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RPG Stack Exchange is scheduled for an election next week, April 17th.In connection with that, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, April 17th at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

  • If your question contains a link, please use the syntax of [text](link), as that will make it easier for transcribing for the finished questionnaire.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at current.

  • At the start of the nomination phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions. We reserve some editorial control in the selection of the questions and may opt not to select a question that is tangential or irrelevant to moderation or the election. That said, if I have concerns about any questions in this fashion, I will be sure to point this out in comments before the decision making time.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, containing 10 questions in total.

  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

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17 Answers 17

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As a moderator, how would you respond to learning that a user, or group of users, feels unfairly treated by another moderator? What steps would you take to learn their complaints, verify them, and what would you do with them if you felt they were valid or invalid, respectively?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a 2019 election going on now: I think your questions here are excellent and would be well-placed in the 2019 collection. Do you intend to post them again over there? If not, do you mind if I copy them wholesale? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 21 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Considering my complete and utter dissatisfaction with how the current moderation team has handled this very question, I have basically decided that I am not welcome to participate in the meta governing of this site, and don’t honestly care what you do. Go ahead and copy them if you like. Maybe the next moderator will actually step up and deal with the elephant in the room. Until then, I will just accept second-class status because fighting for respect has become too painful and pointless. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 21 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay--posted anew. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 21 at 17:14
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In terms of working relationship, the current moderation team has a good level of alignment — and a lack of diversity. In what ways do you see your skills and philosophy complementing the skills and philosophy of the existing (and future) moderators? In what ways do you see your moderatorship aligning?

In other words, what about yourself do you expect to bring in terms of diversity of modding approach, and what in terms of similarity?

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ (For the record, I don't think there's a “right” answer to this, only informative ones.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 4:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious what you mean by diversity/similarity - in terms of gaming styles? Timezones? Moderating styles? As people? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 11 '17 at 5:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Moderator styles, thought, views, relationship to site management, mod-relevant skills, etc. All stuff in the context of how someone would moderate, and how their “voice” would differ, work with, complement, and/or align with the existing mod voices. What strengths would they bring that are current weaknesses of the mod team, what strengths would align with existing strengths. What differences in views would influence our deliberations, what parts of the mod team's current skillset/approach/etc. would not change, due to not being different on that point. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that make sense? It's totally possible that what's in my head, I'm failing to translate into words. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 5:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, that totally makes sense, and I think it's a question that opens up a lot of discussion space. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 11 '17 at 5:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll admit, part of the reason I asked was just because of a desire to see better timezone coverage :) \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 11 '17 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I hadn't thought of timezones, but yeah, that could be an asset a prospective mod has to offer. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for more of a Chaotic Neutral alignment to give your diversity some spice? (Sorry, couldn't help making a dad-joke...) \$\endgroup\$ – BlackVegetable Apr 11 '17 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this is just a less clearly worded version of KRyan's repost of Wibb's question from the 2015 election. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 11 '17 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I think there's a significant difference — this is more about personal fit and diversity and broad view differences/matches, whereas that one is asking about specific policy views. For instance, I don't think these would get anything like the same answers. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can certainly see the question being interpreted that way, but I can also see it being interpreted as a rehash of the question I linked. I feel like this question has potential but maybe needs to be rewritten to clarify what kind of answers we'd like to get from the candidates. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 11 '17 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since the question Oblivious Sage is linking to is directly about policy similarities/differences, perhaps this could be edited to direct people to think about things other than policy. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage & doppelgreener, how does that edit look? Does that still make sense, and is it more obviously distinct? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Diversity may not be the right word for what you're trying to convey. After reading the edit I immediately imagined a candidate responding, "Well, I'm black, and I don't think the current mods are, so..." \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 11 '17 at 21:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ This edit looks fine and workable to me. (That's just me though, of course.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 12 '17 at 13:18
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What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

Copying Wibbs’s excellent question from the 2015 election.

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How will you, as a moderator, react to community consensus that you disagree with? How will you, as a moderator, handle issues on which the community has failed to reach consensus, particularly when you personally favor one particular side in the debate?

