2021 Moderator Election

nomination began
Nov 8, 2021 at 20:00
election began
Nov 15, 2021 at 20:00
election ended
Nov 23, 2021 at 20:00
candidates
4
positions
2

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.

See a theory of moderation for the typical roles and abilities of a moderator. Once elected, moderators may hold the position as long as they wish, unless they become inactive or exhibit gross misbehavior.

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

Every election has three phases:

  1. Nomination
  2. Primary
  3. Election

Depending on the number of nominees that enter, and the number of moderator positions to be filled, in some circumstances the election may skip the Primary phase and proceed directly to the Election phase.

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. Do you agree with the enforcement of quality standards? Do you think more or less is needed? What are your reasons? The linked meta announcement is a recent attempt to deal with the repeated behaviour of answering poor questions. This issue is important in light of the ease at which students can get full answers to questions on their assignment/test even when they show no effort, but more generally poor questions contribute to a poor-quality Q&A site and also a poor impression of the site to the wider mathematical community.

[Answer 3 here]

  1. What do you think about the solution-verification tag? See this post for some context.

[Answer 4 here]

  1. Do you have a cause that you would like to focus on as a moderator? Is there a special project that you would like to pursue?

[Answer 5 here]

  1. Do you think that questions at an advanced level do not require as much context? There is disagreement over this within the current mod team.

[Answer 6 here]

  1. Moderators disagree with each other all the time on issues large and small. How will you deal with disagreement with other moderators? At what point do you reverse their actions?

[Answer 7 here]

  1. The CURED chatroom is extremely active and plays a large role in closing and deleting questions and answers, among other moderation activities. Are you aware of this chatroom? Do you think this chatroom is healthy for this site, unhealthy, or somewhere in between? Please justify your answer.

[Answer 8 here]

  1. What has your involvement in moderation issues looked like in the past? For example, have you helped maintain particular tags, been active in review queues, or provided help on meta? How do you see this changing as you step in to a more official role?

[Answer 9 here]

  1. Have you ever been rate-limited (blocked from posting questions or answers, without counting the standard limit of 6 questions per 24 hours, etc.) or banned from reviewing, editing, etc. either on this site or on a different site on the network? If so, please provide some details.

[Answer 10 here]

TheSimpliFire

Quality over quantity is a principle I believe our community will strongly benefit from. As volunteers, I believe that whilst providing help is a rewarding activity, we must also consider whether it is always beneficial to the asker from an educational perspective, and to our community holistically. In tandem with that, as question askers, it is important that we can meaningfully show a willingness to learn.

Therefore, my primary focus is on site curation, especially as this site grows ever larger. For a number of years now, I have learnt and used several ways to do this, from contributing to our main and meta review queues to flagging and editing. As a moderator, I will be able to further assist with site management by reminding users of and enforcing existing policies, ensuring new users are respected and potentially proposing ways to alleviate the site's main issues.

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?

Any action taken must be proportionate to the relevance, validity and severity of the arguments and flags. If the dispute is irrelevant to the question or site policies the comments can be removed or moved to a chatroom. Assuming the flags are raised in good faith, these arguments would most commonly be due to a prolific answerer disputing the truth or validity of a certain post, where tensions become quickly inflamed, or their non-adherence to particular quality guidelines.

In the first case, I would ask both sides to remain calm and remind them of the Code of Conduct. Mathematical arguments, where relevant, are encouraged on this site so the discussions can stay as long as they are not excessive in length and non-insulting. In the second case, I would move the comments to a chatroom and explain the relevant guidelines to the answerer (and why they are there in the first place). Future violations of guidelines would be handled by warnings and penalties such as a temporary suspension. Indeed, our latest policy (see Question 3.) already addresses parts of this.

Evidently the list above is not exhaustive and working on a case-by-case basis is something that moderators are expected to be able to do well. In conclusion, while the answers of the user are very welcome and appreciated, their behaviour must be treated in the same way as any other user on this site.

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

This is essentially Question 7. on the subject of disagreements. In this particular scenario, a compromise would not be applicable since the closure or deletion status of a question is binary, so it is especially important that viewpoints are communicated across clearly and supported by evidence (for instance, a similar question that had a different outcome, or quoting specific guidelines).

  1. Do you agree with the enforcement of quality standards? Do you think more or less is needed? What are your reasons? The linked meta announcement is a recent attempt to deal with the repeated behaviour of answering poor questions. This issue is important in light of the ease at which students can get full answers to questions on their assignment/test even when they show no effort, but more generally poor questions contribute to a poor-quality Q&A site and also a poor impression of the site to the wider mathematical community.

