

The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Right now, I'm available in chat on a daily basis. I do my best to help people in chat with English, and I'll continue doing that whether or not I'm elected moderator. If you do elect me, ELL will have a moderator available in chat.

Just ping me if you need anything.

Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

It's difficult because of the large volume of questions, and because the tag system doesn't really fit the natural language sites terribly well. Unfortunately, the tag system is really designed for programming sites like Stack Overflow, and it's never really going to be ideal for ELL, no matter how much work people put in.

Some people have given up on the tag system entirely, but I think that's wrong, too. It's still useful. The most useful tags, in my opinion, are the highly specific ones that allow you to find related questions on specific topics. Since these tags don't need to appear on many questions, adding this sort of tag is a low effort, high reward activity.

In contrast, dealing with huge, over-general tags like grammar takes a very large amount of effort from the community, and that's kind of unfortunate. I think our time is best spent on the little tags, to be honest.

I think we can make the tag system better by retagging new questions one at a time. I don't want to see anyone burn out by trying to go through thousands of questions and retagging all of them.

What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

I personally believe answers in the comments section should be removed. The site doesn't work as well as it should when people post answers in the comments section. There are two main possibilities:

  1. Comment-answers that are correct and useful. This kind of comment-answer can help people, and in this case, rather than remove the comment outright, I'd prefer to leave a comment suggesting they post their comment as an answer.

  2. Comment-answers that are incorrect or misleading. Comments are permanently featured above all actual answer posts, and they can never be downvoted. You can start a discussion in the comments to point out that the comment-answer is wrong, but that works very poorly; the comments section isn't designed for discussion, and in any case it's very bad pedagogy to expose a learner to the wrong answer first, then a discussion of why it's wrong. We're doing a disservice to the learners on the site by allowing this kind of comment to persist.

One thing we should never do is convert a bad, incorrect answer to a comment. If they aren't good enough to be actual answers, they should simply be removed.

Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

As I've pointed out in the past, we occasionally get some bad migrations. But most of the time I'm glad the migration path is open, and I think in the sort of case you're asking about, we can try to salvage the question through editing.

In general, we should be more lenient here on ELL than on EL&U. We still want high quality questions, but it can be very difficult for learners to write questions in English, and we should work with them rather than against them whenever we can.

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?

Users who produce valuable content don't get special treatment from moderators. Neither do high reputation users. Depending on the severity of the problem, we can contact them publicly (less serious) or privately (more serious) to try to get it resolved, and if the problem continues, we can give these users a break from the site to cool off.

Writing valuable answers is not an excuse to cause problems for other users.

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

There are two main options:

  1. Talk to the moderator.
  2. Start a post on meta.

Reopening the post is a third option, but it should be avoided until we've had some discussion on the topic.

A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

It really depends on the question. In many cases, closing the post is likely to be the most appropriate action, but we have to keep in mind that posting questions in English and researching in English can be difficult for some learners. We should always ask ourselves, "Is this question very easy for us, but perhaps not for the OP?"

Where possible, we should try to work with learners, and in many cases we can do this by leaving comments rather than closing their questions outright.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are janitors. They clean up rude and abusive language, spam, off-topic discussion in comments, and generally keep things neat and tidy so that people can do more important stuff – learning and teaching English.

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

The way I see it, it's not really about being "more effective". I'm volunteering to help as a moderator because I want to help keep the site working as well as possible.

The current moderators do a great job, but they aren't online all the time, and sometimes I wish I could take care of a problem without having to wait for one to come online. If I'm a moderator, I'll be able to do just that.

  • Would you explain a little more how you would choose between the two options in question #7 (you disagree with how another mod handled something)? When do you think a meta post is warranted over just a conversation? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 14:22
  • @ColleenV It really depends on the particular example. For instance, if I think they might have closed a question accidentally or because they misread something, I might just ask them privately. But if we've talked to each other and neither one of us is convinced of the other's viewpoint, then the best way to resolve it is by going to the community. After all, moderators are supposed to follow the community consensus, so if we disagree about how to do that, the best way to find out what the community thinks is to ask. We can figure out what to do based on the meta discussion in that case. – snailcar Aug 24 '16 at 7:54
8

ColleenV's Answers

  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

I still hold to my answer in the Is it really pointless to edit questions to use correct English on ELL? discussion. In a nutshell, I feel that over-correcting a question is a mistake and that answers should be edited to be standard English, reasonably capitalized and punctuated. Spelling should always be corrected in both questions and answers. If a word isn't spelled correctly, it is really difficult to find in a dictionary and figure out what it means.

There is a big gray area for questions, so while some folks may make corrections that I personally might not, I don't think it's always constructive to go back and make the edit the way I would do it. The main things I don't like to see in an edit to a learner's question is replacing something ungrammatical with a sophisticated sentence structure that a learner of that skill level is unlikely to be able to write themselves, and introducing vocabulary that might be a bit beyond what the learner would use.

Tone in written text is a tricky thing, and it is a fine line between making something understandable, and rewriting it how you would write it. As just a community member, I tend to reject suggested edits for grammar or style on questions that are understandable, but I approve fixing up titles, spelling, punctuation, and formatting.

  1. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Regardless of whether I am elected a moderator or not, I plan to be more active in the chat rooms if for no other reason than it makes it easy for someone from the community to send me a message. I also like that I can share the random interesting language related things I stumble upon without getting flagged for being "too chatty" :) I think discussion builds a strong community, and being a bit lenient on comments has helped make this a nice place to hang out. It's time to take it to the next level and get everyone talking in chat instead of socializing half way in comments.

