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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. With exactly 8 submissions we've compiled every question supplied, plus our two default questions.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes. Oh, and please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

  2. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

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

  5. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

  6. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

  7. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

  8. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

  9. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

  10. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

  • 9
    I think this question should be closed because it is primarily opinion-based. :) – tlhIngan Oct 11 '16 at 23:50
  • Pffffft @tlhIngan - lol. – Rory Alsop Oct 12 '16 at 8:34
10

NOTE: These are the Q/A’s for: Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

This is a hard one to deal with. You love the people and community so much, you don’t want to get upset with them. Ultimately you have to guide people to behave appropriately. You’d expect people who have come over from another SE to understand what appropriate SE behavior is, but sometimes this isn’t always the case. To deal with it, you first have to be patient with them and explain how things on SE are done. If they don’t respond to gentle persuasion, you would then have to up your rhetoric. You cannot shout them down, but rather, try to talk them down from where they are at. If they continue to exhibit poor behavior, time outs are possible. Ultimately, while a last resort, banning could be in order … this is one place I’d not like to go, but I know it’s a nuclear option which can cure an ill, if needed. Not something I’d like to do, but can and would do if the need arose. Really, you must try to handle the issues at the lowest possible level, trying not to escalate anything in the process. It’s a tough position to be put into, but if something needs to be done, you have to do it.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I’ve not been a moderator on any SE site before. First time for everything? :o) I have been an administrator (both owner and administrator) on several forums. Never been an arbiter, nor have I ever wanted to be, lol!

  1. 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?

You cannot argue with good content, though you don’t have to put up with argument, either. Mods have the ability to cull through comments and content. When things get off track, you take action and remove content which doesn’t belong. It isn’t being mean to those users, it’s just a matter of keeping a civil discourse on the site and keeping things on topic for the subject. There’s no real reason to start a fight or cause an issue on the site. You do have to be aware of what’s going on though, reviewing as much as possible and ensuring everyone is maintaining a “nice” behavior.

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

The easiest answer here is to talk to them about it. Obviously they had good reason to close a question. If they believe it should be closed, it probably deserved to be closed. If it happens continuously, I’d talk to them offline to see if we could come to a consensus about what should be closed and what shouldn’t. Ultimately, the people of the site should be making the choice as to whether a question should be closed, not the mods … that is unless it is completely obvious (like a shopping question). Leaving it to the site to moderate itself allows for the consensus and leaves the moderators to do the mundane tasks like drink root beer or something :o)

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

I like to think I’m one of the bigger advocates for the “Be Nice” moniker we’ve hung around our necks here at Mechanics.SE. I think the best way of promoting this idea is by continuing to do. We have to lead by example, which means keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have a great group of core users who also follow this way of being. I don’t think new policies will be needed, but paying attention to what’s going on with the site will be paramount. Keep up with new users and welcoming them aboard. I’m very thankful we have the great users we do. It must help make the life of the mod that much easier.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

Realistically, I don't think things would change too much for me. I do a lot of review tasks as it is. I keep up with questions and answer as I can, though I’m not a question whore. I don’t try to be the first to answer a question, but I try to ensure every question has an answer if I can provide it. I enjoy the questions and answers, but it’s not my life blood. I believe I already spread myself around enough it won’t be an issue. I will continue to vote as much as possible, as this is the true currency of Stack Exchange. A year or so ago, I answered a lot of questions on here, gaining a ton of reputation. The only reason I answered so much was there really wasn't a large base of users answering questions. I did this to ensure this SE would survive. It seems to have worked, because we are now graduated. I don't take credit for the graduation itself ... but I do take credit for keeping us alive while we were struggling to stay afloat. I don't answer as many questions as I used to. That's mainly because we have so many more people who have and continue to provide awesome answers. I just don't need to provide as much content as I used to (thank goodness!) and the site is flourishing without that content. What this means is, if I don't have to post as much or answer as many questions, it's not a big deal. I will do what I need to do as a moderator in this community to provide the support which is needed. It will not be an issue.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

If it’s too difficult, obviously it would be time to quit. I’ve been on this site every day for the past 1033 days (as of this post) since I joined Mech.SE. If I can be on here every day for nearly three years right now, I don’t see it as an issue to continue to do what I’ve been doing. I ensure I’m available to answer questions, talk on The Pitstop, and taking care of things on Meta which may be needed. While I don’t see life getting in my way any time in the future, it can always happen. If it does, it wouldn’t be an issue for me to back away and give up being a moderator if it’s something I need to do. I respect this site and the people who come here to leave it hanging without proper moderation. I can recognize when things are too much. I’ve not seen it happen in the past nearly three years … I don’t see it happening in the future.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

