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2023 Moderator Election

nomination began
Mar 28, 2023 at 20:00
election began
Apr 4, 2023 at 20:00
election ended
Apr 12, 2023 at 20:00
candidates
5
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. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

[Answer 4 here]

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

[Answer 5 here]

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

[Answer 6 here]

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

[Answer 7 here]

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

[Answer 8 here]

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

[Answer 9 here]

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

[Answer 10 here]

Mithical

Hey, I'm Mith. I've been serving as a moderator here on Lit.SE since the beginning (with a small break 2019–2021), and I'd love the opportunity to stay on in that capacity.

I'm fairly active — I've been in the top 5 users by rep for quite a while — and I'm quite familiar with site policy, the moderator tools, the Lit.SE community, and most aspects of being a moderator. I'd say that I'm a familiar face to Lit.SE; a familiar face in moderator spaces; and known for politely poking and bugging the CM team.

I bring a lot of experience and familiarity with both the moderator role and Literature Stack Exchange, and I'd hope you're all satisfied enough with my performance in the role to keep me around.

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?

Broadly speaking, one user who produces good content is not worth driving away other potential users. Keeping that in mind, there's a process of escalation for handling problematic users, extremely blatant cases of abuse aside. Start with an explanation of the problem and a warning, and take it from there. If the problem continues, move to a short suspension. If it continues, a longer suspension... you get the gist of it.
But the fact that the user contributes quality content is more-or-less irrelevant, and doesn't factor into the decision. Quality content does not grant you a pass for poor behavior.

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

I'm big on chat. That'd be my first stop; in the main room if it's not a touchy subject, more privately if it's something that wouldn't benefit from more eyes. If no agreement is reached that way, there's always Meta for establishing consensus. Mods are users too, and we're allowed to disagree; that disagreement just has to happen cordially and in a way that's consistent with "setting an example" for other users.

  1. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

I think we're doing a good job of striking that balance. I don't think that "basic" or "simple" questions are a problem; even well-known questions and answers can benefit from "filling in corners", as Gareth Rees put it. Entry-level questions give us an opportunity to teach beginners in the field, and attract new enthusiasts.
At the same time, this is, I believe, an academic site, and high-level content absolutely deseves to be here, when we're lucky enough to get it. We just can't expect everyone posting here to have a Ph.D in literature.
I'd point out, as a note, that the "cold and unforgiving" post was about a very specific period in the history of the site. A lot of what was causing that feeling was the influence of a single major player in the beginning of the site, who is no longer involved with Lit.SE. I don't think it particularly applies to today in the same way it did five years ago.

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

There's this underlying assumption in the question that "referencing" inherently requires an external source, which I disagree with. When I complain that a post isn't referenced, that's usually because it's just making a claim without expanding on it.

While an external source can be very useful, it's not the be-all and end-all, especially for analysis questions. When making a claim about analysis, such as about a theme in the work or whatever, back it up by explaining your thought process. Bring your proof from the work itself — what makes you think this? What was your thought process? Don't just give us the end result and leave off everything that came before it.

I don't think we're unfairly criticizing people for not including references. I think we're doing a poor job of communicating what we consider a "reference" to be, which we could possibly address by creating a about it.

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

There's a reason I have a reputation for not accepting ;). I think we'd benefit from unpinning accepted answers, but that's not what the votes wound up deciding.

I don't really think this is a moderator responsibility per se; this is something that the community as a whole has to figure out. With that said, if we encourage votes on later and additional answers, be that through chat or meta or something else, the site culture will evolve to work within the Q&A framework and make it fit our needs.
I think we're on the right path with this, honestly. We could use some more votes, but from what I've seen, the site regulars value these answers, which is encouraging site culture in the right direction.

