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.

Normally I'm supposed to have provided a pair of default questions but I apparently forgot to do exactly such when I posted the question collection. I also ended up merging two questions submitted (as one was influenced by the other), and didn't want to cut out the other questions voted on, so I've gone and selected all of the submitted questions from the community, plus our two default questions at the end, for a total of 11 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. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

  2. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users: 1 2 3 4. While SO gets the most focus due to its higher volume, we can see the same sentiments in our own users here on GDSE. Over the weekend, a user commented "You know what. Stack exchange sucks. No one here is willing to help. It’s always just: “no you can’t ask your question like that!” This is a question which can be answered with one answer...But then again no one’s here to actually help." As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

  3. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

  4. Why do you want to be a moderator?

  5. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

  6. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

  7. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

  8. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

  9. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

  10. 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?

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

  • FYI, your template (still) has a typo - there's a missing space after 'just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes'. I'd recommend fixing your template ;) – Arwen Evenstar Oct 23 '17 at 20:23
  • Ah, sorry my question ended up being so bulky in this format. I'm happy to precis it down if that would help it fit the format better. – DMGregory Oct 24 '17 at 2:41
  • @DMGregory the answers are going to get bulky, you can't do much about it. That's why you include the link to them in the main post. – Bálint Oct 24 '17 at 7:50

Douglas Gregory (DMGregory)

Nomination

  1. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

As a game designer myself, I have a lot of experience helping fellow devs understand that design isn't just making stuff up or deciding by fiat, but about problem solving within constraints. That puts it right in SE's wheelhouse of promoting answers that correctly solve defined problems.

In the past I've had good results here with light edits to tweak a questionable design question into an answerable scope, and/or a comment explaining why I think the question fits here. Other times I've provided an example answer to demonstrate how evidence and references can be applied to the design topic at hand. Sometimes all it takes is a vote of confidence from a trusted user to encourage others to see the question in a productive light.

Some examples where these methods helped in turning multi-close-voted questions around to receive multiple answers, upvotes, and Accepts:

I think we can make this more systematic too. In this Meta Discussion, I proposed a four criteria we can use to evaluate and guide improvement of game design questions - now part of the tag guidance. I'd like to lead by example in applying this model (or future community improvements on it) until constructive guidance for design questions is as much a part of our shared lexicon as "comments are not for extended discussion" ;)

  1. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users...As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

I think a big part of this has to do with questions 1 & 7. For many users, their first experience with the site is having their earnest, vital question shut down before anyone could answer it.

I don't think the community is wrong to do this - we get a lot of low-quality questions, and lowering our standards or opening the flood gates isn't a solution either.

But in the same vein as above, I think many of these questions can be rehabilitated with a modest investment on our parts. Especially if, through leading by example, we build a cultural norm around first attempting to improve questions before closing/downvoting, sharing the workload across the community.

Second, I think tone is a huge part of the equation - especially on the Internet where it's easy to read malice or aggression into innocent text. We've all been doing this long enough that the usual phrases like "Asking for technology recommendations is not on-topic for this site" just roll off the keyboard, but to a new user this can look like a very curt and gate-keeperly dismissal. Including in our routine a bit more explanation of why, or guidance to help the user to their next step, can radically change the emotional vibe of the interaction.

Even the automatic "Possible duplicate of..." comment can be edited if we catch it fast enough, and expanded to frame it as guiding the user toward immediate/already-vetted help for their problem - so that it doesn't read solely as chiding them for not searching first. I've been trying to do this recently and it's often better received than a bare duplicate flag.

  1. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

Yes, definitely! But I think by adding more moderators through this election, we'll be able to share the growing load of the site more evenly, and there will be more flexibility for the team to adapt as individual mods' availability and focus naturally vary over time. We're all here for each other so no one person needs to push beyond what they can sustain.

  1. Why do you want to be a moderator?

I've learned a ton from participating in this community, and I want to give back, to help it thrive and offer the kinds of learning opportunities to other game creators that I've been so luck to enjoy here.

