I am Falcon! Here are my answers! I also still stand by my answers last year.
- We had an election last year that ended with some parting and drama.
And I can't help but think of Ryan Ries` comment: "I don't know why anyone would want to be a moderator, now." Let's be honest here, things went wrong after the last election. Communication was a major issue, and there were some divisive opinions on what should or shouldn't have been done. What do you think went wrong last year, and what would you do differently if put in the same situation?
I think the most important thing about moderation is consensus. Moderators don't have the power to act independently of everyone else in the community even though no technical control exists to prevent them. I see the moderation tools primarily as a powerful means to effect the community's decision (as it is expressed on meta for example). No problem is too urgent to take a moment to consider what the community really wants done.
We have standing consensus on spam, obviously, and now we have it on web control panels. An effective moderator does not embark on great initiatives alone, but does so after understanding where the community stands and ensuring it is embarking on that initiative too.
- Last year, we voted on someone who was running on a platform of
extreme, desperate measures, we voted for someone who put up the following campaign slogan: "A vote for me is a vote to put my cruelty and viciousness to work for the site, against the horde of stupidity that threatens it." And while it definitely wasn't a landslide victory, talks of stupidity dealt with through cruelty did garner enough votes to win a second place. Do you think the extreme rhetoric used last year is still viable today?
Would you consider picking up some of the work that helped win last year, and if so will you take a different approach?
I don't think that rhetoric is ever viable! A vote for me is a vote for consensus-building, level-headed decision making, and courtesy. It is incredibly important to assume good faith in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
We're playing the long game here. We can afford to give people a few strikes, as it were, before they are out. Moderators can afford the time it takes to do things right and ensure decisions are well-supported.
That said, we do have a problem with a constant influx of off-topic questions. We have always struggled with topicality, but that's OK - we have consensus, and we have shown that when that consensus needs updating we as a community are more than capable of making that happen.
For as long as the community needs to remove off-topic content, I plan to do that, but only with consensus that it is in fact off-topic. I haven't been doing much of that lately because as a non-moderator my doing that does nothing but fill the close-queue and spend people's time on tedium. However, as a moderator I could do it effectively.
I have a long track record of asking for consensus on that matter, participating in discussions about it, and standing by it. For example:
On reflection, it's probably not a bad idea to also ask the community whether or not some current initiative or practice still reflects consensus.
- Do you agree with the statement "ServerFault needs professional-quality questions, not just questions from professionals"? What does the word "professional" mean to you, within the context of the phrase, "professional-quality questions"? Do you believe that in addition to professional-quality questions, ServerFault also needs professional-quality answers and comments? What are "professional quality questions" to you?
Professionalism is a tricky thing to pin down, but it has some fundamental characteristics:
- Acting in the long-term interests of your client and employer
- Behaving as though you care about the results of your work
- Following best practices (and not making ugly, unmaintainable hacks)
- Doing your job (and not expecting others to do it for you)
- Putting in some effort to educate yourself
- Speaking up when procedure is wrongheaded or ineffective
- Using the right tools for the task at hand
A professional might be getting paid for what they do, but I'm not even sure this is a fundamentally necessary quality. It's more about what you are doing and how you are doing it. If you are using the wrong tools (like a home internet connection), or you refuse to challenge wrong procedure, or you otherwise don't do the things in the list above, you're not being a professional. We are interested in questions from professionals here.
It does not mean you always use the best of everything and that all your procedures are perfect and flawless, but it does mean you have a reasonable amount of knowledge, approach your task with thought, and make some effort to figure things out. It also means you're receptive to being told your methodology isn't right, and that when this happens you're ready to change tack (instead of being stubborn).
So, yes. I do agree with that. I think the community agrees with that too, and I think it's important to the usefulness and survival of this site that we engage in normative behaviours (closing unprofessional questions) to preserve it.
If I can't tell whether a person is professional from the question, I don't care whether they are at work or not. The question and answers are the legacy we live with and they are all that really matter. If a question is not professional-quality and not from a professional, this will be apparent from the text of the question and comments.
- I'm drunk/not reading carefully/don't hang out here much. Why should I vote for you instead of some other person?
I'll keep this one short.
- Predictable, fair, no-surprises moderation.
- Rapid and effective enactment of community consensus.
- A track record of consistently high-quality content submission.
- What problems does Server Fault face that are unique to Server Fault?
The field is constantly changing in material ways, and the field is full of pretenders! Also, we have a field, not just a topic.
We have shifts to and from centralization and decentralization of networks, constantly changing best practices, and cultural and core skill shifts. A good example of that last one is the evolving meaning of "devops".
For Server Fault, this means we need to keep on top of these kinds of changes and make sure we neither ignore nor too enthusiastically embrace changes in the field. We have to accept questions about emerging technologies without accidentally allowing unprofessional questions to take over. We need to recognize that, for example, some people are both developers and sysops at the same time.
We also have the unique quality that we filter for questions related to professional environments, so that these questions and answers will reflect professionalism and be broadly useful. Many or even most new users to the site seem to feel that basically anything goes, including questions about how to build enterprise networks out of garbage, run ancient software long past EOL, and implement extremely inadvisable requirements. I think these things are given broader acceptance elsewhere, but we are taking the approach that is right for us.
I don't think slackening that approach is a necessary part of acknowledging devops or other changes, and I don't think it would do anything other than drive off high-quality professional contributors with boredom.
- Briefly explain the role of a moderator, and what you plan to do to fill that role. What is awesome about your approach?
Ooh, my question!
A moderator is a consensus-builder and consensus-implementer. My approach is awesome because I intend to avoid governing or crusading, and just act as a force multiplier for community consensus.
I bring my energy and enthusiasm to the table, and if you elect me I will be very energetic and enthusiastic thanks to the vote of confidence!
- 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'd do the same thing I would have done last year, and talk to them. Moderator actions are for de-escalation. Using them to beat someone up isn't an effective way to de-escalate. The user has demonstrated a commitment to the community by contributing high-quality content, and that commitment is worthy of respect that should be returned in kind.
Most of the time, users who create unhealthy conflict are simply unaware that their behaviour is counterproductive, antinormative, escalatory, or abusive. Alternatively, they are unaware that they are harming the community.
If the arguments and flags are significant and demonstrate recalcitrance, sometimes it's important to put weight behind your words with moderator actions, but personally I'd feel much better if the problematic user stopped, deleted their own abuse, and perhaps even apologized as a result of talking with a moderator.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
No matter who you are, the right answer is to talk to them. As a moderator, this is doubly true, since moderators who do not act with hegemony and are in open conflict bring the whole site and its moderation into contempt.
When talking to them, I'd most likely talk about creating a meta question to resolve the controversy with consensus.
There are several moderators. No single moderator can consider themselves the sole arbiter of anything. The whole network is based on community moderation, and it's unbelievably important to uphold that.