The following is a "digest" version of the 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @Rebecca or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

  • 1
    If the system notification bar absolutely has to remain active, it might be good to link to this question within it.
    – squillman
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 17:30
  • 1
    Thank you for the digest Tim! I know from experience these are hard work, and they're really helpful (IMHO) for those who weren't in a Town Hall Chat! (Hey, they're even useful for those who were there!)
    – Josh
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 17:34

24 Answers 24


Kyle Brandt Kyle Brandt asked: I think moderators, besides fulfilling the day to to day tasks, also need to set a higher example in terms of being respectful to users more than your average user (at least, ones they don't already have a good familiarity with). Is that something you have already or done, or would be willing to do in the future if you are elected as a moderator?

ErikA ErikA answered: Absolutely. Having recently acquired my first management position at $work, I am in the midst of a very personal experiment on how important it is to lead by example.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: You'll often see my comments on new people's questions/answers trying to guide them into "the Server Fault way".

pauska pauska answered: I would probably be a little less snarky than I can be sometimes, which I admit isn't a great example for the site. You put on a different hat as a moderator.

Chris S Chris S answered: I'm certain there have been a few occurrences when I haven't lived up to my intended standards, but they're few and far between. I don't expect anyone to be perfect, but I do expect them to try at least a little.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I think I am respectful to people on the site. I'd rather ask others to answer that for me since I may not be the best judge of myself. I generally like to treat people well, regardless of their treatment of me. Not sure if it works out like that on the outside though. Someone poke me if I'm not what I think I am. =)

Ward Ward answered: I don't have any problem with "being respectful." If I do magically become a mod, I hope it wouldn't mean I'd have to stop posting ponies. I already try to avoid snarky comments on bad questions, but am a bit more abusive on Chat...

Iain Iain answered: I try to be polite at all times and have brought matters to the communities attention

  • pauska pauska commented: And we love you for that mate

    Ward Ward commented: Oh, sure, bring up the fact that we all want to live up to your standards!

    Chris S Chris S commented: I'm still a bit disappointed that you held back your opinion until it boiled over into a massive meta post... I think a lot of people felt blind sided by that. I want to be very clear that I agree with what you had to say and think you should have bought it up more often, we need those reminders.

    Iain Iain responded: I didn't link to that post. I understand what you are saying , I could have done it better ( and chosen a better day) but I was pushed for time and the comment from @voretaq7 was too good an opportunity to miss.

    voretaq7 voretaq7 responded: I think that meta post got a bunch of excess negativity because of proximate events in chat the following day. I agree with the sentiment: Sometimes we blow off too much steam, and we don't want to be scaring people out of chat (or off the main site) because of it.
    I have a lot of faith in us as a community: I think when topics like that are brought up on Meta we all take a serious look at them and reflect on how we should behave in the future.
    In fact if I had similar misgivings about sone aspect of our community I'd probably put up a very similar post.

freiheit freiheit answered: Yes, I always try to be respectful to the other SE users, especially the ones that annoy me

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I think everyone should be setting a good example in that regard.
I'm not above telling people their ideas are dangerous/bad/The Wrong Thing, but I always try to be gentle when doing so (unless they're about to drive their entire company off a cliff.
There is a point where nice stops and "NO." begins) In particular right now when I vote to close questions I usually leave a comment explaining why it's not a good fit (and try to offer suggestions about how the asker can find their own answer). Stuff like that would definitely continue if I were a mod.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: Everyone has their bad days, myself included. I've told users to read man-pages or talk to their vendor instead of providing an easy answer. That said, I've also encouraged many users to join [chat] or post on Meta Server Fault, even if I wasn't directly involved in the incident in question. I do make a conscious effort to help any new user that has helped themselves, i.e. has already read the faq and asked a good, detailed question.


Rob Moir Rob Moir asked: How will you cope with pressure from visitors who don't understand how the site works? I see a lot of people say in response to another question that they will listen to others, which is right, but how will you deal with a large number of people who complain about a closed question that is off topic - I can find more than 10 people who hate to see licence questions closed as dups of our canonical licence question.

pauska pauska answered: I would explain the same thing over and over - the reasons WHY we close those questions.. Like gently explaining why shopping questions brings alot of spammers for an example.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Our rules and FAQ are what they are because the greater community has decided on them. As in life, people disagree, but the majority will do the right thing, and unfortunately, as in life they might just have to "like it or lump it". If people won't listen to a reasoned argument, then I'm afraid there's no convincing them because that's simply what they believe (which I guess in itself is not actually wrong).

ErikA ErikA answered: I would try and explain gently that a goal of the site is to encourage good answers to good questions, within the topic. It is non-productive to slam them as posting a "bad question", but with a bit of discussion, I think most people can come to understand what fits and what doesn't.

Chris S Chris S answered: Beer and Liquor mostly. Probably more liquor than beer. Who doesn't like a good whiskey?

freiheit freiheit answered: I think in the case you spell out there, it's important to stand your ground. Refer people to the appropriate part of the FAQ and/or meta threads, invite them to open a question on meta, and leave it closed.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I do that as it is - that won't change significantly if I'm a mod. I simply point them to the correct links that shows why I believe it was off topic and don't engage in argumentation. If they have a good reason to show why I'm wrong - great! That means I'll be learning the culture better.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: The decision about what we want the site to be is a community one - If there is clearly a consensus from the community that we do not want certain types of questions (like Licensing) I'll have no remorse about closing those questions. I'll try not to make the person asking the question feel bad in the process, but we are a walled garden: Sometimes we have to pluck the weeds (undesirable questions) even if they might bear beautiful flowers.
Again I would say Meta is the place to talk about this -- That lets the person whose question got closed see that it's not just a mean Mr./Mrs. Mod hammering their question into oblivion, but a decision the community made. It also lets the community decide if I screwed up -- Questions can always be reopened.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: If we bend to the will of a handful of vocal users that are new to the site, then we risk losing relevance to a larger audience. I remember seeing a statistic a while ago that said that the vast majority of traffic is from non-registered members. These users just want definitive answers to their problems. It's in the best interest of everyone to keep the site on-topic and objective. If a few disagree, then they are free to ask why in meta and in chat, but I won't bend on that.


Gilles Gilles asked: A question (clear, has all revelant technical information) asks how to route some traffic around a firewall. The asker mentions that he has no control over the firewall itself. Do you close the question with an explanation of why you think it's wrong? Close with a harsh word? Destroy the asker's account? Answer the question?

ErikA ErikA answered: Explain that as professionals, it would be unethical for me to help subvert someone else's network.

pauska pauska answered: I'm a firewall admin, so I'd probably get someone to go to his house and burn it down. Plus, I'd explain in a comment why I'm closing it, and then be done with it.

