In connection with the moderator elections, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

This is an alternative form of the Town Hall Chat system we've done in previous elections, we're trying some new things to test out how a different approach works.

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

Here's how it'll work.

  • During the nomination phase, (so, until July 22th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.
  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.
  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.
  • At the end of the phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.
  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.
  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

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

  • The nomination phase timeline here conflicts with the one on the actual elections page. Which one are we going by? I'm out of town so all week so trying to figure out how to get my participation in :) – Caleb Jul 15 '13 at 22:56
  • @Caleb That, that is a good question. I'm going to figure that out. – Grace Note Jul 16 '13 at 12:43
  • @Caleb This one was accurate, and we should have a fix for the dates listed on the election page soon. – Grace Note Jul 16 '13 at 16:05
  • Under what conditions would you tell a user that their question is better suited for Skeptics? – pterandon Jul 20 '13 at 13:18
  • @pterandon Isn't that question kind of rhetorical for any site we might suggest? Of course that would be when they think the question is better suited for another site. In the case of Skeptics I would suggest it when the format and content of the question is stereo-typical of the way they handle questions (i.e. a notable but suspect claim that requires affirmation or refutation based on historical and/or factual data). – Caleb Jul 22 '13 at 7:27

19 Answers 19


Bearing in mind that this site is about Christianity, but not a Christian site, how do you intend to remain as objective and non-biased as possible when evaluating the contributions of users?

  • 1
    Very nice question, Dan – The Freemason Jul 22 '13 at 20:20

When you see a question or answer with major issues, e.g. argumentative or poorly-written, what tool do you reach for first and why?


One of the hardest issues we've dealt with over the past two years is how to deal with the following two related issues:

  • Minority Christian groups that are regarded as heretical by mainstream groups.
  • Individuals who claim to be the only person who believes the way they do and insist on being able to post their opinions wherever they please on this site.

Our scope has mandated that we include anyone (or group) who self identify as Christian.

  • How will you as a moderator assist in making minority groups feel welcome?
  • How will you handle individuals who do not have an identifiable group or doctrine?
  • A similar problem (which might deserve its own question) is how correctness and offensiveness can be evaluated for unfamiliar perspectives (minority perspectives are more likely to be unfamiliar). – Paul A. Clayton Jul 19 '13 at 20:55
  • @PaulA.Clayton offensiveness is an issue, correctness is not one relevant to moderators. – wax eagle Jul 19 '13 at 22:08
  • The two factors are distinct, but writing untruths about another group tends to be offensive. (A person in chat mentioned the possibility of becoming a candidate if Mason Wheeler [I think] did not nominate himself; the person's concern was over letting false claims stand. I can sort of understand the concern though I don't know how much difference having a moderate familiar with a minority perspective would help.) I would guess non-politeness would filter out most such anyway, but it seemed to be a concern of one person. – Paul A. Clayton Jul 20 '13 at 0:09
  • Tyranny of the masses is one of the biggest concerns that some people have with this site. If it's not mainstream (question or answer) it's downvoted - irregardless of the quality of the question / answer. There are several Mods in this election whom I feel do not embrace the agreed on platform as you described. I can say that waXeagle is not one of those mods. – The Freemason Jul 22 '13 at 20:23

What, if any, role do you think moderators can/should have in developing replacement moderators and developing a strong community that reduces the need for moderator action?

(It is not clear to me how much this aspect of leadership can be expressed within the Stack Exchange platform; but a Stack Exchange moderator is--to a limited extent--a leader, and good leadership is expressed in reducing the need for leadership and in equipping replacements.)

  • 3
    Once moderators are elected, they have the position until they decide to stand down. Something for everyone to keep in mind. – El'endia Starman Jul 16 '13 at 0:37

Why do you want to be a moderator? It is time consuming, frustrating, and not very rewarding. What is your motivation to take this thankless job?

  • 1
    Not completely thankless. :-/ While "time consuming"/"frustrating" are part of the effort/emotional energy required, like child-rearing or teaching the exertion required by moderation is broader than that. Anyway, +1 for a good question. – Paul A. Clayton Jul 16 '13 at 0:22

How would you handle a non-minor disagreement (not something that can be ignored as "personal preference," "could go either way," etc) with the action or inaction of another moderator?


