2021 Moderator Election

nomination began
Aug 16 at 20:00
election began
Aug 23 at 20:00
election ended
Aug 31 at 20:00
candidates
2
positions
1

On Stack Exchange, we believe the core moderators should come from the community, and be elected by the community itself through popular vote. We hold regular elections to determine who these community moderators will be.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Our general criteria for moderators is as follows:

  • patient and fair
  • leads by example
  • shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words
  • open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

Every election has three phases:

  1. Nomination
  2. Primary
  3. Election

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!

Additional Links

Questionnaire
The community team has compiled questions from meta for the candidates to answer.
  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?

[Answer 1 here]

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

[Answer 2 here]

  1. What is your opinion on how strict close-voting should be in Travel.SE? As a mod, would you try to carve out a very strict definition of what "Travel" is or be open minded and allow as many travel-tangential questions as possible?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. Could you give up to three examples of your posts on meta which illustrate your moderating style?

[Answer 4 here]

  1. There have been a number of meta discussions about questions under the tags identify-this and where-on-earth and their suitability for the site. As there's no clear consensus, the fate of such questions (remaining open vs. being closed vs. being closed then reopened ad nauseam) often seems to be almost entirely down to chance. Would you be willing to define a clear policy towards such questions? If so, how would you go about defining the policy?

[Answer 5 here]

  1. Unfortunately, at some point people will call you names, accuse you of colluding, being biased or other such insults. It just happens. How would you deal with this?

[Answer 6 here]

  1. What's your view on list questions? Here's a Travel Meta link and a Main Meta link for background. Do you think Travel.SE should be more or less accommodating to these kinds of questions?

[Answer 7 here]

  1. In which timezone are you located - or at least located most of the time? Our website receives traffic/flags from all corners of the world so it's important to have timezone coverage.

[Answer 8 here]

  1. What actions do you plan to take for users performing serial and/or targetted downvoting?

[Answer 9 here]

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

[Answer 10 here]

Rory Alsop

I've ... seen things you wouldn't believe... :-)

I've been a moderator on various Stack Exchange sites for over 10 years, so I know how the systems work, the challenges, the patience required. And I am a very keen traveller, having been brought up in countries 9000 miles apart by a father who was a pilot, explorer and Greenpeace fan.

Questionnaire
  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?

Initially remove confrontational comments and ask them to be more aware of the impact they have. Then strongly encourage them not to use comments like that. Then suspensions if needs be - nobody is more important than the community, even a high rep user needs to behave

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

Initially discuss it in chat - many disagreements get solved quickly there. If no resolution, but it is important enough, escalation to other mods in the Teacher's Lounge for an independent opinion, or to CMs themselves is pretty painless. Most mods aren't so personally invested in a particular post/action etc that they won't have a sensible discussion.

  1. What is your opinion on how strict close-voting should be in Travel.SE? As a mod, would you try to carve out a very strict definition of what "Travel" is or be open minded and allow as many travel-tangential questions as possible?

Over the years I have been a member of Travel.SE I have seen the scope change a little over time. That's healthy. I believe in taking cues from the community - flags show me what the community disagrees with. Changes of scope can be discussed on meta, otherwise things that are close to scope here are fine in my book. The community here will tell any mods when they are wrong - not a shy bunch :-)

  1. Could you give up to three examples of your posts on meta which illustrate your moderating style?

One from Security.SE, one from Music.SE, and one from Parenting.SE

  1. There have been a number of meta discussions about questions under the tags identify-this and where-on-earth and their suitability for the site. As there's no clear consensus, the fate of such questions (remaining open vs. being closed vs. being closed then reopened ad nauseam) often seems to be almost entirely down to chance. Would you be willing to define a clear policy towards such questions? If so, how would you go about defining the policy?

I don't think it is my place to define such a policy, however I am more than happy to encourage debate if we thank that will help finally conclude. In reality, if the community if 50:50 split on this, my view is that they can be kept, and we encourage those who really don't want to see them to add those tags to their block list. (Block lists are amazing, by the way - they are essential on the bigger sites if you only have an interest in one part of the subject, so you aren't overloaded with posts)

  1. Unfortunately, at some point people will call you names, accuse you of colluding, being biased or other such insults. It just happens. How would you deal with this?

Having had this happen on occasion on almost all the sites I moderate (and on one or two that I don't!) I have no problem with it. I don't take it personally. On the very few occasions I have felt it get to me, I have handed over to another mod and taken some time away from the keyboard. This isn't a stressful role. We all have that freedom to get up from the desk for a wee while, and come back refreshed.

  1. What's your view on list questions? Here's a Travel Meta link and a Main Meta link for background. Do you think Travel.SE should be more or less accommodating to these kinds of questions?

In general, I am not a fan, as they don't fit the SE model, so it's hard to reward answers properly (ie more than one may be equally correct) but Travel is one of the more subjective sites, and as such we need to have a bit of leeway. I am used to doing this - the sites I mod range from quite strict (Security) to very subjective (Parenting or Music) with others in the middle (Sound Design) so it's not a challenge.

  1. In which timezone are you located - or at least located most of the time? Our website receives traffic/flags from all corners of the world so it's important to have timezone coverage.

I'm in Scotland, so UTC or UTC+1 depending on the time of year.

  1. What actions do you plan to take for users performing serial and/or targetted downvoting?

Automated systems do most of the hard work here, but if there is a suspicion of serial or targeted downvoting, then I carry out initial research before (usually) handing over the evidence to CMs so they can use their backend tooling to dig deeper.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

For most of the time it's admin - clean up, handling flags, improving tag synonyms, removing spammers, welcoming new folks, guiding. We also help calm arguments, pop folks in timeout to cool off, encourage growth, work with mods on other sites to migrate questions.

