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, but firm, if I thought, a user was being disruptive to the GIS SE community. We need as many valuable answers as we can get so, wherever possible, I would try to avoid alienating such a user. Instead, I would encourage this user 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 Q&As in which the user had participated.
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 seven moderators for GIS SE 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 opinion of the 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 five moderators. If my opinion proved to be the odd one out, then I would defer to the consensus of the moderation team.
What is your GIS background/experience, and what software packages are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What approach would you take when needing to moderate a Question/Answer about topics you are less proficient in?
After starting as a Systematic Zoologist, I have been a daily user of ArcGIS for Desktop, its predecessor ARC/INFO, and their customization languages ArcPy and AML since 1986 in roles focussed on technical consulting, support and training at levels from GIS Analyst to Technical Director with the South Australian Museum, South Australian Department of Environment and Planning, Esri’s UK and Australian distributors, NGIS Australia and now in my own PolyGeo business. I have also written and delivered workshops on Google Earth (related to the Queensland Open Data Policy), OpenStreetMap and OGC Interoperability and have worked hands-on with GeoServer and GeoNetwork for one project. Those are my strengths which leaves my weaknesses too long to list. I am certainly far less comfortable with database, server, raster and developer products.
In a number of my former roles, most notably managing a national Technical Support team for seven years, I managed and mentored many staff expert in database, server, raster and developer products. I learned that providing advice on how to help them structure their troubleshooting approaches was far more effective than the impossible task of trying to absorb enough details of unfamiliar topics to try and do that troubleshooting personally. To moderate on unfamiliar topics I will focus on the GIS SE protocols and precedents involved rather than trying to drill down to all technical details.
I’ve observed moderation on this site for over 4 years and will defer to other moderators whenever I feel out of my depth on topics I know to be their strengths.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing this SE? Do you think there needs to be any changes made to the policy or rules - what would you suggest?
I think the biggest challenge to GIS SE is achieving consensus on what it is and what it is not. If we say that anything loosely related to GIS is fair game to be asked and answered in whatever manner a user prefers then we start to adopt the disorganized approach of a discussion forum. Where SE outshines all discussion forums and Q&A sites that I have seen is its focus on curating and finding clear answers to clear questions. Any changes that I would suggest are things to support that focus like:
- Encouraging more editing of questions and answers to provide ongoing clarifications
- Discouraging discussions in comments as a substitute for clear and concise Q&As
- Making similar Q&As easier to find by tagging consistently with a classification of appropriate granularity
- Turning titles into concise summaries of the questions they advertise
In other words my advocacy is for continuous community curation.
If you came across a Question concerning a topic you are less proficient in, would you "flag" it for another moderator (who is more qualified and/or experienced) to examine it?
If a flag was raised on a question about a topic which I felt was outside my skillset and/or experience, then I would seek the assistance of another moderator who I felt could provide better moderation of that question. I would accompany any such transfer of responsibility with my thoughts on how it might be handled so that, in the event that moderator were unavailable to consult next time, I would have participated in a learning experience that might enable me to provide adequate moderation anyway.
Is there a least amount of time moderators should spend per day moderating SE, or in particular GIS SE, in order to be as helpful to the community as possible?
Moderators, like all answerers, commenters, editors and voters, at GIS SE are volunteers and so I think it would be unfair to have time expectations placed on them like you might for employees or public servants. According to the Theory of Moderation they are mainly in place to act as human exception handlers so, if there are no exceptions on a particular day then I think that there is no minimum amount of time that needs to be spent.
However, according to the same Theory, the SE network is designed to “amortize the overall moderation cost of the system across thousands of teeny-tiny slices of effort contributed by regular, everyday users” and I would expect and have observed that when flags are few the moderators continue to participate as everyday users to share that load.
I think a useful quality for a moderator to have is the ability to “find time”. In my own case, except when on assignment or vacation, that time comes throughout the Australian day, evenings and weekends and will come out of or in conjunction with the curation activities that I currently undertake. You will often see minor edits by me unaccompanied by comments - these are from my mobile phone when travelling and are designed to push questions into the path of those likely to be able to answer them. I suspect that it would be very helpful to have a moderator in Australia "on duty" during "out of hours" for what is currently a solely North American and European moderation team.
In your opinion, what do moderators do?
According to the Theory of Moderation, moderators are mainly in place to act as human exception handlers, which is a view that I share. In particular, I think moderators are there to explain decisions as much as to make decisions. In practice, I see them not just working through flag queues, but also injecting their expertise and experience, on an as required basis, to improve the quality of our Q&A.
If elected, I intend to be guided in my approach by both GIS SE Meta and the broader SE Meta Q&As, and will first try to learn as much as possible from existing moderators about how moderation of GIS SE 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 start to inject more of my own ideas.
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?
As an example of my comfort with this I will re-present my answer to the same question from the 2013 Moderator Election Q&A:
“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?
Having now passed through the 10K and 20K rep levels here, I know that the only way to reach them is by sustained effort and that to do so was far from simple. As a Pro Tem Moderator at G&FH SE, albeit with just 3 months experience in that role so far, I am aware of the tools available to guide and promote sites and relish the chance to use them. As an example, there have been times when, especially with no moderator in the Australasian time zones, that I have needed to flag and wait potentially hours to see spam and advertisements deleted when as a moderator it could have been done in seconds.