The following is a "digest" version of the 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @Rebecca or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

15 Answers 15


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Why do you want to be a moderator (as opposed to having high rep privs)

toscho toscho answered: To make the review process more efficient and to keeps the tags better organized.

Jared Jared answered: Well, I have always been told I'm a leader which I think being a moderator would be somewhat of a leader-role, and on top of that I love working together with others to make sure this stays as nice of a place as it is already, if not better.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: My main motivation is to help ease the load on other moderators. A secondary motivation is to help maintain the integrity of the site.


Rarst Rarst asked: What is your opinion on theme and plugin recommendation questions?

toscho toscho answered: These questions and their answers are outdated very fast. I’m not sure how useful they are.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: These type of questions tend to lead to discussion and opinion which really are outside the scope of WPSE. I have no problem with asking WP related questions about a specific plugin. I frequently recommend question authors to use the .org forums for plugin-specific functions.

Jared Jared answered: I believe some of the questions asked regarding theme/plugin recommendations are far too localized and vague in description, but some of them can actually be very beneficial if the question is properly asked.

  • Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: "properly asked"? Can you elaborate?

    Jared Jared responded: Well most plugins and themes can be found easily by searching Google, I've never had a problem with it, but if someone is asking what the difference is between two of them and what the better choice would be and why, then I think it's a good question.


Stephen Harris Stephen Harris asked: As has been noted WPSE seems to have a large proportion of unanswered questions. As a moderator how would you go about reducing this?

toscho toscho answered: As already noted: Running a clean up contest, maybe with bounties.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I find that a lot of unanswered questions are low quality and at times too localized. I would make a personal effort to start closing these types of questions to bring down that queue number.

Jared Jared answered: I would answer some myself (as I already do often) and as @toscho said, a clean-up contest or putting bounties on some question would motivate some others to answer.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?

toscho toscho answered: Oh, this a hard question. :) Usually, I a comments to help these users learning the system. For example: New users misuse the answer field for updates to their questions – I explain then that questions can be updated directly.

toscho toscho continued: I give up when someone violates basic etiquette or refuses to learn.

Jared Jared answered: I don't think anyone is 'not worth the effort', people who want to get their questions answered will likely be accepting of advice on how to improve their question. If not and they are rude and do not want to learn, then they probably will not stick around anyways.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: The first thing I look for in a question is their 'tone' as it were. Are they presenting a legitimate question because they've tried and need help? Or, are they trying to get someone else to do the hard work for them? I think the answer gives us a good gauge on their motivation and if investing my time into them is good for the community and for them as well. If they are not abusing the system, but don't have the SE semantics right, I'm happy to help them out.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter continued: Problematic also doesn't necessarily mean abusive. If problematic means novice issues, I was a novice to WPSE one time and had help.

  • Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff explained: The idea there being users who treat the site like a normal forum, replying to other answers in a new answer, consistently asking questions that don't fit the format, etc.

    Brian Fegter Brian Fegter responded: If that's the case, then give time for the user to learn the system and help them along the way. I haven't really seen a case where someone doesn't want to do things the right way.


Thomas McDonald Thomas McDonald asked: How do you feel we fit in with regards to the wider WordPress community?

Jared Jared answered: I think this will soon become a huge part of the WP community, although right now it seems fairly new to the WP community -- but catching on quickly.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I think this site will become the go-to place to get answers. I would hope people will view this like they do SO. I personally let out a sign of relief when I see a SO link in my Google results because I know there's a quality answer awaiting.

toscho toscho answered: As a knowledge base, we are already the resource. As a community … we still have a lot to do.


Rarst Rarst asked: How would you distinguish good recommendation questions from too localized or poorly formulated in practice and enforce that?

toscho toscho answered: If I can imagine other people benefiting from the answers, the question is not too localized. If not, I can improve the question – or it should be closed after the author had enough time to improve the question.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I think a good format is a well documented use case by the author noting any downfalls experienced with other plugins. A plugin recommendation question really should be one where expert advice is 'needed' and not necessarily a random vague 'what apps should I download for my iPhone' type question.

Jared Jared answered: Like my message before this one, if it is a serious question and not 'Find a theme/plugin for me with these features: x, x, x', then I would think it's OK. (A serious question to me would be someone asking the difference between a few themes/plugins [with good reason for asking] like a caching plugin as an example) - Also the question should provide things that they have tried already and why they failed.


Webord http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/e1810347f20cf8e428ad2df4aebb409d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Webord asked: How would you place a question concerning PHP knowledge, but somewhat connected to WordPress logic (loop, Classes or Objects)?

toscho http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/65f6c2e51c4ca993e7944a22d8d06971?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG toscho answered: If it requires WordPress specific knowledge to answer the question it should stay on WPSE. We shouldn’t send people away too fast.

