The following is a "digest" version of the July 2012 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @GraceNote or @TimStone in the chat room and let us know!

  • 1
    Thank you Tim! Great job! Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 14:55
  • 3
    Thanks so much for all this work! You made messy spaghetti into, um, well-aligned, uncooked spaghetti.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 15:46
  • 1
    The candidates did the hard work of answering the questions, best of luck to all of them! (and be sure to let me know if it looks like I messed up anywhere in the digest!)
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 15:49
  • 1
    Does voting have a meaning?
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:04
  • 1
    @DoubleAA As far as on the answers here? I'm not sure...I'm inclined to think that most people vote on whether or not they think the question was useful to be answered, but I have nothing to say it's not the responses being voted on instead.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:11
  • @TimStone Shkoyich.
    – Seth J
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:45

18 Answers 18


Grace Note Grace Note asked: With a diamond after your name, everything you say and do on the site will be perceived in a different way. How do you plan to handle this, especially when having discussions about site policy and scope decisions?

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I will have to be aware that others are watching my actions and that as an elected official, I represent my constituents. I have to act the way they would want me to act, at all times.

Double AA Double AA answered: I plan to use extra I think or my opinion is to clarify that everyone is welcome to participate and voice their opinions.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: What I do doesn't reflect just on me but on the community. With or without a diamond I strive to keep that in mind, act respectfully, and ask questions rather than making assertions if there's a disagreement. I think I have a pretty good record of that that people can review. The unknown is of course what mods do out of the public view; I'll have to learn that but I expect to apply the same principles I do now.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: Think twice about everything I post, then think again. Be polite. Scope decisions and policy should always be discussed with other mods and meta when necessary. If the policy is already clear, then link to the policy when discussing it.

msh210 msh210 answered: This has been tough hitherto. I've tried (perhaps not always!) not to be thefirst to voice an opinion, for fear it would be given too much weight. Plus, what @DoubleAA answered to this.

Seth J Seth J answered: That's funny, because I never really looked at the diamonds before I realized what they stood for. Even now I don't really take the diamond into consideration when engaging in policy discussions. I will occasionally ask a mod what his/her opinion is on a subject, but other than that I don't really let it dictate how I perceive an answer or decision. So to think about it the other way (ie., that someone else might look at my decisions/statements differently) is a bit challenging...

Seth J Seth J continued: However, I would say that a site policy decision needs to be made for the sake of the site as a whole, not the desires of an individual. I think I'm fairly conservative on what's in scope, but I'm open minded enough to take stock of questions and perspectives from off the beaten track or from different backgrounds. As such, if the discussion is about policy, I'll take someone else's opinion into consideration, and I'll respond respectfully (whether or not I agree).


Dave Dave asked: How much time do you expect to spend per day performing moderation duties? Or will it just be "as it comes," whenever you have the time or get in the mood?

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: Probably a couple hours a day total, six days per week. I'm a person who gets in the Mi.Yodeya mood pretty often, since I love helping facilitate people who have what to learn and teach about Judaism. I am someone who has a decent amount of time to spare anyway. I just want to help my community and that itself should be an inspiration for me to perform my moderator duties...

Double AA Double AA answered: I suppose 'as it comes' but I'll point out that as it is now I find the time to help out consistently (re Flag Weight).

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: When I asked on meta (before nominations) about the time commitment I got the sense that there's not a lot of mod activity. I spend a few hours a day (scattered) on the site now (excluding shabbat) and that should be enough to take mod actions as they come. Mod duties trump my personal activity; I don't currently anticipate a conflict.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: In my day to day life, I tend to spend quite a bit of time working on a computer. I nearly always have a M.Y tab open, and I check it frequently. I also use the mobile site quite a bit when I'm on the go.

msh210 msh210 answered: The latter; and that's what it's been until now; but regulars will recognize I'm pretty active nonetheless.

Seth J Seth J answered: I probably spend too much time on the site as it is! I don't anticipate that being a mod will make me spend any less!


Shmuel Brin Shmuel Brin asked Adam Mosheh: I have noticed that you are of the opinion that we should be answering questions in a "psak" manner (and not advise CYLOR). Will you follow this approach as a mod?

