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10:47 PM
We'll get started in about 15 minutes.
@RebeccaChernoff who is expected to attend?
Honestly, not sure...a few people's availability changed after I scheduled it. |:
As before, there is a digest version of this town hall. The digest will contain only the questions and their answers to make it easier to follow.
I'm here, but might have to disappear half way through. I'll check the transcript and post answers to direct questions on meta tomorrow.
@ChrisF I will include any of your late answers at the end of the digest, if that is okay with you?
10:56 PM
I'm here, good to start whenever.
@Josh No problem
Assuming nobody else comes, I hope @Murph has a ton of questions. :)
& he's not really here ;)
Right then! Top of the hour to y'all (:
Welcome to the Programmers Town Hall Chat
There's a system message up linking people here, so hopefully we'll get some stragglers.
Let the record show that we've got @ChrisF, @MarkTrapp, and @AnnaLear here. @PeterTurner has joined also.
The format is open, feel free to jump in with questions.
Candidates, please use the reply feature when answering questions, it will make it easier to follow. Anyone not familiar with that?
Is anyone else alive? (:
@RebeccaChernoff Technically. :)
11:05 PM
@RebeccaChernoff I am (I think). Just waiting for a question...
@RebeccaChernoff Here and familiar with replies :)
Let's get to it then! Anyone want to start us off with a question?
Ok, I'll go!
How will you handle having a vote that is binding?
@RebeccaChernoff That depends. It's useful when there's obvious spam etc. but normally it does mean you have to hold off voting until others in the community have voted as well. I've started adding a comment on borderline posts to give a guide to my thinking and then revisiting when I see 2 or 3 votes on a post.
Welcome @PeterTurner
@RebeccaChernoff I've been trying to use the binding vote as a last resort, when leaving comments doesn't work or there's a serious problem with the question. A lot of times, having a binding vote is helpful to speed an inevitable closure along (as @ChrisF alluded to).
11:09 PM
Hey everyone.
@RebeccaChernoff My plan is to use it with care. If there are already 3 or 4 close votes on a question and it's pretty clear where that's headed, then I wouldn't mind voting as well to make it official, as it were. In less clear-cut cases, I plan to leave a comment on the question and see what others think. Of course there are also the obvious situations like spam, obviously off-topic questions, etc, that can be closed directly.
I have a question. What are your thoughts on the new "Everyone can edit" feature which was recently introduced and is still under development?
The new flagged posts section in the moderator tools is very useful, coupled with the new flag options that users have, as it allows those with less than 3K to let us know what they think as well.
I would use it in the extreme situations where no one else cares to close a question, but never once a question has been reopened.
@Josh It's been helpful; I think I've only hit one iffy suggested edit so far out of about 6 that I've been able to handle. It definitely shows there are a lot of low rep users get it far quicker than they get the needed rep to edit the normal way.
11:12 PM
@ChrisF, does the new "Suggest" edits require an extreme amount of moderator attention?
@Josh I'm still undecided about it. I saw one case on Super User (I think) where a low rep user had edited a whole chunk of information about their problem into someone else's question rather than posting a new question referencing the first. I didn't see the outcome of that one. Having a page of recent edits in the tools section would help (unless I've missed it of course). It seems less of an issue on Programmers' at the moment as there's less traffic.
@Josh I'm still a bit unsure on what I think about it. I like the idea of edits going through at least one more person, especially on a site with fewer 2k+ users. I haven't noticed a lot of questions with pending edits on P.SE, so I'm not sure how well the feature's working yet.
@PeterTurner Not at the moment. The pending edits flag is also available to 10K+ users so that helps spread the load.
We all know Programmers had a bit of a rough start. In your opinion, are things good now? Better? Still a lot of things to figure out?
Shoot, wife just informed me that my free-time is up.
11:16 PM
@RebeccaChernoff Much better. I think the vast majority of active users have come on board to the new guidelines, and the questions that got us the reputation we had at the beginning are much rarer.
