8
votes

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 stated, we took the 8 highest ranked questions, plus two of our default questions, for a total of 10 questions.

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

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.

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

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


  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

  2. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

  3. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

  4. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

  5. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

  6. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

  7. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

  8. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

  9. 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?

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

locked by Nathaniel Jan 31 '17 at 23:00

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Read more about locked posts here.

  • 1
    Voters, don't miss the Moderator Candidate Statistics site for this election that shows relevant badges and some meta history (sadly not flag history). Useful stuff for seeing how the candidates stack up. You can also engage them in discussion in the election chat room. – Caleb Jan 16 '17 at 22:07
  • I'd like to highlight question 7. I believe successful and positive meta participation is the most important quality to be found in a moderator. – fredsbend Jan 16 '17 at 22:35
  • @fredsbend Perhaps a valid point for the formation of this site, but Meta has already answered quite a few questions and set norms already: are you advocating "change for the sake of change" or "meta discussion for its own sake" in making this point? In Meta, my view is we add or participate as the occasion demands, which in time would hopefully reduce as the site continues to mature to the point of asymptotically approaching a very small amount a few years hence. (In an ideal world). – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 17:40
  • Comment on the questions. I find it ironic that our mod qualification questions have multiple parts to them, rather than a nice and concise question -- with tight focus -- of the kind we demand/desire for questions on the site. (Sorry, over the years I've grown to loathe multipart questions in a variety of things, including RL instructions, internet sites, and particularly in modern media). – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 17:43
  • @KorvinStarmast I understand what you are saying. It's certainly a lot easier for someone like me who's been a member since 2013 before site graduation to say that meta participation is very important. But I don't mean to emphasize setting policies over general meta participation. For example, I would expect meta participation to mostly be explaining and re-explaining existing policies to confused new users. Under "have you demonstrated leadership" I suppose I would also add "helped users by explaining existing policies for their circumstances." – fredsbend Jan 19 '17 at 17:48
  • @KorvinStarmast Regarding your general comment on the questions, the three of my questions that are in this list are multi-part only to be sure that whoever reads them understands what I'm trying to ask. – fredsbend Jan 19 '17 at 17:50
  • @fredsbend (1) on the meta thing, read you loud and clear, and all fair points. (2) on questions, not meaning to be a jerk. Writing a good question is an art. Your point in making sure what this question entails is clear is a valid use of multi part questions. Clarity in communication is so important. (Just because I have a pet peeve burdens you with no responsibility to have the same one). I just find it funny, given how much emphasis we have on tightly scoping questions, and some of the meta discussions I did participate in regarding that topic. – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 17:53
12
votes

Nathaniel

  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

This is a great question, and there are certainly many great things that we can do on this front. Let me suggest two general principles: be friendly and manage expectations.

Be friendly: Have you ever walked into small, mom-and-pop type store and been greeted by a heated debate taking place between two employees? There's a reason it's relatively rare – it's bad for business. Real life business know that customers are generally more likely to stay and buy if they are shown respect and are comfortable in their surroundings. It's not a perfect analogy, but I'd suggest that there are lessons to be applied here, such as the importance of friendly communication and no arguing in the comments of new users' posts. If a new user receives abrupt criticism and/or a dozen pings due to a lengthy scope discussion on his first question, I don't blame him for never coming back.

This is a cultural issue that cannot be addressed by the efforts of one person, not even a moderator. But in my capacity as a moderator I would a) be sure that good-faith users received a friendly word of some kind, even if it is only as I am deleting their "not an answer," b) encourage users to avoid communicating in ways that might be perceived as abrupt or rude, and c) aggressively push discussion and debate on new users' posts to chat/meta.

Manage expectations: When was the last time you walked into a store, asked about a product being prominently advertised in the window, and been told that it hasn't been sold in that establishment for the past two years? It's a bad look – it confuses and frustrates the customer, and makes it unlikely that they stay in your store, even if you have other things they may want.

I see two ways that we do something similar: a) we have a generic name that might seem to invite any question related to Christianity and b) we have hundreds of closed questions that we as regular users rarely see but that thousands of brand-new visitors see first when they find us through a search engine.

To alleviate these issues, I don't believe that we need to do anything extreme, but we do need to be aware of them, and act accordingly. Here, I'd suggest the importance of a) every new user being exposed as early as possible to the site's tour, and possibly a foundational meta post or two, and b) appropriate cleanup, locking, or deletion of closed questions. As a regular user, I have flagged hundreds of comments on closed questions and dozens of popular closed questions for a "historical lock." In doing so I hope to communicate to visitors that this is a Q&A site, not a forum, and that some types of questions are not on topic.

As moderator I will encourage users to flag such posts, and I will encourage 10k-rep users to get involved in the deletion of egregiously off-topic questions with little redeeming value. I will strive not to deviate from the current practice of the moderators with respect to the locking/deletion of such content, unless the community wishes otherwise.

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

The weight of a diamond is certainly far from trivial. In some ways it would certainly be disconcerting to have a diamond attached to my posts, comments, and chat messages in which inexperience, hastiness, and frustration appear. Hopefully it is evident that the patience afforded me during my time here has done me some good; I feel that it has, at least.

That said, I do not recollect any situations in which I failed to treat others with respect. This is partly due to my tendency to avoid unnecessary conflict; I dislike heated debates over anything, including theology. Nonetheless some have felt challenged by a post or chat message of mine, leading to some small controversy, and in response my pattern has been to demonstrate respect for others and find common ground.

Thus I do believe that I have demonstrated a pattern of respect, and I have no intention of deviating from that. I am confident that I will make mistakes, but I also believe that I have demonstrated a willingness to admit mistakes and learn from them.

