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2:00 AM
Welcome to the Programmers Town Hall Chat
Before we begin, I have a big opening text. Please withhold all of your commentary and questions until after I clear through it all.
We're just here to get to know the candidates and ask questions regarding the candidates views on moderation that may help in voting.
A few notes about the format:
The format is open, feel free to ask your question(s) unprompted, however please be mindful of whether or not candidates have answered the previous questions so that they don't get behind and start missing questions. Other than that, feel free to jump in.
Candidates, be sure to use the reply feature so that questions and their answers are linked together. (Hover your mouse over the left of the message, click the down arrow, click reply)
It's a good idea to bold your questions (use ** or __ around it) to make them easier to see. When a question is asked, I'll star it - please star it yourself also to help! Please save stars for the questions so that candidates can refer to the star list to make sure they haven't missed a question.
@TimStone will be creating a digest version of the town hall chat after it is completed. This digest will take the form of a question on meta, containing all the questions asked as well as their answers for easier reading.
There's a system message up on the site, so we may get some stragglers joining us if they're around at this time.
Among candidates, I spy the following among us: @Dynamic, @WorldEngineer.
Let us spend no more time on this, and commence!
In your opinion, what do moderators do?
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@GraceNote Moderators serve as the caregivers and cultivators of the community. They carefully cultivate an environment where good questions can flourish whilst weeding out bad questions and other noise. They encourage new users. They listen and respond thoughtfully, respectfully, and constructively to complaints. They act as a kind of face to the community, always trying to bring out the very best within themselves and those around them.
 
Do you feel like a representative percentage of the community participates in your site's meta? Based on that, how strongly do you think feedback presented on meta should factor into your decision making as a moderator?
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Gilles asks the following question: I see that one candidate hardly ever downvotes, one candidate wants to close less, and one candidate cumulates the two. If you're so set against cleanup tasks which are part of a moderator's job, what makes you think you'll be a good moderator?
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@TimStone I do feel that meta is perhaps less lively than it should be. I think meta feedback should still be given due consideration. I do think more people should be encouraged to participate in meta, to have their voices heard. I want Meta to be where the site is built, not just a reservoir for dealing with complaints, though it should still serve that purpose.
@GraceNote I may not downvote but I do leave comments on posts as to why they might be seen or are a poor fit for the site. I have little problem closing questions in keeping with closing as a "room for improvement" option rather than "Path of Death". I understand that it may make me seem "soft" or "out of touch" but I don't downvote because I feel that it serves as a "we hate you" sign toward new users. Leaving a comment has often resulted in a more reasoned reaction than "ZOMG why you downvote!"
 
Is there anything about the way the site is currently run that you would like to change? If so, what would you try to change if you were to become a moderator, and why?
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2:13 AM
What would you do in the event of a conflict between a relatively new member and a higher reputation member?
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Gilles also asks: I'm a programmer but hardly visit Prog.SE because it has too many low-quality highly-voted questions and answers. What do you propose to do to improve the overall quality of the site?
5
 
If you had one minute to explain this site to someone, what would you say that it is?
4
 
@TimStone I'd like to see more explanation with downvotes. I realize that can't be forced but I do think it should be encouraged. I think the site is ambiguously scoped in some regard. I have a solid idea as to what the site is about but I can't say that new users do. I'd try to stop SO's you should ask that on Programmers tendency.
@PearsonArtPhoto It's going to depend on the evidence. As a moderator I have to look at the facts and consider what is best for the community, regardless of the individuals involved. A new member may be confused about scope, a veteran may be sore about seeing yet another insert bad question here. I have to read all sides and decide as fairly as I can in the general interest, not specific ones.
 
In the event of disagreement with another moderator, would you commit to their practices regardless of your perspective; disregard their practices; or something else, if so what? Please be specific.
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@GraceNote I've put some thought into this. It's a tricky thing to avoid a swarm on a question. The main thing to look for, in my view, are controversial but not immediately off topic questions that are likely to get a spike in views from people unfamiliar with site scope or just "me to!" answers. It's a tricky problem and one that may not be solved without some machine learning or other technical tweaks.
 
