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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers.

Due to the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 8 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.

Good luck to all of the candidates!

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. One major problem we currently have is the lack of regulars. Do you think the moderator team can change that? And if so: how? Related to that is our very low answer rate: it's only 71% now, and with that we are at the bottom of all sites. What could be done to improve this situation?

  2. Do you think this community is a welcoming one? Why or why not?

  3. 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?

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

  5. How much time can you spend on the site for moderator activities per day and week? It should be at least 15-20 minutes, preferably a bit more and not bundled in a single session, meaning we might need you in the mod chat or on flag handling maybe twice per day.

  6. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  7. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

  8. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

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One major problem we currently have is the lack of regulars. Do you think the moderator team can change that? Do you think this community is a welcoming one? Why or why not?

I would work towards encouraging users, particularly new ones, to engage in the community. Lack of traffic, or boost of traffic do not necessary affect user participation, but a welcoming community where you can discuss work and procrastinate certainly do.

Beyond all of my online moderation roles, my partner and I are also moderators, organisers, and hosts of a variety of (in real life) pro and casual networking groups in Stockholm with thousands of members. My experience of connecting people via these groups has been surprisingly handy when working on boosting activity on platforms I moderate online.

Overall, I believe this is a welcoming community with users actively providing helpful feedback to each other and we generally seem to have a good approach to welcome new contributors to the community. Is there room for improvement, certainly!

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 would overview the flagged entries properly (and not skim through them), discuss internally with my fellow moderators, and finally approach the user and engage in a constructive session with the user about the etiquette of the platform.

While the quality of answers are of high value, the community is the heart of this platform and should certainly be treated as such.

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

This is definitely an internal issue and not one that should be resolved in a public manner. I would discuss the issue with the said moderator and come down to a solution together in how to proceed. If there is still a conflict, I would bring it up with the whole team of moderators and delve into it with a collaborative approach.

How much time can you spend on the site for moderator activities per day and week? It should be at least 15-20 minutes, preferably a bit more and not bundled in a single session, meaning we might need you in the mod chat or on flag handling maybe twice per day.

According to Firefox, when I open a new tab, I can see my currently top visited sites:

enter image description here

So yes, I am available. =)

With that being said, will I always be present at least 20 minutes per day? No. Some days I will be here 2 minutes, other days, 30 minutes. I will however aim to be active as much as my schedule allows.

Well... This is actually a very good question that I am hoping to sum up with an answer that makes sense to people who have concerns about activeness.

Being active here is a part of my professional and personal routine. Meaning, I work full time, I socialise, run meetup groups, do sports, keep active, and engage with WPSE daily.

It can be "easy" to hangout here when you are on a leave, or not active outside of the community, but being here frequently when working towards an active career and social life is whole new butter and bread.

That should highlight where my priorities are. I think some of you who have been a part of this community for a long time will relate, understand, and appreciate this.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As I outlined in my pitch, my model of moderation is divided into three major processes:

  • Communication: Understand the lingo to connect with the community and master the art of maintaining a positive approach to resolve conflicts.

  • Collaboration: Engage with fellow upper-tier users/mods and work together to resolve issues and provoke change when encouraged by the community.

  • Responsibility: Protect the integrity of the community, understand my rights, and never misuse my power.

You can also read my tale of moderation.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I am completely comfortable with it. I have moderated a variety of high trafficked platforms and learned from it, particularly on how to engage with the community and not to overstep my boundaries.

Plugin related questions has always been a hot topic. What are your opinions on the matter?

Making third-party plugin questions on-topic or off-topic has been the center of debate ever since this platform made its first Sunday roast.

My aim as a moderator would be to allow the community to be a part of the decision making. If it is a controversial decision like this, and one that will quite drastically affected the content of the platform, the decision should be in the hands of the members of the community.

In this scenario, rather than using my power as a moderator to make a decision, I would provoke and campaign (if you wish) to encourage the community (and the upper-tier users/staff of StackExchange) to engage in the decision making itself.

That would be my main purpose.

Do you have any kind of past moderation experience? When, where, how do you think it can help here?

Moderation has been a passion of mine ever since I delved into it sometime late 90’s moderating a high trafficked WWWBoard.

Then I moved on to moderate phpBB forums with user bases in the thousands.

Nowadays, I work as a moderator on a variety of platforms, including a leading long-form writing platform with an audience of millions. They all share the same source of existence, and that is WordPress.

