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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 6 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. Do you feel that Photography SE should be primarily about photography that is concerned with producing photos with artistic, historical, or documentary value as the end goal of using photographic equipment, or are you open to allowing questions about using cameras as measurement devices or for machine vision where the end goal is not to produce a photograph for the sake of producing a photograph to dominate the discussion?
  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?
  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  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?
  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?
  1. Assuming there is a decrease in participation in high-rep/long-term Photo-SE contributors, what is your opinion on the balance between accommodating low-quality or slightly off-topic questions but possibly attracting more users, versus maintaining high standards for quality on-topic questions but possibly driving away those new users?
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9

Candidate: scottbb

Do you feel that Photography SE should be primarily about photography that is concerned with producing photos with artistic, historical, or documentary value as the end goal of using photographic equipment, or are you open to allowing questions about using cameras as measurement devices or for machine vision where the end goal is not to produce a photograph for the sake of producing a photograph to dominate the discussion?

Yes to the first part — in my opinion Photography SE should remain primarily about the creation, production, history, and appreciation of the types of photography that produces what we commonly think of as "photos". I believe that using cameras as machine vision and measurement devices should remain largely off-topic. However, much like the topicality of video-related questions, I think those questions should be subject to the caveat of being relevant to still photography. That is, there are some questions whose ultimate goal is machine vision or measurement, but whose specific question is about lens fundamentals, sensor size, crop factor, etc. Those questions are possibly on-topic, and if so, they shouldn't be closed as such. Likely, they tend to be duplicates of our already existing questions in those subjects, and we should maintain our best efforts to find relevant and duplicate questions and address them as such.

Having said that, if there is an overwhelming and consistent desire from the Photo-SE community to broaden the boundaries of topicality, as a moderator I would follow the community wishes. My personal opinion and preference might differ, and I would voice my opinion in Meta discussions regarding topicality of such questions, but in the end, it's the voice of the community that matters, not mine, and it's the moderators' jobs to help that voice project as clearly and as unambiguously as possible.

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?

Assuming we're talking about generally non-constructive arguments, I would talk to the user in chat and let them know they are generating a lot of flag complaints or that their method of argument isn't productive. I would go over the Stack Exchange Code of Conduct with them, and point out areas where their behavior is violating the CoC.

In cases of severe disruptive or unconstructive behavior, I would consult with the other mods, and suggest account suspension for an appropriate peiod of time. In these cases, I'm strongly in favor of the moderation team acting in concert.

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

Again, I'm strongly in favor of the mods work together as a team. If I felt the close/delete reason was arguable but probably had good reason, I would first chat with the mod I disagreed with, present my opinion, and listen to theirs. If neither of our opinions were swayed by the other, I would ask the other mod(s) to weigh in.

It is possible, although I assume very rarely, that a situation would arise when I felt the close/delete reason was completely uncalled for. In that case, assuming I was unable to raise the issue with the mod I disagreed with in a very short time, and assuming I felt the danger of leaving the decision stand would cause more community harm, I would undo the action (if possible), and discuss both the close reason and my contradictory action with the mod in chat as soon as possible. While I doubt this will come up, I have to acknowledge and be prepared for the possibility.

But in general, I believe it is very important for the mods to work together, and present a fair and unified stance as much as possible.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Mostly, cleanup, flag handling, converting non-answers to comments, and the like behind the scenes. Of course there are cases where mods have to intervene to bring arguments to a close, move them to chat, etc.

Most importantly, moderators help the community achieve the goal of producing high quality questions and answers about photography with minimal cruft. Anything that gets in the way of that goal needs to be reduced or eliminated. This is primarily not performed by moderators, it's done by the community and the review queues. The moderators are here to handle the cases that fall between the cracks, and to support and help the community guide itself as much as possible.

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 am confident that my past posts and interactions would stand to scrutiny, and not diminish or be diminished by the diamond. I have been in elected positions in other communities, and have always kept focus that by default, my words and actions reflect on the community I was elected to moderate. In cases where I am speaking strictly personal, I have always taken care to make sure that those words were my own only. I would continue to maintain that responsibility and awareness of perception as a moderator here.