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

I have made my view on this matter clear elsewhere, but as moderator my role would be to maintain the community's standards, not my own. Thus my general approach would be to use comments to encourage users to specify a tradition when I believe that it would be beneficial, emphasizing that doing so will improve the helpfulness of the answers they receive (not that the question will otherwise be closed). By extension I will thus allow/encourage the community to moderate such questions via the close vote mechanism, and not interfere with a mod-close/mod-leave-open except in egregious cases.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

I wouldn't say that I'm a fan of the "sister site" moniker, though I understand why it exists. The two sites are close relatives on the Stack Exchange network, partly because the two sites have many of the same users, and partly because the subject matter is often similar.

To me, Christianity.SE and BH.SE serve two different purposes, and this has resulted in different emphases and strengths. Boiled down to a crass generalization, I'd suggest that Christianity.SE is designed for the church (doctrine, history, etc.) and BH.SE is designed for the text (hermeneutics, original understanding, etc.). Because of the close relationship between many churches and various texts, it's natural that there will be overlap in subject matter. But the underlying approaches to asking and answering questions on the two sites will typically be different.

Given my relative inexperience on BH.SE, I have found Dan's meta post on this subject to be very helpful. The question of when to migrate can certainly be tricky, and I will heavily rely on other Christianity.SE mods and especially BH.SE mods when making migration decisions.

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

This can be a challenging distinction to make, and I've learned that complete agreement in certain cases may not be possible. But in general, I view something to be "not an answer" when it fails to demonstrate appropriate effort in answering the question. A bad/incorrect answer demonstrates such an effort, but misinterprets or misuses sources. To be more specific:

  • If a question specifies a tradition, but the answer makes no attempt to demonstrate that the view provided represents that tradition, it is not an answer. Poor defense of a view, such as with "this is what my pastor said" or "I'm Lutheran and here's what I think [about your question on Lutheranism]" moves the answer into bad/incorrect.
  • Requests for an overview or biblical basis ought to be answered with attempts at an overview or biblical basis. If an overview is requested and only one view is provided in the answer, the answer should attempt to demonstrate that only that view exists. If biblical basis is requested and the answer is "there is none," it should attempt to show that no biblical basis has been claimed by proponents, not that the biblical basis is unfounded.
  • Questions asking for specific resources, such as published works or sources for a claim, ought to be given answers providing such resources, or with evidence/an argument against the existence of such a resource. If the resource provided is inadequate in some way, it is likely bad/incorrect, but still an answer.

All this said: sometimes bad/incorrect answers should be deleted too. It can be valuable to keep some heavily downvoted content, but answers that add nothing of value, even if technically "answers" according to the above, do not benefit the site and should be liable to deletion.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

I am optimistic about the future of this site. I believe it successfully fills a valuable niche in the "Christian website" world – as far as I know, there is no other broadly cross-denominational Christian Q&A site or forum that successfully avoids debate and flame wars.

That said, I'll mention a couple areas that deserve at least a watchful eye, if not concern: expertise and community moderation.

More expertise: Elsewhere in this answer I've addressed the general importance of welcoming new users in greater detail. But I'd add here that I hope to see not just new users who have a question or two, or who happen to be able to answer a few questions that ask about their own tradition or denomination's beliefs. I also hope we attract more expert and semi-expert users from a wide variety of traditions. We do have a few of what I'd consider true experts in our active user base, but not many. We have more "semi-experts," but still not many. I'd love to see that change, so that the quality of the content we produce can continue to improve. The specific steps I outlined elsewhere (being friendly and managing expectations) I believe will help in this regard.

More community moderation: A related matter is the development of new participants in community moderation. As a moderator, I plan to continue to regularly visit the site multiple times per day, but the last thing I want to do is squash community moderation. Instead, I want to encourage active participants to gain an understanding and appreciation for the structure and guidelines of this site, and get involved in all aspects of community moderation. That means more meta posts seeking to clarify or modify guidelines, more voters (up/down, close/open, and delete/undelete), more users in the review queues, and more users querying the Data Explorer to find and address problematic questions, answers, and comments. To me this means patiently explaining challenged decisions (like declined flags and mod closures), moderating with a light touch, and making people aware of the tools they have at their disposal to keep the site running smoothly.

To put it another way, I'm not necessarily concerned if our traffic or new content metrics are stable or decline somewhat. I measure success largely by the quality of the content we produce, and indirectly by the level of community activity in creating that content and dealing with low-quality content. That's ultimately how we build a site that has an impact.

Addendum regarding pedantry: I believe that the use of precise language in our content is important. This is particularly crucial in some types of questions, because it allows us to easily explain why certain answers aren't a good fit for the site – for example, using "biblical basis" language rather than "what does the Bible say about..." allows us to ensure that answers do not become a debate, even though many new users don't realize the significant difference in these phrases.

That said, we should be careful that a desire for precise language does not morph into a legalistic pedantry that loses sight of the purpose of our guidelines. Simply adding the words "biblical basis" or "overview" to a question shouldn't automatically be enough to keep a question from being closed. And using different but equivalent language, like "biblical evidence against" or "biblical case for" or "general survey," shouldn't be considered cause for closure.

It's my impression that we normally stay on the precise language side of the continuum, though we aren't immune from tendencies toward pedantry. To combat it, it's important to teach the why of our guidelines, not just the how. We should address this sort of unhelpful pedantry when we see it, being sure, however, to do so with charity and patience, particularly because of the risk of misunderstanding.

  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

Since I joined the site I have consistently been one of the most active participants on meta, addressing the concerns of new users (e.g., here and here) and explaining guidelines (e.g., regarding duplicates, overviews, and multiple perspectives), in addition to more run-of-the-mill tag discussions and support requests. Over the last two years, I have the highest answer score on the tag of all users, with an average score of 5.9.

