My name's Richard, and you can find my nomination statement here. Apologies if the below is a little long!
- What keeps you coming back to the Ethereum Stack Exchange? Things may
be "hot" now, and what will keep you coming back when things "cool"
I've been a member of the board since day one, and backed it during the Area51 phase. Blockchain isn't going away, and it's going to be hot for a long while yet. Bitcoin has been around since 2009, and in my opinion, Ethereum has introduced a layer of utility that far surpasses what Bitcoin currently has to offer. We've only just begun to scratch the surface.
The things that specifically keep me coming back, are:
Ethereum's technology stack can be overbearing, and it can be scary, especially for newcomers. It would be easy for this community to treat the proverbial "dumb question" from newcomers with condescension and redicule, but instead it treats them with tolerance and understanding. A lot of us have been in the same boat.
So it genuinely feels like a community, and I enjoy being part of it.
- Learning and solving problems
Ethereum is inherently interesting. It makes you want to learn about it. The technology is developing at a rapid rate, which means there's always more to learn and understand. The complexity of the technology stack also lends itself to complex problems, which I enjoy solving. (Or at least trying to!)
My primary reason for joining Ethreum Stack Exchange was so I could learn from all the people who knew what they were talking about. I learned a lot, and I still do. But my focus has changed, and I now spend most of my time putting back into the community by answering questions and helping others. This gives me a big sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.
- From On Ethereum Classic usage
...Ethereum Classic questions will be well on topic...
It's difficult to answer this without falling either side of the partisan ETH-ETC line, which I don't want to do!
In short: I agree.
It would be a shame if the board couldn't extend its support to everyone, especially newcomers, regardless of which side of the line they stand. A slight difference in opinion shouldn't lead to one party being blocked from an invaluable source of support.
In an ideal world, people would leave their politics at the door, and just give each other a hand with all this difficult stuff. Ideals are always hard to reach, but we can at least try to get as close as possible by extending a welcome to everybody.
- 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?
For me, one of the most important aspects of the community is the feel. It should feel like the sort of place where people want to spend time. Where they can learn without fear of being ridiculed for asking dumb questions. People in groups don't always agree - that's unavoidable. But there should be a level of decorum and mutual respect that people try to adhere to.
Good answers are great, and contribute to the health of the site, but if the price is the gradual erosion of the feel of the community, then that needs to be fixed. To do so would require a procedure:
- Talk to the user to ensure they understand what effect their behaviour is having on other users. Perhaps they're blissfully unaware that they're causing offence!
- During this initial talk I'd make a request for them to self-moderate.
- If this fell on deaf ears, and there were further reports, then I'd consider a temporary ban.
(Note: I don't currently know the procedure for the use of bans. It's something I'd have to learn about, which itself is part of the fun of taking on a moderator role!)
Finally, with something as serious as a ban, I'd ensure to get second or third opinions from other moderators to be sure of my own judgement
- 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 them :-)
Stack Exchange is about communication. Users communicate ideas in the form of Q+As and comments, and more subtly using up and down votes. The moderator community shouldn't be any different. The moderators have to work together to ensure their own community functions effectively. On the main site, when someone posts a question, and it isn't clear what they're asking, you leave a comment asking them to clarify. The situation outlined here would be no different.
I'd talk to them and try to understand the reasons for their actions and decisions. Most importantly, I'd remain open to being in the wrong! If this still results in an impasse, I'd ask for opinions from the other moderators.
- Moderators can help improve the site and sometimes this can be "clean up". What areas/s, if any, are you motivated or nags you to
improve or clean up?
Firstly, the current moderators have done an superb job, and watching them has been one of the motivations for wanting to get my hands dirty(-er). Not because I think I can do better, but because it would be a privilege to carry on their work.
However, I have some ideas...
- As a priority, decide what is exactly on- and off-topic.
There are several ongoing Meta threads concerning this (e.g. mining, trading). The sooner an agreement is reached, the sooner the community knows what it should and shouldn't be flagging. A little work now will save more work further down the line.
- Remove stale and dead questions.
These might include:
- Questions that have been answered in the comments under the main question.
- Questions that apply to previous versions of software that are no longer relevant. (e.g. Old versions of Geth.)
