6

In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. Due to the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 8 questions.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes.Please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  1. What do you think about the ongoing contest for the header photo? Would you be willing to do some of the work on this? Several years ago, we decided to add a monthly theme, but that never happened in practice. What do you think about this? Are there other things you'd change about the contest?

  2. I'd like to get more questions (and answers) on the site dealing with the artistic side of photography. Since many people come to Stack Exchange from an engineering background, there's a natural bias towards technical questions about gear. How can we attract more questions about the artistic side of photography — and what might you do as a moderator to encourage this?

  3. 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?

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

  5. We've collectively been rather aggressive (especially lately) about closing questions which involve a camera and lens but the goal is measurement or computer vision (or any other technical use where photography as such is basically incidental). Do you think it's good for the site to have this narrower scope, with a focus on the production of photographs (whether digital or in print), or would we be better casting a wider net? In either case, why? As a moderator, how would you approach this? For example, will you quickly close questions which are primarily about machine vision, or will you wait for community consensus?

  6. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  7. 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?

  8. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

  • 2
    What is the relevance of votes on the questionnaire answers? I find it odd people are voting here, but maybe it's just me :) – dpollitt Jun 6 '17 at 2:12
  • @dpollitt I'd guess it's just habit -- people read something that they think is well written or otherwise agreeable or useful, and they hit that upvote button. – Caleb Jun 6 '17 at 20:27
5

Candidate: AJ Henderson

1) What do you think about the ongoing contest for the header photo? Would you be willing to do some of the work on this? Several years ago, we decided to add a monthly theme, but that never happened in practice. What do you think about this? Are there other things you'd change about the contest?

I like the idea of the contest. I think it is good that we showcase the work of our members. I'd certainly be willing to help with the upkeep on it.

On the monthly theme, I think that is something hard to keep up without the community as a whole getting behind it. Moderators aren't here to run the community, they are here to help make sure the community runs smoothly. It isn't really a moderator's job (or right) to pick topics for the community. We'd need sufficient community interest in suggesting and voting on topics to use and I'm not sure we have that interest right now as a community. If there is enough interest, I would be willing to help with giving themes another go.

As for other ideas about things to change, I would personally like to see it tied to activity on the site. This would need to have a meta post and discussion to see if we want to change it as a community, but it would make sense that the header image reflect our members and removing or delaying entries by inactive members who won't even be aware of their image being displayed may be a decent improvement.

2) I'd like to get more questions (and answers) on the site dealing with the artistic side of photography. Since many people come to Stack Exchange from an engineering background, there's a natural bias towards technical questions about gear. How can we attract more questions about the artistic side of photography — and what might you do as a moderator to encourage this?

The big thing here is trying to help with the understanding of "good subjective". It's a struggle across all the artistic sites and my experience dealing with this is one of what I see as the biggest selling point behind my experience.

Most of the rest of SE has questions that are strictly right or wrong and are very clear cut. Applying strong filters to that gets trained in to people for a long time and it's only relatively recently in the grand scheme of things that artistic sites and more thought as to what makes a good subjective question has become more prevalent. While it is a well documented and relatively easy to understand concept once you understand it, it takes time and effort to retrain people from their established habits.

The best way to do this is a two fold process. One is to work on editing improvements to questions that make the good subjective parts of questions more obvious. The other is to comment on closures and closure attempts to explain what makes it a valuable question and why. This helps refine people's understanding of how good subjectivity works and reduces problems in the future.

3) 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?

Ultimately, this is something of a judgement call and depends on how they respond to constructive criticism. No matter how valuable a user may be, if they are consistently driving off other users, they will eventually drive away more value than they produce. If a user is creating a hostile atmosphere, it needs to be addressed.

Most of the time this can be dealt with in a way that ends well for all involved since if the trouble user is producing good content, they clearly care about the site, but in the rare case that they are unwilling to bring their behavior in line with community norms, it can become necessary to sanction them and in the most extreme cases, remove them from the community if it becomes a continuous issue of violating terms of use and/or community rules.

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

Either flag it for moderator attention or just directly bring it up in moderator chat. Strong communication between moderators is critical to a well moderated site and consensus is key. I let the original moderation action stand until I have a chance to first address it with them and then if they are unwilling to reverse and they are unable to convince me, we'll bring it up to the other moderator to seek a resolution of the disagreement. Ideally, the original moderator will then take whatever action is deemed appropriate by consensus rather than having another mod have to change their action.

