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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. Due to the lack of submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 9 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 first set of 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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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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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.

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    I greatly appreciate the work you have been doing on this site and support your candidacy. I have one concern, though, that perhaps you would feel comfortable addressing here. The review statistics show you have a strong tendency to vote to close posts, much more than is typical for most moderators or high-rep community members. When you become a mod, your vote is instantaneous and takes effect at once. I wonder whether people might become frustrated with our site if they see a tendency for their questions quickly to be closed. As a mod, would you consider modifying your approach? – whuber Aug 19 '14 at 17:20
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    The candidate statistics link is currently broken so I am unable to verify the statistic you cite. However, I am not surprised that I vote to close more often than a moderator because I currently use my close vote to note my concern about whether a question is on topic, not a duplicate (familiarity with earlier Q&As means I use this often), has enough detail to answer and does not have multiple questions that lead to convoluted Q&A. – PolyGeo Aug 19 '14 at 20:56
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    My perception, from looking back at those questions later, is that I am usually not the first to cast the close vote, and my close votes are often supported by at least one of the moderators or by up to four other reviewers because most are closed within a few hours. As a moderator I would be performing a question closure rather than raising a concern about a question, and as a result I would anticipate using the close button on about 10-20% of the questions that I do currently, because I know that my click will carry more than 5 times the weight of a close voting user. – PolyGeo Aug 19 '14 at 20:56
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    I sometimes shudder when I see a moderator close a question when I have thought more consensus amongst the close voters first may have been a wiser course of action. – PolyGeo Aug 19 '14 at 21:07
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    Thank you for a thoughtful response. My own experience, in reaction to the same shuddering feeling, has been a gradual change to allowing questions to stand if they seem sufficiently clear and focused, even if they are imperfect. Not all moderators act the same way--but on the other hand, as other candidates note elsewhere on this page, we all have different specialties and some moderators naturally focus on reviewing the kinds of questions that (for better or worse) attract people less inclined to research or write them well. – whuber Aug 19 '14 at 21:40
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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?

The GIS.SE community is already very good at keeping the peace and maintaining a positive atmosphere on the site by constructively addressing problems either on meta or in the comments. Moderators have additional tools such as timed suspensions and full deletion of user profiles if necessary. However, most of these situation can be dealt with by constructive, positive feedback in the form of comments

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

Respectful interactions with people apply both at work and online as a moderator. If I felt strongly that a question was improperly closed or deleted, I would first contact the person who closed the post and discuss the situation.

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?

I have a strong background in utilizing GIS and remote sensing for ecological applications (since 1998). My current research includes habitat mapping for threatened species and utilizing multispectral and Lidar remote sensing for assessing vegetation structure and composition. I am a huge advocate for open source software and programming languages. My day-to-day tools to perform spatial analysis include ArcGIS, QGIS, Erdas Imagine, eCognition, Python, matlab, and R.

Weaknesses: low-level programming languages, keeping up with all of the web-mapping apps, database administration to name a few...

We are very fortunate to have a diverse knowledge base with our current mods--from mathematics to webmapping to open source GIS software. Questions outside one moderator's area of expertise would likely be picked up by another moderator with more experience in that subject.

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?

We at GIS.SE are fortunate to have a window into the future by observing what happens to other SE sites that grow beyond the available resources. Environments like these foster high volume, low quality questions and result in a cynical and negative atmosphere. We have not, and may never, reach that point at GIS.SE, but at least we are equipped to know what to watch out for and make immediate corrections. Long-term planning is always the best solution, as opposed to chasing spot-fires. Fortunately, we are in a position to apply long-term site goals to maintain the positive and welcoming environment we are all used to.

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?

It is very easy to determine if a question is a good one, even if you have little knowledge of the subject. Specific instances may require collaborating with other moderators. I would have no problem yielding a question to another moderator if my experience was insufficient to address the problem.

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?

Our own moderators gave an excellent description of the time required to moderate the site on GIS.meta--essentially, up to an hour on weekdays and less on the weekends.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Quoting A Theory of Moderation: As little as possible. GIS.SE is an amazingly self-correcting ecosystem where we all address situations as they arise. Most problems are resolved with friendly comments or down votes. However, there are situations were a moderator has to step in and address situations with experience and tools not available to the community.