  1. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

I think the tags are a mess. That said, I don't see fixing that mess as solving an essential problem for the site. I think if we significantly pared down the number of tags we have, and made certain that they all have descriptive tag wikis so we had some consistency in how the tags were applied to questions, that it would be like adding a new feature and not just fixing a problem.

If the tags were meaningful and consistently applied, I would be able to get the questions I'm most interested in on ELL e-mailed to me daily using the SE filters. I don't use it currently, because there's too much variability in how tags are applied, but I would like to, because I know I miss interesting questions just by poking around the active pages.

Screen capture of adding a new filter based on tags

What would I do about tags as a moderator? Well, nothing unless there was community support for it, but I would be willing to spend time merging tags and approving synonyms to try to help get us down to a reasonable number.

  1. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

I don't see this as a large enough problem for any sort of moderator intervention. I really like @snailplane's answer in the Commenting vs. Answering discussion, and I would add one point: high reputation community members leaving partial answers in comments instead of taking the time to write out a full answer gives newer members the opportunity to write out a full answer and earn some reputation but doesn't leave the learner in a lurch with no responses at all.

There is a problem with incorrect "answers" in comments that can't be down-voted and are featured prominently under the question. It's fairly effective I think to dispute the comment with another comment, or write a correct answer. In cases where the comments may be really misleading, I think we just move comments that are not helping to clarify the question to chat.

I have put partial answers in comments when I don't have time to write out a full one. I usually circle back around later to see if the question got answered, and if not, I take some time to answer it. I think that the discussion in the comments on ELL inspires more answers than are suppressed because someone "answered" in a comment. We just have to make sure that folks know it is OK to nudge someone to make a comment an answer, and if they don't want to, it's OK to use that comment as inspiration for your own answer (or as the start of a community wiki). If a question can be completely answered in a comment, maybe the question needs some tweaking so that it will inspire answers that need more than the limited comment box.

  1. Would you personally intervene (i.e. edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

I would and I have reworked migrated questions to try to bring them on-topic, give them a descriptive title, some reasonable tags, and correct formatting/spelling/capitalization/punctuation. I feel very strongly that if a question can be salvaged with editing, it should be. Questions are the lifeblood of SE sites (and answers are the beating heart that keeps them flowing - uh, maybe that's a stretch, but you get the idea). My main interest (other than helping folks find the perfect word for their meaning) is refining questions and answers. I'm a bit of a compulsive tidier and making things neat(er) makes me happy.

I think the migration path as a whole has been a good thing, even though it's really frustrating when very low quality questions get migrated. Looking over the queries from the What are our thoughts on how ELU is doing at migrating to ELL? discussion, out of 743 questions migrated since the path opened, 30 had negative scores but 58 had scores of 4 or greater. That's 58 well-received questions we might not have gotten the opportunity to add to our library. We tend to notice the poor migrated questions more because they're in the review queue. Once you look at the data, the migration path is a good thing and it's working out OK. We can always do better, but let's not toss the baby out with the bathwater.

  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 believe most problems can be solved with communication. My approach would depend on what was causing the flags. Does this person just have an abrasive way of stating things? (I can relate to that unfortunately) If so, then the first thing I would try is just mentoring. If they are engaged enough with the site that they're answering and commenting a lot, I think they would be open to constructive advice about communicating more effectively and avoiding the flags.

Are they in a feud with another community member? It takes two to tango, so that might merit getting both of them in a chat room and brokering a détente.

Are they getting upset and stepping over the line making the site a hostile and unwelcoming place? Before talking with them, the first thing to do is repair the damage. Remove or edit the offending comments and try to de-escalate any hard feelings. If someone is incapable of following the "Be Nice" policy for whatever reason, I don't care how many valuable answers they contributed, the damage they're doing to the community has to be stopped. If we stop attracting new questions and drive off potential experts because the community is too unpleasant, the site will die.

That said, everyone can have a bad day, or hit a rough patch. There are very few situations where trying a conversation before taking more assertive action is harmful. It might be a waste of time, but most of the time it doesn't really make things worse. If talking doesn't work, and the problem is persistent, then stronger action is required. Toxicity is extremely contagious and has to be nipped in the bud.

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

The same way I handle most problems - communication. I'm a fairly introspective person. I think a lot about why I believe what I do and about what is the most effective way to make sure that my actions contribute to making things better. I assume other folks are similarly thoughtful and do the things they do because they're also trying to make things better. Maybe they know something I don't or have thought of something I haven't, so I try to ask before I get too convinced I'm right. I don't always succeed (sometimes I'm convinced I'm right before I ask :) ), but that's what I aspire to do. What I don't do is change something another moderator has done without their agreement (or if it was something I felt very strongly about, the agreement of other moderators) that it was a mistake and should be corrected.

  1. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

I don't think something that a fluent English speaker can find easily by searching is necessarily just as easy for a learner to find. Usually my approach is to first say "Welcome to ELL!" and then ask some questions to try to find out if they just don't want to put the effort in, or are just unsure of how to interact with the site. I think that Wendikid's post Wait a few minutes before closing new users' questions? is a really good summary of why we need to be gentle and patient with brand new users. I don't always have the time or patience to give new users a warm welcome. If I'm having one of those days, I leave the question in the hands of the community, which is almost always kind to newcomers (or softens comments from other folks that might be a little too direct for someone new to the community).

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The main responsibility of a moderator is to handle situations that the community is having trouble taking care of themselves in a way that promotes or maintains a healthy community. That means you have to be fair, reasonable, and consistent. Moderators in my opinion should be very predictable. No community member that's been around a while should be surprised by how a moderator reacts to a situation.