This is the toughest question of the bunch and I’ve left it until last to answer (even though it’s #8 on the list). I know recently there has been a load of discussion about this very subject. It has been my approach to give a question asker the opportunity to clear up a question and ask it better, with more information as is suggested in the comments. I do, however, also believe we could easily get to the point where it would be unsustainable to allow bad questions to linger. There has been an idea floated which would delay questions going to the close review queue. Currently, the review queue gets the delay of 15 minutes after the first vote close vote is cast. Extending this out to 12 or even 24 hours may not be a bad thing. The idea is to prevent “jumping on” a close vote, yet allowing the question to hit the queue as needed to keep the site clean. This isn’t a bad thing, but I believe the idea needs to be fleshed out some before implementation. Greater community involvement in how we attempt to make this happen is needed before we can go forward with it. I’m not one to buck what the community wants. I’ll just not stand idly by if I perceive the “community” wants to do things which is not keeping with the idea of being nice to others as we’ve to this point seemed to keep at the forefront of things. Not that I’d get mean about it, but would definitely make my presence known in such a situation. There is such a fine line here between guiding a question asker to creating a better question and shutting the question down arbitrarily before an asker has a chance to actually make a question better. Guiding our user community towards asking better questions will be the key. We can only lead that horse to water … there is no way we can make them drink from the proverbial well. If they choose not to partake accordingly, the best we can do is close the question and hope they’ll make it better in the future so it can be nominated for re-opening.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

My mechanical education comes from two different sources: doing and reading. I have a very high mechanical aptitude. I don’t think I’m some kind of savant, but I do grasp mechanical concepts very easily. I have a very broad knowledge of all things mechanical, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert of anything in particular. I’ve never found a job I couldn’t tackle myself, though I know better than to think I could do machining on my own. The other area I’d need help in is setting up a differential. I’ve read about it many times, but know it’s something I’d need help with a few times before I’d try to do it myself. It’s just one of those things which requires a certain touch to deal with and is something I’ve yet to learn how to do.

I’ve been working on vehicles now for over 30 years. I do have my preferences for what I like, but haven’t limited myself to what I’ll work on. I enjoy challenges and find myself helping others a lot more often than I help myself. I will do work for others who cannot afford to take it to the shop and pay the prices. I have helped many single mothers for free, just because I know their budgets just cannot bear the burden of such costs. I will charge those who can pay, though, just not as much as what a shop would charge. So, yes, doing is a big part of my mechanical education.

As far as professional experience, I guess the time I spent in the Army during my early years could be considered “professional”, as I was getting paid to do the job. The only thing the Army taught me when I went in was vehicle specific knowledge. They really didn’t teach me anything beyond what I already know about wrenching.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

Like with anything else, we’d talk about it. If I see another moderator doing something which is not copasetic with the way this site is run, I’d talk to them off line. If they continued to do the same thing, I’d talk to the third moderator to ensure I’m not the one who is off in the circumstance. If all else fails, there are things which can be done to get a moderator removed. I don’t think that would ever be an issue. I cannot imagine this ever happening, but there are ways of dealing with it. To that end, if I were the one causing issues, I’d hope the other mods would call me out for it. I am not in fallible. I do, however, listen to others and can change my behavior as needed. I hope other mods would be able to follow the same course.

9

If we haven't met, I'm Bob Cross and I'm one of the Mechanics interim mods. I've been here since the beginning and I intend to stick around. Now's your chance to decide whether you'd like me to keep the little diamond next to my name. ;-)

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

This has happened here more than once. My general strategies go something like this:

As always, it helps to try and start a conversation. Sometimes it helps to talk about the differences between communities: for example, on Stack Overflow, a high percentage of the question askers are above the level of technical novice. Many of them are looking for refinements to their basic knowledge base. However, on this site, many of the visitors are barely cognizant of the basic vocabulary. They aren't stupid people but they've never had to identify an intake manifold from an exhaust manifold.

Another important technique is to give the person with a strong opinion a chance to express it. Ask questions:

  • What specifically is the site doing "wrong"?
  • What do you think we should change and why?
  • Are you sure that the people on Site X (where they do things in the way that you suggest) are exactly the same as the people here?
  • Have you considered issues like the "pink tax"? (which, if you haven't heard of it before, is a silly name for grossly sexist behavior often associated with motor vehicles).

This conversation usually helps: the person with a strong opinion had a chance to express it and is given the opportunity to adjust their thinking to mesh with this new audience.

When emotions flare, however, it's sometimes important for you (as the mod) to take a step back and invite other voices to the conversation. Sometimes people just don't like you and there's really nothing you can do about that. As a mod, there's quite a bit of social baggage associated with the diamond next to your name. Sometimes, when a "normal" user steps in (and might say the exact same words that you just did), the dynamic changes and it's easier to reach a consensus. Because here's an important point: sometimes the new guy is right and the site is "doing it wrong." This is supposed to be a dynamic community (rather than a static one) and it's important for the mods to adapt to the new normal when it changes.

In the end, though, it's possible that the new guy with super high rep on other sites just wants something that the community doesn't and, as a mod, it will be your job to say no. You'll need to do it politely but you'll still need to do it.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I'm not a mod on any other sites (although I've been a mod here for about five years) but I do quite a bit of people wrangling in other aspects of life.

I'm a teacher & mentor: I first started teaching for pay in 1989 and I was apocalyptically awful. Since then, I've always been in some sort of teaching or mentoring role. Remembering those early years has been an excellent restraint on my ego in situations where I know more than someone new. Helping someone else learn is hard work!

