15

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. Not every question was compiled - as noted, we only selected the top 8 questions as submitted by the community, plus 2 pre-set questions from us.

As part of an ongoing test, we're doing the questionnaire at the same time as nominations are being run. Please do not respond to this question unless you already have submitted your nomination.

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. Oh, and please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written.

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!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  1. 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?

  2. We currently have nearly 19,000 (towards 25%) of the questions asked here unanswered. If you think that's too many, then, as a moderator, would you see helping the community to address that number being a priority, and how might you do so?

  3. 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?

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

  5. Why do you want to become a moderator?

  6. What are the biggest challenges observed at GIS Stack Exchange and how will you as a moderator help address these challenges?

  7. If you are elected as a moderator, your vote to Close will instantly lead to a question being placed On Hold. How long after you see a question, and decide in your own mind that it should be placed On Hold, do you think that it will be appropriate for you to do so?

  8. What is your GIS background/experience, and what software packages are your greatest strengths? What approach would you take when needing to moderate a Question/Answer about topics you are less proficient in?

  9. Moderators often need to interpret the site’s scope, usually using a mix of the On Topic page and various Meta Q&As (usually tagged scope). If you think the site’s scope, as currently documented and/or interpreted, is either too broad or too narrow, which single category of questions or potential questions would you most like to see removed from or added to its scope, or clarified within it, and why?

  10. As a moderator on GIS SE you will sometimes need to communicate with SE staff and moderators from other SE sites. What is your experience of the Stack Exchange network beyond the walls of GIS SE?

20

Midavalo

  1. 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 believe I have the patience and commitment to serve as a GIS SE Moderator. Currently I quite enjoy working through new questions and answers, helping new members improve the quality of their posts, and flag those that have issues I cannot deal with. I am a quiet, hard worker by nature, and don't mind jobs that others consider to be mundane.

  1. We currently have nearly 19,000 (towards 25%) of the questions asked here unanswered. If you think that's too many, then, as a moderator, would you see helping the community to address that number being a priority, and how might you do so?

For me it's not so much the 19,000 that might be unanswered, but whether or not their has been any activity on them at all. Some questions have been solved or help given (rightly or wrongly) through comments that weren't considered enough to be added as answers.

The questions that have had no answers or comments at all are of more interest to me - why haven't they been answered, and why hasn't anyone asked for more info if there's not enough for an answer. Is the question too unusual or simple or obscure to answer?

If there is enough info provided in the question then potentially bounties could be used to raise awareness of the question. If not enough info then a request for more info would be required before an answer is likely.

  1. 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 key here is valuable answers. If they are valuable then what is causing the arguments or flags? If it's the way answers are written it may just come down to gentle edits or comments to remind users how best to write answers. If these answers are raising more questions (but the answer isn't necessarily incorrect), then I believe this can be a good thing where people are actually thinking in different ways to solve the same problems.

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

Give it time - others in the community may also feel that it has been closed inappropriately and hit the re-open flag. Alternatively there is always room in Meta to gently query reasons (or potentially through chat). We're all human, we all make mistakes, and we don't all think the same way. Just because I don't think it should have been closed doesn't mean that I'm right!

  1. Why do you want to become a moderator?

I enjoy helping people, both through attempting to answer questions, but also through helping them learn how to write better ones (which can even lead them to discover the answers for themselves). I feel that as a moderator I could have more opportunities to help and also to improve the quality of the Questions and Answers at GIS Stack Exchange.

  1. What are the biggest challenges observed at GIS Stack Exchange and how will you as a moderator help address these challenges?

I think one of the biggest challenges we are seeing at the moment on GIS Stack Exchange is the struggle to write good questions (rather than typical forum style posts). Some more Meta guides similar to @PolyGeo's recent Writing code snippets to get quicker answers? that can be used to guide (new) members to writing good Questions in order to get better answers.

