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Quick links to answers by: WBTZizouz212jimsugfeetwet

In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers. With the submission count, we had to pick one of our back-up questions - I elected to select the one related to one of the submitted questions.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes. Oh, and please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written. Once you have posted your answer, add your name, with a link to your answer at the top of this post, so that it is easily accessible for other users to read.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!


  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?

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

  3. Many questions asked on LSE seem to actually request personally-applicable legal advice ("can I sue X for Y?", "Is this contract condition okay?", "Can I legally Z?", "Is W fair use?"). Are such questions problematic, and how should they be dealt with?

  4. It is possible that the voting at this site (especially for Hot Questions) isn't driven by expert review, but rather, popular opinion. Do you think this is happening? If so, is it a problem? Would there be any way for moderators to help in the case where a Hot Question attracts a lot of non-expert votes for an incorrect answer?

  5. A new user is in disagreement with another user (or moderator) that their question has been closed for "seeking legal advice." How would you approach and react to the situation?

  6. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  7. What do you believe moderators should do?

  8. Specialized expertise helps to ferret out what's important, and thus what might be salvageable, in questions that are up for action. What legal jurisdiction/tradition are you most comfortable with?

  9. What should be our policy on citing and having sources in answers? What is our current policy? How should such a policy be enforced on the site?

  10. There are alternative views on law that suggest that one may essentially opt out of the legal system (sometimes known as a common law defence). How do you believe they should be handled on this site?

2

jimsug

  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?

This depends on the situation - is the user provoking the disputes? Are they doing it in the course of clarifying answers to questions or are they going out of their way to cause disruption?

Is it because of their views? I've never believed in an uncurtailed freedom of speech, but if it's merely because of their views which are otherwise acceptable on the site but for some reason objectionable to certain users - does it warrant action?

Finally - if its flags - is it the same users flagging comments repeatedly? Are there multiple users flagging different flags over time?

All of these factors - along with consultation with the team, except for exigent circumstances - would contribute to my decision on how to handle such a user. This could range from a private chat, to a moderator message, to suspension.

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

Unless it is a blatant mistake - ask why. If it was justified - there should be some explanation forthcoming. Or, rather - even if they believe it was justified.

Then, if I'm no convinced - attempt to persuade. This could happen in public or in private. I would also consider whether there were existing delete/closure votes on the question, or whether it (has) had undelete/reopen votes cast on it.

If no agreement can be reached - or I come to agree that the action is warranted - then I would do nothing. If it is important enough to be reversed - the community generally has the power to do so, and so it won't be my imposing my view on the community at large.

  1. Many questions asked on LSE seem to actually request personally-applicable legal advice ("can I sue X for Y?", "Is this contract condition okay?", "Can I legally Z?", "Is W fair use?"). Are such questions problematic, and how should they be dealt with?

This depends. Personally, it could devastating if you found out that someone relied on your information to their detriment - thus far, I haven't become too tired of people disclaiming their posts for this reason.

On the other hand, we have a prominent notice visible on almost every page on the main site except in the app and in the mobile site.

On balance - it really seems like this is a local version of a retired close reason on Stack Overflow, and on that basis they should not be allowed. If a question is specific enough that it is unlikely to be of use to future visitors - and it takes the form of a request for legal advice on a specific situation - then it should be off-topic. We are not lawyers (and even if we were, there'd be no way to prove it). We don't have time to consult with the people asking these questions (nor should we, unless it's necessary to answer the question at hand).

Finally - it does the person asking very little benefit to have a bunch of potentially unlicensed people with little or no legal education giving them answers that they might stake money, goods, or property on.

  1. It is possible that the voting at this site (especially for Hot Questions) isn't driven by expert review, but rather, popular opinion. Do you think this is happening? If so, is it a problem? Would there be any way for moderators to help in the case where a Hot Question attracts a lot of non-expert votes for an incorrect answer?

Moderators are empowered to post notices on questions where they are of questionable factual correctness - I have used this on several occasions - based on a request from Skeptics. Of course, this should be used very rarely - for example in the cases where an incorrect or potentially dangerous answer gains prominence in some way - as it bypasses and in fact contradicts the roughly democratic process of voting on posts.

Is it happening? Almost certainly. Is it a problem? Not always.

  1. A new user is in disagreement with another user (or moderator) that their question has been closed for "seeking legal advice." How would you approach and react to the situation?