2:22 AM
What do you consider the most important job of a moderator?
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What have you personally done already to help moderate this site?
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@PearsonArtPhoto Programmers is site where you can ask questions about abstract programming related topics like what algorithm to use for this case or that. Is this class structure good and if not why not? It's a part of a much larger network full of all kinds of interesting sites on a multitude of topics. All without most of the noise of the rest of the net.
@JimmyHoffa I'm going to listen to what they have to say first. If it makes sense, I'll take that approach. If it doesn't, I won't. The formost question is always "what is best for the community?". I'd take my ego out of the equation.
 
We're at the halfway mark now, just as a note.
 
@GraceNote The most important job of a moderator is to serve the community. That doesn't mean being a pushover or a sycophant. It means carefully balancing the interests of everyone with the site. It means keeping things clean, it means listening carefully to concerns and complaints. It means offering a helping hand to newbies. It means pushing for a better site, no matter what.
 
Of the other candidates, who is the one user you think would be most qualified for the position of moderator, and why?
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2:32 AM
Two of you have expressed an interest in seeing fewer questions closed. Can you point to an example of a question you believe should not have been closed, and provide an explanation for why you think it should be re-opened?
4
 
@PearsonArtPhoto I've explained numerous times in comments to new users why their question is off-topic or otherwise has been given downvotes or comments they may not understand. I routinely go through the review queue and look at close votes and other such issues raised by the community. I participate in Meta, asking about things like whether a tag is good or not.
 
Ha! I managed to wake up for this (4:30 am here). Hi all, if I'm not making much sense, just ignore me.
 
@GraceNote Dynamic. He cares very deeply about this community and I think firmly understands what the site is about.
 
Without being specific, do you presently disagree with any of the current moderators' practices?
2
 
How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
4
 
2:36 AM
35
Q: Why do programming languages, especially C, use curly braces and not square ones?

SomeKittensThe definition of "C-Style language" can practically be simplified down to "uses curly braces ({})." Why do we use that particular character (and why not something more reasonable, like [], which doesn't require the shift key at least on US keyboards)? Is there any actual benefit to programmer ...

 
What specifically do you think that the current moderators are doing well, and what do you think could be improved?
4
 
@GraceNote leave me out of this!
 
@PearsonArtPhoto I think History questions that have answers that are more than just anecdotes or idle trivia are valuable. I think closing can serve as a useful flag that a question can be improved. Reopen votes exist for a reason.
@JimmyHoffa Some of the mods are less active perhaps than they could be.
@GraceNote I'd look at what exactly what causing these arguments and deal with it accordingly. I'd try to understand their point of view and empathize with their concerns whilst pushing for a more diplomatic approach on their part.
 
@WorldEngineer Why is that a problem?
 
We're now at the 15 minute mark. Not that it looks like we're going too fast, but don't let the time go by and rob you a question you have!
Is there anything in becoming a moderator that makes you uneasy or nervous?
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2:45 AM
@WorldEngineer I warned you not to be specific :P
 
@PearsonArtPhoto I think the moderators as a whole are keeping the site pretty well moderated. I think more community projects might be in order as far spearheading and the like.
 
Opening Curly Brace - goes at the end of the last relevant line, or deserves its own line?
4
 
@WorldEngineer What do you mean by community projects? I would just edit your answer.
 
@GraceNote I will for better or worse, be in some sense, a face of the site. Everything I do will reflect on the site, good and bad. That's a great deal of responsibility. I think I'm ready but there's always that tiny doubt.
foo(){
"I mostly write Python."
}
Did I miss anyone?
 
Not yet, nope.
Anyone got any last minute questions?
 
2:53 AM
8 mins ago, by Yannis Rizos
@WorldEngineer Why is that a problem?
 
@YannisRizos I had to pick something.
 
@WorldEngineer I asked not to be specific, you could have said "No" :P
 
@JimmyHoffa in that case, no.
 
Alright, so, we're reaching the close of our hour. Final thoughts from the candidates?
4
 
@GraceNote I've grown to love this community over the 20 months I've been here. This place feels like home to me and I want to do whatever I can to ensure that it remains a great community. Does it have problems? Yes. But I believe those can be worked through and I want to help the community work through them.
 