But I'd guess that the two most helpful things I've done have been the creation of a "New Answers to Old Questions" chat room and the writing of a new faq question/answer that explains why pastoral advice questions are off-topic here. For over a year, the NAOQ chat room got regular visits that helped ensure that great new answers weren't ignored just because the questions were old. And now our pastoral advice close vote reason directs new users to an explanation of why we don't feel we can provide personal advice.

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

The number of close votes I cast will dramatically decline if I am elected moderator. As a normal user I can vote to close any question that I personally feel that should be closed, but as moderator I must a) consider the community's wishes and common practices and b) encourage community involvement in closing questions. Thus my close votes would be normally limited to obviously and egregiously off-topic questions.

  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?

The first step would be to handle the flags appropriately. If that doesn't cause the behavior to improve, after seeking recommendations from other moderators, I'd typically move to a private chat, in which I would not focus only on the negative behaviors. If nothing changed, I'd send (or, even better, encourage another moderator to send) an email warning. And if that didn't work, sadly, suspension would be appropriate.

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

This is a pretty straight forward two-step process. The first step is to consider how important the matter is. Just because a different moderator does something at a different time or in a different manner than I would have doesn't mean that he did anything wrong.

The second step, once it's established that I consider the matter important, would be to privately discuss it in a moderator chat room. I have found Latin.SE's moderator chat room to be extremely helpful in better understanding my colleagues without having a spotlight shining on our disagreement.

Once such understanding is achieved, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to make it clear that moderators disagree – I don't believe that maintaining the illusion of unanimity is always necessary. But when this is done, it should be done carefully and respectfully, after internal discussions, and with the consent of other moderators.

  • 2
    I'd like you to expand on question 6: "What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?" More or less, I had in mind a specific thing that I think threatens every SE site and online communities in general. That problem is the tendency for users to follow the letter of the guidelines instead of the spirit. This phenomenon is certainly not limited to new users. In fact, I think it occurs more frequently with the older ones. In a word, I'd call it pedantry. Do you believe it a risk to this community? What might you do about it? – fredsbend Jan 16 '17 at 22:33
  • @fredsbend Updated. – Nathaniel Jan 17 '17 at 14:00
8
votes

Mr. Bultitude

  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

For one thing, there are things the community currently does well on this front: commenting with welcome messages to new users, giving them accolade when they ask good questions or post good answers or when they come to meta or chat, etc. One thing I'll try to do is encourage the community to keep at it and lead by example when I can.

For another, I'll try to keep my ears to the ground to see how new users' posts are being treated in general. One problem that's recently been noted is that some new users' questions generate lots of back-and-forth arguments about whether it's on-topic (and how to make it so) in comments. While that's not always avoidable (some people have good questions but aren't good at expressing them), we can surely do better. I think it's mostly edge-case questions that result in this, so I'd try to take note of exactly what types of questions result in such comment chains so that we as a community can figure out how best to handle them with minimal back-and-forth in the future.

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

Fear and trembling is good for the soul. I am concerned, as I think all moderators should be, that my (past or future) words or actions could misfire. At my worst I can be cold, snarky, or snippy. I hope that when I err it will be pointed out with grace so that I can make amends. I know that sometimes such correction will lack grace, or I may perceive it to. That's okay. As a moderator, it'll be important to keep an eye on the bigger picture. The overall well-being and well-oiledness of the site will become considerably more important, as my own personal role and ego will become correspondingly less so. Fear and trembling. Breathe in, breathe out. Don't take things personally. That's the advice I'll give myself.

As for showing understanding toward others' views, I think I have. I observe that one of the greatest features of C.SE at its best is fostering greater understanding of diverse viewpoints without bickering. So if this is important for moderators in general, it's doubly so for moderators on this site.

For me in particular, I've often engaged with fellow users in comments, on meta, and in chat, on refining or applying site guidelines. I've also had numerous theological debates in chat. I believe I've always been respectful, but feel free to comment below (he said with fear and trembling).

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

This particular example is contentious. I think the community should come up with further guidance for handling these (kudos to Nathaniel for trying). It makes sense that we don't have everything hammered out yet; I don't think we have to have a rigid set of rules on exegesis questions, but we barely have guidelines at the moment. That needs to change. (Yeah, I know, "Be the change...")

As for what I'd do with them as a moderator, I might comment that the community hasn't figured these out quite yet, with a link to the meta post I linked above. I'd close those that refer to controversial verses that clearly need scoping to avoid popularity contest voting. Beyond that I'd probably be pretty laissez faire.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

Not enough. I'd like to get a firmer grasp on the relationship between the sites whether or not I become a moderator, but if I do I'll prioritize it higher. Ironically, that means that becoming a mod on C.SE means I'd start spending more time than before on BH.SE. I think the main thing for mods to understand about the relationship is what questions can be migrated or whether to recommend a user go to the other site; fortunately, I'd have the wisdom of Caleb, who is a moderator on both sites, and of various users who are active on both, to learn from.

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

I've had different opinions on this at different times, and I suspect my opinion will continue to shift slightly. Here's my current thinking:

a) To be considered an answer (i.e. not NAA) it should ideally explicitly identify its citations (authors, websites, denominations, etc.) as being a part of the requested tradition. There are edge cases where the person may not do this but it's still a valid answer. If I know this, ideally I'd add the attributions myself. If I'm not sure, I would probably comment and yield to the community's judgment.

b) i) For overview questions, it's still a bit hazy to what degree an answer needs to be a complete overview to qualify as an answer. But this would be my guiding principle:

I can understand making the case that an incomplete overview is still an "overview" and therefore more deserving of downvotes than NAA flags. But it still needs to actually attempt to be an overview. Giving one of the four views is not an attempt, no matter how substantial its treatment. Giving two or three views could be an attempt.