@RebeccaChernoff Things seem to be settling down. Questions that I would have had to close "on my own" are now getting 2 or 3 votes - which is a sign that the higher rep users (at least) have got the message. There's quite a few lower rep users flagging things too.
If anyone minds, I was stagnant on Programmers for a while. What was the challenge initially?
@RebeccaChernoff I think things are better than they used to be for sure. There are still "grey area" questions, but those are getting rarer. The most ill-fitting questions have been asked so many times that they've made it into the FAQ and it's easier to deal with them now.
@PeterTurner and anyone else who has to leave, if you retun here later and answer questions, I will include them at the end of the digest
@Moshe Initially P.SE tried to be a "anything goes so long as it's related to programming" site. The scope had to be narrowed down to prevent a lot of "what kind of pickles do programmers like" type of questions.
11:18 PM
@Moshe (is this a question for the candidates?)
@Moshe Programmers.SE had a bit of an identity crisis as being the first sanctioned subjective Stack Exchange. It had a wild west feel, with a lot of low quality questions like "What's your favorite programming cartoon?" and "Why are most programmers atheists?" being quite popular.
@Moshe The site was started to be the place where everything off topic on Stack Overflow could be asked. It was soon realised that it wouldn't work and the guidelines had to be tightened up. There was some resistance to this initially, but the site is better for it.
@RebeccaChernoff I think right now the biggest challenge is advertising to other sites (most notably SO) what Programmers is all about, so we stop getting migrations from SO that don't fit in here but were moved just because they didn't fit SO.
Thank you.
11:19 PM
Hi @EdisonChuang, feel free to ask a question if you've got one!
What is an example question that fits on P.SE? Contrast that to an unacceptable question.
Just trying to picture theb candidates idea of an off topic question...Clarifying since this was initially an issue apparently.
@Moshe One sec, searching. :)
Q: Studies on code documentation productivity gains/losses

J THi everyone, After much searching, I have failed to answer a basic question pertaining to an assumed known in the software development world: WHAT IS KNOWN: Enforcing a strict policy on adequate code documentation (be it Doxygen tags, Javadoc, or simply an abundance of comments) adds over-head...

This (for me) is a good question.
whats all this then
@Moshe Here's an example of an off-topic question: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/40654/…
11:22 PM
@chrisF and a bad one?
@Moshe Still looking....
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?
Question, what do you think is more important: A moderator that interacts well with the community, or one that is willing to put in lots of hard work cleaning flags?
@Moshe On topic: http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/4063/why-did-an-interviewer-ask-me-a-question-about-people-eating-curry; question that can be answered from experience, has a knowable answer, and is almost exclusively in the domain of Programmers.
Q: Most embarrassing coding faux pas

benhowdle89I'm asking this question to feel a little bit better about myself. I'm interested in hearing what embarrassing coding sins you committed when you were just starting out (or heck, now even). I think for a beginner its fairly daunting to come on a site like this and see huge rep points and some use...

11:23 PM
Not a real question: Where would the question "What's your favorite programming cartoon?" fit? I guess not on any of the SE sites, which kind of stinks honestly, I wish I had a medium where I could ask that question, and still access the SE community- because those are the people I want to get answers from.
This is a bad question
@Moshe Off topic: the "What's your favorite _?" questions are an easy example, but I point to Do programmers have higher tendency to be atheists than non programmers? as an example because it's a little less obviously bad. However, it's a perfect example of a question that fails nearly every one of the six subjective guidelines.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I don't think it's an either/or situation. You have to interact well to gain the respect and trust of the community but also be prepared to put the work in.
@AnnaLear are you still searching for a good question example? I ask only because I want to make sure I include your complete answer in the digest.
@Josh Here's an example of an interesting on-topic question: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/42930/…
11:26 PM
When should questions be closed and just left alone vs. when should they be closed and deleted? That is, when do you believe in deleting content?
