Philosophy is scheduled for an election next week, October 1st.In connection with that, we will be holding a Q&A with the candidates. This will be an opportunity for members of the community to pose questions to the candidates on the topic of moderation. Participation is completely voluntary.

As we had done last year, we will be doing the question collection one week prior to the start of the actual nomination phase.

The purpose of this thread was to collect questions for the questionnaire. The questionnaire is now live, and you may find it here.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Until the nomination phase, (so, until Monday, October 1st at 20:00:00Z UTC, or 4:00 pm EDT on the same day, give or take time to arrive for closure), this question will be open to collect potential questions from the users of the site. Post answers to this question containing any questions you would like to ask the candidates. Please only post one question per answer.

  • We, the Community Team, will be providing a small selection of generic questions. The first two will be guaranteed to be included, the latter ones are if the community doesn't supply enough questions. This will be done in a single post, unlike the prior instruction.

  • If your question contains a link, please use the syntax of [text](link), as that will make it easier for transcribing for the finished questionnaire.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to voice questions that are specific to your community and issues that you are running into at currently.

  • At the start of the nomination phase, the Community Team will select up to 8 of the top voted questions submitted by the community provided in this thread, to use in addition to the aforementioned 2 guaranteed questions.

  • Once questions have been selected, a new question will be opened to host the actual questionnaire for the candidates, typically containing 10 questions in total.

  • This is not the only option that users have for gathering information on candidates. As a community, you are still free to, for example, hold a live chat session with your candidates to ask further questions, or perhaps clarifications from what is provided in the Q&A.

If you have any questions or feedback about this process, feel free to post as a comment here.

  • As someone fairly new to the community (and SE in general), I'm not sure I understand who the candidates are. People from the Community Team, random people from the community, someone we choose by a vote, anyone who want to answer...? Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 7:55
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    @YechiamWeiss: The candidates are community users, i.e. if you like "random people". They have to nominate themselves (or be nominated and accept), answer the finished questionnaire etc. After the nomination phase, the candidates are to be elected by votes (if there are more than one).
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 9:31
  • @PhilipKlöcking shouldn't we do it the other way around, selecting the candidates then provide questions? That way 23 can do more personalized questions. Unless we aim for general questions? Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 9:44
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    @YechiamWeiss: Well, the point of the questionnaire is to get a better feeling about their mindset as a moderator, not any personal information. Actually, I think it is better to conceive questions that are not too personalised since the questionnaire should be the same for all candidates. The questions do not have to be too general, they can actually ask about very specific cases or problems. The aim of this thread is to have a questionnaire that deals with questions important to this specific community.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 9:52
  • @PhilipKlöcking Ohh it's for moderators. OK now I understand. Haven't realized the connection between the title and the topic :) Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 9:55
  • @YechiamWeiss: Not sure whether there is a misunderstanding between us, hence just to clarify: Those nominees who want to become a moderator will all have to fill out the questionnaire to become viable candidates for the election phase. And we are speaking moderator for Philosophy.SE only here.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:09
  • @PhilipKlöcking understood. At first I thought it was simply a nice community get-to-know Q&A. My mistake. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:19
  • @YechiamWeiss: Hey, nothing stopping us from doing exactly that ;)
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:24
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    @PhilipKlöcking I think that'd be awesome, especially in a community like us where views clashes everywhere. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:26

10 Answers 10


How would you delimitate "philosophy" as the subject matter of this site? Is every more or less "deep" thought philosophy or are qualifications in content and/or style necessary in order to make this site work as intended? If so, what would you deem essential?

  • I think this is probably one of the most important questions for moderators to answer and be clear about, very good question.
    – Not_Here
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 19:46
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    Over the last several years this site has gone down in my estimation. There are more and more questions that have nothing to do with philosophy or philosophical thought. I see less and less moderator intervention in closing these questions post haste. Would like to see some better moderation. Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 6:17
  • @SwamiVishwananda: I think there is a misunderstanding here. It is the community's obligation to moderate what you write about there. That is the whole point of the conception of StackExchange. Moderators are supposed to handle things the community cannot handle (rude behaviour, deleting comments, etc). In theory, if enough users did it, the closing of questions and deletion of answers could be handled by high-level users all by themselves. Keelan was spot on with the picture of (SE and) the community (in Meta) being the legislator and the mod being only an executive in an earlier election.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 15:02

How often do you visit the site, and what do you do when you do visit - reviewing, answering questions, asking questions, commenting? Which of these do you think you can contribute the most at?

(I know it seem like 2 questions here, but they do relate to each other, and frankly asking them separately thins the post :))


How will you go about navigating the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to posts reflecting fringe or politically incorrect positions? Please be concrete: what actual steps would you take, if any?

  • Would it be possible to turn this into a meta question after the election, whether or not it gets chosen? I think that it's something that has come up a lot over the past few months and would be good to have a meta discussion on.
    – Not_Here
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 19:49
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    @Not_Here of course it would!
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 20:03
  • It's easy. this is a philosophy forum. It is not a forum to express political or cultural opinions or views. Its a forum to ask question questions about philosophy, not 'positions' or views... Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 6:22
  • @SwamiVishwananda the line is finer than you think, and some posts waver between its two sides.
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 8:09

Consider seeing a question that is too vague, too general or too subjective to answer. Would you flag to close the question immediately, or would you try to help the user revise the question? If you would help the user, how would you go about doing that? Would you edit yourself, would you give advice to the user, etc. Would you act differently if it were a new user/contributer? Please elaborate.


