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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. Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community, plus 2 pre-set questions from us.

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. For readability due to multiple large questions in the line up, I've added numbers to the list.

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!


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?

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

3. 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?

4. 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?

5. 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?

6. 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?

7. 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?

8. 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?)

9. 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?

10. 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?

10 Answers 10

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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?

  • My general solution to this is grab that user into a private chat and discuss how we can amend their behavior in such a way that it becomes constructive. If this is not an option or the behavior continues after a chat then a moderator message becomes the appropriate recourse.

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

  • I'd broach the subject with the moderator in question and we'd have a chat about it. If we remained in disagreement after a chat we'd either bring a third moderator in or take it to meta for the community to discuss.

3. 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?

  • The first thing I do is close the question. This is the immediate, stop the bleeding tool. If things are getting argumentative then a short lock is the next tool out of the bag to stop edit wars or comment arguments. Generally a comment indicating why a question was closed or locked and what needs to change for the closure/lock to come off will accompany any action.

4. 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?

  • Unless I'm answering a question, my beliefs and opinions take a backseat to site policies. This is something I believe I've managed to do fairly well over the past almost 2 years and will continue to do in the future.

5. 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?
  • This is something that I believe in fiercely. Our mandate to serve and protect groups that claim to be Christian no matter how heretical I and other find them is something I take very seriously. Part of this is trying to get contributors from groups that are large, but poorly represented here to provide quality content. I'm not above getting down on my knees and begging.

  • I've fought for fairly low baselines for what it takes to be considered a "group" and what we consider "established." This is because I believe that we've got to protect the rights of even the smallest groups here. That said, we've got to have standards. This is no the place to proselytize nor is it the place to develop new theology.

6. 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?

  • I think that we should always be seeking to bring along and train new users, and to help established users understand how to use the privileges they've earned. Activity in chat, writing good advice, and policy posts on meta, and making sure users are voting to close and flagging properly are big parts of this. Generally this community should be able to police itself, and as we grow that will be more and more the case.

7. 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?
  • Wow, that's a long question. Ok here's how I go:

    1 . Demonstrating a Christian attitude. This site is heavily indexed by Google. It's an excellent opportunity for us to minister in sort of a quiet way. If we can show that even in our diversity the common link between all of us is the love of Christ then we've performed our mission. One of the most excellent parts of this site is that we've managed to have contentious doctrinal discourse in a way that is highly constructive and getting more so.

    1. Unacceptable behavior - This can make the site miserable fast, must be dealt with ASAP.
    2. Enforcing Site guidelines - We're a community of rules and my mandate is to enforce them.
    3. Guide new users - Our userbase rotates pretty regularly, some folks come and some stay, but for the most part we're a revolving door. We've got to train our new users in such a way that they want to stick around and keep hanging out here.
    4. Ensuring all answers come from a Christian perspective - This isn't quite the case, but answers that are belittling of Christianity or groups within it, or answers that aren't reflective of Christian traditions should be removed. An answer's perspective is fairly low priority because as moderators we're not supposed to be making determinations on factuality, but I'm definitely OK with policing it when it's either not-Christian or not reflective of any known tradition.
    5. This will probably show as 6, but I wrote 1000, this doesn't even rate, it's not a moderator's job to ensure answers are accurate.

As far as picking which of the 3 things you listed wins. The fact is that Christian kindness is important expected because of the type of community we are and want to continue to be. But ultimately the site guidelines are it. That's where our mandate comes from, that's what we're here to enforce.

8. 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?)

  • There are several issues gong forward that will need continued attention and support. Here are the ones I see:

    1. The truth question dilemma: We've had an ongoing debate over how to deal with so called "truth questions." While I support the ban on them, I'm still in pursuit of better verbiage and a good way to moderate them. I started a meta post about that this last night and will continue to help refine this policy going forward.
    2. How to attract quality contributors from small, but influential minority groups: I won't lie, I'm still waiting for the first member of the Jehovah's Witnesses to show up here with something other than plagiarized content. I've basically begged a couple of the ones that have copy/pasted huge portions of their publications to contribute quality answers, but so far we've not been able to attract any.
    3. How to deal with people who claim they are the only ones who believe what they believe. We've have a few of these over the past two years and they are always a tough case. Learning the right thing to say and how to help them properly will be something we work out over the coming months and years, largely by experience and through trial and error.

9. 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?

  • In a lot of ways the reasons why I want to be a moderator are the same reasons why I'm here at all. I enjoy the high signal to noise ratio of Stack Exchange communities, I learn a lot when I read the questions and answers and I enjoy the game in action aspect of stack exchange. The truth is that somehow, as hard and frustrating as being a moderator sometimes is, I enjoy moderating this site.

10. 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?

  • Generally if I disagree with something a moderator has done, I'm going to let them know. We have a chat room for backroom discussion, it doesn't need to be aired out in public chat or on meta, generally this kind of thing can be settled either one on one or with mediation from another moderator. This is why a site has multiple moderators (and one of this reasons that I believe this site functions better with more than 3 or 4 mods). Generally the current mod staff has been on the same page wrt major decisions, but when we haven't we've been able to civilly resolve our differences. With a new moderator staff this might change, but there really aren't too many things I can see myself getting bent out of shape with site policy wise.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or if I can clarify anything. I'll be checking back on this through the end of the election and I'll be in either the Upper Room or the election chat throughout the rest of the election.

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    @PaulA.Clayton clarifed the language a bit to make it clear that we as a site want facts, but we as moderators aren't supposed to be the judge of that. As far as policing misrepresentations of specific traditions, no I can't endorse that. That's essentially a "technical inaccuracy in an answer" which is not a moderator's job to police. In that case downvotes and comments are the tools that are available. If 20kers get together and delete it more power to them, but it's not something a mod should be involved in. – wax eagle Jul 23 '13 at 12:27
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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?

User(s) who are generating arguments in comments generally need either education or a reminder about how the system is supposed to work. I would explain nicely what the purpose of the comment system is and note how the current issue got off into non constructive territory, then clean up all the stuff that's not in line with the purpose of comments.

Secondarily, if a particular post is setting off argumentative comments, I would also review the question and answer scoping. Often times argumentative comments are an indication that a question wasn't as constructively framed as it could have been or an answer is out of scope for the question.

