2022 Moderator Election

nomination began
Sep 19 at 20:00
election began
Oct 3 at 20:00
election cancelled
Oct 3 at 20:00
candidates
3
positions
3

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 is 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

Note: moderators are picked based on the preferences of the community. While the candidate scores can help inform community members about the work of the nominees on this site, they should not be the sole indicator of a good moderator. Voters are free to choose people with low candidate scores as moderators, and a high score does not guarantee that a nominee would do well as a moderator.

Full elections have three phases and an optional fourth phase (Primary):

  1. Question Collection
  2. Nomination
  3. Primary
  4. 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. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

[Answer 3 here]

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

[Answer 4 here]

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

[Answer 5 here]

terdon

I am a long time Stack Exchange user, currently a mod on Unix & Linux, and I also used to be a mod on Ask Ubuntu and here on Bioinformatics, where I have been an active user (I am the 3rd user by rep, 3rd most prolific voter and 4th editor) since the very beginning and was appointed pro-tem moderator when we first launched.

I believe I'd make a good moderator because:

  • I hope my presence here has shown that I am fair, polite and patient.

  • I am always open to—and indeed welcome—corrections.

  • I believe it is very important to be welcoming and polite to new users. Even when they post horrible questions or haven't read the help center. Instead of berating them, we should educate them and explain how the site works.

  • As a moderator on other sites, I am familiar with the mod tools and well aware of what it actually means to be a mod (more of a janitor than a ruler).

  • Finally, I feel I am quite good at moderating: keeping the peace and encouraging civil discussions.

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 have had to deal with this as a moderator on U&L. The bottom line is that useful contributions are not an excuse to act like a $#%&!@#$. While I am prepared to take the user's contributions into account and would be more willing to take the time to chat with the user and try to explain the situation to them, at the end of the day, the rules are the same for everyone and suspensions are an option no matter who the user is.

So, I would first try to talk to the user and explain that their behavior is detrimental to the site but, if they kept up their shenanigans, I'd start doling out suspensions. No user, no matter how technically knowledgeable, is worth disrupting the smooth working of the site.

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

I'd talk to the mod in question. Failing that, I'd talk it over with whichever other mod is available. If I'm reasonably certain that the mod closed it by mistake (yes, mods make mistakes), I'd undo the action. If it looks like it was on purpose, I'd leave a comment to the other mod asking them to explain their reasoning. Presumably, we'll be able to sort it all out. If not, and the other mod insists, I guess I'd probably leave it be. Unless it is some sort of egregious mod abuse, it isn't worth having a public disagreement over a closed question.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Ideally, very little. On a healthy site, moderators are pretty much invisible. They work behind the scenes, cleaning up the trash and handling flags. The first role of a moderator is janitorial. Then, if an issue arises, the mod should step in and sort it out. I guess you could say that a mod is a cross between a janitor and a kindergarten teacher\1. That's how it feels sometimes anyway :)

To use the SE terminology, moderators are human exception handlers. They should hover invisibly, doing their janitorial work when everything is working smoothly, but be ready to step in and ensure the calm and constructive nature of user's interactions on the site when necessary.

----

\1\This is not to say that users are like children. Only that *problematic users* often behave as children. A moderator has little reason to deal with normal, constructive users. It's the ones who act like squabbling children that are the problem and those can make one feel like a kindergarten teacher. \

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I have been a moderator on Stack Exchange sites since 2014. I am very used to this kind of scrutiny and I don't see much reason why this would change my behavior here, on this site. In any case, since I was appointed as a pro-tem moderator when the site first launched, my first year here was as a moderator so, again, I don't expect any change in my behavior if I am re-elected a mod now.

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Since we are still a relatively young and small site, we don't have many people with enough rep to do all review tasks so we still need some help from moderators who get a binding vote for certain things. As a mod, I would be able to single-handedly close and reopen questions as required. That said, my personal moderation style tends towards the hands-off: I would only step in to do things single-handedly if it is a 100% clear-cut case (e.g. question is blatantly off topic) or if the community hasn't managed to handle it (a post that has bene languishing in the review queues for several days).

gringer

I am a bioinformatics researcher currently working at a medical research institute in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa (New Zealand). I have a formal education in computer science, maths, and biology, and enjoy translating technical language and data into things that other people can understand. I am an existing Bioinformatics Stack Exchange moderator, and have been involved in this community since its proposal and beta phase five years ago.

I have a daily email list set up to see recent questions, and typically encounter new questions about half a day after they're asked. My priority is in cleaning up questions (mostly incorporating comments and changes into the asked question), with occasional removal of unanswered posts that seem stale or obsolete.