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: Little comment to tell him that we are not going to help him do these kinds of things. Vote for close will do the rest

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Simple note that we don't condone the breaking of policy. Case closed.

Chris S Chris S answered: Depends on the circumstances. You've alluded that their trying to violate some policy, but haven't made it clear... Really need that distinction before proceeding.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Questions like that are generally met with some hostility by some users. If they specifically say they have no control over the firewall then maybe we should try to make the question more generic, so it's something somebody might come across when searching on Google when as a sysadmin they need to do that

Ward Ward answered: If he explains what valid tech reason he has for doing it, fine, otherwise it's OT.

Iain Iain answered: Our community appear quite settled on not answering those questions. As sysadmins the correct answer is to go speak to the people who administer the firewall and negotiate an exception for your requirement

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: All of the above?
I'd start by asking WHY they were trying to get around the firewall, and WHAT they want to accomplish.
If it's clear they're trying to circumvent policy I'd kill the question with a note that policy circumvention questions are (will be) off-topic per the FAQ.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I wouldn't do anything. Policy subversion is generally off-topic, but as a mod, I wouldn't cast the binding vote on it. I'd let 5 3k+ users take care of it.

freiheit freiheit answered: Comment that he appears to be asking about circumventing security policy which is off-topic, unethical and probably illegal. And close. (close with kind words, not harsh)


Kyle Brandt Kyle Brandt asked: Being a mod is sort like being a police officer. They have to deal with stupidity all the time so it is easy to get bitter over time. The people they deal with on the whole might not be stupid, but even then they see the stupid side of people. Because of the power police have though, it is very important that they never give into the temptation to just smack people upside the head -- the same is true of mods. Do you think you have this temperment?

Chris S Chris S answered: Sir, Yes Sir!

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: If someone is getting on my nerves I will ignore them. If they're doing something they shouldn't be then they should be gently reminded not to do that, but unnecessary mod-hammering is not cool. I like to think by now I know what's acceptable and what isn't, and how to control myself

freiheit freiheit answered: Yes. And I believe I've shown that kind of restraint over on Bicycles, too.

ErikA ErikA answered: I will be the first to admit that I have not been perfect in this regard. I do, however, strive to interact in a positive way with users, with the goal to improve their experience on SF as well as to improve the content of the site. As mentioned in my candidate spiel, I have seen the mod hammer abused several times, and it has irked me to no end. I will do my best to be a positive, encouraging, even-handed mod.

pauska pauska answered: I've been a DJ for about 10 years as a side-project, mostly just for fun. I've seen my part of idiots, and learned that we just have to accept that different people behave in different ways, and not let stuff get into us (even when it happens over and over again). I'm might not be aligned with the site guidelines when it comes to the chat, as it has been a nice place to blow off steam when needed. I would however not "undress" people at the main site.

Ward Ward answered: It's the same thing many of us have to deal with in real life, but with the advantage that here you're not on-call all the time. If there's someone who you think is a jerk, you can probably let another mod handle them.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I think so. I know that many of the candidates in here show frustration at 1-rep users that don't read the faq or 101-rep users that are used to how different Stack Exchanges do things. For me (and I'm sure others too) that frustration is because of our lack of ability to handle it ourselves. As SAs, we're used to being able to solve our own problems. I feel like SF is an extension of my professional sphere, and I want to be able to solve the hiccups that occur from time to time.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Well, I think there's a difference between a friendly dope-slap upside the head with a reminder ("read the docs", "be nice", etc.) and clobbering someone over the head with a bat. I'm one for reminding people with decreasing levels of gentleness - I'm not perfect, but I try not to be actively hostile/mean. I'd much rather people stay around, improve, learn & become productive members of the community.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: My knee-jerk reaction towards someone that might be called "clueless" is one of educating. I want to help them learn and know better. My knee-jerk reaction to someone that is abrasive, irritating or combative is usually "OMGWTF" - which is a known character flaw in me. As such, I usually step back, re-read the situation multiple times, formulate and re-formulate a response... and then find that a more even-tempered person has addressed it far better than I could have. =)

Iain Iain answered: Yes - I'll nudge people in the right direction rather than beat them up.


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: You're the sole closer of a question using your mod-hammer. The OP of the question posts on meta asking it to be re-opened. How much convincing do you need to reverse your decision (e.g. 5 users agree with the op, or 1 mod, or nothing because they were polite)?

Ward Ward answered: They'd have to give some plausible explanation why they think the (new and improved) FAQ says it's on-topic.

pauska pauska answered: It wouldn't take much before I'd revert my actions, if other users have a different view than me. I'd probably still make the user edit the question so that it won't get closed again.

ErikA ErikA answered: I guess it depends. If the question is very bad or off-topic, there's not much that could convince me to re-open other than drastically improving the question. However, if it's borderline, then a polite re-open request with good reasoning could be enough.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: If I mod hammered a question, I'd have done it for what I believed to be a good reason. If I thought it could be improved (edited for clarity, requested more details) then I'd do that. A mod hammer close is for blatant spam/off topic and not just for bad questions, so I hope not to be in that situation too often. Also, if the question was improved after a mod hammer, then I'd make a call on it

Chris S Chris S answered: Make a good argument and I'd absolutely reverse my own decision (any decision). I am fallible like anyone else and respond well when pointed out. May a poor argument and we'll have to talk about the points where we disagree...

Iain Iain answered: I'm up for the community educating me

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I'm pretty open to discussion. I need to be intellectually convinced, and not mobbed. So if one person convinces me I was wrong, I'll reverse it. If 5 people can't convince me, I'll be more likely to stick to it. If 10 people try to convince me, I'll stop and consider if I'm insane or having some bizarre form of cognizant dissidence. =)

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: It depends on the question, but I'd have to see a good reason to reopen it (clarification/rewording that makes it something obviously answerable / on-topic).
Obviously if enough people voted to re-open it it belongs, but if there were a community consensus on Meta that it should be reopened I would definitely give that strong consideration (particularly if someone suggested an edit that made the question a better fit for SF). The consensus on Meta need not be from people with vote-to-reopen privs -- Well-reasoned arguments from lower-rep users are equally valid.

freiheit freiheit answered: I'd re-review the question (of course). If there's a convincing case that I was wrong (whether it's 1 user or 10), I'd re-open. Mods do make mistakes now and then and closes are easy to reverse. Otherwise I'd explain why it was closed and how the question can be changed to be suitable to being re-opened.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I think that's a case-by-case basis. If I closed it in error (nobody is perfect) and the OP politely convinces me that the mistake was mine, I'll reopen it myself. If I believe that it's OT, but it's borderline, and 5 regular users think it should be reopened, then I'd have to take a hard look at it and see if I'm wrong. That said, crowd mentality isn't always the most even-keeled. If it's clearly not allowed, then it's gone for good.