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

Equal parts, tools and perception. The tools available, such as moving discussions to chat, converting non-answers to comments, help keep the site from crufting up. It's very much like keeping up with low-effort but frequent cleaning and pickup up clutter at home, a lab at work, your desk, etc. The improved "curb appeal" leads to high property values, a clearer place to perform work, less distraction from the goal you're trying to achieve, etc. So the tools available to mods help them pave the way for the community to better ask and answer great questions about photography.

The perception I mentioned, very much following the previous question, is a tool as well. People tend to be less argumentative towards diamond mods than towards other contributors who are similarly committed to community self-guidance. Thus, even a comment by a mod asking people to keep a comment chain from diverging off topic can be a tool to keep the site workinig smoother, and guide the collective action towards effective Q&A moderation and creation.

Assuming there is a decrease in participation in high-rep/long-term Photo-SE contributors, what is your opinion on the balance between accommodating low-quality or slightly off-topic questions but possibly attracting more users, versus maintaining high standards for quality on-topic questions but possibly driving away those new users?

Anything regarding "balance" is always difficult, subject to edge cases, and is fluid. However, on the balance, I believe we should maintain high standards for quality on-topic questions, without consideration or regards about attracting users. By that, I mean that the issue of attracting users should be separate from the topicality and quality standards of our questions.

Thus the moderator's role here is to help clarify the boundaries of topicality where possible, and gently but consistently help the reviewers maintain those boundaries.

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    This question was asked in a followup-comment to the last question during question collection: Additionally, what is your tolerance level for endless repetition of new questions that are fairly clearly duplicates of existing questions, sometimes multiples of duplicate questions that cover the same ground? Fairly low. I think they a code smell, and produce an opportunity to identify a more generic question, or create one, that ... – scottbb Jun 22 at 15:57
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    ... can encapsulate the dupes, to provide a canonical answer. Sometimes that will be possible, maybe with "How can I connect [specific camera model] to wifi?". In some of those classes of multiple dupes, the OG non-dupe is quite old and hasn't seen attention in years. In some of those cases, I'd prefer a newer question be written and answered, and close the old question as a dupe of the newer generic one. But very much a case-by-case basis. – scottbb Jun 22 at 15:58
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    You haven't formally nominated yourself here - did you intend to do so? – Philip Kendall Jun 22 at 18:37
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    @PhilipKendall thanks. I seemed to have completely missed the nomination page itself. Taken care of. – scottbb Jun 22 at 20:59
7

Philip Kendall

[ Full disclosure: I freely admit to copy and pasting some of the answers to the general questions from my recent Sports Stack Exchange nomination ]

  1. Do you feel that Photography SE should be primarily about photography that is concerned with producing photos with artistic, historical, or documentary value as the end goal of using photographic equipment, or are you open to allowing questions about using cameras as measurement devices or for machine vision where the end goal is not to produce a photograph for the sake of producing a photograph to dominate the discussion?

In theory, I'm open to allowing questions about measurement devices and/or computer vision applications as I'm not aware of another site in the network where those sort of questions would be on-topic. However, I think we'd need to be very careful about how we define the questions we do allow - we don't want to get into ultra-specific discussions about individual setups which don't generalise to help other visitors to the site.

I honestly don't know how we should define the limits to ensure that any of those sorts of questions are valuable to other visitors - but that's something the community as a whole can work on, independent of who the moderators are. (See also my answer to Q7 here which overlaps with this one).

  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?

Start gently, and escalate if necessary. My first action would probably be to leave a comment reminding everybody that the world is a nicer place if we're all kind to each other, without calling out the user directly; hopefully they'd get the hint and modify their behaviour. If that didn't work, the next step would probably be comments more direct to the user in an instance when their behaviour is inappropriate.

Only after those options have been tried and shown not to work would it be time to use the powers moderators do have to communicate privately with users about their behaviour, and if necessary suspend them.

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

Communicate. And then communicate some more.

As with question 1, the specific actions I'd take would depend on the exact circumstances - if there were something which appeared to be a misclick or similar by another moderator (for example, undeleting some blatant spam) then I would revert the action and let the other moderator know I've done it. If it's a less obvious case, I'd attempt to talk to the other moderator and explain my point of view and we'd hopefully come to a consensus on the correct action.

