2021 Moderator Election

nomination began
Aug 2 at 20:00
election began
Aug 16 at 20:00
election ended
Aug 24 at 20:00
candidates
4
positions
3

On Stack Exchange, we believe the core moderators should come from the community, and be elected by the community itself through popular vote. We hold regular elections to determine who these community moderators will be.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Our general criteria for moderators is as follows:

  • patient and fair
  • leads by example
  • shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words
  • open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

Full elections have three phases and an optional fourth phase (Primary):

  1. Question Collection
  2. Nomination
  3. Primary
  4. Election

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!

Additional Links

Questionnaire
The community team has compiled questions from meta for the candidates to answer.
  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?

[Answer 1 here]

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

[Answer 2 here]

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

[Answer 4 here]

  1. How would you handle a question that has 2 votes for closure (in our community we need 5 votes for closure, unlike some other communities who have decided to reduce this to 3)knowing that a moderator vote (for closure or deletion) is binding?

[Answer 5 here]

Tiago Cardoso

Hi folks! Chances are you have seen me already, as I've been around for more than a decade. I'm very excited for the opportunity of nominate myself as a candidate.

I do believe a good moderation is the one that works towards having a self sustainable community, capable of understanding the different cultural background each one of us have and at the same time continuously curating the content of the community so that we keep it well structured and clean. A community can be more than a Q&A place, can be a place where we meet other people, make friends and expand on professional relationships.

A bit about me: I'm a Tech Program Manager working for the financial sector for almost a couple decades. I've been a Scrum Master and agile coach for several years, I work on my spare time as a consultant, participated on (some successful, some not) agile transformations and funny enough I believe my career has always been highly aligned to the very real nature of our community: moving from a very waterfall-ish focus into a more agile-minded community as of late.

I'm a Brazilian, living in Spain, worked for a German company with clients in UK, US and all Asia.

Questionnaire
  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?

It's all about understanding the rationale of this person. Different cultures tend to be more blunt or candid than others, and the mod work on such cases is to remind people about how the community works, based in our community expected behaviour. The initial approach is leaving a comment in a post, if that doesn't work mod can assess the possibility of chatting on chat room (although most users don't have a chat account, which makes this a bit harder) and the last option is to directly contact them via mod messaging system.

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

There's nothing better than a very good conversation. If the conversation happens before the actions, even better. The mod intervention should be as less invasive as possible, allowing the community to contribute on maintenance. If there's an intervention by a mod that I'm not in agreement with, I'd leave a note on the chatroom so that I could understand the rationale for the action and would also expose my perspective, so that we reach an alignment. Again, the key here is to avoid reaching to this point. The earlier the communication happen on borderline questions, the better. Chances are if I'm in doubt, other community members would be too and the rationale needs to be clear to everyone, not only amongst moderators. Meta side is our friend for such cases.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are garbage collectors, kind teachers, salesmen and human exception handlers. Mods have to keep the garbage out; mods intervene when there's a heated debate and guide the community members to settle conflict; mods (as any other community member!) should keep promoting our community to the world, and by doing so, we make the project management a bit better. Lastly, we are human exception handlers as we can see in this decade-old blog Theory of Moderation blog. Man, this aged quite well!

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

A mod is a member of the community. As any member, there's a learning curve. If there's something said that shouldn't be attached to a diamond, maybe that shouldn't be there at all, regardless of the diamond.

  1. How would you handle a question that has 2 votes for closure (in our community we need 5 votes for closure, unlike some other communities who have decided to reduce this to 3)knowing that a moderator vote (for closure or deletion is binding?

I'm a strong believer that the community should be self-sustained. If a moderator is very intrusive, you're not allowing others to moderate the community... which is not cool. Unless it's blatantly clear the action should be actioned ASAP, I tend to wait (for some time) for the community to action. If there's no action in a reasonable amount of time, then it's when I'd intervene. It's about finding the balance between keeping the community clean and nurture the sense of ownership across the community members.

