# 2013 Moderator Election Q&A - Questionnaire

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 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 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?

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

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Welcome to my (very) long answer of answers. I hope that these give you an indication of where I stand as it pertains to moderating this site, and also gives you a better idea of who I am. Cheers!

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?

Such a circumstance is something that I feel that moderating team has to strive to achieve consensus among themselves, as moderators can undo even the quite serious actions of other moderators. I do feel that no single user is greater than math.SE as a whole, and that quality answers will continue to be submitted even if any one individual member leaves; we need look no further than the unfortunate departure of Arturo Magidin as evidence of this. Truly problematic users may also inhibit other equally qualified people for joining our site as contributors, and this opportunity cost may be easy to overlook. It is only right that the moderators follow in broad outline the guidelines set out in this post by Jeff Atwood, meaning that there would be a series of responses of increasing severity. Whether the increments would be exactly the same would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis, but the moderators do neither the math.SE community, nor themselves, a favour by giving highly problematic users significantly more leeway based on other contributions.

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

Much of this depends on the actual circumstances of the closure/deletion. I'll restrict my attention to the closure case, as the deletion case is similar, just with different numbers and no current meta-thread for its undoing. Should a moderator vote to close a question as the fifth of five, I would have absolutely no problems with this; the moderators are users, and are thus as entitled to express their opinions on valid/invalid content on the site as any other (sufficiently privigeled) user. Seeing a moderator vote as the fifth of five would be an indication to me that restraint was shown, and I should only reciprocate. Depending on how strong my feelings are about the particular instance, I would have no problem adding another answer to our Requests for Reopen Votes meta-thread, and hope to become the fifth of five in the opposite direction.

If, on the other hand, another moderator has used their sledgehammer in a manner I feel was inappropriate, the worst thing I could do is return in kind. My first step would be to contact that moderator and try to get their thoughts on the matter; it is perfectly possible that they saw or knew something about the particular case that I was unaware of. If an agreement still is not found after these discussions, I would again hope to guide the community in having this action undone.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

No, I have never been suspended. I have never been warned by the moderators. I'm doubtful that a moderator has ever found a flag on any of my contributions "helpful" (though I cannot be certain of this). I would absolutely allow the moderators to check and report on ther veracity of this response. (Even more, I'm kind of curious what sort of notes (if any) the moderators have on me.)

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

I strongly feel that moderators should not use their powers in activist ways. At the same time there are limits to what I would do with these sledgehammers in the name of "community consensus". For example, I would not suspend, for example, Nazem Kadri simply because there is a demand by the community for this to be done. While this might seem like an outlandish possibility, I think it fits within the broad parameters of this question.

I do understand that the impetus of this question is likely what have become known as PSQs, and the possibility of there being a community consensus to close/delete them, and so I will address this more directly. First of all, I have no idea what form "community consensus" will take with respect to this topic; even though recent meta-threads have indicated that there is support for such policies, I do not think anything close to a consensus has been achieved (and the fact that conversations continue makes me certain that I am not alone in this thinking). Even more, I have not seen any proposals to the effect that "PSQs should be flagged and duly closed/deleted by the moderators". I hope that we never see such a proposal; and in general I would be discouraged by any proposal that obliged the moderators to use their sledgehammers. The actions of the individual users will go much further than the discussions on meta in shaping community norms (if not policies). I will not unilaterally undo the actions of the community as it regards the closing/opening/etc of questions, but I do not (and cannot) promise to never start a discussion about having the community itself undo these actions on a case-to-case basis. (I don't expect this to be a common occurence, but it would be somewhat evasive of me to not admit the possibility.)

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

I strongly believe that math.SE is part of the larger mathematics community, and as such we should strive to be responsible actors within it. A large part of this is to not hamper the efforts of other facets of this community. I do feel that it is more than appropriate to temporarily close and delete all questions for which there is strong evidence to support that they are part of an ongoing contest or exam. This is one of the very few instances I believe that moderators are justified in using their sledgehammers. But once deadlines have passed, I see no reason why such a question should remain deleted and closed (and here, again, a moderator sledgehammer is useful).