I try to value and support new community members, and encourage all answers, regardless of how short or insignificant they may seem.

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 am a prolific comment deleter, because the StackExchange guidelines indicate that comments should be transient and only used to improve questions or answers. If people want to have arguments or lengthy discussions, the chat rooms are a better place for that.

Having said that, I would welcome anyone who wants to provide answers, as they can then be upvoted or downvoted by the community. A "convert comment to answer" feature would be very helpful for me, but unfortunately only the reverse is available at the moment.

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

In almost all cases I will respect the decisions of another moderator. Sometimes there are disputes around deletion, etc., in which case one of the moderators or users would create a meta post to help get guidance from the community. When this happens, I attempt to make decisions based on the community preferences, as long as they are consistent with the StackExchange guidelines about conduct and behaviour.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In an ideal world, the moderators help long-term users make appropriate decisions around maintaining their own community. Due to the smaller size of our current community, moderators spend a lot of time doing that maintenance work themselves, which has been draining for some of the other moderators. This is work that I enjoy doing, so I'm comfortable keeping the fires burning while better people help to build and develop our community.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I feel less comfortable answering questions as a moderator, because I don't think that increased importance should be placed on my own answers for that reason (but I still answer anyway, if I think I have something different to add to the discussion). Otherwise, I'm okay with the diamond. For the majority of users, it doesn't seem to affect how they interact with me (relative to other users).

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Instant comment and question deletion work wonders in stopping destructive or wasteful discussion. I appreciate the time people spend in asking and answering questions on this site, and feel that being part of the moderation team helps me to make sure that users have a good experience when using Bioinformatics Stack Exchange.

M__

History on Stack-exchange

Community member for 3.5+ years, with the highest voting record in Bioinformatics SE (3000+), so I've definitely upvoted you, and I'm the only member to have 2 silver badges for the review queues 😇. More generally, 400+ answers, an equal number of question edits and 'closer' to a 'phylogenetics' silver badge (subject to interpretation).

I spend more time on Bioinformatics SE than as a senior journal editor.

Tech stuff

My specialism is small genomes, notably haplotypes. I am tightly focused on most things Python, with solid experience in stats, pop gen, machine learning and particularly as mentioned phylogenetics. I hold experience in niche areas of eukaryotes, like immunology. Right now I'm into 'high performance' Python. My trick is I can quickly spot biological interpretation through numbers.

Why mod?

Firstly, I like the community a lot and think my stats show that. Secondly, I enjoy biological code-based problem solving and how others solve those problems. Finally, I'd like it to be busier still and want to do my part.

Ultimately, I enjoying spending time here and its the next logical step.

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?

Summary. The buzzword is encouragement. Why do you think I've given so many upvotes? However, its scenario specific.

Scenario 1, the most likely situation is simply strong technical bias, for example Perl vs Python, data pipeline languages (which are an industrial standard) versus sub-processing or shell. There's also machine learning versus deep learning, but riots haven't broken out here on that ... Its a simple equation,

proponent of method 1 + proponent of method 2 = dispute

My answer: code is code and we all have to see that from different angles. I'm originally from a Perl background - enough said 😉. On this site its happened and dealt with in comments by past Mods. Their example is the model to follow.

Scenario 2, protecting the user from abuse. Whilst I've been here I've been called 'a nerd' (maybe 'a total nerd') and an 'Oh deary, deary me'. I don't know what a 'deary' is - but doubt its a complement 🙂. However, abuse is cyclic, unhealthy and positively unwanted. I hold the (outside) experience when to delete, quell, or else escalate so here an abuser is accountable to the SE rules. The key is vigilance and speed.

Scenario 3, lingering historic offence but its rare. As a hypothetical example, OP receives a good answer, posts their own answer and marks theirs as accepted. Being a nerd helps, because you know where its all started. One amongst the sensitive scenarios and needs patience, neutrality, thought and encouragement.

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

First of all, I'd examine my own perspective. I get things wrong. Secondly, I'd ping them in confidence and come to an agreement. In exam marking its run-of-the-mill.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A mods role here is to provide the healthiest possible environment for furthering biological understanding via informatics both to the OP and to those kind enough to dedicate their time answering.

  1. A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I am cautious about what I say and write. I rarely pick sides and keep cool. My posts reflect those principles.

  1. In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Summarising my intro: I really like the community (see stats), enjoy biological code-based problem solving and I'd like the site to be busier still. The site is now established, no longer beta, has more potential and I want to do my bit having been a part of it for so long.

This election is over.