I have experience of moderation from all corners of the web, and I believe this diverse insight will come in handy for WPSE. Most noticeably, some of the platforms I have worked with have a rather niche audience where conflicts easily form and the actions of the mod team are continuously on topic.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Reputation doesn't mean anything for me beyond achieving new abilities to perform editorial tasks, which I've found valuable. I've spent my points on more bounties than I can count.

Being a moderator, as opposed to a high rep user, will mean that I will gain the status to do more upper-tier moderation tasks. And more importantly, I will have the possibility to provoke change and improvements to the platform. This is something that tends to require a strong voice to kick off and I can be a part of the movement with the assistance of my fellow moderators.

Our aim should be growth in quality contributions in all areas and encourage controversial changes when needed be.

If all fails, I will do a mind-meld with the community members. One by one...

Mind Meld

  • "While the quality of answers are of high value, the community is the heart of this platform" - the problem is, that we already have low rate of answers (and very few users that post answers on a regular basis) and without answers (especially high-quality ones) this community doesn't exist at all, I'm afraid... So while the "community is the heart of that platform", we can't afford to loose any users that post good answers - I've seen on some WP FB groups what happens, when there's only "community" that wants knowledge, but no professionals that share and promote good practices... – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 5 at 9:29
  • Wait, you read through my entire post?! You should be a mod just because of that achievement. ;-) I believe the way you can look at it is that as a moderator, one of my contributions will be to aim to keep the community engaging. Whether if that is an asset or not, that is in the mind of the beholder. :P I completely agree that we can't afford to lose users who post good answers. In that sense, it is even more essential that the community is active for these upper-tier users to hang around and shine. – Christine Cooper Apr 5 at 14:43
  • yes, I’ve read your entire post and that is the only part that was a little bit (to be honest even more) controversial - that’s why I’ve asked :) – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 5 at 14:56
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    +1 for the nice presentation ;) – Vishwa Apr 8 at 10:53
  • Of the three candidates who answered, you are the only one who mentioned that you view this community as a "welcoming" , albeit with room for improvement :) I am genuinely glad you can see it as welcoming: it means you either did not experience intimidating situations, or - if you did - you chose to interpret them in a positive manner (perhaps by giving the others the benefit of the doubt). But my personal experiences and those of my friends are more in line with the answers described by both Krzysiek Dróżdż and Fayaz Ahmed. (to be continued...) – jsmod Apr 9 at 22:39
  • (continued) There is even a SO blog post on this particular topic. WPSE can be both welcoming and unwelcoming at times, despite the code of conduct in place. Having said that, you mentioned that despite being a welcoming community, there is room for improvement. May you please elaborate on that? As a moderator, how would you go about making this community more welcoming? Thank you. – jsmod Apr 9 at 22:39
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    Thanks @jsmod I do indeed consider this community as friendly, or if you wish, friendlier than most other SE platforms I have lurked at. With that being said, and as I highlighted in my post, there is always room for improvement. My approach will be to help to identify the content and the context. Meaning, when I can tell a user is intentionally "misbehaving", I will approach appropriately, and at other times when the user's content may have been with good intentions, but lacking appropriate language, I will aim to inform the user about the miscommunication and how to go about it better. – Christine Cooper Apr 10 at 10:30
  • Thank you for your reply, Christine :-) – jsmod Apr 16 at 16:06
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    😊 What you describe is not easy to do but you seem willing to put in the effort. Thanks for doing that - you’ll be helping a lot of people online or offline. :) – jsmod Apr 16 at 16:18
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Krzysiek Dróżdż

  1. One major problem we currently have is the lack of regulars. Do you think the moderator team can change that? And if so: how? Related to that is our very low answer rate: it's only 71% now, and with that we are at the bottom of all sites. What could be done to improve this situation?

The lack of regulars is a big problem on this site. One of the reasons for that, IMHO, is the amount of "bad" questions. Sometimes when I'm going through the newest questions, there are at least 10 of them that are off-topic, spammy or too localized. It makes the site looks bad and it makes hard for people with knowledge to post some answers (because it's hard to find questions that need to be answered). This is definitely something that moderators can help with.

Another reason is a small number of votes and a large number of questions without answers marked as correct.

And the third reason... In 2018 [woocommerce] was the top tag. It had over 600 questions. And all of these people has been sent away (to SO, if they had luck) or lost (if their questions got closed).