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: Obviously I think people should exercise judgment when making decisions. Same thing goes when asking LORs as well. My LOR taught me that it is possible he could be incorrect when he is poseik a decision, and ultimately I am responsible to know if he is incorrect. If he tells me to eat pig, then I should know better, despite him telling me. But if someone on the Internet says that pig is kosher, then maybe it is. Who knows? Hashem gave us sechel and wants us to make good choices.


Isaac Moses http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d7b6ce3e99416ded77610cbbf2997885?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Isaac Moses asked: Consider a Question "I'm injured, so I can't walk to synagogue this Sabbath. What can I do to connect my prayers with those of the community?", an Answer "According to the Conservative Movement, you may drive to synagogue. Drive there, and join your congregation." and a comment on the answer "This answer is invalid, as it assumes that Jewish Law isn't binding." Stuff gets flagged. What do you do?

Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA answered: One of the most important questions here IMO. First off, time would be of the essence to avoid hurtful comments. I would comment thanking for the post, noting our policy about non-Orthodox opinions including a link to the relavent meta post Is there not room for non-orthodox opinions? and invite them to contribute to the ongoing discussion. I think I would delete the post as out of scope.

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio answered: First, comment that the site is open to Jews of all types, not just a particular movement. Probably not delete the comment immediately though unless the other mods feel a fight is imminent. Also edit the post to add language along the lines of "for Conservative Jews, an option is..." instead of a directive. Also, because I happen to know this, note that most (but not all) C rabbis rule thus.

Adam Mosheh http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/441c456b0bf15b3fd33565de16d33cbf?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Adam Mosheh answered: That is not an incorrect answer, since it does accurately quote the Rabbinical Assembly (IIRC). However, it needs to be stated that even according to the Conservative Movement there are multiple approaches to this topic. It is not unanimous, and many (most?) members of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel do not customarily drive.

msh210 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/78a50094ca87aaed01e076f4c8808ed8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG msh210 answered: Nothing is out-of-scope in the answer; and the comment is reasonable as well. I'd clear the flags and delete nothing.

HodofHod http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG HodofHod answered: I would comment explaining how the site policy is that in order to have meaningful dialogue, Jewish Law is assumed to be binding. I'd link to the policy. As @Monica said, I'd make sure to clarify that all are welcome here. I'd probably delete the answer (as @DoubleAA) said, pending a timely response from the answerer. If the comments have become really virulent, I may lock the post, and invite the user to chat.

HodofHod http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG HodofHod continued: As I explained further to @Monica, this reflects my understanding of current site policy. My personal opinion is that we have room for such opinions, provided that they are clearly demarcated (just as orthodox ones may note that they only follow such and such a Rabbi.) In any event, even under current policy, I would discuss any such situation with the other mods before deleting.

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J answered: What do you do? No, seriously, what do you do? One of the things I'll do as a mod is confer with more experienced mods, including @IsaacMoses, the founder, and see if a consensus can be worked out among us as to how best to handle the situation.


Grace Note http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/b3b22dc140c835e42f16f8366ffb449b?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Grace Note asked: Everything you vote on (both close and delete votes), once elected, will be a binding Super Vote. How will this change your voting habits?

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio answered: I'll be a lot more conservative with those votes. Losing the "just plain user" vote is a cost of moderation; I wish that were an option but it's not so I'll cast those votes less than when I voted as part of forming consensus.

Adam Mosheh http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/441c456b0bf15b3fd33565de16d33cbf?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Adam Mosheh answered: I will fulfill the Talmudic dictate of "hevei metunim badin" and be patient, pondering the decisions over in my head before I make any important decisions. Every user has something positive to contribute, and I have to look for the positive in everything. If I determine that zero positive exists, then and only then will I perform moderator duties.

msh210 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/78a50094ca87aaed01e076f4c8808ed8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG msh210 answered: There have been several times I hesitated to close or (especially) delete for that very reason. I did upvote this question.

Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA answered: msh210 correctly pointed out that having that capability can make one indecisive at times, which can be a good thing.

I hope never to forget that almost all mod actions are undoable, but also to allow for the democracy to function. Factors to consider include what time of day it is (ie are other voters around) and what the advantages of a quick decision are (ie preventing nasty comments and answers to the wrong question or duplicate answers). I also imagine using a comment to pledge a 5th vote more often at least than it seems to be used.