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Sometimes, we end up with multiple mid-to-high rep users arguing over a question, or a meta policy, or something else that happened on the site. These arguments can often range all over the site: from meta posts, to chat, to the main site. As a mod, what would you do to defuse arguments among users in good standing?

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Becoming a new moderator can be daunting, but is also a big opportunity.

What are you worried or fearful about in your transition to becoming a moderator, and is there anything you're looking forward to? Is there anything we can do to help support you in those areas should you be elected as a new moderator?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is insightful (moderation is sometimes scary amounts of responsibility). I also like that it sets an expectation of working together and mutual support. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That's the kind of thing I was trying to go for, so I'm happy this resonates with a current moderator. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you intend to ask three questions, or one? 8^D I edited out "scary" and replaced it with "daunting" because I thin "scary" is inappropriate in terms of style. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 11 '17 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mean to ask them together, since they don't make sense being asked apart. I also don't wish for this to take up three distinct slots. This is me wanting to learn two sides of the same coin about the nominees, trying to get them to reflect on their hopes & fears and how we can help them with either. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, the laughing smiling face was intended to indicate humor in that question on the three versus one. The edit tightens up the questions nicely. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 12 '17 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, cool, I wasn't sure how to read into that. Thanks, I'm glad you approve. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 12 '17 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not only approve, but up vote too. (uh, oops, forgot earlier). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 12 '17 at 22:30
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Being a moderator is a customer service/public relations job for which there is little to no extrinsic motivation. You will invest hours of your free time dealing with the worst the internet has to offer, and we expect you to do it with a patient demeanor and a smile.

What is your motivation for candidacy, or in short - why do you want this job?

Stolen from the 2014 Arqade mod election questionnaire.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that being a moderator is a customer service job. I do agree that the mods have to deal with the worst the Internet has to offer, but I don't think they need to kowtow to the trolls and sockpuppets and the like. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Foster Apr 16 '17 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Customer Service" does not mean "kowtow to trolls", in fact it means the opposite in this context. A forum customer service role involves, among other things, appropriately dealing with all members of the community. If a member is being a troll, that means limiting their ability to negatively impact the community. If they're sockpuppeting, that means removing their ability to sockpuppet as much as possible. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Apr 16 '17 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this might be better suited to chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/57212 \$\endgroup\$ – J. Foster Apr 16 '17 at 21:29
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Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

  • 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?
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In the last year or so, we've seen some direct and harsh criticism of some moderator choices. I've also seen moderators lament their own heavy hands. For example, they can't vote to open or close a question like a non-mod, they can only force it open/closed. So, I'd like to steal KRyan's question and ask:

As a moderator, how would you respond to learning that a user, or group of users, feels unfairly treated by another moderator you? What steps would you take to learn their complaints, verify them, and what would you do with them if you felt they were valid or invalid, respectively?

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What is the single biggest problem that the site faces? As a moderator, what would you do to help fix it?

Stolen from the 2014 Arqade mod questionnaire.

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For D&D 5e's release RPG.SE was able to organize a drive for questions and have a raffle contest (RPG Stack Exchange D&D 5th Edition Contest - Dungeon Master's Guide Edition) to give away books to help encourage and reward the community. I believe this was a major boon and helped the site cement itself as THE online resource after the official D&D articles (and Jeremey Crawford's twitter) to ask and find answers on the game.

How would you help to cultivate similar events to strengthen and promote the site?

