2022 Moderator Election

nomination began
Mar 14 at 20:00
election began
Mar 21 at 20:00
election ended
Mar 29 at 20:00
candidates
4
positions
2

On Stack Exchange, we believe the core moderators should come from the community, and be elected by the community itself through popular vote. We hold regular elections to determine who these community moderators will be.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Our general criteria for moderators are as follows:

  • patient and fair
  • leads by example
  • shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words
  • open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

Every election has three phases:

  1. Nomination
  2. Primary
  3. Election

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!


Additional Links

Questionnaire
The community team has compiled questions from meta for the candidates to answer.
  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?

[Answer 1 here]

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

[Answer 2 here]

  1. There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention. Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard. As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

[Answer 4 here]

  1. Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol. How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

[Answer 5 here]

  1. Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on? As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

[Answer 6 here]

  1. It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers. What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

[Answer 7 here]

  1. Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily. Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers. From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

[Answer 8 here]

  1. Language changes, and so do web sites. EL&U has thousands of answered questions (hard to search) and many knowledgeable and experienced contributors. Within the Stack Exchange framework and given these resources, how do you envision EL&U’s development in the next few years?

[Answer 9 here]

  1. Many questions on this site get closed, but, because they don't fit the criteria for automatic deletion, remain on the site. If you are elected to be a moderator, you will have practically unlimited power to delete any such question. How would you exercise that power? Do you see deletion of closed questions as something that should be done only rarely, or you think that the reasons that led to closing a question usually create a strong presumption in favour of deleting it as well (assuming it was justifiably closed in the first place)?

[Answer 10 here]

NVZ

I initially came to ELU to better my writing skills, and eventually signed up to answer some phrase requests, which I found to be an interesting way to engage with the community given that I am not qualified to contribute to any serious questions about the language or usage. I then found being a 'reviewer' can be a way to contribute too, and I became one of the all-time top reviewers. I have also contributed to many of the meta discussions about the site, flagged many comments and posts, and also enjoyed some good conversations in chat.

Questionnaire
  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?

If the flags are legit, I’d defuse the situation with a private message, acknowledge the user’s valuable contributions, and encourage them to have fun, and be good to each other. If things escalate further, I’d consult with mods and take necessary action.

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

I don't intend to step on another mod's toe until I sense a pattern of questionable activity, and in that case, I will contact them privately to help me understand their reasoning.

  1. There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention. Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard. As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

I cannot gaurantee there is a sure way to convince users to stay, but at the very least, a community that has quality Q&As will automatically attract some of them to stay ignoring the initial setback or negativity.

  1. Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

That's a tough question to answer, honestly, and I should say there is a delicate balance that ELU has maintained over these years without outright alienating any one faction. I do not think one mod should be responsible for deciding which side should stay. The community should reach a consensus on a case-by-case basis, via discussions on meta, chat, etc.

  1. Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol. How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

Answering in the comments section has to be discouraged. I have always encouraged 'partial' answers where a user has a genuine skeletal answer but does not have enough material to flesh it out. The idea is to have this answer be subject to the usual votes, and peer review, while a partial answer written in the comments cannot be subjected to the same.

Sometimes a community wiki answer is used to copy the answer in comments into the answer box without claiming any rep associated with it. Other willing users can help to expand the community wiki. This method is not widely accepted though.

Forcing all answers to quote an external source would not be advisable, however, an answer has to be properly explained.

  1. Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on? As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

Yes, and I have contributed to some MSE discussions as well. I don't usually visit MSE unless I have some specific reason to.

  1. It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers. What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

Even SWR answers have to have some explanation or quote external sources to support why the suggested word is a good fit. If it is just single words thrown around as answers with no explanation, I would vote them down, and possibly delete them as required.

It is to be noted that the bulk of my rep comes from SWRs and phrase requests, and the main reason I signed up to the site.

  1. Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily. Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers. From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

I usually vote to close as a duplicate if I am convinced two questions are almost the same, or if the second, although different, would have answers applicable to the first. The asker has to explain why the suggested duplicates do not answer their question to prevent getting closed. Any contested questions have to be discussed in meta, and the community has to decide with their votes. I do not intend to single-handedly hammer down questions about grammar or usage since I am no expert on the language.

