The following is a "digest" version of the July 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @GraceNote or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

  • Five years on and bumped to the homepage. Perhaps time for status-completed?
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 8:11

15 Answers 15


Christofian http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c35db03c7ecd3c62b6c89be47b60f3fd?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Christofian asked: How can we make this site more active?

Christofian http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/c35db03c7ecd3c62b6c89be47b60f3fd?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Christofian answered: There was a discussion about this on the meta, but I feel that my answer could use some updating. One of the things noticed in that discussion was that there are a lot of good questions on stack overflow and other sites that might be a better fit over here. As a moderator I can use the extra influence that comes with that position to get some of those questions migrated over here.

I think we need to get more interesting questions asked here. It's OK to answer your question, so hopefully that will encoradge more people to do that. I posted more about this on the meta, and while I haven't been asking any questions lately, I'm going to start doing so when I get back from vacation. It would be great if I could get 10 people committed to doing this: I think it would help out with the activity level a lot, and we would all learn a lot of new things.

Also, it would be great if more people would visit the chat. Getting a better sense of a community would be a great first step, and would help us coordinate any further efforts to make this site more active.

In addition, we might want to make sure that we are welcoming to newcomers. See here: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/07/kicking-off-the-summer-of-love/. We wont gain activity if we push away new members.

However, there is only so much that a moderator can do. There is no magic button that I (or any mod) can press to make activity happen. This will require everyone’s involvement. Again, if we can get more people on the chat, it would be a great first step to coordinating an effort to make this site more active.

Aurelio De Rosa http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/8b01a8b4d7a0a9079a4e97b1ddedbe56?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Aurelio De Rosa answered: The first thing that came to mind is this: Until few months ago Stackoverflow, that we all know is the most used website of the stackexchange network, has Webmaster as one of the options you can choose when you flag a question as off-topic. Now Webmaster is no more available, so people have to use the generic off-topic. I think that restoring the option could be worth for this website since a lot of users post questions about SEO, SEM and similar topics on Stackoverflow and having a direct option could let the discussions migrate easier. Other things that surely will help, but this is somehow reinventing the wheel, is to have more ads, mainly on Stackoverflow but also on other website, to let people discover Webmaster.

paulmorriss http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/8691b744cb9151e4a173a23eb44eab3b?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG paulmorriss answered: I think Christofian's idea of a blog (suggested a few months ago on meta) would help attract more people to the site. I'm disappointed in how many questions are left unanswered, so we could do with more people with a variety of expertise. However a blog needs a small group of people who can write regular posts. So it's a chicken and egg situation.

paulmorriss http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/8691b744cb9151e4a173a23eb44eab3b?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG paulmorriss continued: I think the key thing is to turn those looking for answer into those who give answers. I don't think we need a lot of daily activity, but we need quality questions and answers so that people value the site.


Christofian Christofian asked: Two highly respected members of the community get in a comment war on a question. They both flag each other's comments and are cussing and it is clear that this is beyond a heated argument. What do you do, what don't you do?

Christofian Christofian answered: I make sure that they stay away from each other for a while, so that they can cool down. I'll delete the offencive comments, contact them telling them not to talk to eachother, monitor their accounts to make sure that they don't do anything else, etc. If it's really bad (threats, etc.) I'll consider putting them in a temporary ban. I'll also let the other mods know about it to make sure that we're all on the same page. I don't think that I would encoradge them to "work things out" in the chat until I understand the situation and until they've had time to cool down.

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: First of all, I would like to talk with both of them to understand their point of view and why this happens. Besides, I'll clear all of the useless flags they added in the system. Finally, I suggest to both of them to use a chat to clarify their problems and suggest to keep calm otherwise actions will be taken against them.


Christofian Christofian asked: Seriously, why do you all want to do this? What moderators go through (for better for for worse) is fairly transparent and it's not always pleasant. Please try to avoid blowing smoke if possible.

Christofian Christofian answered: I want to be able to give back to the community, because Stack Exchange and Pro Webmasters have been really helpful to me. I also want to have experience moderating a site, because I think that I would learn a lot from it.


Christofian Christofian asked: What would you do if you and a user disagree on how the site should be run or moderated?