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

Let's face it, because I spend most of my time reviewing, editing, and commenting, I am not going to see 20K reputation any time soon. I don't anticipate that I would need to use a moderator's special powers all that often. I do check the site multiple times a day most days, so if something does come up, I will be able to act on it directly and save the other moderators some work where currently I have to flag it and I'm adding to their work.

7

diethyl azodicarboxylate's (DEAD's) answers

What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

The benefit of fully polishing a question is further exposure of the learner to acceptable English, and the benefit of leaving the learner mistakes there is being able to gauge their fluency. Since the wiki-style editing system of SE requires that every edit change the revision of the question, I only favor editing the question to contain excellent English.

Should there ever be a need to estimate OP's fluency, every user (or non-user) can check the revision history. In more extreme cases, a note may be added indicating that the question was heavily edited, with a link to the original revision.

Of course, being a fluent learner or native speaker, you can easily deduce that the English used in questions isn't supposed to be perfect, but will someone who's just started their English courses be able to?

Another downside to differentiating between answers and questions in regards to editing is inconsistency and the higher learning curve a novice editor has to face. It is already hard enough trying to edit questions and answers with one set of rules.

The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

My main activity on the site is chatting. I'm always there to help as much as I can, and chat's an easy way to contact me. One could argue that the main reason I'm running for a mod is to see an active chatter as a mod. I'd remain an active chatter even if I don't get elected.

Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

I'm proud to be one of those community members. Tags have shown to be problematic in language sites, and ELL is no exception. We have a messy tag system that was even messier before. I tried to do some cleaning but people didn't trust my judgement, and it took me considerable time to persuade them. Frankly, so much was spent on meta talk that wasted my whole energy, and the job was left undone.

If I get elected, I'll spend as much time as it gets to coordinate meta and reach a consensus on what an ELL tag should really be, and cull some of the bad apples, refine others.

I have already been successful in assembling a bunch of nice people to help cleanup tags in the past.

What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

Comment-answers are a thing all over SE. There are different reasons people post comments when they could be posting answers. I, myself, sometimes nudge OP's in the right direction and sometimes the comments I leave look a lot like answers.

The reason this site exists is to contain info in an organized matter. Thus, nothing that contains useful content should be removed, whether it's a comment, a question, or an answer. Thus I wouldn't delete any answer-comments unless the info they provide is redundant and repeated in one of the other comments or answers.

Having said that, comments can't be downvoted, and always stay on top, no matter how many votes the top answer gets. Hence, misleading comments hurt much more than misleading answers. So, if there's any merit in a wrong answer-comment, it should be added as an answer, and the comment removed.

Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

I have stopped much of my main site activity other than voting, commenting, and reviewing. A major reason I don't edit posts much these days is how hard it is to choose the tags that are correct least harmful, come up with consistent formatting and question title. If I become a mod, or perhaps even if I don't become a mod, I'd start doing more editing, and as a mod, I would see it my duty to save a thread that has some potential to it. I differentiate between low quality and something that has some potential. An interesting question camouflaged with poor formatting or grammar is not of low quality.

ELU could be doing a better job at migrating questions these days. Some questions seem to be tossed at us; not even a single formatting change and the question ends up being inappropriate for ELL as well. But overall, it's not as bad as what would merit a meta post and a firm nudge at the moment. However, with the current trend of decrease in successful migration, I'm not sure how long that statement would remain true.

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?

A classic bad apple analogy. All of us have had bad days, and no serious trouble comes from a couple of comments. The warning, as a result, would only be in a form of a bunch of comments.

If the behavior persists, I'd have to consider moderator messages and suspensions, since no user is exempt from Be-Nice. I'd also tie a knot to keep an eye on the user, since a user with valuable contributions but consistent harsh behavior is likely to rage-quit.

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

Being the chatty person that I am, I would almost always take the issue to the mod-only chatrooms. Moderators are members of the community with monumental and exemplary behavior, so seeming disagreements (people believe what they want to) should never be public.

A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

Lack of research is no reason to close a question. Downvoting is the act of moderation you would want to do in case of a question that doesn't fit any of the close reasons.

As a mod, I wouldn't typically vote to close questions myself, since my votes would be binding, and there's usually no reason to override or hasten community decision.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Well, there are things mods are supposed to do, and there are things mods do.

The compulsory part isn't much at all, really. Be there every once in a while, handle a bunch of flags, destroy some sock-puppets, and do a couple of other stuff normal users can't do.

But mods care for the site they're moderating, and they usually do much more than that. They help resolve issues on meta, chime in community discussions, chat a bit, help handle NAA and VLQ in busier sites etc etc. That's the fun part of being a mod, and that's why I nominated.

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 I compare the number of the days that I answered or asked something to the days that I saw a post I could have answered, I realize that the road to 10k is far enough. But, having spent some time around SE, knowing how stuff works around here, seeing that I can help handle flags, and realizing how much more weight my voice would have if I ever become a mod, I see that I can best serve the community as a moderator. I have experienced 10k tools during the beta, and I have repeatedly seen content I couldn't moderate myself. Why put the workload on someone else's shoulder when I have both the resources and the knowledge to help?