  1. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

I'll confess, I haven't been as active in chat here as I feel I should be as a potential mod, and so I'm making a point to visit and participate there more frequently. So far, I don't think I have enough experience to answer this question well.

  1. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

Honestly, things seem to hum along pretty decently for the most part, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our existing mods and community members. I can't think of a major glaring issue that demands unilateral action that isn't already being handled reasonably.

I'd just like to help spread the maintenance load - particularly with regard to moderating comments and pruning outdated / off-topic discussion, since the non-mod tools are somewhat more limited in maintaining quality in this area.

I might like to use those powers for a bit of tag cleanup too. Right now, although I have a lot of rep, it's clustered in a small fraction of our tags, so there are lots of topics where I currently can't even propose synonyms. Not a dire problem for the site, but something I think I could better help with as a mod, so I'm not stuck waiting for the right question to come along before I can make an obvious improvement. ;)

  1. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

Recapping the theme from questions 1 & 2, I think there's a lot of opportunity to proactively improve questions & find the on-topic nugget buried inside, and promote this as a community value we can all help realize, so fewer questions need to be closed in the first place, or are abandoned in that state.

Questions which are fundamentally off-topic like technology/book recommendations are a different matter though. I think we exclude these for good reason - our site's format simply isn't the best way to handle this type of question.

I think Bálint's suggestion to improve the question guidance presented immediately beside the question authoring field is a vital step here, and I'd love to collaborate on proposed content. :)

I think there's a deeper issue though, that users tend to ask these broad/suggestion-polling questions when they're uncertain of themselves. Often it seems like they lack confidence in a topic to form their actual question, so they ask for "general guides" hoping what they need will turn up in there somewhere.

I think this is another area where cultivating community norms around supporting new users as discussed in 2 could be beneficial. When a user expects to be welcomed and guided, it's easier for them to open up and describe what they're doing, with less apprehension that they'll be pounced on for going about it the "wrong" way.

  1. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

I've been designing games professionally for ten years, specializing in systems design, user interface, economy balancing, and design communication, in both indie and AAA contexts. Along the way I've gotten to explore a wide array of development problem spaces, including localization, motion controls, multi-touch/multi-user interfaces, custom controller hardware, working within existing & controlled brands, and developing/pitching original game IPs.

I also have teaching experience in game mechanics and balancing through Sheridan's bachelor of game design program, and algorithm design & analysis as a TA with Stanford online.

I plan to continue applying this background in communication and teaching to cultivating a productive learning environment for all our users here.

My commercial game titles include:

My non-commercial titles include:

  • Installation games for Toronto's Nuit Blanche festival

    • Go Poser Go (2014 - play pictionary with your silhouette while the crowd guesses on their phones)
    • Pixelate (2015 - visitors get digitized into 4 eras of videogame history, from 8-bit platformer to modern day)
  • Game jam creations (I'm an avid jammer!)

    • Glimpse (2014 - exploratory puzzle game where the world can change when you blink)
    • Quarky (2016 - board game using red/blue eyeglasses and pieces, so two different boards exist in superposition)
    • Last One Standing (2016 - 6-player free-for-all domino domination)
  1. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

I have a habit of being stubborn, and arguing a point longer than I should, something I've already been working to curb. I'd need to be extra-vigilant, recognizing that each message I post reflects not only on myself as a user, but on the site and its moderation community. I'd also need to act with awareness that the power imbalance between a mod and a regular or new user colours how all my interactions are perceived, however well-meaning they may be. I'd need to practice restraint, recognizing that an (in my opinion) imperfect question/answer/comment is very often better than an alienated community member.

Also, as I understand it, a mod's close vote closes the question instantly. To date, I've been relatively loose with close votes in situations I saw as borderline but wasn't clear how to fix - on the logic that others have a chance to disagree or make changes without the closure taking effect. I'd need to be much more judicious with closing, and only close a question when I'm certain that it's off-topic or causing harm in some way.

  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'd want to discuss this with the user, in chat or a private channel if they'd prefer, to try to guide them to a more harmonious relationship with the community.