I also do not feel it is the job of the moderators to hunt down contest/exam questions, or to treat questions which only might be from contests/exams as if they were certain infractions. I would hope that math.SE becomes known as a responsible part of the larger mathematics community that professors and contest organisers feel they can monitor this site, flag posts when cheating is detected, and see a quick response. I recall that an organiser of the Canada/USA Mathcamp had personal contact with Qiaochu Yuan, and this lead to several questions being closed/deleted. Unfortunately, I also believe that this contact was only through Qiaochu, and I hope that a relationship of this kind can be established with the current (and future) moderating team.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

Well, I certainly have not achieved the Deputy badge. I'm actually still quite a long ways off. I don't know how to explain this, except for possibly two contributing factors. First of all, the tags that I have spent most of my time in do not seem to attract too many contentious users (some, but not too many), and so I rarely come across posts/comments that I deem flag worthy. Secondly, I probably have a more laissez faire attitute toward contributions to the site, looking for ways to accept rather than flag them. Even those times when I try to hunt for flags I find only very few (and the Review queue seems to empty extremely quickly). (As a note, of the 50 posts I have flagged (as of this writing) on the main site, all but three were deemed "helpful" and the three stragglers were "disputed" as opposed to "declined".)

If my +2 Cap of Precognition were not in the dry-cleaners, I could better answer how I will compensate for this "lack of experience". One thing that will be quickly noticed by myself is the sort of posts/comments that are flagged, but I also plan to become acquainted with the manner in which the current moderators are handling flags. I would imagine that for a time some users may see more of their flags being declined, but I would not expect this to last long as I become conditioned to the flag-handling norms. (This entire answer is likely a great example of "How Not to Be Elected". But it is truthful. Except for the having a +2 Cap of Precognition part.)

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I feel that I am at least moderately involved in meta. My active involvement ebbs and flows depending on exactly what is going on around the site, and exactly what sort of questions are being asked. I am often amazed at the knowledge that certain users have with the workings of the SE framework, and other technical matters. But I certainly keep abreast of what is happening, checking meta quite religiously (or is that fanatically?), and feel I know a fair bit about the habits and personalities of the usual meta denizens.

It did take me a while to find my voice on meta, as it can be a daunting task to follow the various strong personalities and histories in the more contentious threads. I hope that when I do participate (and I am speaking about my current non-moderator instantiation) it is seen as a more reasoned and moderate voice. And I fully expect this to continue in any future instantiation.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

The closing of questions has a dual purpose. Perhaps at is basic level it is an indication to the OP that there is something wrong with the question as it currently stands, but there is still a possibility to correct it, and have it re-opened. Secondly, it is often the first step towards other more serious actions (such as deleting).

Deleting questions is generally reserved for those cases where the question likely has no chance of being redeemed, and it is better for it to simple not exist to the vast majority of users. Of course, deleted questions actually do exist, and deletions can be undone, making it a very valuable method for hiding content in cases as discussed in an above answer.

The locking of posts is usually done when there has been an inordinant amount of activity (e.g., continual edits and reverts), but it can also be applied to cases where discussions in the comments have gone way off course and have become inflammatory, thereby giving the moderators time to separate the wheat from the chaff before unlocking with a (hopefully) more civil continuation. I'll admit to not understanding how protecting questions actually works in practice. I understand that it is for those cases where many non-answers by new users have either been submitted or are expected, but the very low reputation minimum to post a new answer makes me think that its purpose is to simply scare users into not providing new answers.

One of my basic beliefs regarding these methods is that, when possible, in the vast majority of cases they are better done by the community at large. I have seen questions closed rather quickly without moderator intervention, and for the most part any "community consensus" has to start with the actions of the community shaping a community norm. If moderators are to be "human exception handlers" then it stands to reason that the events they handle should be exceptional.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

(I think this was answered above...)

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

The worst "disputes" I have had with specific math.SE users haven't gone beyond simple frustration. There was a very real possibility of my entering into a bad dispute with a user over one comment that I initially took (and to a certain extent still take) as a personal insult. I submitted a poorly thought out, somewhat vicious comment in reply. I deleted this fairly quickly, and replaced it by a comment to the effect of "I won't deal with you again, but here's why you're wrong." I think I almost handled this well, but wish that initial comment was never submitted. (For the relevant post, see here.)

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This is at least a first draft.... –  Arthur Fischer May 14 '13 at 16:36
Wouldn't we all want a Cap of Precognition... :) for a first draft, this sure looks a bit shiny already. –  Ｊ. Ｍ. May 14 '13 at 16:50
I thought that elves can't use Cap of Precognition! And you're definitely an elf in human skin... (it's the combination of the height, and that smile of yours which says "Look at me, I used to know Legolas!") –  Asaf Karagila May 14 '13 at 21:18
@Asaf: Haha your references always bring smile to face :) –  Prism May 14 '13 at 23:18
You mentioned that This entire answer is likely a great example of "How Not to Be Elected". But it is truthful. I, for one, would much rather have a moderator who I may not agree with 100%, but was completely honest up front. :) (Although, from my first reading, it looks like I do agree with you.) –  anorton May 16 '13 at 16:43
"Unfortunately, I also believe that this contact was only through Qiaochu, and I hope that a relationship of this kind can be established with the current (and future) moderating team." I think part of the reason was that they knew Qiaochu's e-mail, and not that of other mods. (At the time I mistakenly believed that my e-mail is publicly viewable since I was a mod; since then I've added my e-mail address to my displayed info box.) –  Willie Wong May 21 '13 at 9:16

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 same way I would deal with other users. I would take into account the value a user provides when it comes to setting suspension lengths and the like. A valuable contributer will get shorter suspensions than a crank.