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

I would first catch the mod in chat (public if all other factors are chill) and talk about it. I would ask for their reasoning and if I didn't agree, then explain why I saw things differently. If they came around to my way of thinking, I'd let them reverse their own actions as appropriate. If not and I didn't think the sky would fall because they made a different a call, I'd walk away and give it a rest.

If for some reason I thought it was really important to disagree, I'd raise an issue specific post on meta and ask the community to weigh in.

3. 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?

This depends on the nature of the major issue, but for the specific examples cited...

For an argumentative or poorly written answer, I would check to see if the answer even addresses the actual question and is in scope. If not I would explain why it isn't and remove. If it is at least topically a match for the question but presents its content in an argumentative way (or just poorly) the first tool I'd reach for would be a downvote + comment explaining why I think there is an issue and what could be done to correct it. If I have time (with an extra effort made to find time if the user is new) I would then hit edit and try to demonstrate a way to resolve the issue.

For questions that are poorly written but otherwise valid, again the edit tool would be first on the list, usually with some comments encouraging the user to put in some effort of their own.

As for questions that are argumentative, I am less likely to reach for the edit and more likely to start with putting them on hold. These sort of questions also tend to have other issues such as poor scoping that might require clarifications which I would request in comments along with some hints about how to set a more constructive tone. If I'm feeling really ambitious I might eventually help edit these as well, but they usually require at least some degree of cooperation from the OP.

4. 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?

I will evaluate contributions based on their quality using our guidelines not based their doctrinal content: questions on whether they show any prior research or effort and whether the scope is something that can reasonable be answered in a constructive way, answers on whether they answer the question from the requested viewpoint and do so with appropriate references and explanation.

If I haven't been vocal enough on this issue already, of what use are more words?

5. 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?

Re minority groups: You're right, this is hard.

I don't say the following to pass the blame but to identify the problem that moderators can help with. Unfortunately the majority of minorities bring trouble on their own heads. Too often they come in the door on the defensive and their early answers are attempts to prove themselves right (often on questions for which their views are completely out of scope) and their early questions are truth questions used as a platform to try to make a point about their pet doctrine.

So what's the answer? First I would try to get them off the defensive. I would help edit their questions to make scope them in a way that will be non-contentious and informative, putting their own doctrines in a positive rather than negative light. Unfortunately answers are usually not salvageable, but while we may have to delete them we can also point them in a direction where their answers are called for. If no question exists relevant to their minority, it might be time to ask one and comment on their post specifically asking them to address the new question from their POV.

Re unidentifiable groups: This is a straw man problem conflated with the issue of personal opinion.

The vast majority of new users—and hence the most common scenario we face—is that all POV's actually are identifiable, but lack of expertise on the part of participants means they often don't know how to identify their own views. They may be able to articulate an "I believe" statement but they have no idea where that statement fits in in the broad (and well documented) spectrum of theological and historical positions.

The primary thing we need to do is educate these folks on how the site works. They need to learn when their answers are called for by a question and (harder) how to scope their own questions in a way that they actually learn something without setting the stage for WWIII.

This is one area I think all the effort we sink into the site can actually serve a constructive purpose. In learning to play by the rules here, people must also learn to understand where their own faith fits in relation to other pieces of the larger puzzle.

In the rare case of a true independent crank who insists on being recognized in spite of being unrecognizable I would explain they need to go find some web developer out of which to make their first convert to their new religion, then put their heads together on a web page so their new group can earn at least some virtual legitimacy. I support the bar @wax eagle proposed a year or so ago that the minimum bar for claiming to exist as a group is at least one off-site reference. Of course not all posts require references, but if you are challenged and cannot come up with even one -- well this site isn't the place to soap box your novel sect.

6. 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?

Good moderator candidates A) exhibit good character traits over time in their role as users before being elected and B) grok the local site culture including understanding how to work within the agreed guidelines and also influence the community when appropriate. The former is something we are not in a position to make a radical difference in except perhaps by example. The latter we can certainly take full circle. When people come along that are willing to learn, we can show them the ropes one at a time.

I can think of at least half a dozen people who started out with really backwards ideas (as far as B went), but have since gotten in the swing of things and I would fully endorse their serving as moderators now. To some extent the character (A) traits were something they brought with them, I wouldn't say this site is a sufficient training ground to forge the necessary character.

7. 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?

Honestly I don't see these items as being in any sort of fundamental conflict.

For me, my identity of a follower of Christ comes first and everything else should reflect that. Of course I fail this ideal regularly and constantly, but that doesn't mean it's actually a conflict of interest. If my goal is to do everything I do to the glory of God, any role I play to the best of my ability and wisdom is going to reflect that.

Enforcing site guidelines (even the ones I disagree with) is just part of the basic tenants of being a moderator. We're not elected to set policy so much as enable to community to do so and have it enforced.

Ensuring answers come from a Christian perspective is just basic janitorial stuff. Even answers that come from a Christian perspective may be placed on questions that have specific scopes that don't call for alternative views. This is just basic site guideline enforcement.

Addressing grossly incorrect answers is not a moderator duty at all. For this we have the same 1 downvote and comment privileges to note the mistake as everybody else. As for heresy: this site is founded on the idea that all Christianity's various and sundry heresies are welcome. In turn. This is a gathering of heretics.

As for guiding new users and addressing unacceptable behavior, these are all kind of lumped in together with the other points. We can try nicely to explain and teach the guidelines. If people come on board with this over time great, however if they insist on doing things the community had judged unacceptable then we have to exert a little pressure.

I do not see enforcing site guidelines as being in conflict with a desire for people to be saved. Using this venue for the aspects that it does best and leaving other venues to cover the other aspects is, I think, the best and most loving service we can offer people. Of course we can be as kind as possible in explaining this, but I'm also ok with a little tough love where necessary. Gentleness doesn't mean capitulation to whatever anybody wants to do here.

8. 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 the percentage of our traffic stemming from random Google queries has gone up, so has the percentage of our user based that is novice rather than expert in our subject matter. I think the tendency to let the bar down to keep everybody happy will be the hardest challenge we face going forward.