- Questions that are VLQ (very low quality) and have neither been voted up nor down.
- Mark accepted answers.
There are lots of questions that are answered, even to the point where the OP has commented "Thanks!", but which aren't accepted as answered.
- Migrate where possible.
Again something that has come up in Meta. We need to formulate a strategy to consolidate Ethereum-related questions across all SE boards.
- Follow ups.
Lots of questions stall at the first hurdle and require more information to be provided before anyone can answer them. In such cases users often comment for further information, but things don't move any further. For these questions I would propose following up further, and closing or putting on hold if no response is forthcoming.
- Weekly or fortnightly digests.
At times of high traffic it's easy for good questions to not get the attention they deserve. Even if they're upvoted, they can get lost in a sea of questions about slow Mist syncs and missing ETH...
But... these are the things that take time, and I imagine a moderator's job is hectic enough. The challenge is to find the time to prioritise these things effectively, or empower other members of community enough that they see the value in doing it, and take on the responsibility.
- Should we discourage questions about exchanges, trading, buying?
Sometimes these questions are easy: they're speculative, so you flag them as opinion-based. For example, "Which is the best exchange?" would generate lots of conflicting opinionated answers.
But we also get lots of questions from users - often the more inexperienced ones - who are panicking because they think they might have lost money. In these cases it would be cruel to show them no support whatsoever.
I like the idea of a community wiki answer, perhaps on the Meta site, that is kept up to date with some basic details or advice in different scenarios. We have a similar post for wallets.
For example, the post could explain who to contact in cases of missing transactions between exchanges - i.e. contact the exchange directly. Or it could link to other SE sites or Reddit boards - e.g. reddit.com/r/ethtrader.
Once these posts were in place, any future questions on the topic could be closed (as off-topic), but with a pointer to the advice page/post.
- What strengths do you think you would bring to being a moderator? Which of your "weaknesses" do you think would make it more difficult
for you to being moderator?
Firstly, I like to think that I'm fair and respectful, even to people whose opinions I disagree with. I like to think I'm patient and understanding of people's abilities and needs.
I believe I'm a good communicator, who is able to make complicated ideas and explanations clear and understandable. Believe it or not I used to be an English teacher... which also required good management and organisational skills, both similarly important in a moderator role.
I like the board to be clean. I like to think that everything has its rightful place, and I feel that the SE interface and procedures allow people to do that to a fairly comprehensive degree.
On the weaknesses side, one thing I've noticed I've done on various occasions is that I haven't taken ownership of something I've started. I like the idea of "if you touch it, you own it", meaning that if you start down the path of answering something, you should conclude it to the best of your ability. There are a couple of cases where I've engaged with the user who asked a question - perhaps by asking for more information in the comments - but then didn't follow up further. This is something I can improve on.
- One of the very important things I would like to see with Eth SE would be to have a section for generic (and some targeted question)
which will help new users and like currently, a discussion of PoS is
going can be better structured. What do you think as a candidate on
My opinion on this would be similar to the ideas in question 6.
We could perhaps have Meta posts for certain topics that are shown in the "Featured on Meta" section of the main board (on the right-hand side). These could contain links to already-answered questions on the topics, or links to external, trusted sites. (For example, the official Ethereum blog, or other such sources of authority.)
We would need to be careful that these didn't become free-form discussions though. Discussions tend to lead to different people expressing different opinions - we would need to make sure the line between objectivity and subjectivity isn't crossed.
This would be something for the wider community to discuss.
- 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
For better or worse, when I initially joined Stack Exchange I joined using my real name. My profile picture is really me. (Although that picture is 2 years old and I've eaten a lot of saturated fat since then... ) As such, anything posted in the past can be traced to my real identity. I've tried to behave as I do in person, when I'm face-to-face with real people. Having a diamond next to my real name will only strengthen the way I feel about treating other users with respect and fairness.
- In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
Moderation isn't just about rep. If your rep increases as a by-product of your duties, then that's great. But moderation also involves lots of tasks that don't come with an associated rep reward. The sometimes menial tasks that are required to keep the site running smoothly, and the cases where a moderator is required to step in to settle a dispute. It is these things that will make me more effective as a moderator, rather than just chasing reputation earnings.