David Stratton ⇘
Give an example of how you have helped a new user whose questions or answers were originally not up to site standards.
I'll stick to just one that stands out in my memory.
We have one user, who previously went under a different name, who was struggling with understanding how to keep his questions/answers on the safe side of "Truthiness". He was a very knowledgeable user, but didn't quite seem to "get" that particular issue. At one point, one of my comments was a bit too harsh. I said something along the lines of "You've been on this site long enough that you should know better by now." (Those weren't the words, but the tone was that bad.) I let my frustration come out and it was wrong of me, and I feel bad about it to this day.
Shortly after.. Maybe even that same day, he posted this Meta post:
Why not have new members go through a general introduction page?
My response on that question is the example I'd like to use as to how I've tried to help a new user...Not only by attempting to explain the issue to him, but also making a plea for more experienced users to be more active in welcoming new visitors. That was also a point where I decided redouble my efforts to welcome each new visitor if possible, and direct the to the two most helpful links available:
A promising new user (let's call him Saul) who has already demonstrated a knack for answering questions wisely decides to answer a pastoral advice question. Another user flags the answer for deletion because of the Pastoral Advice Questions policy. Even though you agree with the advice Saul gave, you delete his answer. Now Saul is questioning your decision in chat. What do you do? Would you do anything differently if you thought the advice bad?
I'd explain the reason for the deletion - Pastoral advice questions are off-topic, and answering them is not a good idea. In order to back up my decision, I'd direct him/her back to But can't I just say one thing?.
I also have some comments I typically use in the case of new users asking patoral advice questions, which go like this:
Hi and welcome to our community. To clarify a common misconception about this site, we're a fairly academic question and answer site run by a secular company. We have numerous members who are Christians, but because of the nature of this site, we don't answer "advice" questions. It's not that we don't want to help, but on the contrary, we don't feel that it's in anyone's best interest to try to do so on this site. For more info, please see this post: Pastoral Advice Questions
I'd also offer that if they would wish to edit their answer and/or the question to make them scoped, doctrinal questions that can be definitively answered, the question/answer could be un-deleted. Probably with a link back to Tips for editing a question to make it suitable for re-opening.
As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have. Sometimes the policies that the community has agreed upon in meta are at odds with our own personal standards. If that's the case for you, which policies do you disagree with and how would you go about changing them? If you agree with all of the policies, what would you do if another moderator set out to change one of the site's accepted standards?
Honestly, if I thought for a moment the site standards were going to be at odds with my own personal standards, I wouldn't have thrown my name in the hat. Should some standard come around that I have a hard time with, I'd most likely make my best possible argument, backed with post after post for precedent, to try to make my case. Such a standard would have to be one that I honestly think would be harmful to the site, not one in conflict with my religious views.
If site standards changed enough that I really had a hard time with them, I'd probably keep my mouth shut while letting the other mods handle those questions, and eventually step down. I simply don't want the diamond bad enough to compromise what I think is right.
How would you explain the importance of having a site that documents the beliefs and views of Christian religions from a secular perspective to a user who believes it is more important that we try to address "Truth"?
On one hand, as a Christian, I think it's more important to preach the Word and to seek and to save those who are lost.
However, that said, a StackExchange site is no place for that sort of activity. I don't know if I think that it's important that a site like this exists, so much as it is that I see the value in such a site existing. For me, personally, the value of this site focusing on explaining what's taught and avoiding "who's right" is threefold:
- I can honestly see how other groups think, and what they teach, rather than what my denomination says they teach.
- Example, I can see what Catholics actually teach about transubstantiation rather than what Baptists say Catholics teach about it.
- I can see questions and answers that challenge my own beliefs, which makes me re-examine them, and re-examine the Scriptures in a new light
- In those cases where I think some other view is heretical, I can understand the reasoning behind it, and use that to debunk it in my personal witnessing.
Also, one other benefit: There's at least one site out there without infighting and bickering over who's a heretic and who has the TRUTH.
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?
First, I'd have to look at what's causing the flags. Are the flags valid? Is the user the problem, or the people raising the flags?
Next, assuming it's this user's issue, I'd clean up the offending posts, with comments linking back to the appropriate section of the help, Meta post, etc.