@JustinjjnguyNelson Ideally a moderator that does both; it's a false dichotomy. But a moderator who's willing to do the unpopular and tedious decisions is one that's worth having. A moderator doesn't need to be a friend, but he or she does need to keep the site running smoothly, ideally without anyone noticing.
@MichaelMrozek I don't know. I've never seen such a user yet.
@ChrisF Give me a few hours
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?
11:28 PM
@JustinjjnguyNelson I don't think that those two are mutually exclusive. It's important to be respectful to other community members, but ultimately a moderator has to make decisions and enforce rules.
@MichaelMrozek Deletion is one of the things I'm bad at. I often think that something should be deleted, but leave it just in case the community disagrees with closure, but hardly ever go back. Which is my failing and something I must work at.
@MichaelMrozek I'm personally against deleting history; it's one thing to close a question to prevent activity, but deleting a question, in many cases, is an unnecessary step. Deletion of questions is generally only useful when the question was asked in mistake (like an accidental double post) or contains illegal content or content that "shocks the conscience".
@Anna and @Mark, did you want me to include an answer to @MichaelMrozek's question about problem users?
@MichaelMrozek Some questions are obvious spam or double-posts and can be deleted. Otherwise, there's merit in leaving questions open to enable closing others as duplicates if needed. Preserving the history of bad questions is as important as preserving good questions.
@Josh I missed that question. Sorry. One sec.
@Josh It might be easier if you time-delay the digest 15 minutes or so :)
11:29 PM
@MichaelMrozek yes, good point :-)
@MichaelMrozek As a moderator, I've been okay with it. I stand by what I say and do regardless of my status: I attach my full real name and link my website that contains my contact information.
Do you prefer a moderator that is quick to make decisions and may make a few mistakes, or a moderator that is slow to act, but doesn't make mistakes? (These mistakes may be reversed)
@MichaelMrozek I didn't consider this at first, but then I happened to see some older posts and comments and thought that they could be taken in the wrong way now there was a diamond against my name. However, I do think that people are sensible if they see an old post.
@MichaelMrozek I actually have a user in mind who I think contributes good content but is unnecessarily abrasive in doing so. My general approach is to deal with flags as they come in (which I can't do right now as a non-mod, but I'm thinking ahead here :)) and leave comments for the user asking them to tone it down if needed. Further action can be taken (suspension and whatnot) if the user crosses a line and community members complain.
@MichaelMrozek Re the "problem user" (missed that one, sorry); I generally follow up on every flag, as even a broken clock is right twice a day. But generally the problem flaggers sort themselves out if they're not flagging correctly through the valid/invalid system.
11:32 PM
@MichaelMrozek Having a diamond attached to my name isn't going to change much of how I do things or what I say (except for waiting longer to vote). I'll probably take some extra care in how I phrase things, but overall... moderators are human too.
(As a reminder to anyone joining, there is a digest version of this town hall. The digest will contain only the questions and their answers to make it easier to follow.)
@JustinjjnguyNelson In an ideal world moderators wouldn't have to act and so there'd be no mistakes made. However, we don't live in an ideal world. Now that the site has settled down and there are more users with close rights and access to the 10K tools I tend towards the being slow to act. It gives me time to consider the situation and look at something for a 2nd or 3rd time before closing (say). However, there are times when you have to act quickly and hope that you get it right.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I prefer a moderator who's somewhere in the middle. Although I'm sure everybody makes mistakes and the best we can do it just minimize them. As we get more 10k+ users, moderator involvement will be needed less and less, which is how it should be.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I think a moderator who makes decisions is always more important than a moderator who sits on the sidelines: if a moderator doesn't intervene ever, there's no point to having him or her be a moderator. But more importantly, a moderator needs to be able to understand what he or she is doing and be able to defend their actions, and if they're wrong, admit the mistake. So there's always going to be some delay in acting as a moderator.
Sorry I'm late, and I most likely won't be here for long.
