In Which Torisuda Answers the Mod Questions in the Customary Long-Winded Manner
- Quite a lot of the activity on the site is concentrated around just a few shows: mainly Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball, and Death Note. While these are all fine shows, they hardly showcase the diversity of anime, and don't leave a lot for people who aren't fans of long-running action/adventure. What's your take on this situation? Is it fine as it is, or should the community strive for more diversity of topics—more shoujo, more older anime, more artsy/experimental material like Aku no Hana and Goodnight, Punpun? If you support more diversity, what steps would you take as a moderator to make it happen?
This was my question. I asked it before I decided to run, and I thought it was important for the candidates to address because I do think we could use more diversity of material. Anime is so much more than just long-running shounen action. There are anime full of beautiful writing and rich symbolism, anime that push the boundaries of animation as a medium, anime that are strange and truly original enough to rival the most underground of underground comix and the most independent of independent movies. There are genres that have no equivalent in the West. There are anime which are all of those things.
Our site, because of Stack Exchange’s content curation policies, is uniquely well suited to introduce people to this wider world of anime. Stack Exchange is designed to attract experts. In the context of anime, this will usually mean people well-versed in art, literature, film, Japanese language, and other culture areas. We do have such experts here, but I’ve noticed that many of them, not being attracted to the popular shows, don’t have enough questions to answer and can’t hope for a response if they ask their own, so they gravitate towards moderation as a way to keep engaged with the site. We need good people moderating the content, but it’s sad that we can’t find more ways for these experts to contribute valuable content. I look at more diversity as the first step to realizing the full potential of our community.
I tried to stimulate more diversity of content with Proposal: Let's form viewing circles!. People seemed pretty underwhelmed, and looking back, there were some flaws in that proposal. But from interactions I’ve had with other users, there does seem to be an appetite in the community for more diversity; it’s just a question of finding the right stimuli, the right incentives. I don’t know yet what those are, but I’ve got a hundred ideas and I’d like to try them all.
- Last year we asked the community about things they wanted to be clarified or fixed about our policies on Anime & Manga. This helped myself as the newly elected mod highlight some topics for review. One year on and a new meta post later, Is there any particular policy the site currently has that you feel needs to be changed, or reviewed?
Nothing urgent. There are a few rough edges to sand down. This is an area where I prefer to take more of a passive role and wait for issues to arise naturally; I like to leave a few escape hatches in policies to allow for flexibility.
There are a few things like tagging continuities and spoiler policies that we should talk about, but as my product manager says, "These are problems we want to have"—they mean that, as a community, we've moved past the adolescent identity crisis and come to the college years.
- Some Stack Exchange moderators are activists—they take a strong leading role in the community, bringing up issues, guiding discussions, suggesting policy, and creating initiatives. Others are more passive; they let other members of the community shape policy, enforce it less stringently, and wait in the wings for exceptional situations that require their unique abilities. The passive approach fits more with Stack Exchange's description of moderators as "glorified janitors" and "human exception handlers" as laid out in A Theory of Moderation and other posts. However, activist moderators can be good for a site; they can help unite and guide a user base, and can ensure that a valid concern brought up by a significant minority of the community gets a fair hearing and doesn't get automatically ignored in favor of the majority view. As a moderator, would you be more of an activist, or would you take a more passive approach? Why? How would you recognize a situation that would benefit more from the opposite approach, and how would you deal with it?
This was also my question from before I was running, and I asked it because across the SE network, I've seen activist mod teams, I've seen passive mod teams, and I've seen mixed mod teams, and I've seen all of them work and not work.
If elected, I expect to be more on the activist side. Both our pro-tem mod team and our current mod team are more on the activist side, and I feel it's worked well for our community to have them out on the front lines engaging with people. They've been instrumental in organizing events, guiding the community through large and difficult policy decisions, and explaining to new users why Stack Exchange can feel so unfriendly at first. The site is at a place where it doesn't need quite so much activist moderation, but it's not yet at a place where the mods can afford to disappear from view and spend all their time cleaning up messes behind the scenes.
