# 2016 Moderator Election Q&A - Questionnaire

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. Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community, plus 2 pre-set questions from us.

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. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

2. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

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. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

6. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

7. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

8. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

9. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

10. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

• Since it came up a couple of times already: This election is only adding two members to the modding team. Jonsca, Manish and I are going to staying on as your humble servants. Oct 4 '16 at 5:44

# Loong’s questionnaire answers

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

First of all, any policy concerning the boundaries of on- and off-topic questions is not made by moderators; it shall be based on community consensus. The moderators only enforce the given policy.

Concerning homework questions, however, the situation is not clear. The actual voting behaviour of the community partly deviates from the written homework policy. Tentative attempts (including my own) to revise the policy did not find consensus. The incessant discussions and the large fraction of closed homework questions show that the current situation is problematic and that no clear solution for the problems has been found yet. Remarkably, the problem is not limited to Chemistry; similar problems are discussed on Physics, too.

Tragically, apart form the homework aspect, homework questions would be a perfect fit for the format of the site: They are on topic, express a clear question, have a limited scope, include a working example, include all the relevant data, can be answered in a few paragraphs, and could be interesting for other readers.

The part that is usually missing is the presentation of the own effort of the author of the question. This part is critical for the decision whether the question is closed or not. Therefore, the important but unsolved problem for any revised homework policy is to find effective means to get the author of the question to make an own attempt to do the homework and show this work as part of the question.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

Plagiarism is very much frowned upon in this community. When plagiarism is discovered in a post, the full extent and age of the problem should be analyzed first (see also What to do when plagiarism is discovered). If only a small part of a single post consists of material from external resources without attribution, we may ask the user (by leaving a comment on the posts, where also other users can potentially benefit from it) for proper attribution or (if possible) add the attribution ourselves by means of an (direct or suggested) edit. (Note that it may be useful to flag the post for moderator attention, even if the problem can be solved without intervention of a moderator. This can help the moderators to identify any larger pattern of plagiarism.) In any case, we should also point the user to the corresponding section of the Help Center and the meta post with recommendations for citing references. If proper attribution isn’t possible, the plagiarized material or the entire post may be removed.

If the user does not react to comments or edits, or if a larger pattern of plagiarism becomes apparent, a moderator may contact the user directly via a private moderator message based on the appropriate template for plagiarism.

Depending on the severity of the problem, in particular if the behaviour does not improve, i.e. if the user continues to post plagiarised material, the user account may be placed in timed suspension. The purpose of the suspension is not to punish; it serves to enforce the rules and to prevent further damage to the site and its community. Therefore, if a user is currently posting a number of plagiarised posts, it may be necessary to place the account in timed suspension immediately in order to stop this behaviour and limit the resulting damage.

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?

As long as the user adheres to the rules, there is no reason for the moderatos to intervene just because a user generates or provokes many comments. Arguments may be acceptable if they are constructive, on topic, and in accordance with the be nice policy; however, long discussions are usually better moved to chat. The comments can easily be removed when they become obsolete.

A typical reason for a large number of comments and related flags (“not constructive” or “too chatty”) may be a misunderstanding about the purpose of comments on this site. In this case, it can be useful to point the user the corresponding section of the Help Center. However, if a discussion in comments is already too long, the moderators may not want to add another discussion on the purpose of comments. Instead, a moderator can contact the user directly via a private moderator message based on the appropriate template for excessive discussion in comments.

If a general problem with comments on the site becomes apparent, the topic may be put up for discussion on meta where also other users can potentially benefit from it.

In the rare event that the comments and related flags (in particular “rude or offensive”) indicate clear rule violations, a moderator will decisively take measures that are appropriate to the circumstances and suitable to stop the behaviour. In any case, it is not relevant that the user produced a steady stream of valuable answers.

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

If another moderator acted on a question, I assume that there was a good reason for this action, even if this reason might not be obvious for me. Therefore, I would never simply undo the action of another moderator. Nevertheless, we all make mistakes; hence, I would ask the other moderator to explain the reason for the action. The preferred place for this would be the moderator chat room. If necessary, other moderators could easily be involved in the discussion. In the unlikely event that the moderators cannot find agreement about the concerned question, the issue may be presented to the entire community on meta since the moderators are essentially only representatives of the community.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

A significant part of the activities of the moderators is not transparent for the users. Therefore, I am not in the position to judge whether the current moderator are doing something wrong. Nevertheless, I have no reason not to trust the current moderators.