I've had a number of these problems myself as I've been gradually learning more about the site, and I benefited greatly from mods and fellow users taking the time to explain why we do things a certain way on StackExchange, and showing examples of how to use the site more productively. I'd try to give this user those kinds of learning opportunities.

In the event of misunderstandings or differences of opinion about site conventions/norms & best practices, a meta thread explaining the concept can be effective for showcasing productive behaviours without calling anyone out explicitly, developing consensus as a check on my own bias, and also as a resource for all users' future reference. These threads by Josh Petrie and MAnd for example helped clear up misconceptions I'd held.

If problems persist, I'd discuss with the other mods what types of measures are best to dissuade the user from antagonizing the community.

If absolutely necessary, I'd rather suspend or ban a productive but inflammatory community member, rather than have them continue to upset or alienate our community here. Good answers are comparatively easy to come by, but a friendly collaborative community takes years to cultivate.

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

I'm still pretty junior in my understanding of StackExchange conventions, so my first guess would be that there's something I don't know or have overlooked about the situation.

I'd try to reach out and discuss the issue with the other mod in another channel, like chat, or a private message if they prefer / if it pertains to sensitive information. I'd ask questions to understand the choice to close/delete, and if I still feel it should have been done differently, present my thoughts on why.

If we're ultimately unable to come to a consensus to reverse the decision, or the other mod is not available or interested in discussing it, I'd typically let the existing decision stand. It's easy to post a new question or answer, so no permanent damage is done even if I disagree with it. Escalating to the other mods, or causing a scene or edit/modding war would likely be more disruptive to the community.

I think further escalation to other mods would only be required if it became a persistent issue - like targeted blocking against a particular user / topic not in violation of the rules. For everyday differences of opinion, I think the site format gives us a lot of room to live and let live.

  • Where do you draw the line between questions that are worth rehabilitating -- like the examples you gave -- and questions that will simply never be on topic (to give an extreme example, "how do I make money off the stock market")? Obviously, there's a gigantic grey area; for you, personally, what makes a question on the acceptable side of that? – Nic Hartley Oct 30 '17 at 20:48
  • 1
    @QPaysTaxes Great question! For me, it's about trying to find a core question that has an SE-length answer our user base could assess as "correct." That doesn't mean it needs to be completely unique/objective - our voting system helps pool different evaluations into an overall consensus - but there should be some criteria we can use to decide whether an answer gets an upvote, beyond personal opinion/style or popularity. Questions that can be answered with evidence, or especially in the game design case, a specific desired outcome that allows us to ask "does this answer achieve that outcome?" – DMGregory Oct 30 '17 at 21:07
  • One more, based on your answers to 9, 10, and 11, and I'm intentionally phrasing it a bit aggressively -- have you done much research into what, exactly, mods can/should do? There are a whole bunch of resources that would definitely be worth looking into. As a quick summary, (1) votes and flags are binding; flag something as spam and it instapoofs; CV something and it instacloses. (2) You're not only representing the community, but defining it; if you say something is off-topic, until someone contests it on Meta, it is. (3) Mods can PM a user directly, without chat; it's a magic mod ability. – Nic Hartley Oct 30 '17 at 21:13
  • 1
    By all means, be as aggressive as you feel appropriate. :) I want to be a mod only if the community thinks I'd be a good mod, so I want to be up-front an honest about my limitations so you can make that evaluation. My research has come mainly in the form of consulting with current mods in chat, reading & participating in meta threads about community norms and moderation guidance, and reviewing the help sections for clarifications. – DMGregory Oct 30 '17 at 21:41
  • You're not a Mod yet!? What is this madness!!! – Evorlor Oct 31 '17 at 2:20
  • 1
    @Evorlor This is the first election we've had since I discovered the site. Also, to be frank, I wouldn't have been a good fit for the role in my past. I've had a lot of learning to do, both about the site, and about how to manage conflict. I think I'm ready to take on more responsibility now - we'll see what the community says. :) – DMGregory Oct 31 '17 at 3:06
  • Well, from the answers you've written up to now, your comments on questions and your effort of fixing them, even if you hadn't put your nomination in, and even if you do not win, in my heart, you're the mod we never had. – John Hamilton Oct 31 '17 at 5:03
  • Awwwww, thank you for the vote of confidence! :D – DMGregory Oct 31 '17 at 5:05

Alexandre Vaillancourt

Nomination

  1. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

That’s a tricky one.

