Arqade has a very active chatroom. But sometimes, folks who are able to contribute constructively on the site itself are unable to participate in chat without bringing out the worst in everyone they interact with. How would you remove such a bad chat-apple without driving them away from the site entirely?
Instinctively, people are like “that’s why we have chat bans!” but that doesn’t always work, because as we have seen a bajillion times, people don’t get any notification why they are banned, and then they come back angrier. If someone is being a huge problem, the best thing I can think of is to start a private chat, and just lay it all out. This is what you are doing, this is why it is a problem, this is how you could improve your behaviour. Then they can’t claim they are in the dark, because now there is a record that someone has explained the whole thing. From there, well, chat ban as appropriate, remind people they can ignore users, and try to keep everything as civil as possible, which includes making sure that the Bridge as a collective doesn’t outright attack the user the moment they step in the room, because that never helps anything.
There is also a difference between oh, person X is annoying, and person X is posting offensive stuff or actively hurting other users, and the like. If someone is being actively malicious, that needs to be dealt with a lot faster and a lot harsher than someone who is just being a troll for the sake of trolling.
Arqade is well known for having one of the most active chat rooms (The Bridge) on the network. There's a large disparity in the current moderation team's chat presence, from nearly daily to very seldom, for varying reasons. Do you feel it's important for a moderator to have a presence in The Bridge, in addition to the main site and Meta? Why or why not?
I do think it is important they step in there at least some of the time, as it is often a place where the beginnings of Important Site Things often get discussed before they get to Meta, as people organize their thoughts and views and stuff. It’s also where people bring problematic questions/answers, worries about users, and so on, and this stuff might never hit meta. So if no one is in chat, no one will see it, and then users start to feel ignored.
Yes, Meta is important, and yes, a lot of things should be posted there. But there are often more immediate concerns thrown into chat (spamming users, users posting offensive content, etc) that sometimes need mod attention, and having someone there to see that and handle it quickly so it doesn’t just sit there and pollute the site is important, I think.
Assume a civil but controversial discussion is occurring over whether or not a class of question is on-topic. Questions of that type are being closed, reopened, closed again, etc but there's no clear community consensus on what we want to do. What, if anything, do you do about this as a mod?
As much as we love discussing things on meta, and it is totally a thing that should be done, there reaches a point where discussing about discussing a problem just doesn’t fly, because nothing gets done. Eventually, someone has to make a decision, or we risk going around in circles forever, as we have a large userbase with a large variety of opinions. So yes, post on Meta! Discuss things! But then someone has to make a decision, and they have to make one that gets Things done, in the best way possible. Not everyone is going to be happy with every decision (hello, ITG!) but eventually, you need to reach some sort of majority (yay meta posts!) and then declare an answer, and most of all STICK TO IT. Yes, people aren’t going to like it all of the time. Let people discuss it for a while, create some way for a vote type thing (meta post!) and then Make The Decisions. (and also, accept that people aren’t going to like all of the decisions forever).
A new user has arrived and doesn't really understand the way the Stack Exchange system is supposed to work. They're complaining that people keep editing their posts and a roll back war has started on a question that they've asked. You need to step in and moderate the situation. What actions do you take?
Step one – lock the post. That keeps the rollback and/or edit war from escalating, and then you can clear comments that aren’t helping the situation and give everyone a chance to step back and breathe. Once the immediate thing is settled, then you gotta step in, leave all the helpful comments to explain how things work (because lets face it we have a lot of rules), and point to the help center or meta posts or blog posts or whatever we’ve got. If the user is still lost, maybe they’d be okay with a private chat to kinda get their feet under them , or maybe we have to make new meta posts to explain things better (because maybe we all get it because we have been here forever, but to a new user, it might be written in ancient greek or something as far as they know), and also, remind older users that hey, not everything is crystal clear if you’ve not been around this particular rodeo forever, and to be a bit more willing to help new users find their feet on this sometimes very chaotic train.
What is the single biggest problem that the site faces? As a moderator, what would you do to help fix it?
We suck at making decisions. We love our arguments and our meta posts and our discussions in chat about what we SHOULD do, or what people WANT to do, but it is rare we get a site issue that people don’t discuss and debate to absolute death. No one wants to be the one that says “THIS IS THE THING WE ARE DOING”. We just want to discuss and complain and all of that, because it is easier than making a decision that we then have to collectively enforce. That makes things awful, because then we have people arguing and things getting all tricky and toxic, when if someone just made a clear cut decision, things would work out. We survived ITG, after all.