If we look closely at the individual issues in retrospective and out of context, we might always find something that could have been handled in a better way. However, taken as a whole, the moderation of this site appears to be well balanced. The moderators do not edit or comment every single post, they rarely use their privileges to close or reopen a question with a single vote, and they do not have to justify each individual action on meta. This is in accordance with the Theory of Moderation, which reads that the ideal moderator does as little as possible. And the results prove them right: the site is not flooded with funny comments or other non-constructive discussions; the tone is usually civil and respectful; most issues are quickly reviewed and handled by members of the community; the community seems to have common intentions even without written policies; and the site is not plagued with persistent problem users.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

It is usually not effective when a single user tries to attract many good questions and answers actively (see also the fate of many proposals on Area 51). In order to increase the number of good questions and answers, this site needs more active users. The most new potential users find this site in Google search results. Therefore, the existing good questions and answers should include relevant search terms so that they can be found (for example, many posts have ambiguous titles or rely on pictures; we should edit such posts to include relevant keywords).

Furthermore, the post should be useful and attractive; i.e. the content should not only be correct but also presented clearly (including correct spelling, grammar, terminology, nomenclature, quantities, units, symbols, and typography). New users usually do not read the guidelines given in the Tour, in the Help Center, or on Chemistry meta; they read existing questions and answers. Accordingly, new posts tend to adapt to the quality of existing posts. Therefore, the seeding of the desired contents can attract more contents of this kind and avoid the empty restaurant syndrome.

For the same reason, the elimination of bad contents can also help to attract the desired contents. However, that does not mean that nonconforming posts should always be deleted. Many posts can be reworked to make them conform to the requirements. Therefore, we should encourage all edits that improve (new and old) posts.

Although new users usually do not read the help texts and experienced users have many common intentions and do not need any written recommendations for most edits, it may still be useful to standardize and write down the best practices for this site in suitable meta posts. Then we could easily point interested users to these posts. Furthermore, the guidelines could help to harmonize the efforts of the growing number of active users and to make edits more thorough so that all potential issues with the growing number of posts are efficiently covered by a small number of edits. Of course, this idea is not new; we have already gathered many useful meta posts for various topics. Currently, however, the available information is scattered over many different meta posts and still does not cover all aspects. Hence it may be desirable to clear up and organize the existing meta posts and fill in the missing information.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

Generally, the community does not need a moderator to handle such situations. Questions can be flagged, placed in a review queue, and closed if they are considered off topic. The main mechanism to indicate bad questions or wrong answers are downvotes. Users may also recommend or vote to delete answers that do not try to answer the given question.

If a larger pattern of problematic posts becomes apparent, we may comment on the posts and point the user to the relevant sections of the Help Center (for example: What topics can I ask about here?, or What types of questions should I avoid asking?).

If the user does not react to comments, a moderator may contact the user directly via a private moderator message based on the appropriate template for consistently low quality questions over time.

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

No, I do not have any personal focus in moderation duties. There is no cherry picking, although a few duties may be unpleasant. During my service of more than a year as a moderator on German Language, I have done all kinds of moderator tasks. When I look at the statistics, I may see some patterns (for example, I have a relatively high rate of edits and deleted comments), but I would be hesitant to give a reason for these numbers.

Most moderator duties are of a reactive nature. In particular, moderators react to flags (from users or automatic processes). These duties usually have the highest priority; however, some flags (for example “not an answer” and “very low quality”) are effectively handled by the community and do not need moderator intervention. After that, moderators can easily find other things to do (for example answer questions on meta, guide new users, edit posts, delete old comments, or simply read questions, answers and comments to understand the situation of the site).

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

Indeed, the complete picture of all internals of the Stack Exchange network is complex, complicated, and also constantly changing. For successful participation, however, users essentially only need to understand the topic of the site and the Q&A format, which is focussed on questions and answers with limited comments and edits.

If users have further questions, we can answer in comments, on meta, or in chat as appropriate – preferably so that also other users can potentially benefit from it. I would like to approach users that are faced with a problem before they become frustrated, but in most cases the intentions and problems of users are not obvious until they ask. For most problems, we already have a section in the Help Center, on Chemistry meta, or on meta; therefore, it may be sufficient to point the user to the relevant page. Nevertheless, I would be interested to hear about the problem and especially try to understand why the available information was not found or did not help, so that we may improve our documentation.

• Your repeated links to help center, meta and Be Nice make me jealous. Oct 5 '16 at 19:08

# pentavalentcarbon's Questionnaire

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

Of course homework is the top question. Everyone is waiting with bated breath for someone to arrive with the magic bullet to our problem.

Personally, I don't like looking at homework. A lot of the homework questions here, even ones that are cogent and well-prepared, are still best asked of that person's instructor face-to-face. For questions that should be closed as homework, I agree on all points with Martin's answer.

Regarding the experiment, I shared my opinion on it here. Without repeating the entire response, the goal should really be "people are more willing to attempt working on improving a question enough to make it useful and/or interesting". Jan mentions "How can we make mediocre homework questions that have potential good?" I agree that the experiment identified that as the real question, but doesn't answer it (yet).