I think there is some room for lowball, relatively generic questions about game design. After all, the site is about game development, so why ban them?

The main issue I see related to this type of question is threefold:

First: This type of question tend to hit the Hot Network Questions list, and since they’re “easy to answer by anyone”, we get a load of users answering the question.

Second: some users seem too happy to have finally found a question they can answer that they don’t take the time to read answers that have already been posted, answers which contain the exact same details that they’re about to write. We then end up having some good quality answers, and some answers that could be seen as repeated content.

Third: Rep is hard to get. Below a certain threshold, I think users feel they can’t downvote because it would cost them precious rep (that’s perfectly understandable, I’ve been there too). Thus users are shy and don’t downvote questions that should be downvoted for not being useful (that’s what the little down arrow says). Downvotes send a message to users, but it’s sometimes not that clear (Why is my answer not useful?).

What could/should I do as a mod about this? Nothing drastic. The way I see the issue, I think a downvote, accompanied with a friendly message should help with this kind of situation. I see it a bit like leading by example: use the features of the site and encourage others to do it, and refine the message sent by the downvote by letting the user know why they received a downvote.

Although the questions hitting the HNQ list make me sigh once in a while, I think having questions from GD.SE there is beneficial to the community as it gives us visibility. And I don’t think a mod has any right to delete answers only because the content has been covered by other answers. Downvotes are for that.

  1. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users: 1 2 3 4. While SO gets the most focus due to its higher volume, we can see the same sentiments in our own users here on GDSE. Over the weekend, a user commented "You know what. Stack exchange sucks. No one here is willing to help. It’s always just: “no you can’t ask your question like that!” This is a question which can be answered with one answer...But then again no one’s here to actually help." As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

I haven’t witnessed a lot of the issues described above on GD.SE. But yes, it can be harsh for new users.

Below each question, there is an option to cast a close vote. With 5 votes, the question gets closed, and a message box is added below the question. This is standard.

I think the issue is that some users don’t read. They don’t read the message in the box, or they don’t read the help center. This is also standard, unfortunately.

The message boxes have been added so that the users voting to close the question don’t have to type the same thing every time they cast a vote, or close the question. This has unfortunately the side effect of cutting the “human”/”direct” relationship between the new user and the community members (or the mod) who closed the question.

That would be adding work for the community and the mods, but I think leaving a kind comment to the new user telling them why their question has been closed, suggesting alternatives and telling them a bit more why questions such as theirs don’t fit on the site can actually bring more light on how this site works. That would at least open the door to a dialogue.

I have had many occurrences of users thanking me for having given them a pointer like this.

In parallel, we could post more Meta questions like this or this, and feature them once in a while when there is nothing else important going on. I think this could help the community be more welcoming.

  1. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

I’m in the top 1 of three review queues, and top 3 of the three others, and in the top 2 for edits (Josh is far ahead).

I don’t think so. I might end up spending more time solving mundane issues, and less time on the review queues.

  1. Why do you want to be a moderator?

As described in my nomination text:

As a mod, I'd like also to:

  • work "in the shadows" to help have a nice site for current users;
  • help guide the community to offer an even more welcoming site for future users;
  • close questions that should be closed earlier;
  • handle spam and other flags faster (right now, I generate work for the mods; I could handle flags instead of creating some :P).
  1. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

Although the chat is much more quiet than it was before the culture change, I think the change was a good thing. It is now more in line with the rest of the site.

I also feel that we’re slowly re-building a momentum with new regulars. Some users there are really smart and knowledgeable and are very good at helping other users that have questions.

  1. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

Right now, I don’t see that kind of need. Maybe that’s just because I’m used to bring issues to Meta when I see something.

