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As we had done last year, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates during this election period. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

Here's how it'll work:

  • During the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, October 12th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.

  • At the end of the phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.

  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

  • 1
    Where is the new question to host the actual questionnaire? – dpollitt Oct 14 '15 at 0:58
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    With the election closing in five days, are these questions actually going to be asked? – mattdm Oct 15 '15 at 12:39
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    AJ and I discussed in chat and decided to answer the questions here. If the official post is made later we can copy the answers there. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:22
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Over the past five years, we've built up a good library of fundamental questions and answers about the basics of how cameras work. (See https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=frequent and be proud.)

I, personally, would like to see a lot more questions about

  • the art of photography, including history and culture
  • the craft of photography beyond understanding of basic terminology (we've got some great stuff here, for example under , but there could be so much more.

So, fundamentally, do you agree with this as targets for improvement and growth? What could we do as a community to encourage that — and what would you do specifically as a moderator to support it?

  • I'd love to see a growth in those two areas... More importantly, I'd love to see some ideas on how. :) – John Cavan Oct 6 '15 at 3:49
  • The biggest thing is supporting and guiding those who try to go down that path and making sure to help educate the community on "Good Subjective/Bad Subjective". One of the most common problems that the "softer" SE sites have is the "objective" standard that many of the more technical sites have. When approaching less technical subjects, the idea of "good subjective" or well supported and reasoned subjective thinking is key. Understanding this and helping overcome the gut reaction to shut down anything that isn't purely objective is key to allowing for discussion of more artistic ideas. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:03
  • Would love to see more questions on the art and craft of photography. Although answers may tend to be more subjective and "opinion-based" if the questions are focused on a specific aspect, and as AJ says have supportable well-reasoned answers, then I think they can be allowed. We have had good questions on composition, negative space, simplifying compositions, that have been successful. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:29
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Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

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

  • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  • 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?
  • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
  • For a valuable but problematic user, the first thing is to talk with them and figure out what the cause of the problems is. Then work with them to make sure they understand the problems it is causing and help them figure out ways to avoid the problems. If problems continue, it does become necessary to weight the benefit vs the harm they bring to the community and act accordingly. This may mean anything from continuing to work with them to minimize the harm to stronger warnings and eventually suspensions. It really depends on the situation. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:06
  • On the issue of disagreements among moderators, it is key to work together with the moderator in question to figure out the proper course of action. If the two of you can't figure it out, bring in another moderator to help. Being a moderator isn't about running things the way you want, but rather the way the community wants, so it is necessary to be able to set aside your own view of what you want to see happen and work on what the community wants, and that means working with what other mods want too. As long as everyone is willing to work as a team, it allows these to be resolved easily. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:08
  • Moderators are the hands of the community. They keep the community operating in line with both the community's wishes and the guidelines of Stack Exchange. They deal quickly with the worst and cleanest cut situations that come up or the situations that the general members of the community do not have the tools to be able to deal with. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:11
  • Part of having a diamond associated with everything you do is that you give up a big part of your own say. You are no longer a member voting in deciding the direction of the community, but rather the agent of the community itself. You need to act for the good and interest of the community and have to be mindful of the weight that your input has when you do speak on discussions the community has. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:12
  • The main way that being a moderator makes me more effective is in access to the moderator tools and the ability to do actions like spam fighting and responding to user flags that only moderators can do. I'm an experienced moderator and know my way around the tools and policies, so I'm already up to speed on what is involved and how to be effective in the role. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:13
  • For a valuable but problematic user, consult with them offline if possible to find out if they realize they are causing friction. Encourage them to be more tactful, and if they continue to be disruptive, probably consult other mods for a consensus on what next steps to take – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:32
  • Disagreements between moderators: It's commonplace that we have varying opinions whether a question should be closed. I'm not at all worried if I'm in the minority opinion. However I don't think mods should vote when a consensus can be reached, unless they have strong feelings that the question is inappropriate, or for whatever reason needs to be closed quickly (i.e. abusive). If a mod was using the binding vote too quickly and too often I would speak to them about it. Moderators here have always tended to have a very light hand in things, so not a worry – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:36
  • Diamond associated with everything you do: I don't think it would change the way I behave on the site - if I am speaking my mind about an issue, I would want to ensure that I make it clear what is my personal opinion vs what is SE policy. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:43
  • Being a moderator: being able to help out with the workload of migrating posts, handling flags, housekeeping like the Photo of the Week contest, and instant action on spam or abuse – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:44
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There is some feeling that the Photo of the Week contest isn't working perfectly. See