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We have a problem here, occasionally, when a new user will ask a question that doesn't quite fit our format, and thus gets put on hold very quickly. This often leads to the new user feeling unfairly targeted and leaving the stack soon after. As a mod, what would you do to help improve these new user's questions while still encouraging them to stay on the site?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn’t really a part of being a moderator, and has little to do with having a diamond or not. Putting unclear questions on hold ASAP is a good thing, and working with users to improve questions is something every user should be doing to the extent possible for their time/skillset/etc. In this sense, a moderator is no different from any other knowledgeable and active user. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 10 '17 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I ask this question here, because I've asked it in the last election, because this problem still exists. I agree that encouraging new users to stay is just as much a task for normal users as it is for diamonds, but it's important to me to know how a prospective diamond handles a common situation that requires moderation. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Apr 10 '17 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the "often" is speculative (and [citation needed]). We don't have much evidence for the impact of this. A significant number of new users who get their first questions closed continue to engage with us afterwards; a significant number also were posting questions that were wholly missing the point of our site so it may not have been the site they were looking for. A number of users also get turned off our site because it's not for them, and that's OK because Stack Exchange isn't for everybody and we accept that; we aren't targeting 100% user retention. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 10 '17 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The downvotes on this are interesting. Two years ago this was largely upvoted. Are we maybe just far enough away from worries about being an “unfriendly” site that this isn't a foremost issue anymore? That theme does seem to have faded on meta of late. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 5:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I think it's a useful conversation for the site to have, but not a useful question for evaluating a potential moderator's suitability. A moderator's pre-mod actions in this regard aren't relephant to how they wield their modness, and their actions as a moderator should be informed by the community's discussion and statistics the potential mod doesn't have access to. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 11 '17 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW To offer a disseminating opinion, it is useful to know the stance of the potential mod on this issue if they have one at all. Since it is a useful conversation, it may be useful to know what they think of the matter before they see the data. Also, kind of off-topic, but I smiled at "relephant" :) \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Apr 11 '17 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think all potential mod candidates agree on this question, that's why it's being downvoted. Last time we had an election, this was an active question in the community; now, we've decided this is really the average user's job (and mods too, but not especially). \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 11 '17 at 17:44
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What presence do you have on our site's Meta and on the core Meta Stack Exchange (if any)? Do you feel your behaviour on one or both would change once becoming a moderator, and if so how?

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What presence, if any, do you have, or would plan to have if you became a moderator, on the main Meta? Would you be willing and able to help RPG push for things there?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It isn't clicking for me what you mean here. I presume by "main Meta" you mean Meta Stack Exchange -- what kind of stuff are you imagining our community would be pushing for that's relevant to someone being a moderator here? Are there past or current examples of what you're picturing? We can at least post bug reports & feature requests on our own meta; they get handled equally by the SE staff, whose tooling collates the various metas. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 10 '17 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener There are a number of things that come up on this site, that can only be addressed on a network-wide level, more appropriate to MSE, and often, have already been brought up on MSE and so there is history to be aware of. Presence and activity on MSE from stakeholders in this site would be to the site’s benefit. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 10 '17 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I must have missed out on that stuff. I visit Meta.SE from time to time, and I frequent this meta, but I don't recall an instance of something specifically pertinent to RPG.SE needing RPG.SE mod backing. Maybe it'll click tomorrow when I'm less tired & feeling more well. Right now though I don't have any idea what this would really be asking of prospective moderators. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 10 '17 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I can’t think of any examples off-hand either, and no, it wouldn’t need to be a moderator—but I feel like it would be useful if at least one of the moderators was. To the best of my knowledge, our current moderators are not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 10 '17 at 22:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm surprised at the downvotes. For context, this same question was asked in the last election, and I don't remember it being controversial. (Though, experience has shown that moderators have limited “pull” on MSE. At least, we're just another kind of user there. I haven't been super active, but I haven't been inactive either.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 11 '17 at 4:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ It didn't cross my mind some of these questions might have been pulled in from past elections! 😮 I thought there was a present pertinent issue I hadn't seen which was motivating this question. The answers given to this question in the 2015 election questionnaire seem worth checking out — mods replied about their Meta.SE activity, and had a "sure" to the second question in this post without specifics there either, which I don't find informative. Maybe there's an improvement we can make to this question this year? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ feature-requests are what this is about. Often those need a main meta push. Consider, for example, the request for proper small-caps formatting (not that that's necessarily something we want/need, just it's an example of what our special needs from main meta would look like). \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 11 '17 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Stack Overflow staff and developers have confirmed that feature requests and bugs can be posted equally on any meta -- there's no requirement for a main meta push. I don't think there's evidence pushing for it on main is required or would be more likely to get us small text formatting. Speciality sites have had features added according to their own needs, e.g. MathJax or chess boards. I'd be more confident hearing confirmation on that, otherwise it may just be Stack hearsay. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Oh, ok, cool. In the past when I asked about such things I would be told to take it to the main meta. If it's different then it's different. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 12 '17 at 2:56
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What minority tags do you frequent? How will your election contribute to diversity on the main site?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think we need to have this for the mod questionnaire; we can already see this stuff on nominees' profiles. The important moderation work is also something even I'm able to do (as a 20k user) without actual knowledge about a game, since it's just applying SE principles. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ OTOH, if you're concerned diverse knowledge of games is important for conducting moderator duties, maybe it'd be beneficial to ask a question that relates those two directly? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 20:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I think having a user with a diamond present in your Q&A lends additional credence to the idea that the site supports and is interested in expanding development in your direction. This isn't about moderation activities, this is about moderators qua community leaders. That said, I think I posted something about this last time and it was equally deemed irrelevant by the community then. This is something I just disagree with people on in terms of its being important. I kinda wanna know if the uptick in Apocalypse World Q&A started with SSD's election but idk how to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 11 '17 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer The query is here - it's not particularly informative, so you might find this graph more useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 11 '17 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Wow! Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 11 '17 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer No problem - I wouldn't have thought to do it if BESW hadn't suggested it. Now with questions from all PbtA systems. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 11 '17 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Apocalypse World started its kickstarter in June 2012 and was released in November 2012, which seems to be where the graph starts to peak. May/June 2015 was when the 2015 election was held. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 12 '17 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ (oops, i mean Dungeon World ↑) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 12 '17 at 10:07
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Here's a question which may seem silly at first glance, but then once you take into account the number of people who proudly proclaimed "I did not vote!" last election it is actually of some level of importance: Why should I vote? Not specifically why should I vote for you, but why should I vote at all?