I know there are things that could be done to improve the site, but that would require the involvement of the community.

For instance, we could try to improve unclear questions by editing the question’s text with what has been discussed in the comments, and then delete the comments as they would add noise. Deleting comments can only be done by a mod.

We could also try to encourage users to post answers as answers instead of doing so in the comments of the question. Like my previous suggestion, someone could write the answer then flag the comment for a mod to delete it. (A mod could do all of this alone, and end up accused of being on a power trip.:P)

Without a momentum coming from at least an active part of the community, these changes of philosophy could be hard to obtain.

  1. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

I’m not sure there is much to be done.

Some users don’t read the rules before posting, some read them but don’t understand them, some read them and don’t think they apply to them, some read them and forget them. That’s standard, and that does not happen only here.

From what I understand of the way the site is engineered, allowing users to post off-topic/too broad questions is kind of a feature: remove the fences from the top of the cliff and allow the user to fall, i.e. allow users to post (they don’t even need an account!). If the post is not right (they have fallen off the cliff), there is going to be a safety net to catch them: the question is going to be fixed by the community (either edited to fit in, or simply closed).

I think it’s one of the strengths of StackExchange sites in general.

  1. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

Experience that would help me be a good mod (mainly training my leadership and my patience):

  • I have been a Boys-and-Girls-Scout Chief for 4 years. During that time, I’ve been leading a pack of young teenagers.
  • I have a 1 year old baby. Doing things takes waayyy much longer than what they used to.
  • I’m occupying a leading role where I currently work; among other things, I’ve lead the team to better management practices and improved processes.
  • In the past, I had to work with hard-to-work-with colleagues.

Experience related to software and games:

  • My day job is about programming 3d realtime simulations in c++, and everything related to that (architecture, optimization, etc). I admit that I still have a lot to learn, but I would say that I know a lot too! (Fortunately, I love to learn and improve my skills.)
  • I’ve been have been developing games for a couple of years in the past. -- a couple of Flash games (platformers) -- I’ve been the main/lead programmer on 2-3 Nintendo DS titles (targeted at little girls: Horses and Air Attendant themed games).
  • I have a bachelor’s degree in game creation. (And a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science/Software engineering, and all the classes required for a Master’s degree in Computer Science.)
  1. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

I think the only thing that will change is the way I vote to close. Since moderator’s votes are binding, aside from the obvious questions that require to be closed, I’ll let the community use their privilege.

I’ll keep on trying to be kinder to users, and keep on being active on meta :)

  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 don’t think it’s because someone contributes well and a lot that it places them above the basic rules of the site.

After giving them a couple of warning shots, I think that the normal course of action would be to suspend them. This is unfortunate, but I don’t see why we’d make special exceptions to the rules for them.

It’s sad to say, but that kind of user is “replaceable”. It can take time to happen, but users with great skills come by once in a while and give great contributions to the site.

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

When guiding the community, the moderators team should be seen as such: a team. They should show unity to the community, at least when it is about the direction of the site.

If there is such a discrepancy between two or more moderators, they should talk together first and arrive to a consensus. If the consensus is that the question should be reopened, or undeleted, the mod who performed the first action on the question should be the one who re-opens it. Otherwise, I feel that this would be interpreted as everyone having their own agenda, and it’s generally not good when guiding a community.

With a team of six moderators, this kind of situation will happen more often than with only four. The consensus could still be that it should be closed, and that’s fine, as long as it does not create an internal war, in such case the community will suffer.

  • WRT your answer for #11: How do you feel about one mod asking on Meta and another mod answering, for times where there are disagreements? – Nic Hartley Oct 30 '17 at 21:39
  • 1
    @QPaysTaxes That's an interesting angle! When brought to Meta, it's up to the community to judge. Mods, being part of the community, can state their opinion, whether they are alike or not. If my opinion ends up being different than another mod's on Meta, I'll follow what the community feels about the matter, based on the votes on the posts. There is no point in going against what the community feels/wants. – Alexandre Vaillancourt Oct 30 '17 at 23:28

Chris McFarland

Nomination

  1. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

My answer to common, broad game design questions is generally: prototype it and test it out. Actions speak louder than words, so code it, make it happen, and test. Everyone has ideas, but coding and testing holds the answers. Asking people for opinions before you've created a prototype isn't very constructive; questions like this should be closed.