The golden rule here is perhaps never to get into an "edit war" - if moderator 1 does X, moderator 2 reverts X but moderator 1 still feels X is the correct action, that's absolutely the point for everyone to put down the tools and talk to each other.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

To borrow from the modern management jargon, moderators are the servant-leaders of the community. That breaks down into two main tasks:

  • Doing the housekeeping to ensure the site runs smoothly, in terms of both content and tone.
  • When necessary, leading the community to any necessary changes by establishing consensus.
  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?

There are some of my older comments on the site I'm not particularly proud of in terms of the tone in which they were expressed. It's not great that they would get the "moderator" icon attached to them as that would indicate that kind of interaction is best behaviour for the site when it's not.

However, there's nothing I can do about that now - I hope that my tone has improved over the years and all I can do now is to try and lead by example to help the community make this the most welcoming place it can be.

  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?

Not necessarily very much - but that is because the Stack Exchange system is deliberately designed to mean there's not that much difference between a 20k user (not that I'm at that level yet) and a moderator. That leaves two things:

  • The small number of actions which moderators can do but 20k users can't - instant deletion of blatant spam, any interactions necessary to deal with disputes (either content or person related) and the like.
  • Leading by example. Very related to Q5, moderators can very much set the tone of the site and ensure that this is a friendly place for people to contribute.
  1. Assuming there is a decrease in participation in high-rep/long-term Photo-SE contributors, what is your opinion on the balance between accommodating low-quality or slightly off-topic questions but possibly attracting more users, versus maintaining high standards for quality on-topic questions but possibly driving away those new users?

To me, one of the things I think is best about the Stack Exchange model as opposed to other sites is the focus on high-quality questions - that means sites aren't overwhelmed with content which doesn't actually provide value to other visitors of the site, so I don't think the "quality" bar should be lowered.

I'd be much more open to "off-topic" questions - or more precisely, expanding the scope of our site to include questions we currently define as "off-topic" so long as we think those questions will be of high quality. And of course, no decision is final - the community can always do a trial period of allowing a new class of questions, and then evaluate that after a time to see whether we believe allowing those questions has improved the site or not. (See also my answer to Q1 at this point).

[ Aside: one thing which I think is generally common across Stack Exchange sites is that most high reputation users contribute much more by answering questions rather than asking them, so I'm not convinced that a decrease in participation from high reputation users would significantly affect the question quality, other than in how the high reputation users edit and generally improve questions asked by others; but I still think it's an interesting question as to what we can/should do if the number of high-quality questions decreases, independent of the cause ]

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  • Your aside at the end is a good observation. It made me think about the distinction between low-quality questions asked, vs. low-quality questions that were allowed through the review filter. And I think that entirely comes down to the flow of new users transitioning into review queue privileges and the balance of them to higher rep longer established contributors. – scottbb Jun 22 at 16:16
4

Michael C

  1. Do you feel that Photography SE should be primarily about photography that is concerned with producing photos with artistic, historical, or documentary value as the end goal of using photographic equipment, or are you open to allowing questions about using cameras as measurement devices or for machine vision where the end goal is not to produce a photograph for the sake of producing a photograph to dominate the discussion?

I personally prefer that the community be primarily concerned with producing photos with artistic, historical, or documentary value as the end goal of using photographic equipment. In fact, I feel so strongly about it that I'm the user who asked the above question.

I wouldn't mind the occasional machine vision or cameras as a measuring device question if they could somehow also relate to areas of knowledge that would also be practically applicable to using a camera with the intent of producing photos for the sake of producing photos. But at times it seems as if the figurative barbarians are at the gates of the city waiting to storm the castle if we'll only so much as crack open the gate a little.

I'd hate to see the community so overwhelmed with such questions that the idea of taking photographs for the sake of producing artistic or historically significant images gets lost in the noise.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

The first thing to do would be to look at the content posted here that raised the arguments/flags to see whether the user in question is following community guidelines that are in place across the entire Stack Exchange network. I'd also consider the possibility that those commenting are not following the same guidelines. It takes two to have an argument. That's not to say that if the user identified as a provider of valuable content is obviously posting inappropriate content then those who report it are contributing to the problem because in that case they would not be part of the problem.