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change? This question is shamelessly stolen from https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/13372/4918

...it'd be more of a shock if they weren't binding, really ;). I'm quite used to being able to hammer things on my own, so, to answer the question, pretty much nothing would change.
I tend to leave VLQ and NaA flags pending for a bit to let the LQP queue have a chance at them, and I'm a bit more hesisitant with the close hammer than others. Instead of hammering everything immediately, and having the community come to expect and rely on that, I prefer to let the community handle things and not become too reliant on modhammers for actions they can take themselves.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)? I stole this question from https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/7991/4918

I've been serving as a moderator here on Lit.SE since 2017. I'm also a mod on Artificial Intelligence and Constructed Languages. I was elected as a room moderator for the Teachers' Lounge (the network-wide moderator chatroom). I also have experience moderating other sites and platforms (such as Discord), but those are less relevant to the SE platform.

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

Yeah. I can usually be found in chat, and I'm usually happy to explain moderation actions or decisions, unless it involves details I'm not allowed to disclose.

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

I generally think that a question should be removed from HNQ in one of two cases: 1.) The content of the question is unsuitable for mass promotion; 2.) it's a bad representative of the site.

If it's attracting poor contributions via HNQ, that's not a problem inherent to the question itself. The comments can get cleaned up, the answers can be edited, post-noticed, downvoted, deleted, what-have-you, same as any other poor answer. The question can be protected (which is effective even with the association bonus). Removing it from HNQ is a more drastic step which I don't think is the right choice in most cases.

Questions are removed from the HNQ list when they contain stuff that's overly sexual or otherwise NSFW, or when the questions and/or answers are low-enough quality that it's not how we want to introduce folks to the site for the first time.

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

I think I've gotten fairly practiced with this over the years. While there are a couple issues that will "deplete my emotional reserves", for the most part I'm told I'm very good at keeping my cool. I'm not a stranger to people complaining about things I've done or decisions I've made; it does come with the territory to a certain extent. For those rare cases where I would need to distance myself from the situation, there are other moderators and CMs who can step in. There's a reason mods aren't supposed to carry a site alone.

Rand al'Thor

I've been an active member of this site and its meta for 6 years (since day 1 of private beta) and a diamond moderator here for 3 years (since the last election).

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?

Talk with them privately, either by a mod message or by opening a private chatroom. Valuable contributors are important to the site, but not more important than having a civil environment. I'd try my hardest to get through to the person and make them understand why their behaviour was problematic, and would only reach for heavier tools such as account suspensions either (1) if something needed more immediate/urgent action or (2) if I was convinced that the person wasn't going to listen to reason.

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

Discuss it with them, either in private or in public. I feel that most discussions between mods can be public - respectful disagreements are healthy, and scope issues are worth discussing publicly so that anyone can weigh in on whether a question should be closed or not. The main exception is for issues involving potentially private information, e.g. "this post was deleted because the OP is a sockpuppet of a suspended user", which shouldn't be mentioned publicly.

  1. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

We do need to encourage quality standards, by commenting and voting, but we should try to do it in an empathetic way. When commenting on a poor answer, instead of e.g. "please edit your answer to add sources" I prefer something along the lines of "please edit your answer to add sources, because this site tries to provide verifiable information, and without sources it's hard for readers to know whether this is correct or just a random internet user's opinion". People are more likely to edit their answers according to expected standards if they can understand why those standards are expected.

Perhaps we should also do more promotion of our meta resources like How can I write good interpretation or meaning answers? and What are some good (legal) resources for finding the text of books? which can help people to get better at writing answers in general. But I always customise comments rather than just pointing to general resources: I don't like canned template comments, because they feel less personal and there's usually something post-specific that can be said.

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

What I always say, whether explaining to new users why they should edit their answer or explaining to overzealous delete-voters why an answer is fine, is that an answer should be backed up by something, whether that's references or just good solid arguments. For many Literature answers, there are no references to academic publications on a particular story or poem. Good answers can still be written, drawing on an answerer's own insights into the text, but they're still not unsupported opinions - they're just supported in a different way, by argumentation rather than authoritative sources.

This question raises another interesting issue, though: some answers contain neither sources nor logical reasoning, but are based on personal experience or knowledge. Here's a recent example of a good experience-based answer, where it's clear that the answerer knows what they're talking about. On the other hand, I've never known what to do with the answers on this question, which both claim to be experience-based but come to opposite conclusions.