If there's a question that can be asked that would satisfy both parties - then I would edit the question to that end.

Otherwise, if the question is meaningful only as a request for legal advice, it should be closed for reasons above, and the user directed to legal resources off-site if appropriate.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators take action where it is faster and leads to the same outcome as the community - for example, closing blatantly off-topic questions, deleting obvious spam, and so on.

Moderators also handle flags - Stack Exchange distributes most of the moderation workload amongst its users, through privileges gained by earning reputation. With enough reputation you can downvote questions to remove them from the front page; vote to close questions; vote to delete questions and answers; see site statistics; and many other things. But where there isn't (and usually shouldn't be) some built-in process where the moderation burden can be shared - those grey areas, or where you have a square peg and only circular holes to fill - moderators look at them. Those are flags, and we look at them. Every. Single. Flag.

  1. What do you believe moderators should do?

As little as possible! We should be exception handlers, more like the handyman (handyperson?) than the janitors, receptionists or concierges in a building. The community collectively keeps things running smoothly, and when it can't, moderators step in to fix things - just enough - and get things running along again.

  1. Specialized expertise helps to ferret out what's important, and thus what might be salvageable, in questions that are up for action. What legal jurisdiction/tradition are you most comfortable with?

I'm currently studying Australian law - where statutory provisions are relevant and state-based, New South Wales law. I'm therefore most comfortable with common law systems.

However - unless a grave error has taken place - the community generally should be deciding what is and isn't salvageable.

  1. What should be our policy on citing and having sources in answers? What is our current policy? How should such a policy be enforced on the site?

The more unbelievable the claim, the more/stronger the sources are needed. Unfortunately, that's just how it is.

I don't need to cite everything. If I said that Australia is a country, I don't need to cite anything for that. If I said that Australia is a unicorn... I'd expect that claim to be challenged.

  1. There are alternative views on law that suggest that one may essentially opt out of the legal system (sometimes known as a common law defence). How do you believe they should be handled on this site?

This is something that I have had to struggle with, personally. In my view - they should be given no credence whatsoever. No common law defence has ever succeeded to my knowledge, and on that basis alone they should not be part of any answer. However, to hide these would be a mistake. The answers - where they are given - should be assessed and then (usually) voted down not because they are based on cod law, but because they just usually aren't good answers.

I feel no guilt in slapping a citation needed notice on these. The fact that none have ever been supplied speaks volumes to their credibility.


profile for jimsug on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites

I think we're doing flair? ;)

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  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 always upvote valuable answers (and would encourage everyone to likewise vote often!).

Frankly, the valuable contributions don't affect my approach to disruptive comments. I've seen two types of "patterns of disruptive comments:"

  • "Trolling." The rule there is "don't feed the troll." I handle all flags promptly, and when a pattern of trolling emerges I just delete the comments without further ado.
  • "Abnormal," by which I literally mean a user who is ignorant of the site/community norms. They don't intend to cause trouble, but they can be destructively abrasive or distracting. I start with the gentlest of suggestions and pointers in comments, and it usually only takes a few before they catch on. For the most stalwart, unrepentant offenders I have once, maybe twice, used the private moderator warning.
  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

This is rare, but it has happened on a handful of occasions and raised In Chambers (Law Moderator chat). I treat other moderators, like all experienced and active users, with the utmost deference. Usually it's a matter of expressing my view and leaving any reconsideration to them. The other pro-tem moderators have been consummately ethical and conscientious. If I ever thought that something harmful was being done and not adequately reconsidered I might suggest the third mod act as a tie-breaker. But the mod team really is a team: We all take the job to maximize the welfare of the site. We leave our egos at the door, and go In Chambers to work together to solve problems.

  1. Many questions asked on LSE seem to actually request personally-applicable legal advice ("can I sue X for Y?", "Is this contract condition okay?", "Can I legally Z?", "Is W fair use?"). Are such questions problematic, and how should they be dealt with?

Yes, very problematic. From day one we have been wary of the fact that we are constantly pressing against the boundaries of "unlicensed practice of law" (UPL) – see . The Q&A on that tag addresses this in depth. The long and short of it is: We can often save the question by editing it into a sufficiently generic form. We can often answer the question without offering legal advice. And when it doesn't feel right we can just close it using our site-specific close reason.