Every site has some users whose names on posts tend to evoke sighs of resignation. Maybe they don't seem to understand how a targeted Q&A site works, or maybe they use any opening as a soapbox for their particular ideas, or maybe their posts just aren't very coherent. How willing are you to work with problematic users, how do you plan to work with them, and how do you know when it's time to give up on a particular user?

  • I WILL DELETE THEM! – svidgen Jul 19 '13 at 19:06
  • Uh oh. I hope I don't make you sign in resignation, then. :-) – Monica Cellio Jul 19 '13 at 19:16
  • YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ME, I KNOW IT <jk> – The Freemason Jul 22 '13 at 20:26

What are the top two or three challenges facing the site as it moves forward, and what do you plan to do to address them? (If applicable: what have you already done about them?)


As a moderator on Christiantiy.SE, which how would you prioritize the following, realizing that they are not mutually exclusive, but at times certain points can be, depending on the situation:

  • Demonstrating a Christian attitude and Christian behavior
  • Guiding new users into understanding the site guidelines
  • Addressing unacceptable behavior
  • Enforcing site guidelines, even the ones you disagree with.
  • Ensuring all answers come from a Christian perspective
  • Addressing heretical or grossly incorrect answers

For a concrete example: in the event of a conflict between these items, which "wins"? Say we have a new user that is repeatedly posting questions that fail to meet basic site rules, and ignores the community's attempts to explain the rules.

  • What wins?
    • The Christian behavior: Kindness, gentleness, desire to see this person get saved?
    • Enforcing the guidelines and suspending/censoring the user?
    • Ensuring that the answers are from a Christian perspective, and deleting the ones that are not?
  • 1
    By "heretical" I assume you mean "by the standard of the requested or stated perspective". (The former seems to be included with the earlier "perspective" point, the latter under "grossly incorrect".) It might also be proper to use "the requested Christian perspective" rather than "a Christian perspective". – Paul A. Clayton Jul 19 '13 at 20:34
  • @PaulA.Clayton - I'd like to see how the potential moderators interpret that. Recognizing the difference and nuance seems to me to be an important trait to have here. – David Stratton Jul 19 '13 at 21:23
  • 1
    @PaulA.Clayton we're all essentially heretics to each other, so it could just be whatever the moderator himself considers heretical. – wax eagle Jul 19 '13 at 22:52

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

  • How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
  • How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

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

Give an example of how you have helped a new user whose question(s) and/or answer(s) were originally not up to site standards. While this is outside of your control, is the user still active on the site, and if so, is their recent content up to site standards?

  • 1
    Good question. Should include an @ tag of the person helped. – pterandon Jul 16 '13 at 23:37

What makes grounds for suspension? The current mods are very slow to make that decision, so it is not necessarily clear what their thoughts are when they finally decide to suspend a disruptive user. What is your philosophy on suspension?


What are on-topic question topics/areas need the most new good questions?

(e.g. We need more questions on, say, eschatology, Jehovah's Witness, clergy taxation, unicorns)

And, more specifically, how do get more of those kind of questions?

  • 2
    The existing unicorn question is probably enough. The only other unicorn question I can think of is why the KJV uses it (I think NIV uses "wild ox"), but that is might be more a BH question (though the historical aspect could belong here). :-) – Paul A. Clayton Jul 18 '13 at 13:44
  • 2
    You mean I have the distinction of being the only person to post a question about unicorns in a site that's been going for two years? I should get a t-shirt out of that! – David Stratton Jul 18 '13 at 22:58

Question: I saw an old post where a now-inactive user said,

Sisters and brothers, with any luck we're going to get plenty of seekers here. We'll get trolls too. To what extent should we give people the benefit of the doubt? ...

Let's be as hesitant to close questions as we are to chew people out by name from the pulpit

Give your response.

  • 1
    Some are not hesitant to say much of anything from the pulpit :P – Dan Jul 16 '13 at 14:56

How familiar are you with how StackExchange operates in general and how active are you across the whole SE network? That is:

  • Do you read and/or contribute to meta.Stackoverflow? (since it is the meta site for the whole SE network)
  • Are you active on any other sites?
  • In addition to asking or answering questions, do you vote and flag here? On other sites?
  • 2
    Other than the "read ... meta.Stackoverflow" (which can only be approximated by looking at their visit history), the subquestions seem to be answerable from publicly available information. Someone might even be able to make a Data Explorer query that provides this information. – Paul A. Clayton Jul 18 '13 at 13:54
  • Declined flags might also be a useful metric -- how often does the community disagree with you? – Ryan Frame Jul 18 '13 at 15:25
  • I'm not sure I see why it would be important that a C.SE mod uses the other SE sites except MSO. – fгedsbend Jul 18 '13 at 19:25
  • 1
    Participation on other SE sites just indicates more familiarity with how SE functions in general. Each site has its own dynamic, but there are some commonalities across sites. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Jul 18 '13 at 19:59

Question: it's been said that there's hundreds of Truth Questions on this site, apparently submitted before a rule change against Truth Questions. What should happen to them?