  1. If you are elected as a moderator, your vote to Close will instantly lead to a question being placed On Hold. How long after you see a question, and decide in your own mind that it should be placed On Hold, do you think that it will be appropriate for you to do so?

An earlier question mentioned patience. Moderation always involves patience, taking a deep breath and thinking about things before acting. It will always depend on the Question - some are obviously in need of closure, whereas others could be a matter of personal opinion or understanding. These will need to be weighed up every time to determine whether closure is immediately appropriate, or to let the community decide through their voting first. I have found the community as a whole to be pretty good at gauging what needs to be done when I'm not immediately sure.

  1. What is your GIS background/experience, and what software packages are your greatest strengths? What approach would you take when needing to moderate a Question/Answer about topics you are less proficient in?

I have 15 years GIS experience (most of it using Esri products from Unix ArcInfo and ArcView to SDE, ArcMap, and ArcGIS Online).

I initially worked for the water utility department of a city council, but soon expanded into other areas as well. Have set up and worked with geometric networks, making available network trace tools to our water operation teams.

For a number of years I worked as a de-facto GIS DB administrator, helping run multiple servers and databases.

I am fluent in arcpy, vba, FME, and SQL, and love to learn new ways to do things both with the tools I've already got but also with tools/software I've never used before. I would say that geometric networks, ArcGIS Desktop, and arcpy would be my main strengths.

When it comes to questions/answers on topics I'm not so proficient in, it will come down to trying to draw out enough information from the asker to be sure that the question is answerable, or from the answerer to make sure their answer actually answers the question. With GIS the concepts are the same across the various platforms, just the ways you do things can be different. If a concept doesn't make sense for one platform, it also might not make sense for another, so it will be a matter of determining what these are and drawing out the correct information.

  1. Moderators often need to interpret the site’s scope, usually using a mix of the On Topic page and various Meta Q&As (usually tagged scope). If you think the site’s scope, as currently documented and/or interpreted, is either too broad or too narrow, which single category of questions or potential questions would you most like to see removed from or added to its scope, or clarified within it, and why?

Personally I think the scope has been set very well. One area I would like to see changed, although I'm not too sure how at this stage, is to give a bit more room for ideas/concepts rather than specific software tasks. Sometimes I feel these types of questions are closed as too broad a little too quick, whereas a community effort of a number of ideas could actually help develop the concepts into an achievable task. Maybe a community wiki post would work better for this, but overall I feel this would be a great way to learn.

  1. As a moderator on GIS SE you will sometimes need to communicate with SE staff and moderators from other SE sites. What is your experience of the Stack Exchange network beyond the walls of GIS SE?

I have used 3 or 4 other SE sites, and have browsed through questions on many many more, including Stack Overflow and Meta Stack Exchange. I have had several good answers on SO but am yet to find the opportunity to answer a question where someone else hasn't already given a much more brilliant answer.

  • 3
    funny thing is, I thought you were already a moderator ;) – Stephen Lead Sep 20 '16 at 1:17
17

Fezter

Thanks for your consideration, folks!

  1. 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 have taken great pride in moderating this site for the past four years. I flag, vote, comment, review and edit on an almost daily basis. For me, becoming a moderator is something that I not only have the patience and commitment for, but it is something I feel is already part of my GIS professional development.

  1. We currently have nearly 19,000 (towards 25%) of the questions asked here unanswered. If you think that's too many, then, as a moderator, would you see helping the community to address that number being a priority, and how might you do so?

I think 25% of the questions going unanswered somewhat high. If a question has been solved in comments, then, I would try to persuade the commenter to add an answer based on the comment. In addition, if I feel the question is of particular importance, then I may offer a bounty to bring attention to it. I know @Polygeo has done both of the above and generously offered much of his reputation points on bounties.

  1. 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?

This site is about answering questions. If the user is providing a lot of valuable answers, that's a good thing. I would have to look at the flags on a case by case basis. Arguments are ok. I think it's good to get discussion happening - but if it goes off topic or long-winded, maybe move them to the chat.