What makes an experience-based answer good? That's a question we can try to solve, perhaps by examining posts such as those above, perhaps also by checking other SE sites that deal with a lot of experience-based answers. I don't have an answer now, but I'd be happy to make a meta post and get the community talking about this issue.

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

Like the previous two questions above, this is not related to diamond moderator powers, but a community issue where mods may be able to help by taking a leadership role.

I think we need to keep reminding people that, unfortunate though it is, rep doesn't necessarily reflect expertise and post score doesn't necessarily reflect effort. It's easy to feel discouraged when you put a lot of effort into an answer and get almost no reward for it. I also like to promote particularly good answers from newer users, either in chat (to get more eyeballs and upvotes) or with bounties, but these efforts can only go so far.

The HNQ lottery rewards quick answers, but with updates to the HNQ algorithm, "quick" now means "within 8 hours" which can be a reasonable time to answer even a question that requires research or lengthy arguments. One possibility could be for some active question askers to inform potential answerers before posting (e.g. in chat) about the question they're planning to ask - then a good answer could be prepared and also posted quickly after the question. But this tactic might be seen as abusive, so it would need to be considered very carefully before use.

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

No need to adapt, I'm already a moderator :-)

To give a more meaningful answer: I do still review some Close/Reopen Votes and Low Quality Posts, but only in clear-cut cases. If I feel there's a grey area and good arguments could be made either way for a post's validity, I prefer to step back and let the community decide.

Importantly, this also goes for flags: if someone flags a post as VLQ/NAA, my approach as a mod is usually to either let the flag sit for a while or mark it as helpful, either of which will allow it to stay in the review queue for non-mods to vote on. I'll only decline a VLQ/NAA flag if it's clearly invalid.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

Moderator on Science Fiction & Fantasy SE since 2016 and here on Literature since 2020.

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

Yes. I've always been active in Literature chat, so much so that the system automatically made me a room owner back in 2017.

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

I usually haven't seen much need to take such actions, here on Literature. If a question gets too many low-quality answers from low-rep or HNQ visitors, it can be protected, but that's not a diamond mod power. If it gets too many chatty comments, they can be flagged by ordinary users and deleted by diamond mods; in the worst case, there's also a "comment-only lock" (a mod tool which disables comments on a post while allowing all other interactions such as votes and edits), but I think I've never needed to use this.

I've also never needed to mod-remove a question from the HNQ list. I wouldn't consider doing so for questions that are simply attracting a lot of low-quality answers or chatty comments, as the other tools mentioned above are sufficient for combatting those issues. I'd only do so if there was something clearly harmful about the question being on HNQ (can't think of any example scenarios just now).

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

I think I've always been able to remain outwardly calm and professional as a mod even when dealing with particularly annoying users (who will, of course, remain unnamed ;-) ). My "strategy", such as it is, is simply to step away for a bit if I start to feel affected too much, and come back when I'm sure I have a clear head. Online communication usually is, or can be, asynchronous.

Over on main meta, I've awarded a bunch of bounties to answers here, and my choice of answers to reward probably says something about my strategy for "being nice even when you don't want to". This answer was my favourite of all.

bobble

Hey there, I'm bobble the sentient crown! I've been 'round these parts for a couple years. My moderation volume has dropped off since the peak of all-remote high school, but I'm still around to compulsively edit All The Things. In addition to editing I actively participate in closing and moderation-related comments, such as close-vote reasoning or asking for clarifications.

I'm running for mod less because I want the job and more because my friends all seem to want me to throw my hat (hah hah I'm hilarious) into the ring. This site was the second I joined way back when. I enjoy reading Q&A here and contributing myself. I also derive enjoyment from seeing rules and policies followed - that's why I edit so much - and would continue with the greater array of tools which a diamond bestows.

Out of the three sites that I used to actively post in (Puzzling, Literature, and Meta), this is the one that I still post on most often, even if my questions now come in little bursts and my ability to answer ebbs and flows. But I'm still here every day!

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?