That may not resolve all cases, but here again, I'd yield to the community's judgment, and if it becomes a common problem, I'd try to make sure a community consensus is reached.

ii) For Biblical basis questions, I'd say much the same. It needs to attempt to offer a Biblical basis, in the sense that it shouldn't rely primarily on personal opinion, tradition, or a single isolated verse. Multiple verses plus exposition is ideal.

c) For questions that are primarily a reference request, an answer needs to provide a reference (while avoiding the trap of being a link-only answer). For questions that ask a detailed question and say something like, "Sources please!" I'd probably give leeway, while commenting that they haven't completely answered the question unless they actually provided sources.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

There's always a risk that a site's culture can become too insular, especially a site with complex rules. The complexity of the rules and culture can feed off one another. See question 1.

Related to that, any time rules are complex (or present at all), there's a risk that they'll be enforced too rigidly. Basically, it's the conflict between the spirit and letter of the rules or guidelines (I swear I was going to say this before I read that comment). We have a tough needle to thread: we have to make sure that we consistently apply the guidelines, but we also have to make sure that we're not losing the forest for the trees. And our goal of consistent enforcement is complicated by the fact that we have many different people doing the enforcing.

Overall I think we do a decent job. But we have to have people attentive enough to the day-to-day operations of the site to notice when people are starting to be too pedantic in their applications of some (or all) guidelines. It's very difficult to find the right balance between the spirit and letter; we do have to be sticklers sometimes. But I tend to think, with attentiveness (which the community currently has), the pendulum will swing between the two sides -- though hopefully not between the extremes. I'm not sure there's anything I can do as a moderator that we can't all do as regular users, besides the benefit of the bully pulpit.

  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

I have 8 questions, 16 answers (not including six community promotion ad submissions), 87 comments, and 466 votes (439 up, 27 down) on Meta.

5 of the 8 questions are from before I had the vote to close privilege, so they were calling the community's attention to questions that I had flagged to be closed, hadn't been closed, and (I felt) should be. One of the others was a suggestion for an Upper Room chatbot, which had lukewarm reception and which I might try to program someday. Another called attention to an old post on Meta that I wondered if it might do good to revisit; it garnered some comments and no answers. Lastly, I asked a question about guidance on tagging, which received two great answers that I revisit from time to time.

Four of my answers are about tag synonyms, all of which were acted upon mostly or completely. The rest are either about a particular question (in which I give my opinion on whether or not it should be closed), or revisit a site policy (in which I defend the current policy, which remained in force in each case), or provide guidance to new or struggling users on how to use the site effectively.

My best contribution to Meta has been my comments and votes. I view just about every Meta question, and try to make sure that if I don't answer it, my perspective is represented. And I try to give constructive comments when necessary. I think I've been an effective, if somewhat reactive and behind-the-scenes, participant on Meta.

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

I favor the latter theory, so I'd likely reduce my involvement in the close vote queue. I believe that a relatively light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. I also believe that a moderator's role is more to follow the community's lead than the other way around.

In general, I'll vote in these sorts of cases:

  • The question is very clearly close-worthy or very clearly not
  • The question is an edge case, but controversial, and the community is in an uproar; here it might be better to start a meta post than to vote, however
  • The question is an edge case, but I have my own opinion and it's been languishing in the queue for a while with no resolution

And I'll avoid voting in these sorts of situations:

  • The question is an edge case but the community is having no trouble moving it through the queue
  • The question is an edge case, it's attracting mild disagreements, and I don't have a strong opinion on what should happen to it
  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?

It would depend on the particulars. But here are the basics of how I'd approach it:

If a comment thread became an argument (or any sort of discussion!) I'd comment that this isn't the place and (if it's worth preserving) move it to chat. If flaggers specifically objected to the user's tone, or if he was particularly argumentative, I'd warn him (privately and lightly at first) that debates are not what this site is for, while bearing in mind that users, even argumentative ones, are not often argumentative on purpose; discussing the problem with the problematic user, rather than lecturing him, could be a better cure. Depending on how it progresses from there, I might try to continue discussing it (while trying to praise what I see him doing right: in this example, "a steady stream of valuable answers"), but if he continues having trouble I'd have no qualms about giving him a day in the penalty box.

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

If I felt strongly about it, I'd ask the mod for his reasoning and see if we can come to an agreement from there. If I recognized it as a gray area, I'd probably let it go and let him do his thing and me do mine. In either case, if it reveals an area where the community lacks consensus on what to do in a major set of situations, I would raise the issue on meta.

  • I like your answer to question 6. I believe you have one of my votes. – fredsbend Jan 19 '17 at 1:58
7
votes

bruised reed

  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

Positive engagement similar to what I'm already doing. As a mod I would be particularly careful to explain things in event of content deletion - I remember well the feeling of having content deleted before I started to come to grips with the site standards.

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

I've observed these difficulties and been on different sides of such disagreements with respect to moderative actions. I'd like to think I've learned a lot from these interactions and would approach future instances with greater wisdom, but we all have blind spots and I would be sensitive to feedback from others to improve in this area.

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

I generally favor a more permissive approach, but there are some passages that are more contentious and subject to conflicting interpretations than others. In more extreme cases of the latter (eg Matt 16:18), I'd be inclined to close and leave a comment encouraging the OP to refine their scope; otherwise, I'd be looking at how the community handles the situation and only stepping in if things start blowing up.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

While I'm nowhere near as active on BH.SE, I've observed things enough there to realise what they do better and to recommend migrations when appropriate (ie when focusing on biblical textual analysis independant of doctrinal/denominational interpretations or applications).

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

NAA ought to be applied when there is a significant mismatch between the question asked and what is posted as answer - eg: in general, a related comment, but not an actual answer; re a) answers from perspectives not requested; re b) no overivew/biblical basis; re c) no sources; - otherwise it's just bad/incorrect.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

The return of Christ, and I'm not going to be able to prevent that sorry.