Sometimes the suggested duplicates may only partially answer the new question, and it may be okay to answer anew while also linking to the older ones for further reading.

  1. Language changes, and so do web sites. EL&U has thousands of answered questions (hard to search) and many knowledgeable and experienced contributors. Within the Stack Exchange framework and given these resources, how do you envision EL&U’s development in the next few years?

I trust that as long as there is peace and cooperation among countries, and more people are able to attend schools, get connected to the internet, have the willingness to read and improve their skills, ELU (and Stack Exchange) will continue to have more visitors, and as long as we keep a check on the quality of Q&As, and be nice to each other while at it, there will be more users who will love this community and stick around to help build and maintain it.

With the advancements in AI and machine learning, I do have a small hope that in the future, a lot of the moderation tasks can be automated, of course with manual overrides and safety checks in place.

  1. Many questions on this site get closed, but, because they don't fit the criteria for automatic deletion, remain on the site. If you are elected to be a moderator, you will have practically unlimited power to delete any such question. How would you exercise that power? Do you see deletion of closed questions as something that should be done only rarely, or you think that the reasons that led to closing a question usually create a strong presumption in favour of deleting it as well (assuming it was justifiably closed in the first place)?

My time would be better utilized in dealing with current ongoings, rather than hunting down ghosts. I have not thought more about it.

Laurel

Hi, I’m Laurel. I’m an avid contributor here on English Language and Usage, and I’ve visited the site every day since 2017 (almost). I’m an elected moderator on Writing, and a high rep user on ELL and a number of other sites. Across the network, I’ve done a lot of moderation, totaling over 8,000 review tasks (mostly on Stack Overflow) and over 7,000 edits. I consider myself an expert on Stack Exchange (the software, and also the culture).

My native language is English, specifically American English. Over my time here, I’ve learned so much more about English, and even how to research it on a different level. My favorite topic is the history of English. I like reading Middle English works, and I’ve gotten pretty good at answering word and phrase origin questions. One of my answers even caught the attention of Doug Harper, the guy behind Etymonline.

I want to be a moderator here because this community means so much to me. I think I have a lot to offer to help it be the best it can be!

Questionnaire
  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?

I believe in a policy of escalation so that the power is in a user’s hands to improve their behavior. Ideally, leaving a comment for a user should allow them to change and stop generating so many flags. In cases where even a mod message doesn’t work, and harmful behavior continues, it’s necessary to start to use suspensions. This is usually a process where the mods work together to make a decision; it’s certainly not something done lightly. Ultimately, this site should be a place where we all feel safe.

  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 use chat to try to resolve the issue privately. There might be something I didn’t know about or maybe I’m the one who saw something my fellow mod missed. In cases where it’s a genuine difference of opinion on site policy, asking the community on Meta is a good next step. Moderation is, after all, on behalf of the community.

  1. There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention. Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard. As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

In a lot of ways, being elected changes very little: I can counteract downvotes by upvoting quality posts, and leave comments explaining why a post seems more valuable than on first impression. Plus, I can always edit. What being a moderator will change is that I’ll be able to keep better track of what’s happening to know where I may be needed, and also to lead discussions on site policy and culture.

  1. Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

Dictionaries aren’t where English comes from. English comes from people who don’t wait for expressions to become popular, nor for lexicographers to catch up. Therefore, this site should be the place people come for questions about expressions not well-documented elsewhere.

But why do we see these posts get such a harsh reception? I think it’s because the subject makes it harder to write a good question or formulate a good answer. Some of this can be helped by working with authors to improve their posts. For example, with questions it often helps to have examples of what’s being asking about, and I try to help provide that as I see fit. (This also helps to address any concerns that an expression isn’t used by English speakers.) As for writing good answers, I try to lead by example (see my answer about “day of”), and I think I can go further by using meta to share my expertise on writing answers on tricky-to-document grammar and expressions. All in all, peaceful co-existence is more than possible.

  1. Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol. How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

I don’t think there’s any one great all-encompassing solution to answers-in-comments, especially since I understand the wealth of reasons people do it. My ideal would be for someone to use the comments to create an answer (giving credit where it’s due) so the answers-in-comments can be removed. In other cases these comments are being left because the question is too unclear. In that situation, my hope would be to encourage comments that help OP clarify the question instead of throwing guesses.