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

Except for extreme cases one could consider in the abstract (mod gone rogue), I would not revert the action but discuss the issue with fellow moderators to avoid having inconsistent policies in the future and maybe convince the mod who carried out the action to revert it. I don't know whether high-rep users can revert such actions, in that case I would do even less.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

No and yes. I might have had a very short (~1hr) chat suspension (can a mod please check and post the answer?), but I don't remember it.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

I would follow the community consensus. In extreme cases, I would step down before I solely carry out actions I disagree with. I have never seen a clear consensus I disagree with here.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

I would lock them, add a notice, and delete answers and revealing comments in order to unlock and restore the deleted comments at a later stage. I hope this is within the mod powers. If I can't delete-and-undelete comments, I might simply delete the question to restore it later. The user would get a warning not to do this again and get a suspension upon repeated offence. Relatedly, in the case of take home exams, I think it is mainly the instructrs job to carry out 'punishment' and not the duty of MSE.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

Does not apply.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I have been involved in some heated debates. I would try to get less involved in arguments as a moderator and tone myself down. I agree with Brian M. Scott's view that moderators should not be activists.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

First, closing and deleting is not directly opposed. Many who can vote to delete, can only do so on closed threads. But the point of closing is that it is easier to reverse and comments are still possible, which should help in improving the question so that it can be reopened at a later stage. I think closing is something that should mainly be done by users and not mods. An exception is moving threads to other stackexchange sites, which I would only do with OPs agreement.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

I think this is essentially the same question we had before and my answer still applies.

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

I had disputes with people who I would consider troublemakers. Whether they are serious or not is an issue of perspective. But these disagreements have usually affected many users besides me, and usually this has been dealt with by mods to my satisfaction. There is no big unresolved issue for me with any user. If someone wants to know abut some specific 'incident', please ask in a comment.

Note: This is written in a coffe house and I'm travelling at the moment. I might try to improve on my answer in wording later, but I do not inted to change any content.

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BTW: users of sufficient rep can certainly vote to reopen, and those with a bit higher rep can vote to undelete; the only snag in undeletion is that regular 10k+ users seem to have lost the capability to search for deleted stuff, so a mod might want to post a meta thread if he is pleading for a post's undeletion. –  Ｊ. Ｍ. May 14 '13 at 13:28
@J.M. Thanks, I was not sure whether mod deletions are more binding than other deletions. The point on finding deleted questions is well taken. –  Michael Greinecker May 14 '13 at 15:24
About the contests deletion, you can't undelete a comment, by the way. –  Asaf Karagila May 14 '13 at 20:50
@Asaf In that case it might be best to copy the comments into an answr and delete both. –  Michael Greinecker May 15 '13 at 2:26
I don't think we actually store a list of chat suspensions. Most we store is a list of all messages from a user that has ever been flagged, and that doesn't give information on whether they have been validated or not. –  Grace Note May 16 '13 at 19:23

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?

Unless his answers are extraordinary awesome I would not mind that much about it. We have rules because we actually think that they are useful and necessary. And the more answers he have (with high upvotes) the more his behaviour is noticed and the higher our interest should be that they set good examples. In extreme cases (when there is the decision between a really long suspension and a deletion) I would prefer in this cases to make an really long suspension, because in this way his answers will stay linked to his account.

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

This is a hard one. Because I won't close as moderator every question where I feel it should be closed. Maybe it helps to give an example on my point of view. I don't know if you remember the beauty of mathematics question, I feel that this question should be closed, but not from a moderator. Because even though I think it is not appropiate for this site, I can unterstand when someone think that it is, a question on meta would be a better solution. In addition I will try to distinguish my opinion as a community member and the job of a moderator. I don't know how strong the communication between the moderators is right now, but normally I would ask them in chat if I feel a decision of them should actually be reversed.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

On the Stack Exchange Network was never suspended (at least I didn't notice it). On the Stack Exchange Chats I was never suspendet either (as far as I noticed). I was silenced 2 times for 5 minutes in the chat of "Matheplanet" a german math forum, because I played tricks on an admin (well I overdid it). I would appreciate if a moderator check my answers and post it as a comment.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

I will live with it. As it is said everywhere Mathematics is driven by the community. I don't expect that my opinion is always the community consensus. If it happens to often I will surely ask myself whether I am still the right person for this position or whether things have changed.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

When it happens the first time my actions will look like that

1. a) Lock the question when it doesn't have any answers.
b) When it does have answers deleting the question.
2. Get in contact with the for the contest responsible person and tell that someone tried to cheat. Sending the Identity of this person when possible.
3. Suspending the user for at least a day.