One of the major reasons for the current structure was to reduce moderator work — it doesn't need to be started again manually every week, and if the exact rollover time is missed, it's no big deal.

So, any change is largely going to fall onto the moderators. What do you think we should do, and are you up for any ongoing work to implement it?

  • 1
    I don't think it is ideal, but I also don't know that the current system can easily support much better. Resetting too frequently would result in images getting up simply because other entries hadn't drifted in yet. Ideally might be some type of aging system, but without technical measures it would be pretty error prone. It might be possible to do some kind of query off the data explorer to better score with some type of aging rule though. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:48
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    The current system provides us with a good crop of excellent images, so it is working. I do think an occasional reset, or aging of entries, would be beneficial to clear out old entries and give newer entries the possibility of bubbling up to the top more quickly. I'd be happy to handle the workload of managing any changes if we could come up with something workable. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:47
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With the line between a video camera and still camera being ever more blurred, how do you see the role of moderator contributing to the success of this site as well as the video production stack exchange site?

  • Within the arts sites in general, there is a TON of cross over. Ideally, having moderators that know multiple sites and topic areas well helps to direct people towards the best resources to answer their questions. Traditionally, the dividing line has been the intended use of the camera. If you are shooting stills vs video makes a big difference on a number of factors, so this particular line is one of the clearest among the arts sites. The line between photography and graphics design can be even more blurry. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:57
  • The line between video and still equipment is getting more blurred, but the questions I think tend to be pretty clear cut if they apply to still-only, video-only, or both. There are some borderline questions, but most obvious video questions are migrated quickly over to video.SE. I think it's working well – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:50
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At one point there was a vibrant chat room here at photo.stackexchange. Now the room rarely has activity. Considering that chat is a sign of an engaged an active community, what can be done by the moderator(s) to once again establish chat as a friendly and fun environment that the community wants to participate in?

  • Mostly, just being available to talk. Chat dies when there aren't many people around to talk with. Interesting topics to talk about are also key. An attempt to revive the blog might help as discussion could occur in chat to work on developing blog posts or to further discuss recent blog posts with those who want further discussion. Critiques could also be offered in chat. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:55
  • Chat is a great tool, but as you say it's just rarely active. I've never been very active due to my timezone. As a mod, I'd certainly make myself available, but I don't feel I could really drive any revival in the chat rooms except where my waking hours are overlapping with the rest of the community – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:56
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Do you see a reason to revive the now essentially abandoned photography stack exchange blog? What benefits would it bring to this community if any?