I personally probably will vote but I'm just curious as to the answer that I'll be getting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a way this helps us weigh up the suitability of different moderator candidates? That's the aim of this questionnaire - it's "an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation." Stuff we're merely curious about doesn't necessarily contribute. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 16 '17 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It helps us assess what they find important about the role of being a moderator and the maturity of the individual at hand. For instance, if they say "vote because voting is fun" versus "vote because whoever is selected will greatly impact the way in which flagged comments are dealt with" you can immediately assess how seriously they take the job and (in the second case) what their priorities are likely to be upon being elected. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Dacre Apr 17 '17 at 1:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want to know about their priorities or other details, I would recommend asking about them directly. There are some questions about that stuff already. Asking someone to pitch why you should vote (in general) isn't an effective way to learn about this stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 17 '17 at 2:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also reveals why they think the general person should care about the management of the site, which I don't think has been asked before. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Dacre Apr 17 '17 at 2:01
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What game-design or RPG-analysis understanding do you bring to the moderation team, and how do you plan to help the community understand the complexity of the subject we deal with? As RPers, we are all game designers, but many in the wider (online-RPG) community do not understand this very well, leading to poorly framed questions or even poor answers to questions, and a lack of understanding of extant answers or even arguments from new or modestly established users who do not understand why a problem is more complex than it looks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I up voted this question, because I'd be interested in knowing some of the expertise levels of community leaders. I don't understand this turn of phrase in your amplification of the question... As RPers, we are all game designers ... what do you mean by that? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 12 '17 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast -- RPGs are not prebuilt, ready-to-play games in the sense that a boxed boardgame is. Instead, they're game construction kits if you will, providing us with the tools to build a desired experience around our tables. Some kits are better at building some things than others, but the underlying pattern remains the same -- we are not working in a rigid, unyielding framework that precisely specifies what actions our characters can and cannot take at any given time. \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 12 '17 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I understand, and while I'd have used a different turn of phrase that makes sense to me. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 12 '17 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I wouldn't want this to become a referendum on "I should vote or not vote for that candidate because they like that game I like/hate." I understand that's not the intent here but ideally that info's in their profiles and history already anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 22 '17 at 23:31

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