Not all homework questions will fall under this "editing to make a good question" category. Even the most perfectly-formatted stoichiometry question can't be made more interesting under a reasonable definition of "interesting". I would like to see those questions go away completely. There is no broader insight to be gained from them as a community, only an answer for the user that is (hopefully) better learned from their instructor. Reference books tend to not be good for teaching out of.

However, it isn't correct for the moderators to take their personal views and implement them by force in the equivalent of extreme judicial activism. It is for the community to decide.

In light of all this, there is at least one kind of action that may be appealing on a shorter time scale.

• Edit questions and apply the homework tag liberally. Often I either see homework as the only tag, or a questions that could be perceived as homework with only one tag that isn't homework. Cleaning up formatting and structure without changing the wording or intent of the question can get others to read the question rather than quickly dismissing it. If that helps to make judging whether or not a question is appropriate for our format and desired content, I am for it. The community is already doing this.

Ultimately, my position might be a bit disappointing. It requires more work from the community as a whole, not just moderators. But it is clear to me that the topics in meta are slowly converging, and I am in favor of the trajectory the discussions there are taking. A few months is probably too short a timescale for this. As people have said...be patient.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

I was accused of plagiarizing once, and it required too much effort to be exonerated. The question says "blatantly", but perhaps I am forgiving here since being wrongly accused of something isn't fun. First would come a public comment along with an edit. If this kept up, there would have to be a moderator discussion. Any further action (closing, ban) would not be an action I'd want to take individually except under the most extenuating circumstances.

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?

We need more people in the community who produce a steady stream of valuable answers. It is more valuable to keep them around and understand the cause of the arguments and flags than immediately reprimanding them with all our power. It may just be a misunderstanding that we can fix by pointing them to the correct resources, such as the Help Center. It also depends on the contents of the comments. Again, I view heaver action as something not to be taken lightly.

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

Talk to them! We are supposed to be reasonable people who can communicate reasonably well. There is probably a misunderstanding on my part and my wrongs should be righted. To be more serious, the moderators should be a team, and everyone should be on the same page regarding these binding actions, and that begins with a discussion.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

In my limited observation of the moderators and even more limited interactions with them, I've never seen any reason to doubt their decisions.

One thing that is probably less of an issue on Chemistry.SE due to the size and quality of the community is that the moderators don't seem to be present. They're almost completely invisible. I know one has been busy the past few months, but I'd never know the others exist. Maybe that is the point of "light moderation", and I just don't understand quite yet. We certainly don't have a lot of exceptional behavior that requires obvious intervention. My view might also be skewed considering just how visible some of the main contributors are. Or I've just exposed my inexperience. Or been enlightened.

I would spend more time in the chat. Even when busy my daily routine keeps me in front of the computer all day, so it costs nothing. We have a nice community that I want to get to know better, and that is the easiest way for me to do it. But that's separate from moderation.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

Attracting good Q/As requires retaining expert or experienced community members. Some have voiced their opinion that if the quality of the content were to drop, they would be less inclined to contribute. Vice-versa, if the quality of the content were to improve, their expertise might be given a better chance to shine. Either way, it's a self-perpetuating cycle. I don't think it's reasonable to force the experts to be asking questions; see here for what my stance on that would be (Hmm, a chemistry mod!). Again, this is related to #1, where the community probably doesn't enjoy only answering HW questions, but it would be a wasteland here otherwise.

One possible solution is lots and lots editing. And not just questions on the front page. Have a favorite tag? Find old Q/As and try to edit them. If you can come up with a better answer, even marginally, provide the answer. Not enough time is spent maintaining the excellent repository of Q/As that have grown over the past few years. Keep polishing the gems to set a standard for what new Q/As should start off as and what they should become.

But, none of this seems related to moderation. These are all actions taken by the community with voting and flagging. For moderation with flags, this means following the policies currently set in place and holding discussions to revise them as needed. Other than that, I would still vote as I normally do.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

To the best of my knowledge, I have never gotten in an argument with anyone on this site or flared up, either in a question or in the chat. If I am wrong and have offended someone in the past, feel free to mention it, I won't get offended.

Actually, I don't think I've ever gotten into an argument on the Internet at all. It just isn't worth it, and there is no "winner". If someone is being rude, they will probably receive a warning. If someone is being offensive, I could see their content being removed. Before this pops up, I'd like to see some concrete examples from the past or talk to the current moderators about how these situations were handled, since I've haven't seen instances of this before.

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

We have an interesting case of this recently happening (though this is a single question, not multiple questions from one person). I think this is a perfect example of the community working, with a discussion from the users before moderator intervention, which appears to me as a measured response.

