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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. As there was insufficient count provided, we have included all positive voted questions plus our backup 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 three dashes.

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!


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?

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

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

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?

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

What do you think is the biggest benefit of dba.se to the world of database professionals, and how can will you help make the site an even more valuable resource when elected?

Should SE make Jake Feasel (owner/author of SQLFiddle) an offer he can't refuse?

What do you feel about content that includes vital info in a link to an external site? eg Gist or SQLFiddle? Should we treat either or both as 'permanent', or insist that a question or answer should be useful whether or not they disappear?

We currently have three moderators who are actively communicating with each other about issues. After the election we will presumably have four. That means that we might get deadlock on a decision. How do you feel we should constructively resolve a situation like that?

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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 start with a few casual observations about controversial comments that are visible to the public. If after a few comments the message isn't being heard (or if we're only talking about flags that normal users don't see), I think that a brief private conversation with the OP could go a long way (perhaps with an additional moderator, so that the OP doesn't feel singled out or picked on by one person). We want to be sure that a positive contributor feels welcome and is encouraged to continue contributing in a positive way, but they should be aware that the negative attention takes away from that and that respect isn't just about being smart.

There are always steps of elevation to take in order to "inspire" better behavior. Warnings about a suspension and, ultimately, an actual suspension are likely to be quite effective. Hopefully the warning would be the last necessary step, but if not, a suspension certainly does curb the behavior temporarily (at the potential cost of losing some good content in the meantime). In my experience, good contributors will strive to continue contributing, even if they have a dark side; however, if their negative contributions tend to take away from their positive ones, I think we'd have to take a hard look at what we value more as a site.

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

I'm sure the other moderator had a good reason, even if we don't necessarily agree. I will certainly defer to those with more experience in the role, and am happy to consider adjusting my opinion to conform with the overall goals of the site and all of its moderators.

We could always go back to the OP and say, "this question was closed/deleted because of " and provide guidance about how to not repeat the incident, even if it doesn't represent an infraction that goes against the opinions of every moderator.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In general, they uphold the quality of the site and maintain decorum among its members. The minutia is a lot more detailed than that. While there are others, here are the primary set of duties in no particular order. They:

  • act on or decline flags
  • convert answers that should have been comments to comments
  • assist in migrating questions that belong elsewhere (or bringing questions that we want from SO or elsewhere here)
  • delete/undelete questions or answers
  • delete spam
  • delete comments
  • review deleted material
  • convert posts to community wiki
  • merge duplicate questions
  • can lock questions that are getting out of control

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 perfectly okay with that. While I admitted in my nomination that on StackOverflow I can occasionally show my impatience, I am 100% convinced that the difference between the two sites is quality, and I think that my contributions on this site reflect that.

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

The primary way will be to make more immediate and binding decisions on low-quality or off-topic content. Today I tend to try to proactively gather like-minded opinions to achieve the same effect and reach quorum. This usually involves chatting in the Heap, which in turn tends to leave open discussions about a particular question (and sometimes a user) out in the open. This is not optimal in the first place, but aside from that, the questionable content can stay around longer as a result.

That said, I am a firm believer that a moderator should be able to vote as a normal citizen, and will show strong support for this feature request. If we are able to do this, I will be conscious about borderline cases where I really should be allowing the community to decide rather than striking my hammer down, and be judicious about placing a non-binding vote.

Finally, as a prolific member of the SQL Server community at large, I think that being a moderator here can only bring more attention to the site. Today in my presentations I occasionally mention that I'm an active member here, but as a moderator I would most certainly tout it more (but not as some convoluted means of self-promotion).

What do you think is the biggest benefit of dba.se to the world of database professionals, and how can will you help make the site an even more valuable resource when elected?

The biggest benefit of dba.se compared to other sites is signal:noise. As an additional moderator on the site, I can help keep that ratio at the right level, by focusing on quality - removing questions that don't belong, and helping elevate questions that are on the fence. I've blogged here about ways to ask more effective questions and can continue to offer sage advice to users who aren't quite getting it right.

Should SE make Jake Feasel (owner/author of SQLFiddle) an offer he can't refuse?

Certainly. I'd love to see this functionality extended and made a more fluent part of conversations and a first-class citizen of dba.se. So much time can be spent sussing out details from the asker about schema, data, etc. that could be eliminated at the start with a simple SQLFiddle. JSFiddle seems to do wonders for the JavaScript/JQuery crowd over on SO (though I will confess I don't know the details of any relationship that might be in place). Here we have a couple of users who religiously create fiddles to demonstrate answers, but I don't think I've seen many questions at all where the problem statement was aided with a fiddle. I'd like to see more of that, but it needs much higher visibility to gain any traction.

What do you feel about content that includes vital info in a link to an external site? eg Gist or SQLFiddle? Should we treat either or both as 'permanent', or insist that a question or answer should be useful whether or not they disappear?

I think there has to be enough substance in the answer so that it stands on its own, even if it doesn't include every shred of detail from the link. We can't predict the future, but it's certainly feasible that many of these external sites will live as long as this network. Most of the external links I see are to MSDN documentation, which - contrary to previous versions - seems to have been improved in terms of longevity / permanence. Links to blog posts are relatively reliable, but probably represent a case where we want to ensure that enough material is there so that a reasonable reader can figure it out without clicking - balanced with not so much material that there will ever be a concern about plagiarism.