5) We've collectively been rather aggressive (especially lately) about closing questions which involve a camera and lens but the goal is measurement or computer vision (or any other technical use where photography as such is basically incidental). Do you think it's good for the site to have this narrower scope, with a focus on the production of photographs (whether digital or in print), or would we be better casting a wider net? In either case, why? As a moderator, how would you approach this? For example, will you quickly close questions which are primarily about machine vision, or will you wait for community consensus?

I believe that the site's scope currently does not allow for these questions when they are purely about the analysis side or trying to determine what the best image would be for analysis purposes as it does not appear in any of the meta consensus and does not fit any of the "what can I ask here" questions. I don't currently think there is need to arrive at a community consensus about computer vision questions as I believe that the consensus is currently that they not fit. If it appears to have enough photography related content I would not speedy close it, but if it is purely machine vision, I would go with current consensus and close.

If the question is primarily about how to achieve capturing an image that looks a certain way, I think that will often be on topic, but when it comes to either analysis of an image or trying to determine what characteristics an image should have to be able to be analysed, we're getting into territory that is unrelated to the current scope.

I am not opposed to expanding to include computer vision related questions if the community wants to do that, and to a certain level, photography specific questions related to machine vision might be an interesting addition, but I believe the burden of consensus is on establishing that the community wants these, not that they don't.

6) In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are responsible for ensuring that a Stack Exchange community function according to the rules and policies of Stack Exchange and the rules and desires of the community which they moderate. They help facilitate consensus forming and act as intermediaries with Stack Exchange staff when necessary.

They do NOT rule or govern the community, but rather do their best to set aside their own opinions (outside of community discussion on consensus) and do their best to act in the way the community has elected to have itself governed, regardless of if they agree or disagree with any particular parts of the community's decisions.

In rare cases, they may have to go against community will when it violates what is allowed by Stack Exchange, but ideally they'll help steer the community away from any of these issues before it becomes a problem.

7) 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?

It's a limitation for sure. You no longer represent yourself, but rather the community as a whole. It means largely setting aside your own feelings on things and actings as a representative of the community instead. I make a habit of prefacing my opinion when I'm speaking personally rather than as a moderator, but I try to avoid doing that much as comments by diamond mods tend to carry heavier weight even when they say it is their personal opinion.

8) In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Moderator tools allow much more efficient review of several different types of possible issues. Being able to review flags also helps quickly address key areas of concern that might not fit the non-moderator addressable flags that can be handled by non-diamond moderators. I divide my time between Stack Exchange sites based on the amount of impact I can have. Being able to deal with moderator flags boosts the effectiveness of my time.

Bonus Question from Comments: How does moderating other sites impact how you would do as a moderator?

As a moderator of 3 other sites, I have already established a practice of regularly making passes through the sites I moderate to deal with any issues that require my attention.

One of the problems that Photography has had in the past is that for the most part, it's pretty well community run in relation to review queues. This results in relatively low moderator specific issues which means that often when moderators check, there are few or no items needing attention. This tends to lead to inactivity and one moderator remaining highly active while others are less active and eventually to burn out.

This also means that meta tends to get less attention than it probably should in terms of establishing consensus when some minor disagreements appear within the community. Overall things keep running smoothly enough, but some more pushing for discussion could be beneficial as would having multiple active moderators at the same time so it doesn't all fall primarily on one person.

I already have years of moderating on other sites under my belt and planning for time to handle moderation is already a normalized part of my life. It does mean I won't have the time necessary for multiple high maintenance sites, but Photography doesn't need a high maintenance moderator or overly active moderator right now, they need a moderator who is able to be regularly and consistently available to make sure that moderation work load is being shared, even when it is light. It needs a moderation team with multiple moderators who are active enough to recognize areas that need further community discussion and will bring those topics up with the community.