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J answered: I will have to be a bit more judicious. Right now I sort of use 'Close' votes as a way of testing the waters to see if others agree with me. However, before I lost 'Delete' priviledges (when the threshhold was lower), I kind of saw that as a quasi-moderator priviledge, earned with rep points. I used that very sparingly. I'll take a more wait-and-see approach when I am unsure of the correctness of a 'Close' or 'Delete' action.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: When you see a question with major issues (poorly-written, argumentative, etc.), what tool do you reach for first?

Double AA Double AA answered: Poorly written and argumentative are very different. If it is very clear what they were trying to ask, I would edit promptly. If it is not clear I would comment seeking clarification and only edit if they go AWOL. If it is really argumentative I would close until further edits.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: Edit first, but usually comment is a close second.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I agree with @DoubleAA on this one. That is a good policy, and if they did go AWOL, then I would consult with everyone Bam.Yodeya.com to try and understand what the question was about before the mods make a decision.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: First tool: comment, as a question ("Socratic" as someone else said) if possible else a clarification of site policy/consensus/norms. If the post is bad-argumentative, edit for that. If it's bad-poorly-written, wait a bit for the author and then edit if he doesn't. But the first approach is the comment, and I very much prefer to let authors fix their own stuff unless it's damaging. They have more of a sense of ownership that way, which is a good thing.

msh210 msh210 answered: I can't answer this better than @DoubleAA did.

Seth J Seth J answered: 'Edit'. As a mod that might change to 'Comment' and suggest an edit. I think the responsibility of a mod on this site, since we are a site about Jewish Life and Learning is to lead by example, not to take unilateral action, even if it's action that everyone with minimal rep-score can take. But I think that will depend on the case.


Double AA Double AA asked: At what point would you bring an ignored meta post (that could use official comment) to the Higher Ups' attention?

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: I'd need to understand what's been done in the past before I can answer that. So unless it seems urgent, "about as long as we usually wait, unless we think we need to chang that policy".

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: Within 6-8 weeks. Just kidding, but if it is important, then probably ASAP.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: If there's been no resolution or "Higher Up" interaction for a while, and the post has dropped down the question list, I'd probably bring it up. Obviously, this would change depending on the urgency. I brought up the issue of yodeya.com returning a 503 with SE as soon as I saw it.

msh210 msh210 answered: If it really could use official comment (and not every open meta post can) then not long. A week maybe? Two? Less than that if it's urgent, however, or (perhaps) if the asker is nagging.

Seth J Seth J answered: I'm not sure I fully understand the question. Wouldn't the mods be the higher-ups? You mean S.E. staff? I'd bring it to their attention as soon as it seems like it needs real staff attention. I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't.


random random asked: What would you do if a user on the brink of a behavioural/jerkface suspension tries to bait the mods by leaving a comment along the lines "what a mistake for a mod to make" on a mod's post for the sake of seeing where things go?

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: By the time we've gotten to that point I've reached out to this person in email. Apparently that didn't work and the mods are discussing. But inappropriate comments are inappropriate regardless of context, so I'd delete that one. If there's any communication channel still open I'd also use that.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I would admit that it is possible I have erred, because I am not perfect. I assume the best in people. I will consult fellow moderators and we will arrive at a consensus.

Double AA Double AA answered: A lot would depend on the 'relationship' s/he has developed with me already, but I imagine all else being equal responding with I respectfully disagree; do you mind explaining what particularly was the problem? or perhaps invite him to a chatroom for the two of us. Again depends how much of a history s/he has.

  • Monica Cellio Monica Cellio added: I may have misunderstood this question when I answered. If the comment is an attack my answer stands; if there's any doubt in my mind (maybe he does have a point about my post and is not phrasing it appropriately), then I agree with @DoubleAA.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: It's obviously an inciteful comment, but I don't think it's out of line enough to push the suspension through. As @DoubleAA noted, I'd probably reach out to him through chat, since it's a (more) public medium, rather than a mod message.

  • Double AA Double AA asked: 'mod message'? I thought the question was about comment threads on a post somewher?