  1. Do you think this community is a welcoming one? Why or why not?

It's hard to say. I think I've seen more welcoming communities than this one.

The number of questions closed as off-topic may be a little bit unwelcoming, I guess. Especially, if there is nowhere to send such person to...

  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 depends on what kind of flags were they. I've seen here many first-time users that were very demanding and impolite and some of them can't take downvotes or close votes well.

On the other hand... If these flags are "real", then the best way to deal with such case is to chat - if given user is able to produce good and valuable answers, then most probably he'll be able to understand that we're here to help each other and to propagate knowledge and best practices.

That's why I'm always glad if somebody spots a mistake, typo or has some other comment that will make my answers better. And we all have to be a little bit more open to criticism, I guess. I've seen a lot of flags caused by not being able to deal with criticism.

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

I don't believe anyone would delete a valuable question that is very helpful for others. If I felt it really was valuable question, I think I can always ask the person who closed/deleted it for the reason of such decision. I could also give him my point of view and reasons why I think it should be still open.

But as long as I've been on this site, I haven't seen any such case, I guess. Even the close votes from users are pretty obvious.

  1. How much time can you spend on the site for moderator activities per day and week? It should be at least 15-20 minutes, preferably a bit more and not bundled in a single session, meaning we might need you in the mod chat or on flag handling maybe twice per day.

Currently I'm on the site almost 7 days/week. At least 10-20 times a day.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They should keep this site clean, tidy and welcoming for everyone (by closing "bad" questions, removing spam, and reacting on flags). They should also help to make the questions better.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I don't have any problem with that. I don't think I have anything to be ashamed of on this site.

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

I'm pretty often on the site. It means I could help the team of moderators to react quickly - so the ability to react immediately could be helpful.

  • 2
    I like your note about [woocommerce] being the top tag. I understand it is the WPSE policy that no questions about WP plugins will be considered as on-topic. If I have a problem with some plugin, I'll probably know how to compose my question and the example code so that it would still be on-topic. But many people don't know how to do that. They don't realize that ACF is simply a GUI for the existing WP meta functionality, or that WooCommerce utilizes a custom post type and taxonomies (still)... so they will compose an obvious 'off-topic' question, and be driven away with their question closed. – dboris Apr 3 at 13:30
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    @dboris 100% agree on that. I've seen many times that some inexperienced user asks a question that is clearly off-topic just because he doesn't know he should avoid some words - almost every question about sorting or querying posts by ACF field is such case - all you need to do is to omit "ACF" part and it's pretty decent question. On the other hand... It's a big problem, IMHO, because if it's a premium plugin, then we send them to the official support (and that's OK), but for free plugins, we tell them to "get lost" (lately in a more polite way, but still...) – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 3 at 13:50
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    I am not sure if you purposely intended this or not, but thanks for keeping your answers as a text only post :) It makes it very accessible for people who have trouble with images (either seeing them or seeing the colors properly) and it also makes it screen reader friendly. (Other readers: please do not misinterpret this as criticism of any person who used images in their post, I am simply stating that Krzysiek Dróżdż's post is very accessible, that is all). – jsmod Apr 9 at 21:36
  • I noticed you received several comments on the nomination page describing you as "confrontational" and "coming off arrogant and rude". While I do not agree with those views, they bring up a question: have those comments led you to reconsider how you can appear more welcoming in an online world where tone can easily be misinterpreted? – jsmod Apr 9 at 23:15
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    Tone is hard to decipher online and in writing. As a result of this, a lot of misinterpretations happen and we cannot really control how others think or interpret what we say. This happens increasingly more in multicultural environments where not everyone is a native speaker of English and in communities where people of different age groups/genders/races participate. – jsmod Apr 9 at 23:17
  • But as a moderator, it is important to appear friendly, welcoming and firm at the same time - without having to change yourself and personality to please others. This is why I asked the question above: to know your personal thoughts on this matter as a candidate for the moderator role. – jsmod Apr 9 at 23:17
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    @jsmod to be honest, both of these cases were very similar - a new user that wants to score and thinks, he already knows everything - and takes any criticism very badly. We can chat about it and discuss these cases (TBH I don’t remember the second one). The author in first case was very confrontational himself - I’ve commented about a bad practice in his code, he said “I know, but I like it like so”, so this answer got downvote. Then he demanded me to fix it or to remove downvote (which, as you know, I couldn’t done without his edit). – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 10 at 5:30
  • @jsmod but yes - it’s very easy to misinterpret someone, especially if it’s a comment (which is short, and not always intended to be very descriptive - most of the times they are short notices only). On the other hand, and that’s most important for me, I guess - we’re here to learn - and there’s no learning without constructive criticism. If you think your answer (“answer”, not solution - so it’s solution and explanation) is correct, then defend it by reason, not by argument or taking offense. – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 10 at 5:36
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    @jsmod but there’s a precious lesson from one of my discussions with Tom some time ago - as I’m not native speaker I’m trying to be more careful with choosing words - sometimes, when you write quickly, it’s easy to write something that may be misinterpreted. But yeah - again - we’re here to learn (not only learn how to code, apparently ;)) – Krzysiek Dróżdż Apr 10 at 5:39
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    True, learning never ends :-) And life would be boring if we knew everything. I think many people who come to WPSE are not native English speakers, so you might be able to better understand/assist them because you kind of know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Anyway, best wishes with the election & all the learning. PS. Despite English not being your native language, you’re the only candidate who followed the instructions to the letter 👍😎 – jsmod Apr 16 at 16:03
3