  1. It is possible that the voting at this site (especially for Hot Questions) isn't driven by expert review, but rather, popular opinion. Do you think this is happening? If so, is it a problem? Would there be any way for moderators to help in the case where a Hot Question attracts a lot of non-expert votes for an incorrect answer?

I'm not aware of any incorrect answers drawing significant positive votes. Full disclosure: early on I advocated that we rely on the theory that "the best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an incorrect answer." From what I've seen here that really seems to work. Usually all it takes is one comment to point out an error, and an answer will either be corrected, deleted, or downvoted into irrelevance. The more attention a question gets, the more likely errors are to be caught. (Though fortunately we have also attracted a core of remarkably broad expert members who seem quick to catch and call out erroneous answers, even on questions that have received little attention.)

If this ever emerged as a problem, moderators do have the ability to plaster a notice on a specific post.

  1. A new user is in disagreement with another user (or moderator) that their question has been closed for "seeking legal advice." How would you approach and react to the situation?

My preferred method is coaching: Using comments to help them abstract or generalize the question. Occasionally, when they're having a hard time or it requires massive overhaul, I'll just edit the question for them if it seems salvageable. IIRC once my efforts were not appreciated and I was accused of changing the meaning of their question. Unfortunately, by then my revision had attracted a good answer, so I told them:

  1. They can post their question again, but that it would probably be closed again for the same reason it was about to be closed before my salvage effort.
  2. If they don't want their name associated with my edit they can use the Contact Us form to have it anonymized.
  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The job of a moderator is to take action when either (1) the community might take too long to effect the appropriate action through community mechanisms, or (2) the action cannot reasonably be delegated to the community or arbitrary Trusted Users. (One might call this the "Presidential" theory of moderation.)

For example, when a comment thread is out of control we don't want to wait for 5 users to vote to move the thread to chat. And sometimes we need someone with clear authority to say, "Cut it out."

But we don't want unaccountable Trusted Users to be issuing warnings and suspensions and making contentious calls. It's rare, but at least when moderators go overboard with "the mod hammer" they can be called to task and stripped of the mod authority if necessary.

Finally, the title "moderator" conveys the intent behind the responsibilities: They are to moderate, not to impose. Moderators are expected to exhibit a level of temperance that is not required of Trusted Users. That little diamond lets everyone know: "This is a user who has been granted, and who has accepted, (penultimate) responsibility for the good functioning of this community. The fact that they have that role means that their pronouncements in that capacity should be afforded the highest level of deference." Which, in addition to the added burden of moderation, is why many Trusted Users don't (and shouldn't) want to be moderators; and why lower-rep users can make great moderators.

  1. What do you believe moderators should do?

Handle flags as quickly as possible, ensure review queues don't backup, and be attentive to all Meta posts.

Using mod tools: As little as possible; as much as necessary.

One problem unique to moderators is that we don't get close votes, only close actions. My method of dealing with this, when there is any reasonable doubt about closing, is to wait for a few other community votes before affirming a close decision. Until then I will either try to salvage the question or I will post a comment saying something like, "As written, I would vote to close this for [whatever reason]."

  1. Specialized expertise helps to ferret out what's important, and thus what might be salvageable, in questions that are up for action. What legal jurisdiction/tradition are you most comfortable with?

I'm not a lawyer, but legal compliance and oversight has been a constant requirement in my career, as well as an ongoing special interest. And I tend to dig in a little deeper than necessary, so I've drawn reactions ranging from, "You should have been a lawyer," to, "Don't forget: You're not a lawyer!" I'm reasonably familiar with U.S. law and regulation. But I love reading good answers by real lawyers and judges!

  1. What should be our policy on citing and having sources in answers? What is our current policy? How should such a policy be enforced on the site?

I addressed this question early on in meta, and my answer there is still my opinion.

  1. There are alternative views on law that suggest that one may essentially opt out of the legal system (sometimes known as a common law defence). How do you believe they should be handled on this site?

Early on there was some concern that the site could be disrupted by "sovereign citizen" theory. It turns out to not have been much of a problem: Legitimate questions have arisen, and there are good answers to those questions, because this site is about law as it is, not as someone would like it to be. Of course, debates of this nature arise in comments to all sorts of questions, and like all comment discussions those are encouraged (or forced if necessary) to move to chat.