I'm a "leader": I also have many years of "leading" a team without actually being the boss. This means that I can't actually tell people what to do and force them to do it. I have to help form a consensus that the team will support. This is one of the most challenging aspects of effective moderation: you can't just declare how things are going to be and then expect it to happen.

  1. 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?

These two issues are disjoint. No one gets a free pass to ignore the rules of civil discourse. Standard rules of communicating with a problem user and related escalations apply. As always, it all starts with communication.

Note that this is a good way to build the sense of community. Everyone is treated the same (as best we can) and people appreciate visible evidence of that.

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

It depends on the specifics. If, as is frequently the case, the mod was the last close vote of five, I would regard this situation as users expressing their opinion in a normal way. There's no reason for me to take mod-level action just because I have a different opinion. I might start a conversation in an open forum about the question but I wouldn't do anything special.

If, on the other end of the spectrum, the mod was the only vote, I would ask why they had a strong opinion. A discussion would ensue and they might convince me that there was a problem that needs action or I might convince them that further consideration is warranted.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

This is bigger than just me.

The easiest way to make it easier to welcome new users is to encourage users to be welcoming. We have a core group that have taken ownership of our site themes and philosophies. It will be important to encourage them to raise the "next generation." This is a difficult people problem without an easy answer.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

I'm definitely not able to answer as many questions as I would like and that's okay. I'm not the only user on the site and, as long as people are getting the help they need, the site is working as intended.

Also, this is one area where my awareness that I'm not an expert in all things mechanical is a strength. My feelings aren't hurt that I can't answer a lot of questions because I don't have time. I also can't answer a lot of the questions that we're seeing now because I have no idea what the answer is!

Instead, I can concentrate on helping people write good questions, write good answers and encourage civil discourse by providing an objective view on what's being said vs. what I think is intended. It's not as glamorous but it has apparently been appreciated by the community!

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

As one of the two mods cited, I can safely say that life does sometimes get in the way. My expectation is that the time I can contribute to the site will continue at roughly the same level: I'm on the site everyday and try to hit mod requests as soon as I can. My real life schedule does sometimes make the response time a bit quirky (e.g., I'm often in a lab where I have no network access) but the queues have been dealt with pretty quickly.

In the long run, I don't have any reason to believe that my situation is going to change. However, there have been times when I have been called away from the normal routine. For example, today I'm overseas with very spotty access to the Internet. Like always, I let people know ahead of time that I would be a bit spotty for a while. At this point, volume is low enough on the site that our existing mods and high rep users have easily handled any issues that I would have normally dealt with. I expect that some variant of that same routine will continue.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

I don't see this as a moderator policy. This is clearly where the community should drive.

This has definitely been a topic of discussion here and, while I have opinions, I try not to inflict them at a moderator level. I try to restrict my involvement to specific questions and answers and, usually, I avoid actions that have immediate mod-level effect (e.g., voting to close).

As we've discussed many times, our new users often don't even know how to properly use an SE site, much less understand the mechanical components of the vehicle that has broken down in front of them. I regularly encourage direct engagement with new users: it's a lot more work than a close vote but it has paid off with effusive thanks.

On the other hand, there have been plenty of cases where a question was abandoned in place years ago with no chance of being fleshed out. When those questions are flagged for mod attention, I usually concur right away.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

My experience is all at the enthusiastic amateur level and I learned it all from books, websites (like this one) and in my garage through trial, error and more error. I generally limit myself to major structural evolutions on my vehicles: e.g., intakes, exhausts, turbo up-pipes, struts, springs, tires and wheels. This hobby has lead to an investment in many modestly esoteric tools in my garage and has saved me quite a bit of money overall. For example, the time that I avoided replacing a catalytic converter because I was able to diagnose a failing O2 sensor - the prices for those two fixes are wildly different!

In the end, I'm not an expert. I'm just some guy. I like to think that I represent the users who are like I was: wants to learn, has little idea of where to start but only needs the slightest encouragement to get started.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

Looking at the list of candidates, I think that this is unlikely to be a problem. I've known many of the people on this site literally for years.

However, it's not impossible that we need to have a "hang on, I think you've gone off the rails there" discussion. In that case, we'll start an adult conversation with the basic ground rule of "we should always be at least civil with each other."

If it turns out that there's a personal issue (i.e., two of us just aren't understanding each other because our personalities aren't fitting that day), I've never been afraid to reach out to other to ask for another opinion or to jump in as one in a situation that I can see is going wrong. If a situation ever became completely out of check, of course we could escalate things but I would certainly prefer to keep family business within the community.

  • Good answers up here! – tlhIngan Oct 12 '16 at 22:44
8

I'm Nick C, and these are my answers...

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

I would work closely with the other moderators to ensure consistency. I believe in always going for a 'quiet word in their ear' first, just to let them know that things might be done a little differently here to what they are used to - indeed, almost every SE site has a slightly different culture. Only if that fails would I consider escalating it, as retaining existing members is, to me, more important than accommodating someone new.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I've not been a mod on an SE site before, bit I have run websites, forums and email lists outside. I've always endeavoured to be fair and balanced, and only once have I had to go so far as to ban someone from a site.

  1. 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?