The first consideration is whether I, as a non-moderator human being, am too personally annoyed at this user to be objective in my dealings with them. If I don't think that I can be a proper impartial mod then I'd recuse myself. It is perfectly possible to not interact with another user given that other mods are available to step in.

If I do decide to get involved, then there's a standard sequence of policy enforcement to follow: informal warnings, formal warnings, temporary suspension, etc. The fact that they're "helping" the site doesn't count, because we need more than a single prolific user to succeed, and this problematic user threatens to cut off the promising-new-user pipeline.

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

Obviously I would talk to them first to figure out why they thought that way. I'd probably also defer to them - I'm very used to deferring to other people who are more experienced than me, and at worst I'll be quietly annoyed while letting the presumably wiser other moderator's decision stand. If I feel really strongly then I'd bring it to meta. However I wouldn't use my powers to unilaterally reverse another mod's decision.

  1. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

I believe that we need to care about quality in order to keep the site an interesting place. I also believe that it's not cold or unforgiving to close/delete posts which fail to follow policy. Quick closure is key to prevent poor-quality answers. The crucial step is giving the poster specific, actionable feedback (especially in the case of closure) on how their post could be improved to be in line with site policy. After a day or two for them to return and respond, if no improvement is in sight, then the deletion train should start - and, considering the rate at which moderation happens on this site, it will probably be at least another day before deletion happens. We can also always point askers (especially recommendation-requesters) to chat.

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

I'm going to agree with Mith here that the problem lies not in the lack of a citation but in the lack of an explanation. Shucks, even having a citation but no explanation is likely to make for a poor answer. We're a literature site, and if there's anything that my mandatory literature classes have covered, it's that explaining your position is how you convince someone else of it. A question about localism usage, for example, probably shouldn't be answered by a single-line post claiming a certain usage. It would be more useful, as well as completely sufficient, for the answer to simply go into a little more depth on how to properly use the localism, the nuances of it, and how those usage and nuance notes apply to the passage in question. That's explaining your answer. That's enough.

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

The tools that a moderator has aren't really different than a regular user. I can post my thoughts in comments or in chat; I can write meta posts which will be seen by no one but the regulars; I can lead by example and refrain from accepting answers for 3+ days in the hopes of getting more good ones. I find it valuable when users (often Rand al' Thor, from my memory) promote good but late answers to questions, and would try to do this myself. Bounties are always a good option if the goal is attention. Again note that nothing of what I just said is unique to moderators. Additionally, to be effective, the whole community would need to get in on this. The most I could do is have a diamond while doing all of the above.

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

Well, I know I'm expected to say I'll do that all less. And it's true that if my close-votes are binding, I won't be able to go, "hmm, this question is borderline, I'll CV it and see what the queue thinks". However, there is another tool available: the almighty comment. When I see a question/answer which I would have performed a nonbinding moderation action on, I can simply write a comment explaining what I think the problem is. Knowing me, it's likely I will then post a link to that comment in the chat room, creating a record of my view and bringing it to the attention of others. The main "moderation" action I perform, however, is editing, which is binding on all the sites I actively participate on. That won't be changing, although I will try to comment my reasons for editing more/better, as I know that getting a moderator edit is more intimidating than a random other user.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I have extensive experience with meta discussions, day-to-day editing/closing/reviewing, and similar layperson moderation actions on Puzzling. I help out in small ways on Meta SE, but I step into moderation there much less as there are people more qualified than I hanging out there. As for the real world, my apartment currently contains a certain problematic roommate. However, the worst of the problems have largely been solved by a coordinated confrontation which involved repeated calm explanations - even if she didn't seem to accept what we were saying at the time, her behavior has moderated to a livable level. It was a good reminder that, in the moment, "winning" an argument is not necessary.

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

I will be in the chat room when I'm online. As for "working hours": I am a college student with two side jobs and a social life outside of this site. I cannot reasonably promise to be available at any specific time except when I wake up (6:30AM Pacific), though I make an effort to check the site throughout the day. That includes while procrastinating on homework, during lunch, in the middle of a boring lecture, or when I actually have free time. Usually this comes in little chunks of availability. If I'm pinged then I'll come as quick as I see it - and, considering how often I check SO when working, I'll probably be coming as soon as I start lab work. Even if I'm not online (e.g. knitting on the couch), it's likely my phone is nearby and Mith could buzz it via Discord.