At the same time, I'd be using whatever tools I have to work with the current moderators for further guidance. I don't have their experience, and before I presume to do something as drastic as suspend a user, I'd be sure that the other mods were in agreement that this was the right action. Somehow I doubt any of them act unilaterally in such cases, and I wouldn't want to do so myself. That's why there is more than one moderator.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Probably ping them privately. I assume the mods have ways of communicating not visible to regular users. Such things should be handled privately. If the question was borderline, I'd just let it go, but if I felt strongly, or really didn't understand the reasoning, and wanted to know why it was closed/deleted, I'd use whatever tools allow me to talk to them privately.
New users frequently post broad/opinion-based/pastoral questions. This isn't a big problem, except that new users also frequently answer those questions before they can be closed or put on hold. What can be done to help new users know what kinds of questions should be answered?
Comments and posts back to the appropriate sections of the Help or Meta are the only really effective tools. Fortunately, there's no shortage of posts explaining that particular guideline.
How would you explain the idea of a "Truth" question to a user who seems to be having trouble understanding the distinction and purpose of the site? How do you explain the problems that trying to tackle "Truth" questions would cause?
Typically I refer them back to one of these posts, depending on their concern:
- If they just don't get it
- If they think this SHOULD be a site for those types of questions
- If they're expressing frustration
Or some other post. If I couldn't find a suitable one, I'd probably post one for that specific situation. that's what I've done in the past, anyway.
How would you differentiate between someone who is trolling the site and someone who is attempting to participate but getting too emotionally vested in what they feel to be "True"? Does this distinction matter in how you would handle the situation? How would you handle each situation?
That's typically fairly obvious. Someone impassioned but attempting to participate honestly may argue, but typically they won't resort to name-calling, cursing other participants, telling them they're going to rot in Hell for their unbelief, etc. A troll will.
There have been a few we've seen who are right on the line, and I honestly think were trying to participate but came off as trollish due to their unique beliefs, and inability to comprehend that not everyone sees things the way they do. Those users, I'd try patience and explanation until I can see it's not going anywhere. After that, as long as the the other mods concur and also feel they've exhausted other options, it's time to start looking at suspensions, bans, etc. just like you would with a troll.
Bottom line, if someone refuses to abide by site guidelines, they need to be removed from participation until they agree. It doesn't matter if they're an intentional troll or a misguided user. failure to adhere to standards needs to be addressed. In either case, use the least amount of force possible to get the desired outcome.
A fresh question hits the home page that clearly does not have a narrow enough scope according to our guidelines to garner high quality specific answers. There are not enough clues for you to just edit and fix the question. Do you think it should be closed and why? When would you close it?
Generally, I won't just edit a user's post. My goal is to help new users become familiarized with the site guidelines.
My normal mode is to evaluate and see if the question is even capable of being brought into scope, and if so, to leave a comment and a link back to Tips for editing a question to make it suitable for re-opening.
Right now, to be honest, sometimes I wish I had the mod hammer so I could close questions like that before a bunch of people post answers to it. A prime example is this one. I ended up having to make comments on the question and the first two answers, at which point I eel like a nag. I'd just rather close the thing and explain the guidelines to the OP. But maybe that's just me being lazy.
If the question is not likely to be salvageable, I typically vote to close and explain why, usually with a link back to one of the Meta posts that explains the reason. (Most likely that meta post is a combination of one or more of the following:
If you already have 10k or 20k rep you will no doubt have found all the tools you have at your disposal to participate in moderating this community. How have you found yourself suited to those activities and how do you think your participation would change as a diamond mod with a bigger hammer? If you haven't gotten there yet, in what way do you expect the role to be unique and not just a shortcut to cool gizmos?
I've gotten there. I think I've done pretty well participating and trying to do my best to help newcomers, and to try to keep the site healthy.
The biggest change for me will be not being the first person to vote to close or delete. I'll need to exercise restraint and let others do it first.
Next, I'm going to have to keep an even tighter rein on my frustration. I don't let my temper show often, but when I do, I'm a jerk. I really am. I need to be more careful with a diamond.
Finally, I expect I'll need to spend less time in the review queues because that's where I run across the most problematic posts.