    HodofHod HodofHod responded: Yes, but I would not respond to an off-topic comment with another one. Therefore there are two options for further communication. Mod message/email (private), or chat room (public, but can become private if necessary). I'd choose the latter.

msh210 msh210 answered: If he's already over the suspension brink, I'd suspend him irrespective of the comment. If that comment puts him over it, I'd flag it for moderator attention with a note indicating that I think it puts him over the brink (i.e., let a moderator not personally involved handle it). Otherwise, I'd flag the comment as offensive (which deletes it) and (a) if there's been moderator chat about the offender then link in the chat to the deleted comment or (b) if not then probably do nothing.

Seth J Seth J answered: I'd just delete the comment. If the goal of the commenter is to goad the moderators into taking drastic action, I don't think that sort of comment would work on me. If it is part of a problematic pattern, I'd take stock of it, though.


random random asked: A post is flagged. All mods have looked at it. No one's taken action/cleared it because you're all unsure what to do with it. What do you do now when there is no consensus?

Double AA Double AA answered: Good question! My impression is there is a secret mod only chatroom somewhere where we can discuss together, and if it comes down to it, vote. If necessary we also have the Community team to consult with for guidance.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I'll make a decision and stick to it. I won't go back and forth without consulting the other mods. We have to work as a team.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: That's something the mods need to talk about together, rather than responding one at a time. If nobody's taken action it doesn't sound dire, but it could be a broken window and those can add up. Maybe it's time for a (sanitized) discussion on meta to gather more input.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: It depends on the post. Sometimes a the merits of a post can be discussed in chat (without mentioning the flags against it.) Other times, it may be necessary to discuss it with others in the Teachers Lounge. If no consensus can be reached at all, I'm an inclusionist. I'd leave it as is.

msh210 msh210 answered: You mean we've already discussed in the site's moderators' chat room and can't agree? Then I'd mention there that I'm bringing it to the SE moderator's chat room (frequented also by SE staff) and do so; or perhaps e-mail SE staff (again, mentioning as much to the other site mods).

Seth J Seth J answered: I have a hard time seeing that happening. Those of us who have been around for a while tend to understand each other a bit, and I think we can work to come to a consensus.

  • Note: "Teachers Lounge" is the name of the SE moderators' chat room. "Community" is a group of SE employees.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 16:05
  • @msh210 Are there site specific mod-only rooms or just a collective one? (ie do you guys need to read the discussions about other sites in the same room?)
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:07
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Let's continue this discussion in chat.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:12
  • @msh210, LOL!!!
    – Seth J
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:51

Grace Note Grace Note asked: New users often are not accustomed to the Stack Exchange system, and sometimes struggle to present themselves properly, either in the way they use the site or their attitude. How willing are you to work with "problematic" users, and at what point do you decide that someone isn't worth the effort?

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: Never give up. This is a learnable interface, despite the obvious learning curve. Let's use Bam.Yodeya.Com as well as the Meta to help people with their site problems.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: So long as the user seems to be trying to be part of the community I'll keep working with him. We haven't had a lot of problems of this sort (that I've seen), fortunately.

  • Dave Dave asked: what do you mean by "working with him"?

    Monica Cellio Monica Cellio responded: Working with him: engaging in discussion in comments (or in chat if appropriate), making the gentlest edits possible to bring his posts into alignment with how the site works, providing links, offering encouraging words, upvoting when appropriate -- continuing to make him feel welcome and not pushed-off.

Double AA Double AA answered: I'm probably #1 on StackExchange's most wanted for having really long comment threads trying to help people clarify exactly what they are asking/saying. For better or worse, I tend to be a little Socratic in using questions to help them understand, and I have a gold badge to prove the number of times I've edited to improve low quality posts.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: Depends on a user's attitude. If a user is obviously intentionally disturbing, then I would likely not waste a lot of time discussing his behavior with him (some, but not a lot). If a user means well, I'd be willing to spend a lot more time explaining things (and I have, with several users)

msh210 msh210 answered: I'd expect I might need to comment a bunch of times. English Wiktionary (where I'm an administrator, something like a mod here) has its pages laid out in a very specific format. People don't get it. I've explained and explained and explained. Unlike other admins, I haven't ever blocked anyone for good-faith edits on that site except for 6 hours or so, and that with a note saying "so you can take the time to read the help pages people have linked to for you".

msh210 msh210 continued: That's not to say that there can't come a point when it's clear the person is uninterested in adhering to site mores.