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

Too many bad answers probably merits protection. Too many chatty comments probably merits a mass-deletion/move-to-chat and a stern warning left behind. HNQ status, while "dangerous" in the sense that it increases the number of inexperienced eyes on a question, isn't so unavoidably bad that a question should need to be removed. If we have a question actively on HNQ which I can predict might attract the wrong sort of attention due to the topics it covers, I can make a special effort to be checking every hour or so for the latest developments. But the key is to monitor and make focused moderation actions directed at specific problems, instead of the broad brush of kicking an entire question out of SE's "central plaza" of the HNQ list.

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

I will freely admit that my mental reserves of explaining-energy can be easily depleted by a protracted problem, especially if there are "real-life" stresses present. As a mod I would be more careful to identify when my brain was going off the rails and step back. Again, I'd be expecting to be a junior mod, so I would acknowledge my limits and ask someone else to take over. If no one else was available, there is a way to stop myself from giving unprofessional responses, and that's to stop responding: I could take the time and the last bit of mental energy to write a final reply, then leave it there until I was ready to pick it back up. If needed I can let the other person get the "last word" in.

Skooba

Hi folks, I am Skooba. I am nominating myself for a moderator position because I just love this site. I have been around since launch, and while I may not be the most active forward facing user (asking and answering questions), I always check in to take a look at the review queues, vote on interesting questions, and learn from good answers.

I want to see this site continue to grow and thrive which in our system means some form of moderation. I hope to demonstrate my best qualities and why I am a good fit for the position in the answers I have given to the questionnaire.

PS. I have seemed to have missed a word, I probably have. This a known occurrence, no cause for alarm!

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?

The SE Network already has a progressive disciplinary program in place. This would need to be followed regardless of the content the user is providing, the Code of Conduct applies to all. I would try to reason with the user while being fair and patient to attempt to stop the behavior and explain that if continued would lead to account suspension.

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

Even moderator actions can be undone (as long as the post is not locked) by the community. Generally, the community can decide on its own the best course of action (with some light handed guidance if needed). I would hold another moderator to the same standard I would any other user. If I feel an action should be undone, I will do it, although I may wait to to cast my vote to be the "last" one. If the situation is contentious I would reach out to the other moderator and have a discussion as to why they took the action in the first place and determine a best course of action from there as well.

  1. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

A strong community needs enough members to be active and needs interesting contributions for those members to stick around. So long as positive contributions are coming in we shouldn't worry to much about where they are coming from. I've never seen the SE network as "scholarly"; it has always been people from all different walks of life that share a interest or passion for a particular subject. These people are pretty much by definition "enthusiasts". Anyone can post a good question and good answer. You don't need to be a scholar, although it might help if you are. Users will always come and go, the balance is maintaining an active community and letting those members decide what they deem quality content (so long as it is on-topic ;-) ).

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

Facts need references. Interpretations do not. An answer should distinguish what they are presenting. Voting then determines if the answer is "good". For fact based answers this is generally going to mean that the sources provided are trusted and the information presented actually addresses the question. For interpretations this is generally going to rely on the community agreeing with the interpretation. References can help support an interpretation and interpretation can help provide clarity for fact. There is room for both.

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

There is little a moderator can do in this regard. They cannot change the voting of the community. The best they could do is leave a comment under an answer that they feel has been wrongly downvoted. In an extreme case if an answer is deleted a moderator could undelete the answer if it provides useful information.

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

[The community has many members with the privilege to close questions, I would let them do the majority of that moderation since this site does not have problem with review queue backlogs. I would only instantly close questions that were rude/offensive or blatantly off-topic. Other than that, if I was reviewing a question for closure I would wait to be the final vote if I agreed that the question needed to be closed (the same would be true for reopen votes).]