What problems do you see with the principle mechanisms of a Q&A format like StackExchange aspiring to create a database of knowledge when it comes to philosophy? How would you take them into consideration when moderating?

  • I would add: "and do you see any way of solving them, if they can be solved in the framework of our site?" Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 9:00
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    @YechiamWeiss Well, I consider tension between premises of the network and the subject matter of a particular site unsolvable, but thought it indeed appropriate to add the handling of them as aspect of the question proper, thanks for the input.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 9:41
  • I understand (that why I included "if they can be solved"). I would however love to see some issues solved by using utilities that are often forgotten in this SE (the chat would be prime example in my opinion, which is used 99% of the time here for simply removing conversations from comments; I think the chat system is under-utilized here, where it can be greatly used for input outside of the Q&A format). Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 9:45
  • To be fair, if I've got time at my hands I do discuss things in chat with people, especially new members that are willing to learn. The time factor is one of the prime reasons for this election. It isn't a nice experience having to handle flags and answer comments as sole activity just because of time confinement.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 10:04
  • agreed. Why open only 1 position then? Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 10:11

Here is a set of general questions, gathered as very common questions asked every election. As mentioned in the instructions, the first two questions are guaranteed to show up in the Q&A, while the others are if there aren't enough questions (or, if you like one enough, you may split it off as a separate answer for review within the community's 8).

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

  • In your opinion, what do moderators do?
  • 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?
  • In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Suppose a comment is flagged as "unfriendly or unkind". How would you handle something like that as distinct from a flag for "harassment, bigotry, or abuse"?

Since there is some confusion what I am referring to here is an image of what appears when when clicks on the flag for a comment:

enter image description here

My question is about the second item: "It's unfriendly or unkind."

  • I don't actually understand this question. Clarify?
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 2:28
  • One can flag comments for being rude or for being unfriendly. These are two different choices. I assume this "unfriendly" option is new with the changes in the code of conduct. I am wondering how the moderator plans to handle these flags. I am looking for hints that the moderator plans to take these flags seriously. I expect them to be taken seriously. @virmaior Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:36
  • upvoted! as i'd like to know too.
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:39
  • Actually rudeness & unfriendliness are one flag, the other one you mean is probably harassment. In practice, there is quite some overlap in how these flags are being used, but nevertheless it can be interesting to hear some thoughts about this.
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 13:40
  • @Keelan I updated my question with an image to clarify what I am referring to. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:11
  • Thanks, but in the first sentence of this post you refer to something flagged as "unfriendly ... as distinct from a flag for rudeness". The second bullet point in the flag options is for both unfriendly and rude comments, so I don't understand how one will distinguish these flag reasons. That's why I thought you meant to differentiate between the first two flag reasons, harassment vs. rudeness-unfriendliness.
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:14
  • @Keelan I see your point. I made a further edit of my question for clarification. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:16
  • Thanks, that clarifies! :)
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:16
  • The way that you originally posed this question, I could understand the confusion (difference between "unfriendly" and "rude" is vague if it even exists) but there is a huge difference between harassing someone and being unfriendly. Now knowing that the two different categories are "unfriendly" and "harassment", I don't think that this question is a good question because it seems very clear where the line is (personal attacks, threats, etc are not just being unfriendly).
    – Not_Here
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 19:42
  • @Not_Here I have a good idea where the line is myself. This is a question for the candidates for moderator. I want to see how they would respond to a flag in the second category: unfriendly or unkind. Will they ignore such flags thinking they are not important or will they do something about them? Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 20:55
  • Perhaps an example could help. The new code of conduct has some examples of comments which are 'unpleasant' but still very common on some sites ( “You could Google this in 5 seconds”; “If you bothered to read my question, you’d know it’s not a duplicate”). Culture and the extent of enforcement varies from site to site and from moderator to moderator, so I agree that it can be helpful to have candidates comment on something along those lines. (@Not_Here)
    – user2953
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 18:34
  • @Keelan I don't see how that is an example for what this question is asking. The comment you listed is not harassment (it isn't making threats, personally attacking someone, etc.) but it is rude and unhelpful. I'm not saying that there isn't a difference between rude and harassment, I think there is a clear difference and that's why this question is not a good question to spend time answering.
    – Not_Here
    Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 7:02

What do you think is the use of the chat rooms (or, what is your use of the chat), in relation to our Q&A format and our community? Do yoh use it just to "move discussions to chat" rather than long conversations in comments, or do you see it as a well to expand our way of communication further than Q&A style? Do you visit the chat frequently? Extra - do you think the community's use of the chat rooms could be utilized better than today? Elaborate.


What will be your standards (if at all) for questions and answers in this site? Please elaborate as much as you can (syntax, grammar, included examples, references, etc). Extra - and what will you do with a post that doesn't follow these standards?


Question for the candidates: What value do you see in making down-votes?

  • 1
    The answer is: As often as needed. These numbers (the vote totals) are on the user profile. But more importantly, why do you feel that these totals are important? Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 5:17
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    Ironic that this question got downvoted :) Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 7:53
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    @Keelan I see the number of down-votes on the activity page as you mentioned. I will modify this question. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:53

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