Jared http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/e51f7fdd3c09fc9246278abf89f1881e?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Jared answered: If a question has to do specifically with a WordPress function or feature, then it should be fine here. If you are solely using PHP or another language to accomplish a task that really has nothing to do with WP (even in context) then it should be migrated.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: What do you consider the most important job of a moderator?

Jared Jared answered: Working with other moderators to control the order of this website so it continues to be a valuable resource and to make it a friendly place that welcomes all.

toscho toscho answered: Make sure the site is a useful resource: focused and friendly.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: A moderator in a sense is a judge. The most important facet of that for me is to be a good judge of content and people using the site so it's a friendly place, but also a high integrity WP environment.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Do you feel like there is an engaged community on the site or is it more of a drive-by atmosphere? If not, do you have any ideas about improving?

Jared Jared answered: I believe it is both, but mostly an engaged community. The "experts" in WP tend to stick around while others who are not entirely consumed by WP ( like we are :) ) will most likely visit on occasion to ask questions. I would improve this by trying to make it a fun experience for the user, helping them learn things on their own instead of flat-out giving them code to paste in their functions.php file. Lets face it, coding is fun if you know what you're doing. :)

toscho toscho answered: There is a small group of engaged members and too many drive-by users.

toscho toscho continued: We should be careful not to send new users away too fast. It is better – but harder too – to improve a question than to migrate or close it.

toscho toscho concluded: I developed a habit to say welcome to new users when I answer or comment on their questions and answers.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: There seems to be a small community of 'front-page' users who frequent the site and thousands of others who don't care about the community aspect. There's a small CORE, growing number of COMMITTED, and a huge number in the CROWD.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter continued: I think an idea for improvement would be to hold regularly (not necessarily frequent) scheduled town hall chats regarding WP subject matter and even WPSE-related topics.

  • Jared Jared agreed: Great idea.

    Thomas McDonald Thomas McDonald noted: I did organise one when chat wasn't active at all, and it was surprisingly useful. Haven't had chance to look at it again since.


EAMann EAMann asked: As a followup to @toscho's "how much time do you need" question, how much time do you have available for moderation per day/week?

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I can spend 1-4 hours on the site per day depending on my family's schedule. I typically watch the site most of the day during work as well.

toscho toscho answered: I visit the review tab at least once per day already – I don’t expect to need much more time. Currently I spend between 1 and 3 hours on WPSE.

Jared Jared answered: I literally have all the time in the world, I work at home and don't have a wife or kids to worry about, you could say I'm a WP no-lifer. :)


Thomas McDonald Thomas McDonald asked: There are several high reputation users who don't participate in Meta. What do you think we can/should do to encourage their participation in developing and shaping the site as we grow?

Jared Jared answered: Make them feel as if it's okay to post in meta. To me it feels like a place for the higher-ups to go and discuss things (even though that is not how it actually is), but I think most would perceive it that way.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I agree with Jared. I've been a bit nervous at times posting with the elites.

toscho toscho answered: A first step would be a more prominent visual hint on the main site. Right now the Visit Meta box looks like the most unimportant part of the whole site: low contrast and tiny font.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: What is the main problem (including problems on how users use the site) that you actually see in the site you would be moderating, if you are elected moderator?

toscho toscho answered: Make new users come back.

Jared Jared answered: The biggest problem I see is new users coming here and not knowing exactly what this place is all about. That's not bad though -- we can educate them, but some ask a question then disappear. I think that's the main problem.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: Low quality questions that don't explain use cases, users not understanding how SE works, no feedback from authors when WPSE users take time to answer

toscho toscho answered: The other main problem is the amount of unanswered questions.

toscho toscho continued: A coordinated clean up contest like this one should be done, if we are enough moderators. :)


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: 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?

Jared Jared answered: I may edit the users answer to be less argumentative or see what the main issue is in their answer that is causing it and try and fix it.

Jared Jared continued: Ah, well I would try and resolve it by chatting with them. If the comments are rude and unacceptable I would most likely remove them.

toscho toscho answered: I would invite her/him to our chat to talk about it.

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: I think diplomatic admonishment from a moderator on proper behavior in the said offending chat/comment would be the first step. If that doesn't solve it, speak with other moderators about strategies for that specific user. I think this could be handled on a case-by-case basis.


toscho toscho asked: How much time do you expect to need for moderation per day/week?

Jared Jared answered: I would say as much spare time as we have as long as we can maintain keeping our head on our shoulders. There will never be too much moderation until the site has 0 unanswered questions and no posts that need flagging.


Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Final thoughts from the candidates?

Brian Fegter Brian Fegter answered: My participation in WPSE won't change at all if I am not a moderator. I'll keep doing my best to help out within my privilege levels. :)

Jared Jared answered: As for my final thoughts, I think it would be a great honor to moderate this community. I'll do all I can and if I do lose, my participation here won't be reduced in any way. :)

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