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I have been around Stack Exchange for a while and am familiar with how moderation is handled from being on both sides of it. I have run in a few elections before on MT&V, SFF, and even here during the pro-tempore phase. In the real world I am often involved in contract disputes, labor relations, and resolving interpersonal issue between colleagues. All in all I strive to listen to both sides of a disagreement, evaluate objectively, and defend my own position if necessary.

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

Absolutely! Although my most active chat days are probably behind me, I have no issue venturing there.

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

There are many tools a moderator has to deal with HNQ attention. Protecting the question, moving comments to chat, locking the post, are just a few effective ways to deal with it. As always rude/abusive content needs swift removal and if a question is receiving high levels of this type of content I would consider removing it from the HNQ.

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

Being a robot I have no emotions and therefore can always avoid taking things personally. (This is a test to see if you have read all my answers)

Matt Thrower

Hello all. As a programmer who loves literature, and who has a limited academic background in the subject alongside the science and computing that was the mainstay of my education, I've been desperate for this site to exist since the early days of SE so I could enjoy both my job and my hobby at the same time. I am also a freelance journalist and author.

I've followed the creation of this site since it was in Area 51 and I've been a highly active member since it launched, especially in terms of answering questions. My history in moderation tasks is rather less storied but this community means a lot to me and I'd be proud to step up and take on those jobs and responsibilities if users think my doing so would help the site prosper and move forward.

Literature is an extensive topic, and I'm well aware that this site would benefit hugely from a larger user community to add more expertise to help generate even more interesting questions and answers. As such, I'm interested in taking a moderator position in order to help make this happen - you'll see my ideas for doing so in answering the questionnaire below.

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?

Valuable answers are obviously valuable, but the same can be true of arguments so long as they're conducted in a civil and constructive manner. By intervening in any discussions that seem to be getting out of hand I would hope to be able to keep things on the rails and feed those arguments and discussions into meta and thence into improvements for the site. For those instances where things get out of hand, we have existing tools, codes and the opinions of other moderators to decide on a suitable course of action. I would argue it's not fitting to try and take a one size fits all approach to a problem that can vary greatly in the details, and that discussion in the community is the right prerequisite to deciding how best to resolve it.

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

By discussing it with the mod in question. We're all adults here. If we couldn't reach some kind of agreement then I would hope that a compromise would usually be possible - asking the user involved to modify their question and so on.

  1. This site and community have often struggled with balancing the desire for content quality and the desire to be welcoming. What are your thoughts on this issue? Does being too strict on quality make us cold, unforgiving, and unapproachable? Does being too lax make us unattractive to scholars and enthusiasts? How should a balance be struck?

This question has been a concern since we launched the site, as a result of two things. Firstly, a fear that none of the early site users measured up to the required measure of "expertise" and, second, the issue I alluded to in my introduction that a site like this benefits from a wide base of expertise because the canon is so large. As a result, there's a degree of paranoia here that we're not being "scholarly" enough.

My feeling on this is, and has always been, that we worry about this too much. It's clear from the tone, content and citations in many of the answers we have to more "literary" questions that we are appealing to scholars and enthusiasts. At the same time, it's equally clear from the number of questions we get for text identification and interpretation of relatively everyday passages that people are happy to come here to get any kind of literary question answered. We are, in other words, already doing quite well at striking the right balance.

  1. From the early days of this site, there's been a very strong impetus toward adding references to answers to support claims made. While there are many obvious instances where this is desirable, there are also many cases - especially around the interpretation of close readings - where very valuable answers can be provided without citations. Another circumstance where referencing isn't always appropriate involves explaining language use, especially localisms. How do we propose balancing the value added by referencing some answers with the offputting nature of prodding users to reference everything, when it isn't always appropriate to do so?

Note - this was my own question. My feeling is that we need to row back on this a bit, and be more careful with our language. New users coming to the site who add useful but unreferenced answers are sometimes met with request to add them which will be somewhat forbidding if they're not familiar with the practice. They might have cribbed some of the information from wikipedia or from one of the very many online study guides that exist for many classics texts and while such answeres might be *better* with a reference they can still be *good* based on personal internet research. Comments on such answers thus need to be more welcoming and encouraging, even if it's only to ask people to identify their sources and not to feel bad if those sources are sparknotes or somesuch. After all, they still took the time to research and type up the answer.