Moderator Election Header - Fayaz Ahmed

Disclaimer: Please note that, I've written the answers below keeping in mind the utmost respect for the questioners and the community as a whole. If the wording doesn't represent this, then that's my inability in wording itself, not the lack of intent.

-- Fayaz Ahmed.


  1. One major problem we currently have is the lack of regulars. Do you think the moderator team can change that? And if so: how? Related to that is our very low answer rate: it's only 71% now, and with that we are at the bottom of all sites. What could be done to improve this situation?

Regulars:

I don't think that the moderator team alone can change either the lack of regulars or the low answer rate. However, I think the moderator team can take some actions or follow strategies that may improve the overall situation in the long run and thus creating a more welcoming environment that'll potentially bring more regulars into the site.

Also, as far as I understand it, currently there is no drive within the community to nurture new users into becoming regulars in the long run. The community acts upon one Q&A at a time. Alongside this, I believe strategies that are focused on nurturing new users into becoming the regulars of the future may be more fruitful. In that light, I'd rather teach more and moderate less.

For example, say a new user comes to the site and asks a question that is borderline off-topic in WPSE. Instead of closing the question or downvoting it right away, I'd rather try to communicate with the user in an attempt to assist him/her to make the question such that it's useful and on topic to the propose of the site.

Another such example is when a new user asks a question that lacks any research attempt whatsoever. Sometimes I see such questions get bombarded with downvotes, close votes etc. without enough communication back to the user. An otherwise nice person behind the screen may have no idea of how SE sites function, but will still probably get an unwelcoming signal by such response from the community. Will such person ever become a regular to this site if s/he finds a nicer alternative? I think not.

Given the option, I'd rather nurture these new users than hammering them with downvotes and close votes. Granted, such questions or answers may eventually need to be downvoted or closed, but I'd like to make that process more welcoming by communicating with them and teaching them how the site works in the nicest way possible. Eventually, even if a fraction of them become regulars to the site, that will be more desirable than the alternative.

If I'm elected as a moderator, I'll try my best to make sure these sort of communications happen both ways. i.e. not only with the new users, but also with the existing community. As I pointed out at the beginning, the moderator team alone cannot make drastic changes to WPSE, but may act as a glue to take the community forward together.

Answer Rate:

I'm not sure that 71% (or is it 72%?) answer rate is necessarily a bad thing. Let me provide some data before making a point:

WPSE answer rate comparison with other SE network sites

As you can see from the screenshot of SE network sites data sorted by Percent Answered, answer rate doesn't mean much in terms of how many visitors a site is having or how many users it's serving. I'd rather have 67% answer rate of Super User with 592k answers, 742k users and 756k visits/day than 98% answer rate of Project Management with 15k answers, 25k users and 4.7k visits/day.

All but one of the sites in the screen shot are more than 8 years old, so the results are comparable and we can see a clear correlation with number of users vs. number of answers and visits/day. With that same consideration, answer rate doesn't have such clear correlation.

Please don't get me wrong, answer rate is obviously a valuable metric, but considering some other more important metrics, I'd rather have a highly visited site with lower answer rate than the vice versa.