  • I wouldn't want you to feel left out, so I have a question for you also Candidate DEAD. You mention that you wouldn't typically vote to close because of the binding nature of a moderator's vote. In what situations would you use your binding vote? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 22:27
  • Mostly obvious and blatant cases, such as something that is obviously answerable by a dictionary, or obviously proofreading. There are some rare instances of disagreement among the close voters, and that would be when I intervene to stop further drama. – M.A.R. Aug 24 '16 at 10:59
5
  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

Nathan Tuggy: I've rejected edits in the past for this. Questions should not have their poor or mistaken English corrected unless it's a mistake that has nothing to do with the subject of the question, or it makes the question extremely difficult to understand at all. This preserves the most information about the asker's actual situation, and doesn't have much of a downside. Anyone looking on ELL should realize fairly quickly that the questions aren't going to be models of good English: after all, that's why they're being asked! It's the answers that really need to be cleaned up vigorously. Even small errors that actually are relevant to the answer can be fixed; only if it's clear that the answerer really did, in fact, specifically mean to recommend something that is quite wrong should the answer just be downvoted without editing to correct it.

On the other hand, my desire to preserve the original point of the question has not prevented me from totally rewriting questions in the past.

  1. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

NT: I stop by ELL chat once in a while for special occasions. However, if I'm elected, I plan to make a habit of leaving a chat tab open so people can ping me, whether or not I actually chat actively very much. We'll see how things go from there.

  1. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

NT: Yes, ELL tags have serious problems. The full solution is going to be very tough, no matter what we do. I've made hundreds of retagging edits, sometimes in sprees, often just in the regular course of site use, but that's still a fairly small part of what's needed. No one person can solve this, so we'll need to figure out a way to work together better. A lot of that is doing a better job of breaking down what tags should often be used for what sorts of questions, and then getting that information out to first the users that can retag existing questions, and then (as much as possible) to learners. That's really the tricky part, and we'll probably always have to do more retagging on new questions than most SE sites, which I don't think we were specifically prepared for when we started.

  1. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

NT: I've been considering writing up a meta post about this for a while now. Answers in comments have problems: they tend to undermine the voting that's at the core of the site, and give askers a sometimes false impression that they got a good answer when they really didn't. And many comment-answers are really so close to answers they could be posted as is. So I think a policy of deleting comment-answers on questions that are not closed would make a good deal of sense and improve things on all sides. However, this would need to be agreed to by the community to work.

This is a bit ironic, because in other contexts I really dislike deleting comments that aren't obviously stale. But unlike, say, comments that mention significant problems with posts, which can improve voting and therefore make the site more reliable and useful for searchers, these actually hurt voting. So while it's painful to remove them, I think it's necessary.

  1. Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

NT: I edit a lot of questions! So yes, that's not unlikely. I try not to hold grudges against questions for having started out bad, so if there's a way to make them good here, I'll try that.

ELU migration quality, as measured by rejection percentage, seems to be decreasing somewhat. Part of that is probably just sloppiness over time, but I'd take a deeper look and try to see if there are patterns ELU could change besides just being more careful.

  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?

NT: I would start by coordinating with the other ♦ mods. If less-formal warnings by comments or chat aren't working to tone things down, moderator messages or even suspensions would need to be handed out until they get the message that technical correctness is no substitute for being nice to people. Someone causing trouble, intentionally or not, can't be allowed to keep going indefinitely. However, I'd work to make sure that if they were willing to try changing their behavior, we wouldn't kick them out if we didn't need to.

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

NT: Again, ♦ mod coordination is the starting point. Disagreements are inevitable, but J.R., Wendi, and Maulik are pretty reasonable people, and I'm pretty confident the community will elect another moderator that is as well. So, keeping that in mind, I'd talk it out. Chances are we both have good points, and it ultimately comes down to a matter of taste or weighing different factors a bit differently. In that case there might be no wrong answer. But if one of us turns out to really just be mistaken, well, that makes things pretty easy to settle.

  1. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

NT: If it's not found in an ordinary dictionary or perhaps thesaurus, I would not close it, following previous meta consensus. But I would consider downvoting it, since a question that can be answered well by search engine is not very useful to anyone finding it by search engine. I see a lot of questions getting close votes in this case (or as "needs more details, show your research") when really all that's justified is a downvote. Any time research would have led to asking a much better question, a downvote makes sense; close votes are only for when the site simply can't give a good answer (or would just be duplicating a dictionary).

Another meta post to get the word out again might help, and as I'm skimming through the review queue, I'd look for the most clear-cut cases of "close vote instead of downvote" and consider applying a ♦ mod's binding Leave Open review.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

NT: When normal users aren't enough to handle moderation on their own, ♦ moderators are the site's last normal resort. The healthier the site, the less mods do. But there's always going to be a certain flow of users needing help with their accounts (which mods can often pass to Stack Exchange staff with more details), voting mixups, troublesome users, and migrations that didn't quite turn out right — among many other things.

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

NT: Before the beta ended, I exercised 20k trusted user privileges for some time, and 10k privileges for even longer. By checking daily in the 10k reports and in general site use, I could spot some problems with deleted posts and troublesome users that are now almost invisible to me, but even with that information I could only pass things along to the ♦ mods and hope they were able to work things out. As a mod myself, I would be able to not only act on those problems directly, but also use even better tools to find those problems and investigate them more thoroughly.

There are also some questions that need to be unlocked and so forth; those would be streamlined more as well.

  • You've said I see a lot of questions getting close votes in this case (or as "needs more details, show your research") when really all that's justified is a downvote. What sorts of things do you look at when you are trying to decide between a down-vote and a close-vote? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 15:25
  • @ColleenV: I've clarified that, hopefully. – Nathan Tuggy Aug 23 '16 at 17:48
4

Jay

1.What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

Editing to improve clarity sounds like a great idea, except ... if the question is unclear, how does the person editing know what the poster intended? I think if a question is unclear, the solution is to make a comment asking for clarification from the original poster.