Christofian Christofian answered: I would get another moderators opinion, or make a post on the meta (or see if there was already a meta post, and cite that), and try to get a consensus. I would go along with whatever conclusion the community reaches (or has reached).

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: Well, undestand the point is good and surely every opinion should be taken into account. Anyway it all depends on the user opinion. Some of them can simply have a problem with me (or any other moderators of course) and try to create difficulties.


Christofian Christofian asked: 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?

Christofian Christofian answered: Anything that you post on the internet is going to stay there for all eternity. Because of that, I make sure that anything that I post online isn't something that I want to be on the front page of a newspaper, and as a result, I try very hard to make sure that nothing is rude or uncivil about my contributions to this site. Having a diamond next to my name will mean that I will be even more careful, but I think that I'm already doing a good job


Grace Note Grace Note asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: Yes. I think there's a difference between people who, for example, struggle to express what they want because they don't know the right words, or have enough of an idea of the concepts to frame a question clearly, and those who are lazy and just want an answer, but aren't prepared to answer the clarifying questions you ask to try and track it down.

paulmorriss paulmorriss continued: I find asking a clarifying question useful in work generally. If someone can't be bothered to answer your question they probably didn't want what they wanted to ask you in the first place. (Though I appreciate that sometimes they don't come back until a few days later as, even though they do have a genuine problem to solve, they've got things that we don't know about that are more pressing that don't involve stackexchange.)

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: This is a good question. One approach is to invite them to go in the chat to get more and quickly assistance.

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa continued: About the "boiling point", I think this is subjective to the moderator and the user you're trying to help. The best I can say is that I'll stop at the time I'll understand that the user is not trying to put any effort but he's only using you as a private consultant for he's problems

Christofian Christofian answered: I think that we should be polite to new users, and that's something that we need to work on. I'm willing to work with people who want to be part of this community. Anyone who takes the time to improve their contributions is someone I'm willing to work with. If they don't respond to my comments and don't try to improve their contributions, then I'm not willing to work with them.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Do you feel like a representative percentage of the community participates in your site's meta? Based on that, how strongly do you think feedback presented on meta should factor into your decision making as a moderator?

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: There's no point being a crusading moderator who is way off the centre of gravity of the community, so I think it's key for keeping in touch (also the comments on closed questions help if people don't bother to take the discussion to meta). Webmasters particularly, as I've probably said on meta, is in the middle of serverfault, stackoverflow and the design-y sites, so it's key to know where the lines are between us and them.

Christofian Christofian answered: I think that anybody who bothers to give feedback and participate in the meta should be listened to. I have gotten great advice from the meta, and if I am a moderator, I will continue to seek advice there. That said, it would be great if we could get more activity on the chat and the meta


Grace Note Grace Note asked: How would you deal with a user who contributes good content to the site, but consistently causes trouble in other ways (is rude, confrontational, makes bad edits/tag wikis, etc.)?

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: Be polite is a must for me. As a moderator I'll try to "educate" the user with comments on his/her replies, chat and how I can. Of course the user has to show the willingness to undestand better what he should do (in case of bad flags and so on). Otherwise take some very basic actions could be a solution for a bad behavior.

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: One of my mottos in life is "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." - Halnon’s Razor. I think it's worth spending time pointing out that their behaviour isn't helpful, even though we appreciate their content. If that doesn't help though I guess we (because I'd consult other mods) reluctantly need to take what action we have the powers to do.

paulmorriss paulmorriss continued: People can have bad days, so there always needs to be time for calm reflection on what was said previously.

Christofian Christofian answered: I would talk to them, but if they continued to do things like that, I would ban them. No matter how good their contributions are, their inappropriate actions are causing more trouble for the site than their good contributions can make up for.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: A post is flagged. All moderators have looked at it. No one's taken action/cleared it because you're all unsure what to do with it. What do you do now when there is no consensus?

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: Difficult one. With an even number of mods after this election, there is no casting vote. I would tend to defer to @JohnConde because of his experience and activity.

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: I'm a person who often make decisions assuming responsibilities so I'll do something, take action. In the case I'm wrong, I'll apologize with the others and will learn from my error.

Christofian Christofian answered: I would ask mods on other sites if I think they might have experienced this before, or I would ask on the meta (ours, or meta.so if it's more of a system wide issue) for opinions on what to do and try to get a consensus.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: Is there anything about the way the site is currently run that you would like to change? If so, what would you try to change if you were to become a moderator, and why?