  1. Do you think this community is a welcoming one? Why or why not?

I have seen it both ways - at times it is welcoming and at times it is not. Having said that, this is a very relative question. e.g. welcoming based on what standard?

I think StackExchange network as a whole is a little less welcoming compared to some other forums or user generated Q&A sites. Fortunately, the network realized it and the recent change in the Code of conduct reflects that. Suffice it to say, I agree with this change 100%.

  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 don't believe in the "End justifies the means" cliche. So whatever action is necessary for those flags, should not be affected by how much reputation a user has. Besides, my policy of communication and being as nice as possible should cover reputed users as well as new users in most cases anyway.

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

In such a situation, I'd prefer to communicate with the mod in question to understand the reasoning behind the action and if necessary I'd even communicate with the other mods for appropriate actions.

Again, communication is the key.

  1. How much time can you spend on the site for moderator activities per day and week? It should be at least 15-20 minutes, preferably a bit more and not bundled in a single session, meaning we might need you in the mod chat or on flag handling maybe twice per day.

On an average, 15-20 minutes (or a bit more) per day in multiple sessions should not be a problem for me. I work from home, so this should be easy for me. However, I don't think I'll be able to do it every single day. So,

  • Most days: no problem.
  • On an average: no problem.
  • Every single day: not possible.
  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators (should) take the edge off the community and take actions to keep the community together and on purpose, preferably by taking as few actions as possible.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

with great power, comes great responsibility

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Reaching high reputation usually means answering a lot of questions. This is great for the site's content. If I'm elected as a moderator, I'll still be able to do that. However, in addition to that, I'll also be able to see the bigger picture and keep the quality and purpose of the site in check and make a positive impact towards the community as a whole.

Hence, because of my experience as a successful mediator in real life, I'll definitely be able to do more for this community if I'm elected as a moderator.

  • You seem to have a lot of good ideas and well thought of approach to moderation. I do appreciate your emphasis on kindness in an age where online bullying and nonconstructive criticism is one the rise. But I cannot understand why you do not see the low answer rate as a matter that needs improvement. In his comment on Christine Cooper's answer, Krzysiek Dróżdż summed it up nicely: "...without answers (especially high-quality ones) this community doesn't exist at all...". What benefit does a high number of visits per day have if few of those visitors are staying to post answers/questions? ... – jsmod Apr 9 at 22:01
  • (continued) To elaborate, the stats you showed tell me that if I have ever have a question on Project Management then I am very likely to get a response from that particular SE community, even though it does not get a lot of visitors. On the other hand, WPSE gets a lot more visitors but not as many answers: so the chances of getting an answer drop significantly. As a potential moderator, do you really not find that important? I do think you should reconsider your position on it, particularly since you seem to have good ideas on welcoming/guiding new users and encouraging their return to it. – jsmod Apr 9 at 22:08
  • @jsmod I didn't mean to say it doesn't matter at all, it does. However, if we keep getting new users, we'll keep getting new answers. On the other hand, it'll reduce the new vs. reputed user ratio, hence will reduce the answer rate. So I meant that is not a problematic scenario. Of course, given the same amount of users, a higher answer rate is a highly desirable thing to have. – Fayaz Apr 9 at 22:11
  • From personal experience, Ive found SE sites with a high answer rate tend to get dominated by high rep users and it's more difficult for lower rep to get privileges they may not yet have. Specifically, Boardgame SE it is difficult to search for questions you would like to research (or are interested in) and answer since the answer rate is already so high. I guess that plays into whether gamification is a good thing or not. We certainly don't want to dip too low but having a high enough answer rate where answers to common questions can be quickly found would be ideal. Thanks for your answers! – Howdy_McGee Apr 9 at 22:17
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    Thanks for answering, Fayaz 🤓 I cannot tell if your name means “abundance” or “success” (depends on what the z is a transliteration of) - but whatever it is: may you have the best of each. And thanks for your input, too, Howdy McGee. I didn’t actually consider the gamification aspect: it’s fun, but I’d rather have answers. However, gamification does encourage participation and answers. So... I guess it’s a cycle of some thing or another 😏 – jsmod Apr 16 at 16:16
  • @jsmod Actually root of my name Fayaz came from Persian, which in turn came from Arabic. So the actual transliteration will probably be Faiyad. Anyways, thanks a lot for your comment and well wish. – Fayaz Apr 16 at 17:31

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