To counter this I have (and will make renewed efforts to) clearly communicate both our local guidelines and general SE principles to those coming in. This might require a review of our current guidelines, esp the way we are communicating the "truth question" issue. I think we might need a better way to explain that problem to new users than we have been, but that we need to be firm and consistent in enforcing it.

With the added user volume, it will also be hard to attract minorities. I actively try to recruit people I run across that actually hold minority views and pay special attention to making sure questions directed at them are constructive and given every chance to succeed.

Along with my first point, getting and retaining the interest of real experts is harder than I imagined. Those who really know their stuff are generally turned off by the shear volume of regurgitated content here. Whenever possible I would find ways to highlight and reward exemplary answers and help shape the guidelines in way that are most adventitious to retaining real experts.

9. 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?

My time invested here here is half hobby, half community service, half an obsession, half ... wait that's already too many halves.

10. 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?

Most of this is covered in #3 already, but as far as disagreeing with actions I would try talking to them first but if the disagreement was ongoing I would take it to the community on meta. Moderator powers aren't for riding rough shod over community consensus.

As far as inaction goes, as much as we need active moderators I think other than a gentle nudge in chat or another venue there isn't anything I should do to force a moderator to act. If the site is suffering because the active mods aren't keeping up with what needs to be done I would suggest to the SE team that we elect another mod or two to keep up with the workload.

  • I particularly like the integrity answer for question 7 (longest, about prioritization); individual virtues are not separate but mutually reinforcing, Christian character increases responsible civic/organizational behavior. (I doubt there are many opportunities to be cast into a lion's den here.) – Paul A. Clayton Jul 23 '13 at 15:35
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    Re: #4. I hear you say these things, but I have not seen many examples of you doing that. I do believe this would be the toughest part about being a mod. However I will say that you've been a good mod and you've helped many of my questions become more defined / even better questions. – The Freemason Jul 23 '13 at 16:25
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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?

If this is happening consistently, then it might be because the answers provide accurate or "valuable" content, but have the wrong tone. I've certainly seen this happening with answers that are 'truthy' or contain snipes - in any case, a kind of soapbox attitude that doesn't work well here. As well as engaging with the specific user over a longer period, I would try to encourage others not to rise to the bait.

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

My preference would be to let the particular decision stand, and focus more on what to do about questions of that kind in the future - to that end, I would probably raise a more general point on chat or meta or both. Keeping the community running at the large scale (no mod-warring, general consensus on policy, etc.) is more important than making sure every single judgement call goes the way I'd call it. If the deletion were based on some obvious misunderstanding then that would be an exception that could be dealt with more easily.

3. 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?

My first sniff test is whether it seems salvageable. If I think it just needs some copyediting, or clarification, then it's a matter of discussing in comments and tidying things up. Otherwise, I've tended to some combination of downvote, vote-to-close, explanatory comment, or upvoting someone else's explanatory comment. My sense is that the way to go is to offer non-confrontational, actionable advice; if they don't take it, then the usual result is that we've got another negatively-voted and closed question, but at least we've avoided wasted effort and bad blood trying to salvage the unsalvageable. Finally, all kinds of drive-by copy-paste rants on unrelated topics should be deleted on sight.

4. 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?

If I judged everyone based on how closely they approximated my own opinions, I would spend a lot of time being frustrated, before eventually reducing my reputation to zero and/or getting banned. Conversely, if I believed in everything I'd ever upvoted, I'd be a Catholic Protestant Orthodox non-denominational Calvinist Arminian, who believed the universe is both young and old, that Christ is simultaneously present in and absent from Communion, that women can be priests even though they can't be, and I would have a very, very bad headache.

In fact, I assess answers based on how well they answer the question posed (and are they accurate to the tradition being represented, well-written, well-referenced, etc. ?), and questions in a similar way. I intend to carry on that way.

5. 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?

I feel that the community here is receptive to contributions from people with atypical beliefs, so it's a matter of communicating that to new people. If they're just here to witness to the unsaved and then leave, there's not much we can do. And unfortunately, the accusation of heresy cuts both ways - anyone who's offended by our lack of a universal doctrinal standard just isn't going to be a good fit. (I certainly know people offline who think that way, and it's not my job to change their minds about having fellowship with unbelievers.) If the nature and openness of the site is clearly communicated then we've made a good start.

We have a specific problem with people who don't believe they are part of a "tradition", and who may react badly to the word itself. I'd like to find language that does the job of letting people know they need to say which group of believers they're talking about, without any other implications. As far as people who really are lone wolves in their beliefs, I think the best we can do is just apply a fairly gentle referencing standard ("a single other person anywhere in time and space who agrees with you") and assess each contribution on its objective merits.

6. 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?

People get access to moderatorial privileges as they accrue points, and they get points for providing questions and answers that are voted up. People use their privileges well when they follow the general sense and specific policy of this community. I think that visibly promoting these standards is the key to developing an active cohort of users who have the ability and the will to do the right thing. It's also important to make sure that everyone is making the best use of the channels of communication that we have.

7. 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: (snipped)

In the concrete example: problems with questions shouldn't be ignored (and I don't quite see why this is "the Christian behavior"). As far as I know, very few people have had to be suspended so far - I'd reserve this for someone who is being severely disruptive, as opposed to just having problems internal to their own contributions. But I certainly don't see a conflict here with "the Christian behavior", given that we spend a lot of time telling people to repent and mend their ways...

The more general question is harder. I'd say that unacceptable behaviour, (3), is clearly never acceptable, so that would seem to come first and be functionally identical to (4), which incorporates both (2) and the intent of (5). Point (6) isn't especially about moderating. Finally, I interpret (1) as being about the manner in which I would go about my duties, not about what they are. So for a non-answer: I don't see how to prioritize them in any order.

8. 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?)

I think there are certain communities that we are failing to attract and retain at the moment. We have very deep and obvious coverage in some areas, reflecting the current userbase, but there are also big swathes of the Christian experience that are missing. Right now a site search gives 39 results for "creationism", 55 for "young-earth", and 102 for "evolution". Meanwhile we only have 10 for "Barth", 2 for "Rahner", 1 each for "Bultmann", "Cone", "Schillebeeckx" and "Tillich", and 0 for poor old "Congar" and "Schweitzer". I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have more questions and answers about Barth alone. So academic theology is one place to look; OK, we might get more homework questions, but we currently have basically none compared to sites like Physics.SE (where graduate-level homework questions are being asked, as well as more basic ones). There are also underrepresented denominations, compared to their global numbers, notably the Orthodox.