I've enjoyed answering these questions, and am always around to answer more, so feel free to comment for elaboration, clarification, or just ping me in chat!

profile for feetwet on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites

2

I'm Zizouz212! Here are my answers to your questions. Good luck to all candidates!

  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 first step would be to look at the comments, and ask a few questions. Are they provoking? Are they argumentative? Are they slightly harassing? Of course, this needs to be seen in context. If the comments appear to be louder, it may be because they've received comments that are loud as well. Whatever the case, the decision needs to be made whether the behaviour (in comments) is appropriate.

If it's inappropriate, then it may be worth sending out a mod message (without suspension) reminding the user to abide by our Be Nice Policy. This allows you to communicate respectfully with the user, and through experience, it may allow you to understand the situation better as well. It's important to be constructive, and to make sure that the conversation is constructive, and that there is a sense of understanding among the user, and the moderation team.

If that doesn't work, then we may have to move into temporary timed suspensions, to allow the user to cool off. I should also point out that whether the user produces a number of answers or not isn't really that relevant: just because a user has 100 reputation doesn't mean we move into immediate suspension.

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

Communication is key.

Moderators are also humans. Humans will always disagree with each other. If someone closed a question that I feel shouldn't have been closed, than raise it in chat. Have a constructive discussion, and hear viewpoints. From there, we can grow and move on. If we feel that it's a good discussion for the community, we can even take it to Meta. Even if we don't agree in the end, it's nothing to be sour about: life is full of disagreements.

  1. Many questions asked on LSE seem to actually request personally-applicable legal advice ("can I sue X for Y?", "Is this contract condition okay?", "Can I legally Z?", "Is W fair use?"). Are such questions problematic, and how should they be dealt with?

Currently, such questions are off-topic. We often seen them closed as "asking for specific legal advice." This is what we've so far chosen as a community. We're free to change at any time, but again, this is what we have chosen as a community, and I respect that decision.

In case the question was asking about how I personally feel, I would say that it's more of a case-by-case thing. I like the information Andrew outlined in this meta post, in particular the distinction between "legal advice" and "legal information." For many legal advice questions, we often don't get enough information, especially if they seem very specific.

  1. It is possible that the voting at this site (especially for Hot Questions) isn't driven by expert review, but rather, popular opinion. Do you think this is happening? If so, is it a problem? Would there be any way for moderators to help in the case where a Hot Question attracts a lot of non-expert votes for an incorrect answer?

I think this is happening, but next we have to see if it's a problem. We see questions about whether catching a Pokemon is theft with 31 votes, which is arguably more of a basic question, that doesn't involve specific legal expertise to answer. Meanwhile, questions such as Subpoena vs Motion to Compel (with two votes) or (fine, I'm biased) Are volunteer organizations considered a social area under the Ontario Human Rights Code? (with one vote) require more legal experience, and awareness with case law that forms.

Many of these questions get traffic due to their placement with the Hot Network Questions, and then displayed on all Stack Exchange sites. The higher attention will lead to more views, and more votes. So yes, it definitely is happening.

But is it a problem? Is there a solution to such a problem?

I think it definitely is a problem. Comprehensive, expert-like questions and answers, in most cases, ultimately get overshadowed by other questions.

As for a solution, there's not much that the moderator role would effectively be able to do. We cannot view votes made by individual users, nor can we invalidate them. Ultimately, there's no way to stop this. However, we can work harder to support questions and answers of great quality by using votes of our own. This is something that we would need to work on as a community - using our votes. And yes, I'm just as guilty of not using my votes too (that's something to improve on!).

  1. Considering that there is a very large amount of traffic by new users, and all, I think this would be a good fit: A new user is in disagreement with another user (or moderator) that their question has been closed for "seeking legal advice." How would you approach and react to the situation?

In many cases, it may just be people talking past each other, and not completely understanding. Sometimes, just a little bit of clarification with references is needed. If the question is off-topic, collaboration and communication will help get a question reopened (if possible).

However, if there is real disagreement, and potential room for controversy over the question closure (e.g. we've never experienced these questions before), then it's a good opportunity to get full community input on Meta.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In my opinion? We're birds that fly around the site. We keep a watchful eye over everything. We're monkeys that have guns in their hands. Wait what?

But really, our role is to just be another user. While yes, we do lead the community, and recommend options based on experience and knowledge, there isn't much more to it. While handling flags is only one aspect of the job, we take care of meta, chat, as well as the main portion of the site, and ensure that everything is in line.