If, however, the question poses a particular single design aspect that could be explored by analyzing how other games have implemented a similar design before, letting the question stay open would attract answers to gain knowledge and insight for all.

Allowing moderators (or as an option for user flags?) to mark such a question as, "This is a Game Design question. When answering, please cite how existing games have implemented such a design", would let concrete answers to be posted, thus avoiding a collection of open-ended opinions. This way, users can share proven methods for how other games have implemented such a design. It's no longer an opinion piece, but stating facts instead.

However, such a question would not have any true "correct" answer, and would probably need to be closed automatically after a week or so, or turned into a Community post. Still, I think there is merit in allowing the community to give concrete design examples to an open-ended question.

  1. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users: 1 2 3 4. While SO gets the most focus due to its higher volume, we can see the same sentiments in our own users here on GDSE. Over the weekend, a user commented "You know what. Stack exchange sucks. No one here is willing to help. It’s always just: “no you can’t ask your question like that!” This is a question which can be answered with one answer...But then again no one’s here to actually help." As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

As a mod, I would take a look at the new-user flow, the UX experience for how things are laid out when someone clicks the "Ask Question" link, and see if any improvements could be made.

Still, when participating in any online community, it is worthwhile to look at the types of questions being posted before you ask your own. However, not everyone reads everything, and if you break a rule, the rule must get enforced.

Perhaps allowing certain questions to stay open for a short time (24 or 48 hours?) would feel less harsh than closing immediately (even if the question still gets pruned later on). This way, the user gets some sort of answer (rather than reading through the comments), while also learning that they should ask a better-suited question next time.

I'd suggest offering moderators (or even changing the automatic flag/close system) with a close option, "This question is too broad and will be closed in 48 hours".

  1. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

You can burn out on anything in life. Too many games to play, too many lines of code to write, too many moderation issues to resolve. But since moderation is a community-driven effort, knowing that the onus doesn't fall onto to just one person should help alleviate that burnout when it comes. Sometimes people need to take a break, and that's okay. So no, I am not afraid; I expect it to happen at some point. But burnout doesn't mean you leave it forever, you take a break and come back once refreshed.

  1. Why do you want to be a moderator?

I want to become a moderator because this sounds like a great opportunity to be more active with the site and community, and to help things foster and grow.

  1. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

Personal attacks are never welcome. And when it comes to crude humour and swearing, different people have different lines. As soon as someone stops being polite, the ice can potentially become thin.

I've had a lot of laughs in the chat GDSE chat room over the years, but I've also seen a lot of drama. I've also seen some non-GDSE mods come in out of the blue and be less than friendly on the odd occasion, so if I were to become a mod, I would like to think I could remain calm, patient, and polite, to try and set a good example while figuring out how best to handle each situation as needed.

On the whole, the GDSE chat room is still a nice place to discuss game development, but I would say the crude humour has taken a back seat this year.

  1. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

Sometimes I feel the UI suggestions posted on GDSE Meta sit for too long going without acknowledgement or progress. It took about three years for GDSE's chat room link colour to get changed, yeah? If anything, if mods had the power to edit CSS styles to act on suggestions promptly, I believe it would be well-received.

  1. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

I would take a look at the UX flow when asking a question to try and make it clearer that software, book, and technology recommendations are not a good question for GDSE.

  1. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

Having launched Tallowmere in 2015, I have answered many forum posts and emails concerning my game in the past two years, and the practice of listening to people, responding, and taking action where needed has helped me grow.

In previous jobs, I've interacted with customers face-to-face in retail, as well as performed customer support roles for online businesses.

I hope my experience will prove useful from a moderation perspective.