  • I didn't know there's a blog. Is it even linked from the main site? – null Oct 14 '15 at 18:32
  • It used to show up on the right side bar of the homepage. I don't think it has for sometime. – dpollitt Oct 14 '15 at 18:33
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    Followup question: what do you think about Should we migrate posts from the blog to be self-answered questions? – mattdm Oct 15 '15 at 12:40
  • The main advantage I could see with the blog would be to encourage discussion on more artistic and opinion oriented concepts that don't fit within the general Q/A scope of the site, but are none-the-less key to the art of photography. Not everything about photography can easily be summed up in question and answer form and the blog is a good way to provide content that wouldn't otherwise fit. The challenge would be finding topics to put up. We could perhaps have a meta post for ideas and let people offer to step forward and help write articles. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:53
  • Yes, we have some good equipment reviews and in-depth how-to articles. It's not very obvious that we have a blog - perhaps adding a list of articles to the main site somewhere so it's more discoverable. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:54
  • btw, the blog link is at the very bottom of the homepage. tour help blog chat ... – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 7:17
  • Just now noticed mattdm's followup question. Perhaps self-answered questions where the answer summarizes the main points in the blog and refers to the blog post, as a way to drive traffic to the blog and help people discover other content there? I hate to give up on the blog entirely. – MikeW Oct 18 '15 at 22:21
  • As far as the conversion of blog posts to self-answered questions. That might be an ideal way to also draw further attention to the blog. There is no reason we couldn't double post content on the blog and a self-answered question with links back and forth. The blog would be an easy way for people to find all the content prepared to that level and the self-answered questions would let it be discover-able and added to by the community. I think the one exception would be any blog topics that do not fit the Q/A format well. – AJ Henderson Oct 19 '15 at 6:15
1

Often times our newest users are turned off by the "rules" and procedures of SE such as the closure of most shopping questions and other off topic questions. What can be done to turn potential new users into members of the community vs shying them away due to apparent harsh rules?

  • There are two prongs to this. The first is to make sure to explain what the problem is and why it is a problem. The second is to help point them in the right direction if they put in enough effort to indicate they are making a serious effort. Some users simply want an answer without having to think and they are less likely to have stronger questions down the road, however if someone demonstrates solid effort, comments can be used to point them towards other resources where they can find the answer. The combination shows them we are helpful and teaches them what we do here. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:51
  • We need to watch our tone when these questions are asked. Not "sigh, another shopping question" type comments. We do often steer them elsewhere, or help them reword their question to be on-topic. I think most valuable users will lurk around and get the feel of the site and contribute. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 6:58
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Quite often, questions will get closed as off-topic and yet users will sometimes provide a response using the existing comment mechanism. What's your view on this and do you think it's something that should be discouraged and why?

  • I think this is something that has to be approached carefully. There are two goals to keep in mind. One is to keep the site friendly for well intending newcomers. If the post is well written but was just slightly out of bounds, helping point the user in the right direction and providing minimal detail may be helpful as long as it also coaches them in proper usage. The flip side is that we want to avoid rewarding behavior that doesn't fit. If a user continues to post off topic content to get answers in comments, then it should stop. The goal should be to help the user participate better. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 5:45
  • I think we all want to be helpful. We see a question we know is off-topic, but we don't want to be unhelpful. Giving an actual answer to an off-topic question is bad form, but a comment is a way of providing a little help to the OP. We do tend to often overuse comments rather than providing proper answers on the site, but in the case of an off-topic question that is certain to be closed, I think it's ok, as long as it doesn't get out of hand – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 7:04
0

I have one sample question:

  • How you as moderator will deal with "tough" persons, those who (almost) all the time break the rules, use community for selfadvertisement and so on?
  • 1
    Do you mean separate from the "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?" question? So, in this case, someone who is just a problem? – mattdm Oct 12 '15 at 13:05
  • @mattdm, this kind you describe is one of them. But there are users who do not want to read and follow the rules at all – Romeo Ninov Oct 12 '15 at 13:33
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    If a user's primary purpose is self-promotion and they are not otherwise positively contributing for the majority of their posts, then they are considered a spammer by SE and they should first be informed of policy, then privately contacted and then, if the problem continues, their account either suspended or removed, depending on severity. For other, non-spam issues, first make sure they are aware of the issue, then privately work through escalating penalties culminating in suspensions. – AJ Henderson Oct 16 '15 at 6:00
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    If they are breaking the rules all the time, then they'd be warned, given a short suspension to cool down, or banned outright. I don't think self-promotion is a big problem if they're contributing their expertise to quality answers. Otherwise can deal with their answers on a case by case basis. – MikeW Oct 16 '15 at 7:13

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