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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.

Due to the submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 6 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.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, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

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!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):


  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. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  4. 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?

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

  6. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practise of law. Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

  • FYI this post isn't editable to non-mods. If you want, you can wipe any comments here, and then use linked comments instead of your idea. – New Alexandria Aug 12 at 22:21
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    @NewAlexandria It is, there's just no suggested edits on meta sites, so you have to have the edit privilege. – Catija Aug 13 at 12:37
  • Converted it to CW, so everyone should be able to edit it now. – JNat Aug 14 at 8:02
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I'm Shazamo Morebucks! I am a barrister qualified in the UK and hope to be a valuable member of the moderation team. Link to my nomination post

  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'm pretty sure most active users at law.se (including myself) have fallen into the pitfall of an extended argument, especially when one party happens to be an expert on the topic in question.

There should be a amount of leeway reserved for constructive discussion and criticism on an answer, but if this becomes excessive then the discussion should be moved to chat.

If discussion deteriorates in chat then moderation intervention is likely required.

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

I would open up a discussion in chat about whether a question should have been closed, and hopefully obtain input from the mod in question for the reasons why.

After which, a meta question may be opened so that mod policy may be reviewed or updated.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators exist to ensure content in a forum meets a certain standard. Moderators do this by deleted/reviewing irrelevant content, and helping users who ask low quality questions/answers to improve their question/answer to meet community standards.

A good example is when a person comes on this site and asks a question clearly seeking legal advice. Such questions can be "converted" into hypothetical questions, after which they are permissible on this site. This happens all the time and is part of quality moderation

  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 would feel slightly apprehensive at the idea that all my work comes under scrutiny, but at the same time, I am willing to uphold this additional responsibility. It is natural for a moderator to be held to the standards to which he is supposed to protect.

If this means that I will come under scrutiny/criticism, I will accept it, and improve my content to reflect the standards to which I follow.

  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?

There are some questions, usually by new users, that require drastic moderation intervention, and I feel having the authority of a moderator will allow me to intervene when necessary and also help reach out to users that I am there to enforce community rules, and not just show my opinion.

  1. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practise of law.

    Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

It is a good policy that users here are not allowed to provide specific legal advice. The reason for this is to protect stack exchange from liability in jurisdictions where providing legal advice without a license / practicing certificate is illegal.

As a lawyer myself, I know how disastrous giving incorrect legal advice can be, an answer may be honest, genuine, and backed up by research, but unless you are a lawyer practicing in the relevant jurisdiction, there is always the chance that your advice is incorrect, and when someone relies on that advice to their own peril, this exposes you, and the website, to liability.

As mentioned in my earlier answer, the current recommended method when facing a request for specific legal advice is to change the question into a hypothetical question. That way, a person may receive the information they need and answerers have not created an attorney-client relationship. This protects everyone involved.

This policy should be enforced more strictly than it is. I myself have answered questions for specific legal advice, but as a moderator I will do more to help edit questions to ensure that this risk is mitigated.

  • Could you address the question linked to here?: law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/862/… – Michael Hardy Aug 21 at 4:16
  • I will interpret your question as: "How can we prevent mod abuse, in its various forms, including censorship, in a forum such as StackExchange?" I think the obvious thing is to make all mod actions transparent and accountable. Stack Exchange already does this with a strong suite of transparency tool. If a mod is held to be inappropriately using their powers, an appeal to community mods on the meta.stackechange should be done to review these actions, and to strip mod privileges if need be. Perhaps we should encourage more users to actively engage in reviewing mod actions and decisions. – Shazamo Morebucks Aug 21 at 13:48
  • If by "mod abuse" you mean abuse by moderators, then that is NOT what I was asking about. I was asking about abuse by cliques of users who shut down meta postings because they have decided to forbid discussion of particular topics. They're not moderators: ANY group of a certain number of users can close a posting. – Michael Hardy Aug 21 at 18:53
  • If that's the case, one solution would be to appoint more moderators, so that the mod team becomes large enough to counter a small "clique" of toxic users. Alternatively, there should exist a procedure to appeal to site wide admins/mods on stack exchange to allow them to manually review such activity – Shazamo Morebucks Aug 21 at 22:59
  • And another solution would be to withdraw the power of small cliques to censor "meta" postings. – Michael Hardy Aug 24 at 4:46
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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 have no real issue with argument - its a law site after all, however, the appropriate place for it is in chat rather than in a lengthy string of to-and-fro comments and I would move these as appropriate.

This is different from a user who is breaking community norms and is justly raising flags of the "harassment, bigotry, or abuse" or the "unfriendly or unkind" type. There is no place for this in the Stack Exchange community. Occasional slips are forgivable but Users who do this constantly and won't mend their ways after being approached by a moderator are not welcome.