In general, I think we should be cautious about editing any post -- question or answer -- because I think it is just wrong to change the original poster's intent. If there's an obvious spelling or grammar mistake, like someone typed "their" when he clearly meant "there", it's nice to fix it just to keep things clean. But if it's obvious to the editor, it's probably obvious to other readers, too.

The main time I see a real point in editing is to clean up formatting and style. Like if someone makes a post and their quotes run into their main text, or they type what was clearly intended to be a bullet list but failed to put in the line breaks, etc. In that case, for one person to hack through it and fix it up could save everyone else having to figure it out one by one.

When I've seen grammar errors in posts, my usual response is to make a comment explaining the error. I think this helps the poster to improve his English more than if I just fixed it, because then there would be no explanation.

2.The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Would I participate in chat rooms in general? Sure. I'm not familiar with this "ask-anything" variant you mention, how it differs from regular chat.

3.Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

I don't find the tags in ELL particularly useful. But I don't claim to have a better idea. If someone has a proposal for a better system, I'm happy to hear it and give my exalted opinion.

I don't think it's a big issue. On some SE sites, you really need tags to let people find questions of interest. Like on Stackoverflow (for programmers), I don't program in Haskell so I just ignore anything tagged Haskell. My expertise is mostly database so when I go to answer questions I look for database. Etc. But I don't see how that would apply to ELL. What aspects of learning English would I say, "that doesn't interest me" and skip over. When I come to answer questions, what tags would I say that I know something about versus ones I don't? It's just not clear to me what a useful set of tags would be.

4.What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

I've seen a number of friendly comments that say "that sounds like an answer, why don't you post it as such?" I think that's the easy solution to the problem. I don't see any point in beating people up over something like this. Nor, frankly, do I think it's worth spending a lot of time searching for such comments and transmogrifying them into answers.

5.Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

I avoid editing other people's posts except for formatting and style issues, as discussed in #1. I read this question to mean, Would you change what the OP asked to turn it into a question that is more applicable to this site? I would say, absolutely not. If I feel a question is grossly inapplicable, I'd move to get it closed or deleted. If it's problematic but clearly salvageable, I'd make suggestions to the poster and let him fix it himself, so the OP "retains ownership". If it's debatable, I'd let it stand.

6.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?

Assuming the objections are valid, I think step 1 is to communicate with the person and remind them that we're trying to keep the site friendly and polite. I'd edit a post to remove language that clearly violates community standards, like blatant insults, strings of profanity, etc. If someone refuses to behave civilly after some reasonable number of polite entreaties, I understand there's a procedure to kick them off the board. (Though I don't know how you stop them from signing right back up with a different user ID.)

Personally I have, thankfully, not seen this to be a problem on ELL. While I've seen some disagreements, I don't recall any that got truly heated.

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

I think the issue should be brought up and discussed on the meta site. If no consensus can be reached, ultimately I think there has to be some sort of vote. I don't suppose anyone can get his way all the time. Sometimes you just have to take a vote and majority wins. I definitely do not want to see editing battles.

8.A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

Assuming the answer really is "easily found by Googling", like they're asking for the definition of a common word: I think the question should be closed, and we have a close-reason for this. Frankly this is one of the few times when I think a question should be closed. If it's a newcomer, we should give him a gentle explanation of why it was closed. Not, "Keep your stupid questions off our board!!", but something more tactful.

I think we should be careful about saying, "you could have easily googled this". I've seen a few posts where someone initiated a close on such a basis, and to my mind, the OPs problem was that he did look in the dictionary, but didn't understand what he found, that sort of thing.

9.In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I understand the role of moderator to be to prevent problems on the board from getting out of hand. To close wildly inapplicable questions so this doesn't turn into a celebrity chat forum. To intervene if poster's get rude or abusive. To delete spam. To provide some structure, without becoming petty tyrants. :-)

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

Because moderators have more system privileges. And all the peasants respect their greater wisdom. :-)

  • There have been many instances where the "easily Googled" questions were about phrases or idioms and not just single words. There was quite a bit of debate over whether they should be closed as answerable by a dictionary and whether the answer a learner might find by searching was something likely to be correct and useful to them. Would you clarify a little bit where you draw the line, because it seems like you would close almost all questions that have an answer elsewhere and I don't think that's really what you mean. – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 12:15
  • @ColleenV No, and thanks for asking, because I was trying to say the opposite. Apparently I wasn't clear. I think we should be very reluctant to close a question. If someone asks, "what does the word 'book' mean?", that's a candidate for quick closing. Even there, if someone said why the dictionary didn't help -- like there are several definitions and they can't figure out which, if any, applies to something they have read. But yes, I've seen questions closed because the answer could be found with a google search .... if you already know the answer or have a good idea what it is. – Jay Aug 23 '16 at 13:16
3

NVZ

Please see what I have to offer, and judge me based on that, not based on my reputation score.

  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

Edit questions only to make them legible. Let the askers’ proficiency be visible.

Make the ELL experience indelible. Edit answers more, make them incredible.

  1. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Ask away, I’ll answer. Believe in me, I’ll be fair. As your moderator, just ping me and I’ll be there.

  1. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

Learners often can’t choose the right tags, and use broad ones like , , , , etc. Some tags had minor issues, and have been timely dealt with. Continued combined efforts will help achieve ultimate success.

As a mod, I’ll make sure such efforts don’t cause friction between users.

  1. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

Normally, users who post “answers in comments”, know that comments are short-lived and don’t add to rep.