  • 2
    This should probably also be its own meta question. I'd be curious to also see how the community wants to handle this. – Dan Jul 16 '13 at 14:57
  • It has been addressed. I feel like there was another recent discussion, but couldn't find it. – Ryan Frame Jul 16 '13 at 15:52
  • It was addressed by the old team of moderators, don't you mean? – pterandon Jul 16 '13 at 20:44

Question: If it were known that a person were a nonbeliever who was only asking questions-- no matter how polite, in-format, academic, and well-cited -- that were thinly veiled attempts to "discredit Christianity"-- what would be your response? to the person's standing? to "the next question" the person posted?

  • Anyone care to explain the downvotes here? I've seen David Stratton go after someone with that exact same charge. Do you think it never happens, or shouldn't be discussed? – pterandon Jul 18 '13 at 16:37
  • You're right on that... I have made comments to that effect when voting to close as "not a real question". In those cases, the context made it appear that they were not really interested in answers, or were using the site a point. More often, I tend to answer the questions, ignoring the fact that it's from a non-Christian, by starting answers with something like "a standard Apologetic answer to this question is..." and citing a reference. How I handle each case depends on several factors combined to help me decide the right response. – David Stratton Jul 19 '13 at 5:03
  • 2
    General non-Cristians who have serious questions about the validity of Christianity are one thing. Trolls are a different matter. The "thinly veiled attempt" comments come out when I think someone is just trollimg. And occasinaly I'm wrong and when I realize it, I tend to retract the statement, apologize, and attempt to learn from it. My typical use of the phrase can be found here Tips for editing a question to make it suitable for re-opening – David Stratton Jul 19 '13 at 5:06
  • Henry Drummond wrote: "[C]reeds are human versions of Divine truths; and we do not ask a man to accept all the creeds, any more than we ask him to accept all the Christians. We ask him to accept Christ, and the facts about Christ and the words of Christ. You will find the battle is half won when you have endorsed the man's objections, and possibly added a great many more to the charges which he has against ourselves. These men are in revolt against the kind of religion which we exhibit to the world—against the cant that is taught in the name of Christianity." – pterandon Jul 19 '13 at 10:46
  • The difference between yourself and me is that I shudder at ever treating non theists in this manner, and half the reason I'm running for moderator. We recently bullied away a man who was asking questions about his observations on evangelism-practice in the third world and making no more Trollish indictments of the faith than Benedict XVI did. – pterandon Jul 19 '13 at 10:52
  • 4
    I don't think this question well expresses the actual issues we face. It's kind of rhetorical. If a question were polite, academically oriented, properly formatted and well cited then, by definition almost, that question would not be a "thinly veiled attempt to discredit Christianity. It might be a thickly veiled attempt at something, but we can only judge based on what we see and if all the indicators are correct, the scope is good, the tone is good, the content is good -- then that really isn't a situation that calls for a moderator to make a judgement call hence not useful for vetting mods. – Caleb Jul 19 '13 at 15:13
  • @pterandon - I wouldn't argue that, but comments here is the wrong place. If you would, I'd like to talk in chat. In your last comment, I believe you have a point. – David Stratton Jul 19 '13 at 18:25
  • @Caleb, that is a quote in how a seeker (interloper?) was responded to for asking a Question. It is an issue we face. – pterandon Jul 19 '13 at 22:43
  • How are you identifying the "If it were known that a person were a nonbeliever"? – The Freemason Jul 22 '13 at 20:29

Question: to what extent does the process, polity, and bedside manner of moderation need constant corrective action in response to constructive criticism, in the same way a newbie C.SE questioner's asking technique does? Or is it good?


Question: do you think that rancor in online forums and question-sites is due to

 A) Failure to weed out (or discipline & correct) the known bad apples
 B) Ham-fisted moderation which can appear to be inconsistent
 C) Equally possible from both of the above?
 D) Insert your own philosophy here _______  

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