Yes. This policy is finally the realised action of very long-term discussions on meta and chat on methods to reduce the number of low-quality questions and answers. This is a framework I believe is vital if not necessary to bring about a real change in the quality of content on this site, with an ever increasing user pool and an ever more divided community between those who wish to answer any question they want, and those who wish to promote higher quality standards.

Since its enforcement I have left EoQS reminder comments on answers. However, for transparency it would be informative to the community if statistics specific to this policy are summarised, similar to our annual year of moderation meta posts. This would help alleviate concerns by some users who feel their participation in this space does not yield much substance.

  1. What do you think about the solution-verification tag? See this post for some context.

The primary use of this tag is to differentiate between a complete solution whose validity the asker is unsure of from a partial attempt. After reading the meta discussions I believe its intrinsic value of proof-checking has been lost over time due to a large accumulation of similar posts. Curation involves deduplication and this tag is an antithesis to the process, so I would advocate for its removal. This would not be too logistically challenging as most questions with that tag have other mathematically relevant tags.

  1. Do you have a cause that you would like to focus on as a moderator? Is there a special project that you would like to pursue?

Yes. Projects include promoting the idea of curation (such as the use of CURED) and incentivising users to participate, and assisting with resolving the large backlog of flags (including EoQS-related) as has been mentioned by current moderators.

For instance, other network sites including Code Golf and Puzzling have monthly meta announcements incentivising users to use a particular language and praising users for good puzzles respectively, and something similar here on the topic of curation would be good to experiment with.

Due to my studies, I am looking at around 45-60 minutes of activity every weekday with more time available on weekends. I will also note that I am a moderator for Operations Research Stack Exchange but (unfortunately) time spent there is minimal due to considerably less activity.

  1. Do you think that questions at an advanced level do not require as much context? There is disagreement over this within the current mod team.

No. I believe it is fairer to state the alternative proposition that questions at an advanced level often require a different type of context compared to more elementary questions. Comparing the level of context between two questions is often a subjective task, but there are three categories in which we can group context.

Motivation behind asking the question: This does not mean "this question is an assignment problem and my motivation is to get a good mark by asking for help online." It means describing in detail the mathematical background from where question arises, and this is something questions at an advanced level should almost always aim to include.

Attempts at the question: This is especially important for elementary questions as attempts are where most of the context is usually found. It helps us identify the level of study and the part where the asker cannot proceed. It also shows the asker has made a true effort to solve the problem. Sometimes, it is not possible to show very much of it in advanced questions and writing one or two of your own observations would be sufficient.

References related to the question: This is where the asker lists any relevant literature they have found and explains the parts that are relevant. This comes after a question has been formulated, as opposed to motivation, and is something the asker of a research-level question should try to do before posting their question. For more elementary questions, it is advised to search for site duplicates before posting as it is highly probable a similar question has already been asked.

In conclusion, there are some aspects of context that are easier to encompass depending on the level of a question but I believe advanced-level questions should not be given an easier pass.

  1. Moderators disagree with each other all the time on issues large and small. How will you deal with disagreement with other moderators? At what point do you reverse their actions?

Communication is key; if a moderator disagrees with me I will explain my viewpoints and try to understand theirs. I will then identify any commonalities we share towards the situation and where possible would propose a compromise for resolution. If this fails, a vote between both sides of the moderation team could resolve the situation. This also helps to prevent the risk of escalation of tensions. For small and insignificant disagreements this would of course be unnecessary.

As a case in point, the question above (Question 6.) is one that current moderators have conflicting answers on. In this instance, the generic points in the previous paragraph would apply and a panel vote would help decide on the majority opinion, since a middle-ground statement on the level of context that applies to all advanced questions would be quite difficult to achieve.

I will only reverse the actions of another moderator if there is strong consensus within the team for its necessity; if the moderator agrees with reversal, or if their actions break the Code of Conduct/guidelines.

  1. The CURED chatroom is extremely active and plays a large role in closing and deleting questions and answers, among other moderation activities. Are you aware of this chatroom? Do you think this chatroom is healthy for this site, unhealthy, or somewhere in between? Please justify your answer.

Yes, I was a room owner for about a year before taking a break from the site for some time (nowadays I help close/delete some of the posts raised in the chatroom). This platform is a very positive method of curation as it filters some low-quality posts that are picked up by members of the room and occasionally they are missed by the review queues due to lack of close votes. Discussions are generally respectful.

  1. What has your involvement in moderation issues looked like in the past? For example, have you helped maintain particular tags, been active in review queues, or provided help on meta? How do you see this changing as you step in to a more official role?