When a “partial answer in comments” have remained under an on-topic question for a reasonable time, it’s expected of others to write up a full answer, giving credit where it’s due.

A “partial answer in comments” is usually very constructive and does not need to be flagged as offensive, obsolete, or too chatty.

I post them, too. My reasons often include:

  • Question is unresearched or off-topic and deserves no answer.
  • Lack of time or resources for a full answer.
  • Unsure about an answer and await feedback.
  • OP should take the hint and do some research themselves
  1. Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

I would edit some, and leave others to the community to help improve. ELU has a habit of migrating most basic questions to ELL. Some are edited by the users there, while most aren’t. We’ve also had some meta posts telling ELU that ELL is not their trash can.

  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?

If the flags are legit, I’d defuse the situation with comments or private message, acknowledge the user’s valuable contributions, and encourage them to have fun, and be good to each other. If things escalate further, I’d consult with mods and take necessary action.

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

I’d study the said post. If a mod’s action appears odd, I’d be inclined to discuss it with them in private, without stepping on their toes. For serious issues, I’d seek other mods’ views or community consensus.

  1. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

Depends on the question. Some questions are so basic that even a simple Google result would answer it. Some require a closer look.

As a regular user, I’d maybe downvote too-basic questions.

As a mod, I would give new users the benefit of the doubt, and leave helpful comments there, not my binding votes.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Everyone has their own views and usually thinks that theirs is the best. When people gather to discuss, things can often go sideways.

Mods are the neutral, objective chosen few, who can encourage participation, resolve disputes, ensure everyone’s views are respected, and direct the discussion to a positive outcome.

They can participate in the discussions themselves or remain a silent guardian.

See also: A Theory of Moderation

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

Review privileges are unlocked only after certain rep requirements are met and I find it not so easy to answer a learner’s question, and therefore I may not reach that kind of rep here soon.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of experience from ELU as a good answerer and reviewer, and my reputation, helpful flags and completed reviews there are proof of that. If I’m elected, I can be more effective on ELL that way.

Additional questions from ColleenV:

a. What would you do differently on ELL than you currently do on ELU?

That’s a broad question. In short, an additional factor should be considered i.e. most users here are still learners, and therefore I’d be more gentle with them, yet firm.

b. What things do you think both communities have the same views on?

Most users in both the communities share a love of the English language and its nuances. The way they show it may differ. ELLers usually skim the surface, while ELUers want to dig deeper into this beautiful language.

c. You have a lot of helpful flags on ELU - would you flag posts differently on ELL than you do on ELU?

I definitely flag posts differently here on ELL. It’s obvious that most new users here are still learning. I’d be more inclined to leave helpful comments, instead.

  • 1
    You have a lot of really great contributions on ELU, but not a lot of participation on ELL. What would you do differently on ELL than you currently do on ELU and what things to do you think both communities have the same views on? For example, you have a lot of helpful flags - would you flag posts differently on ELL than you do on ELU? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 13:44
  • @ColleenV Thank you for asking. I have updated my answer to answer your question. :) – NVZ Aug 23 '16 at 14:28
2

Chenmunka's Answers

  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

I do believe editing of questions should be different to answers.
It is very easy for an editor to misinterpret a learner's words just enough to change the meaning of the question. If that happens, the answers are then not what the questioner wanted.
However, if clarification is sought first with comments then an assistive edit should be made to help future visitors to the site.
I have always held this belief and it is why I have performed comparatively few edits on questions.

  1. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Yes of course.
Chat is a good way of getting the attention of a moderator for many reasons.
If I'm not actually logged into the chat room at a given time, the chat system supports pinging to notify a moderator that there prescence is requested. If pinged, I'll join as soon as I can.

  1. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

I don't believe there is anything fundamentally wrong with the site's tags. However, as any SE site grows, its tags tend to proliferate leading to potential confusion. The key to good tags is good tag wikis, although I admit that half of questioners don't read them. The busier sites have periodic tag cleanup exercises. It would be a worthwhile exercise to review tags, a meta and/or chat discussion would be required.

  1. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

The community is handling this pretty well. Yes, answers in comments are to be discouraged. We should always recognise that some people post quick answers in comments and then fill them in as answers when they have more time, so some leeway should be given. Something I have done as moderator on Retrocomputing is suggest to a commenter that they post a proper answer. So far I haven't had to come back and take further action but that may yet happen.

  1. Would you personally intervene (i.e edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

If I could see potential, yes I would edit (but see also my answer to Q1). I hope any user would do the same.
I feel that ELL is less of ELU's dumping ground than it once was. I would try to work with ELU to keep that process going.
Incidentally, I've only ever once flagged a question on ELU for migration to ELL. If I flag to close on ELU, I flag to close.

  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?

Firstly a valuable answer is a valuable answer.
It very much depends on the nature of the arguments. If they become acrimonious then the be nice policy should be enforced. If they are just comment ping pong, then I'll happily convert the comments to chat.

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

Firstly, contact the other moderator. They may have seen something that I missed. If, after discussing it I felt strongly that the question should be reopened, I'd reopen it. The community may then cast close votes as it sees fit.

  1. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

Every question will be treated on its merits. I've seen a several questions like this where I've given the benefit of the doubt and have voted to leave open. It can be difficult for someone with a rudimentary grasp of English to formulate a good Google search.
Although, simple dictionary questions like "what does jack mean?" don't come into this category and would be closed.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The enact the wishes of the community.
A moderator is a referee.