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: I think it's going in the right direction. We have canonical answers on hosting and CMSs that eliminate a lot of the shopping list questions. I'd like to write something on how redirects work so that people can start somewhere when they're trying to get something to work and want to put a bit of time understanding what's going on rather than just "I want to redirect this to this, please give me the exact lines for htaccess".

paulmorriss paulmorriss continued: That would probably only fit in a blog, so it's worth trying to revive the blog idea again.

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: Honestly I think the site and site moderation is good. John do an amazing work. One thing that probably would be good for the site audiance is to merge some of the existing sites or at least topics on others sites that are very related to Webmaster. As someone has already pointed out, be a webmaster is not only about SEO, SEM and so on but it's also about servers, html & css, and so on


Grace Note Grace Note asked: Are there big plans for the development of the site that you have in store? What do you look forward to doing for the growth of the site?

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: I think this is an equivalent reply chat.stackexchange.com/…

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: It would be nice to get some people who know Magento as we get a few questions about that, which don't tend to get answered.

Christofian Christofian answered: see my answer to the question of how we can get the site more active


Grace Note Grace Note asked: Do you expect to be able to keep answering questions or will you spend all your time here moderating?

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: I like the order so I'll do a lot of moderation since webmaster is not the place of 30-questions-at-a-second. Anyway if I know the answer, I'll surely answer the questions.

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: When I hit 10K I eased back on answering and spent more time flagging. I'd expect to keep the same ratio (hard to say, but maybe 1 to 4).

Christofian Christofian answered: I'm going to try to do both: I think that keeping active in the community is as important of a moderator duty as moderating the site. If a moderator isn't active on the site, then they don't really know what's going on with the site.


Grace Note Grace Note asked: Reviewing, acting upon flags, voting to close - all gets repetitive more so as a Mod because you essentially don't have vote limits. What steps do plan to take to keep from getting burned out? If you do get burned out, how will you handle this?

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: Maybe my answer will be a little strange but I think it is releated to the one about improve community. In my opinion one of the key steps is to don't moderate too much. What I mean is that not act for every question/answer could empower users and community. Most of the users are interested in gain points and badges so leave chance to get them could be a good thing...or at least a good try

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: As we don't have that many questions I never get near my vote limits. I do a little each day of the routine flagging and editing. There are also some more interesting and borderline decisions which I tend to leave for later in the day. I think I'd start keeping track of those, because even a few hours later I don't always know what to do.

paulmorriss paulmorriss continued: It will be useful to chat with other mods (I'm assuming we have a private chat room) to get their opinion without filling up the comments on a question with stuff.

paulmorriss paulmorriss concluded: If I got burned out I'd resign. I work with volunteers and I don't mind those that say "I can't help". I get annoyed when they say they will but don't. I wouldn't be like that.

Christofian Christofian answered: If I get tired of being a moderator, I'll resign or take a break. I don't think that I should do something that I don't enjoy, and I don't think it's good for the site if I don't like being a moderator


Grace Note Grace Note asked: When you see a question with major issues (poorly-written, argumentative, etc.), what tool do you reach for first?

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: Halnon’s Razor - see above. Fixing typos helps. Then you can see the bones of the question and whether it fits the site - on topic, and answerable with a specific answer.

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: If it is reasonably editable, I'll do..otherwise close it and wait the the user post a better question.

Christofian Christofian answered: It depends on the question. If it's possible to make it usable for the site, then the editing tool. If not, then the closing tool


Grace Note Grace Note asked: We're nearing the close of the thing, so, to that end - closing thoughts from the candidates?

Aurelio De Rosa Aurelio De Rosa answered: I'll do what I can to improve community and the site but I'd love to do this kind of things with the help of the other moderators. My final proposal is merge, merge, merge......other sites, topics of other sites in the network and so on.

Christofian Christofian answered: I just want to say that it's been fun participating on the site and getting to know people, and that I'm looking forward to doing more of that when I get back.

paulmorriss paulmorriss answered: I like webmasters. It's not super-crowded like SO. Very few problems with difficult people. I'd like to keep it that way, but improving - less unanswered questions, more experienced answerers.

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