As with Q1, I think a quiet word is usually the best way to deal with such behaviour. Often I find that the person has a valid point, but is simply going the wrong way about expressing it, and most will soften their approach when asked. I'd encourage people to go to chat with long or extended discussions (especially as it's so easy to create a new room here), the results of which could be formulated into proper answers. As with Q1, I'd liase with the other mods before considering any kind of escalation.

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

Talk to them, and with the other mod(s). Moderating is a team effort, and it may be that there was a very good reason for it that I hadn't spotted (or vice versa, they may have missed the reasoning I used to keep it open). Bringing in a third mod allows a consensus to be reached, and I'll always accept the view of the majority.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

By continuing to be nice myself, and encouraging others to do so. I think (hope) we'll continue to grow at around the same rate as we have been recently, and so more of our existing users will gain high privileges, and as we lead by example, hopefully the new users will buy into the philosophy. As with the earlier questions, I'd always advocate a gentle approach at first, so new policies would only be enacted if the mod team, and other high-rep users, felt it had become necessary.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

I think I already spend more time on moderation type tasks (reviewing, editing etc) here than answering questions, so I don't think a huge amount would change there. I'm active at a different time of day to many of the other high-rep users, so I'd be able to ensure there was a more even coverage of moderation, so that, for example, we could continue to jump on spam quickly and make sure things get dealt with before they have time to get out of hand.

It's also important to remember that the distinction between moderator and regular user is quite thin here, compared to most normal websites. I would make sure that the other regular users felt like they were part of the team, and keep them involved in the running of the site.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

I currently give around half an hour to an hour each day, spread through the day, and I'm confident that could continue. If I had a situation where I didn't think I could continue, I'd firstly discuss it with the other mods (especially for short-term issues), and if it became clear that I'd not have time longer term, I'd back out and allow someone else to take over.

On the other hand, if I and the other mods were still giving the same amount of time, but the workload was piling up, I'd suggest that perhaps it had become time to increase the size of the team.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

This is probably the biggest issue we face at the moment, particularly as some users quickly jump on the close vote. I try to avoid voting to close on such a question until it's been inactive for at least a week (or longer if it looks like the OP is trying to find further details), but I'm certainly keen to close them if they've been abandoned for months - when we had the first 'purge' of unanswered questions last winter, we had many that had been sitting there for 6 months or more, and these should certainly be closed.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

I'm entirely self-taught. I've been involved in motor sport since starting university 14 years ago, and as a student I couldn't afford to get anyone else to fix my cars - I had to learn to do it all myself. I think I've got a pretty good mechanical aptitude, and I'm a firm believer that the basic principles of engineering are the same whichever field you are in, even if the implementations vary.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

By talking to them - as per Q4, I think moderating is a team effort, and the mods should consult regularly, especially about anything contentious. If one of the mods was persistently ignoring the wishes of the others, and the needs of the community, then I'd consider escalating to the SE staff, but I don't believe that would ever be necessary here, given the nature of this community and it's users.

  • 1
    Good answers you got! – tlhIngan Oct 12 '16 at 22:46
  • thanks @tlhIngan! – Nick C Oct 13 '16 at 8:20
7

I'm Rory Alsop, long term member of various Stack Exchange sites, and serial moderator (actually parallel...) My answers:

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

This one is actually quite difficult, and really needs mods to work together to guide them. My feeling is that high network-wide rep has some value, and generally we want to encourage prolific/valuable users to contribute, but because of the differences between sites, it is not the be-all and end-all. Most folks do get it, but on occasion I have levied short suspensions when they have upset the local community, as at the end of the day the local community is what has made the site, and as long as the general Stack Exchange rules and guidelines are being followed (including Be Nice) then the culture can be a bit different to other sites.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I currently moderate 7 sites (2 from early days through graduation and beyond, as well as 2 beta sites of reasonable size, and 3 small betas.) These are incredibly diverse, from the large, well-structured Security Stack Exchange, through Music and Parenting (which are much more subjective), Outdoors (very seasonal) and Personal Productivity, through to the Sound Design and Video sites, which are smaller niche subjects, and there is something to learn from each. The cultures are different, the rules have to be different and I rely on the community.

In the outside world I have managed teams across 18 countries, again requiring an understanding of cultural differences, working approaches, and boundaries of what an individual may consider polite or offensive.

Hopefully I bring this all together to help me be moderate in my dealings.

  1. 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?

This is similar in part to Question 1. Encouragement of good behaviours is the first step, along with gentle guidance where the user tends to overstep the mark. Often this works, as it can come down to simply misunderstanding of culture, but if it continues I am happy with taking counsel from the local mods, and the wider mod and CM community before, if necessary, suspending them. I think I have had to do this 2 or 3 times over the last 5 years with valuable contributors, and as I recall 4 made improvements in behaviour and 1, unfortunately didn't, and eventually left that community.