I do not believe that a moderator should be an activist or impose personal beliefs on others--instead, a moderator should work behind the scenes to help the site run efficiently.

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?

This is a non-issue as I never post anything that I would be concerned about later.

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

Becoming a moderator is simply a good way to give back to the community and help maintain the site to the standards we know and appreciate. I believe the most effective tools are constructive comments, whether or not a user has 1k or 20k reputation.

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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?

there is no reason to behave differently if someone tend to generate a large number of flags.

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

I believe that GIS SE is working the right way. The moderators are all humans so we can make mistakes, but we have the opportunity to rollback and to discuss in the chat. Of course, at first I'll need to "learn" to be moderator, so I will not go for a discussion everytime I disagree, but try to understand why it was done.

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?

I've got a GIS and remote sensing background with weaknesses in database management. For Q/A where I am less proficient, it is sometimes possible to take a decision, but otherwise I'll skip.

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 that we could increase the tolerance for short answers, because sometimes a long and specific question/issue can be solved with a single tool. I've found a large number of "unanswered" questions which were actually answered in a comment because of this rule.

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?

I think that skipping that question has the same effect than flagging (another moderator will come accross if no decision is taken). Flagging, especially as a moderator, should be used for

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?

According to the meta question, something like one hour a day during weekdays.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They are the peace keepers of the site.

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?

To be honest, I didn't pay attention to this diamond when I first went on the site.

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

Being an "official" moderator will completely change my way to contribute to the site. I would markedly reduce answering questions.

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    I admire and appreciate your contributions to our site. As a long-time mod on two sites, though, I feel that I should point out two things that might cause your opinions to change slightly. One is that knowledgeable contributors who raise lots of flags can be huge problems for the community. They can aggravate and turn off far more people than they help and they cause grief and overwork for everyone. Special tact is needed in those situations. The second is that moderators do far more than keep the peace (although that is an important role): a better analogy is that of site janitor. – whuber Aug 19 '14 at 17:25
  • thank you for your comment. Please let me explain what I meant in my first answer: if someone raise lots of flags, the moderator should use there tools to avoid that. They should not be more flexible because the contributor is knowledgeable. Therefore I think that we agree on the fact that action is needed in this case. I just don't want to make a difference between 100 rep and 10000 rep when this occurs. – radouxju Aug 19 '14 at 18:06
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    concerning your second remark, I've just looked at the meaning of janitor on wikipedia, and I think that it is a very humble vision of the moderator work. In an ideal GIS SE, 10k and 20k rep would do a lot of cleaning and moderators are there for the "difficult" decision. At least this is how I understood the task, but I am relatively new to this site. I'll think about it. Thanks for sharing your experience. – radouxju Aug 19 '14 at 18:13
  • Janitor = caretaker/cleaner outside North America (except Scotland) – Mapperz Aug 19 '14 at 20:25
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    Perhaps the first question is tricky. It talks about high rep users whose comments are flagged a lot by other users (it generates arguments). Another thing is when a user flags a lot. This is ok if the flags tend to be helpful most part of the time. – Andre Silva Aug 20 '14 at 0:03
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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 point out the strengths and value to the user their answers bring to the community, and point out each flag as it arises. Possibly helping reconstruct a few answers (pseudo) to see if re-direction is taken.

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

I don't see this being a problem. I have taken criticism on this site before and see it as constructive. (cliché`) For the better good of the site I would try to see their point of view.

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?

I have been in CAD/GIS mapping in State, Private, COG, and Municipal arenas. Also have had industry focus ranging from statewide water, regional 911, city assets, engineering services, and pipelines. All beginning in 1989. I have always said that some of the best learning comes between 5pm and 2am. "Meaning when you stay late to accomplish something you don't know how to do and you stay until it is done. You almost always learn something.

CAD and GIS together is where I have spent most of my effort. They have always not seen eye to eye and I have always had some understanding of how to make them play together. I have been tech support for national networks of users and have learned how to first list to problems, next come up with some options for places to look for the issue and finally (probably the hardest part.) relay back to sometimes impatient callers all the buttons and dialogs to traverse to possible solutions (more than once without the software in front of me).