Another challenge is avoiding burnout among our highest-reputation users and moderators, especially as we are getting more new users. Perhaps part of the answer (and see Q6) is to make sure that we have many hands making light work, plus maintaining a general level of civility and good humour.

9. 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?

Frankly, I've been more than happy with the current set of moderators, and I applied mainly because I didn't want them to feel that they absolutely had to continue, if they didn't want to and there were few other candidates.

Generally, sometimes things just have to get done, and I don't mind who does them, even if it's me. That's how I ended up on too many church committees, and the lesson has not yet been learned.

10. 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?

I think Q2 covers this to a large extent. The key is to keep a cool head and communicate.

5

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'd be hesitant to give a sweeping answer to this. The first step would be to determine the root of the arguments, bearing in mind that active users are more visible to trouble-makers. But also bearing in mind that highly active, reputable-seeming users are just as likely to start leaking their occasionally offensive or misrepresentative opinions into their answers and comments.

After assessing the situation, it comes down to deciding who to talk to about what! And as a last resort, suspending users who fail to play nicely.

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

It's important for mods to agree on site policy and question relevance. So, the first step would be to connect with the other moderator and determine why they took action and how strongly they felt about it.

3. 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?

If the "major issue" will inhibit relevant answers, I read for the close/hold button. OP's (and helpful peers) can always revise a question to correct the problems.

If the issue doens't necessarily inhibit good answers, I'd offer a friendly comment. Possibly even a friendly edit if the intent of the question is clear.

4. 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?

I can't promise anything. I'm fallible. I'm biased. And I undoubtedly fail to detect my own biases.

That said, what I'm looking for as a user of C.SE are questions with answers that are verifiable and which accurately of represent the groups they claim to represent. Hence, most questions and answers should name a denomination. Those that don't should be comparative and admit that some percentage of Christians don't fall into the named buckets.

If I happen upon a question on a trigger-happy day that's drawn a lot of opinion-like answers, or an highly popular answer that clearly doesn't represent all or most Christians, I'm likely to close it as an opinion question.

5. 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?

Given that there are literally thousands of various Christian groups, each with their own subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) variations, I suspect the only reasonable course of action is to remind members that we are not an opinion site; but that the beliefs of all groups are proper subject matter for the site. And while we can't force the C.SE to ask questions about their denomination, anyone is welcome to submit questions and answer their own questions.

So, even someone from a small group of 20 Christians in the middle of nowhere is welcome to post questions and answers about their particular denomination, naming their denomination, to broaden the site's reach.

6. 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?

The content here still appears to flux greatly. As such, moderators need to play a slightly more active role than those on SO, for instance, wherein the community pretty well-focused and self-moderated. Being active enough to keep questions largely within bounds will help to "auto-train" future mods. And to further help guide the community and assist future mods, strong, public dialogue between the moderators and the community in chat and meta will help keep the moderators and community focused and "train" future mods.

7. 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?

Christianity also depends on truth. An infringement of the guidelines generally inhibits the truth. And as I understand it, the purpose of the site and its guidelines facilitate the exchange of truths about, but not of Christianity.

I don't do God's desire for someone's salvation any justice by abusing C.SE.

8. 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?)

Everyone has a somewhat different idea of what the site's purpose is, and in some cases, even what constitute an opinion question. I expect there to be some disagreement about what questions fit the guidelines and what level of activity and intervention is appropriate moderators.

9. 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?

I want the little diamond by my name.

10. 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?

Possible duplicate of Question 2: "How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?"

BONUS QUESTION: Do you seriously want to be a mod? I thought you were crazy overslept!

No. Not really. If elected (I won't be), I'd try to adhere to the guiding principles above, so long as I could keep my eyes open. But, being a mod probably requires more restraint than my sleep-deprived brain can normally muster.

So, if you vote for me, I will step on your house.

... also if you vote against me.

  • 1
    On the close/hold option, you realize that as a moderator, there's a difference, and your single close vote automatically, categorically closes the question with a single vote. With that in mind, is the close/hold your first tool on question 3? – David Stratton Jul 23 '13 at 0:10
  • @DavidStratton I was under the impression that it put it into an "on hold" state for N days. Is that not true? – svidgen Jul 23 '13 at 1:26
  • That is true, exactly as it would be if several of us ordinary members voted to close. the main difference for a mod is what @Caleb calls the "mod hammer". A single vote from a mod can put the question "on hold" unilaterally. this holds regardless of reason - duplicate, opinion-based, etc. example – David Stratton Jul 23 '13 at 2:37
  • 1
    Well, my assumption is that the type of question in #3 needs to be changed significantly to be site-relevant and/or draw in relevant answers. With the new "oh hold" message in place of the "closed" message, I think it communicates precisely what it would need to in this case. And it would prevent answers, fit for the site or not, from piling up on a question that may soon be edited to make those answers irrelevant to the question. – svidgen Jul 23 '13 at 2:41
  • Fair answer, thanks! – David Stratton Jul 23 '13 at 2:45
  • @DavidStratton Wax also has "close" for #3. – The Freemason Jul 23 '13 at 16:21
  • Is your foot bigger than, or smaller than, my house? – Affable Geek Jul 24 '13 at 12:49
  • @AffableGeek If my profile picture is accurate, it's slightly smaller. – svidgen Jul 24 '13 at 13:45
  • @DanAndrews I saw that... I hope it didn't appear I was picking on svidgen. I'm actually quite glad he's running and I think he'd make a good mod. I was just asking for clarification. "close" isn't a bad answer, I was basically wondering if the mod hammer made a difference to svidgen. Wax already shows restraint because of his mod hammer, so I didn't ask him. I thought svidgen's reply here was good. – David Stratton Jul 25 '13 at 4:13
  • @DavidStratton I too think he would do a good job. I look forward to a regime change - I hope that some new people get a shot at being a mod. It will be a good way to grow the community instead of the same people doing the same thing - even if it's just one new person. – The Freemason Jul 25 '13 at 12:04
4

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 much as possible, I would want to contact the user in private to attempt to address their behavior (following the model of Matthew 18) - and only involving others if they were disinclined to listen to a single moderator. Indicating to them that while their answers and questions are good the community finds their general comments inappropriate

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

I feel that the best way to address this would be privately between us, or in a group discussion amongst the mods.