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

Currently, if I feel a question should be reopened, I vote for it to be reopened. Especially if I feel that there is sufficient information to answer it. If another moderator has closed/deleted a question and I disagreed with that decision, I would reopen it. But perhaps, I would edit the question to make it more clear. Or leave a comment explaining why I reopened it. I

  1. Why do you want to become a moderator?

I think I answered this in question 1. I see this site as part of my continuing professional development. I encourage my coworkers and colleagues to become active in this site. I want to do my part to continue to make this site the primary destination for finding answers and getting help by other professionals in the GIS industry.

  1. What are the biggest challenges observed at GIS Stack Exchange and how will you as a moderator help address these challenges?

I'm going to agree with Midavalo here and say the biggest challenge is usually with posts from new members. A lot of the edits/reviews I make are from new members who struggle to form clear posts. Sometimes the questions are vague or the answers are too short with not much effort into clarifying them. As a moderator, it's important to guide these users to reform their questions and answers so that they benefit others.

Also, I think there are a lot of people who come to this site, make a post, then never return. As a moderator, I suppose it's important to ensure these posts are relevant and get the attention they need.

  1. If you are elected as a moderator, your vote to Close will instantly lead to a question being placed On Hold. How long after you see a question, and decide in your own mind that it should be placed On Hold, do you think that it will be appropriate for you to do so?

I think this site does a pretty good job of moderating itself. The review process is a great way for the general users to identify posts to close. If a question/answer is obvious spam, then I will delete it immediately. If there are one or two votes to close for reasons such as duplicate, or too broad, then I think it's fair to say it should be closed.

If the question was asked by a new user, I would comment that they should read the site FAQ and give them the opportunity to edit their question/answer.

Ultimately, this will need to be done on a case by case basis. Each post should be looked at individually.

  1. What is your GIS background/experience, and what software packages are your greatest strengths? What approach would you take when needing to moderate a Question/Answer about topics you are less proficient in?

My background: I was first introduced to GIS in 1999 when a friend of mine took me to her computer lab at university (Penn State). She was a geography major (I was a mathematics major) and she showed me how she overlaid different layers on the screen. Pipes, roads, parks, etc. I thought it was so cool - I hadn't ever seen anything like that.

Fast forward a few years and I was working with a town planning firm in Melbourne doing CAD (Microstation) work. I was making maps using CAD and one of the planners said that we should get a GIS program. I volunteered to be the in-house GIS Guy. We looked at both MapInfo and ArcGIS and decided to go with ArcGIS. I spent a couple of years teaching myself ArcGIS. A few years later I transferred to the Brisbane office, and they had MapInfo. So, I had to relearn everything.

In 2010, I decided I wanted to get some formal training in GIS. So, I decided to get a Graduate Diploma (almost a masters) in GIS from the University of Queensland. When I completed that, I moved on to a different company where I am now. It's a GIS consultancy and I use most of the main desktop GIS packages (ArcGIS, MapInfo, QGIS, etc). In addition to those, I use FME.

My strengths: I would say my biggest strengths are ArcGIS and FME. However, I am fully proficient in MapInfo, but my preference is not to use it if I don't have to. I am also proficient in arcpy. I'm always looking for ways to make my workflow more efficient with some sort of automation.

My approach: As far as my approach when needing to moderate a topic I'm less proficient in, I guess I do that already. Questions and answers should follow a particular guideline as defined in the FAQ. If they don't, I can jump in by editing, voting, commenting, etc. It is possible to determine if a post is in need of moderation even if I'm not familiar with the software. Also, it never hurts to do a little research to learn what I can to help.

  1. Moderators often need to interpret the site’s scope, usually using a mix of the On Topic page and various Meta Q&As (usually tagged scope). If you think the site’s scope, as currently documented and/or interpreted, is either too broad or too narrow, which single category of questions or potential questions would you most like to see removed from or added to its scope, or clarified within it, and why?