The perceived requirement to cite sources (or similar) affects this, but it’s not everything. I see comments like these on questions that are easy to answer for native speakers, but nearly impossible to find a source for (namely grammar questions). That’s a case where it may be helpful to discuss what’s really needed in an answer on Meta. On the other hand, I also often see these comments on [single-word-requests], where it’s usually not difficult to cite a source.

  1. Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on? As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

Yes, I visit MSE daily, and have accumulated 32k rep there. I often visit other places on the network too: the Mod Team, the Teacher’s Lounge, ELL and Writing (which are connected to us via migration paths), and Stack Overflow (which is often the site receiving new features or experiments), plus all their metas.

I expect moderating ELU will require more time and attention than a smaller site like Writing. Flags are my priority to ensure that the site operates smoothly and that we can all feel as safe as possible here. But our site is not an isolated one and there are definite benefits to having a moderator who knows what’s happening on other sites. I understand the philosophy of Stack Exchange and I absorb what I see works well on other sites (and learn from what doesn’t!). By knowing what’s posted on the main sites closest to us, I am able to provide helpful links and discover cross-posting.

  1. It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers. What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

This is something that’s been on my mind for a while. I think I’ve been able to help improve the quality of questions by requesting we add a tag warning for those asking about [single-word-requests] (which is also a good example of how I used my knowledge of MSE and the network). I would like to be able to give guidance to answerers in the same way (automatically), though I don’t believe such a feature exists yet. In the meantime, we have to make do with what we have. For me, that involves some commenting to urge users to better explain their answers. I also make some edits myself to answers, especially since we cannot expect that all users who leave such answers will come back to fix them.

  1. Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily. Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers. From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

Close voting is only one tool that we have to handle questions like these and not always the most appropriate one. Before I vote to close, I look at both questions and see if they’re asking the same thing. But the most important step is to look at the answers themselves. Are these old answers what I would write for the new question? If the old answers don’t feel quite right, or they’re too low-quality, I do something other than closing. Sometimes I’ll ask OP if they think it’s a duplicate, other times I’ll give my own answer before I cast my close vote. When I disagree with others’ votes to close, I use comments and sometimes edits to make it clear why the duplicate does not work. In some cases, I’ve found that the new question covers the same area as several previous questions; the beauty of being a mod is that you can close as a duplicate of multiple questions.

  1. Language changes, and so do web sites. EL&U has thousands of answered questions (hard to search) and many knowledgeable and experienced contributors. Within the Stack Exchange framework and given these resources, how do you envision EL&U’s development in the next few years?

The crux of this question seems to be about how we can handle finding questions as the site gets bigger. This is something that I’ve thought long and hard about. Finding the question you’re looking for is hard on this site, but over the years I’ve learned to work with the search we have. It pays off, as I’m frequently able to close questions as duplicates, or leave a comment to link related questions. And as much as possible I tip the scales to help this happen, by editing away the generic titles and retagging with the tags that will help us find the most relevant questions. I’d like to see more activity on meta in this regard because I’m sure we can help each other.

To answer this more generally, I think that our work here will never be done. English is so vast that we have barely even scraped the surface of what we could possibly ask and answer questions about. And when I look back at questions that we’ve answered already, I’m not always satisfied with the answers that were given! Many of these questions can be answered with more rigor, such as by accounting for a broader area of grammar or by analyzing more data. These are the answers I want to encourage, and I hope that I can help sustain and build the site in that direction going forward.

  1. Many questions on this site get closed, but, because they don't fit the criteria for automatic deletion, remain on the site. If you are elected to be a moderator, you will have practically unlimited power to delete any such question. How would you exercise that power? Do you see deletion of closed questions as something that should be done only rarely, or you think that the reasons that led to closing a question usually create a strong presumption in favour of deleting it as well (assuming it was justifiably closed in the first place)?

Deletion should be handled carefully. Deleting a post limits who can see it, discuss it, and interact with it. When a mod deletes a post only a mod can undelete it. The posts I see myself deleting are the ones that are egregiously off-topic, likely impossible to salvage, and lack good answers. Most would be eligible for auto-deletion. And, as always, I’ll continue to downvote as I see fit, which also plays a necessary role.