3) 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?

My first tool is the comment box. I like to give the OP an opportunity to edit first, but would jump into a rough edit if it appeared that a question could be garnered from it "easily". My second tool is the VtC button - if a comment and a vote aren't enough, and I cannot determine what the question should've been, my last tool is voting to delete.

4) 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?

Given that answers/questions are not written in an argumentative/affrontive manner, I don't care who asks or answers. I believe that, in general, the voting system is effective, and eventually low-quality items will drift down while higher-quality will drift up. That being said, I don't think votes are enough per se to indicate the overall quality of a question/answer - but the ratio of down to up can be a better (though still weak) heuristic. And that all being said, if answers are given that are blatantly incorrect (for example, asking about Matthew Henry's views of Romans 7 and not quoting from his writings, but instead saying what you think he would've thought when it's demonstrably not), commenting, voting, and potentially voting to delete answers/questions is how moderation should be done. I do not think a moderator, in general, should be the first to work towards a deletion (especially given that as a mod, there is not "vote to delete" option (thanks @Ryan Frame for the clarification)).

5) 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?

As a moderator, while I still maintain my personal beliefs and views, I'd rather see honest answers/questions given for small groups (some which broader Christendom may even regard as cultish or heretical) so that what they think on a given topic can be represented. To pick a by-Protestants-considered-heretical group, I see no issues with asking what Pope Pius thought about a given topic, even though as a Protestant I do believe the Papal institution to be heretical.

As a moderator, because I have already been doing such, I would strive to help an individual who did not have a "group" (or who doesn't think they have a group) to consider whether they may be better-off aligning with a given denomination, or if they're acting alone because they do not wish to be associated with a broader sect. It's not for me to judge whether any given person is or is not how they claim to associate (ie whether they are a Christian or not) - but I do think it is our place, both as moderators, and in community, to encourage the highest-possible quality among questions, answers, and discussion. It is highly possible that someone who thinks they are a "lone ranger" is really highly aligned to a specific denomination and just doesn't know it has a name.

6) 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?

I have blogged about this topic from the workplace perspective, and I think it is well discussed in Robert Greene's book, Mastery. I think that the blog, comments, chat, and one-on-one (or group-on-one) time should be given by existing moderators to new ones, and from moderators to non-moderators but who still have subsets of moderation power. We all have different ideas about "the best" way to do things, some of which are diametrically opposed to one another. However, we don't need "the best" - we need "good enough", and I think that maintaining and active group that shares thoughts, has meetings, works to create an environment of nurture, etc is vital. It's how my workplace has worked for the last 2.5 years, and I'd like to carry-over some of the mentoring aspects I have witnessed in various places herein.

7) 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?

As a Christian, I will always attempt to prioritize the "Christian attitude and Christian behavior" over all others - the other five (or perhaps four) can easily be subsumed by the first, and a right attitude will make all of the others more effective. I don't think that every answer must "come from a Christian perspective" - but they must correctly identify the "Christian perspective" requested by the questioner. For example, I could answer a question about Indian taxes on Money.SE but still be a United States citizen, resident, and have never been to India: I must merely make sure that what I answer is properly sourced from Indian government documents. The same is true within and around Christianity: nothing says you must be a believer to be know the answer to a question - if that were the case, Jesus could never have sent Judas out with the other disciples to go from house to house to preach the good news of His arrival.

8) 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?)

I think the biggest challenge moving forward is building-out the community, and expanding the knowledge base contained - similar to the challenge faced by SO in its early days of moving from brand new-ish to an established service.

The second biggest challenge is making sure that as the community grows, it does so both organically (word of mouth, etc), and at a moderateable pace.

Joining and growing any community requires effort on the part of existing members to welcome and "train" new people, and an effort on the part of new or prospective members to follow (and, potentially, petition to change/modify) the community rules and expectations.

If you look at my voting and comment history, you will see that, where ever possible, I have already taken some responsibility for new folks to be able to understand how Christianity.SE works, so that they can become a solid member of what I hope will continue to be a thriving community.

9) 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?

I want to be a moderator for the little diamond next to my name! Ha ha ha .. no - that's not it (but a kind of cool side bonus). I want to give back a little more than I have been able to on other sites (even on SE where I am a >10k user) because I feel this is one of the better communities I am involved in, and I think that it deserves to become one of the model SE communities at large, and I believe that I can make a positive impact towards that end.

10) 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?

I view this as a restatement of question 2, and would follow the same process in this situation.

  • Re #4: "...potentially voting to delete answers/questions is how mdoeration [sic] should be done." As a mod, you won't be able to vote to delete -- will you delete "blatantly incorrect" answers outright or hope the community does so? – Ryan Frame Jul 23 '13 at 17:44
  • @RyanFrame - first, thanks for the highlight on the typo :) ..second, no - I wouldn't 'delete "blatantly incorrect" answers outright', this appears to be a misunderstanding on my part of how exactly the moderation tools work. – warren Jul 23 '13 at 17:48
  • @warren can I clarify something for you? I think what Ryan is getting at is that clicking that delete button is a binding decision (and in fact only reversible by a mod, unlike community deletion) – wax eagle Jul 23 '13 at 23:40
  • @waxeagle - I'm a bit unsure still if these questions should be answered from the "how do you work now as a user" or "how would you work as a mod" perspective – warren Jul 25 '13 at 16:38
  • @warren I'd say the latter. – wax eagle Jul 25 '13 at 16:39
3

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?

No single user is more important than the site as a whole. We all need to follow the rules, even those who add a great deal of value. Since the guidelines don't give people special treatment, neither should a moderator.

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

We don't need mod-wars. A mods decision is their decision, even if I disagree with it. Still, I would discuss it with the mod in private chat with the hope of helping me to understand their way of thinking or encouraging them to take another look.