11:34 PM
Welcome @JoshK
@JoshK if you have suggestions for the digest, contact me here or in another public room
@Josh: I went to the wrong room, you can ignore that.
Welcome @Renesis
Hi, apologies for being late.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I would prefer a moderator that did more work rather then being as sociable. Of course the preferred moderator would be able to juggle both seemlessly but that isn't generally possible.
11:36 PM
@JoshK no problem, sorry for any confusion :-)
Do you you have any previous experience that will help with moderator duties?
I've got a question for @RebeccaChernoff - how long will it be after the election before the current mods (who didn't stand or don't get elected) lose their diamond and the new mods gain theirs?
Winners get added that day and I think pro-tems end that day also but I'm not 100% certain on that second part.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I don't have forum moderating experience, but I've wrangled people on roleplaying games that I ran for years. In terms of solving disputes, there are definite parallels. Other than that, I'm just keeping an eye on how the current mods operate and learning from that.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I'm currently a moderator pro tempore of Programmers.SE, so I do know what the job entails. :) Beyond that, I've been a user of Programmers.SE since the first hour of private beta so I have experience with its domain, including its strengths and challenges.
11:39 PM
Hi everyone. I already read all posts.
@JustinjjnguyNelson Yes. I'm currently pro tempore moderator on Programmers' and Web Applications and I've got more than 10K on SO, SU and MSO so I see the votes & flags there as well.
(Thanks to everyone who is answering my questions. I'm sure you have never seen me on the site)
@RebeccaChernoff: What's the purpose of this chat?
@JustinjjnguyNelson I don't see those as tightly coupled results - being quick to act doesn't necessarily mean that more mistakes will be made. It depends on the action taken. If a problem arises a moderator should always be quick to act, but that can be in the form of a comment, an edit, or if necessary close, migration, or deletion.
Have you ever made a mistake with an edit/deleting/flag. If you did, how have you changed your behavior to keep that from happening again?
11:41 PM
@JustinjjnguyNelson I've also been commenting on questions and/or voting to close ever since I had enough rep to do so. In the absense of mod privileges, I've also been flagging posts/comments as (hopefully) needed.
@bigown to get to know the candidates a bit and ask any questions you might have to help you vote in the elections.
(I wish I would not get notified if a person edits a post that has my name in it)
(You wouldn't believe how hard it was to write that last answer - I was trying really hard to try to make sure it didn't sound like bragging).
@RebeccaChernoff: Right.
Question: With regards to questions like 'What is your favorite ___', most of the time they are deemed useless and closed, but occasionally there are useless questions that the community would still enjoy.

To quote Jeff Atwood: "it’s OK to err on the side of “fun” every now and then. " - http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/11/stack-overflow-is-you/

For example: John Skeet Facts (http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/9134/jon-skeet-facts)

How will you determine if a question is one that is worth keeping around (like John Skeet facts)? Or do you plan on trying to keep all of these questio
11:42 PM
@JustinjjnguyNelson I don't think I ever regretted an edit. I used to be a bit trigger-happy on the close votes, but now I tend to leave a comment first and come back later to see if a close vote is still warranted. In general, I'm just reminding myself to think before I click.
@JustinjjnguyNelson Oh yes and I expect I will again. If it's really clear I'll just reverse my decision, otherwise I'll flag the post for another moderator to review what I did and accept their decision.
I invested a lot of time initially on SO to gain closing power (3k). After that I spend a healthy amount of time clearing questions, especially those off topic. I had been satisfied with the amount I was giving back at that point, until I hit 10k on P.SE, where I realized that there was a lot more I could be doing.
Not SO, SU, my mistake. Though I have 5k+ on SO.
I already declared my votes on ChrisF and Mark. Anna ans Josh K could try to convince me get my third vote :)
Moderator duties elsewhere would be a few IRC chats, and a niche forum or two.