Yes — all of the above. I am very familiar with all of the review queues (both on main and meta) and have made several contributions through my meta posts. I have made a considerable number of tag wiki and/or excerpt edits which are mainly concerned with expanding on examples and correcting typos. I make frequent use of voting to reward well-written, contextual posts and to possibly deter users from posting low-quality content.

Moderators are in charge of site policies and direct management of site issues — sometimes involving community managers, so I would have a much greater contribution to meta. Note that tagging or editing mostly involve non-human interactions, whereas moderation in itself is a much more human process involving discussions with relevant users, sometimes with the entire community.

  1. Have you ever been rate-limited (blocked from posting questions or answers, without counting the standard limit of 6 questions per 24 hours, etc.) or banned from reviewing, editing, etc. either on this site or on a different site on the network? If so, please provide some details.

No.

Christian Prince

I would like to be nominated as Moderator. Your vote is your power. Voting for me means improved collaboration and maintenance of standards.

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?

[Answer 1 here] Suggest corrections and even correct the answers myself

  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] Notify members why I think it is correct. Or rephrase it and ask the user to post again.

  1. Do you agree with the enforcement of quality standards? Do you think more or less is needed? What are your reasons? The linked meta announcement is a recent attempt to deal with the repeated behaviour of answering poor questions. This issue is important in light of the ease at which students can get full answers to questions on their assignment/test even when they show no effort, but more generally poor questions contribute to a poor-quality Q&A site and also a poor impression of the site to the wider mathematical community.

[Answer 3 here] Yes I agree. More is needed. The reason is that Knowledge in mathematics is getting wider than deeper.

  1. What do you think about the solution-verification tag? See this post for some context.

[Answer 4 here] Solution verification does not necessarily mean duplication if different parameters are involved.

  1. Do you have a cause that you would like to focus on as a moderator? Is there a special project that you would like to pursue?

[Answer 5 here] My focus as moderator is that of proofs. I want to make sure that proofs on the site are of high quality.

  1. Do you think that questions at an advanced level do not require as much context? There is disagreement over this within the current mod team.

[Answer 6 here] Yes. Instead of closing a question based context the advanced users should supply context.

  1. Moderators disagree with each other all the time on issues large and small. How will you deal with disagreement with other moderators? At what point do you reverse their actions?

[Answer 7 here] I think research articles should always be used to back an argument.

  1. The CURED chatroom is extremely active and plays a large role in closing and deleting questions and answers, among other moderation activities. Are you aware of this chatroom? Do you think this chatroom is healthy for this site, unhealthy, or somewhere in between? Please justify your answer.

[Answer 8 here] Yes it is useful

  1. What has your involvement in moderation issues looked like in the past? For example, have you helped maintain particular tags, been active in review queues, or provided help on meta? How do you see this changing as you step in to a more official role?

[Answer 9 here] My roles will require logic in understanding official roles.

  1. Have you ever been rate-limited (blocked from posting questions or answers, without counting the standard limit of 6 questions per 24 hours, etc.) or banned from reviewing, editing, etc. either on this site or on a different site on the network? If so, please provide some details.

[Answer 10 here] I have never been banned in this site.

Parcly Taxel

I've been using the Maths Stack to learn about mathematics for about the last five years. It contains a lot of useful information, but I feel that both the information and the people who contributed them are disorganised:

  • there is little interaction outside the questions/answers proper
  • the links between related posts are either insufficient or obscured by poor questions

While many regular users, including me, have worked to make the links clearer by identifying duplicates, this does not solve the first issue.

As moderator I can make the community less insular, bringing newcomers and veterans together: for the newcomers, showing them that the site is for more than just homework, and for the veterans, providing a more visible way than answers to share their knowledge. Informally, my vision is to make the site like an unofficial textbook of mathematics.

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?

If the user is of an argumentative type I will first move any inflammatory discussions to chat and negotiate with the user there, with "standard sanctions" (moderator note, suspension) if this does not rectify the behaviour.

As for the valuable answers, if the corresponding questions are answered elsewhere I would in addition warn them about EoQS and ask them to check whether their answers are substantially different from existing ones; only then should they post their answers on the "elsewhere" questions.

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

I would not be prone to reversing the actions, but the other moderator may have overlooked context not in the question (i.e. in comments or deleted answers by the OP). If that content salvages the question, in the sense of providing enough context for it to stand alone, I would reverse that action, tell the other moderator about my decision and tell the OP in comments about the importance of putting everything in the question per se.

Changing the close reason to duplicate would only come after salvaging, if the question can be answered through the methods explicated in another answer.