When the user does it a second time I will concern a deletion of his account.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

Until now I am not that much involved with the meta site, in comparism to the main site it is nearly a null set (which might be due to my high activity on the main site). This surely has to change if I am elected (and it will). I read meta threads mostly when there is a discussion in chat about them. Most time when I read the threads I feel like everything I want to say is already said.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

There are different closing reasons, so for sure if a question is closed as duplicate the reason is getting all answers in a single place. Closing gives a rough structure about what questions are appropiate here and which questions aren't. Furthermore closing gives a sign about the quality of a question. It is less likely that I will read a closed question. On a closed question still everyone can comment and it is still public, while a deleted question is much harder to found and only users with more than 10 k reputation can read them at all.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

I don't really see a difference to the second question could someone clarify this?

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

Not yet and I hope this doesn't change.

If you wish further explanations on one of the questions, make a comment.

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Before I start answering your question I would like to remark that I have read the answers of 6 of the other candidates and found no claim that I totally disagree with altough some of them seem to have a slightly different style than me. I tried to be a bit shorter, but didn't really succeed.

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 e-mail him in a polite but decisive way that we value his "steady stream of valuable answers" but that he should watch his language as others are offended. Furthermore that we have to suspend him if he doesn't react. The link Arthur Fischer provided contains a precise roadway that I would then follow if he doesn't react to that (the current moderators shall correct me if this is handled differently on math.SE)

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

I would discuss this with this mod privately, e.g. in chat. If we can't reach an agreement, I would discuss with the other moderators and try to reach a consensus within the moderating team.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

No, not on this site and I'm not aware of any other suspension on any other site I have participated in. I would allow the moderators checking this for the SE network and making it public.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

As a moderator, I would postpone my personal opinion in favor of community consensus in most cases. If it were a major (from my point of view) issue in which I disagree with most of the community (which up to now has never happened in the past), I would step back and let the community vote someone who represents their opinion better.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

If informed I would first post a comment that users should refrain from posting answers as there is the accusation that this comes from an open contest (or whatever applies). Then I would try to verify this accusation (in case the information does not come from an organizer). If this is verified I would lock the post till the end of the contest and possibly delete answers posted already. If the contest has finished, the post would be unlocked and I would undelete the answers again.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

Does not apply. I would rather say that it is maybe the opposite for me. Some of my earlier flags might have been better off being dealt with by the community.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I read the posts on the meta site on a regular basis. (I would say at least every other day.) I participate actively by up- and downvoting (447 upvotes and 59 downvotes on meta), but I rarely post questions, answers or comments, because most times somebody already mentioned my point of view (or something very close to it). I don't expect that to change much, but I might sometimes post a moderators perspective if I think it adds a point that regular users might not be aware of.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

Closing (as opposed to the other options) gives the OP (or others) the possibility to edit his post so that it better fits the purpose of this site. It indicates that this is a valid question on the site if better formulated. [I hope I got the purpose of this question, please comment otherwise. Duplicate and off-topic closing seem to be no major source for disagreement.]

I would like to state here again what I already posted in the nominations. I would (in general, exceptions e.g. for cases as ongoing contest) not unilaterally use my moderator powers to enforce my view on closing or reopening of certain questions. (The fifth vote would be ok.)

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

See my answer on Question 2.

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

From my perspective that has never happened. If someone disagrees, he should feel free to comment on that.

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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?

This is a tricky situation that must be handled with care. I would begin by contacting the user, by email or some other form of private communication, and politely ask them to refrain from the offending behavior. However, if the behavior continues (and is truly disruptive, rather than a minor oddity or annoyance) I would suspend the user. History shows that no user generates enough valuable answers to offset the damage that such behavior causes to this site (for one thing, it may cause other prolific users to leave).

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

I would discuss the issue with the other moderator. I am confident in our moderation team and my fellow candidates, so I believe that either I would be persuaded that their actions were correct or I would persuade them to reverse their actions.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

No and yes.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

Ultimately I serve at the pleasure of the community. I would act in accordance with the community consensus, except if I found the consensus opinion irreparably damaging to the site, in which case I would probably resign. I trust the community here, so I find it highly unlikely that this would happen.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

I would lock questions from ongoing contests until the contest concluded. If it already has answers, I would delete those and then restore them when the contest concluded. These actions would of course be accompanied by explanatory comments to the posters. Questions for national olympiads are trickier and more severe; I would favor deleting such questions and suspending the offending users, but would consult the other moderators first.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

N/A

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I read meta regularly, and have ever since joining the site. I only post occasionally, because most of the questions I have about the site are answered by the posts I read, and I generally feel that the answers others give cover my feelings on the matters at hand.