Sam Sam asked: You see a user who generally posts good, useful answers, however they are being rude and offensive to some people in comments, particularly what you might call "less difficult questions". The user has already been warned about their behaviour but that seems to have made no difference. What do you do now?

  • Sam Sam added: What would you do, how would you keep them as a site member but rein them in?

ErikA ErikA answered: I would confer with other Mods to see if a temp ban would be appropriate.

Iain Iain answered: As a mod use the tools to contact them and explain the situation. Depending on their reaction move to timeouts

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Their rude and offensive comments need to be removed and they should be had a word with. If things continue, then that's what the sanctions are for. I'd always try and resolve it without resorting to the sanctions, but you can't let well-liked/high rep'ed community members get away with what you wouldn't let others get away with

Ward Ward answered: Do you want to keep them as a site member? If someone persists in being obnoxious, bans are certainly the way to go (preceded by telling them they're out of line.)

pauska pauska answered: It's a tough one. Sysadmins are generally used of sarcasm/snarkyness, but there is a limit of how much one can tolerate. I'd probably warn the user of a upcoming "break" from the site until such behaviour is toned down, and then either applaud or enforce the "break", depending on the outcome

Chris S Chris S answered: Start in on the temporary account bans; it's seem to work quite well for those users who stuck it out. If the user doesn't stick it out it's a shame we'll have to lose them on account of the tone of their otherwise correct answers. SF, like any community site, must embrace community first.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Depends on how many times he's been warned in the past. Once or twice? Make it a few more times and delete his comments. Half a dozen? At that point it comes time to bring up the mention of bannage. I prefer to have something of a "one strike and you're out" rule. I always warn before a ban, but I don't waggle the ban hammer for giggles.
I'd also bring the topic up to another mod, preferably one more tenured, to get another perspective.

freiheit freiheit answered: Rude and/or offensive behavior can't be allowed. There's an escalation of warning levels about behavior, starting with comments, going to the message from the moderator, and finally suspension. Before getting to suspension I'd be talking to the other mods (either other SF mods or mods on other sites in the Teacher's Lounge)

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Ideally I'd try to get the user into chat to explain why we don't want to be too abusive to the newbies -- this is assuming it's a case of "You're saying the right things but in the wrong way".
If the behavior doesn't stop and it feels like it's really abusive/disruptive I'd suggest that the user take a break, and if they don't take that advice (or start being a little nice) and it looks like an escalating pattern is developing a brief time-out/suspension may be in order.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: That's what the penalty box is for, right? Being new, I'd ask for the opinion of other mods, but it seems to me that if a user is repeatedly offensive, they should have to sit in time out for 7 days (or whatever the default length is), assuming they've already been warned via comments or email.


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: How do you feel about old (say, more than 12 months old) content that is now off-topic due to an FAQ revision? If one user went and flagged 44 posts in 10 minutes on posts from circa 2009 stating them as off-topic, do you act on the flags?

ErikA ErikA answered: My tendency would be to just leave them.

Ward Ward answered: I like the close them, but leave them in place approach. As for 44 flags in 10 minutes... I'd tell Wesley to slow down.

pauska pauska answered: If the question has answers then I'd probably lock+protect it. No point in removing data from the site that once were allowed.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: >_< Lock them all and leave CLEAR reason as to why it's not appropriate now. Future culture must be preserved in the face of old questions when the goals were not well stated or well followed.

Chris S Chris S answered: For old questions I'd allow a bit more leniency, but if it's way off topic I'd act on the flags just like any other question.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: I'd probably tell them to slow down and stop with the badge hunting ;) I'd probably lock/close them but not delete them to show others this kind of thing is off-topic

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I would not action those flags, and I would explain to the user that the general rule is "old content stays where it is unless the other site asks us for it".
If they were going around flagging old junk with no answers to be closed/deleted that would be a different animal.

freiheit freiheit answered: If it's now off-topic, I'd be strongly inclined to close. Though with 11 seconds per post, I'd be highly suspect that the user wasn't being careful about checking the posts.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: The will of the community changes from time to time. Something that was once on topic and is now off-topic is fair game for flags, as far as I'm concerned. Many users point to old, but currently OT questions as justification for asking new OT questions.

Iain Iain answered: I would prefer to leave old content that has been superseded by the FAQ left as it is. - perhaps locked to new answers and I really don't see much point in sending old content to new sites unless they specifically ask for it. I wouldn't do anything except lock questions with accepted answers. If the person doing it were doing so in good faith I wouldn't decline them but equally I might not action them.


Ward Ward asked: Should something be done to encourage people to vote more? If so, what would you do?

Ward Ward answered: I, of course, try to lead by example. I also tried to get a new badge for ballot-box-stuffers on meta.SO. I also have a misguided sense of how significant it is that I vote a lot.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I don't think encouragement is the way to go anymore. I used to, but not now. If you dangle a carrot, you get people chasing carrots, not taking a better path for cogent reasons. I think it is what it is and we have enough encouragement now with the red pop-ups that chide people gently for not voting on questions as well as the badge system.

ErikA ErikA answered: I think so, yes. However, I get annoyed by the red "vote reminder" boxes that pop up from time to time, so I'm not sure how to best promote it. Possibly by a focused effort in meta and possibly a blog post or two.

Chris S Chris S answered: Nope

pauska pauska answered: I think the pop-up is more than enough. If that doesn't encourage them, then nothing will. We've had the debate before, and it's harder to come up with extremely intelligent/unique questions on SF than say - SO.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: A lot is being done to encourage more voting (shiiiiny badges! Pretty!) -- I do try to encourage people to vote by my example (I'm working on using all of my votes more often - or at least getting closer to the limit every day), and if I see someone with a bunch of answered questions and a 0% accept rate who hasn't already been gently nudged I will usually drop a comment on new questions encouraging them to upvote/accept more...

freiheit freiheit answered: I think encouraging some more selective voting might be more important. The highest voted questions aren't necessarily the best. A lot of the voting encouragement is in the platform already.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: Everyone should vote more except for you. You deserve a voting vacation. I'm not sure there's anything that a mod can do to encourage it, other than reminding people to in meta and chat when it's appropriate.


Sam Sam asked: If elected, it's possible you will receive some criticism of your decisions from time to time, sometimes quite vehement criticism, which you may feel is unjustified, how will you handle this?

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: If I made a moderator action, I would be clear in my reasons and would stand by them. If asked about it I would explain them from my point of view

Ward Ward answered: Read it, see if there's anything to learn from it, reply to it, ignore any overly strong criticism.