  1. Do you agree with the enforcement of quality standards? Do you think more or less is needed? What are your reasons? The linked meta announcement is a recent attempt to deal with the repeated behaviour of answering poor questions. This issue is important in light of the ease at which students can get full answers to questions on their assignment/test even when they show no effort, but more generally poor questions contribute to a poor-quality Q&A site and also a poor impression of the site to the wider mathematical community.

EoQS is necessary to prevent the site from being overloaded with duplicates, but fine as it stands. I have been warned about it myself, and since then have tried to seek duplicates rather than merely close questions.

Less question-asking by students and more searching will lead to students being forced to think about why such-and-such (as provided by an existing answer) is true, hopefully leading to a clearer/deeper understanding.

  1. What do you think about the solution-verification tag? See this post for some context.

Someone who shows something on their own should have (reasoned) confidence in the correctness of their steps. If the solution is complete, I believe the prover should not ask for verification but rather search to see if the thing they proved is already on MSE, and add their proof as an answer if it is or post a question/answer combo if not. If the solution is incomplete, the question is not of verification but one of "how can I close this gap?" In no case is needed, so the tag is redundant.

  1. Do you have a cause that you would like to focus on as a moderator? Is there a special project that you would like to pursue?

Most MSE users only make a handful of posts before dropping out. I want to make them stay and appreciate the diversity of topics we have here, by promoting recently asked good questions in meta posts and chat rooms. The questions featured in these posts will share a topic and encourage people to tackle unanswered questions; they will also link to answers detailing solution methods as a reference for posterity.

On another point, I am aware of instances where people make new accounts to evade scrutiny (both automated and human) for posting bad questions/answers. As a moderator I would like to investigate and suspend these cases of sockpuppetry and gaming the system. I also have an interest in making "dupe trees" shallow (i.e. one should not have to go through several duplicates, as is sometimes the case currently, before arriving at a not-duplicate question).

  1. Do you think that questions at an advanced level do not require as much context? There is disagreement over this within the current mod team.

I have asked advanced-level questions myself, so I firmly believe that they require as much context as more elementary questions.

  1. Moderators disagree with each other all the time on issues large and small. How will you deal with disagreement with other moderators? At what point do you reverse their actions?

Before I came onto the MSE I was a Wikipedia editor. In case of disputes I will follow roughly the same principles: seek outside opinion, take action myself if possible in a stalemate (be bold), seek compromises. For reversing actions see Q2.

  1. The CURED chatroom is extremely active and plays a large role in closing and deleting questions and answers, among other moderation activities. Are you aware of this chatroom? Do you think this chatroom is healthy for this site, unhealthy, or somewhere in between? Please justify your answer.

I am well aware of CURED and participate in it when I need concurring votes to close/reopen/delete questions. (Indeed I joined CURED – and from there the Puzzling SE – to contest an alleged EoQS violation; see Q3.) I think it is healthy for the site, since there coordinated efforts to close/reopen/delete questions that have not received the appropriate actions can be organised.

  1. What has your involvement in moderation issues looked like in the past? For example, have you helped maintain particular tags, been active in review queues, or provided help on meta? How do you see this changing as you step in to a more official role?

Although I have not been active on meta (as a profilic question-answerer on main) I have been working on review queues as of late, editing questions to use MathJax as needed. As a moderator my moderation focus would shift slightly towards sockpuppet handling (see Q5) and meta help; I think the present tag system is fine as it is.

  1. Have you ever been rate-limited (blocked from posting questions or answers, without counting the standard limit of 6 questions per 24 hours, etc.) or banned from reviewing, editing, etc. either on this site or on a different site on the network? If so, please provide some details.

Years ago I was banned for "HNQ hacking" (editing question titles so they have no MathJax and hence are eligible for Hot Network Questions). I have learned from that, and now most of my edits are to add MathJax and correct tags and syntax errors.

Paramanand Singh

I have been actively involved in moderation activities (reviews, meta discussions, relevant chatrooms) as a regular user for quite some time and thereby got some idea of the issues being faced by this site. I think I can deal with them more effectively by being a moderator (details in my answers).

If elected, I would get a diamond, but what would you get out of this? Well, as I mentioned in last election, you will get a mod who

  • is ready to admit mistakes and improve on them

  • is willing to go a long way to ensure fairness

  • believes that users here act in good faith and with honest intentions

  • wishes to inculcate a culture of "be nice and listen to others" in every user.

Wishing good luck to everyone for the 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?

First let us thank them for contributing valuable answers. And then one needs to understand their issues which is leading to such flagged comments. A discussion with them with focus on resolving those issues will definitely help. In case such a discussion is not helping we may have to use mod tools to control their behavior, but I think that should be used as a last resort.