Both parts here are important. Before everyone understood the intent of the question, and it was perceived as pseudoscience, it was downvoted, which is the correct way of discouraging factually incorrect information from appearing on the site. Another user brings up its validity, which due to the comment upvotes have clearly caused some people to consider. Only then does the mod weigh in and not even use their absolute magical powers (at least as far as I can tell). To me, these all highlight the idea scenario: our active community does a substantial amount of policing, and the moderators don't take rash action to overturn it. In this position I hope I would do the same thing.

(Potential conflict of interest: I edited this question before some of these events happened.)

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

Honestly, nothing that I wouldn't want to attempt if I wasn't moderator. I think that could use some help, after having fouled it up myself a bit. A more serious and long-term project would be looking at the tag wikis; some need obvious edits, and some don't have anything at all. If TRE II ever happens (ಠ_ಠ) I'd definitely want to contribute. For some reason I like editing tags almost as much as editing LaTeX. Participating in the ongoing discussions about homework is clearly important. I plan on doing these things regardless of moderator status. Now I'm rambling.

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

As someone trying to make this transition right now, I can identify. I'm fond of the "click on everything possible" approach, but not everyone else will be. I do not profess to know all the deepest areas of the site. I have not been a moderator before. Becoming a moderator would force me to do that, because to not learn those places would be irresponsible.

This is one of the strengths of the chat. One-on-one discussions regarding site usage aspects aren't great for comments in Q/A, but I've used chat for something technical (though not site-related) before with great success. So yes, I would try to help them either in the main chat or a separate room.

If there's anything else that people would like me to answer, ask away and I'll do my best. I'm UTC-4 (I think...EST), so bear that in mind.

• A really nice set of answers!
– Jan
Oct 8 '16 at 0:44
• +1, aligns quite well with my personal thoughts as well.
– orthocresol Mod
Oct 8 '16 at 7:30
• TBH on the lemon thing: I have used my modding powers there. The question had (iirc) already four close votes and was heavily downvoted. With my leave open vote I dequeued it immediately. I did this because I wanted the closing vote to be at least a very conscious decision. It's easy to click the close button from the queue, it's a higher activation barrier reading the question and deciding to close it. Turning around the score was something which followed. I think I brought it to chat, too. I think I made my other reasoning clear in the comment. I would've done the same without the mod power. Oct 10 '16 at 10:35

# A Tale of Two Cities (Rubisco's answers)

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

I think of closure as a tool that stops some questions from getting answers in expense for ones that deserve it. The SE model allows for a limited set of questions. Most of the questions you ask in daily life won't be acceptable here. What we need is questions that thrive after considerable research. We are considered a last resort. We're that super-weapon that you can only use once per game and have to make the shot count.

So we close questions whose askers, the site, or the future visitors benefit the least from. Hence, localized questions, questions that will deteriorate the site's quality by making it look like what it is not, or questions so off the track whose answer will never benefit anyone are the best subjects for closure.

I wouldn't strictly call that closing as homework, and I think this is a term we should eventually rid ourselves of. We close things that future visitors, the site, or the OP won't benefit from an answer for.

Our current policy works most of the time. We're trying to change that to "almost always". That's what the experiment was about. When you want to leap across a pond, you take a step back. That's what we told the homework custom close reason to do.

Some people perhaps expected a miraculous result from the experiment. I did not. I even pictured Jan saying "Nathing changez. dis boringgg" . . . or something similar. I envision it as the first step towards the bumpy road of coming up with policies that help as many people as we can sleep happily at night.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

If I notice plagiarism (As a tip for new 'first post' reviewers, please insert some chunks of seemingly legitimate answers from new users into Google. Sometimes you'd stop something interesting) I will never hesitate to act.

The first few times I might only edit in the source and apply proper citations, with a friendly but firm comment reminding the user of our policies and licences. Citing is not a norm in some cultures present here, so I'd always assume an honest mistake first, or even the second time.

Any appropriate but more serious course of action will be taken if the problematic behavior persists or malice is assumed.

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?

This site, this gathering, would lose its entire purpose without the students and the experts it attracts. No one is above the rules (Dura lex sed lex) and should anyone produce a toxic atmosphere that fends off people . . . That is not going to end well.

That said, everyone's sometimes moody, and higher rep users are trusted to cooperate much easier than 'member since today'. I have a really high threshold before I give up trying to communicate as well.

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

If it's something a comment can solve, I would comment and add the reason for why I'm doing something at least one other prolific user would consider odd.

If I felt there's something to be discussed . . . Well, I'm a chatty person and the private chatrooms are just right there.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

The current mods are doing what a team of mods can do best. Let me explain below.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

What does a team of moderators really do, other than clicking a bunch of buttons normal users can't?