Re the site, I think things have a good head of steam up and are heading on the right track. The main threats that could eventuate would be community disengagement and/or gradual changes in site culture and practice due to neglect, heavy-handed moderation, poor succession planning etc - I don't think any of these are particular issues at the moment due to the current culture of robust but generally polite and respectful discussion regarding site issues that presides on Meta. I think maintaining that is key to maintaining site health in general.

  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

Honestly, my contributions on Meta are probably a little modest compared to other candidates (currently 12 questions and 23 answers), but I certainly value its place in the scheme of things and regularly provide new users with links to relevant Meta content.

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

Since earning my steward badge with regard to close votes I've adopted a somewhat lighter touch - I vote to close clear violations of site standards otherwise I usually let the rest of the community handle things. This is what I'd do as a mod as well.

  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 judge each flag on it's merits, but I imagine I would most likely be culling some of the comments in question and giving feedback regarding the purpose that comments have in the SE model. If this doesn't sink in after repetition I would consult with other mods regarding further moderative action.

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

I'd almost certainly ask them about it in the mod chatroom in order to understand their perspective. If the wider community disagreed with the moderative action as well, there are pleny of mechanisms for further resolution and I would participate in further discussions within that framework.

  • 1
    I think you're selling yourself a bit short on #7. If nothing else your comments pointing out specific misunderstandings that new posters have on a regular basis and pointing them toward the most relevant guidelines on meta is a significant force for the good of the community. – Caleb Jan 18 '17 at 19:40
  • @Caleb good point, I didn't think of things that way - I'll update it – bruised reed Jan 18 '17 at 19:45
  • Could you expand on question 6 please? Perhaps those things aren't problems, so how can they be prevented. – fredsbend Jan 19 '17 at 2:36
  • @fredsbend updated. Basically, when site issues arise you need to talk them through - Meta is the place for that. – bruised reed Jan 19 '17 at 5:14
6
votes

KorvinStarmast

  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

First off, by providing a warm welcome via comment, and secondly by cleaning up comments with more vigor. Generally, by making clear to new users that any SE takes some getting used to; even veteran SE users from other SE sites need to approach a new SE site with an open mind to existing community norms. To get more users to become regular users is based on encouragement to participate, to "hang in there while you get used to this sites norms." Positively toned feedback for improving questions and answers will encourage that. (That's what worked for me at my first SE site, and also worked here when I first stuck my toe in the water here).

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

I've actually set an inconsistent pattern to date, some days having an abundance of Christian charity and other days having little or none when I log in. As I've learned (in the past year) through being a mod at a different internet site, I have to adopt a particular persona before logging in as mod: the kinder, gentler version of me. I have found that I can do that. That's how I'd deal with moderator responsibilities to hold myself to a higher standard: before logging in, get into role.

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

First, comment, to give the question asker a chance to revise the question. It is in my view important to empower question askers and encourage the question asker to have a stake in a question revision and take ownership of it so that it is a closer fit to site guidelines. Links to meta for questions about that tag would also help, even though "meta" as a source of insight for a new user is a real mixed bag. (It's in the nature of the beast, SE wise, but has some serious drawbacks). The tendency to get long winded by many in meta discussions (me too) can lead to a negative reaction when a summary of what the meta decided isn't all that easy to divine ... particularly to a new user and a user new to SE.

Bottom line: use communication to get the person asking the question to have a stake in forming the question so that it fits site guidelines. You learn more by doing.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

The participation overlaps, the topics overlap, and it's for me an interesting synergy. I do like the separation of domains: a certain class of questions is answered based primarily on textual analysis rather than belief and practice. I see it as healthy.

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad / incorrect answer that merits down votes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

It's like that judge said back in the 60's about porn: I know it when I see it. Hi, my name is Korvin, and I am neither a bot nor an algorithm. (I realize that this statement may perturb the larger SE community). I use judgment formed over some five+ decades of using my brain. My general approach is to read the question again, match the answer to the question and see how much, if any, of the answer I can link to question elements and bounce against guidelines. (I still have to sometimes go back to meta on the overview/basis questions). The more overlap to the question itself the more it will tend to look like down vote; the less overlap, then "not an answer" begins to arise. Some times it's an obvious case of commenting on another answer. Spam is obvious and is delete meat.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

The hurdle one has to jump in order to "get" the norms and last five-six years of community consensus on "what we do well" versus "what we don't do well." The internet audience is widely varied, and increasingly of a short attention span mind set. We can't fix that, those are all prospective new users, only a few of whom will find this site appealing. This site's prime attraction is high signal to noise ratio, and knowing that we can't be all things to all people. To prevent that being an obstacle to site success, I'd emphasize that feature to our new visitors and to address a second theme: the immense benefit of inter denominational dialogue versus interdenominational bickering so common Everywhere Else On The Internet. With that in mind, I would probably apply the mod broom to bickering in comments with greater frequency that is done now: that current community habit that has the visual effect on a new user of indicating that we more like a forum, and that noise over signal is acceptable. I don't think it is. We are NOT like other sites, as so many canned comments declare to new users. Well, let's live that a little better. Use chat more for the comment induced back-and-forth.

  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

My meta activity has been sparse as I have found few reasons to add more noise to meta; most of the time on a question in meta I often find someone else has already pointed out something that I either agree with, or they said it far better than I could have. Let's face it, meta is noisy in part because it has to be; I am not interested in just adding to the noise. One of my few useful contributions there was my point on how we don't try to be all things to all people, and that our virtue is a favorable signal to noise ration. I asked a hard question on meta that was instantly unpopular -- about putting up with trolls -- and discovered that the emphasis on Christian charity and tolerance is the norm here.