  1. What do you believe moderators should do?

This is a surprisingly difficult question (especially when coupled with the question above).

There are numerous resources scattered throughout the network that outline what we should, can, and cannot be doing. The most prominent that come to mind are the Moderator Agreements, and A Theory of Moderation. There's also this help page in the Help Centre: Who are the site moderators, and what is their role here?.

As a person in a position elected by the community, moderators should be taking a leadership role in their community, while also creating a community environment where everyone is welcomed and respected. It should be simple.

  1. Specialized expertise helps to ferret out what's important, and thus what might be salvageable, in questions that are up for action. What legal jurisdiction/tradition are you most comfortable with?

Being in Canada, I'm most familiar with Canadian law, which follows a common law tradition (We follow a civil law tradition in Quebec), stemming from the United Kingdom, and having many parallels with American and Australian legal systems.

However, I want to make two things known:

  • I don't have expert experience

    I'm still a high school student, and while I have an interest in law, I most definitely do not know everything. I do know a fair bit of copyright and criminal law, and a little bit of constitutional, environmental, and international law. I've also participated in mock trials in the province's (Ontario's) Superior Court, among other students.

  • How this relates to a moderator role

    This will, without a doubt, affect every moderator's role. However, does a moderator need to be very well versed about all law? While it may be helpful in moderating, I certainly don't think it's required. This will play a bigger role in answers, as we need to recognize answers that are of low-quality. The moderator role doesn't bring the responsibility that we judge the validity and accuracy of answers. When in doubt, ask in chat!

  1. What should be our policy on citing and having sources in answers? What is our current policy? How should such a policy be enforced on the site?

We've got two major meta posts on this: Answers without references and Do answers need to reference written laws or court cases?

So far, answers are encouraged, but are not required, to have references and citations. In general, answers should cite law from a government website, or case judgments from authoritative places (for Canadian cases, an authoritative resource would be CanLII).

If something should be reasoned, or is completely incorrect, then a comment should be left on the answer, with an accompanying down vote if you wish to provide one.

  1. There are alternative views on law that suggest that one may essentially opt out of the legal system (sometimes known as a common law defence). How do you believe they should be handled on this site?

The answer is incorrect. We even have this question that says so.

But within the moderator role, we don't judge the accuracy of answers. So, in acting within our realm as a user, we can down vote the answer, and leave a comment explaining that this answer is wrong (optionally with the correct answer, or a link to the above question stating that the answer is wrong).


profile for Zizouz212 on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites Welcome to the dark side... >:D

Whew! We're done! If you would like to add a comment, or question (such as a request to elaborate), please let me know in the comments, and I'll do my best to help! :)

Once again, good luck to all the candidates! :)

1

WBT

  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?

Upvote good answers, and add comments explaining what’s good about the answers. This is a positive reinforcement strategy that should help not only that user but others see what they should do, which I think is a lot more helpful to the growth of a site than just shutting down and blocking things folks shouldn’t be doing. It would also send a message to the user that I’m not against them personally, but that critical comments from me focus on specific behaviors and instances.

I would then pick the comments which are most clearly inappropriate and add comments saying so directly, with reason(s) why. If issues continue, I would recommend the user take a break from the site for a few days voluntarily. If issues still continue, and they are bad enough to have significant negative effects on other users, I would enforce that suggestion with a temporary block of the comment privilege.

  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 about it with them, in chat, asking them to explain in more detail why they took that action and also explaining in more detail my own differing perspective. I’ve been known to convince others and also to be convinced (change my mind) myself, and have in some cases been in disagreements that led to some creative outcome that wasn’t anybody’s position at the start but which addresses the concerns each person raised. I think I’m generally reasonable and hope the other mods generally are too. This doesn’t mean we won’t disagree - indeed, I hope we have enough diversity on the team that we sometimes disagree - but I do hope it means we’ll be able to discuss and work things out, and I'm quite optimistic on that.

  1. Many questions asked on LSE seem to actually request personally-applicable legal advice ("can I sue X for Y?", "Is this contract condition okay?", "Can I legally Z?", "Is W fair use?"). Are such questions problematic, and how should they be dealt with?

See #5 below.

I think many of these questions are OK, of course subject to our site-wide disclaimer. I think the close reason title is confusing and should probably be changed. Our help center text actively encouraging such questions is also confusing and should probably be changed.