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

A high-rep user comes to the site when they can, usually quite often, and uses the tools that they are comfortable with when they wish. All of which is very valuable to the community.
A moderator is given a feed of flags and notifications, so is shown posts that may escape a high rep user. This overview is useful and gives a different perspective on the site activity. If a moderator pays attention to this, it will improve the decisions made.

  • For question #6 you say Firstly a valuable answer is a valuable answer. Does that mean that you think users that have contributed valuable answers should be cut more slack than members that haven't contributed much value? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 23 '16 at 15:28
2

Varun KN's Answers

Warning: You might need Pop corn. Because this is going to be Loooong.

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  1. What is your view on editing a question to correct grammar and style issues? Do you think we should edit answers differently from questions? Some users believe that questions should only be edited for clarification, and errors which do not impede comprehension, left alone. In this way, the community has a better understanding of the asker's level of English. Other community members believe that we should correct questions (excluding citations) and answers because correct English is easier for learners to translate and may help learners become more fluent. They may also believe that a site that claims to help learners improve English, has a responsibility to ensure the language used is, at least, always spelled correctly.

The right question, if you ask me, should be:

'To what extent do we correct a question posted by the OP?'

A person who wants to correct or edit a post should not attempt to:

  1. Answer the question, directly or indirectly.
  2. Mislead the audience by changing the entire post.
  3. Make minor changes and edits, just to bump up rep points or attain badges.

I've come across many simple edits, by adding a few punctuation marks and capitalizing words. Unless I'm convinced that the change is necessary, I will not approve the edit.

Say, an edit came that includes an additional comma(,). I end up reading the edit atleast 3 or 4 times to make sure that the comma has not changed the meaning of the sentence.

Having said this, it's pretty obvious that I support post edits and changing the grammar (only if it's absolutely necessary). This not only helps others to understand the question, but also helps the OP correct his mistakes. Knowingly or unknowingly, he even learns from the edits made by other users.

Bottom line: Questions should be edited, only to help other users understand the post better. We wouldn't want a bunch of people posting answers based on their assumption and personal comprehension of the original post. The questions that are asked should be precise, clear and in no way should it be ambiguous.


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  1. The chat system of SE has repeatedly proven useful in coordinating site and meta activities and it's a versatile medium for friendly chat. Some sites have even taken a step further and made ask-anything-from-mod chatrooms; e.g. Super User. However, unfortunately there are currently no active mods in ELL chatrooms. Do you wish to participate in ELL's chatrooms if you get elected?

Definitely, here's why.

When you ask something via a public post, you limit your questions to a few sentences, hoping to keep the reader interested. Not many people will sit and read an entire story just to understand your question. The attention span of an average reader will depreciate after a couple of paragraphs. But when you chat, you can clearly address your questions and doubts. The chat may go on for a while longer, but the reader will not get bored.

This is pretty logical. If your friend wrote you paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff, how interested will you be to read it. On the other hand, if you have a chat-based conversation, you could go talking for hours.

So, I'm all in for the chat idea. I cannot guarantee a 24/7 hotline service, but I will actively participate whenever I'm available.

  1. Some community members believe ELL's tagging system needs a lot of improving. There has been attempts before from some meta users to rebuild the tags so they serve their purpose better, but it hasn't achieved ultimate success. Do you believe there is a problem with tags on ELL? If so, should anything be done about it? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

To be honest, I actually never used the tags efficiently in the beginning. When I first joined ELL, I had my posts edited left, right and center, by random users and moderators. A lot of the edits came as tag edits. Now that I'm used to the system here, I use them well and often help others who are new here. If you ask me, the tag system had a few issues on ELL, primarily because the tag definition provided by some people made no sense at all. Also, I've seen many tags made by users, exclusively for their posts. Such tags may have 1 or 2 posts related to them. If I were elected a moderator, I would remove all those irrelevant tags. Also, I would advice users not to use very broad tags, such as the 'Grammar' tag. ELL has so many tags. Users wouldn't find it hard to find a suitable tag. On the other hand, these infinite tags can confuse the original poster of what tags to use. This should be removed.

In short, the tag system is good, but it requires a little bit of refinement.

  1. What action, if any, do you think moderators should take related to comments that are answers rather than discussion or clarification of the question? I think most of us agree that answers in comments aren't desirable in general, so do you think the issue is serious enough on ELL that there should be moderator action taken, or do you feel that the community is already handling it well enough?

I have seen this so many time. Only if I got a dollar for every time I saw an answer posted as a comment.

Some users on ELL believe that certain posts can be answered by a single sentence or a word. So instead of posting a very short answer, they go ahead and comment it. I don't think this is the right way. An answer is an answer, long or short. User must post the answer as a valid answer. If the question is a 'word request' based question, why not provide the OP with more than a couple of answers? Give him options. Post it as an answer, not as a comment.

What action would I take? I would strictly advice user to do so, if I'm elected. There is no need for a severe action.

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"Nobody shall bleed today"

  1. Would you personally intervene (i.e. edit) if a question migrated from EL&U was, objectively speaking, low quality but had some potential? What is your position on the quality of questions that have migrated from EL&U so far?

ELU is a very active community, and much like ELL, they have a ship load of questions comming in, on hourly basis. But some of the questions asked in ELU would find better answers if they were posted in ELL instead. Over my time here, I've seen many posts being migrated to ELL from ELU. And many a times those posts have been closed due to a lack of quality. So one may wonder, are the guys over at ELU dumping them onto us?

No they are not. What do the guys at ELU do?

"English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts."

and what do we do, here on ELL?

"English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English."