I like programming and certainly the use of custom scripts to make computers do special things. But, I am not a programmer and can't sit at a blank page and find a solution to even my needs. That said I do find troubleshooting and pseudo coding enjoyable to a small degree (I can get in over my head quickly).

I already employ a tactic of "answer bombing" to add useful dialogs, or tidbits to watch for on already answered questions (hopefully not to a degree of overriding the existing answer) but (it is my intention) to help/augment/add to information already there. Rather than start another answer saying almost the same thing. This is my response to not having strengths in all fields. So I hope I would also welcome augmentation to any post I make. (I am also not afraid to ask for help).

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?

When I think about what is wrong with our SE it is centered around how to get more questions with an accepted answer, and how to make those answers easier to find by the next guy. Otherwise I think the politicking an policing seem to work pretty well.

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?

I consistently either skip problems I don't know how (or have the moderator experience) to handle, or flag for review. That seems a natural part of this.

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?

I don't know about a least time. I have been a member for quite a while. The model (and the apps) here seems to me, to make it possible to browse and ingest at small intervals all day. (I guess it is kinda my replacement for something like facebook or texting. I volunteer at other organizations and don't have a problem when someone else needs to go make money to feed their family. That is what comes before helping someone else anyway.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As Jeff Atwood aptly puts it. (Cliché` again) "As little as possible". But I have seen the hard work of our Mods and appreciate that it can be tedious at times.

I guess it is a little like cleaning. You have to know what tool to use. If it is a big mess you better get something to clean with quickly and get it real clean. If it is just some crumbs dropped you need a much smaller broom to just quietly walk behind the partygoers and make it so they don't notice you.

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?

A little dismayed. As I just stated before I read this question. I prefer to walk behind unnoticed so the next time they come in they stop at the door, breath deep and give a nod of approval to no one in particular. Just happy to be back.

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

I don't think of it making me more effective. I've just been using the facilities. I can keep using the facilities. Probably the only thing is the commitment would probably help the other mods feel like they have some more help.

Now that I write that down I think this process of answering these questions has already given me different eyes to look through while watching what is going on with the site. So being a mod will make me more efficient just because I would have the commitment, not just helping out when I feel like it.

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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?

Personalities differ greatly among experts. I would value their contributed answers highly. Unless the arguments are not in offensive offensive or abusive to users, I would leave it alone. If the comments evolve into a fight, simply delete all unwanted argument comments.Afterwards post a moderator comment asking them to review the comment guidelines in https://stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/comment.

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

If it was closed, I would vote it for reopen and add comments why it should be reopened. If it did not get any attention, I would post a question in the meta asking whether it can be reopened.

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?

I have been in the GIS field for seven years. ArcGIS,QGIS and AutoCAD are the software where I value myself good. I do development involving these software. I am still getting my feet wet in web development.

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 still think many GIS gurus are still not on our site. It would be nice to get more experts to provide more quality answers. Maybe inviting MVPs from previously active GIS forums, by giving them a reasonable amount of startup reputation and badges make up an idea?

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?

Yes

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?

Yes, I believe moderators should spend at least one hour per day on their activity.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators mainly look up the list of flagged posts by other users and cast their binding votes on them based on their judgment. Other than that they stay to resolve any disputes and identifying low quality post material themselves.

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?

It adds more responsibility to my activities on the site. I would be more careful with the selection of words that I use to communicate with fellow users. It kind of makes me think I should review all my comments posted till now. Phew!!

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 craziness to earn reputation ended for me after earning some reputation. Doing this task for the benefit of the community makes me more motivated than rushing myself to earn certain reputation.

  • "I would vote it for reopen and add comments.." this makes no difference as a mod you would re-open the question. We all have our opinions on individual questions from our own experience/knowledge. Most closed questions lack research or full understanding of the topic. – Mapperz Aug 19 '14 at 20:30
  • @Mapperz - I did not notice the fact that the reopen vote also take immediate effect when cast as a moderator...So contacting the mod who closed it and addressing my concern would be what I would do then – vinayan Aug 20 '14 at 6:57

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