Seth J Seth J answered: I already work with new site users to get them to improve their questions and answers, or else I make edits and let them know. If someone is engaged in an honest effort to contribute to the community, I think I've had endless patience. If they are really being disruptive with rude comments, I'll handle that like the earlier question with someone being on the verge of being banned. I don't really see it as the site/mod banning someone who is disruptive, but as someone banning themselves.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Do you feel like a representative percentage of the community participates in your site's meta? Based on that, how strongly do you think feedback presented on meta should factor into your decision making as a moderator?

Double AA Double AA answered: I feel meta is pretty much only used by the 'regulars' but we have some good great regulars and I would highly value their input.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: I see our most-active users in meta a fair bit, but not the newer users as much. The (new) community bulletin board seems like a good way to draw broader attention to specific posts and I hope the mods do (and will) talk about which meta posts to highlight. It's just as important on meta as on main to welcome new users when they show up so they'll return.

  • Double AA Double AA agreed: An excellent point! We should welcome users to meta even after they have been welcomed to main.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio continued: As for how much that feedback figures in, I think if we've reached out (for "bigger" issues), consulted with each other, and if applicable consulted with SE, that's the best we can do. We want as much input as we can get without hindering progress.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I think that some users are unaware of the Meta, since they only come to ask questions. If we could somehow inform them that our community of learners and teachers only has its strong backbone because of the work that users put into the Meta (e.g., re-tagging ideas, et al.), then maybe they will be encouraged to contribute. But the main part of the site is the site itself, not the Meta.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: Our top users are there frequently, but some of the newer and less active users don't go there much at all (much the same as any site.) That said, I feel that most of our community is represented on meta, and that posts on meta (especially the more important ones, which get featured) get enough eyes and responses to give a strong indicator of the community thinking. This certainly affects my decisions as a moderator.

  • msh210 msh210 asked: Is there, perhaps, some tautology in "most of our community is represented on meta"? Is participation in meta part of what defines "our community"?

    HodofHod HodofHod responded: Part, yes, but not all. Community, IMO, are those that take part in posting, commenting, voting, chat, and meta. I'd say that most of our users who participate on the site, in comments, by voting, and in chat, also participate in meta. (Some more frequently than others, of course).

msh210 msh210 answered: I do not think a representative cross-section uses meta, but those who do are active on the main site and have good ideas. Hopefully with the new Community Bulletin pointing people to meta we can get more people to voice their opinions. If I think it's necessary, inaction is always a possibility even if meta has decided on something (though I'd very unlikely take actual action against what meta decides).

Seth J Seth J answered: I don't. I wish more people participated more on the meta more often. As a mod, I would of course take stock of opinions expressed on meta, as well as a general sense of how people perceive different issues on the site itself. And I'd stay in contact with other mods, as I've said before. I think it's important to have a broad view on where the site is and how to keep it useful and relevant for everyone.


Tim Stone Tim Stone asked: Why do you want to be a moderator (ie, as opposed to a user with privs via high rep?)

Double AA Double AA answered: Efficiency. I do a lot of mod things already via flags, but this would be quicker and for some flags speed can be important.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: First, so I can do more of what I already do (and BTW I don't have 10k rep yet). Second, to offer some diversity to the mod pool. I'm not an Orthodox man who grew up in yeshiva and I think I can help bring the "adult learner" and "liberal but serious" perspectives. (That's not phrased well; I'm sorry.) I don't know how much being a woman changes perspective. I sure don't want to run on gender or anything, but it's there and might matter to some.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio continued: In addition, my style on Mi Yodeya is very strongly of the "question and prompt before acting" style. I leave a lot of comments and enough people find them useful that I've earned Pundit (and Outspoken). I think that little diamond can help me be even more effective in that, and I recognize the additional obligation that comes with that diamond.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: - Because it takes a long time to earn that, and I just want get started already with facilitating (latin root means "making it easier for") people who are capable to learn from and teach others.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: I love this site and community, and I feel I can help it grow (qualitatively and quantitatively) better as a mod, than a high rep user. Having been both, I feel that that is true.

msh210 msh210 answered: I've covered this in my nominee statement on the election page: "I tend to clear chatty or obsolete comments quite a bit, which is effective as a moderator (otherwise, I could only flag them for moderators' attention). Also, I have created a bunch of tag synonyms and merged tags, again something moderators can do effectively and others can't."