@bigown Pick Anna
@JoshK Solid campaign strategy :)
11:44 PM
Sorry, but I can't see another viable candidates
@JustinjjnguyNelson When I first started, I was unclear about what dismissing something did, and accidentally dismissed a few valid flags that needed to be acted upon. I currently don't do that anymore :) Also, before I became a moderator, I took a person to task about a question about how to improve PHP because I didn't think it was a problem the question asker actually had; it turns out the asker was a core PHP developer. In that that instance, I helped the user work towards getting his question reopened.
@MichaelMrozek: I'm not campaigning for myself, though I know what you mean. ;) I'm campaigning to make P.SE better, and I believe given a choice between Anna and myself she would do a better job.
@bigown Pick Josh K. (not making it easy, are we? :))
How much time will you be able to spend moderating?
Thanks :)
11:45 PM
@JoshK and @Renesis, feel free to give me your preference of if you want to answer older questions now or later, and when you'd like them included in the digets, now or at the end :-)
@instanceofTom This is hypothetical so I'm not answering conclusively, but I think any question that is worth saving can probably be edited so that "favorite" is removed and a more useful description is added, such as "most helpful", "best", etc. This way there is an underlying goal to answering the question, rather than just the whim of the answerer.
@instanceofTom A question is worth keeping around if the questions are of value to a programmer; that is, they help make someone's job better. "What's your favorite __?"-type questions rarely, if ever do that. Since Jeff made the statement you're quoting, several guidelines have been put into place to steer otherwise low-quality (but fun) questions from being completely irredeemable.
@Anyone want to answer my question ;-)
@JustinjjnguyNelson I have 137 consecutive days on P.SE
oh look at that
11:46 PM
I have been registered for 137 days.
So I have enough time.
@Josh: I'm going to go back over the transcript and add answers to my Meta post, f that's alright.
I would rather not interrupt the flow here now..
@JustinjjnguyNelson I currently spend about an hour or so a day checking and following up on flags, or answering on meta. I don't see that changing.
@instanceofTom Jon Skeet fans question now exists on Meta.SO, where I think it's more appropriate. Your question reminds me of this one from Meta.SO: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/75715/…. In general, I think it's more important to stay on topic than to go off on "fun" tangents.
@instanceofTom Fun conversations can happen in chat, which would be a great place for that. The more social fun questions we leave open on the main site, the harder it will be to keep it focused and on-topic in the long run.
@JustinjjnguyNelson Too much ;) Seriously - I spend most lunch times on the network and a varying amount in the evenings and weekends so I get to see most of what goes on.
@JoshK certainly! I'll copy all your answers into the end of the transcript. That's what @ChrisF is doing if he has to leave
What do you know... this chat has a message length limit. :)
11:47 PM
@Josh, I'm not sure how the digest works, but I think I'll do the same as Josh K, and add answers to a Meta post.
@instanceofTom That said, many questions can be edited into useful (but still fun/entertaining) form, and I'm all for doing that instead of blindly closing.
If ever publicly called out for making bad decisions, how would you handle it?
@instanceofTom There is a different between "fun" and "useless." That line (when it needs to be defined) is up to the community, and I probably would not use a force close vote on a question in the grey area
@Renesis sounds good. FYI, it's my attempt to make a cleaner version of this chat, with all the questions and answers posted together, that's all it is :-)
@JustinjjnguyNelson I'm here every day, multiple times a day. I'm also generally pretty responsible with my commitments, so I'll be visiting the site more consciously, since with mod powers it becomes a responsibility instead of just this thing I check sometimes.
11:50 PM
@instanceofTom There's "fun" and "fun". Personally I think the "Jon Skeet facts" is "noise or pointless" (to quote the MSO close reason), but it's a special case as it came from SO and was originally posted in a time when the rules on SO were looser than they are now. You can have humorous questions - but they have to have a point.
@JustinjjnguyNelson If the person doing the calling out is interested in having a constructive dialogue about the issue, I make every effort to have that dialogue to make sure that person's concerns are understood and the problem addressed (it's happened a few times before and after becoming a moderator).