If elected I would probably take a more active role in meta, but at the same time a more conservative one. I would ask more questions about community opinions in order to inform my actions as moderator. I would only answer questions for which there is an official SE answer or a clear community consensus, but I would give such answers more frequently (the reason for both being that as a moderator, my answers would carry extra weight).

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

• Closing: There are three purposes I see for closing. One is for duplicate questions, where we do not want to give the same answer twice, but we want to have two separate links to the same answer, so that it is easier for other people with the same question to find it (note that two questions being the same does not always mean searching for one, even intelligently, will bring up the other, due to differences in terminology, phrasing, application, etc). The second is for migrated questions, so that interested users can still follow the question. The third is to keep a record of questions that are not appropriate for the site, to serve as examples and reminders to users; if we simply deleted all such questions then users would have a poor idea of what questions are considered inappropriate.

• Protection: The question is good (or at least decent), but for some reason invites very bad answers. Protection helps prevent these.

• Locking: I see two different purposes. One is for contest problems and their ilk as already discussed. The other is for posts with valuable mathematical contributions which for some reason have become acrimonious. Locking keeps the content while preventing further bitterness.

• Deletion: For problematic questions not covered by the other three options. We want the question gone. It violates the site rules, and either has no content of value or the question cannot be modified in such a way to keep the valuable content while removing the offending material.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

I have never had any disputes I would label as "serious". I've had a few arguments here over the years, but they were all short lived. I can hardly remember them, so naturally I don't feel very strongly about the outcomes.

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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?

First of all, no user is more important than the site, and if it is found that the user is affecting the health of the site, then suitable action has to be taken. However, people who contribute a lot of good answers know a thing or two about the site, and hence, we should not completely ignore the fact that they are valuable contributors.

From my personal observation on the site, I have come to realize that there are in general three kinds of disruptive behaviour on the site:

1. Real problems from the users themselves like being rude, being disputing for the sake of a dispute, not being able to understand the effect of a majority vs minority.
2. The user's frustration with the technical limitations of the site software and the nature of internet and the lack of ability to apply controls and restrictions on users (either for good or bad).
3. Real problems about the site which can actually be solved in the current framework (within the technical design of the site.)

In the first case, initially I would try to urge the user to tone down the behavior. In the second case, I can try to explain to the user the limitations of the site. And if the behavior still persists, then, I would deal with user as in general with other users. Punishments might be, but not necessarily, lighter.

In the third case, I have found that, the community is currently sympathetic to such concerns and there are not too many disagreements. However, it can be ensured that the user can discuss stuff privately with some other members, so that the user does not feel too defensive or threatened about his stand. What a moderator can do is keep an eye on things and facilitate such discussions.

In miscellaneous cases, I would have to see as the situation arises.

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

I feel the problem here is quite restricted. The moderator actions on questions are only important when the issue of time is involved. When the question of timing is involved, I would try to chat with the other moderator in the chat room, and then try to reach to the conclusion. We may make disagree or make mistakes once or twice, but we can then talk about the mistakes and learn from it the next time similar situation comes.

In other case, when timeliness is not important, the question can be better handled by the full community participation, rather than on just a moderator basis. Moderators should not in general unilaterally take actions on their own.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

I have never been suspended on any SE site. However, I have once been cautioned by the moderators of the English Language Usage site for serially upvoting a user. I had done that on the day I had come to know that a script exists to detect serial upvotes and I wanted to try if it really worked. I had chosen a site where I had not voted too much before (may be 1 or two votes), and conducted my experiment, at the end of which, when asked, I had disclosed fully to the moderators what I had done, and everything was well. I will allow people to check my credentials.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

Community is bigger than a moderator, and sometimes, when the community decides to go one way, it is the responsibility of the moderator to go that way and with full agreement. At the most the moderator can do is, he can use his previous experience in moderating (which the community may not have had in general) to put forward his points and hope/reasonably expect the community respects that opinion.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

I think the questions should not be just locked. They should be temporarily deleted, and the undeleted once the contest is over. The reason I emphasize on deletion is that, while locking might prevent someone from answering on this site, it may be possible for the people to answer otherwise. Locking is perfectly okay in cases where the exam is available online for the public to see. However, there are cases, where the exam is not for the public to see, and in this cases, posting the questions on MSE might give the questions wide unwanted publicity during the exam time. Hence, I feel temporary deletion is better than locking during the exam phase. However, I am quite open to the locking argument too. Repeated incidents by a single user should lead to a ban. Also, since users can create multiple account without any problems and time is very important in exams, we should have a strict well-decided policy on such questions, and not deliberate on them on case-by-case basis. Of course, the primary requirement for this is to be contacted and notified from a reliable source that the question is indeed from the contest. I would not mind unilateral actions on such question on receipt of reliable information.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

