Thankyou for providing this list of considered questions, and the opportunity to respond to each.
In your opinion, what do moderators do?
In a nutshell - a great job!
In my nearly 3 years on this site, I very rarely become aware of moderator presence, and I think that is the way it should be.
If elected, my plan is to be guided by the Theory of Moderation, the Community Moderator Blog, the Moderator FAQ, SE-GIS Meta Discussions, and I especially would try to learn as much as possible from existing moderators about how moderation of SE-GIS has worked to date, in order not to put at risk all those parts that are working well. From there, and over time, I will try to gently start to inject some of my own ideas.
I have no plans to "drive" SE-GIS in a new direction but rather to work within its existing structure and protocols to encourage its growth as the premier Question and Answer site for Geographic Information Systems.
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 made a large number of postings on various forums, and have written a much larger number of emails, over many years. While there are some that I would re-word in hindsight, if given the opportunity, there are none which I would retract because my guide to written communication is to never write anything that I would expect to cause offense if said face-to-face.
In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
Let me first say that there is nothing simple about getting a 10K or 20K rep because I know how long and hard I have worked to accumulate 7K. I have great respect for all those with high reputation because they have already delivered a huge service to SE-GIS users.
My desire to be a moderator hinges mainly on the access it will provide me to tools to better understand and help guide the site.
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?
We are all different, and all contribute in our own ways. I would expect to be tolerant of but firm if I thought he/she was being disruptive to the SE-GIS community. We need as many valuable answers as we can get so I would seek not to alienate such a user. Instead I would encourage him/her to see reducing the initiation of arguments/flags as a personal challenge. In the meantime I would try to treat each argument/flag on a case by case basis rather than bringing prejudice from previous occurrences.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
If elected, I will be one of 5 moderators for SE-GIS and at times there will be actions taken by another moderator that will not align with the action I would choose. If these are actions that I do not feel strongly about, then I will simply defer to the professional opinion of that other moderator. However, if a major difference of opinion on an action were to emerge, and if it could not be resolved through discussion with that moderator, then I would seek involvement of the other three moderators. If my opinion proved to be the odd one out, then I would defer to the professional opinion of the moderators as a whole.
An important characteristic of a moderator is to have a good understanding of the community as well as StackExchange itself. The most salient ways to achieve these are (1) reviews and voting; (2) participation in Meta (through asking questions, answering them, and voting) and (3) significant participation on another SE site. What is your record in these areas and what does it say about your commitment to the GIS site? If your record is weak in one or more of them, then what other evidence can you offer in their place that you have the preparation to be a good moderator?
- I cast on average just under one vote per day I visit SE-GIS (532 votes in 615 days) and these are more than 90% upvotes. I upvote answers more often than questions because I think it is the answers we all hang out for but I do try to reward well-phrased questions too. My record on reviews is recent (and thus poor) because I have only just become aware of this feature.
- I visit Meta only about one tenth as often as the main site but I have asked 7 questions and provided 4 answers and over 50 votes. I would expect that a moderator would pay much more attention to Meta than other users do.
- I participate in two other SE sites Family History & Genealogy and Stack Overflow but it is SE-GIS that gets by far the most of my attention.
Moderators need to visit the site practically every day. How often have you been visiting this year? If it is much less than daily, then why are you confident you can substantially increase the time you will be spending day after day, year after year?
In the 2 years and 9 months (very close to 1,000 days) since Stack Exchange GIS began, I have visited on 615 days, and my rate of visitation is significantly higher now (all but 2 days in the last 200-250 I think) than in its early days. I would not expect to miss visiting on more than 5 days in a year and I normally visit multiple times per day.
This site appears to have a relatively low amount of voting. Consequently it tends to be difficult for users to acquire high reputation. Is this a problem? If not, why not? If so, what do you think could be done about it?
I have read with interest the Q & A on the Low Voting of SE-GIS and, the only problem with it I see is that the generally low number of votes cast on answers means that there is little to distinguish outstanding answers from more average ones. However, on the other main GIS site that I use, the Esri Discussion Forums, voting is MUCH lower. I have to be honest and say that I prefer posting an answer to SE-GIS rather than the Esri Discussion Forums because I feel the effort I made to provide an answer is much more likely to get recognition through voting. I think those of us who think SE-GIS has lower voting than ideal should simply make the effort to encourage all users to recognise worthy questions and answers by using their vote more frequently.
What, if anything, needs to be changed to improve our site? What ways are there to carry out these improvements? What role would you play as a moderator in promoting and carrying them out?
I think the site is great and the only thing I would like to see change is ongoing improvement to the quality of the Questions and Answers. By this I mean that there are many questions that provide insufficient details or too many vague details to enable potential answerers to quickly understand what is being asked so that they can answer it. This must make it hard for users looking for solutions to similar problems to decide whether what they face is actually the same problem.
I would like to try and revisit some candidate questions that could be curated into a clearer Question and Answer format (sometimes known as Canonical Questions) to act as examples and encourage all users to try and make their questions more concise and thus clearer. At this stage I think clarity of Answers is generally better than for Questions but there is room for improvement there too.
Apart from exceptional circumstances, moderators are the last line of review for the site's content. No moderator is required or even expected to be knowledgeable about every aspect of GIS. But then how will you make daily decisions--about migrating questions; closing and deleting questions, answers, comments, and chat messages; editing tag wikis and the FAQ; and many more--concerning content about which you are not an expert (or are even totally unfamiliar)?