Danny Schoemann

I've been active here for about 9 years - some years more than others.

I think we can grow our PMSE by being more lenient on certain rules.

E.g. some "opinion" questions could still be valuable on the site.

I am not sure that I have sufficient time to be a good mod, but since we seem to be desperate, I'm putting my hat in the ring.

Questionnaire
  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?

Explaining to them that comments are also expected to be professional. As somebody who wants PMSE to grow, I'd be very reluctant to block them.

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

I would discuss this with them "privately" to try understand why they did that.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They keep the site on-topic and civil.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I'm OK with it; not so sure how some of the others feel about it, based on feedback I sometimes get for my strange answers.

  1. How would you handle a question that has 2 votes for closure (in our community we need 5 votes for closure, unlike some other communities who have decided to reduce this to 3)knowing that a moderator vote (for closure or deletion) is binding?

As I already said, I'm all for growing PMSE, so I wouldn't close questions unless they really don't belong on PMSE.

Thomas Owens

Hi, PM community.

I've been a member of the Project Management Stack Exchange for over 10 years, joining in the early days. I came here to share my knowledge and experience in software project management and software process improvement, which can be seen by my activity in a number of tags related to agile methods.

Nearly all of my activity has been on the main site, using my voting and flagging powers to handle questions. Overall, I've been generally satisfied with how the community has decided to run itself through decisions made on Meta. If selected as a moderator, I'd use my experience using the moderation tools that I've gained as a moderator on the Software Engineering Stack Exchange over the past 9 years to help the community take action on things in a timely manner or when the community is unable to.

I wasn't originally going to toss my hat into the PM moderator election, but there aren't enough candidates, and I'd like to make sure that the PM community has enough moderation coverage to handle things that the users can't. I'm also hoping that a fourth person nominates themselves to let the community choose their moderation team.

Questionnaire
  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?

This depends on why those arguments and flags are being generated. If there's something about the answers that are inciting the comments and the following flags, then I'd handle the flags and engage with the user to try to improve their posts to avoid inciting the arguments. However, if the posts aren't blatantly inciting the comments, I'd engage with the users leaving the comments. Tools such as chats (including private rooms) and moderator messages are available to moderators to communicate with users.

Either way, arguments don't make for an inviting community. Without an inviting community, it's hard to attract new participants with their own knowledge and experience. If a single individual cannot participate within the Code of Conduct and the community norms, I'd rather that they not participate and lose future answers than risk several people feeling unwelcome and not joining or only lurking.

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

The first step is to reach out to the moderator to understand why. They may have had a good reason for their action that isn't readily apparent. Private chats are appropriate for this, just in case there is mod-only information to exchange. Based on this conversation, I'd hope that we come to an agreement on the right course of action (either leaving it closed/deleted or undoing that action).

If I do anything else, such as reaching out to the other moderators on the team, the other Stack Exchange moderators, or the Community Management team would depend on if I see a pattern of defying community norms or taking moderator actions on valuable questions. In the few times I've encountered this, though, talking to the other moderator in a chat has been sufficient to resolve this.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators handle things that users can't handle or aren't able to handle in a timely fashion.

Things that users can't handle involve investigating sock puppets, voting rings, and other abuses of the system. This may also involve other moderators or the Community Management team to look at actions that span across sites in the Network. In extreme cases, this also includes suspending users who regularly violate the rules and norms of the community.

Other things involving taking binding action quickly to close low-quality questions and answers or chatty comments to keep the site clean. This is a janitorial function. By keeping the site clean, it is more attractive to potential new members.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

No issues with this at all. It's happened before when I was elected to a moderator on Software Engineering.

  1. How would you handle a question that has 2 votes for closure (in our community we need 5 votes for closure, unlike some other communities who have decided to reduce this to 3)knowing that a moderator vote (for closure or deletion) is binding?