It is a concern yes. I have seen quite a few flags in the chat though and have learned from the people from chat about which kinds of flags are not good and which aren't. So, for the first few days, I will watch and learn from other moderators, and probably ask their opinion.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I am a regular reader of the meta site, reading as many questions, answers and comments as possible. I generally do not answer, because, till now I have generally found my opinions to be already said well by many other people. I do comment sometimes though. Quite a few questions are more about specific instances where I am not involved, and hence I prefer to let the people who took the actions on that post answer that questions.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

The purpose of closing a question can be

1. Freeze the low-quality posts and allow the OP to improve upon it.
2. Freeze questions which are duplicates, but have enough comments and answer to be valuable to community as they are.

Closed questions can go both ways. They can be deleted or re-opened depending on whether the quality improves soon enough or not.

In contrast, protection is permanent thing designed more towards preventing low-quality answers. Locking is to prevent meltdowns and isolating the effect of that question from the rest of the site, the world etc apart from "historical locks". Deletion is for dealing with posts which are not welcome on this site, and should be heavily discouraged.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

As I said before, I would try to let the community decide as much as possible, (putting in the fifth vote to question I think should be closed/deleted.) And for timely decisions, we can talk, take decisions, and then reflect on it later. We can ask community for guidance in case we moderators are not able to come to a conclusion. If there is still a problem, then we have a big problem!

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

I do not think so.

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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 contact the user and see if there is a way to reduce the arguments, etc, in a way that is agreeable to all parties involved. If s/he is insistent on being argumentative and/or inappropriate, I would: consult the other moderators, and if there was a consensus/vast majority, I would warn the user that continued behavior could result in suspension, and fulfill that warning if necessary.

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

I'd leave the post as-is (no edit/lock/close wars), and communicate with the mod(s) in question via moderator-only or private channels.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

No to the first question, yes to the second.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

I would follow/enforce (as appropriate) the community consensus. However, I would also discuss the issue on meta, explain why I disagree, and seek understanding as to why other parties think that way.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date)?

I approach this situation the same way I would approach questions that have been reported as "live" test problems. I would follow the policy I have outlined in this post; it appears to have consensus--+27/-2 voting, and it appears that all issues raised in the comments have been addressed.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

I don't think that the ability to raise flags correlates well with the ability to handle flags. Part of the reason I do not have a higher flag count is that I don't see flag-able posts that often: other people get to them first.

My flag history is:

15  moderator attention flags

1   declined


I am unsure which flag was declined, but I believe it to be on a "@ corrected, thanks!" type of comment.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

By and large, I check meta every time I log onto main. I read all active threads and upvote/downvote a lot. Probably the biggest change I would make if elected is to post more. Looking at my profile, you can see I've only posted 3 answers and asked 6 questions. The low number of answers is partially because I nearly always find an already-posted answer that I completely agree with, and can just provide it with an upvote. If elected, though, I would probably weigh in more often with posting.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

Closing is for duplicates, open test/contest problems (but to still be reopened), questions that are off topic

Deletion is reserved for extreme cases, for example, spam. StackExchange is designed to have an "infinite memory," so to speak, and not for lots of deletion.

Locking is good for questions that have historical (in terms of the site) significance, and thus are kept, but are no longer a good fit. Locking could be used instead of closing for temporarily freezing open test/contest problems.

Protection should be used if there's a question that is getting a lot of poor answers from very new users. This could occur with questions that appear simple, but aren't actually so simple. (e.g. "Why does 1+1=2") Or, for questions that have been more than adequately answered, and are getting "joke" answers. E.g.: "Why does $x^2 - \frac{x^2}{2} = \frac{x^2}{2}$?"

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

Cross-apply question 2's answer.

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

This has never occurred, and I would certainly be fine with someone checking up on 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?

I would send the user messages telling him to cut it out. Math StackExchange isn't the place to take out your life's frustrations on random people. We're expected to cooperate with one another, be generally civil, and, if we argue, not make too much of a scene. If a user isn't willing to act like an adult, I don't care if his answers are winning Pulitzers, he's going to have to learn to relax or face a suspension.

If he continues his actions, I would first consult the other mods and make sure it's not just me who sees this person as a problem. After that, I think the punishment depends entirely on the nature and severity of the flags. Persistent fender benders with new users might warrant a day or two suspension to cool off. On the other hand, if the user is sending hate mail or throwing around racial slurs all the time, of course he would be suspended for longer.