Seth J Seth J answered: Good question! I'd have to agree with @DoubleAA. Efficiency. I'm not sure we mean the same thing, though. What I mean is that there are certain times when something needs attention, and it just doesn't get it. That's not to say I'm more efficient than other mods. But I know when I catch something I wish there was something I could do about it right then and there.

Seth J Seth J continued: To conclude my thought, though, I ultimately want to be a moderator because I want to have more tools at my disposal to help improve the overall experience of all the users of the site. Again, I can't promise to be more effective than the mods pro tem, since I think they've done a fine job. But when I see something glaring I just feel rather helpless to improve the situation. I'm not a sit idly by kinda guy.


Isaac Moses Isaac Moses asked Monica Cellio, with open invitation to the other candidates: What relevant unique perspective do you bring to the table, and how would that affect your actions and value as a mod?

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: I am a Reform Jew who does not fit the stereotype. I think my presence and respectful participation, here and on other fora, has helped improve cross-movement understanding. I claimed my Judaism as an adult without benefit of childhood education, which I think made me a stronger learner but more importantly that "learn everything now" experience is recent I can relate to people with questions, including the less-advanced ones.

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio continued: In terms of approach, while I am less knowledgeable than many here (sources, language), I seem to be pretty good at logic and that's helped with some questions. That's not always (or necessarily often) the right approach to an answer, but it's a tool I have.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I am a Jew who does not fit any stereotype. My Orthodox friends think I am Orthodox, my Reform friends think I am Reform, and my Chabad friends think I am Chabad. I want to bring Klal Yisrael together and I believe that the MY.SE is a way for us to ask questions to understand why everyone is arguing with each other and realize that deep down, everyone actually agrees.

Seth J Seth J answered: I think this deserves to be asked off all the candidates. My answer would be that I have an appreciation of all perspectives, as I have said before, and I'm willing to consider different views, all the while I uphold Torah and Mitzvoth. I can joke around and be lighthearted, as you well know, but I also take certain things very seriously, and one two of those things, in my life, are in direct conflict - openness and upholding tradition. I bring those same values here.


shachna shachna asked: What do you feel is the goal (/mission) of MY.SE?

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: To increase Jewish knowledge, addressing the questions people actually have and not what we think they should know, in an open and friendly environment where we can all learn together. Everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher. We're a community.

Adam Mosheh Adam Mosheh answered: I agree 100% with what @MonicaCellio said in response to this question.

HodofHod HodofHod answered: To discuss Jewish life and learning, and more importantly, to share our accumulated knowledge and discussions with the broader internet (=world).

Double AA Double AA answered: Mostly a resource for its users. Partially a resource as a kiddush hashem for Mr Random Gentile. Partially as a depository for my divrei torah :)

msh210 msh210 answered: The site is for-profit and owned by SE. When it comes down to it, every ultimate decision about the site is SE's, not the site users' or mods', and is based on whatever SE decides is best, and we have to live with it. That said, to the extent possible, I like the site to spread knowledge of Judaism.

Seth J Seth J answered: To allow people to ask questions that they couldn't ask elsewhere. For me, I've rarely asked a question here that I felt perfectly comfortable asking any of my rabbis - largely out of a feeling that my question is fairly basic and I'll betray my own ignorance. Here, not only am I fairly anonymous, but everyone is respectful and non-judgmental of others' standing in their Jewish knowledge and practice. Halevai that were true in the real world!


Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA asked: Apparently mods can refund bounties. Why can you imagine refunding a bounty?

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio answered: (Haven't read the answers there.) One thing that comes to mind is if a question is closed or substantially altered for reasons beyond the bounty-giver's control (scope-policy change, hidden dup, that sort of thing). But refunding a bounty should be very rare; the 2-day delay should catch most of this.

Adam Mosheh http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/441c456b0bf15b3fd33565de16d33cbf?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Adam Mosheh answered: What my friend @Vram did was wrong, destroying his site reputation for meaningless bounties. Bounties are meant to enhance the learning, not destroy an individual.

