Unix & Linux is scheduled for an election next week, March 11th. 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.

Unlike the previous election back in 2014, this time the Q&A question collection will be provided one week in advance of the actual elections. This will allow users some extra time to evaluate their decision on whether to nominate, as well as let them provide answers to the questionnaire during the nomination phase itself.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, March 11th 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 currently.

  • 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.

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


15 Answers 15


As far as I know, there is no official Stack Exchange policy about this, so this seems like a reasonable question to ask.

A common issue with volunteer posts like moderators is for the volunteer to simply not have enough time to devote to his or her mod duties. In that case, there are at least a couple of ways to go. (I can't think of any other alternatives, but there might be.)

  1. Do nothing. Carry on being a mod to the extent of ones diminished capacity

  2. Resign, citing lack of time, other commitments, whatever.

In your opinion, what is the better choice, (1) or (2), and if (2), what is the level of threshold activity that would make you think that it was time to give up the post? I don't know how one would quantify activity, so I will leave that open.

This isn't a theoretical question. It's not restricted to SE, either. It's a common issue with volunteer work. And I've seen situations in SE (and indeed elsewhere) where most of the work fell to a subset of moderators/volunteers because the remaining ones were not very active.

  • 9
    There is actually a threshold. This is a relatively new development and I don't know if any mod has actually triggered it, but mods who have been inactive for a long time (I think it's something like 6 months of no activity) are asked if they want to step down.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 18:55
  • @terdon IIRC the 6 months guideline has been around for longer than you have. But it's only ever been a guideline. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:15
  • @Gilles no, this is something new implemented maybe a year ago, probably less. I remember the discussions in the TL. This is also what led to xenoterracide stepping down here a while back.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:35
  • It's definitely been around for longer, e.g. mentioned here. I can't find an authoritative source, and it's never been a firm rule. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 13:01

Do you have any visions or plans to enhance the U&L community? Specifically around community guidelines such as welcoming new users, as slm commented in their answer at "What’s it like being a Unix & Linux moderator?", but it could be around voting or tags or any other area where you see room for improvement.

  • 2
    "No" is a perfectly reasonable response, but I thought I'd provide an opportunity if there were some ideas out there.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 1:38

While it says on the tin, at the Stack Overflow blog: A Theory of Moderation, that the moderators should do as little as possible, we're having an election because the site has "grown and it would be nice to have a larger team" (paraphrasing terdon from chat), so I assume that there'll be moderator tasks for you to do.

If you plan on spending about the same amount of time on U&L, what other U&L activities (such as Asking, Answering, Editing, or Reviewing) that you currently do today do you see yourself doing less of when as a moderator? Valid answers include "spending more time on U&L", of course!


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?
  • 1
    Last two questions' answer: "With great power, comes great responsibility"
    – Biswapriyo
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 5:07
  • 2
    @Biswapriyo False, with great power comes large current and voltage. Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 2:32

Have you ever identified questions from people attempting to cheat on school/university tests or coursework? What actions did you take? What actions do you think should be taken? How would having the extra voting weight of being a diamond moderator influence your actions in such circumstances?



Given that a diamond moderator can close a question with a single vote, how will you be construing the "Request for learning materials" closure reason?

(We already know the view of one current diamond moderator, per answers to "Are we abusing "Request for learning materials" as a reason to close?".)

  • Now the questionnaire is live, thanks for collecting questions. E.g. I hadn't thought this one would be very interesting. But when I read the the actual answers - in general I think it gave candidates an opportunity to show how much they'd thought about moderation, which was good. +0, in case voting would confuse the historical record.
    – sourcejedi
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 20:30

On some other StackExchange WWW sites, question comments and answer comments are regularly deleted by diamond moderators for straying from the purpose of clarifying/improving the relevant question or answer. On Politics, for example, diamond moderators regularly step in when comments are abused to argue people's personal political opinions (example). Does this WWW site have an analogous problem needing diamond moderators to do the same, in your view? Where would the line be drawn, if there is a line at all?


How much time do you think you'll spend here? (Daily, weekly, etc.)

  • Here, meaning the U&L SE chat? Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 13:32
  • @FaheemMitha Here meaning U&L.
    – user147505
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 13:37

On some other StackExchange WWW sites, it is routine practice to protect questions that come up on the Hot Network Questions list (a list that is, to put it mildly, controversial). Given that diamond moderators can protect a question with a single vote, will you be doing this for Hot Network Questions here? Please give your reasons for whatever your answer is.

  • Any user with 15k rep (e.g. you) can protect a question, though with restrictions that often prevent doing it until it's too late for the HNQ onslaught. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:13
  • This isn't about me. This is about what a potential diamond moderator intends to do with diamond moderator tools, and what xyr thinking is on the matter.
    – JdeBP
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 14:20

Suppose a user expresses disagreement with you over a closed/deleted question or an edit to their post that you've made.

How would you handle it? Do you think you always need to explain your moderation decisions to ordinary users and if not, where would you draw the line?


What needs to be changed in this community?


What changes do you propose to encourage more participation and greater retention of those who do answer?

  • 3
    I think you have misunderstood what mods do and what power they have to influence a site. This isn't something a mod can do, it's something anyone can do. Most of your questions are about things mods can't really influence (SE features or big changes etc). The sorts of changes you seem to be asking about are achieved through meta discussions and cannot be implemented by mods.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 21:05
  • Ah, but it is something a mod could support.
    – K7AAY
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 21:39

If you have the ability to understand questions and answer them to the point, do you think it is worth to sacrifice the passion and energy in exchange for moderation duties (as "equally sacred", but as abilities not equally common)?

  • 1
    I don't think I understand your question. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 22:13

On a scale of 0-10, where:

  • 0 = "none"
  • 10 = "I could be a professional!"

What is your sense of humour?



How much do you consider yourself "democratic", "liberal", or "conservative", as far as the "politics" on this SE site is concerned? For examples:

How much do you recognize the differences between users in learning ability, accessibility to learning resources, and other background? How much do you think it is okay to think of others as "stupidheads", and get annoyed thereof? (I have never contacted any other user including moderator using personal emails.)

How much do you think there exists overly/wrongfully downvoting, closing and deleting proper posts and comments and suspending users on this site, and, if possible, https://www.stackoverflow.com and https://www.superuser.com? How much do you think it is important to protect the right of non-offending non-irrelvant speech of every user?

How much do you think it is okay to daemonize users who only ask questions?

  • 5
    Do you mean in each candidates political leanings? How is that relevant to what moderators do here? Can you explain what you mean by these terms in the context of Stack Exchange?
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 18:49
  • 1
    I think the first sentence will need to be reworded to be more specific. It seems to draw parallels to US politics, which is not relevant for mod candidates not from (or interested in) the US. Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 19:50
  • 4
    Besides my previous comment, the rest of these questions seem to be Leading Questions. While I'm not aware of any rules against leading questions in a moderator election Q&A, I don't think leading questions like these are likely to produce useful answers. Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 20:01

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