Server Fault is scheduled for an election starting next week, September 17th, for 2 slots. In connection with that election, we will be hosting a Q&A here for candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

Unlike previous iterations, this time the Q&A question collection will be provided one week in advance of the actual elections. This will allow users some extra time to evaluate their decision on whether to nominate, as well as let them provide answers to the questionnaire during the nomination phase itself.

See also: A notice regarding the upcoming elections and timezone coverage

The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, September 17th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.

  • If your question contains a link, please use the syntax of [text](link), as that will make it easier for transcribing for the finished questionnaire.

  • At the end of the collection phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing (up to) 10 questions in total.

  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.


If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

  • 1
    2 slot requested by who? the text miss the info :) – yagmoth555 Sep 10 at 22:37
  • 3
    @yagmoth555 SE staff asked the current moderators and we came up with that number based on planned resignations and reduced involvement. – Sven Sep 11 at 10:26
  • @Sven Thanks for the information. It's good to have the context – yagmoth555 Sep 11 at 12:50

Looking back at Q&A from previous elections, I found a few questions that I think are still relevant today. (These are adapted from the 2013 election Q&A. When I looked at the 2014 and 2015 election Q&As, they mostly seemed related to the dramas that were playing out at the time.)

  • Do you feel there are any issues with the relative amount and types of participation on ServerFault of long-term, high-rep users compared to newer, lower-rep users? If so, what would you try to do as a moderator to address these issues?

I realize this is phrased so blandly that it's almost meaningless, but I wanted to avoid suggesting any particular problems. Maybe a candidate will feel that there isn't enough participation by old/high-rep users, or that there are too many easy questions posted by new users. Or, if a candidate thinks everything's basically fine, that's also worth knowing.

Since one of the reasons for this election is time-zone coverage, an obvious question is:

  • What time zone are you in?

OTOH, since it's not 100% clear what time zones really need coverage (apparently some current moderators are stepping down or scaling back their involvement), I'm not sure how useful this is.

  • I'm in Europe and resigning. Unless somebody gets elected that will leave Sven as the only moderator coverage in the CET timezone. – HBruijn Sep 12 at 12:22
  • I'll include the information from @HBrujin's comment when I post this to the questionnaire, plus if any of the other mods wish to chime in about specific timezone ranges. – Grace Note Sep 13 at 16:42

Since we're often the final nail in the coffin of a bad piece of content, or the last minute clemency...

  • Moderators see the review-queues a little differently. How do you see yourself handling answers from a new user that could be great with a little clarification, yet has earned at least one not an answer flag?

As someone who has almost entirely become a lurker here, I would like to add some questions pertaining to the longevity of the site.

  • With the decline in both new content and votes, do you believe as a moderator this should affect your behavior?
  • What do you believe a moderators role is, in cultivating good content for the site?

Primarily I'm concerned that at the current rate of decline in votes, moderation by voting will become less prevalent. Which means the communities role in moderation is effectively decreasing, and the moderators job might become more difficult.
Alternatively it's possible more and more content will just die a silent 0 vote death. But that is an equally bad experience for new users that we should probably try to avoid.

  • It could be argued that the decline in new content/questions is because people are finding their answers in existing content . Voting was always limited to a relatively small number of people, who like you and I, no longer play the game. What's most troubling is the lack of answers to new questions. data.stackexchange.com/serverfault/query/303570/…. It seems that the natural attrition is not not being back filled by new contributors who can provide answers. – Iain Sep 24 at 21:43
  • @Iain This is also the least active moderator election I've seen in SF history. – Reaces Sep 25 at 12:25

Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

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

  • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  • A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?
  • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

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