In my opinion, what the moderator does doesn't help the community grow, but provides grounds for growth, and doesn't let it fade away and dwindle.

See, I think of mods as minerals needed for the plant, if the plant is the community. Without water, minerals are pretty useless. They can't fulfill their "mission". Without the flesh of the community, those willing to put time into keeping the site going, what can a group of minerals do? We can't ignore the role of the minerals either. Without them, the only thing water is doing is drowning the plant.

The current team of mods have lead by example; they've showed us the way to deal with daily things that come up on the site. We respect them, and follow them in what they're doing. We don't get terse. We don't normally look down on people. We're not being rude, even if people insult us, asking us to do their homework.

This is the atmosphere of a growing site. Academically respectful and respectable. As the site grows, keeping that atmosphere will keep getting harder, but every now and then an orthocresol or pentavalentcarbon will be added to the site. That, keeping the site, the group, away from its worst enemy, is what moderators do, and what helps the site grow.

For the time being, a member could help with that "weeding out" and vote. As we grow, you're going to see more questions that you don't particularly like, but you have to be permissive about. That's when you teach your fingers to use 'search' more.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

I'm not certain what counts as an argument. If it's what we do at meta, then I feed on it.

But if it's about more serious situations, where a couple of hard feelings are exchanged, then I remember a couple of cases with a previously suspended user. He ended up suspended later for other reasons, but I wasn't the only person . . . touched by this user.

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

There are some trolls that invade science and math-related sites and speak of their own theory of everything. These are merely a sick form of entertainment and they will be dealt with like a user who posts "asdfghasdfghasdfghasdfg".

There are also a similar group of upset users who blame physics and math for their failure in the academia. Those usually do not require immediate mod intervention. I'd let the reviewers have some fun with those answers and then the community would delete them as NAAs or VLQs or . . . Pick a reason.

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

Whether I get elected or not, I'd continue doing what I do best: Pick figurative fights on meta, change site policy, chat, change site policy, chat, think about TRE II, chat. A moderator position would mean I'd have a little bit more authority and some fancier buttons to push.

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

Now this is not at all an unfamiliar situation!

I have encountered people that seek help numerous times in chat. I always helped them as much as I could because why not. I would link them to meta.SE, if there's not a relevant post on a smaller meta. I would tell them where to look, and how to look. I would also rant a bit about how complicated this system is to feel better. The discussion would go on. With mod superping powers in chat, a friendly chat would be much easier to begin.

• Uh, if you had any questions, please feel free to comment. Last time I posted something at this time of the day, it didn't go so well since I didn't know what I was typing. If I lost it at some point, feel free to tell me. Oct 4 '16 at 21:09
• In the past you have often set quite narrow timeframes for your ideas on site-policy changes ( a meagre three days on this one). Would you be willing to accept, that chemistry.se is a slow moving beast, and give every one more time to adjust? Decisions you make as a moderator will be more authoritative, hence rushed decisions will have a much more negative impact. Oct 5 '16 at 10:23
• @Mart In the latest experiment, I gave people three days to decide on it where they agreed with me on the first hour. If I gave the smallest possibility that there was something to be said, some grave disagreement to be had, I'd've given it more time. However, I admit I have been unreasonably impatient before, but we have to consider that sometimes killing momentum kills the spirit and the will to continue. Oct 5 '16 at 12:34
• I'm just now getting around to reading these...*blushes* Oct 7 '16 at 4:26

I am trying to be short and sweet, except for question 1.

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

Firstly, everybody has said this already but it is worth repeating that my personal stance on homework questions cannot be a basis for moderation. It is something that I will argue for on meta, but cannot unilaterally impose.

I think that the homework policy needs updating.

Some homework questions are not a good fit for the site. An oft-repeated phrase is that questions need to ask about a specific concept. Therefore, questions with multiple-choice answers that require different lines of thought to eliminate each choice do not fall under the classification of specific. Likewise, stoichiometry questions that are only relevant to a specific reaction are not useful to future visitors either, unless the concepts of e.g. conversion from amount to mass and stoichiometric ratios are clearly teased out, and a future reader can take those and apply them to their own case. It does not make sense for us to have a hundred different questions, all asking about stoichiometry, but in the context of a different reaction. However, the current homework policy allows for such an occurrence, provided that the asker has provided some minimal effort.

I think a good example of a homework-style question that we can allow is this. Despite no effort being shown to even understand, it is on a specific concept (stereoselectivity of nucleophilic addition to C=O), and I could envision myself giving a good answer to it, if not for the fact that I was busy moving 11,000 km across the world. Likewise, there are a lot of old homework questions that can be polished to make them relevant and useful for future visitors.