HodofHod http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG HodofHod answered: If the question has been changed beyond the original meaning that the bounty offerer had intended, and the bounty offerer had indicated his disapproval. (Obviously, this change would have to be done by the OP, otherwise, such a change to someone else's question should (usually) be rolled back.) However, since such an occasion would be exceedingly rare (especially here), I think that each case should be discussed by the mods.

msh210 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/78a50094ca87aaed01e076f4c8808ed8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG msh210 answered: (Since you mentioned them, I glanced at some of the answers there.) I did not know (but do now) that an open bounty prevent question closure. That'd be a reason, maybe, to refund a bounty. A better reason would be if someone other than the asker offered the bounty and the asker subsequently edited the question to be vastly different from what it had been when the bounty was offered (but in a circumstance where such an edit was warranted, which it certainly wouldn't always be).

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J answered: I did not know that. Not having read the answers there, and not wanting to copycat @MonicaCellio's answer, I can't really be too sure. But I agree that it should be extremely rare. Maybe if someone has an itchy mouse-clicking finger or something. But even then, isn't there an "are you sure" button?


Grace Note Grace Note asked: As we approach our close, final thoughts from the candidates?

Monica Cellio Monica Cellio answered: We are blessed to have many fine candidates. While we're running as individuals, my goal is to elect the best team, whether I'm on it or not. I hope I am but we can't all be and serving the site's needs is the most important thing.

Seth J Seth J answered: I think we have a good slate of candidates. I look forward to seeing the election results, and I'm excited to participate. I think the site's in good hands and is moving in a good direction. I don't mean to rock the boat by throwing my hat in the ring, only to add to a good thing. Thanks for organizing the townhall. Hatzlachah to my fellow candidates and the future moderators in all their work going forward.

Double AA Double AA quoted a chat message from Monica Cellio:

Last night we were all (I think) answering "what would you (singular) do", but ultimately the question will be "what will you (plural) do".

Double AA Double AA explained: And I don't think that's problematic. While I and I imagine the others are completly planning on utilizing community input and mod discussions whenever we need to make a decision (and those times happen), it still is valuable to the voters what are personal views on these issues are because invariably that will influence us in some way.

Double AA Double AA continued: But just to emphasize, I (not feeling unique) completly plan on utilizing communal resources when possible before making a decision, and am perfectly willing to change a decision when neccasary upon receiving more input.


Isaac Moses http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d7b6ce3e99416ded77610cbbf2997885?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Isaac Moses asked: Tell us about a time (here or elsewhere) when you managed to successfully spur a group of people to positive action that wasn't required of them.

Adam Mosheh http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/441c456b0bf15b3fd33565de16d33cbf?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Adam Mosheh answered: - I spurred the mob to vote for this answer, despite the fact that the question was closed as unconstructive.

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio answered: I'll probably have better answers tomorrow. One that comes to mind now is that the seders in my family are "challenging", and by asking a question here I was able to gather a lot of good ideas and effect some small changes in a family that hadn't been willing to budge in past years. THis will be a multi-year process. That's small, I know.

HodofHod http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG HodofHod answered: I've been employed in schools for teenagers who have social/religious issues. I've helped to spur them (on an individual basis) to have better social interactions with their peers, and as a group, to grow in their Jewish learning and Jewish deeds. I've helped to arrange parties and gifts in these situations, as well as to arrange ways for the students to help the community.

msh210 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/78a50094ca87aaed01e076f4c8808ed8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG msh210 answered: While in college, there was an unfair curriculum rule (what courses could count toward the foreign-language requirement). I got students to sign a petition; linguists to write in support; and the faculty curriculum committee to discuss and vote on the matter. Once, there was a certain aspect of halacha people were neglecting and I successfully encouraged its wider adoption. (Not sure if that counts as "that wasn't required of them" though. :-) )

msh210 http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/78a50094ca87aaed01e076f4c8808ed8?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG msh210 continued: But as @MonicaCellio said, I may think of a better example later. :-)

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J answered: I led a college group from NYC to MI for a protest. But I don't think that's what you had in mind. Here on the site, I have actually tried to refrain from "spurring the mob" to take action, because the one or two times I've tried, it hasn't gone in my favor and (I've felt like) I looked like the bad guy. In short, lesson learned: except in extreme cases, make a comment, see if feedback supports action, take action. Otherwise either take unilateral action only sparingly or don't at all.