So what's the difference? In short, ELL helps people who are new to English, whereas, ELU helps people who already know English well, and/ or are using English extensively. This is why many users are active in both ELU and ELL, simultaneously.

The questions that are migrated from ELU will always be a point-of-interest to me. But often do I see low-quality posts. In such cases, I try and understand what the OP has posted, or I try to make edits to it, to make it understandable to others.

Not everyone can post high-quality questions. Sometimes users need help, which I'm always ready to provide. Any post that has even the slightest potential shall not go unanswered.

  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?

The only aim for the users in ELL is to help others learn, share their knowledge, and if possible, keep learning everyday. This is a place for discussions and knowledge transfer. Debates can occur and before you know it, a heated conversation begins boiling up.

Irrespective of the user's contribution to this community, he/ she cannot throw knives at anyone else, no matter what. The user may have given countless answers here, but he has no right to verbally abuse another user, or often be caught in arguments. As a moderator, I will try and intervene any such activity. I may advice the user not to engage themselves in such actions via personal chat.

If he continues to do so, I would maybe discuss the situation with other moderators and talk about his future in the community. A soft ban will also be considered at extreme cases.

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

No moderators have VETO power here. If a post is closed and I feel that it's got potential to exist as an open post, like any good citizen, I will raise a re-open request. If many people think I have a point, it may get re-opened. I would never re-open a post that has been closed by a moderator just because I think it's not worth being closed. Optionally, I will post a topic for discussion regarding re-opening the posts, right here on META.

  1. A newcomer asks a typical learner's question. There is no evidence of any research, and its answer is easily found by Googling. If you were a moderator, what would you do?

This happens so often. A simple solution is to provide the search links from google to the user and post them as comments.

  • Sometimes the user may not know what to search.
  • Sometimes he must not have found anything that helps him.
  • Sometimes the user may not have understood what Lord Google told him.

In any case, shunning out the user and asking him bluntly to go and google it, seems a bit too harsh. I've been in such situation many times and I often comment a google search link for what he needs. And moderator or not, that is what I'll keep doing. The question can also be closed after the links are provided to him.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Simple. They are regular contributors in ELL. They just have a slight advantage of managing the community, so as to maintain its smooth-functioning. Moderator are like Admins. They have to oversee the entire functioning of this community, clean up bad posts, enforce the rules and see to it that the community runs by its guidelines.

  1. 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 to get more rep.points? Simple. Keep answering posts, keep posting questions. So why bother doing anything else?

I've spent eight months on ELL answering a fraction of questions as opposed to the other guy, who's been here 2 months and has 25K points, answer a zillion questions. So what do I do? I try to help user by reviewing their posts, mostly. To answer something is comparatively easy. To make sure a post is of high standard, now that's the hard part. I enjoy helping the new guy who can hardly type English to post a question that other user may or may not answer. Have you ever wondered why some posts are of low quality? May I remind you that this is a learning site. You don't expect a nursery kid to write the American Presidential speech.

As a moderator, I would continue to help people the same way I do, everyday, on ELL. Because at the end of the day, your rep points and your badges mean nothing compared to the feeling you get when you help people.

PS: I would like to applaud for the current moderators. You guys are doing a swell job.

  • Hi Varun - you were very clear about editing questions. Do you think that answers should be edited to a different standard than questions or should they be treated the same? – ColleenV parted ways Aug 26 '16 at 14:14
  • In your first answer, you propose that the question should really be 'To what extend do we correct a question posted by the OP?' Sadly, that contains a misspelling -- it should be "extent", not "extend". If you spotted such a typo in a learner's question, would you correct it in the question, or note the error in a comment, as a more effective way of giving the learner feedback? (By the way, your answers are thorough and well reasoned. This is not meant as a criticism of the content.) – barbara beeton Aug 26 '16 at 14:23
  • @barbara beeton, thank you so much for noticing that mistake. That was pretty careless. Im not a native speaker. I still make mistakes, be it spelling or grammar. still learning, everyday. To your question, if I spot spelling mistakes on posts from learners, I usually edit and correct it. The user will get to know that his post was edited, and then he'll know why it was edited. A comment to notify him to make a change seems unnecessary, if you ask me. Not that anything is wrong in doing so. – Varun Nair Aug 26 '16 at 16:34
  • @ColleenV, questions and answers should have a minimum quality. Posts put up by learners need not be of very high quality. It should have the minimum quality to clearly convey what the OP wants to know. Sometimes learners require the help of others. This has been happening so frequently in ELL. Everybody is willing to help. People who posts answers should maintain the same quality in their reply, if not more. I believe the answers should be simple enough for the OP to understand. Edits are essential to maintain a common standard, for both questions and answers. – Varun Nair Aug 26 '16 at 17:29
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    I like how you explain the tagging system is broken in ten lines and then say In short, the tag system is good. – M.A.R. Aug 27 '16 at 7:53
  • You said in your last comment that Posts put up by learners need not be of very high quality. Roughly, what is the minimum question quality you accept to be on ELL? – M.A.R. Aug 27 '16 at 8:08
  • @DEAD, the posts should have a minimum quality, and by minimum, I mean that they should be understandable to atleast some of the other users on ELL. They can, in turn,help out the OP,or even edit the post to make it clearer to other users. On the other hand, some posts are far too difficult to follow. In such cases,the OP should edit the posts seeking some help, or the post must be closed. In no case do we want the OP to be left with a wrong answer: An answer a user has provided, based on his understanding of the question, but is actually not what the OP meant. Such posts ought to be closed. – Varun Nair Aug 27 '16 at 18:04

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