  • From a Christian perspective, that's very encouraging.

  • Since we are technically not a Christian site, but an SE site (per the much linked Meta post) it was discouraging since over tolerance of trolling adds to noise, not signal.

    My sole promise of future use of meta is to be concise, and not yield to the temptation to being verbose that meta discussions bring. If something needs attention, I'll address it in meta with my best signal/noise capabilities.

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

Treat that power with care. With some exceptions, my general approach would be to let community moderation/interaction (close recommendation, comments, efforts to improve) first have a chance to get the Question or Answer to be a better fit. Give it a chance. If the best efforts of our users fail, or if there is no sincere quid pro quo from whomever posted low quality (or whatever sin is applicable) then all a mod close does is speed up the process.

  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 above, comment wars are a bad idea. IF I see a comment war, I'll be most inclined to move that to chat and get it off of the page. That is what chat is for. Comment wars add noise that we don't need. (And mea culpa for a few of those that I've been involved in as a user). Were I to be a mod, I commit to going in role and use comments only to clarify and otherwise invite folks to chat. Once again, and I can't say this enough from the perspective of a mod: comment wars need to be nipped in the bud and binned. They are noise, not signal.

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

Assume best of intent unless otherwise shown. Then communicate with that mod with my two cents. Discuss off screen. Come to an accord, consensus. Press on.

Final remarks:

  1. Vote for me and I'll set you free. (Just kidding; Jesus is the way the truth and the life ... and the Truth shall set you free).
  2. I'm sorta new, and have not always logged in with the abundance of Christian charity foremost in my interactions here. I thus have tossed in some cutting comments or been otherwise prickly where that is not helpful to this site. With that track record, I am likely to attract no votes. But if you think the mod team needs new blood (I find the diamond mods here very good) then I'm up for the challenge. As I said, I can present the kinder gentler me.
5
votes

curiousdannii

I've entered a couple of previous Stack Exchange elections before, but this is the first one in which I think I have a decent chance of being elected. So that has made me think a bit more carefully about these questions. But it also feels a little different because I think this site is, on the whole, running very well, and I'm not entering the election with any dreams of any culture changes I'd like to try to initiate. It's hard to be political when your campaign is "more of the same!" ;) Well, enough of that, let's get to it.


  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

I must admit that at present I frequently don't add comments when I vote to close a question or flag a post. Partly that's because I do a lot on my phone where I can't use any userscript tools, partly it's just laziness, and partly it's because sometimes it's more useful (I think) for mods to be adding those kind of comments. For example, I don't always add a comment when I flag as NAA, because when the post is deleted I wouldn't be able to see the user's responses or requests for it to be undeleted once they've fixed it. Some things are just much more useful for either the 10k rep users or mods to do. If elected I'd make sure that with all such actions I make I also post comments that are both explanatory and welcoming.

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

While I sometimes get into quite heated debates in chat (and once on another site's chat lost my temper in exasperation), I try to keep a cool and respectful tone everywhere on the network. But I don't really think this is something I should be judging myself. There are a couple of users who I've had very intense debates with in chat who might think I don't meet their expectations for a moderator, but I genuinely don't know what they'd say. Feel free to ask them if you like.

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

In the Meta discussion Which “no-tradition-specified” exegesis questions should be closed? I posted about how I see the levels of exegesis questions, and Nathaniel posted a proposal for stricter rules for exegesis questions. I liked his proposal, but there hasn't been much discussion either way. As a mod I would want to revisit this discussion to try to get more community input and get closer to a consensus position.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

The two sites obviously have closely related subject matters, but have very different purposes and practises. This site is about documenting the beliefs and practices of Christian groups, while BH.SE is about the theory behind Biblical interpretation as well as a place to practice that task. Alongside the obvious differences like BH.SE not being restricted to Christian interpretations, perhaps the most illuminative difference is that new, individual/unique, and exploratory answers are forbidden here, but encouraged at BH.SE. If new users are asked whether they want established or innovative answers then that would go a long way to helping them understand which is the appropriate site for the questions.

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

I am pretty strict on whether questions are attempts to answer the specific questions asked, or whether they are instead comments on the topic, or questioning/disputing the premise of the question etc. It's hard to say how I distinguish them though, it's feels mostly very intuitive! I guess I am usually looking for explicit markers, phrases like "Denomination X believes ...", quotes from authoritative sources, what links/references are given. If an answer looks like it could be an answer, but there are no explicit signs, then I comment asking for it to be edited to add those explicit signs (usually through quotes or references.) If the post is not promptly edited (within a couple of days) then it is appropriate for it to be deleted; it can always be undeleted if the author later adds those explicit markers.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

Until recently I would have thought that the overall culture of this site was very healthy. But during this election comments from several people have made me wonder whether we are too abrasive in our community moderation some times.

I don't think the site scope should be loosened, but I think it could be applied better. What I would like to see is:

  1. Off-topic questions quickly closed (even more so than now) so that they are closed before significant discussion or before answers are posted, so that the authors don't think that the standards are being applied inconsistently or that the community is divided over what is allowed here.
  2. Only one or two comments on those questions to explain what needs to be done to bring the question into line.
  3. Good Meta pages explaining our off-topic question categories (we're mostly there now, I'd have to check again to see which ones are lacking.)
  4. A community which on the whole is better at recognising which direction a question could be taken in order for it to be reopened. Ie, is a truth question about a topic for which an overview could be comfortably asked and answered, or does it really need to be limited to a single perspective? When someone asks what "Christianity" says and the community directs them to add a perspective, we do them a disservice if the overview format isn't also suggested, and we may give the impression that the site conventions matter much more than the user and their inquiries. The site standards are very important, but an increasingly mature community will know how to apply them and not merely that they need to be applied.
  5. A culture and community that is ready to jump in and help edit posts once the OP indicates the direction they would like their question to be taken, even though they may not know the particular site conventions we like to use, such as the phrases "biblical basis" or "overview".
  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

I've posted lots on Meta, though to be honest my posts are often of the shorter kind rather than the longer explanations which end up being FAQs. I'm very happy and quick to post an answer in a Meta discussion in the spirit of "workshopping" our policies, but often someone else is the one to write up the community's final consensus. For example, see How are “Strangers on the Internet” less legitmate than people you meet in real life? where my short answer is the highest scoring answer, but followed up with longer and more detailed answers by David and Caleb. Working together as a team is great!