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

Discuss it with them. Get a 2nd opinion if required. Generally mods discuss these things and go with the consensus view. Questions can always be re-opened/undeleted so it's not the end of the world to admit it maybe wasn't the best decision and change it. I've done it myself - closed questions too fast, then had it pointed out to me that there was a valid reason to have it open. So I've apologised, reopened and all ends well.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

The main one is just keeping on top of the growing question, answer and comment rates. In reality, community growth should scale on a similar timeframe, so we will see more and more reaching privilege thresholds that allow them to take actions on posts, and my aim (and one already espoused by the community here) is to encourage good community behaviours, through various means, such as welcoming new users (following the first posts queue helps here), clamping down on terse or rude comments etc. I'd like to keep the community following the encouraging things we already do, such as Paulster's monthly challenges, congratulating users on major rep milestones etc.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

When I look at the other folks here, it is obvious that while I am a keen enthusiast/hobbyist, I am not in the same league as some when it comes to encyclopaedic knowledge of engines, but this is okay. A mod doesn't need to be the best at the subject. They need to be well versed in it, and enthusiastic, but really the moderator's job is to moderate - being the exception handler for the community, cleaning up, assisting, being there for emergencies. I seem to have averaged a bit more than an answer a week - I think that is absolutely sustainable, but if it does drop a little, that's okay.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

Realistically, my expectation for Mechanics is that for the medium term, a half hour a day for each moderator should cover off the basic requirements and most exceptions. Some days will be much lighter, and some will require assistance from CM's and others. And everyone's activity varies - but the mods on a site have a nice dashboard, so we all know how much effort the others are putting in - we can get a feel for it if someone is struggling and needs help. If I felt I needed a break I'd first discuss with the other mods, and CM's, and now we have a useful tool if we need to take time away - a vacation notifier. And to be honest, if mods think a site is getting too big, we can always request a new mod election to add to the numbers, and even if we don't, SE see the stats and can come and ask if we are okay and suggest an election might be a good idea.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

I'm in two minds on this one. Yes, we want to raise the percentage of answered questions as close to 100% as possible, but if the OP is an infrequent visitor this can take time, so while I'm relatively patient, I do tend to use comments on the question to request updates and more info. Where users who don't yet understand the structure of Stack Exchange and post updates as answers, I either edit them into the question myself or encourage the OP to do it (depending on how interactive they seem.) It is possible in the case of drive by questioners that they will never be back - for older questions I do check the OP's activity, and on occasion (especially if they are unregistered) it does just make sense to close if it seems they will never be back.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

I have taken various engines to pieces and rebuilt them, from small lawnmower engines to performance car engines. I am reasonably competent at carrying out most mechanical maintenance and repair tasks for my current cars and motorbike (although will freely admit that as cars become more computer controlled I probably have a weaker area here - hence my love for older, simpler machines.) I am mostly self taught, but my father brought me up well helping tinker with his various cars over the years as a kid.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

Through discussion, mediation and understanding. Moderators are human, so make mistakes, get angry, sad, upset, excited etc. But we self moderate through being human to each other. If a mod really steps out of line (luckily not had this happen on any site I moderate) escalation to Stack Exchange staff is the logical progression, because while they rely on elected (or pro-tem) mods to be the local community voice, they can step in as the ultimate arbiters if absolutely needed.

  • 2
    You forgot to mention you're a Rock God as well :o) Great answers Doktor Mayhem! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 11 '16 at 11:56
  • Thanks - the common factor between my Music and Mechanics lives is petrol. :-) – Rory Alsop Oct 11 '16 at 11:57
  • @RoryAlsop Good answers! – tlhIngan Oct 12 '16 at 22:45
6

Zaid

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (i.e. has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

Moderators are not legislators; their primary role is to enforce site rules.

Like all other SE sites, Mech.SE is community-driven and does not follow a totalitarian model. It is not the job of a moderator to set directives about what the site should or should not be.

If such an individual is convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong with the site, such concerns should be voiced in chat with the community and not just the mods.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?
  • No experience on Stack Exchange
  • No experience on other sites
  • Does being a dad of three little girls count as arbitration?
  1. 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 can think of at least two users who come close to fitting this category.

One of them violated the Be Nice rule while the other did not. The comments of the violator did not last for long, while the comments of the other remain till today.

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

Closing a question is easy to remediate, either through the community re-opening it or reasoning with the other mod.

As for deletion, I would request justification and tend to accept it if the motives were within reason. If the motive behind deletion is unreasonable, I would reach out to other mods.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

Lead by example and help to maintain the positive environment:

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

(I had asked this question)

This site is at an interesting juncture because it is growing every day. In January, we had about 10,000 users after 4+ years in Beta. Now we stand at over 15,000 users.

There's only so much one person can do, even a seasoned SE veteran like me.

It would be more beneficial in the long run for someone who is used to the workings of the site to empower other users, show them the way and how things work and have them contribute to the site.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

(I had asked this question)

  • 15 minutes a day.

  • Let other mods know about it

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

(I had asked this question)

This is still an open point and I don't have a solution that works well at the moment. What I can say is that we've undertaken intensive close-vote campaigns in the past with reasonable success, although this workaround is unsustainable in the long run.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

I am a mechanical engineer, not a mechanic.

In a nutshell I was fed up of having mechanics play parts roulette at my expense.