I will prioritise dealing with issues in my own area of expertise first because I know it is these for which I will be most efficient. However, I have worked with and managed many GIS professionals (including developers and DBAs) using many OS and COTS products of which my knowledge is more superficial. Ongoing collaboration with such people means that I know enough about these products to know when I am getting out of my depth and need to defer to or seek advice from an expert.
How have you helped newcomers feel welcome and accepted here, even--or especially--when they might initially have posted poor questions or answers? What additional privileges granted to you as moderator will enable you to increase the attractiveness of our site so that we may continue to grow and retain those who participate?
Welcoming newcomers is an area in which I do not yet excel and it is important that they be welcomed no matter what shape their first question arrives in. It is important to not try and straighten out all imperfections in their first post(s) but to seek to try and guide them towards conformance to the protocols we have developed with a piece of advice here and there.
The moderator privileges that I would use sooner rather than later are those large-scale maintenance actions such as merging questions and tags, tag synonym approvals, and so forth. I think having fewer duplicate questions and fewer (but sensibly synonymised) tags to work with makes for cleaner Q & A, and classification of questions.
How can we make more people aware of our site and want to use it? If you were promoting it, what would you say its strengths and weaknesses are? What kind of person would you encourage to become a regular participant?
Twitter is the main tool that I use to advertise Stack Exchange by highlighting questions that I have asked or received good answers on. I think a strength of SE-GIS is that it has very quickly achieved a critical mass of devotees who use it as their primary source of technical support on GIS software. This means that virtually any GIS related question will receive an answer or comment within 30 minutes (often less). A weakness of Stack Exchange GIS is that the level of Q & A curation is still such that it is often difficult to determine whether a question about to be asked has already been asked (and answered). I think the people we should encourage most to join our ranks are those who have a passion for GIS and like to both learn and teach.
A lot of the moderation work is extremely mundane. It is deleting obvious spam, closing blatantly off-topic questions, and culling some of the worst rated posts in various dimensions. Do you have the patience and commitment to become a GIS Stack Exchange Moderator?
I see the role of an SE-GIS Moderator as having echos of being a Technical Support Manager which was a role I performed and enjoyed for 7 years. Since joining SE-GIS three years ago in Area 51 I have found adopting similar routines to those I used then to be second nature. Of course the tools available to an SE-GIS Moderator are far superior to those I had available 10 years ago.
How would you determine whether a question is on-topic for GIS.SE, such as these? 1 2 3
When deciding whether a question is on-topic for GIS-SE, I refer ultimately to the faq, but as a "rule of thumb" I look first for whether any GIS software is involved in the Question being asked, rather than just being part of the background to that question. I also, look for whether there is a clear and well researched question being asked. The question itself should be evident from the presence of a question mark.
- The first example provided was an easy one for me to vote Close on, because it made no mention of any GIS software. For my mind the mention of DMS (degrees minutes seconds) is all that brought it into the vicinity of GIS. The author recognised that it was a "Python 101" question and I recommend that such questions be posted, if not already having been asked and answered, on Stack Overflow.
- The second example is one that I would also vote to Close. Once again it makes no mention of any GIS software and seems to be seeking a mathematical algorithm that would apply equally to non-GIS work. The mention of parcels is all that makes me think it is in the vicinity of GIS.
- The third example is one that I am comfortable having on SE-GIS. It is strongly related to a GIS product (GeoServer) and specification (WMS) although much more at the administrator level than I operate.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the growth of GIS.SE?
From my perspective, the number of questions posted on SE-GIS seems to be escalating which is good in one way but can be detrimental in another. Ideally, I would like users to be able to easily find an existing Answer to the Question that they were about to ask rather than actually asking it. This would mean that the quality of our Questions and Answers would start to rise. I do not think that having lots of "easy" questions asked and answered is necessarily a good thing, but of course each needs to be asked once or a few times before it is evident that a single more definitive Q & A needs to be worked up.
What one GIS software package are you most proficient with? Are there others that you're proficient with?
My highest proficiency is with ArcGIS (intensively with Desktop, but frequently with Server, Online and Explorer too) and I have been close to every stage of its growth from its predecessor ARC/INFO 3.1 which I began using daily in 1986. My main focus today is on Geoprocessing, especially ArcPy, Python, ModelBuilder, and Geoprocessing Services. Open Source GIS products which I have installed and enjoy using are GeoServer, GeoNetwork and QGIS.
What would you want firstly to do when you are a moderator?
I would like to learn the job through getting to know the other SE-GIS moderators and its protocols. My main aim for the site is to encourage high quality Questions and Answers to be posted and available to site browsers.
What connects you to this site in particular? Answering, commenting , questioning, chatting, voting or what?
My connection to the site is primarily through Questions and Answers (but I also comment and vote a lot). Talking to users of SE-GIS I know that there are many who have never asked or answered a question so they come to the site looking for solutions to their problems. I see commenting, chatting and voting as being how we work towards developing high quality Questions and Answers. If we can make the finding of Answers easier through quality (rather than quantity) of Q & A postings then I think we will be doing our job.
As a moderator, will you be active throughout the day, or mostly during specific hours when you're on-line for some other reasons (be it work, leisure, free time, etc.)?
When working onsite, which I do most days, I tend to be more active early in the Australian evening (and on weekends) but I frequently look in on SE-GIS from my iPhone during other opportune times like on the train.