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

With the clear cut cases, I don't expect my voting patterns to change (ie, fast and hard). For the borderline cases, those that are too broad, or not quite clear enough, I will refrain until I would be the 4th or 5th close voter. A pet hate of mine is when a moderator will vote in a queue to keep a question open, thus taking the question out of the queue. I will try to remember not to do that!

  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?

Answering is a privilege not a right, and highly disruptive users should not be participating on this site, even if their answers are top notch. But we'd have to take these users on a case by case basis, and probably try to mediate on chat first. There's no single process to take.

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

If it was something I felt very strongly about I'd probably raise the issue in a question on Meta so that the whole community can voice their thoughts. Mods are given the power to unilaterally close questions, which is a good thing, but disputes over specific questions should be solved like normal.

  • Look at you parachuting in fashionably late with all the right answers! Actually I disagree with you on #1 (I think community members explaining what's wrong with a post goes over better than hearing it from the mod whose name is next to the delete message) but the point is trivial and in general this is good stuff and I wish you luck in when the STV numbers are racked. Very thoughtful on #6 and in general about the health of things and what might be done to improve the status quo without giving up on existing guidelines. – Caleb Jan 21 '17 at 12:20
  • @Caleb I'm really thinking about comments on posts that are about the be deleted - a <10K user just won't see any responses. Someone who can see and take action at any changes is better than me. But in general normal users are better than mods, so that new users will know that it's not the mods running the show. But also, silence from a mod who deletes your post feels bad too, so the ideal would be an explanation from a normal user and a short comment from a mod saying they're deleting it for the reasons the other user gave. – curiousdannii Jan 21 '17 at 12:24
  • Who cares about responses in those cases? I mean I guess I would care if it was a regular thing but the number of times people reply to comments stating WHY their post doesn't meet community guidelines after the post is deleted is so minuscule as to be negligible ... in fact I'm pretty sure even for mods they don't generate an inbox notice which is why I mention the flag link or meta as a way to request review or get help, not comments. – Caleb Jan 21 '17 at 12:28
  • 1
    I often (not always) do leave a short comment about the specific problem I'm deleting for and how to get it undeleted if they want so we agree there, but I really appreciate it when somebody has already done the hard work of identifying the problem and explaining it to the user esp. with relevant links to meta far that issue. – Caleb Jan 21 '17 at 12:35
  • @Caleb I'm sure your way is best. So I'll start leaving more comments with my flags. – curiousdannii Jan 21 '17 at 12:44
  • (Being neither a mod nor a 10K user on any site I have very little experience with seeing how things play out after a post has been deleted. I expect my understanding of moderation conventions is out of step in several ways.) – curiousdannii Jan 21 '17 at 13:43
  • 3
    That's a "problem" that will easily be remedied were you to prevail in the elections. My "disagreement" on this issue is so minor in the scope of things it won't even factor in to considering my vote. The same goes for a lot of candidates say about things they just have yet to see from the other end of things. – Caleb Jan 21 '17 at 13:59
  • 1
    Great answers overall, and I'm particularly impressed by number 6. I observe that the problem in such cases is often that different commenters have different opinions on what direction is the best one to fix a problematic question. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 21 '17 at 16:55
  • I want to say I'd vote for you. You are an exemplary member! Your content is top notch, you understand the site policies, and you are easy to understand and well-mannered. But I find your way of doing things tending past a point that I would not like. Let me explain: – fredsbend Jan 21 '17 at 22:14
  • I wrote Question 6 with a specific kind of problem in mind, but really the inability to articulate it. The word we came up with in chat was "pedantry" but that wasn't quite right. I believe "following protocol over practice" fits better. I believe you vote to close too quickly. I feel like you approach possibly off-topic questions linearly. You close, wait for it to be closed, then perhaps work to make it better. – fredsbend Jan 21 '17 at 22:19
  • The problem is that this approach often decreases potential. Potentially good questions are more likely to remain closed. Instead, fixing questions, if possible, should be the first priority. It's part of helping the asker get helpful answers. If I believe a question can be fixed with some simple edits, I do that first, don't vtc, then comment explaining what I've done. Sometimes they revert the edit, at which time I usually return to vtc and/or down vote. – fredsbend Jan 21 '17 at 22:19
  • 1
    As an example, your suggestion in Question 3 to make all "non-perspective scoped exegesis questions off-topic" shows a conclusion that supports the habit of wanting "protocol" instead of dealing with the difficult situations of "practice". Exegesis questions are difficult for this site. They can be complex or simple, charged or benign, and even stupid or intriguing. With such a range of reactions from a single question type, handling them case-by-case is surely the appropriate "protocol". – fredsbend Jan 21 '17 at 22:20
  • 2
    @fredsbend I too believe that fixing questions should be our priority. If a question can be fixed with simple edits I already do that. It's when the edits would be a little more involved, with more input from the OP needed, that I will vote to close. The purpose is still for the questions to be fixed. But I don't think you have given a good argument that for such questions the first action chronologically shouldn't be closure. – curiousdannii Jan 21 '17 at 22:31
  • 3
    If you think the 'pedantry' is becoming a substantial problem you really should start a discussion on Meta outlining how you think things should be done differently. It's only fair that we expect our new mods to follow the current site conventions. By all means argue for a change in conventions. If elected I would go along with whatever those conventions are. – curiousdannii Jan 21 '17 at 22:37
  • 1
-2
votes

Peter Turner

  1. How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

As a moderator, I don't think that's all my job to convert new users into regular users. But I would try not to scare people away, or necessarily use the same "Welcome to C.SE, you totally misunderstood the point of this site" form letter on everyone.