As for the experiment, I have already provided my thoughts on the meta post linked. I think that it is good to retain the homework close reason for copy-paste dumps, since such users often do not come back to the site, upvote, or accept answers. Nevertheless, we need to clarify what types of homework-style questions we are okay with. I have more thoughts on the matter, but I do not wish to go into too much detail here, because this is not the appropriate time and place to discuss it in great depth.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

By blatantly, I assume copy-pasting of extended sections of material. Quoting with source attribution is perfectly fine and some of my answers are indeed formed mostly from quotes from textbooks.

If this happens, I would leave a comment saying that this is not allowed, and give the user a specific amount of time to edit, say one day. If it is not dealt with, I would delete it - simple as that.

This will apply to all cases of plagiarism, unless there is a user who only provides plagiarised answers, without any other good content. I think that community downvotes and the automatic answer ban will probably prevent repeated occurrences, but if such a thing actually happens, then a ban will be in order.

Deleting answers may sound heavy-handed, but if we want to have a reputation as a high-quality Q&A website, I strongly believe that we should not stand for, or condone, plagiarism in any form.

I would also like to point out that a ban would not be unilateral action - I would discuss it with the existing team of moderators first. This is merely my stand on what should happen.

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?

I think the only real problematic flag here is rude/offensive, and the best way to handle this would be in private. I would point out to the person that he/she is violating the be nice policy. But if it does not stop, then I would propose a timed suspension. Again, this is not going to be unilateral action.

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

For the most part, I would ask them for their explanation, and probably defer to them, considering that they know this place better than I do. If I really strongly disagree, I would propose to bring it to meta - not to create a fight about who is right or wrong, but rather to let the community voice their opinion. Ultimately, moderators should be answerable to the users at large, and no action should be taken that cannot be justified to the community.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

I have full trust in the existing moderators, who have not given me any reason to believe that they are doing anything wrong. I think that, perhaps, the only thing I feel restless about is the lack of progress on the homework policy. However, that is not the moderators' fault; it is as much my fault as it is anybody else's, since meta is open for all to post.

I have ideas on the homework policy, and I will post them on meta post-elections, regardless of whether I am elected or not.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

Well, this is awkward, because it is my question and I said I have no idea how to answer it.

The situation is not really as bad as I made it out to be. It is partly a time zone issue. When I asked that question, I was living in GMT+8, and in the GMT+8 afternoon the average quality of the front page is not very encouraging.

Voting is one way. Another is editing. I think that on a daily basis, we do not get very many good questions, and therefore we should not refrain from making edits to old questions.

I think that, unfortunately, bad Q&As will always be a factor on the site. If they were not, then we would not need the downvote button, VLQ flags, etc. What we have to do is to try and make mediocre content into good content, and bring out the good content, such that potential good contributors will see that there is lots of good content out there. This is why I came to the site - because I saw that there was potential of getting a good answer.

Another thing I would encourage is for regular users to post questions and self-answer them. I have done two or three of these over the last week or so. This is a guaranteed way of creating good content on the website. I know that most people do not have the time to regularly write detailed questions and answers, but something - even once every couple of months - is better than nothing.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

I don't think there has ever been a full-blown argument. In fact, I don't really recall any full-blown arguments on chem.SE. Nevertheless, yes, I have told people off before, mostly for being disrespectful. As a moderator, I know that I am a representative of the community, and I would adopt a more neutral tone of voice.

As for dealing with other people's arguments, I would probably delete any comments violating "be nice". This is, to the best of my knowledge, done regularly at other SE sites. On top of that, I would privately warn the involved users. See question 3.

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

As one of the top sites on Google, we have an additional duty to provide reliable, scientifically correct, and well-referenced answers for the general public to see. Answers that are based on pseudoscience should be downvoted with the usual prejudice, but questions based on them often receive a lot of traffic and should be provided with a well-researched answer debunking any relevant myths. A clear example is our reboiled water question. Googling for "reboiled water" in an incognito window gives it as the fourth(!) hit.

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

Homework policy, but again, 1) this is not the time and place to discuss it 2) I will still bring it up if I am not elected.

Apart from that, I would want to offer more guidance to new users regarding site policy. Martin's ubiquitous comments on new questions are a very good example of how this is accomplished. I think that, perhaps, this is one way in which we can be more "welcoming".

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

I am nearly always accessible in chat. As long as said user is willing to ask for help in chat (how else would I know that he/she wants help?) then I will be there to try and help. There is very little in chat that I don't reply to, the most notable example being trying to answer chemistry questions with lots of misconceptions.

Nearly all of the workings of SE are documented in the help centre, or meta.chem.SE, or meta.SE. I know the contents of the first two very well. For mother meta, I usually can find relevant questions quite easily, but if I can't quite find something, I would simply point them to our dear enzyme friend, who is always equally willing to help.