2:59 AM
Love? Whoa, I don't think I'm ready for that commitment yet...
 
This marks the end of our Town Hall. Thank you to all of the candidates for their time, and to all others who came here to ask questions and to support the candidates. Good luck to everyone as this election approaches its close!
As mentioned, @TimStone will be making a digest of this that will be available after this at some point. Candidates who haven't finished, you are free to continue answering in here until you reach the end (and anyone who couldn't make it is also allowed to answer post-fact) - this end only signifies the end of new questions, not the time you have to answer.
 
Thanks @GraceNote for setting this up.
 
@GraceNote Thank you for the thought provoking questions
 
My final thought: Regardless of the outcome of the election, all three of you stepped up and volunteered to help the community grow. That's awesome! Good luck to all of you.
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19 hours later…
9:40 PM
@GraceNote In my opinion, a moderator is just a user with more "power". There's a false sense that moderators have more say than the average users or are leaders of the site, but that isn't necessarily true. They almost act as guidance counselor of a school: making sure everything is in it's place, listening to users and helping them along the way, and always trying to improve the site and it's users.
@TimStone No I think meta participation is lacking quite a bit. Compared to other sites around the network we're pretty average. I tend to see only very active, prominent users on the site regularly participate on Meta, but it the average user has a problem, they do tend to stop by Meta and ask or search. Basically, meta is going to be a major factor in my decision making because most of the users that care are going there, but it will not be my only influence.
@GraceNote I'm not against clean-up tasks at all. But there's a big difference between cleaning and over cleaning. For example, border-line questions seem to get closed before they're even taken into deep consideration. What I have been trying to do as a user is clean it up before it gets closed. Basically, I'd like to keep a sense of balance in my moderation. I'm definitely going to be doing a lot of clean-up, but I'm going lax off a bit on the close button.
@TimStone I'd like to get a great deal of meta participation. In my mind, the site only grows dramatically if the Meta grows dramatically. Now I don't mean I want more people coming in to rant on why there question got closed. I mean I want more people coming in dropping ideas on how to improve, voting on things they see fit, helping tag clean-ups, etc..
@PearsonArtPhoto Go with the one who I believe is right! I'm not going to help the high-rep user just because he's a high-rep user because both users should have equal say in how the site is run.
@GraceNote Personally, I think it has to be a matter of "monkey see, monkey do". If I'm a new user on the site and I see bad, open questions, I'm going to think that this kind of question is allowed. If the question is obviously poor and not constructive, I'm going to jump on that thing fast and get it closed and then I might try fixing it, just to make sure it's obvious what we want.
On the other hand, if a new user isn't paying attention to the questions around him, I really don't see what we could do.
@PearsonArtPhoto Prog.SE is a site regarding the conceptual side of programming, not the implementation. Questions about algorithms, data structures, design patterns, and other non-implementation programming questions are generally accepted, but keep the implementation questions for Stack Overflow.
@JimmyHoffa In the beginning, I would most likely listen to them. Once I gain experience with the position, I may defy them a bit, but only if I have community support or possibly another moderators support.
@GraceNote Helping users. Moderators are generally experienced, well liked users on the site (or they wouldn't be elected). I always took the advice of moderators when it comes to working on the site, and I will definitely do the same.
@PearsonArtPhoto Hmmm... well I regularly edit, close, reopen, and leave helpful comments on posts. I helped out with the STCI a while back. I ask and answer in Meta, and generally try to help users however I can. And I vote!
@GraceNote World Engineer. I think his vision of what the site should be like is only going to help it grow.
@GraceNote At first I'd talk to him, whether that be leaving a comment or talking in chat. If it continues after a few tries I think you have to take some kind of disciplinary action.
@PearsonArtPhoto The current moderators are definitely trying to let regular users moderate first, and only step in when they think they're needed. They also have been very helpful in the guidance of users. If I could improve one thing, it would be tolerating ideas for change.
@GraceNote You're under a spotlight when there's a diamond next to your name. If you make a mistake, everyone knows about it. But at the same time, everyone sees the good you do too.
@GraceNote Own line :)
@GraceNote This site is amazing! It has a great community and has some very talented programmers. If I'm elected, I want to make major strides in the development of the site for the better.
 

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