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio later added: Better example: I once sat on a board of directors (a very unusual place for me to be) and found that there didn't seem to be a lot of examination or discussion of key issues (finances, some policy stuff that was affecting the organization, etc). I wanted to change that culture to one of an engaged, informed board without being branded as "that guy who makes our meetings drag on forever when we all basically agree".(cont)

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio continued: What I did was to gently ask questions to prompt discussion of assumptions, precedent, "ok there's precedent but does it make sense here?", etc. I tried to not express opinions immediately but, rather, prompt them to express opinions so we could actually have a discussion. It took time, but the culture did change. Also, behind the scenes I talked with the president about allocating more agenda time for certain topics, which he did and which now happens without prompting. (cont)

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio concluded: It's been several years now and from what I understand, the board still operates this way. Was it "required" of them? In principle yes but they didn't see it that way. Now they do.


Isaac Moses http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d7b6ce3e99416ded77610cbbf2997885?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Isaac Moses asked: What is something about the character or policy of the Mi Yodeya that you'd like to work to improve as a mod, and how will you work on it?

Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA answered: I knew this question was coming... One of the policy type things that I strongly support is an emphasis on sources where appropriate. As a wise man once said "as far as 99% of people who read this are concerned, you are nothing but a pseudonym on the Internet." I'm not sure exactly how I would emphasize this more as a mod, but perhaps my comments (which I already leave) would carry more weight thanks to the diamond.

Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA continued: Another 'policy' mods have more control over is when to leave questions around. The FAQ allows for deletion at our discretion when they are too...explicit. FWIW I think the current threshhold is tolerable but perhaps I would shift it slightly to the right. It's obviously a case by case thing.

Double AA http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/d43cac1956ad1a1899c1fa74d9ad257d?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Double AA concluded: A final area that mods have some background control of is tag merging. I tend to like broader tag categories (although we really could use nested tagging around here! #) but obviously in all these policy things I mention, a community consensus sure trumps my thoughts on the matter; I'm only talking about where there is no consensus.

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio answered: I love the community we have here. We can always be better, of course, but in that area nothing specific comes to mind. In terms of content I'd like to improve two things: (a) accessibility of posts for the less-scholarly (jargon, implicit steps in arguments, etc) and (b) the ratio of non-psak questions, particularly "life and living".

Monica Cellio http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/1bfa4ff176b22f138985ddacbc59506f?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Monica Cellio continued: For (a) I'll edit posts more to add that clarification where can (and ask where I don't know), and for (b) I'll start a meta discussion and try to lead by example.

Adam Mosheh http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/441c456b0bf15b3fd33565de16d33cbf?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Adam Mosheh answered: I want to change Mi.Yodeya policy welcoming for all Jews who are interested in learning and teaching Judaism, including Israelis (Ivrit MY.SE - FTW). I would try to market the site to my fellow members of the Reform Movement who are growing in their understanding of how to live and learn Judaism, as well as our friends who think that the Internet is not such a healthy place for Jews but have much to teach. Rav Student's endorsement of MY.SE should help, and we need other haskamot too.

HodofHod http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG HodofHod answered: Quality. We have a lot of great content on this site, but there's a lot that can be made even better. I try to edit things that I come across to improve them, especially some of the older SE 1.0 stuff. I love the community here, and I feel we've more or less hashed out most of the important site policies, so I'm not sure there's much I'd change there.

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J answered: One of my pet peeves on the site, to be honest, is silly questions. I can't help it. I take my experience in Jewish Life and Learning seriously, and I like to see others who are contributing to that and the Jewish Life and Learning of others on the site and future internet users for perpetuity, take that seriously also. I won't automatically delete questions about aliens, but I'll suggest that it might be off-topic and see if anyone else agrees.....

Seth J http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/bfde1449d577fb28f66bed61f86bf635?s=16&d=identicon&r=PG Seth J continued: Ultimately, if the community doesn't agree that a question is too silly for the site, it's not my role as a moderator to unilaterally close or delete it. As for how I'd make (in my opinion) improvements, I'd discuss policy questions related to the subject in Meta. Opinions can change. And even if they don't, that's ok.

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