## pH13 - Yet another Philipp

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

I think the current homework policy is sufficient, it is more about how it is realized.

• See if an existing questions helps you
By far the best start, either by using Google et al. or by using our local search enginge for the site. Nothing needs to be changed about that basic idea.

• Ask about the specific concept that gives you trouble
Again something really important. No one can explain everything from scratch and it’s nearly impossible to understand nothing. So there must be some point where an explanation can start to provide a good and satisfying answer. Where no starting point is provided, no such answer can be given.

• My personal experience with school kids and homework questions
From helping a few school kids with their homework, I know that often only a quick answer is wanted instead of the wish to understand the question and how to come to the answer. That is exactly what we can see here very frequently, which is what should not be supported by us. If and only if these kids really want to understand their problem and provide a little bit more insights into what they could find out by themselves (at least more than nothing), the question should be answered. We should not be too harsh as we currently might be, as we all were kids, who liked the one things more than the other but somehow needed to learn everything.

The experiment was a nice idea and the concept of closing only blatantly obvious homework questions is a good way to approach question 6. By even answering the easiest questions, we get a good reputation as being helpful for everyone. And maybe those school kids will be permanent members in future. The experiment’s guideline will also be helpful for all non-school kids with homeworkish questions, e.g., people from other disciplines who simply want to refresh their chemistry understanding, as their questions would not be closed anymore.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

I would want to find a solution with other moderators together, to appropriatly handle such a user. Where it is possible, the sources can be added, where it is impossible another way must be found. Bans are no nice solution and should not be used easily but if whatever has been tried before is of no avail, a short time ban could be what is needed.

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?

Someone who can produce many valuable answers looks like someone you want to keep in your team. Therefore, if a large number of arguments or flags are generated, one should look closely about what the problem is and then talk to the user to find a solution.

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

I have no idea what my exact option would be then, but it is again nothing where only my opinion counts but rather something for the group of moderators to discuss. As there is a chat for moderators, I would take the opportunity to ask the other mod about his/her reasons to understand and accept them or to prevent same situations in future. If needed and possible, maybe the discussion leads to reopening/undeleting/etc.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

Absolutely not, they are doing a great job.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

The quality of the questions is nothing that can be influenced. The only influence that we have, is to close the low quality ones and to answer the high quality ones. But, again, that does not influence the quality at all. The attraction is also something that needs to come from the community itself. Good answers for good (but maybe even more for bad) questions show others that we are a community that takes their problems serious and that we are able to find solutions for many problems. As a moderator we don’t change from being normal users when it comes to voting and commenting. As such, this is and will stay my way of influence.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

As far as I know, I have never been in an argument with another user and I really hope, that it will stay like that.

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

Such questions will be asked and the community will handle them. If it is out of the scope of this site, it will be closed, otherwise it will stay open. I guess, the main moment for the moderator would be to prevent excessive use of the comment section beneath such questions. Pseudo-science is part of everyday life and should be handled in a professional way and not by simple ignorance. Instead erroneous assumptions should be cleared with facts.

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

Sorry, but I really don’t get what this question is about. :)

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

In my eyes, our Periodic Table is a perfect spot to get every help that is needed. There are a lot of qualified people online which are happy to help everyone in need. But whereever I can help, of course I will.

Thank you very much for your attention.

• argues with @pH13
– orthocresol Mod
Oct 5 '16 at 15:25
• Consider the function $f = f(x,y)$. If we let $x = \text{pH13}$ and $y = \text{some other user}$, then you will have been in an argument with said other user. All because of me and the function I defined. Mwahaha
– orthocresol Mod
Oct 5 '16 at 15:27
• According to all your contributions here, you might want to rename to meta-cresol. :D Oct 5 '16 at 16:05

## Benzene

1. is a topic that has been hanging over our heads for some time now and we as a community still have not found a solution on how to effectively handle such questions. What is your opinion on the various types of homework questions and how should they be handled? What do you think about our current homework policy? Do you think it needs to be improved or would you deem it sufficient? If you have not weighed in yet, what should be closed as homework and what not? What is your takeaway from our not-closing experiment?

Personally, I feel that Chemistry StackExchange should not be a homework site. The site's objective is to share a conceptual understanding of chemistry, and is poorly suited for they types of questions often asked on homeworks. While this may be the case, I also think we could make efforts to give people conceptual answers to their homework questions. Instead of closing all homework questions on the ideal gas law, we should turn them into more general questions and come up with comprehensive and authoritative answers (such as how to approach gas law problems in chemistry). Then, the next time someone asks an ideal gas law question, we can redirect them to the community answer and close the question as a duplicate. I know that StackOverflow is currently working on building documentation for a number of different programming languages, and it would be cool if we could follow suite and make community built overviews for various concepts in chemistry.