Chris S Chris S answered: By responding in a cool and collected format, to explain what I was thinking. People get the most angry when mods make unjustified decisions that are disagreed with. When you talk it out, you might still disagree, but people are much less mad at you.

ErikA ErikA answered: I actually thrive on criticism. In past jobs, I have asked for more criticism from management, as I feel this is one of the best vectors for personal growth. Now, if criticism is unwarranted or overly inflammatory, I'll just try and suck it up and deal with it.

freiheit freiheit answered: First off, I would read it, understand what's behind the criticism. Think about it a bit. From there it depends, of course.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: That's what Meta Server Fault is for. This is, first-and-foremost, a community. That's what makes it so successful. If a user disagrees with my mod action, I'd encourage them to go open a meta question. I actually do this now already when I VTC something and the OP complains.

pauska pauska answered: I would reply to the criticism as one would at any other situation - learn what you could have done better and don't explode if you know that you're the one who's right (which sysadmins usually do). I'd still defend my actions if they were just.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Meta is the place to talk about that sort of thing. I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'll make mistakes. If the community thinks I did something wrong I'm happy to reverse myself, and if a user takes a mod action personally I'm happy to explain why I did what I did & talk it through.
Stack Exchange sites are unique in that moderators aren't the last word -- Every mod (on this site at least) seems to be open to input from the community and I would continue that trend.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Remember that another person's criticism, regardless of their delivery, may very well be right. Assess it on it's logical merits, learn from it, and then be done with the controversy as soon as possible.

Iain Iain answered: I'll consider what's been said and try to understand it before progressing - learn from it and then decide what to to.


Rob Moir Rob Moir asked: As there is a meta for all the sites on meta.StackOverflow, have you been active there already and how do you see your role there as a member of this site? If you see a role at all?

ErikA ErikA answered: I have not been active over on MSO. The firehose nature of things there, along with some vitriol against non-regulars has kept me away.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: I passively consume MSO to keep up to date on stuff, but I rarely post there. If things need escalating (such as bugs posted on MSF) then they should be moved there, but I think individual meta sites define their own community and that is the place a mod should be active.

Ward Ward answered: I haven't been super-active on meta.SO, since it has it's own (sometimes less-than-friendly) culture. But, as a mod, I feel like I'd have to spend more time there, making sure I know how things are supposed to work SE-wide.

pauska pauska answered: I try to keep up and read the subjects there from time to time, but I can't say that I've been participating all that much. We had our own fair share of discussion lately that kept me busy.

Chris S Chris S answered: Been active, still am in voting there (151 votes). I try to contribute what I can, though SO and MSO tend to groupthink much worse than the other SE sites in my experience.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I've had my share of downvotes on meta.StackOverflow -- I think most of the candidates have. I think my role there is the same as it is on meta.ServerFault: Propose stuff that I think makes sense, upvote other peoples sensible proposals/solutions, and downvote stuff I disagree with or think would be actively harmful, and generally act as another voice in the chorus for things that the ServerFault community thinks would make the site (and the network) a better place.

freiheit freiheit answered: MSO is a bit much to keep up with. I check there now and then, but the mix of SO specific and SE-general stuff can make it difficult to follow. I do try to follow the SE-wide stuff there.

Iain Iain answered: I've had some interaction with mSO ~ more feedback on features than community stuff. I prefer mSF for community.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I see my role as a site member as more valuable on meta than on the Q/A portion. Plenty of people on the site are smarter than me about many things, so I sit back and enjoy the show and get smarter from it. I have, however, seen some things that can be sharpened such as tags, old, unproductive questions, confusion over what is acceptable to ask about here, and some other topics. I think I'm more valuable to meta than the Q/A side and have been more active there lately as a result.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I've actually taken the plunge into the shark-infested mSO waters quite a bit recently. Unlike many other SFers, I've been somewhat successful on mSO. I think it's because I'm able to see potential reasons to get down votes there and preemptively address them. One of my recent current SF-centric ventures on mSO include this


Kyle Brandt Kyle Brandt asked: The quality of questions in terms how professional or advanced they are comes up again and again on meta. Joel answered when that came up once with:

"There are basically two ways discussion groups can go. They can stick with the same people (who are learning and getting smarter) or they can stick with the same subject. If they stick with the same people, the only way to keep them entertained is to get more and more esoteric until you have a site where nobody can get useful information except the 14 old-timers who have been around since the beginning. This is nice for the 14 old-timers, but doesn't make the Internet a better place. If you stick with the same subject, eventually the old-timers get bored. That's a better outcome, I think. I think the old-timers would be better served by finding a new area to learn about that's challenging and interesting."
Do you agree with him on this and how do you determine if a question is too basic?

ErikA ErikA answered: I personally don't think any question is too basic - as long as it is on-topic per the FAQ. Heck, I got started here on SF by answering a lot of very simple questions, and there will always be a place for that level of discourse. If the old-timers get bored, then that's they're problem - perhaps they should then spend more time mentoring the less-experienced people on the site.

pauska pauska answered: Interesting question, as it's something we've talked alot about in the chat. We should help newcomers with questions that are trivial, as it will eventually attract new users (who generate new questions and answers), which will build up the site. The problem is find that magic line of how "bad" a question can be. The ones who do no research before asking is generally not accepted by this community..

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: We've had a lot of the truly awful questions already, so we could close as duplicate of a canonical answer. There's not much I would consider "too basic", that depends on your area of expertise - I can ask what some would consider to be very basic Linux questions, but that doesn't make me an idiot when it comes to Linux. I'd apply that thinking to others with basic questions and try to guide them along a bit.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I agree with the logic of that community lifecycle theory. As far as what I agree with concerning ServerFault's culture:
I believe we can blend both. We shouldn't be answering the same questions over and over with new content, when a single canonical answer will do. I believe that more questions can and should be closed as duplicates. I also believe that canonical answers can and should be curated to be better and better. Closing those as duplicates I think will push us closer to a "same-subject" model where we by necessity get more interesting and complex questions.
In short, we should be answering the same questions on the exact same topics over and over if for no other reason than wasting time and energy. We need more canonical references.