@JustinjjnguyNelson Review the decision and why it was bad / good and what prompted the choice. Voicing these thoughts publicaly to the concerned party would probably be the best choice. If I'm every completely wrong I will acknowledge that.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I am pretty careful when acting, so if I was called out it would probably be for something I should have done rather than for acting hastily. In either case, I'd view it as a learning experience and find out what understanding I acted under that was viewed as wrong.
@JustinjjnguyNelson That depends. If I still think I'm right, then I'll explain the reasoning behind whatever the decision was but otherwise stand my ground. If I did, in fact, make a mistake, I will admit to it and try to correct it. In either case, I'll be aiming to have a constructive conversation about it. Flailing around helps noone.
@JustinjjnguyNelson I have been already (some time ago). In that case I stood by my original decision but flagged the post for the other mods to look at and review. Unless I'd made a complete mess I'd probably do the same again.
11:52 PM
If another mod closed a question (or any other mod action really) that you feel shouldn't have been closed (or whatever other action), how would you handle the situation?
Or more generally, how would you handle a dispute between yourself and another mod?
@RebeccaChernoff Discuss it privately with the moderator.
I would generalize the issue away from a personal conflict and present it to Meta, after privately discussing it.
@JustinjjnguyNelson That's the general wording I was trying to come up with, oy!
@RebeccaChernoff Generally, I check with other moderators to see what their take is on the issue to make sure I'm not missing something (if another moderator made a decision, they did it for a good reason). After that, I discuss it with the moderator to see if we can come up with a resolution we can both agree on: hasn't failed yet.
@RebeccaChernoff glad to help.
11:54 PM
@JustinjjnguyNelson I'm with @JoshK on this one. Keep it private and work out why we'd come to this.
@RebeccaChernoff @JustinjjnguyNelson I'm not sure what avenues are available to diamond mods, but I remember hearing about a mod chat room? I'd contact the other mod privately and/or through that chat. If it's a dispute that can't be settled in private, ask another mod to mediate or present it on meta in a general form.\
Yes, there are private rooms for mods.
@RebeccaChernoff In this specific case I think raising a flag for the other moderator(s) to see but keep it neutral. This shows that you think the decision was wrong. Hopefully that's as far as it will go.
How do you feel about the (what seems to me as a ) relatively small turnout to this chat? Does it upset you? Are you phased by it at all?
@JustinjjnguyNelson Lots of pressure off that's for sure. ;)
11:56 PM
oh snap look at those stars fly up @JustinjjnguyNelson
@instanceofTom That's protocol for this chat.
@JustinjjnguyNelson Doesn't surpise me. P.SE has a fairly small userbase still and I imagine timezones and other business make it more difficult for people to attend. I'm happy with the questions that were asked here and I'm glad to see there's a transcript that will be available.
You star the questions that the mods are supposed to answer.
@JustinjjnguyNelson When you eliminate the candidates themselves, developers, Josh (who's just here for the digest), and me (I can't even vote), I think there's like 4 people left :)
@JustinjjnguyNelson It is disappointing, but perhaps it shows that people are happy with the candidates.
11:57 PM
@JustinjjnguyNelson I'm barely keeping up with your questions as it is, so in that sense it's good. :) I think it's to be expected, especially based on the performance of the other sites' moderator elections. Low turnout in voting and participation is pretty common in all but a presidential election.
We're just about at the end of the hour, so let's get any final questions in now please. (:
wow thats the first time I saw that
@RebeccaChernoff I believe that's exactly what the avenues for discussion, chat and meta, are for. If another mod believes the right action is the opposite of what I believe, then I take that to mean that there's more to uncover, and most likely I'd go to meta for that. As I said before, perhaps an edit would satisfy the moderator who views the post as problematic.
How will you work to bring new users to the site? Or is this not the job of a moderator?

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