If I can clearly agree with the close vote, then I'd vote to close. Although the vote is binding, if anyone has any concerns with it, they can flag it for moderator attention (where I'd leave the flag in the queue for another moderator to review to get a second mod opinion) or start a discussion on Meta. Even though the vote would immediately close the question, the vote can be undone by myself or another moderator after the question is fixed up or if it was found to be a mistake.

Todd A. Jacobs

As a Moderator

I have been a moderator on PMSE for several years, and have taken an active role in keeping "broken windows" to a minimum on this site. During that time, I've worked hard to give the community a larger voice by keeping my binding votes in reserve, allowing more of our growing community to actively moderate the site whenever feasible while still acting quickly to handle spam or abusive posts.

As a Community Member

In addition to moderating PMSE, I consider myself an active member of the community. I work hard at keeping tags relevant, improving posts where I can, and generally keeping the focus on quality questions that invite canonical answers whenever possible.

Questionnaire
  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?

We have (and have had) such users. In general, I've found that treating comments as ephemeral, removing problem comments, and very occasionally providing constructive criticism and opportunities for improvement in comments and meta posts has been a very successful strategy in keeping our community relatively non-argumentative compared to many other SE sites.

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

That's happened very rarely on this site. When it has, there are really three options:

  1. Re-open or undelete the post, with a public comment as to why I thought it was a good idea to take that specific action.

  2. Bring it up on meta, if it's a situation where community involvement is useful rather than than potentially perceived as muck-raking.

  3. Discussing it in chat with the other moderators, if it's something that could potentially be contentious.

I can't think of a single instance in the past several years where there's been any real contention within the moderator ranks, but those are the things that a moderator can and should do when needed.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

On most SE sites, they handle the exceptions that the community can't handle on its own. Here, that's mostly adding to close votes or handling flags because we don't have enough higher-rep members who have (or use) their privileges before the flags/votes age out.

Fixing tags, updating close reasons, and (occasionally) migrating questions is moderator work that comes up from time to time, too. This is a relatively small part of the job on PMSE, though.

I think good moderators also offer guidance on how to salvage questions, identify "broken windows," and other things that good community member can also do. I just think that moderators have more responsibility to do so actively, and to be as fair and even-handed in the process as humanly possible.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

While I'm sure that there are things I might have said differently, or chosen not to say at all, overall I'm pretty confident that the vast majority of things I've said and done with a diamond attached to my name have been fair and well-intentioned.

Being a moderator is a balancing act: act too soon or too strongly, and it doesn't give the community a chance to be a community. On the other hand, timidity or an unwillingness to act when the situation calls for it isn't supportive of the community. It can be a fine line; it requires a duty of care for the site, the community, and the people within it that needs to be kept in mind at all times.

  1. How would you handle a question that has 2 votes for closure (in our community we need 5 votes for closure, unlike some other communities who have decided to reduce this to 3)knowing that a moderator vote (for closure or deletion) is binding?

Pragmatically, this happens rather a lot on our particular site. I evaluate each question on its own merits, and then act accordingly. If a question is "on the bubble," I prefer to wait for some of the community members (especially our more seasoned members) to vote before I make a binding decision. On the other hand, some questions are so clearly off-topic or outside the norms of our community that immediate action is called for, and I'm not afraid to decisively take that action.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, I think reviewing our flag/vote minimums is certainly worth looking at. PMSE has often required a more active role from moderators in that regard because of the lower volume of active users who actively handle closable or flaggable questions, so it may be time to lower the limits to remove some of the work from the moderators and give the community a stronger voice.

That said, the role of moderator is always to review, consider, and then act appropriately. Sometimes that means closing questions, or deleting comments, or moderating answers before the community has gathered enough votes. At other times, it means re-opening questions that have been improved, salvaged, or were closed for the wrong reasons. Each case is different, and the moderator's job is to look for those exceptional circumstances and then take appropriate action.

I'd like to see the community have a bigger voice in these decisions, but I'd also like to see us maintain a culture of fair and even-handed activism from the community's moderators. That may not be appropriate for all sites, but it has served PMSE well since its beta, and continues to do so now that we've graduated.

This election is over.