- What is your take on "problem dumps", "check my work" and "hint-only answers", respectively?
I'm happy with the rough consensus that seems to have emerged on Meta.
Problem dumps: no. Do not want. They won't make the world a better place. But sometimes they can be turned into a far better question by generalizing them appropriately (e.g., how do I prove a language is regular?, rather than: give me a regexp for the following specific language).
Check my work: no. They don't work well on this kind of site, as our policy on Meta explains.
Hint-only answers: I don't have strong opinions. It seems that we haven't quite reached a very strong consensus on Meta. Best to handle this by community moderation, letting people vote on a case-by-case basis.
Last comment: my personal take on these matters are secondary. If I'm elected, I'd view my role as trying to follow the community's preferences. So, if there's a conflict between the community consensus and my personal views, I'll try to follow the community's preferences.
- Comments are starting to build up on a question. A commenter asserts that the question makes no sense and should be closed. The asker maintains that the question is perfectly clear. You have no idea as it's about a domain of CS that you know nothing about. What do you do?
I leave it to community voting. We believe in community moderation, and that means ♦-moderators don't need to wade in for every case. I might leave a comment encouraging community votes, or suggesting ways that the asker could improve the question (if applicable). I watch the comment thread to make sure it stays constructive and civil. Beyond that, I do nothing: I leave it to other moderators and community voting.
- Assume the community acts differently than you would have, or directly rescinds one of your actions, e.g. closing or reopening. What do you do?
I'd take that as a learning opportunity: a chance to refine my mental model of community preferences. I view ♦-moderators as akin to butlers: their job is to serve the community, try to anticipate their needs/preferences, and act on their behalf. If I see signs that I have misunderstood community preferences, then that's an opportunity for me to re-assess my own understanding.
- What do you think this site's biggest challenge is? (E.g. post quality or quantity, too many/few closures, bad tools/guidance, etc.) What do you think should be done about it (by anybody: moderators, users in general, Stack Exchange staff, ...)?
I think our biggest challenge is to grow the number of experts and active users on the site. Compared to other Stack Exchange sites, we have a relatively small core group of answerers, and it'd be great to expand that. To be clear, things are already working well, and it's not like we're in trouble, but growing the number and diversity of those experts will be good for the site in the long run and will make us even stronger.
I think one of the best things we can do to address this challenge is stay the course and maintain our quality standards. High-quality questions attract high-quality answers, and they both attract experts to stay. When an expert wanders by, I tend to think they're more likely to be motivated to continue participating if they see just what great questions and answers we have here.
- If you have not been a moderator on CS.SE, have you been helping in moderating the site (edits, close/reopen votes, flags, setting site policies through meta discussions, etc.)? What are your three most important contributions to moderation on the site as a member of the site's community?
I'm not currently a moderator, but I've been active in all aspects open to me.
As I wrote in my self-nomination, I've raised over 600 helpful flags, edited over 300 posts, I'm a frequent reviewer, and I try to help improve the quality of questions here by posting comments to guide posters on how to improve their questions (I've posted over 2000 comments so far).
Over the past year I've read just about every question posted here, and I try to help improve questions by editing and posting comments. I'm active on Meta; you can see my Meta activity on my profile.
- What do you see as the mission of cs.SE? Should we be a Q&A repository, a (self-)teaching tool, a homework service, ...?
Yes. We have multiple missions. We want to help people. We want to build an archive of high-quality questions and answers that will be useful to others in the future. We want to help people learn concepts. We want to share knowledge and make knowledge more widely accessible. We want to help disseminate some of the deep ideas and techniques form the research literature to people who need those techniques, and help people with problems find solutions.
I don't think we want to be a homework service. The problem is that the resulting questions tend to be low-quality. Instead, we should focus on helping people learn computer science. Usually, the best way to help people learn is not to solve their homework exercise for them, but to help them learn new material. You can't learn to ride a bicycle by watching a video of someone else riding one, and you can't learn computer science by watching someone else solve homework exercises. So, a homework-solving service probably isn't the best possible use of this community.
- What are your plans to engage the community in moderation?
One thing ♦-moderators can do is give the rest of the community a chance to be involved in moderation. It's a delicate balance, because on the one hand, ♦-moderators can save everyone else some time by taking action when it is clearcut, but on the other hand, I think it's healthy to build up a norm that a lot of the moderation is done by the community.
Put in concrete terms, if elected as a ♦-moderator, I'll probably close-vote just a bit less. In clearcut cases where I suspect pretty much everyone would agree, sure, I'll still close-vote. But in less-obvious cases, I might wait and give the community a chance to vote. I am inspired by something I've seen @Raphael do from time to time, where he posts a comment encouraging the community to vote by saying "This feels like it might possibly be (too broad/unclear/off-topic/whatever); community votes, please."
There are also some actions that only ♦-moderator can take, and that can't be handled by the rest of the community: e.g., handling many flags. That's one that can't be delegated to the community, but ♦-moderator can still engage the community by encouraging people to flag (e.g., by reminders on Meta).
Finally, one of the biggest ways that ♦-moderators can engage the community is by keeping an eye out for any common patterns or problems, and then posting on Meta to solicit community opinion for new cases.
- 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'd look at a sample of flagged interactions, determine whether that user's contributions have stepped over the line, and take appropriate action.
It depends on the kinds of arguments or flags. If others are arguing about the technical merits, that's not a problem: there's no reason that should require any action at all. If it triggers flags and those flags are unwarranted, no action is needed.
But if (for example) that user has a pattern of rude or offensive comments, then action is needed. I would start by acting on the specific flags. If it's a single instance, sometimes it's enough to just delete the entire lot of comments and let people cool done. If it's starting to become a pattern, I'd reach out to the user through a private chat, and see if the user's behavior improves. (These situations are usually best handled privately; calling someone out publicly can backfire.) If that doesn't work, suspensions or other actions might be warranted -- but I'd consult with the other ♦-moderator first, as they might have better ideas about how to handle the situation.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I'd reach out to the other moderator privately. But generally I figure anyone elected as a moderator is likely to be a level-headed sort with a good reason for whatever action they took, so if it's a one-off, I'm likely to defer to them. If I notice a broader pattern, I'd start with a private conversation with that moderator, and if it brings out differences in perspectives, I might ask a question on Meta about what our policy should be.
- What are your areas of expertise in computer science? In which areas of the scope do you easily understand typical questions? In which areas of the scope do you have difficulty in understanding typical questions? Do you hold a university degree in computer science? Do you have any teaching experience in computer science?
Over the past year I've read just about every question posted to CS.SE, and I feel comfortable with my knowledge: I'm by no means expert in every area of CS.SE, but I have enough knowledge that I feel comfortable acting as a moderator on the overwhelming majority of questions I've seen.
In more detail: Probably the most common topic for questions is theory, e.g., algorithms, data structures, complexity theory. I have a solid understanding of those topics: I'm not as expert as some of the other active users here, but solid enough to understand everything I've seen in that area, and often to answer. I also have a decent understanding of formal methods, HCI, computer vision, machine learning -- I'm not an expert, but enough to understand most questions. I'm also expert in computer security and cryptography, but we have separate sites for those. If I had to pick the one area where I'm weakest, it is undergraduate-level operating systems and AI. I've actually studied systems at the graduate level and follow some systems research, but I've never taken an undergraduate OS course, so I have some gaps in my knowledge there. Fortunately, we have others on this site who can handle those cases.
I have a Ph.D. in computer science. I have taught computer science at the university level.