Good questions should be general enough so that the fact pattern and lessons learned from the answer could apply to more people than just the original asker, but it needs to have enough of the essential facts to make the question answerable. Sometimes, questions should probably start out with more details that are specific to the asker’s situation, because it’s not obvious until some good answers have been posted which facts are important and which are extraneous enough that they could be edited out to make the question more generally useful.

The characteristics listed in Jimsung’s description here (and some further content in linked questions) distinguish between better and worse questions, and I’d say that’s still good editing guidance, but those distinctions apply to SE sites more broadly than just Law.

Finally, depending on the country, the answer to “can I sue” is usually “yes” but such questions should generally be edited to qualify appropriately (e.g. “successfully”).

  1. It is possible that the voting at this site (especially for Hot Questions) isn't driven by expert review, but rather, popular opinion. Do you think this is happening? If so, is it a problem? Would there be any way for moderators to help in the case where a Hot Question attracts a lot of non-expert votes for an incorrect answer?

Based on sheer statistics about how many experts we have and how many votes are cast, it probably is happening, but I don’t think it’s a problem. Voting is not meant to be a sign that some carefully curated clique of experts have reviewed and approved a post. In general, I’d prefer that experts who have an opinion about a post leave a comment explaining what they like or don’t like about a post, because this helps others write good answers and evaluate what they’re reading.

In the case where a Hot Network Question attracts many votes for an incorrect answer, it’d depend on what the answer is and how/why it’s incorrect. First response options include commenting to point out the strengths and/or weaknesses of the post, tweaking the post directly, and editing the post to include a cross-link to a better answer, preferably one not written by the mod editing that link in.

  1. A new user is in disagreement with another user (or moderator) that their question has been closed for "seeking legal advice." How would you approach and react to the situation?

See answer to #3. I don't think there should be disagreement over the fact about whether or not it's been closed and the reason given - that should be stated clearly - but there may be disagreement over if the closure was appropriate, and there is likely to be a good question in there somewhere that edits can help uncover for reopening.

First, I'd communicate that I understand why they might think the question is OK for this site. I’d then link to the disclaimer, and a meta post (maybe this one) and ask them to try and reframe in light of those points. In most cases, I think it should be possible to come up with a decent question that focuses on legal information.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

They are the site's most active users, answering a lot of questions, leaving a lot of comments, being very active in their dual role as regular users, and thus bring up the average activity level in the community. They very actively shape the community feel and norms. See also question 8 below.

  1. What do you believe moderators should do?

Though shaping community feel and norms is certainly an important part of the role, I generally agree with the Stack Exchange Theory of Moderation, and see moderation duties as "human exception handling."
The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community -- now that's the true art of moderation.

Dispute mediation is also part of a moderator's job. I see a lot of value in reasoned discussions where even parties who disagree each present the facts they see, the policies they think do or should apply, and the mapping they see between those. This site seems to be a good fit for that problem-solving approach :-). I recognize the validity of many views I disagree with, and I think I'd be fair.

  1. Specialized expertise helps to ferret out what's important, and thus what might be salvageable, in questions that are up for action. What legal jurisdiction/tradition are you most comfortable with?

I’m most familiar with the US tradition, but I don’t think “knowing/posting all the answers” is a skill I would look for (or necessarily even want) in a moderator here, because then that person would be more likely personally invested in more answers and may have a harder time with objectivity. With a mod who knows some large percentage of answers and writes prolifically, it is harder for users to distinguish between the actions that person takes as a regular user and those they take as a site mod. (With all due respect to subject-matter experts currently on the moderation team, I think that level of subject-matter expertise on the mod team has more value and fewer drawbacks in a site’s beta.)

  1. What should be our policy on citing and having sources in answers? What is our current policy? How should such a policy be enforced on the site?

Citing sources makes answers better. Answers which do a good job of this should be upvoted and the authors thanked for including sources. For answers which do not do a good job of this, it’d be nice to see some polite, friendly comments thanking the author for their time and effort in writing the answer, and asking them to please edit in some source citations. Edits which add good source citations should generally be approved and encouraged.

  1. There are alternative views on law that suggest that one may essentially opt out of the legal system (sometimes known as a common law defence). How do you believe they should be handled on this site?

Answers based on this view should generally be downvoted with comments added pointing to a canonical question about the view.


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