3.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?

As a moderator, I would leave a comment on the post explaining the issues that I see along with this link. Some users come here to be trolls, but I think that most "troubled" posts are from people who just need help getting the feel for how this community works.

4.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?

As a Christian Pastor in the Bible-Belt, I meet people all the time with beliefs that are different from my own. Treating these people with anger or resentment will not change their minds and only serves to put Christians in a bad light (it's not a good witness). As long as people provide substantive support for the views that they express, the value of the post rests in how the community votes.

5.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?

Everyone is welcome here: mainstream Christians, minority Christians, non-Christians. This community is for people looking for answers about Christianity. The example set by Christ is to teach out of love, ESPECIALLY the people who don't believe what we believe.

  • How will you handle individuals who do not have an identifiable group or doctrine?

Any question that is a serious question that pertains to either modern or historical Christianity is welcome. The answers, however, have value when they are supported by scripture or other Christian or historical documentation/facts. There's nothing wrong with sharing an opinion, but an unsupported opinion is very likely to get down-voted/flagged. However, an answer that is supported with facts, should be allowed to stay, even though it may have many down-votes.

6.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?

Moderators should lead by example. In other words, a moderator's regular-user participation should be perfectly in-line with the guidelines. When a user asks why a moderator action has taken place, the user's questions should be answered with the heart of a teacher.

7.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?

I think that the 6 things listed are in the correct order.

All users should be treated with respect and kindness all the time, irrespective of their behavior or beliefs. Incorrect use of the site should be met with gentle correction and teaching. Users who continue to misuse the site need to be censored or suspended. Answers that are clearly not supported as a Christian perspective should be removed.

8.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?)

  1. People who are new to the site do not understand what this site is about or how to use it.

  2. People who are not new to the site sometimes struggle with allowing people to post things that they vehemently disagree with.

The answer to these 2 issues is not easy, but it is fairly plain. I need to lead by example that we all need to encourage each-other to treat everyone with respect and to support answers with as much fact as reasonably possible. Sometimes that means leaving gentle comments to remind people about our goals and guidelines. Sometimes that will mean pulling people into chat to try to understand why someone is having a difficult time adhering to the guidelines.

9.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?

I really enjoy SE. It's an excellent tool for exchanging ideas in a way that is non-threatening and pretty dependable. I want to be a moderator to help people learn how to use the SE sites. My day job has me on StackOverflow all the time, but I think that people seeking information on Christianity is more important than my day job. If I can help people ask and answer questions in a useful way on C.SE, that has the potential to make a real difference in someone's life or eternity.

10.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?

Disagreements between moderators should happen in private chat. If the disagreement can't be resolved between me and the mod that I disagree with, then I invite all the mods to help settle the issue in private. A moderator that acts far outside what the rest of the mods deem appropriate may need to be replaced.

3

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?

Generally, (assuming the user is the problem,) I would start by having discussions with them, preferably in chat, where I try to reason with them, help them understand how this site works, why it has the policies it does, what they can do to improve, and those sorts of actions. If other users are the problem, then I'd typically just ping them with either a comment or in chat and mildly rebuke them ("Don't have debates in comments!"). The intensity of the rebuke would vary depending on how new the user was (new => gentle and polite, experienced => you-should-know-better). If their answers are good and valuable, suspensions will probably not fix the problem. Discussions and, if need be, a mod message or two will have a better chance at solving the problem.

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

I would discuss the issue with that mod. We will (hopefully/typically) reach a consensus, and then the action is either reversed or not. I rarely have an adamant stance on a contentious post one way or another, and in the past, I've deferred to the wisdom of Caleb and waxeagle (and Mason and Richard).

3. 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?

Questions: That depends on the question. As questions are no longer immediately closed, just put "on hold", I am more likely to reach for the put-on-hold button because I know that after editing, it'll be easy to reopen. Usually, I'd also add a comment explaining in a bit more detail why the question was put on hold. In the case of duplicates, I usually closed/put it on hold and forgot about it. If there was a way to make it a non-duplicate, usually the community would handle that aspect and the question could be reopened if their (community users + OP) efforts were successful. If the question was particularly bad/trollish, deletion is usually my first action.

Answers: That depends on the answer itself. If it's a clear troll, or a one-line, forumy post, I'm more likely to reach for the deletion tool (often after putting a short "Look at the About and Help pages before participating further." comment). Otherwise, I'll typically comment, point out what the problem is, and leave the flag uncleared so that it's looked at later, which gives the OP a chance to respond. That or I'll upvote comments that say the same sort of thing.

4. 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?

Well, I'm pretty non-denominational, so it's harder for me to be biased one way or another. In addition, I think of this site as having a checklist of requirements and recommendations such as an external citation and one's own words. I just follow that checklist and if a post meets the minimum, I probably won't touch it. When evaluating a user's contributions, I don't focus on their beliefs; I focus on whether they fit this site and whether they benefit this site and the community.

5. 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?

I believe one of the best ways to help make minority groups feel welcome is to provide support and guidance to making good-quality contributions. The key is to make minority-group-posters feel and see that not everyone on this site is out to get them, that not everyone is seeking to debunk what they say. With regards to individuals who don't have an identifiable group or doctrine, well, this site isn't really geared towards learning about those individuals' beliefs. So, this kind of isn't the place for them. That said, in the past, the minimum bar has been a blog where an individual's beliefs are laid out in more detail and can be examined outside of the constraints of a Q&A format.

6. 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?

With regards to developing replacement moderators...well, typically, a moderator will also be a good-quality contributor to the site. So, the more people that get this site, how it works, what it's for, its policies and why they're in place, the larger the pool of potential (and beneficial) moderators. A good mod should also be able to work for the good of the site and its community regardless of their personal beliefs, and that is a more intangible trait and cannot be trained or taught nearly so easily.

Plus, one of the roles of a moderator is indeed to help strengthen the community so that it can do more of the work of managing this site. It would be fantastic if more questions were put on hold by the community as opposed to the moderators, and moderators should encourage the community to take more of the responsibility of this site upon themselves. Moderators should be the exception handlers, there for those times where the normal process of the community isn't sufficient.