I'm guilty of explaining why you shouldn't use BETWEEN or SELECT * with just a link to a blog post, but usually only in comments or part of an answer, and never as the answer. Plus, they're my blog posts, so unless I'm really off my meds, I'll never worry about accusing myself of plagiarism. :-)

The more potentially brittle part, in my experience, is the URL shortening services, which I hope we can continue to avoid (I don't see these used as much as I expected). In a previous life I set up a lot of links with tr.im, which I then had to go and fix when the company threw their hands in the air and said, "we quit." Someone came in and saved the day, but a little too late for me.

We currently have three moderators who are actively communicating with each other about issues. After the election we will presumably have four. That means that we might get deadlock on a decision. How do you feel we should constructively resolve a situation like that?

I know and interact with all three of the active moderators, and I believe we are all level-headed folk. In the unlikely event that we have a deadlock we will have to choose one as the victim on a non-trivial issue, there are multiple things we could do:

  • Have a chat, all four of us, and agree to not disband until quorum
  • Call in the less active mod as a tie-breaker
  • If the issue is one of policy or content and not about a particular user, discuss it more openly with the heap crowd

In fact I think it might be a good idea for the moderators to get together and state some type of policy on what process to follow in this event.

  • "low-quality or off-topic content" How will you be measuring quality (and OT-ness, even if that might be less of a problem). – Erwin Smout May 23 '13 at 14:34
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    @Erwin it's subjective, of course, so difficult to give you absolute specifics. Like asking what makes a woman pretty or a car desirable. "Give me a query that does x" is a pretty low-quality question. "What is the best application for y?" is off-topic because it's a shopping list question and likely to change tomorrow. "You should use MERGE" is an answer, but not one of very high quality. An answer comprised solely of "[link to MSDN]" is even worse. In the SQL Server tags, I believe my experience allows me to comment on answers that are technically inaccurate but still attempt to answer. – Aaron Bertrand May 23 '13 at 14:38
  • So my ability to judge quality or relevance will depend to some degree on the area of focus. Some calls will be the same across all technologies; others will be narrower or just simply not as clear-cut. In the latter cases I would simply defer judgment to my fellow moderators or leave it to the community. – Aaron Bertrand May 23 '13 at 14:44
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    At the risk of incurring vengeful wrath, here is an example of a question I voted to close but did not down-vote (shopping list question), and an answer I down-voted (it was an attempt to answer, but both a bad idea and syntactically incorrect). – Aaron Bertrand May 23 '13 at 14:59
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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 encourage the user to choose their words carefully; content online can sometimes be misinterpreted and this is a site for professionals.

If encouraging the user to be mindful of their words doesn’t work, then there are other ways that could be used to alter their behavior, including timed suspensions. But we should do whatever necessary to prevent it from getting to that point.

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

Moderators are capable of making mistakes (though I think the current active mods are perfect!). If I truly believed that the question should not have been closed, I would have a chat with the mod who closed it to discuss their rationale for it.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A lot of the work that moderators do is like being a janitor, but the basic function of a mod is to help maintain the quality of the content on a site and intervene when needed. Moderators are responsible for reviewing flagged posts and any action if needed, but they also can lock posts, protect questions, place users in a timed suspension, delete users, plus other duties.

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 have always tried to keep all of my contributions on-topic and professional, so I have no issue with my contributions coming under scrutiny.

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

Moderators have the ability to make immediate binding decisions which is great for cleaning the site of bad content. As Aaron stated in his answer, since I am not a mod this happens through chatting in The Heap but being a mod this closure or removal can be more immediate.

What do you think is the biggest benefit of dba.se to the world of database professionals, and how can will you help make the site an even more valuable resource when elected?

I think it is important to keep the content of DBA.SE on-topic. Being a moderator would allow me to take immediate action on questions that are too basic and don’t meet the guidelines for the site.

Should SE make Jake Feasel (owner/author of SQLFiddle) an offer he can't refuse?

As someone who uses SQL Fiddle on a regular basis, I think it would be great if this tool were somehow integrated into the StackExchange arsenal. It'd be very helpful to users to have a handy dandy same-site tool to provide database details and a great way to format table data.

What do you feel about content that includes vital info in a link to an external site? eg Gist or SQLFiddle? Should we treat either or both as 'permanent', or insist that a question or answer should be useful whether or not they disappear?

The outside links are helpful to supplement the actual answer, however, the answer should be able to stand on its own without having to browse out of the DBA.SE site.

There are a few issues that can crop up if we don't provide a stand-alone answer on this site(ex. link rot and blocked sites). It's important that if someone else has the same question, the content of the answer is still valid and accessible.

We should encourage the user to include the content needed to solve the problem and use the links as a supplement.

We currently have three moderators who are actively communicating with each other about issues. After the election we will presumably have four. That means that we might get deadlock on a decision. How do you feel we should constructively resolve a situation like that?

Isn’t the rule the new guy/gal always wins?

Having dealt with 3 of the current moderators I have no doubt that we could actively work with each other to come to a resolution. But if that doesn’t work we could always fight to the death or have a good ole’ fashioned rock-paper-scissors battle.

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