I would then use the tools available to moderators to contact those who need guidance and request that they comply with the community standards that have been set for the entire Stack Exchange network. If that doesn't produce the desired modification in behavior then I'd consult with the other active moderator(s) to see if we can reach a consensus about how to proceed with any needed disciplinary action.

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

I'd contact the other moderator and verify that it was their actual intent to take the action they did. Everyone can occasionally press a wrong button by mistake. If the response is that they did indeed intend to take the action in question, I'd present the case for why I feel we might need to think about reopening/reinstating/etc. the question or answer under consideration.

I think it is vital that moderators have whatever disagreements they might have in private and then when whatever decision is reached privately, all moderators should support that decision and present a unified message to the community.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Primarily they do housekeeping for the community. They make informed decisions about things another user has flagged as needing attention beyond the scope of what that user's reputation and privilege level allows. They clean up comments. They deal with answers that are not actual answers. They keep the spammer who constantly tries to sell German sex dolls via asking questions that have absolutely nothing to do with photography at bay.

On a more philosophical level, moderators should work behind the scenes to keep the community on track doing what SE is designed to do: provide a place for focused questions and answers to those questions.

Ideally moderators should be as invisible as possible in terms of performing their duties as a moderator. But they shouldn't hesitate to be more public when intervention is needed in a more visible way. In the long term, if the moderators are being successful with the work they do in the background then more visible intervention should rarely be needed.

  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?

Everyone's human. We all sometimes fall short of our own ideals. As long as I've been highly active here I'm sure there are some comments somewhere that still exist that I wish I had never made. I'd like to think that we're all, including myself, constantly improving in this regard and that the worst offenders are well buried in the past.

There are also answers I've posted in the past that I now realize, to borrow a phrase from Roger Cicala of lensrentals.com, are, ahem, "... less correct than I originally thought." When I come across such answers I correct them as much as possible or add an "update" section with newer information that would change the final verdict of the answer. If that still can't save the answer, I'll delete it.

Going forward, it seems to me that as a moderator one will need to be even more careful about all visible actions taken in the community. One would also have to be more careful about voting to close/delete/etc. questions and answers since a moderator's vote carries immediate action to close/delete/etc. that content. As a high rep user with a few gold badges that already allow me to immediately close/reopen questions originally tagged with that topic for which I've earned a gold badge I've had to be more careful in seeing what tags are included in the question before voting on it. In some ways being a moderator would make that more simple as I would know that any such action on any question will carry those immediate consequences.

  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?

I'm not sure that I would be any more effective as a moderator than as the high rep user I already am. That's for the community to decide via the election process.

As I stated in my introductory paragraph on the election page, I think both scottbb and Philip Kendall would make excellent moderators and I will be voting for both of them.

  1. Assuming there is a decrease in participation in high-rep/long-term Photo-SE contributors, what is your opinion on the balance between accommodating low-quality or slightly off-topic questions but possibly attracting more users, versus maintaining high standards for quality on-topic questions but possibly driving away those new users?

We should always be welcoming and encouraging of new users. Long term contributors can tend to burn out over time, or get so busy in other areas of their lives that they no longer devote time to the community. So it's vital to have fresh voices constantly joining the discussion.

We, as in the entire community, should provide guidance to new users about how they can improve their questions and answers so that they fit the purpose of the SE community. At the same time, I feel pretty strongly that we should attempt to maintain the highest standards we can with regard to the quality of questions and answers posted. After all, the questions and answers here are what our community presents to the world at large as a statement of who we are and what we do here.

One thing I would like to see is less eagerness from parts of the community to close questions as "off topic" or "needing more clarity" immediately after reading them without posting comments requesting more information from the new users who ask those questions and then allowing time for the OP to respond to that inquiry. Sometimes it almost seems like we're all just looking for a way to say gotcha' to any questions from new users that we don't want to take the time to answer.

When possible, I also feel strongly that an effort should be made to find existing questions that are possible duplicates before summarily closing a question for other reasons without giving the asker any guidance towards where they might find an answer to their question or a solution to their problem.

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    MichaelC 👈😃👍 – Rob Oct 5 at 15:20

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