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

I would discuss the matter with that moderator and exchange views - I am always open to the possibility that my understanding is wrong and I would expect them to have the same view of their own fallibility. Hopefully a consensus would be reached.

In general, because mods can close/delete etc questions with a single vote when it takes 5 high rep users to do the same, I would err on the side of leaving questions open for the community to decide what to do.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Primarily - housekeeping: deleting spam, closing clearly off-topic questions, removing abuse, deleting no longer relevant comments etc.

Secondarily - guiding a healthy community with a light touch.

  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?

Fine. I am happy to own my triumphs and my disasters.

  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?

I believe a moderators intervention should be less frequent but more decisive. From Stack Overflow's A Theory of Moderation:

Moderators are human exception handlers, there to deal with those (hopefully rare) exceptional conditions that should not normally happen, but when they do, they can bring your entire community to a screaming halt — if you don’t have human exception handling in place.

Resolving disputes is what I do.

  1. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practise of law. Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

I believe the situation is a difficult one because, unlike other stacks, many of our new users come to law cold. People who use Stack Exchange are usually understand programming, for example. However, most people have (and need) only a rudimentary understanding of the law until something goes wrong and they are facing a confusing and intensely personal catastrophe. Because its about them, and they don't know the limits that apply on giving legal advice, they naturally ask these types of off-topic questions.

From experience, the community typically closes these questions using the canned reason or writes answers that deal with the generic rather than the specific. This seems to work.

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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?

The way most common-law jurisdictions get at "truth" is via the adversarial process. So we should welcome some lively debate. Courts have rules in place to ensure this doesn't get out of hand. Law.SE has flags. I suspect you deal with it the same way one would deal with any smart, but difficult person: appreciate the contribution and reinforce community norms.

One option would be to move the conversation to chat. After all, comments are supposed to be temporary "Post-it" notes, used for clarification purposes, even if they contain useful history.

When comments are abusive, the answer is easier: moderator-members should enforce violations of the Code of Conduct and lapses in expected behavior.

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

Discussion among moderators helps in the same way that discussion among any of us members helps. Chat is useful for this sort of thing, and it can assist moderators in developing norms to fill the "interstitial" gaps between SE rules.

That said, diversity of opinion among moderators is a plus, and it's neat to find a way to keep potentially useful questions open, even if they need a little TLC.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are members first, albeit with more privileges. This is important because one of the site's guiding principles is community moderation.

So—in addition to housekeeping—moderator-members should encourage involvement, good-natured debate, and community growth. When this works well, it creates differences of opinion that require adjudication, which is why electing good moderators helps.

  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?

Quality should matter more than flair, but I understand how things like badges, diamonds, and perhaps even reputation are short-cuts to deciding what quality is.

I agree that moderators should be subjected to more scrutiny.

  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?

If moderators are members first, I'm not sure it would make me a more effective member.

That said, the expanded responsibilities permit more direct involvement in resolving disputes, setting tone, and encouraging debate. I can help in that regard.

  1. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practise of law. Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

My opinion has not changed much from the initial thread. Because the definition of legal advice isn't fixed, people sould use their best judgment and let the SE model of multiple voters' perspectives/definitions govern.

Yes, there are some risks. But a major reason for banning unlicensed practice involves concerns about whether privilege applies. The site's disclaimer is clear on this: "Exchange are not privileged communications and do not create an attorney-client relationship." So, I don't think that the site needs a policy change.

I'll add that there was similar consternation when people started publishing legal self-help books on things like how to write your own will. My guess it that this too shall pass.

As to specific questions, we could probably do more editing to avoid canned legal-advice closures.

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my name is Stephan and I'm running to be your next moderator: My nomination statement.

  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?

A great answer holds up even after being critiqued. We have all given or gained useful insights through the comment section, and I personally do not believe it's the role of the moderator to stop a productive dialogue that is On-topic for the question.

That being said there's a point when the conversation devolves into personal attacks or is no longer relevant to the original post.

  • In the event of personal attacks - any comment that's sole purpose is to demean or belittle another user should be removed and a warning will be issued, treating others with respect has always been a value this community has tried to uphold.

  • comments that no longer add value to the conversation will be moved to chat.

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

Everyone has a reason for why they do something.

I would open up a discussion with the other moderator and see why we disagree on the question that was closed, and if we can't come to an agreement on it then I would see if we could give the question a 2 day "test period" to see how the community treats the question.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators are here to ensure healthy conversation, be an example for the community, and make sure questions meet community standards.

  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'm fine with this, it's important that other users know I'm human too, I've fallen into lengthy comment threads, and given answers that weren't received well, I don't delete answers or questions that have bad ratings because I think it's important to look back at mistakes and think about how you can improve.

  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?