I've fixed several problems on my cars over the years, including:

  • A leaking timing chain cover on a BMW S62
  • Drivability issues stemming from bad O2 sensors
  • Replaced window regulators
  • Diagnosed misfires on an LS1
  • Replaced brake pads and discs

I've also rifled through the Bosch Automotive Handbook and Bosch Fuel Management book more times than I care to admit, so that's where a lot of the fuel trim knowledge comes from.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

By staying level-headed, involving other mods and utilizing game theory :)

6

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

The only way to truly deal with a difference of opinion is to communicate in a rational and respectful way.

MY approach would be to simply interact with that individual and ask questions. We cannot control others belief systems but we can share our own and try and find a middle ground or, at the very least, attempt to find middle ground and a bit of balance and understanding regarding the oppositional belief systems.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

My relative experience can be summed up with these points.

  • I was a drug abuse counselor in the late 80's and early 90's before I dispensed with that career as 'too painful'.

  • I have moderated internal company forums for employers.

  • I have moderated a couple of public Internet forums in the late 90's

  • I have led engineers from team lead to executive level for over 25 years.

My team management experience is the core of my experience. I have been mentored by admirable and amazing communicators throughout my professional life and believe that experience is the root of my understanding and world view that will benefit the site.

  1. 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 would attempt to continue the culture that the Mechanic's site has nurtured, one of tolerance and kindness to others. If we lead by example it's very easy to have the difficult conversation with the individual who is being an outlier.

If that mentality doesn't prevent this type of behavior the alternative is to have a conversation with that individual and help them to understand with we as a collective are trying to achieve, through patience and understanding. Usually, that type of a discussion (from past experience here) is effective and they come around and understand what they are doing. They key to success is remaining patient with a goal of helping them to see the results of their behavior and how that can change for their own good and the good of the site.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
  • The tools of SE can be used to cast a re-open vote.

  • The meta site could be leveraged to open a discussion regarding the difference of opinion regarding closing particular questions.

  • A one on one debate can occur regarding the difference in belief systems so that the separate subjective ideologies regarding closing questions can be had.

Ultimately, most people are pretty reasonable and just having a simple non-emotional discussion will usually resolve most problems.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

I would continue to wash, rinse and repeat the message of be nice and act accordingly. It's important to be able to remain 'clean'. In other words, if we expect another to behave in a way that we have defined then WE must continue to behave in that way.

It will be important to continue this tradition of 'Be Nice' simply by doing it. My commitment to the site is to continue to interact with individuals within it in a respectable and (hopefully0 enjoyable way. This site has a great reputation and I would do my best to assist in solidifying that reputation.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

I have backed off considerably from answering questions if you compare my activity from 12 months ago. The site has grown considerably and there are more knowledgeable resources on the site than I regarding much of the subject matter. As well, do to the increased activity the unanswered questions have gone down considerably. When I joined the site unanswered was 87%, as of my last check unanswered questions are at 94%.

My current contributions to the site revolve around editing. I know that the Google SEO metrics reward proper language use, spelling and page activity. As a result, I am focused on the editing and cleanup component more than I am on answering questions. I would continue to edit and improve the site (whether I am elected or not) to hopefully get more traffic and to simply 'make it better'.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

I have been concerned about this and have discussions with @roryalsup and @bobcross regarding time footprint.

It seems my current time spend here is far and beyond what is necessary to be a moderator.

IF, I was unable to fulfill my duties I would immediately raise my hand and let EVERYBODY know so an election could be held to fill the vacancy. I take commitments very seriously and would not try and continue to be a mod if I couldn't fulfill the role.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

This is a great question.

Currently, our numbers related to unanswered questions are pretty good, but...I understand what you are saying about closing a question too quickly. I think it's imperative that we continue to be patient in waiting for an OP's response. These people are asking us for help and we, if we are members of this particular SE site, have an obligation to be patient with them so they CAN gather the requested information and get back to us.

This has been a very difficult schism with some of the users who are primary members of other sites that don't have the hurdle of interacting with askers that are not technically familiar with the problem they are having.

Ultimately it will be up to us to educate these SE users to help them to understand this very particular problem here. I like having those conversations and look forward to pushing this conversation fervently. Our focus is on our askers.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?
  • Certified Motorcycle Mechanic, 1986

  • Former Honda Motorcycle Mechanic (Experience with Multiple Dealerships and 1 independent shop)

-Formal Honda training

  • Club Racing in the 1980's

  • Helping my son with his Road Racing for 4 years

  • On and off pit crew for Foutz Motorsports in Phoenix, Az (Desert on/off road racing)

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

I'll do my best to have good relationships with my fellow moderators as well as communicate with them regarding any issues that they may have with me or I with them. I am a communicator. I do not allow things to go unspoken. I bring up the difficult topics and hopefully do it in such a way that my listen knows that I have an opinion and that I know I might not be correct in.

CRAP - Communication Resolves All Problems (I live by it)

5

Answers for anonymous2

NB: I have not read any other nominees' answers yet.

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

As a counsellor, I believe a great deal of resolution comes down to personal interaction. As a moderator, even as a parent or company leader, I would be in a position, not of absolute jurisdiction, but of authority and responsibility. That can be abused by failing to listen to what an offended party has to say, but also by being overly permissive.