I reference some answers to closed questions so I find them worth keeping around. And even questions that were “justifiably closed” can sometimes be fixed and reopened.

Lawrence

I enjoy building community.

English Language & Usage (EL&U) depends on community - people who enjoy discussing the quirks and interesting aspects of the English language. Since EL&U is a Stack Exchange (SE) site, that also means that we need to follow a few basic guidelines: questions need to be coherent, asking a question and demonstrating some effort towards its solution; and answers need to be 'expert', providing some objective substantiation that it is correct through logic or relevant authority.

Moderators come in many flavours, and EL&U's existing moderators must be some of SE's best. I'd like to share some of my thoughts about moderation.

In SE, moderation is shared with the community, which can collectively open, close and delete posts and comments. Where elected mods come in is to be the human element in handling exceptions. I'm not all that consistent with clearing moderation queues I have access to, and if you vote for me, you'll need to accept that I'm not likely to get better at it. Where I think I can best contribute is to think through thorny issues together with the rest of the mod team, particularly on a policy level.

Questionnaire
  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 specifics matter, and should drive the handling of the matter. First, we need to understand that we aren't operating on a 'national security' level of intensity, we're just discussing the intricacies of language. If the arguments 'play the ball, not the player', I might follow with interest, and perhaps even chime in (moving to chat if necessary). But ad hominem attacks should get short shrift regardless of rep count and heavily upvoted posts. Where the user's history comes in is to speak towards their character. If a hypothetical Zen Wargs writes long and well-researched answers to all sorts of weird and wonderful requests for etymology, and typically handles objections with fairness and equanimity, then an unusually vitriolic outburst should raise queries about what prompted it. Wargs' history wouldn't excuse abuse, but it would warrant a second or even third look at the situation.

Good community should allow for debate within an appropriate forum (typically Meta.ELU). EL&U mods tend to have a free hand in pruning comments but usually go the extra mile with the users themselves. I think this is a good policy.

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

Ideally, differences of opinion among mods should be discussed privately, with the consensus implemented. This should be the norm.

Having said that, elected mods are volunteers, and their work should be recognised as their hobby rather than their employment. Mod time is donated time in limited supply, so in the case of a non-controversial reversal, there should be some measure of trust that other mods will act in good faith, just as regular users might reverse each other's votes in good faith. A key difference, however, is that mod actions are effected immediately, so reversal wars would be a lot more pronounced and should be avoided. Hence the norm of private mod discussion.

  1. There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention. Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard. As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

There are three aspects to this: the quality of posts, voting, and interpersonal matters.

SE is intended to be a database of on-topic questions and expert answers for the benefit of future visitors. Some low quality posts (whether Q or A) can be lifted by discussion with the poster. There are also mechanisms to promote and demote posts. It's fine to draw users' attention to SE/EL&U guidelines and to disagree with the content of posts, but it is never appropriate to be rude to the poster.

SE has separate sets of voting buttons for questions and for each answer. Answers should be voted on according to whether they answer the question well. They should not be down-voted due to finding the question lacking. After all, if someone asks you the way to the train station, you wouldn't expect your reply to be frowned upon on account of the lack of eloquence in the request - you're just trying to help.

Within the philosophy of SE, finding a question interesting is enough justification to post an answer. If one person finds a question interesting, it is somewhat rude for another to unilaterally require the question to be dismissed as uninteresting. Voting down a question merely gives effect to one's own opinion that the question is uninteresting. Shooting down an answer because one doesn't like the question says that others aren't allowed to find it interesting.

Most of what mods can do to help in these situations is the same as what the rest of the community can do to help. Upvote good answers, downvote/close/delete unsalvageable questions, and don't dismiss the power of a nice comment under the good answer.

Mods can also privately communicate with repeat offenders when flagged, but that probably doesn't have a lot of impact on retaining the native speaker. What would likely help more is for mods to delete nasty comments.

  1. Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

On this matter, I think the aspiration to have expert answers to on-topic questions favours the conservative side. Neologisms and the like aren't usually categorised as objectively right or wrong. What is a good word for a pink car? How do you decide whether the expert answer is pinkus carus or pingeti or PMW? If it's merely a matter of personal opinion, it doesn't fit the topic of language and usage, English or otherwise.