We can't convert everyone (right?) but we can invest some time in users occasionally, maybe ask Meta posts for them in hopes that they invest some thought into stuff. It's a failure in StackExchange model that allows people to ask questions and ditch them (and this annoys everyone who invests any time in repairing broken windows).

  1. Given the intensely personal nature of religious beliefs many visitors to this site have a hard time separating theological positions from the way the site functions and is moderated. As a moderator a diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers, comments, and chat messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How concerned are you that you may have or will say things that don't reflect the tone and tenor expected of a moderator? Do you think you've set a pattern to date of showing understanding towards others' views even when you disagree?

I've spent a good time in self-imposed exile, I don't harbor any ill will. I had a great time writing for the blog with my Protestant brothers. I would love to have more of these disagreements. Chesterton would just use those disagreements as fodder for new books. I'd use them as fodder for new and interesting questions.

  1. For many types of questions, the community has established relatively clear guidance on when to close and when to leave open. But not all question types have such guidance, so I'd like to know how you'd handle one in particular, to get an idea of your general approach. What would you personally do about exegesis questions that don't specify which tradition's view is desired? Comment, close, delete, what?

There's not a lot of questions about practice here and less questions about art appreciation. Both of these, when I've asked them, have been met with skepticism about their appropriateness, but I know why they're appropriate.

Because they fit with the original intent of the site and, more importantly, often have real answers with real citations.

  1. How do you understand this site's relationship with our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics?

Biblical Hermeneutics is a better place to ask pedantic Bible questions that don't require a theological bent to determine the answer. I've asked a few questions there and I like this site more.

  1. How do you distinguish between a bad/incorrect answer that merits downvotes, and a post that is "not an answer" and ought to be deleted? For example, consider answers to questions that a) have denomination/tradition scoping, b) request an overview/biblical basis, or c) ask for sources.

Basically, intolerant answers are unwelcome here. One must tolerate the theological axioms used by the OP, even if everything written in the answer contradicts those axioms. The contradictions also have to be from the same vein of faith tradition that brought on the question in the first place.

Heresy, says Mr. Chesterton, is sticking with one truth and elevating it above all the other truths. So, saying, I can recognize that we're all on the same track - we just need to broaden that track. But for the purposes of this site, staying on the one track is all that is necessary.

  1. What, if anything, threatens the continued success of this site? How will you work to remedy/prevent that?

I suppose if everyone was like me and took a new job and had some more kids we wouldn't have much of a site, I wouldn't do anything to prevent that! Affable Geek is sorely missed and I don't think we'll be able to raise another. I hoped to schism this site for a while, but there's not enough interest to start a Catholic.SE so really, what we need is more unity in diversity (to coin a phrase) and more fun!

  1. How has your meta site participation to date been beneficial? Have you worked toward community actions that did good? Have you demonstrated leadership (e.g. made a post now tagged faq, suggested a now conventional policy, etc.)?

I think I've done this a lot in the past. I need to re-familiarize myself with what problems the site currently faces.

I have asked almost 4% of the total number of questions asked on meta. That's pretty meta.

  1. How will being a moderator affect your close votes? A moderator's close vote holds immediate power; your close vote immediately closes the question. Some suggest no difference in close voting behavior while others suggest that a light touch is necessary to keep the community engaged. Do you favor one of these theories or something else?

Well, close is still "on hold", that's the light touch, I was glad when they changed the verbiage to reflect the actual purpose of closing. I would probably vote to close more often as a moderator, but I would always take the time to leave detailed reasons and what I think it would take for me to reopen.

  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?

Even if a user speaks in the tongues of angels, but has not love, then that user is a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. To which, I gently hit the mute button.

Users with vendettas against moderators are probably better than users with vendettas against other users.

That said, I guess I probably will take my last name off my account if I'm elected.

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

I would give them the benefit of the doubt, meaning, I would assume that bias and censorship are not the goals of the other moderators. Then, if I cared strongly enough, I would do a little research and present why I think the question merits being reopened in the mod chat.

After trying twice, dust is kicked from heels and we leave it at that.

  • 4
    Your answers to 3 and 6 indicate fairly strong disagreements with the community at large about what sorts of questions are allowed; would you yield to the community's judgment when dealing with such questions, or would you try to set a new course using your moderator powers? You mention questions about practice (which I think could be in scope but need to be asked very carefully) and art appreciation (which, without seeing examples, I find hard to imagine as appropriate questions). – Mr. Bultitude Jan 18 '17 at 17:44
  • Also, can you elaborate on your "mute button" approach in question 9? Are you referring to suspending the user? Would you talk to the user first? – Mr. Bultitude Jan 18 '17 at 17:53
  • My position on #3 is pretty consistent with the original intent of the site, which has never truly been over-ruled. I'm not talking about pastoral care, I'm talking about questions like this which was closed for the very reason I'm running for moderator. I'm not sure how #6 diverges from everyone else's opinions. we've got an art tag. – Peter Turner Jan 18 '17 at 19:05
  • Yeah, mute button would be a suspension. I got suspended on programmers.se once (maybe twice) a few years ago, did me a bit of good. The reasons for the suspension would be in an email, I believe. – Peter Turner Jan 18 '17 at 19:08

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