  1. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

If elected moderator, I imagine I will:

  • aim to be even more polite in the chat room,
  • work through the review queue more often,
  • be more active on meta, and
  • retain the same voting habits.
  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 would likely warn the user of the repeated unwanted behaviour (citing the amount of flags against them), with suggestions on how to improve. If the negative comments continued (and if the mod tools allow it), I would prevent the user from posting comments for a time. After the time lapsed and the user could comment again but kept repeating their negative behaviour, a longer ban from commenting would be needed, and perhaps a permanent comment ban if their behaviour did not stop.

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

If there is an internal mod discussion system, I would raise the issue there. If not, then posting on Meta would likely be the next step. In any case, talking things through is excellent.

Bálint

Nomination

  1. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

We have a couple of game design questions in the chat every month. The first thing I would do is to encourage the askers there to post their questions on the main site too. The second would be to ask a couple of high quality questions in this topic.

  1. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users: 1 2 3 4. While SO gets the most focus due to its higher volume, we can see the same sentiments in our own users here on GDSE. Over the weekend, a user commented "You know what. Stack exchange sucks. No one here is willing to help. It’s always just: “no you can’t ask your question like that!” This is a question which can be answered with one answer...But then again no one’s here to actually help." As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

If I get elected, I'll focus on salvaging the usable parts of questions instead of closing them. A lot of questions can reworded to fit with the theme of the site.

That said, a lot of questions are off-topic and there's no reason to encourage users to ask similar ones. We still have problems (although rarely) with people referencing older (now off-topic) questions as a reason to why theirs shouldn't be closed.

  1. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

I'm not afraid, the reason this election is happening is to make the life of the moderators a bit easier. I'm okay with doing a bit more work if one of the other moderators has to take a break, and I'm sure they'd so the same.

  1. Why do you want to be a moderator?

This site helped me a lot in the last few years and I really enjoy hanging out in the chat room. I know this is cliché, but I want to return the favor.

  1. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

As a frequent visitor of the chat room, I had the chance to experience the change. It was especially prominent during the summer (see here for instance). It seems to get better right now though.

  1. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

The area that needs the most focus in my opinion is the law side of the site. Most questions in this topic have a very low quality. What I'd do against this problem is to select or create some quality questions and use those to close the newer questions in this topic as duplicates (if one of the quality questions answers the new question).

  1. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

The biggest reason behind this is the fact, that new users don't read the help center. Instead of giving them a link to it, I'd suggest putting the main rules next to the textarea you use to write your question (ask question -> yellow area). The content of this is borderline useless at this point of time. It is customizable, some other sites (most notably programming puzzles and code golf, which needs this because it isn't a Q&A site) have different rules there.

  1. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

I'm a hobby game developer, but I was hired to code chunks of medium budget games and plugins for server software multiple times before (excuse me for not saying the name of the games I've worked on, but I'm not a lawyer and I don't want to break an NDA accidentally).

I lead small and medium sized groups before and the feedback was usually good.

  1. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

I wouldn't change much in my personality or behaviours. I'm always polite and respectful when I'm speaking to someone else.

Something I'd change in how I operate on the site would be to visit the review queue once in a while. I tend to forget about it.

  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?

It's always important to speak to the user in question first. Maybe he didn't even notice his own bad behavour because of cultural differences. If they don't change the way they communicate with others, then suspending the user is the way to go. If they continue with the bad behaviour even after the suspension, then banning the user is the only solution. I think it's more important to have a good atmosphere than to have good answers, because new users will come after the ban, but the user in question probably won't stay on the site forever, even if we don't ban them.

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

As I stated in the answer to the 10th question, discussing our own arguments first is important. I know the current moderators well enough, so that I know they won't just close something without having a reason for it.

Ethan Larson (Almo)

Nomination

  1. Game design questions are generally underserved by our site, often because many really interesting game design questions are open-ended. What (if anything) do you feel you should or could do to change this, as a moderator?

The best thing to do is comment on new questions to help the authors narrow them to fit the Q&A format better. A game design question that focuses on a certain problem well enough can work. As a moderator, my comment will carry some extra weight in guiding the community toward what we think is acceptable with regard to these questions.