Chris S Chris S answered: I understand what he was chasing, but think he solidly missed his target. In another post the simple razor came up "Can we really help them" (with the implication that the help be with reasonable currency. If we can help them, if they have the base level of knowledge, then we should accept them regardless of their novice or guru state.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I agree with Joel in principle: If we shut out all the "newbies" the SF community will not grow. If that happens then eventually we will stagnate, start missing out on new technologies/ideas/practices, and become irrelevant. It is important to be able to bring in new people at various experience points along the continuum.
Re: figuring out if something is "too basic", my standard here is "blatantly obvious in the docs or a google search". Someone asking "How do I list the running programs on a Linux machine" and seeking ps or top as the answer is not really at a "professional (unix) system administrator" level.
There's a lot of wiggle room there in my eyes and I'm honestly not sure where I draw the line -- A brand new junior admin or someone who just inherited an environment may need that help, but sometimes the best advice we can give is to Seek Professional Help in order to keep someone out of deeper trouble.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I really don't think that this applies to Server Fault. Systems Administration is so broad that there will always be new products or technologies to ask about. Being in technology is an ever-changing landscape and because of that, I don't think that we have to worry about things becoming stagnant. I think that SF should remain for pros only, because of the quality that it allows us to maintain. If someone has a very basic, but on-topic question, then it should be allowed.

Iain Iain answered: If I can I will answer any question. Most of the truly basic ones are often dupes and closing them as such is a good thing.


squillman squillman asked: Do you tend to view all (or most) questions that are posted or do you stay mostly within your favorite tags?

Ward Ward answered: I watch all the questions go by, skim almost all, and read most of them.

ErikA ErikA answered: I view pretty much all questions.

pauska pauska answered: I reserve the right to avoid certain questions like the plague (cpanel comes to mind pretty quickly), but that will change if I get a pretty star next to my name. A mod can't filter out stuff that isn't interesting.

Chris S Chris S answered: I stick to questions I have a prayer of answering. Question with my favorite tags always get read. The rest are the luck of the draw.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I don't tag search much. I look at the first 50 questions on the home page, and sometimes spill over into the next 50 if I haven't seen those. I like to stay very broad, but I only deeply look into questions that I'm familiar with, because I can't really contribute in those except for spelling and grammar.

freiheit freiheit answered: I follow a few tags closely and skim a lot of the rest

Iain Iain answered: I have a few tags ignored and several favourited tend to look at all those and some of the others

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I bounce around: I stick mostly to the unix/linux/networking/datacenter topics because it's what I know best, but I poke my head into various other areas to keep at least peripherally in touch with the rest of the industry. I may not actively answer in a broad range of tags (certainly not enough to get tag badges :) but I read questions that look interesting.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I don't hide any tags. I only follow , , , and , but I have badges in and as well. Just because a tag isn't a favorite doesn't mean that I don't feel it's valuable. I'm a jack-of-all-trades, so I tend to read questions on topics that I'm not familiar with to expand my professional knowledge.


Holocryptic Holocryptic asked: Do you think you will be more active if granted mod status? If so, would you see it as an opportunity to promote the site? If so, are there other things you think you could do to promote/improve the site?

Ward Ward answered: Probably not more active, but differently. A bit less time voting, more time dealing with flags and editing.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I would be more effective as a result of my interest in going back through our history and closing topics that are clearly not right for ServerFault. No more bogging the existing mods down with 44 flags per night! I don't think I can promote the site any more than I already do with my blog, I'm wearing a SF T-shirt right now, I have an SF sticker on my iPhone and on my laptop lid. =)
EDIT: Sorry! I misunderstood the question. I would be about the same activity level. I would answer questions less, but I'm already letting that slip anyway. My time on the site and my Q/A activity would not be noticeably effected. I'm moving my activity in this direction anyway, mod diamond or not.

ErikA ErikA answered: I feel the amount of time I spend would stay the same, but I would spend more time with administrativa than actually answering questions. Regarding site promotion, there's a good reason I'm not in marketing. :)

Chris S Chris S answered: I'd think I'd be about the same. Possibly slightly less active while taking care of mod "dirty work".

pauska pauska answered: I don't think I would spend more time on the site, as I'm already here.. alot.. I would probably be a bit more awake about promoting SX (not just SF) to coworkers, business partners etc. We really need more professionals!

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I consider being a mod an additional "as time allows" thing, much like the 10k tools. It is my intent to continue to answer questions and remain active in that part of the site, up to and including doing "alternate days" (one day modding, one day answering) if I get that overloaded.
I consider promotion/improvement of the site a separate beast: I do try to get good talent to look at SF and other stack sites (and hopefully they stay around and participate), but I don't consider that part of mod-ship. It's part of being a community member.

freiheit freiheit answered: Yes, I would be more active. Promotion can really be done by anybody, and the skills to be a good promoter are different than the skills of being a good moderator. So, no, I probably wouldn't be doing any more promotion than the "get some friends or co-workers or FB followers to check something on SF out" stuff that I've done before.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I already am very active, I don't see that dropping off. I also link to SF on my blog, and my g+ profile. I encourage people at work to participate in the community as well. I don't see myself doing more than I currently do, but I currently do a decent amount of promoting.

Iain Iain answered: I'm expecting to be much the same but to shift focus to actioning things rather than finding them. I promote SF whenever I can but try not to be preachy about it.


squillman squillman asked: What is the biggest problem that we have within the SF community?

Ward Ward answered: Not sure it's the biggest, but we could certainly use more "regulars."

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Our lack of focus on what is and is not acceptable to ask and answer.

ErikA ErikA answered: Honestly, I think lack of visibility and marketing are a huge issue. I'd love to see SF sponsoring local LUG meetings, having booths at trade shows, etc. I run into sysadmins all the time who have never heard SF.

pauska pauska answered: I'm still certain that we need way more "heavy-weights" who can provide expertise on the really tough enterprise questions. The only way to attract them is to get more of the hard questions. Other than that, I don't think we're exactly plagued with problems.

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: I think our core group of die-hard people that answer questions on a regular basis is pretty slim. So, we would need to expand that. How? Promoting. Friends, Collegues to start with.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: LACK OF KITTENS!
Seriously? I think we're too mean to the newbs. We aren't "ZOMG WORSE THAN USENET!", but sometimes we're not as gentle as we should be when we zot a bad/off-topic question.
This is part of why I've taken to adding comments when I vote to close as OT/NARQ: Explain why the question is bad, where they can get answers, and encourage them to come back with better questions.

Chris S Chris S answered: People who are really good at being administrators will find the answer to their question searching the pipes faster than waiting for an expert to wander by. The vast majority of questions are from mediocre and lousy admins (lumped in here are people who aren't actually admins, but wearing that hat). I'm not sure if the System Administration subject space is just too diverse for a Q&A site to really take off like SO has, or if it's a factor of the target audience.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Probably the laying it on a bit thick for the people who don't quite follow our conventions or post off-topic stuff here. There can be a tendency for a bit of verbal towards the newbies, and that's not necessary. The problem needs to be dealt with by migrating or closing, not nasty comments.

freiheit freiheit answered: Tough questions don't get as much visibility as easy questions. Not every sysadmin on the planet knows about SF.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I think that the biggest problem is probably the number of bad questions that get asked by new users. Many of them can be fixed with some editing love, but others need a firm push to the faq.