I think the site has matured enough now that the scope is pretty much where it needs to be. The only thing I may be flexible on is the wording "We are not a GIS Software Support Site". While I mostly agree with this statement, especially with commercial software, there are many open source and third party programs with no official support. This site already supports users in a lot of ways with those programs.

  1. As a moderator on GIS SE you will sometimes need to communicate with SE staff and moderators from other SE sites. What is your experience of the Stack Exchange network beyond the walls of GIS SE?

I'm a member on a few other SE sites and I have asked a few questions on them. However, I haven't answered questions anywhere else. Mainly because of time and perhaps lack of experience in those fields. My reputation on Space Exploration is highest after GIS SE. However, I lack experience to answer anything space related. Stack Exchange sites are often my first stop when searching for specialised answers.

  • funny thing is I thought you were already a moderator! – Midavalo Sep 14 '16 at 5:08
  • 1
    Thanks! So I have your vote? ;-) – Fezter Sep 14 '16 at 5:09
  • that may well happen! – Midavalo Sep 14 '16 at 5:15
  • 1
    @Midavalo This is the crew the two successful nominees will join: gis.stackexchange.com/users?tab=moderators – PolyGeo Sep 14 '16 at 8:40
  • 7
    Voting for each other, brilliant. Feel the love people :D Seriously, though, respect for putting yourselves forward. I find the decreasing signal to noise ratio on many SE sites depressing and all moderators and potential moderators deserve praise for keeping the site clean. – John Powell Sep 14 '16 at 10:23
  • @Fezter I am taking my hat off, brave move. Q for you: there are hundreds of posts, with no feedback from the asker. I.e. he/she forgets about the post the second he/she hits submit. Don't you think it'is a good idea to simply remove such posts? – FelixIP Sep 21 '16 at 3:33
  • 1
    @FelixIP, great question. I agree that some of these questions should be removed after being unanswered for a long period of time. However, many of the questions can and should be answered. Even if the OP has long gone, a late answer will still benefit future visitors to the site. It'll have to be assessed case by case. I'm not in favour of deleting a post simply because the OP hasn't returned. But yes, some should be removed if they are clearly not relevant anymore. – Fezter Sep 21 '16 at 9:23
  • 1
    Stack Exchange is superior to Esri's Geonet in almost every conceivable way. But GeoNet does have a "mark assumed answered" button. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but something like that could be useful on SE as a way to address abandoned questions – Stephen Lead Sep 26 '16 at 3:45
  • I've thought the same thing @StephenLead - an assumed as answered that can be flagged or voted on by the community – Midavalo Sep 26 '16 at 17:51
  • Yeah I would have to agree too. I'm assuming that would have to be applied to all SE sites. I wonder if that would work on others as well (probably). – Fezter Sep 26 '16 at 19:59
  • 1
    someone better vote you guys in as moderators so you can make it happen ;) – Stephen Lead Sep 26 '16 at 23:35
14

Evil Genius

  1. 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 feel I do some of this already. I’m active in all of the review queues I have access to and I already flag spam and vote to close questions that I feel need it.

  1. We currently have nearly 19,000 (towards 25%) of the questions asked here unanswered. If you think that's too many, then, as a moderator, would you see helping the community to address that number being a priority, and how might you do so?

When I first started actively participating here at GIS.SE I would look back through the long lists of unanswered questions in search for some that I could possibly answer. What I found, and continue to see, are many questions that belong to a user account that only has the single question posted and hasn’t been active since it was asked. It looks like there’s about 4500 of these currently.

It seems like we’ve struggled with what to do in this situation for some time, and I definitely don’t have an easy answer, but I would suggest trying to determine if some of these are duplicates of other questions that have answers and seeing if they can be closed for other reasons (off-topic, entire script copy/pasting etc.).

Otherwise, I believe the way to manage this number will be continued community involvement to ensure that the questions here are relevant, just as many users do every day. In other words: keep that number from growing any larger.

  1. 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?