1. How would you handle a user that has blatantly plagiarized material for use in multiple answers? Assuming you have dealt with the matter appropriately, what would you do if the user continued to offend in this manner?

Plagiarism should not be tolerated on Chemistry StackExchange. In many academic institutions, plagiarism will result in a zero on assignments as well as additional consequences. If after being warned a user continues to plagiarize in answers, I believe that their account should be suspended or banned. When we are answering questions on Chemistry StackExchange, we are representing the community, and the community does not endorse plagiarism.

Note: I think it is okay to copy and paste from a website as long as you make it obvious where the material came from and that it is not your own. Sometimes other sources have an explanation that makes something complicated crystal clear. While it is generally better to use your own writing, properly cited material should be allowed.

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?

Anyone who is willing to contribute their time to answer other people's questions is an important member of the Chemistry StackExchange community - even those whose answers may not initially be correct. If someone - regardless of their reputation - where to hate on any other member of the community, then I think they would deserve consequences. Of course, the member should first be talked to about the issue to see if we can resolve it without taking measures, but ultimately I believe that someone who does not respect the community should not be able to get away with anything, simply because they can answer 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 bring up the issue with the other moderator, and ask them why they decided to close or delete the question. If they have a valid reason, I would leave it at that. Otherwise, I would seek out the opinion of other mods as a potentially more neutral judge on the issue.

1. Is there something you think the current community moderators are not doing or doing wrong? How would you fix it, or what would you try to do to fix it?

I feel that the Chemistry StackExchange community could benefit by being more accepting of new members. I don't think someone's first post should be able to receive a negative score, as that could turn a bright mind away from our community. While I don't think that a first post should be able to receive a negative score, other community members should be free to comment with constructive criticism on a first question/answer. I also think that first questions by a user who is obviously just using this site to get a homework question answered should be flagged and deleted, but moderators should also be more careful when closing someone's first post.

1. As the site grows, how do you intend to keep the quality of questions and answers high - not just in terms of weeding out bad Q/As, but also attracting good Q/As?

Hacktoberfest is a project designed to encourage people to try contributing to the open source community. While many people contribute in the event purely for the free t-shirt, some people get hooked on working on open source software. If this is possible, it would be cool to have some sort of an event like this. There are many bright minds out there who would probably enjoy contributing to the StackExchange community if they tried it out. While such an event might trigger some spam questions/answers just to fill the requirements, that will disappear the moment that the event ends. In its aftermath, we will gain a number of enthusiastic new contributors.

1. Have you ever been in an argument with another user (on this site)? If yes, how did it come about and how was it handled in the end? Have you ever flared up on this site? If yes, how did it end? As a moderator how would you handle an argument/ someone being rude if it came to your notice?

I believe that academic arguments and constructive criticism are necessary for Chemistry StackExchange to function properly. While this may be the case, personal comments/non constructive criticism should be discouraged/deleted. We are all volunteering our time to help people who we have (likely) never and will never meet. As such, we should try to make this a positive experience for all members of the community.

1. How would you handle the situation if you had a user whose questions were being received negatively by the community for being "out in left field" or not based in scientific truth? At which point would you intervene, if at all?

If someone wants to become a part of the Chemistry StackExchange community - regardless of their knowledge/background - I think we should let them. This does not mean, however, that we should allow incorrect answers to remain on the site. We should explain to the user why their reasoning is faulty, and either get them to fix it or fix it for them. Also, just because something is "out in left field" does not mean that it has no truth to it. Different people understand things different ways, and I do not think we should discard a correct answer because it is unorthodox.

1. Do you have any specific focus in moderation duties (or otherwise!) you intend to bring to the table?

I think it would be interesting to work on creating a place for a general computational overview / problem solving strategy for various areas in chemistry. The difficulty with homework problems on Chemistry StackExchange is that they tend to be very specific and non conceptually oriented. It would be useful to have pages to redirect users to if they are struggling to answer homework problems rather than making the tough choice to close homework questions.

1. The Stack Exchange model can be challenging for new users to grasp. Exposition of various details of what users can/cannot do, what moderators can/cannot do, how the internals of the SE sites work, etc. can be difficult to find, except by trial and error or by happenstance conversations with other users. Imagine that you have encountered a user in the transition from just learning the ropes to becoming a stable, upstanding member of the community. This user is frustrated by their inability to find detailed information about aspects of the inner workings of the SE site model. Do you engage with them and try to help them out? If yes, how would you go about it? What sorts of tucked-away resources would you direct them to?

I think the Periodic Table/chat rooms are a great place to help other users figure out the inner workings of StackExchange. Personally, I currently do not know many of the inner workings of StackExchange, but I will learn them quickly if I become a moderator. It might also be interesting to make a Q and A page for general details about the StackExchange structure.