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

I will discuss the matter with the mod who took the said action and try to convince them. At the same time I also need to understand their viewpoint regarding the particular closure / deletion. The discussion may converge in either direction (keep the post closed / deleted or reverse the action) and that's fine with me . But if the discussion does not converge and the matter is highly controversial we may discuss the same with entire mod team.

In any case reversing an action taken by another moderator should be rare and should be preceded by ample discussion.

  1. Do you agree with the enforcement of quality standards? Do you think more or less is needed? What are your reasons? The linked meta announcement is a recent attempt to deal with the repeated behaviour of answering poor questions. This issue is important in light of the ease at which students can get full answers to questions on their assignment/test even when they show no effort, but more generally poor questions contribute to a poor-quality Q&A site and also a poor impression of the site to the wider mathematical community.

I fully agree with EoQS and thank the existing mod team for the same. It is one of the key examples where a concensus/convergence has been achieved over a highly sensitive topic.

However there is a need to study the effects of EoQS. How much effective has the policy been in controlling the answering of poor questions? If such a study is not already done, then that would be one of the things I would do if elected as a moderator. Only after such a data based study one can say whether we need more or less of EoQS.

  1. What do you think about the solution-verification tag? See this post for some context.

This tag is more of a signal that the question contains an attempt (right/wrong/half-baked). To be frank, I would not miss it if the tag were gone.

As highlighted in linked meta post we also have a problem of duplicates where the same question can be presented many times by different users with slightly different attempts.

  1. Do you have a cause that you would like to focus on as a moderator? Is there a special project that you would like to pursue?

As a first project, I would like to achieve a concensus within mod team over the minimal context needed for questions irrespective of their level.

This will also help reviewers to review any question with regards to context even if the question lies above the level of their mathematical maturity.

Another thing (also mentioned in response to question 3) is the study of effects of EoQS if not done already.

There is another issue which I have noted. Some PSQs are not coming in review queues even after a day or two of their posting and then they may skip review forever. One reason could be that the regular visitors for the related tags don't view them as PSQs and this may be related to the first part of my answer.

But I think the more important thing here is to inculcate a culture/habit of reporting any poor question via flags or close vote as the first step of dealing with questions on this site.

  1. Do you think that questions at an advanced level do not require as much context? There is disagreement over this within the current mod team.

IMHO every question needs context irrespective of their mathematical level.

I am fed up of challenging series and integrals posed as PSQs (a typical example) and have expressed my views on this repeatedly in chats and meta comments. In fact I posted this question here to highlight it on the election platform.

  1. Moderators disagree with each other all the time on issues large and small. How will you deal with disagreement with other moderators? At what point do you reverse their actions?

This is similar to the first question. I think that existing moderators are well intentioned, and far more experienced than me and a discussion with them with an honest and open mind on any points of disagreement will be beneficial.

What is often lacking in discussion and debates is the willingness to understand the views of the other side. This is one of my strengths and I can listen to the other side with great patience and I think it will help us reach a consensus.

The decision to reverse any action taken by a moderator comes only when I am fully convinced that the particular action should not have been taken.

In general this kind of reversal should be rare.

  1. The CURED chatroom is extremely active and plays a large role in closing and deleting questions and answers, among other moderation activities. Are you aware of this chatroom? Do you think this chatroom is healthy for this site, unhealthy, or somewhere in between? Please justify your answer.

I am a regular participant in this chatroom for quite some time and I think this is helping the review system in a big way.

Due to the nature of the activities generated by CURED it may be perceived unhealthy by some people (some messages in the room do sound harsh and sometimes mods have to pitch in cool things down).

But I think that overall the room is helping to get rid of poor questions in a substantial manner. This makes the site more conducive to actually engage in meaningful Q&A.

  1. What has your involvement in moderation issues looked like in the past? For example, have you helped maintain particular tags, been active in review queues, or provided help on meta? How do you see this changing as you step in to a more official role?

I have been actively involved in review queues and meta discussions and relevant chatrooms for quite some time. The involvement in meta is more via comments than answers.

If I am elected as a moderator then I will need to restrain my votes in reviews as they are binding. I think I need to get substantially more active on meta in posting questions and answers. Posting in meta as a moderator requires a bit more thought and preparation and I will have to work on that front.

  1. Have you ever been rate-limited (blocked from posting questions or answers, without counting the standard limit of 6 questions per 24 hours, etc.) or banned from reviewing, editing, etc. either on this site or on a different site on the network? If so, please provide some details.

No!! I don't want to be in such a situation. However I have taken self imposed breaks from mathse to control my addiction.

In fact this election turned up as a surprise during my break.

If elected, I will need to be more systematic and plan my breaks with more thought.

This election is over.