It is critical to deal with issues personally, understand the perspective of the offender/d and to clearly state the rules and stand by them. (The king himself is under the law, for it is the law that makes him king.)

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

Primarily in the real world with counselling (marriage, parent, business owners, relational). It has always been interesting to me, thus I have spent massive amounts of time studying relationships and stress resolution.

  1. 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?

This is a tricky one. If it is chronic, you can attempt to deal with the situation in a private chat. It's a bit risky, because it could imply necessarily imposing consequences if the interview doesn't go satisfactorily which could have been avoided had the discussion been postponed.

I tend to prefer a hands off approach in individual scenarios, whereas if it continues, to approach that individual privately. Two things about that approach:

  1. It must happen with extensive prior discussion with (an)other moderator(s). Having another moderator present at the interview could be a +, depending on the situation.
  2. It must be concrete. If you cannot easily pull out specific examples of violations of the Be Nice Policy, you're better not to even attempt it.
  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

Let it be. Frankly, just that. It's far better just to let the site continue with a relaxed, stress-free environment than to create friction between the moderators. I mean, if there was a really serious abuse of power, I might discuss it one-on-one, but in general, you can let go of one question or even ten to preserve the harmony of the site.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

Use of powers. Use votes, both down and up. Frequently on bigger sites, as they get all sorts of traffic, they stop using the vote and just look for easy questions to answer. Close bad questions. Delete bad answers. Interact with users who are causing trouble. Get your hands dirty, without getting dirty yourself.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

Primarily, because of my experience, interests, personality, and abilities. I love answering questions. I enjoy digging into the why of motors. I love asking questions. But my talents lie primarily in the moderation side of things. And that is how I would love to help this site out.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

On average, I do believe I can devote on average at least half to an hour a day, though as those who know me know, it fluctuates radically. There are times I go a week without access to internet, and thus cannot do anything at all. Then there are times I can spend all day for several days straight around the site. Realistically, on weekdays, I can usually spend a couple hours a day working on the site. Weekends are usually really busy, but as other moderators would probably have more time available on weekends, I would feel a bit less bad about shirking out.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

After a reasonable period, it is always reasonable to close the question and drop a comment requesting that the OP edit his/her question if they still have the issue and want it reopened. Closing is not mean, and questions can be re-opened at need.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

I've worked on small motors part-time for the past 3-4 years, though I had significant interests in that domain before that time. The bulk of my learning comes from experience. Good judgement comes from experience which comes from bad judgement. Basically, my workflow is:

  1. Buy broken
  2. Fix
  3. Sell functional
  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

Know them. Understand them. Then address issues specifically, but only at need. Don't abuse authority: no moderator has more power or responsibility than another; only in the case of obviously abused authority should one moderator be "held in check." And in that case, I would discuss it with the remaining moderator(s) before moving ahead.

  • I might add to #4 that it also depends how well you know your fellow moderator. If you really know each other quite well, and have a trust-trust relationship, you can frankly discuss the "why" in a friendly way. My point is that the atmosphere of the website is more important than an individual question. – anonymous2 Oct 13 '16 at 12:04
5

tlhIngan

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

I would explain to the user that the StackExchange network isn't a collection of cookie-cutter sites. Each site has it's own slightly different way of handling things, mostly defined by the community of people that are using each site. I'd gladly welcome his or her input, feedback, suggestion and experience of other SE sites, but behind the scenes, in private. We may or may not change how we do things based on this, but in the mean time, here's how we do things here and please follow the rules. :)

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I've been a moderator on a forum about paranormal stuff (www.capi7.ca), most of the time I was banning spambots, maybe edit the occasional post for language.

  1. 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?

A user that produces a steady stream of valuable answers is a user that is knowledgeable in this field, participates in this SE and wants to help or educate others, all valuable traits. I'd have to see the specifics of the arguments and flags that are being raised. Sometimes people troll or get trolled. Sometimes people who know get into arguments and debates with people who have the facts plain wrong. I have no tolerance for disinformation, whether deliberate or accidental.

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

I would talk to the mod behind the scenes. Sometimes what looks like a legitimate question from a user that seems not to be knowledgeable in the field is actually troll-bait thrown out by a knowledgeable person. Knowing the user and their history might explain a seemingly good question getting closed.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

If the ratio of new users per day remains manageable, a mod should reach out and greet each new user so they know both where to turn to if they have questions on how things work and they know someone is watching.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

Answering questions helps the community by pumping info out of individual brains and into the public stream of consciousness. Being a mod helps keep the community welcoming and functional, which allows more people to contribute to the stream of knowledge.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

I can contribute a solid half-hour per day at a minimum. If I can't keep up my duties, I will inform the other mods so that they can decide if they can shoulder the burden alone of if we need another election.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

This is an issue that needs to be answered by the community. What do we all agree is reasonable? A set time limit before the question gets closed (say 14 days)? This would clean up the queue. Leave it open indefinitely or for a really long time (says 1 year)? This would probably be my vote as sometimes vehicle maintenance issues are sporadic and intermittent, and life gets in the way, and it's your daily driver, and you may not always have a spot to work in or proper tools to work with, or your mechanic friend said he was coming over, or winter just got here. I've had my daily driver parked for an entire year once because I needed to change the steel brake lines and was looking around for the best way to do it. I have a project car that's been sitting in front of the house because it needs a new engine and I'm looking for an engine that is more fun to drive but still simple enough to fit, and is still available.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?