Some people also seem to use "referenced" to mean "expanded" - as in elucidating an argument in more detail so that it contains less assumptions. If that's the case, that should also be spelled out in a more welcoming manner rather than the implied suggestion that answers need references from academic books or journals.

  1. It's been raised in the past that the Stack Exchange format of having a "correct" answer isn't the best fit for a subject which, even at the serious academic level, can be strongly opinion-based. Furthermore, there's a tendency to reward quick answers and to discourage multiple answers neither of which fit well with the research and argument-building needed to create a good literature answer. How can moderator input help us make the best use of this format to support generating quality content in our community?

Note - this was my own question. It's not up to moderators to change the fundamentals of how the SE system works, nor should it be. However, it strikes me that we can still encourage users - via the tour or FAQS - to move away from the idea that a tick is "correct" to one where a tick is the "best" or "most helpful" answer. Doing so fits better within the subjective nature of the subject but has an additional benefit in that it may also discourage users from accepting the first or highest-voted answer which is a bit of an issue here for users who are new or have come from other SE sites. Waiting on acceptance could encourage multiple answers to the same question which, again, fits better with how literature tends to be discussed in the real world.

  1. As a moderator, your votes become binding. Actions you used to take like flagging, reviewing, closing, and deleting will take effect immediately without any input from any other users or moderators. How will you adapt the way you currently flag and vote to deal with this change?

I would either wait to discuss such an action with another moderator or wait and see where the community consensus was leading before taking such an action. Exceptions would be posts that were outright offensive, clearly plagerised or in clear violation of SE rules and norms. That kind of abuse is extremely rare in this community apart from "comments as answers" which are not majorly problematic. Should I make errors in doing so, my decisions can be reversed by other mods.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

Almost none. I was part of a moderation team for the forum on a board gaming website once, but we had a community manager who did the majority of that work. I was only really involved in discussion groups concerning what action to take on problematic users or posts.

  1. Will you participate in the chat room, or at least be pingable for casual discussion of moderation matters? (I consider it important that at least some mods be reachable via chat.)

I already do spend time in the Reading Room and this would increase if I were to be elected as a mod. I will be most commonly available during working hours, GMT.

  1. If an otherwise perfectly fine question starts attracting too much low-quality attention, such as no-effort/unexplained answers, chatty comments, or similar, what actions would you take or not take to address this? This specifically can often be attributed to Hot Network Question visitors - would you consider mod-removing a question from the HNQ list?

I don't think this situation requires any kind of templated action other than closely monitoring the question. We already have procedures and rules to follow in terms of handling bad answers and chatty comments - the only additional issues in this situation are ones of frequency. Provided the question is watched and action taken promptly, the normal rules should do the job for us.

I'd be generally unwilling to remove a question from HNQ. Poor answers are poor but, again, this is a subject area which welcomes discussion and the more eyeballs and opinions the better so long as they're clear and well-argued. I might make an exception for a question on a contentious topic that was attracting explicitly offensive answers but, again, I would discuss this with other mods before doing so unless they were unavailable and the abuses egregious.

  1. Sometimes users will be unhappy about moderator actions and respond in a persistent and/or insistent manner, or not respond in as timely a manner as you might wish. Will you be able to avoid taking this personally and keeping responses cool and professional and do you have strategies to prevent such issues depleting your personal mental and emotional reserves?

I'm 49 years old and, I hope, well past the point where I might take such accusations from total strangers personally. I've had plenty of practice on Twitter where, as a journalist with vaguely progressive opinions, I've attracted my share of trolls. Keeping up my mental and emotional reserves over the long haul may be more of an issue for me as I have a family who, obviously, come before mod duties. But I find it hard to imagine that modding in this relatively quiet and respectful community would put that much of a tax on my energies.

This election is over.