  • 2
    Already being a moderator on 3 other exchanges do you feel you have the time necessary to moderate one of the SE network's larger sites? – RyanFromGDSE May 30 '17 at 16:29
  • 2
    @RyanFromGDSE - yes. I have talked with the photography mods closely in the past and have a pretty good idea of the workload involved. Most of the other sites I'm a moderator on are relatively self-sufficient and don't require a whole lot of time commitment, just timely interaction when things come up. – AJ Henderson May 30 '17 at 16:40
  • A comment on the themed contest: there was at least some initial enthusiasm (see theme ideas thread, but without a moderator to do the actual mechanics, it died on the vine. – mattdm May 30 '17 at 17:07
  • @RyanFromGDSE - added the question to my questionnaire response with some more detail about how I see it fitting in to moderation for Photography as a whole and how it fills the niche Photography needs. – AJ Henderson May 30 '17 at 17:08
  • 2
    @mattdm - good point, I guess I misremembered why that failed. If there was interest now, I'd be willing to help with bringing that back as long as we are able to figure out how we want the mechanics to work as a community. I just wouldn't want to take any action without the community indicating they want it. I updated my answer accordingly. – AJ Henderson May 30 '17 at 17:10
3

Candidate: Caleb

What do you think about the ongoing contest for the header photo? Would you be willing to do some of the work on this? Several years ago, we decided to add a monthly theme, but that never happened in practice. What do you think about this? Are there other things you'd change about the contest?

I certainly enjoy looking at other people's best work, and I'd like to see more of it, so I'd love to find a way to expand the feature.

On the other hand, we currently have about 8 years' worth of photos waiting to be displayed, and with new ones being submitted all the time, the fact of the matter is that the majority of submissions will never be displayed. Meanwhile, the large backlog makes it hard for new submissions to get much attention. (Do most people really remember to select the "active" tab?)

I'm not sure what the answer is, although I'll bet these issues have been discussed at length on meta. In the early days of the site I think the contest was restarted each week, and that probably avoided the long backlog issue at the cost of requiring more effort from moderators. Perhaps we can find a happy medium there, like rebooting the contest every few months.

In any case, I'd be happy to help maintain the featured image. If we decide to make changes to add a monthly theme or whatever, that's fine too, but I'd expect the level of moderator effort would be an important factor in determining how those changes are implemented.

I'd like to get more questions (and answers) on the site dealing with the artistic side of photography. Since many people come to Stack Exchange from an engineering background, there's a natural bias towards technical questions about gear. How can we attract more questions about the artistic side of photography — and what might you do as a moderator to encourage this?

Perhaps we do deal with gear more than art, but I think of it as an emphasis on photography rather than photographs. That's pretty consistent with other StackExchange sites: we want questions and answers that are useful not only to the person asking the question, but also to future readers who might have similar questions. And, also like other SE sites, we tend to prefer objective, easiliy answerable questions over subjective ones with nebulous, opinion-based answers.

But there is room for subjective questions here. Good subjective questions often end up being the ones that people seem to like best, and I think they can be a huge asset to the site. One example that comes to mind is Why is this child portrait not compelling? What went wrong and what could have been done better?, in which the OP asks for help improving a photo. This question might easily have been closed for being too broad or primarily opinion-based, but it got some traction and inspired a bunch of good answers, many of which included examples and specific explanations. A potentially off-topic request for a photo critique turned into a lesson in how to avoid a number of common beginner mistakes.

That question is a great example of moderators using a light touch -- they didn't jump in and shut the question down, they stood back and let the community decide how to react to it. So, getting back to the question at hand, I'd try to use that same sort of restraint in dealing with subjective questions, and I'd encourage others to do the same.

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?

There are lots of rewards for making positive contributions to the site, but I don't think that special consideration for bad behavior should be one of them. A user whose behavior towards others is a problem should be dealt with in the same way regardless of the number of helpful answers they've posted.

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

I'm sure I'd contact the other moderator and discuss it. I'd try to find out why we disagreed and make sure that we're on the same page going forward. Rightly or wrongly, users often feel that moderation is done capriciously, and it's important for moderators to share a common, consistent understanding of when and how to act. For that reason, I think it's best to elect a moderator who has at least enough experience on the site to have assimilated the community's values.

We've collectively been rather aggressive (especially lately) about closing questions which involve a camera and lens but the goal is measurement or computer vision (or any other technical use where photography as such is basically incidental). Do you think it's good for the site to have this narrower scope, with a focus on the production of photographs (whether digital or in print), or would we be better casting a wider net? In either case, why? As a moderator, how would you approach this? For example, will you quickly close questions which are primarily about machine vision, or will you wait for community consensus?