Midavalo

Hi I'm Midavalo and I'm nominating myself for moderator on Travel Stack Exchange. I am married with 4 kids (3 teens, 1 younger). I grew up in New Zealand, but now live with my family in Mexico where we work as volunteers in the local communities and orphanages, mostly (since Covid hit) in trying to meet food and housing need by raising funds to distribute food into vulnerable communities and orphanages, as well as working with a non-profit organisation to build houses that are gifted to families in need.

I believe I would make a good moderator here as I am fair and patient, willing to pay attention to what is going on and lend an understanding ear to the users. I can be firm and decisive if needed, while also working with the user community to allow the community to self regulate through voting, open/close queues, and flags etc. I am a moderator on GIS Stack Exchange, and have been for 5 years, so am familiar with the moderation needs and the tools available. I do not believe my existing moderator role nor my actual day to day work will interfere with any responsibility I have here at Travel SE.

Questionnaire
  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?

Sometimes users (even regular valuable contributors) need reminding that there are people on the receiving end of their comments, and that while contribution here can seem anonymous there is still a need to be nice and to talk with respect even when they may not agree. Depending on the need and the frequency this could be done through polite comments to the users involved, through moderation tools such as locking comments for a period, or if serious enough the user in question could be contacted directly. In the past I have found that often a polite comment to all is enough for people to take a moment to consider their responses.

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

As with the wider community and their open and close votes, I am not the be-all and end-all of decision making, and my decisions won't always line up with others. If the wider community agrees with me then perhaps they'll swing enough reopen votes on the close post, or if needed I can contact the other mod through chat to discuss. Maybe there's something they thought of that I hadn't considered, or maybe I have a comment that they didn't think of. Polite discussion is better than a back-and-forth moderation battle.

  1. What is your opinion on how strict close-voting should be in Travel.SE? As a mod, would you try to carve out a very strict definition of what "Travel" is or be open minded and allow as many travel-tangential questions as possible?

That would depend on the question and how it relates to discussions already had about various topics in Meta. I would often leave it for the community to vote to close (or not), and step in if I feel there needs to be extra moderation. The moderator doesn't own and control the rules to Travel SE, rather they are there to step in when required. Sometimes a rapid response is required to remove things that are not appropriate, and other times it's more appropriate to stand back for a time to see where the community is leaning.

  1. Could you give up to three examples of your posts on meta which illustrate your moderating style?

Example 1 - I'm happy to give my opinion (but that opinion isn't always right), and I'm happy to enter in a discussion or have my point of view out voted. That's what the community is about.

Example 2 - I'm willing to do a bit of research, or teach others how to use the site if they're unsure about something. Rather than belittling someone for not knowing, instead help them learn for the betterment of the site.

Example 3 - I'm all for letting the community have some fun, and not be all about the rules, and I'll get involved in that fun too! I think the monthly Photos competition is a great way to encourage user involvement even for those that don't feel they are in a position to contribute much to the actual answering of travel questions.

  1. There have been a number of meta discussions about questions under the tags identify-this and where-on-earth and their suitability for the site. As there's no clear consensus, the fate of such questions (remaining open vs. being closed vs. being closed then reopened ad nauseam) often seems to be almost entirely down to chance. Would you be willing to define a clear policy towards such questions? If so, how would you go about defining the policy?

There would need to be consideration as to whether each post has a Travel benefit or not. Some may only be of interest to the asker, but others may be for a point of interest to many travelers, especially when it comes to historic places. "Where was my friend standing when he took this random photo some place in Europe" is quite different to "Where exactly in Japan is this building where some historic event took place back 100 years ago" - and there are plenty in between the two.

  1. Unfortunately, at some point people will call you names, accuse you of colluding, being biased or other such insults. It just happens. How would you deal with this?

Most of the time it just needs to be ignored. There's a lot more important things to deal with, and often the user may have some other external issues going on causing them frustration and they just needed to "vent". Tidying up comments (or asking other moderators to if needed), and a polite reminder to play nice, but other than that never take it personal. Nobody actually knows me, and I don't know them nor what's going on behind the scenes.

  1. What's your view on list questions? Here's a Travel Meta link and a Main Meta link for background. Do you think Travel.SE should be more or less accommodating to these kinds of questions?

Regarding travel, even the most straight-foward of question could end up actually unintentionally being a list question, and these should be allowed. Those questions that straight-out ask for a list of things should be considered on their merit, but I would probably lean towards closing if there's no real travel benefit. With Travel I believe there is the potential for seeing more benefit in these types of questions than on some other SE sites, but each would have to be considered as they are asked.

  1. In which timezone are you located - or at least located most of the time? Our website receives traffic/flags from all corners of the world so it's important to have timezone coverage.

I am mostly in Mexico Baja timezone (same as US Pacific time), or UTC -7 currently.

  1. What actions do you plan to take for users performing serial and/or targetted downvoting?

When I spot serial/targeted downvoting (or sock-puppet voting) I would discuss with other moderators, to determine whether there is consensus on the voting, and consider contacting the voter(s) in question to highlight that we believe there is targeted voting and what the SE rules are regarding that, basically asking them to stop. If this continues then a suspension or a ban may be required. The votes may also need to be reversed by SE.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are here to keep the peace, not to enforce rules. They allow the community to self-moderate, and step in when needed. Mods are for firm or final decisions, but don't need to be heavy-handed in their approach. Mods can be valuable in keeping Q&As tidy, comments respectful and the community happy. Mods are not staff, but are volunteers, much the same as any other regular contributor to the site.

This election is over.