On the other hand, discussing currents in semantic shifts are very much on topic. For example, are virtually and literally synonyms or antonyms, or have they swapped semantics in modern usage?

It might be outside the power of mods to make opposing factions coexist peacefully, but it can help to require that posts stick to the broad area of English language and usage. After all, that's what the site is for, isn't it?

  1. Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol. How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

Answers need to have some level of objective correctness, whether by reference to logical argument or appropriate authority. Language matters are by nature often somewhat subjective, so it is a judgment call whether there is enough to consider something an 'expert' answer (SE's aspiration).

At the moment, I'm not particularly fussed about the number of comments to any given post, so long as they are relevant and civil.

I don't think it is necessary (or, for that matter, prohibited) for mods to rule on whether individuals choose to contribute in comments or in posts. We already have a well-established precedent of moving high-quality comments into wiki answers. Even if people adopt the comments into their own answers and accrue rep for themselves, the consensus has been that this is fine. Either way, moving comments into the answer section achieves the goal of making the content available for voting and searching, etc.

Regarding deletion of comments and moving them to chat, SE considers comments to be ephemeral. So mods are free to delete or move comments, or do so to some and not others, or not at all. If a comment is particularly precious to a user, preserve it in the answer section. Otherwise, it's fair game. By this reasoning, I don't see the importance of locking questions on a regular basis.

Requiring sources and citations expresses a desire for answers to have some degree of objective correctness. Logical reasoning is another method, and in papers on the topic of English, citing usage examples and counterexamples is another common technique. All of them require more effort than merely stating one's opinion. This goes to the heart of what Stack Exchange is all about, so if the effort discourages formal answers, that just comes with the territory. On the other hand, requiring that answers meet certain standards can also work to make that the norm, which can serve to encourage 'formal' answers.

  1. Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on? As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

I am not a regular visitor to MSE. I don't know whether I will spend proportionally more time on MSE than on EL&U in the future. MSE is both a resource and a forum for SE-wide discussions. I'm not particularly active on SE outside EL&U, so for now I'm content with just dipping into MSE when the need or whim arises.

  1. It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers. What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

Here are some thoughts I've posted previously on this topic:

https://english.meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=user%3A142322+swr

We can do all sorts of things like vote, comment, point people to good examples, and so on, but a lot depends on community engagement while the user is still monitoring the page.

Not all issues are mod issues. This one is not a matter for mod action. The issue can be tackled by the community and it can be tackled by changing the system (e.g. change the question page), but I think mod tools are a bit like surgeon's scalpels which are ineffective at dealing with rain. Having said that, though, some SWRs can be fun and interesting.

SWRs are an exploration of vocabulary. Done well, they are squarely on topic at EL&U. Done badly and (hmm, what's a word for 'stubbornly not wanting to try harder when asked'?), voting controls are nearby.

  1. Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily. Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers. From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. There are a few users who either know the repository so well that prior answers come to mind when duplicates are asked, or else they are very diligent in regularly searching the site on behalf of the asker. I'm not one of them. I will sometimes think of an existing answer, or just have a hunch that one exists, but I usually prefer to just contribute an answer instead.

In my opinion, it's fine to post good answers even if there's already a duplicate in the system. Should someone point out the duplicate, mods can combine the questions.

The balance should lean towards answering questions well.

[out of space for Q9 & Q10. Raise in comments if you'd like me to answer them.]

Jesse Steele

More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness

— Charlie Chaplin

I'm back in the race because NVZ requested, and Rand al'Thor said that I'd be an attractive candidate regardless of my candidate score.

'Less toxic' is my campaign promise

It is good that I'm just under 1k rep, so I can identify with all the new users who struggle.

I'm a mod on BH.SE.

I also have:

  • Bachelor's in Greek

  • 13+ years ESL in Taiwan

  • Grammar-edited 2 PhD papers which were then published in journals

  • My own English speed course at PinkWrite

  • Over 1 million words in print on Amazon

'Usage'; not 'rules'

English follows "usage", reflecting the speech of common folk, guided by the Elizabethan era; not "rules" given by the gods. This makes English different from Chinese, in which rules are decreed by government. English has a direction and flow with the past as a rudder, not an anchor.