I have a friend that is better than a licensed mechanic. I've learnt lots just watching him work and handing him wrenches. Mostly, I got sick and tired of my shop bills being 2/3 labour, 1/3 parts. There's car parts stores very close to where I live, I built a detached garage, I bought some tools and I've bought an extra car in case my repair doesn't go well and the car needs to sit for a few days until I figure something out.

  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

Open discussion behind the scenes, make sure we are all on the same page and all agree on what the rules for the site are. Whomever gets elected to a mod position has the support of the community, so we should all be working towards the same general goal.

2

Move more comments link to the top AKA Larry

  1. I have occasionally seen a user with a high network-wide rep (ie has a lot of positive interaction on other SE sites) cause a lot of friction on a site they have recently joined by insisting that "the site is doing it wrong." If this occurs here, and causes trouble with the easy going Mechanics community, how would you handle the situation?

The system works well and usually helps push the user in the right direction on it's own. I start with what every user has the ability to do. Vote and comment on their post and try to point them in the right direction. I have pulled users into a chat room to discuss, and would do so in this case. I would explain that the community as a whole decides how it's done here, and that might be different than the sites they are active on. Ultimately as a last resort I could use my abilities as a mod to email the user directly if they were not receptive to the previous hints, and finally could put the user in timed suspension.

  1. What, if any, previous moderator (or similar) experience do you have from a different Stack Exchange site, a different website, and/or the real world (e.g. arbitration)?

I have been in emergency services as a firefighter and paramedic for more than 20 years. I have had formal training on crisis intervention and deescalating conflict. Those same behaviors work here.

  1. 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?

Start with the basics that every user can do, vote and comment. Sometimes you have to remind users that text has no emotion and things can be taken the wrong way by other users. Open a dialog in chat, explain that their knowledge is welcome and needed, and explain why they are getting a negative feedback from the community and some suggestions on how they can improve. Some users have, and some have left on there own.

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

I have great respect for all the mods here and across stack exchange. I am very hesitant to overturn anything another mod has done, and always try and talk to the mod before reversing any action. I have had this happen with Bob and I and didn't do anything before discussing it with him.

  1. During Beta (and even today), we pride ourselves as being a very welcoming SE site to newcomers. One might argue that this has a lot to do with the manageable level of questions and new users coming in to the site on a per-day basis. Now that we've graduated, increased site traffic is a realistic possibility. What policies would you adopt to ensure that the site's association with the "Be Nice" moniker remains?

See my post Why are we so mean to new users? I would either remind folks of this post or start a new more specific one based on the current problem.

  1. It is a distinct possibility that you would not be able to answer as many questions while moderating. Why do you believe that you could contribute more to the site's overall benefit as a moderator rather than a regular user?

This has been a reality for me almost since the beginning. And it's not just a time thing. I hold myself to a higher standard because there is a diamond behind my name, so I feel like I have to set an example. I try and concentrate on answering questions that are in my area of expertise. I also give time for other users to answer first, and if their answer is right I don't answer at all. This allows me to benefit the site by using my time to answer the questions that don't have a good answer from the community.

  1. Moderators, like all humans, are susceptible to fluctuations in the space-time continuum. There will be easy-going periods and times when they are overwhelmed with things in life. More often than not, site moderation will take the backseat. Evidence: of the five moderators on this site throughout Beta, (to my knowledge) only two remain active. How much time do you realistically think you can devote to the site? What would you do if you believe it is difficult to continue with moderation responsibilities in the long run?

Bob and I are the ones still standing and through all the things that life has thrown at us we still remain. Although I secretly suspect Bob has some sort of machine to deal with that space time thingy. I have had some personal things in my life that have affected my time greatly over the past year, but still find the time to stop in and handle flags and other cleanup duties. I know you think being a mod is sexy but it's really more like a janitor than anything else. :) during that time, I have spent less time answering or hanging out in chat but continue to handle flags almost every day.

  1. We have a high percentage of unanswerable questions that lie in wait for further information/clarification from the asker. This is not always due to laziness or neglect on the OP's part; it can take weeks for them to find the opportunity to collect further details about the problem. As a moderator, what would your policy be towards such questions, and how would you mitigate the issue of accumulation of unanswerable queries on the site?

At some point if there is not enough information to answer the question and the OP is no longer participating in the question then it should be deleted. It doesn't add anything to the site.

  1. What mechanical experience do you have, and where did you do the bulk of your learning on the subject?
  • Automotive Technology in High School (3 years)
  • Associates Degree in Automotive and Diesel with a specialty in Automatic Transmissions from Universal Technical Institute.
  • Former ASE master technician (I really should renew it, but haven't taken the time)
  • GM factory training
  • Acura factory training
  • I-CAR instructor 18 years
  • More than 20 years experience working for dealerships, and independents.
  1. As a moderator, how will you keep your fellow moderators in check?

An open dialog with each other, it's really that simple communication goes a long way.

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