All in all, people shouldn't have to feel like they're walking on eggshells around here whenever they ask a question or post a comment. I'm not afraid of confrontation, and I'll fight anything which makes users feel uncomfortable, whether it's a person or a policy.

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

Well, I would talk to the other mod about it and try to reach a consensus. I don't see what other answer one could possibly give for this question. It's not like anybody wants to see mods at war, closing and reopening questions like a tennis match. I listen to reason, and I expect we could find a compromise.

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

I've never been suspended, and the mods may verify this statement.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

I will not use my mod superpowers to do anything I strongly disagree with. On the other hand, I will not use them to do anything that is not overwhelmingly backed by the community. Of course, this does not preclude arguing the topic in meta and comments.

I think this question is directed towards PSQs, being the issue of the day. Currently, I am not of the opinion that the community has reached enough of a consensus against PSQs to warrant moderator intervention. If this changes, I'll close definition-reinforcing PSQs as promised in my campaign, but I will not do so not until then.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

MSE is a place to communicate with other math learners in an honest way, not a resource to cheat on national contests. If contacted by a representative of an ongoing contest, I will immediately close and delete the question. I will send the user a warning that this isn't the place to go to cheat on math contests, and if he ignores this and posts it again, I will suspend the user and post a meta question requesting others to be vigilant against other reposts. After the contest is over, however, I see no reason why the question may not be reposted.

If contacted by a professor saying the question is part of a take home test, I will not close the question. There is too much potential for abuse there. It's not unlikely that the question is being asked by somebody who has nothing to do with the exam. (One could argue the same for contests, but contest questions are invariably more off the beaten path, and thus more identifiable, than those appearing on the average exam.) Besides, professors know that take-home tests are susceptible to tutoring, and penalizing infidelity from their students is their job, not the MSE mods.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

I have the Deputy badge.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

As of now, I visit meta every two or three days to see if anything interesting is going on. I read the front page and highly upvoted questions. I comment when I feel I have something to add, and answer when I feel what I have to say is sufficiently worthwhile. I am not sure whether or not I agree with the "mods not being activists" line. I still intend to give my opinion when I have something significant to say, but I will not be using my status as a moderator to force my point of view on the community. In other words, my meta habits probably won't change much as a mod.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

Locking a question completely shuts it down: no more answers, comments, edits, or votes. This is most appropriate for extremely controversial posts which fuel huge arguments in the populus, malicious DDoS type activity intended to mess up StackExchange, and questions which for some reason keep attracting vandalism.

Closing a question prevents answers from being posted, but unlike locked questions, closed questions may still be edited, voted, and commented upon. Closing best serves as a negative incentive towards improving a question. Users want their questions to be answered, so if they are asking it in a way which needs improvement, temporarily closing the question can be a way to facilitate the appropriate changes. Closed questions stay in the search engine, so closing is also appropriate for any question which future users may find useful, but shouldn't be answered (for example closures due to migration).

Deleting questions is a way to clean up the site if a question should be closed, but adds nothing for posterity. Extremely off topic or offensive questions should be deleted. Duplicate PSQs should also be deleted if there is no language difference in the problem statements which might improve the search engine.

Protecting is mainly for big threads with high numbers of views to prevent spam posts and joke answers from new users.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

I vote to close this as a duplicate of the second question.

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

Some users still seem to think scotch is better than bourbon, which is a quite a serious problem. I am disappointed these users have not yet come to their senses on this issue.

But seriously, no, I have not had any major disputes with other users. I'm pretty friendly, and any arguments I've gotten myself into have been minor and resolved with patience and civility. Several of these conversations have resulted in me seeing the other guy's point and changing my opinion, and I am happy with this outcome.

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Since we get a number of "bombs" in meta every so often, how good are you at defusing bombs? –  Ｊ. Ｍ. May 15 '13 at 2:46
@J.M. Ten out of ten, I am a bomb diffusion professional. –  Alexander Gruber May 15 '13 at 5:29
Sure... you have the Deputy badge now! But did you have it when the nomination began? :-) –  Asaf Karagila May 15 '13 at 8:07
@AsafKaragila Nope, just got it a few days ago :) But I don't believe that constitutes a lack of experience with flags, so the question still doesn't apply. –  Alexander Gruber May 15 '13 at 9:12
Oh, I didn't hint that. In fact I was certain that by the time this question was posed to you here, you'd be deputized. :-) –  Asaf Karagila May 15 '13 at 9:15

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 same way I would deal with any other user acting in the same way. If they are acting in a particularly inflammatory way, I would contact them first to explain that they are causing problems on the site and ask them to change their behaviour. If it continued I would suspend them according to the usual protocols. No-one should receive special treatment regardless of how prolific a poster they are, on principle. Plus, high reputation users acting in a clearly unacceptable way may discourage people from joining the site, causing us to lose other potentially valuable users.