As a mod, I’d step up, put my big girl pants on, and try to nudge (sometimes with a bit more shove and a bit less nudge) people to the point where someone (likely the mod team) can basically go “okay, we discussed this on meta forever, we’ve got some sort of majority decision, so this is going to be the thing now”, with an accompanying meta post laying out the new rules so everyone knows what is going on.
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 really two different issues. If someone is posting offensive content all over the place, and leaving toxic content all over that is actively harmful, they could post the most beautiful answers the world ever saw, and I still would be like “okay, you are being pretty unawesome, you need a time out because this just does.not.fly.” and after a warning, suspend them, because that behaviour is totally unwelcome.
If they are just being argumentative, or rude, or what have you, then I would take a bit more time about it. Take care of the flags, warn the user (either in a private chat, or other means), and if it continues, or escalates, then maybe they’re in need of some time away. I’d check in with my fellow mods, mention the current goings on, see if they’ve seen anything else (in case things are worse than I’ve noticed, or this has been a problem before, etc), and suspend as appropriate.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
This has happened before in my mod duties. It sucks, because you instinctively are like “wait what no why did you even do this”. So, you talk about it with the mod. Maybe there is a misunderstanding about particular rules that you or they need to figure out/clarify. Maybe they’ve noticed something about the user or the post or something that you haven’t. I would avoid making a public fuss, because, well, we are a team! We work together, and it looks terrible if you start yelling mod abuse at your fellow mods, when just talking it out will likely resolve it and everyone will be happy.
Being a moderator is a customer service/public relations job for which there is little to no extrinsic motivation. You will invest hours of your free time dealing with the worst the internet has to offer, and we expect you to do it with a patient demeanor and a smile. What is your motivation for candidacy, or in short - why do you want this job? Why is it important to you to be a moderator? What do you feel that you, personally, can bring to the moderation team that is different or will complement the team as it currently exists?
This is not my first rodeo. Libraries was quiet, but on Pets I have had to deal with problematic users, spam, angry people yelling at each other, and all sorts of stuff. I want this because, well, as corny as it sounds, I believe in Stack Exchange. I think it is awesome and amazing, and is becoming such an awesome resource all over the internet. Arqade was my first site, and I have seen it grow and change and survive the ITG wars and yes, it will suck. Yes, people are going to be mean and terrible sometimes. That’s just part of life on the internet, where everyone has opinions, and we all want to share them.
I want to moderate because, well, it’s more than just clearing flags. You gotta deal with actual people who have feelings and stuff, and you gotta do it with patience and understanding. I have seen some terrible trolls go on to be awesome users, and I have seen the reverse. But at the end of the day, you need someone to go in, smile, be understanding, and treat every person like they matter. Because they do.
I think there is a real need for more active moderation here. We need people to be on the front lines, handling things as they show up, dealing with users, and the like – basically, the diamond means you gotta put on the shit-kicker boots and do the job. I feel like I can, and will.
Can you give an example of a time you had your mind changed on Arqade due to a meta or chat discussion? If not, why?
Totally. ITG! I have this huge desire to help EVERYONE EVER. It’s just a thing. SO I was like YES LET THEM LIVE, because I had totally been there, multiple times , trying to think of a game and just blanking. I wanted to be able to help those people.
But then I read ALL THE META POSTS and all the chat discussions ever, and I realized how these questions don’t really work. Am I sad, some days, that people can’t get their answers here? Sure, because I’d love for everyone to have a happy answer-getting experience here. But it just doesn’t work that way, and sometimes, you gotta kill your darlings, if it is for the betterment of the wider community.
What is your philosophy regarding up-voting and down-voting content? Do you think your own voting ratio supports your stated view?
As anyone can see, I upvote more than I downvote. I tend to reward good content, because, well, that’s why we are here! I want to encourage people to come back, to keep writing good quality stuff, to be an active part of our awesome community. Downvotes, though, are important too – in many ways, they are the first indicator that all might not be well in the state of Denmark, and perhaps a user has to look closer at their question or answer to make it work with the site. One thing, though, that I am definitely not a fan of is when people pile downvotes on a thing – it gets to a point where it’s not even helpful anymore, but it just looks petty and sad. (However, upvoting a thing just because it got downvote piled is also not the right answer.)