All users are expected to follow our ‘Be nice’ model, and anyone blatantly and repeatedly disregarding those guidelines should be dealt with accordingly. That being said, some can be very passionate about their work and knowledge and it can be easy to misinterpret the intent of emotionless words on a screen (where is my sartalic font?!).

I’d begin by reminding such a user of our community guidelines and take further action when needed.

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

I’d first try to understand why the other mod took the action, and understand the impact of the closure (duplicate question, off-topic, etc.).

For example, there may be a question closed as a duplicate that I felt wasn’t actually a duplicate. In this case, the user may have found an answer elsewhere, already asked another question but explained it sufficiently so that it wasn’t duplicating or just completely moved on/gave up.

In those cases, reopening the question, even though I feel that it’s unique, may not be improving the community much and would likely add to the 19,000 unanswered questions.

However, if the user was actively questioning the closure and proved (to me) that it was not a duplicate I would reopen the question.

  1. Why do you want to become a moderator?

The same reason I joined and started participating! I’d like to give back to a community that I has saved me time, effort and kept me from pulling my hair out on multiple occasions.

After using the site for a while to find answers to my GIS questions, I decided the best way to give back and improve the community would be to create an account and start answering the questions I could. I’ve been using the review and voting privileges since I realized they were available. This would be another way for me to continue improving GIS.SE.

  1. What are the biggest challenges observed at GIS Stack Exchange and how will you as a moderator help address these challenges?

I think the most frequent day-to-day challenge is acclimating new users to the Q/A format and the interpretation of the scope of this site. I’m already actively participating where I can to improve both of these areas (leaving comments with feedback, participating in Meta) and I would plan on continuing to do so.

  1. If you are elected as a moderator, your vote to Close will instantly lead to a question being placed On Hold. How long after you see a question, and decide in your own mind that it should be placed On Hold, do you think that it will be appropriate for you to do so?

Ideally, the community should be voting to close questions and I believe a question closed by a moderator should be the exception, not the rule. I would only use a moderator close vote to put a question On Hold in extreme and obvious cases.

  1. What is your GIS background/experience, and what software packages are your greatest strengths? What approach would you take when needing to moderate a Question/Answer about topics you are less proficient in?

I’ve been using GIS since 2005 or so. Throughout my experiences, I’ve ended up using GE Smallworld, QGIS, GRASS, and of course ESRI’s ArcGIS along with GDAL and FME.

I work in the natural gas industry, and so most of my experience has been with that data, but that has ranged from data entry to advanced risk analysis. My approach to moderating topics that I’m not as proficient in will mirror my approach to reviewing those topics.
Generally I will skip over questions that deal with things I do understand; such as duplicate votes that I do not understand enough to determine if they are in fact duplicates or re-open votes where I don’t understand the topic enough to know how much information would be sufficient.

There may be exceptions to this, such as I will still leave a comment asking the poster to provide an example code snippet on a question asking for help debugging code even if I do not understand the topic of the question.

  1. Moderators often need to interpret the site’s scope, usually using a mix of the On Topic page and various Meta Q&As (usually tagged scope). If you think the site’s scope, as currently documented and/or interpreted, is either too broad or too narrow, which single category of questions or potential questions would you most like to see removed from or added to its scope, or clarified within it, and why?

I actually feel pretty good about the scope of GIS.SE and I try to participate whenever I can when it’s in question. I think we can still make some progress on when a coding question stops being a GIS question but I also feel like we’ve been making progress there.

  1. As a moderator on GIS SE you will sometimes need to communicate with SE staff and moderators from other SE sites. What is your experience of the Stack Exchange network beyond the walls of GIS SE?

My participation on other SE sites is generally limited to voting on the questions and answers that I find helpful. I found it difficult to spend equal amounts of time participating on every site that I’m interested in and eventually ended up mainly participating here on GIS.SE. I do frequent other sites, such as the main SO site and SuperUser, but I am not nearly as active there.

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