7. 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?

First off, there's very little chance that anything I do on this site will contribute to the salvation or non-salvation of any person, so that's pretty much never something I think about in the context of C.SE. However, I do indeed consider it my duty as a Christian to be gentle and kind, which is largely why I'll give a problematic user multiple chances and I'll attempt to work with them so that they might become a good-quality contributor. In the event that such efforts are unsuccessful or largely ineffective, it is gentler and kinder to the community to suspend that user.

As this is a site about Christianity, answers should indeed be from a Christian perspective. It almost doesn't matter who posts it. "Heretical" (according to some group) answers are allowed so long as they actually answer the question, and taking care of incorrect answers is the job of the community, usually via comments and downvotes.

8. 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?)

I'd say one of the top challenges that I can think of is keeping the average quality high. As this site and community keeps growing, so too will the flood of low-quality posts of all kinds. C.SE should not become a place of scum (or villainy), so the community and moderators must continue their efforts to keep it nice and clean...well, decently so. I have had a hand in this by deleting comments, answers, some questions, and also putting questions on hold. I've mostly gotten rid of only the worst stuff though; the rest is the responsibility of the community.

Another top challenge at the moment is this so-called "Truth question" issue. The core of the problem is that primarily-opinion-based questions are not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format, so these questions should not be allowed. However, sometimes such a question has a kernel of a question that can be answered more objectively, in which case the community should be able to draw it out. What I can do about these is simply to put such questions on hold and, if no one else has already done it, add a comment explaining how the question can be improved (if possible).

9. 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?

I consider it an honor to serve this community. I like removing the dross so that this site is better for not having poor content, and I like seeing new and good-quality contributors join the site at least monthly. It is actually quite rewarding to see many users enjoying this site and to know that I had a hand in that. And besides, this job isn't entirely thankless.

10. 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?

I don't like speculating that I might have a major disagreement with the actions/nonactions of another moderator, but supposing that did happen, the first thing I would do is to try and talk it out with them. If that didn't work, I would ask another moderator to -ahem- moderate between us. If all of the mods were involved, I'd take it to the Stack Exchange team. Beyond that, I would probably just drop the issue.

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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?

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. (Matt 7:1-2)

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

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matt 7:7)

3. 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?

All Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

4. 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?

Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). (Matt 15:14)

5. 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.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matt 18:20)

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?

All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost! (Isaiah 55:1)

  • How will you handle individuals who do not have an identifiable group or doctrine?

He (John) said: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (John 1:23)

6. 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?

And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 2-3)

7. 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?

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal (1 Cor 13:1)

8. 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?)

“Come, let us return to the LORD, For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds. ... For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:1;6)

9. 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?

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)

10. 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?

If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. i If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. (Matt 18:17)


(Bible references from New American Bible Copyright USCCB, used wholly without permission and for no good reason)

  • # 7 is a bit of a cop out. They're all verses!? – fredsbend Jul 23 '13 at 17:48
  • 2
    if #7 were asked on Christianity I would close it as not a real question – Peter Turner Jul 23 '13 at 17:50
  • 1
    Wow, and Protestants always assume that Catholics aren't allowed to actually read Scripture :) Great answer! – Affable Geek Jul 24 '13 at 12:41
  • @AffableGeek Why isn't your name up there? – The Freemason Jul 24 '13 at 20:22
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This answer is currently incomplete. This message will self destruct when the answer is complete.

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?

Argumentative attitudes and poor behavior are not and cannot be automatically excused because a user posts top notch questions and answers. My responsibility as a moderator entrusts me with making this a place that people want to visit and learn about the topic. Whether the post is good or not is irrelevant to users that have to deal with the poster's bad behavior. I realize there is a line between correcting and arguing, but I think in most cases the intent is clear. As a mod I could nuke the whole comment stream then leave a comment of my own telling them to knock it off.

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

I would first yield to experience. If the mod was a mod before me (for example, if both Caleb and I were mods) I would trust his judgement over mine. I would then use the opportunity to learn from him. However, inevitably, I would eventually consider myself equal with all the mods. I would definitely not confront another mod publicly about a particular moderator action. Privately, though, I would ask him to justify the action and give me sound reasoning. If we still disagreed and I thought it was important enough, I would involve the other mods. Presumably, the majority of the mods would then make the decision to keep the action in place or undo it. If it is something that keeps coming up then we should make it public and post on meta. We as mods serve the community and our disagreement is only evidence of an area where the community has not spoken.

3. 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?

If I were not a mod I would immediately choose to vote to close. Then I would inform the user why in a comment. I would then make it a point to see if the user changes the post in the next few days. But as a mod I need to consider that my vote to close is a power vote. It would have to be bad enough were I cannot see good answers coming from it. I would, of course, still comment on the issues.

4. 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?

I'm here to learn too. Even if I think the viewpoint being represented is not God's Truth I will still be happy to learn the viewpoint. "I am happy to consider completely rethinking my beliefs because after the fear of knowing nothing wears off I can begin a new life filled with the excitement a child gets when playing with something for the first time." That is from my profile. After that, the factuality of the post is very important. Even if the new user thinks they are representing a viewpoint correctly, I will act to correct or remove the content if I think it is incorrect if they cannot prove what they are saying with sources.

5. 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?

The first thing I should mention is the false assumption that inclusion of anyone gives specific rights to the quality of the posts given without regard to site policy. In short, site policy trumps everything else. If a user wants to post his opinion he needs to convince the community that his opinion is something they want on the site.

How will I make minority groups feel welcome? It is difficult if they take exception to the resistance they will receive. Generally, minority opinions need to be of the highest caliber. See my meta post here. If the user truly knows what they are talking about then they will be able to make posts with the necessary quality; they will overcome the resistance.

How will I handle users without a group or doctrine? As far as I can tell a group of one is no group at all. A doctrine developed by one and adhered by only that one is no doctrine at all. They may, of course, still participate, but they must stay within current policy. That does not include answering with opinion or with a perspective that was not asked for.

6. 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?

SE has already done this job for the moderator. The system awards privileges to the best users; it tailors making "mods" out of users who have proven that they can play by the rules in the first place. That being said, every time a moderator takes action he is leaving example for users to mimic or reject. Rejection is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it becomes disruptive to the community is when a mod must step in and stop the behavior.