Doc Edgerton invented stroboscopic photography in order to study fast-moving objects, but his images are surely known more for their aesthetic appeal than for their particular contributions to science. I don't think the reason someone is taking a photograph should matter -- if they're asking for help getting the right exposure or a sharp image so that they can count cells or measure distances or whatever, so be it. On the other hand, there are lots of uses for cameras that really aren't photography. I'd draw a line at forming and recording an individual image... if your question is about forming a better image, we can probably help; if it's about doign something with the image (e.g. analysis) it's probably off topic.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  • They help keep the peace.
  • They enforce rules.
  • They model good behavior and discourage bad.
  • They handle housekeeping chores, especially those that other community members can't.
  • They help new users.
  • They occasionally connect the community to the StackExchange mother ship.

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

I'm comfortable with that. My goals in contributing here are (and have been) to learn things and to help others do the same, and I hope that I've set a good example so far.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Being a moderator will make me differently effective than I am currently -- I'll watch for cases that clearly require intervention (e.g. spam, abuse). A mod's vote is immediately binding, so I'll avoid voting to close those questions (like the one I cited above) that could go either way.

  • 1
    Great answer on the computer vision topic. I realize in retrospect that I failed to give a good explanation of that dividing line, but I think you did fantastically on it. – AJ Henderson Jun 7 '17 at 16:40
  • @AJHenderson I don't think it's unfair to amend your answers, is it? Edit gets recorded anyway, so it's all visible. If you work in an Edward Muybridge reference you'll win in a landslide. – Caleb Jun 7 '17 at 17:07
  • 1
    yeah, I did edit my answer, but also felt yours was good enough to be worth calling out for it's quality. – AJ Henderson Jun 7 '17 at 17:09
1

Candidate: Romeo Ninov

  1. What do you think about the ongoing contest for the header photo?

Maybe if the author explain how he/she edit the photo, why, which feelings and so on

  1. I'd like to get more questions (and answers) on the site dealing with the artistic side of photography.

Having more artistic questions in Photo SE community will break somehow the rules of SE. Many answers will be personal opinions, the answers will become huge. IMHO such Q/A will be more appropriate to some Art community

  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?

For me this will be fine as far as he/she mention at the end of answer the fact.

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

As far as I see there is always place for discussion and possibility to reopen a question. So one discussion in chat or meta site will clarify and resolve the case.

  1. ... questions which involve a camera and lens but the goal is measurement or computer vision

As machine vision is tightly connected also to programming/mathematics such questions should stay in Photo SE as far as they concern photo part of this. If they go behind this will be better to move them to other SE sites.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

IMHO moderators are more or less like police. They take care about the order, obey rules. Of course if they can help with answer is good :)

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

This diamond will make me feel more responsible about any action (moderating, answering, editing and so on)

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

More tools for more efficient moderation. But none of them (diamond and 10k/20k reputation) will change me significantly :)

-1

Candidate: 10 Replies

Q: What would you change about the monthly photo contest? Themes?

It would be a lot of work, but, if most of the community thinks this is a good idea I would like to implement it. We could possibly look into getting the community bot to post a vote every 2 or 3 months and create a new theme meta post for the top voted post.

Q: Encourage more questions about the artistic side of photography. Don't forget about us!

SE tends to be the place for less subjective solutions, so with more subjective questions, clearer more descriptive and concise answers are required.

Q: How to deal with rowdy but helpful users?

I would first give the user a friendly reminder through comment (some sort of general thing about how comments are not places for extended discussion and what not). If it kept continuing, I would talk to them through chat. If the user refuses to stop, then banning them is the only real option.

Q: How you would handle disagreements between you and another moderator?

I would discuss it with the other mods. If the problem turns out to be about what the direction the site should be headed in, a community vote and chat discussion should take place.

Q: Computer vision questions, bueno or naw?

Computer vision questions are not on topic. I don't think we have the resources to answer them, but, if the computer vision question is not relevant to computer vision and more about the camera/lense/sensor side, then it is fine.

Q: What do mods do?

Mods moderate. They handle disputes between users, enforce rules and do the communities bidding based on what direction they think the site should be heading. (to an extent)

Q: magical diamond

The burden of the diamond emblem residing beside my username will not heavily influence my actions. Knowing my actions will have more impact will force me to be more open to feedback from the community and to acknowledge errors.

Q: Why do you want moderator tools rather than 10k or 20k rep?

Mod tools allow you to do more per day than users with 10k or 20k rep.

  • lol the -1 means I'm doing good right? – 10 Replies Jun 1 '17 at 0:14
  • 2
    Nah, just means someone doesn't understand that this isn't the vote. – AJ Henderson Jun 1 '17 at 4:51

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