I'm grateful that our community has so many active members with these levels of reputation that answer, close, and edit questions.

A moderator adds a different level of intervention and should work with these users to create an environment where they know their work is appreciated and needed.

  1. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practise of law. Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

This question is very important to me, I have participated in discussions on this topic and have asked my own questions about this:

Deter requests for Legal advice-StephanS

Should questions be allowed to be asked in the first person-StephanS

Although there are warnings everywhere about asking personal questions and that the site doesn't give legal advice it's hard to answer one of these questions without thinking about what the person will do with the information you're giving them and if they get into trouble will they quote you.

I believe this is a two-step issue in discouraging personal questions from being asked on Law.stackexchange

  1. User should tell the person asking the question that this is a question for your lawyer and I've seen several of our higher reputation users like Nij, Paul, and DaleM do this but we should make more of an effort as a community to tell people that those types of questions are questions for your lawyer.

  2. Adding filters to the Question content box to detect if a question contains phrases like "Can I sue" and not letting the user post unless the phrases are removed, this would help to enforce community standards.

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NewAlexandria

Hello all! Nomination post here

It's been engaging to answer all the questions here, and the meta and commenting. Looking forward to your votes.

  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 tended to see this kind of person wants to contribute, and just needs help to stay golden. With talk in chat or another kind of DM, usually there's a good middle ground. It's important to identify if the arguing is part of their MO/agenda. If it cannot be corrected I do think there has to be a line. An intelligent and argumentative used can scare away others because of the charisma involved.

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

With mod differences, Meta questions can be a great way to clarify what the community feels is best. Ideally no mod has problems discussing things in open forum. Where the issue may be sensitive, chat or other DMs.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I think that moderators set precedents, create consistency, and promote things that aid the growth of the 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 always presume that I'm being viewed in this light; the diamond just makes it more likely that people will read that public history.

  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?

I like to clean things up; mod status makes this easier. Same as with question #2, I like to post these changes as proposals in meta, to garner feedback. It's a volunteer job, so is best to all be in agreement befofe using the time.

  1. Law Stack Exchange has long struggled with the allowance or otherwise of questions seeking legal advice on specific matters, where answers can risk breaching laws against the unlicensed practice of law. Do you believe the current policies and practices on this matter are sufficient? Are these being appropriately executed? What changes would you like to say, and push for, if given moderator authority and tools (including any you have previously or currently raised)?

I think that we could be more consistent with providing a mod-comment that suggests better ways to ask the question so as to avoid seeking legal advice. This may take some discussion via chat, or meta, to coordinate the kinds of feedback that seem to be working

This is in lieu of having more-semantically-worded flags, beyond just "off-topic." Add more options with flagging a post is the ideal, because everyone tacitly learns the target, via how is worded. Then we could reflect on what Q&A and getting these flags, and whether others should have, too. The aim of this is to find new ways to support great Q&A. Same for answers that some may see as crossing a line for giving directed advice. We could also change the help pages to reflect these community flags.

I'll update with comments, rather than replying to each comment inline.

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    Re: point 6, this already exists, it is the first option under flagging/voting to close as off-topic. Can you explain your opinion about the policy of using that flag/vote? – Nij Aug 13 at 5:24
  • I've updated the answer – New Alexandria Aug 13 at 15:34
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    That doesn't really address the question at all though, which was simply what is your stance on those policies and do you think they're being executed appropriately. You just kind of danced around the issue by suggesting a feature change that would never happen. Saying "off-topic" is required because it is a system limitation that is highly unlikely to change any time soon - each site gets three custom off-topic reasons to indicate questions that aren't allowed here. As well, the issue is mentioned in the help center. – animuson Aug 14 at 17:12
  • Could you address the question linked to here?: law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/862/… – Michael Hardy Aug 21 at 4:17
  • I revised the answer that was called-out above — while acknowledging that this is all probably moot based on votes and the premature congrats in the elections chat. – New Alexandria Aug 21 at 18:12
  • @Nij : You wrote "This question makes an extreme claim that is not backed up by any credible sources,[...]" But merely thinking about how the system works that stackexchange has put in place should be at least enough for you to expect that claim to be true. Obviously it enables bullies, and it is commonly known that bullies take advantage of such opportunities. And I've seen it happen many times. – Michael Hardy Aug 21 at 19:15
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    "Merely thinking about how the system works" means knowing how the system works. I have VTC privileges on every meta where I have them on the corresponding main. That's not SE appointing a clique, and this behaviour has not been demonstrated on any of the sites I spend the majority of my activity in, in particular on Law SE. Your "question" was loaded, unsupported, late and had no honest intent evident. If you have a problem with SE, take your agenda to Meta, it's not needed here. – Nij Aug 22 at 7:43

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