Iain Iain answered: We don't have enough active users. We need to find ways to gather them in and keep them. I think that more voting would definitely help as early on gaining rep is a good draw.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts from the candidates please?

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: My hands hurt :P

MDMarra MDMarra answered: Um, vote for me?! :D

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Oh, and as mod, I will legalize pots.

pauska pauska answered: My final thought is that you're a great community manager Rebecca, no matter what size of the ... endian. Thank you for arranging this!

ErikA ErikA answered: Nothing other than thanks for the opportunity to run alongside these fine other gentlemen.

Ward Ward answered: Vote for Iain first, then almost any of the rest would make a good mod. Sam, Eriks, Wesley, sorry, I can't do it all from memory.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Apart from good luck to everyone, everyone should feel free to drop into the comms room if they have further questions for the candidates - most of us frequent it

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: I like ServerFault. I want to be a mod because I think I would be good at it. Vote for me. Other then that. My top 3 is made. :). A lot of strong candidates. Even if I don't win: it's all in good fun. Good luck to all of you!


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: Question: You see a question that's borderline appropriate for the site. It's got no flags, and two close votes. What do you do?

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: I'd keep an eye on it (another tab in Firefox). If it gets enough community close votes, brilliant - if not then there's a judgement call to be made. If it's maybe appropriate somewhere else, then I'd ask in their chat room if they wanted it

Chris S Chris S answered: Leave it be. I don't see much reason for Mods to go out of their way to hammer the gray area when nobody is complaining.

pauska pauska answered: I'd monitor it, and see if it jumps up to 4 votes. If it does, I'd take a look at potential sites (like migrating it to apple.se since regular users cant do that).

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I would leave it be. Right now, I would probably add my close vote, but as a mod, my vote would be binding. Mod are human exception handles, as Jeff has called them in the past. There are plenty of other users over 3k to cast the last 3 votes if they feel it's appropriate. Until it's flagged, there's no reason for me to take action if it's truly borderline.

ErikA ErikA answered: Post a comment requesting that the OP improve the question.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Depends on where it falls on the border. I mentioned in my candidate statement that I'm not fond of the idea of mod-hammering something, so if it had 2 votes and I thought it should go I would probably post it in VTC and see if it attracted a third close vote before tacking mine onto it.
If it's one of those "What are you asking?" type questions I'll do what I do now -- throw a comment on it asking for clarification.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Hopefully with the FAQ being hammered out in such fine detail, there will be less borderline cases. Depending on the situation, I'd be inclined to bring it up in VTC. If it's super borderline, perhaps bring it up on meta in case we need to hone our purpose even more. I can also see myself hammering it locked - but if it can be cleaned up, I'd edit it into a more appropriate form. Wow, that's a tough one.

Iain Iain answered: Wait and see what the community decides - borderline isn't sufficient for mod hammer

freiheit freiheit answered: I'd probably leave it be. Depends on where on that border it sits. One option is a comment suggesting how to make it less borderline.

Ward Ward answered: Borderline? Leave it, probably post it on vote to close (as I do already, he says, attempting to show off a bit!)


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: We get a fair number of flags for content that some people deem offensive. What would you consider offensive? If you can think of some, give an example of "I can see why this is flagged, but I dont think its offensive"

pauska pauska answered: Windows Millennium and Vista is pretty offensive :-) But honestly - personal insults is never OK, not on the internet and not in real life. I would be pretty hard on those who are found guilty.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Personal attacks are offensive. Personally I don't find bad language offensive, but I know others do and I generally remove it if I see it.

ErikA ErikA answered: Personal attacks are always offensive, as are racist, sexist, or any other non-respectful rhetoric.

  • Mark Henderson Mark Henderson requested: Can you define "non-respectful" a bit more? For example, is berating someone for not even pressing F1 disrespectful to the user?

    ErikA ErikA responded: I guess I'm speaking of disrespect by means of either personal attack or otherwise insinuating that someone is "stupid" or something like that.

Chris S Chris S answered: That's pretty rough. I haven't seen the queue so I couldn't say what percentage I would find valid, but I suspect it's a bit low. I know a lot of people don't want to hear the truth/answer they already know; that's got to have an impact on the flag queue. I think I hold myself to a higher standard than I would hold other to; but where the line would be I can not say. Examples are going to be really tough in this format.

freiheit freiheit answered: I'd see anything that's personally attacking another person as offensive, as well as the obvious sets of "offensive words".

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I view personal attacks that are meant as personal to be offensive. I view racism as offensive. I view pornographic contributions to the site as offensive.
I view the chat as an entirely different culture from the main site and also meta as moderately different in culture. A joking "Fuck you!" in chat is all in good fun. A joking "Fuck you!" on the main site is never okay. Meta... maybe... but probably not.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: What would I consider offensive? Personal attacks, obvious bigotry/racism/hate speech, pornography, really vile obscenity (stuff we wouldn't even let fly in The Comms Room).
What is borderline but I wouldn't consider it offensive? F-Bombs not directed as an attack (though I'd insist on editing them out of content on the main site). Off-color jokes about stuffing misbehaving users under the datacenter floor. Politely mocking suggestions that incompetent security auditors attempt to disprove the existence of gravity.... Basically stuff said in good humor or the grand tradition of gentle snark and sarcasm. There is a line. We'll all know it when we see someone step over it (or step over it ourselves), and action will be taken in those cases (right now I'd flag it, as a mod I'd squash it).

MDMarra MDMarra answered: Personal attacks are always offensive. Profanity is sometimes offensive, depending on context. I tend to have a thicker skin than some. Disagreements about the validity of a question or answer without profanity or insults are silly and should not be flagged as offensive. In my opinion, if something is borderline to me, but a user involved is offended, I'll take action. If it's just people flagging because they disagree, we should beat them with a hose and then make them hug it out.


Holocryptic Holocryptic asked: You run across a user who has a bit of a "rough" edge to him, in that he can be abrasive in the tone of his comments and answers. However, he does bring value to site in terms of knowledge. How do you reign him in without losing him as a contributing member of the community?

ErikA ErikA answered: Like @Sam's previous question, confer with the other Mods, penalty box if needed.

Chris S Chris S answered: Flag: Close as Duplicate of 3017644

freiheit freiheit answered: Your question relates a lot to Sam's. I'd first start with gentle reminders about tone. I see that kind of rudeness/roughness as potentially driving away more value (other users) than they're bringing to the site.