Questionnaire

Mari-LouA: 1 & 2

I love these!

  1. My answer I'm most proud of: because Lawrence commented: +1 for noting there are 2 lists, not 1. I love the Serial Comma.

  2. EL&U question (not yours) that is the most fun: Is "yesterday" a noun, an adjective or an adverb?

  3. This Answer needs Special mention (read my top comment)

  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?

Gentle warnings and brief account suspensions, private chat first. It is a sad shame that some users are known more for their lack of tact than for their brilliance. Being moderated by basic rules in my early days helped bring out the best in me.

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

Respect is key. I'm new, so I would immediately ask the other moderator to help me understand, using moderator chat rooms. I have done this often as a mod on BH.SE.

  1. There are a few users who have a very rigid view of what type of questions are allowed on EL&U, and will often notify the OP that their question is not worthy of attention. Consequently if someone posts an answer, even if correct and helpful, that answer might be criticised and downvoted due to the perceived low-quality question. I feel this type of critical behaviour alienates users, old and new, who abandon the site bemused that their contributions are viewed unuseful or failing to match the gold standard. As an elected moderator on EL&U, how would you encourage users–especially native speakers–to remain? What can be done?

This has three vital parts:

Deleting comments and warning users through moderator messaging tools is useful for destructive comments. Quietly delete bad comments; don't argue in public. If it is a continued problem, then we mods reach out to offer guidance.

Also, editing the OP is part of what moderators can do to help. I and other moderators on BH.SE have done this many times. The edit itself is excellent guidance for the OP user, often not needing explanation, just demonstration.

Lastly, discussing the scope of the site on its Meta and in moderator chat is great. On BH.SE, we recently looked at a "names" Question and refined our own precedent for how a new type of Question could be on-topic. We mods all learned through that experience.

  1. Some regular contributors feel that if something is not in OED (or a comparable source), it is not a part of English language, and is therefore outside the scope of this site. Some of them very assertively promote that view through their comments, downvotes, and votes to close. Others feel that this site is at its best precisely when it explores the margins of the language, such as the new patterns of usage that seem to be catching on, but are not yet established, or possible, but not widely noticed ambiguities, or the nuances of pragmatics that are not captured by dictionary definitions. Given that both factions make valuable contributions to this site, what can be done to ensure that they coexist peacefully?

This is a matter of genre. As a moderator, I would classify it as that, then referee accordingly. Walter Cronkite is not the same style as Robert Frost. Neither is wrong because the other exists. Don't punish people for taking a road less traveled. Everything was new at one point and we're not less "correct" for being young. Even the phrases "bye bye" and "nite nite" have their place. It proved creativity, not forgetfulness, when Churchill said it was, "The end of the beginning."

If it fits a style, say which style. If it is fringe and new, identify it as fringe and new and only use it at the new fringe. If it has no existing basis in literature, call it a new language, which is thus "other than English" and is thus off-topic, perhaps better for World Building viz Tolkien's own languages.

English rules didn't just fall out of the sky. The language developed with a mind of its own, then Shakespeare standardized the ordinary person's speech habits through such popular works. Our rules today are an attempt to understand him to thus let him guide us so the language doesn't become unrecognizable with constant changes each decade.

But, as for the OED, I'm with Cambridge (viz CGEL) that "yesterday" is a pronoun because in "all our yesterdays" from Shakespeare, I remember from my yesterdays in third grade that adverbs can't be plural. If Shakespeare was just "having fun with words", learning from Cambridge will help you know how to "have fun with words" too, and that is the point of the ELU.

  1. Moderators try to encourage users to answer questions in the answer box rather than in comments, in accordance with the Stack Exchange protocol. How would you do so, what are your views on locking questions or moving comments to chat to encourage formal answers? Do you think the requirement that answers quote a source, and that a link be provided, discourages formal answers?

All requirements discourage one thing and encourage another. Moderators moderate the balance. ELU does seem to attract uncited answers from experienced users in the comments. I agree with the community that answers should not be in comments. If a high rep gives an uncited answer in a comment and it were valuable, I'd encourage the user to make it into an Answer or just do like Meta and SF and Steal comments that answer the question and post them as an answer.