  1. There's a perception among developers that StackExchange is elitist / unwelcoming, or that established/high-rep users are on a "power trip" and out to bully new users: 1 2 3 4. While SO gets the most focus due to its higher volume, we can see the same sentiments in our own users here on GDSE. Over the weekend, a user commented "You know what. Stack exchange sucks. No one here is willing to help. It’s always just: “no you can’t ask your question like that!” This is a question which can be answered with one answer...But then again no one’s here to actually help." As a mod, how would you guide the community to provide a more welcoming first impression or onboarding experience for new users?

In a similar way to Question 1 above, I would be commenting on these questions in a way that guides the new user and displays proper attitude to existing users. It's true we can be unwelcoming; this is because of years of dealing with poorly-asked questions from new users. We have to remember that they don't know what we've been through. The trick is to remain welcoming while not compromising the goal of creating a database of Q&A that is helpful to future visitors, not just the askers themselves.

  1. Aren't you afraid that you will burn out solving mundane issues that you could ignore before?

This doesn't worry me because I like helping make GDSE a better place, even if it is through performing mundane tasks.

  1. Why do you want to be a moderator?

As a game designer, I have a very strong interest in creating sets of rules and guidelines for governing interactions between people. It's the main function I performed while running my corporation and alliance in EVE-Online, which is still going after more than 10 years.

  1. Some community members have felt a change in the chat culture on the site. What are your thoughts on the current state of the site's chat room?

I regret the loss of some great contributors due to a recent tightening of the regulation of the chatroom. However, it is my opinion that we do need to keep it safe for work. I have that window open all day while I'm working, and it embarrasses me if coworkers see unpleasant stuff there. At the moment, it seems to be going smoothly, and I would work to keep the moderation there even-handed.

  1. Moderators have a rare ability to make unilateral changes to the site, bypassing checks that often require larger community consensus. What do you feel is the area most in need of that kind of unilateral intervention today, and how would you address it?

I would like to help clean up some of the tags that need attention.

  1. A huge percentage of questions get closed (roughly every 8th or 5000 out of the current 40,000 questions not counting the deleted ones), a big chunk of these ask for software, book or technology recommendations. What would you do to solve this issue?

Honestly, I don't think there's much moderators can do about it. Many of these questions are asked by brand new accounts who have not read the Help Center. People don't read text; it's a challenge for the site designers to get the rules about these questions in front of new users.

  1. What professional or hobby experience do you have that you think you'll be bringing to the role of moderating this community? This might include soft skills dealing with people, or professional experience having developed games (and if you have the latter, what games have you worked on, if you are willing/able to disclose?)

Over 10 years of running a corporation and alliance in EVE-Online. I've been a lead programmer for 1.5 years at work. I have designed and programmed 3 complete mobile games: Crystal Shuffle, LowDown: A Social Experiment and Cognizer. I wrote and designed 4 Mac shareware applications in the late 90s. I designed and published a Flash game in 2009, Clixxor. I have worked on many games in the industry: My Word Coach DS, Splinter Cell PSP, Tiny Brains, Pro Feel Golf, Knightfall: Rivals, as well as around of 15 Shockwave and Javascript games in the early 2000s (to name a few... there are many more things I've worked on, some of which were never published). I have completed 3 boardgame designs, with one published; these are well-received by players of all kinds, and range from very complex to very simple.

  1. With great powers come great responsibilities and influence. As a newly elected moderator, what behaviour(s) that you had as a non-moderator will you change, if any, whether it is about voting, interactions with other users, interventions on meta, etc.?

I will stop using sarcasm in comments on questions. I didn't do it super-often, but I realize that it wouldn't be acceptable as a moderator.

  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 not sure what tools exist for this. But if possible, I would first warn that user that their behavior is not acceptable for our community. If it continued, I would implement a comment suspension for a week or so to let them know I'm serious. Further transgressions would be met with longer suspensions.

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

I would talk to them directly and discuss their reasons for closing it, and then try to come to an agreement about it. I would not engage in a close/open/close war with them.

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