Iain Iain answered: I've spoken to people like that already. Advised them that we don't like that kind of attitude and to please take some time to learn the way we do things.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: A bit abrasive and yet brings lots of value? I can think of two high-rep users who meet that standard. I think in that case, you don't merely tell what the problem is, you ask them what they're thinking and what's going on in their minds. If you ask people enough questions, you can usually get a great feel for them, and get them to see themselves a bit better.
If they really don't seem to get it and keep on and on, then in that case, their technical contributions cannot ever outweigh the negative culture that they bring.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: See my answer to @Sam -- Basically try to get the user into chat and explain that they just need to watch their tone. Im also not above calling this kind of behavior out in comments (and holding out the "I'd upvote your answer, but you're mean!" carrot to entice people into changing their wording/tone.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I think that it's important to remind that user that everyone was new to being a SA at one time or another. No one was born being able to read wireshark captures, except maybe Evan Anderson. Everyone was also new to SF at one point or another as well. Without these new members that this user is belittling, we wouldn't have a community to participate in. I'd give that user every opportunity to reform, but if it comes down to it, no one user is more important than community growth.

  • I was born to read hexdumps in general. First it was sectors from Apple ][ disks, then later memory dumps. Wireshark came much, much later... >smile< Commented May 9, 2012 at 2:06

squillman squillman asked: Sysadmins tend to get stereotyped with a holier-than-thou attitude. Do you feel you fall into this stereotype (in general)? Why/Why not?

Ward Ward answered: Here? With a whole ton of smarter people ready to tell you you're wrong? No way.

ErikA ErikA answered: As I'm able, I try and come across as approachable rather than holier-than-thou.

pauska pauska answered: Yeah, when I was 16 and the l33t3st dude around with 8 freebsd servers on the attic running IRC bots. But now, no.. You learn pretty quickly that a smile and a service-oriented attitude opens up new opportunities.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Not really. Look at my history, which speaks for itself. Sure on very few occasions I've really laid something on thick, but it's something they really shouldn't have been doing. 99% of my answers don't convey they "I know more than you, I'm more important than you" attitude. I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Chris S Chris S answered: I get that from time to time, but only from people who are half-a**ing the job, and know full well what they're doing is going to be unmaintainable... but it's not their problem or prerogative, so I can't blame them for trying to get away with it. There is more than one "right" solution to most problems, I'm open-minded about them. Just don't try to serve me dog crap on a silver platter and expect me to fawn over the shiny.

freiheit freiheit answered: Holier-than-thou? I try not to be, but I do probably come across that way sometimes.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: I struggle with this some days, and not others. It's strange, at any given point I suspect that I am the dumbest person in the room (this get-together included). At other times, when I see someone having done something that appears to be absurd, I get smug. I usually only feel it on the inside and am shamed by it (especially since I have had the good fortune of being around people that did not hold it in so I could see how ugly it is).
In general, aside from the water-cooler chatting about lusers, I think I stay fairly grounded. Even when I see something that looks obviously wrong, I always wonder "I'd like to know why that person thought that was necessary... maybe I'm missing something..."

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Well, my environment is a beautiful gilded castle with singing birdies in all the towers. Of course I'm holier than you slobs! Seriously? Yes, in the sense that I push the best solution on people.
I feel that there are certain times when we can answer a question in the way the asker expects, but we should instead point them at a better solution.
I for one want ServerFault to be the place people go to for GOOD answers -- sometimes that means the answer is "Don't do that. You'll break the internet and I'll come to your door and yell at you!" On the other hand I recognize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to implement the good/right solution: I've often answered questions with "good solution, BIG NASTY DISCLAIMER, quick hack". All environments are different, and as users here we need to understand that -- the same goes for mods.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: To users that are PITAs and insist that they are always right, of course. I am holier-than-them when it comes to my network. That's why I'm the one getting paid to run it and they're getting paid to crunch numbers in Excel. That said, I think that user horror stories give us SAs a "common enemy" for lack of a better word. User stories are something that everyone can relate to and actually help build a good community in [chat] and in comments.


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: No cheating, I'll know if you do cheat: Do you, off the top of your head, know what the correct procedure is for placing a user in the sinbin? (e.g. "Leave a comment, then suspend for 7 days"). if not, what do you think it should be?

ErikA ErikA answered: Absolutely not. No clue here. :)

pauska pauska answered: I have no idea mate, sorry.

Ward Ward answered: No idea. Off the top of my head, I'd think a couple of attempts to get someone to self-correct should be enough, then a suspension.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: No I don't know it, but I expect it to be documented somewhere. Again, I'd always try to fix things without having to resort to the sin bin, but if it's necessary then I'm sure there's some sort of process, just like a process we would follow at work if someone needed to be disciplined. I reckon 3x comments, a day in the sin bin, 2x comments and then a week in the sin bin, 1x comment and then stronger measures

Chris S Chris S answered: Don't know what it is now. Should be something like: 2x Comment, E-Mail, 1 Day Ban, 1 Week, 1 Month, 1 Year... Each escalated by a unique occurrence.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Nope, nary a clue.
Seems like the procedure should be along these lines:
Contact with clear indication of what was done that earned the ban.
Ban for whatever length of time is appropriate.
Don't respond to diatribe. Perhaps respond to reasoned discussion.

Iain Iain answered: I have no idea what the process is and I would hope it's documented along the lines of leave a comment, discuss via email and then take appropriate action

freiheit freiheit answered: There's a specific defined procedure? Comment on specific behaviors when they happen. Set up a private chat \ and @@ ping them (and the other mods) for a little talk. Send a mod message without clicking the suspension checkbox. Send a message and click the suspension checkbox for a day to 7 days (first time around). Somewhere very early in there ask other SF mods (or other mods), because it can be easy to allow personal feelings to be involved in situations like that.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: I don't know off hand, but absent other information (pattern of behavior, etc.) it would take something really drastic: REALLY offensive content, major disruption/ad-hominem attacks, etc. - and it's probably something I would bring to other mods (TL) before taking that kind of a step.
I'm much more a proponent of correcting behavior through constructive modification than bans/deletions/etc.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I believe it's to warn them in comments, then to warn them in a private email, then give them a 7-day time out. If that's the procedure (or close), then I'm OK with it. If it's not, then I wouldn't really know how to suggest a change right now. There are 40+ SE sites. I'm sure the policy is well thought out. I'm not in any position to suggest a change until I better understand the system and have some experience with it.


Mark Henderson Mark Henderson asked: Question: Is Super User our dumping ground for all the crappy off-topic questions that we get?

Ward Ward answered: NO WAY! We do our best not to migrate crap.