8. 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 the site grows more casual questions and answer from googlers will come in (are coming in). Usually, those posts stink. For questions, you really only have a few options. Comment and explain and vtc. For answers you really only have one option. Comment. I regularly perform review tasks and try to encourage new users that seem like they might be good for the site and ignore and flag users that do not.

9. 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?

At the time of the nominations there were a few users who were vocal about their lack of faith in the current mods. Although I don't really want to be a mod at this moment, I do think that I would make a good substitute if the current mods are not elected. I would serve the community wholeheartedly. I would dedicate my actions on this site to the success of this site.

10. 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?

This is almost exact duplicate as number 2. vtc.

  • If you don't want too many folks reading until your done you can delete. As the OP you can still make edits and finally undelete when you feel it's ready. (I just did this so I can go to bed without having finished and still give it a once over before people vote) – Caleb Jul 22 '13 at 22:26
  • @Caleb An escape character! Of course! Thanks. No it is fine leaving it up. My edits will help keep the post at the top of the meta list. I'll only need two or three more edits. – fredsbend Jul 23 '13 at 17:29
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I've been away at a Boy Scout camp with little free time and several days without any internet connection. I fully respect if lateness and incompleteness in answers affects anyone's votes! I am however very rarely on a vacation with such poor internet connection. Sorry my numbering is off!

ONE. 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?

Unconditional positive regard for the next question the person writes. Winning them over with love. If this site's FAQ's state that it's hard to tell if someone were an actual Christian on the internet, I'd say it's even harder to tell someone's intent for coming here. If you frustrate someone, the wrong practice is to watch out for their next post so you can frustrate them further. I'm not saying that editing someone's rant into a Q&A academic question won't be necessary, but I'm also doubting it'll be impossible.

I tend to shy away from chat for a number of reasons: i) The first time a mod offered me a chance to discuss in chat, I honestly could not find the link to the discussion on a later date when I had more time to study the idea. Perhaps other new users will have similar difficulties. ii) The chat interface is really inconvenient on mobile. iii) Once I did go to chat to explain an idea I had, and the short character limit was too frustrating. Short "tweets" in a moving stream are better for "less-filling / tastes-great" jabs. iv) When I had a strong disagreement with the person, it seemed a bit dodgy to put the discussion in a moving, hard-to-reach, less public forum. v) Old guy, bad eyes, small font.

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

Comment in comment field. Let the user know the diversity of opinion.

THREE. 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?

A suggestion, in comment, that the crux of their argument could instead be said this way. Give the person a healthy time to edit.

FOUR. 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?

I believe that moderation should not be a tool for either enforcing some vision of orthodoxy, or for promoting the reputation of any sect. The Answers are ways to do that. As long as the Question does not provide a factually incorrect slant (I believe there was a case a few months where someone put a cynical spin on what occurred at the Nicene Council), it should be allowed.

FIVE. 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?

I believe if an Answer draws from identifiable sources (Scripture, Tradition, Reason), it is good. I do not believe that it is helpful to tell people they have to say what Identifiable Group they are speaking on behalf of. We're talking computer geeks, in most cases here. Further, it contributes to fracturing the body of Christ more, if you assert there are answers to basic Christian questions that should be ignored because it's not "Baptist" or "Lutheran". My conviction is that it's not even factually accurate that one can speak, for example, on behalf of "Lutherans", "ELCA Lutherans", or even "Metro NY Synod ELCA Lutherans". The person who really knows any of them knows the controversies ripping them apart. But even the so-called "atheist professor of religion" should be able to quote Luther.

SIX. 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?

Be hesitant in using the VTC. It's being overused. Pecking at bad people makes for a weak community in need of more moderator action.

SEVEN. As a moderator on Christiantiy.SE, 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.

The Great Commission is a mandate all/most Christians would share. The question is whether those who hate Christians can ask incisive Questions. For example, "Why does this sect believe in drowning kittens?" is a question that needs moderator edit. However, "I saw member of this sect drowning kittens. What support from Scripture or Tradition supports this practice?" The latter wording I believe is something we need to allow, even if it were to offend deeply the enthusiasts of the sect / faith. Jesus did not run from Pharisees.

As for Answers, I don't think anyone here is as qualified to say what a Christian or non-heretical perspective, not qualified to say what is "the Southern Baptist perspective" as they are to quote Bible, Charles Spurgeon, or cite potentially verifiable observations ("my hometown church used green vestments in July").

As for unacceptable behavior, I have been very heavily in internet discussions on religion since 1992. I've seen great conflagrations come and go. My conviction is that moderators acting as schoolyard bullies creates as much acting-out as does anything else. I also think that cooling off periods only increase anger when the person comes back. One answer is Love, love for your enemies. Going to the grain of truth in what they are after, and putting those words back in front of them. The behavior I have very little tolerance for is the question with incorrect factual slant about some item in church history.

As for guidelines, I have seen users express an opinion about how things should be done, then be told, "As moderator candidate why aren't you going to enforce site guidelines?", only to later learn the behavior I complained about was all a discretionary (and poor) choice by a mod that not all mods/ superusers agreed with anyway. (Also answer to motivation for running for mod.)

EIGHT. 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?)

Top challenge is finding way to balance interests: 1) academic Q&A format 2) allowing incisive questions that may make ardent proponents of a sect (or C in general) uncomfortable, while 3) preventing spreading of outright falsehood.

NINE. 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?

I have seen behaviors by moderators that I believe are not beneficial for either an academic Q&A site or a web page that would be sensitive to seekers. I saw one person "disappear" after making observations about on-the-ground evangelization in the Third World, and ask if this was what C was about. In another, older case, I saw a person told that their profile showed they were not really interested in Christianity, they were asking a bunch of questions that "are a thinly-veiled attempt to discredit Christianity." Regardless of whether I am elected, I will continue to work to witness against discretionary behaviors such as this. "Disappearing" people is a poor evangelization strategy.

TEN. 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?

Add a comment to the Question on Hold. Let them know someone cares. It's not a font color we're debating. It's trashing people's work.

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