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

If I feel that they shouldn't have taken the moderator action (which is different to whether or not it I personally wanted the action to be taken) then I would first talk with them why they did it and then discuss with the rest of the moderator team about whether or not the action was appropriate, and whether or not it should be reversed. (This may include discussing the issue on meta with the community at large in some cases.) I feel that the moderators should present a united front whenever possible, and any major disagreements should be dealt with privately to arrive at a decision. Moderator infighting should be avoided at all costs (especially in public).

Have you ever been suspended and if so for what? Would you allow existing moderators to check the veracity of your answer?

I have never been suspended, and have no issues with the moderators checking this.

How will you handle situations where the community consensus contradicts your personal opinion on specific moderation policies?

By carrying out the action that best fits the community consensus. Moderators are here to protect and maintain the site as it is, not to impose their own rules on others. I would still discuss my opinions on the matter in meta where appropriate, but would always side with the community opinion when action is taken.

What will be your policy on questions from various ongoing contests from math journals, contests which are not proctored such as the USAMTS(http://www.usamts.org/) and questions from national olympiads which are part of the process of selection of national teams for contests like the International Mathematical Olympiad posted against the rules of the contest on this particular website (there have been instances where questions of some mathematical contests have been posted before the date) ?

I would temporarily lock the question until the deadline for the contest has passed. This policy would apply to all "official" or "competitive" questions such as exams and qualifying competitions. It would not include questions relating to things such as "Project Euler" tasks for example, although I would still personally discourage questions about this that are nothing more than asking for answers. I prefer to lock rather than delete so that users will be more likely to be aware that this behaviour is not acceptable here, and so that all users will be able to see the contents of the question.

This is a question to those candidates who do not have the Deputy badge (which is given for 80 helpful flags): Dealing with flags is a big part of moderation. How do you think that your lack of experience is going to affect your handling of the flags? And how do you expect to compensate for it (at first, of course)?

The reason I have so few flags is because I very rarely see behaviour that I think warrants moderator attention, I think most of the time the community deals very well with maintaining the site. I think that this lack of experience would mean that I handled flags more slowly at first, checking with more experienced moderators before making major decisions (such as suspending accounts). Other than that I think that I would handle flags the same way everyone else handles them when they first gain access to moderator tools, by responding to them with the action that I think is most appropriate.

How involved are you with the meta site? Do you expect this to change if you are elected? Are you participating in most of hot threads? Are you just reading them and participate from time to time? Are you reading meta threads regularly without participating? Do you even check the meta site?

I am quite involved in meta, and would not expect this to change if I were elected moderator. I try and post my opinion in any thread that doesn't have my view point represented already, and vote appropriately when in threads that do. I avoid arguments in the comments sections whenever possible since they never appear to be productive.

In response to Lord Farin's comment, I would like to make it clear that I would only ever voice an opinion as an individual and not as a moderator, making it clear that the opinion doesn't reflect that of the community or the moderator team as a whole. I would never try and use the position as moderator for leverage over a personal opinion.

I don't think that it's a bad idea for a moderator to voice opinions (even strong ones) or to participate actively in meta. I imagine that they see a lot more of the site than most of the rest of us and so could well be more-informed than your average user.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of closing, as opposed to protection, locking, and deletion?

Questions should be closed if, as they stand, they are not useful to have on the site, but could potentially be improved and made into a good question. Protection should be considered for popular questions generating a lot of low-quality answers. Questions should be locked if it is important that it is kept as it is for the immediate future e.g. on questions that have lead to extensive off-topic discussions in the comments or when useful questions are being repeatedly edited in an unhelpful way.

Suppose you were to disagree with the other mods on the closing / deletion of a post; what action(s) would you take?

My response is the same as in the second question.

Have you had any serious or acrimonious dispute with any other Math.SE user? How do you feel about the outcome?

No, this has never happened.

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I take it that in "voicing your opinion" or other parts of meta participation, you will make it explicit when you are commenting on personal title? Otherwise this could have the inadvertent effect of smashing the discussion by a "top-down imposed community guideline", even if it wasn't intended as such. –  Lord_Farin May 14 '13 at 17:37
@Lord_Farin Yes, I would always make it very clear that I would be voicing a personal opinion, and that it should not be taken as a representing the views community or the moderator team. I think that personal opinions and moderator responsibilities are two separate things, but that it is perfectly reasonable to have both. I have edited my post to reflect this, thank you. –  Tom Oldfield May 14 '13 at 17:45