Ward Ward continued: I rarely see migrate to SU... lots of straight close as OT

ErikA ErikA answered: No - it's a destination only for questions that are on-topic for SU.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Of course not. =) In fact, I think we need to coordinate with them more to know what should just be closed as off topic and left with a link to the canonical SU answer for that questions.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: NO. NO. NO. More than once I've posted comments begging people to close as OT and not migrate to super user. I firmly believe in "Don't migrate crap" and I think my past actions really show that

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: No, it's not our dumping ground. Most of the time when it's crap, it gets closed. Not migrated

pauska pauska answered: No, we're SO's sewer.. I never migrate crap, ever.. and I get the feeling that our user's are quite picky on that

Chris S Chris S answered: I don't think any site migrates crap like SO.

freiheit freiheit answered: No! Don't migrate crap. Only good questions that are on-topic for a destination should be migrated.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Yes. And it shouldn't be.
I'm not a fan of dumping everything on SU. Sometimes there are better fits (U&L) and sometimes the question is crap and should be closed OT, but it's accumulated too many votes and winds up on SU.
As a mod I'd be more inclined to mod-hammer things OT if I think moving them to SU would be "dumping".

MDMarra MDMarra answered: No, it's not. In fact, I'm 10k (though inactive) on SU, so I know how frustrating it is to have crap dumped there. Just like any other site, SU should be respected and crap should be outright closed here. We need to respect their FAQ, just like we want SO to respect ours.

Iain Iain answered: No, definitely not.


Sam Sam asked: What do you feel should be done with homework questions?

Ward Ward answered: If they're reasonable, fine. But if it's a totally contrived situation, then close as OT (not by a pro sysadmin).

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: Chopper had a great idea with apprentices. I think we should peruse this and help students out. Mind you, we're not gong to make their homework for them.

ErikA ErikA answered: If they're well-asked and there's evidence that the OP put some thought and effort in, then leave it open and help the person along.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Simple note saying that we don't do homework questions, but do hope they come along well in their education. Perhaps a token link to a search term or a canonical answer.

pauska pauska answered: I'm a bit 50/50 on that subject. I personally think that students should be reading books/lab'ing/researching to learn how stuff works, not just ask questions here to get a quick answer. But I also realize that we always want more users on the site.. It's a tough one.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Just because someone is doing homework, it doesn't mean their question is invalid. I've certainly had some questions when reading through Microsoft books and I do this every day. Someone who's studying to do this every day might need some coaching, and provided they've proved they've done some research I'll help them out. If I don't think they deserve it, I'll not answer it, but no closing is necessary

MDMarra MDMarra answered: Closed as off-topic if it's "OMG DO MY HW". If it's well-researched and applicable to the community as written, I might edit out the part where the OP says it's homework.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Homework questions with applicability in the professional environment may stay. "Do my homework for me" questions must go.
For me this isn't a server fault thing, it's an academic honesty one. The point of homework is to learn the material. If all you learned is "Ask on ServerFault and some kind sysadmin will spoon feed it to me!" you're not preparing yourself for the real world.
As much as I like saying you don't have to know everything if you know where to look/ask, there really is some core knowledge you need to internalize.

Iain Iain answered: If they are obviously homework questions they don't belong

freiheit freiheit answered: Homework questions are by definition not coming from "people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity", making them already borderline off-topic. But if it's an on-topic question, it's fine. Preferably making it clear that it's homework.


Holocryptic Holocryptic asked: Do you think we close questions too quickly that can be salvaged with some editing? If so, can you think of a way to combat this?

Bart De Vos Bart De Vos answered: Sometimes we do. had a few times I was busy editing but the question was closed before I could Safe. Reopen, edit and let them try again.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: Yes, in fact I Was guilty of that last night and @MarkHenderson poked me about it.
I need to be less lazy.

ErikA ErikA answered: Yes, most certainly. I think the OP should be at least given a chance to improve their question before it gets closed.

pauska pauska answered: I agree, questions are sometimes closed way too fast. People (not just mods) should get better at commenting and giving people a chance to edit their question before locking them out.

Ward Ward answered: Sometimes we do. I think a comment that the asker can edit their question to make it better and then flag it would be appropriate in some cases. Then if they don't fix it, leaving it closed is usually right.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: There is a reopen vote for a reason. I don't think that there is such a thing as "closed too quickly". If the OP had read the faq and asked a good question, it wouldn't have been closed at all. If they see the error in their ways and make good edits, I'd have no problem reopening it, though.

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: Sometimes we do. If I see one of those I do try and edit it, and I've had questions re-opened by community vote before after I've done some editing on it. I'd edit the question for clarity and drop a comment saying this is a reasonable question, it just needed a bit of love. Stop hating.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: Sometimes yes. I usually don't vote to close such questions: I leave a comment asking for it to be reworded.
(Also sometimes I see close votes or downvotes I can't understand on questions, with no comments saying why -- I believe if we're downvoting/voting to close we owe it to the asker to say why, and I usually leave a comment to the effect of "Why with the downvoting?")

Chris S Chris S answered: Can we: yes. Should we: no. Promoting minimal effort from the Questioner isn't helping, not them and not the community. Answers for answers sake is not reason enough (though Greg House would disagree).

freiheit freiheit answered: Questions can always be edited and re-opened. Commenting on a question suggesting how to fix it when closing can go a long way.


squillman squillman asked: How much interaction have you had with the dev team and SE staff?

pauska pauska answered: Kyle likes to ban me for no apparent reason. That's just about it.

Ward Ward answered: None. Well, there was one email from Joel about 6 years ago, does that count?

ErikA ErikA answered: I've had very little, aside from a few brief interactions on MSF or answering a question that @KyleBrandt asked.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid answered: None with the dev team. I know Kyle, George and Rebecca best. Never interacted with other SE employees that I know of.

WesleyDavid WesleyDavid continued: Oh, Peter Grace too. He was the first question that I threw a bounty on.

Chris S Chris S answered: Whenever they drop into The Comms Room it's always fun to pick their brain, but that's about it.

voretaq7 voretaq7 answered: SE staff mostly in chat/site questions. Developers mostly through meta/metaSO.
I wouldn't say I've had extensive interaction, but I'm not entirely unknown to the StackExchange team, and they either like me or politely tolerate my eccentricities.
I try not to be too much of a pest

Ben Pilbrow Ben Pilbrow answered: I've raised a few issues on MSO and I talk with the Kyle, George and Peter in the comms room. Nothing major though

Iain Iain answered: I've sent them some emails when asking for their help to deal with some tags - reorganising and blackholing and in particular.

freiheit freiheit answered: I've had a fair amount of interaction with SE staff (mostly in the teacher's lounge). The devs aren't in there as often, but some with them. One of the devs implemented mobile device improvements that I asked for, even.

MDMarra MDMarra answered: I've posted various bugs on mSO and have had good feedback. I also chat with George, Kyle, and Peter whenever they're in chat. From what I can tell, they're all nice people as long as you can back up concerns or suggestions with research or well-thought-out answers.

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