Answers must cite somehow:

  • External source with rules or content (with link or else publication info, ISBN, et cetera)

  • Examples with quotes and careful explanation appealing to general knowledge (still needs a link)

  • Share from personal experience (one's own published writing, quoted on ELU, still needs a link, but must not be a mere advertisement or self-promotion as the main course)

I actually think copy-pasting from OED or Merriam-Webster is a bit lazy, but that's for the community to decide with voting. Answers should contribute something, if not at least apply off-site rules & guidance to the Question so they can be understood in a unique way that won't be found elsewhere.

  1. Do you visit MSE, the Stack Exchange Meta site, and are you aware of its goings on? As an elected moderator with added responsibilities; do you plan to focus your attention solely on EL&U? Why or why not?

I occasionally visit the MSE and watch some things. Most Questions seem like they can be addressed by people more qualified than I, so I focus my limited energies elsewhere. MSE was my highest network account rep until the BH.SE election when BH took lead. If elected, I'd make it a point to visit it more. That's my promise to the community. I'd also try to give more answers and be more active.

  1. It is well known in the community that Single Word Requests attract low quality answers. What thoughts do you have on how to change that?

This is an old problem, yes. I believe the perfect solution is what we mods at BH.SE did last week with Bible Names. The questions just need a little refining, homework, and possibly examples of where/how the OP intends to apply the answer. I'd ask the other moderators what for their thoughts, then start a Meta, follow other mods' example, then ask a Question that sets good precedent. Maybe that would be my first project if elected.

  1. Some questions are closed because voters see them as duplicates. The so-called duplicate existing answers often are not completely relevant to the question, or may be usefully complemented by the question. Over-enthusiastic or dismissive closers can miss this too easily. Similarly, questions deemed too trivial to belong to this site may often raise points missed by the over-zealous closers. From this perspective, what is the right balance to strike between answering a question so as to help the questioner (perhaps ignoring some old and sometimes incomplete duplicate, or not passing the buck to another site), or closing it in a formally justifiable way but failing completely to help the questioner?

Number 8 addresses multiple scenarios, but a central issue of "over-zealous closing". It's probably best to re-open after editing; edit the OP myself or comment for the user to edit, then flag for mod action. I'd leave a comment as to why.

There is another solution I'll explain in 9...

  1. Language changes, and so do web sites. EL&U has thousands of answered questions (hard to search) and many knowledgeable and experienced contributors. Within the Stack Exchange framework and given these resources, how do you envision EL&U’s development in the next few years?

Keep going, including AI. We could probably have a "Related Question" status, activated just like closing, having a notice just like closing, but leaving the OP open. With AI, the site could become more searchable and relevant posts could more easily show in search results.

More posts is a good thing. SE would need to use AI to manage the sprawl, which is already the MO. So, keep going.

  1. Many questions on this site get closed, but, because they don't fit the criteria for automatic deletion, remain on the site. If you are elected to be a moderator, you will have practically unlimited power to delete any such question. How would you exercise that power? Do you see deletion of closed questions as something that should be done only rarely, or you think that the reasons that led to closing a question usually create a strong presumption in favour of deleting it as well (assuming it was justifiably closed in the first place)?

Yesterday I took the rare choice to delete a Question. It had already been closed, voted for delete, and was deemed by users and mods as off-topic. It was a generic question and was in the queue flagged for migration. The problem was that the only site it could migrate to was already rejected at Area 51 and it would be rejected by the proposed site. Moreover, we mods had tried our own example Question on the Meta to narrow-down the scope of how the Question in question (eye roll) could fit. That led to the creation of a new tag which would guide any OP user's future, related Questions, but disqualify this one. Mods had commented and there was just no longer a place for the OP anywhere because all aspects had been exhausted and we had indeed gained progress. Not wanting to see it in the queue for migration to a site where it would be rejected again, I deleted it.

I think closed Questions should generally remain undeleted to serve for future reference. Deleting is a new level altogether. The main issue is whether there were valuable Answers that could warrant the OP being re-opened or whether the site is better off with the OP erased from existence.

This election is over.