On the other hand, one lesson I've learned in my time on SE is that I don't need to be involved in every decision that gets made and every discussion that goes on. Sometimes, mods should stay out of it and let the community decide. The more dysfunctional activist mod teams I've seen (not going to name any names, but it’s not ours) are the ones that can't do this; they have to offer criticism of one kind or another on every single post. It reminds me of an obnoxious professor I had in college; he would come to every post in our class forum, gleefully nitpick typos, mock our troubles, offer no help at all, and off he went.
As a mod, I would be cognizant of my ability to insta-close and insta-delete, and leave decisions on borderline posts up to the community. If I disagreed with the community decision, I would generally express that through a discussion on chat or Meta, not by unilaterally reversing the decision with mod powers. Mods should avoid the impression that they’re hand-sculpting the site into their own personal police state; being hands-off sometimes is the best way to do that.
- This year we have only had 7 Candidates nominated to join the mod team while last year there was 8 candidates. can you see any sort of barrier that would prevent other users from applying to become a part of the mod team in the next election? If so, in what way do you think we as a community can overcome this barrier? If not, what are your opinions as to why so few nominated to become a mod this time?
Our community has a small, very committed core of users who take active parts in moderation and policy. This is a bit intimidating to a potential moderator candidate; when I was considering running, I knew every decision I made as both a candidate and a mod would be reviewed by a group of people who really know their stuff and wouldn't be afraid to call me out. When I realized this was actually an advantage--if I ever made a wrong decision, there would be people to check me and straighten things out--I decided to go for it.
But I'm also not sure why so many people waited until the last minute to slide in their nominations :) I understand it takes time to decide to run, but declaring your nomination so late took away a chance for the community to question you directly and discuss your candidacy.
- Last Year we had problems with Identification Requests with what should be done with them being asked of the candidates in last year's mod election. With the topic now dead, buried, covered in concrete and without a spoon to eat it's way out is there another outstanding [single] subject that you think the community needs to address? why does this subject need to be addressed?
Not really. Even though Anime and Manga has "graduated" (and where's our new site design, SE? Don't you love us anymore?), we still have some growing pains to work through, but I don't see a single outstanding issue that needs to be addressed, just lots of little things.
If you had asked me several months ago, I would have said "our community's war machine mentality". Things were bleak in the immediate aftermath of the id request ban. For about a month, we had very few questions, almost no answers, downvotes everywhere, and it felt like every single question that came in had close votes against it. But we've moved past that, our Robespierre-like tendencies have been reined in, and the last month has been vibrant and fun, with several promising new users joining us. The only complaint I have left is that most of the activity has been in popular tags.
- 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?
Assuming the comments were not abusive or offensive, merely argumentative, I would first try to get in touch with that user and let them know that a lot of people seem to be taking their comments the wrong way. I would assume good intentions and just ask the person to read their comments twice before posting, to be sure it was getting across the intended meaning.
I would also take this opportunity to let them respond and add more context to the situation. When I was in middle school, I knew someone who got in trouble for violence and angry outbursts on a pretty regular basis. None of the adults knew that he was being goaded and verbally harassed until he lost his temper and lashed out. Sometimes authority figures need to listen to someone to find out what's really going on, instead of assuming everything is just as it appears.
If the user was at fault, and the argumentative behavior continued, I would give the user another warning, worded a little more sharply: going from "Hey, I noticed people seem to be taking your comments the wrong way, can you be a little more careful with your wording?" to "Remember our previous talk? It doesn't seem to be improving. You need to try harder to hold back a little."
Depending on how the user responded to the previous outreach, I might give them a third chance, strongly warning that they are close to a suspension. If the user responded badly or escalated the situation, I might go straight for a short suspension at this point. Continued refusal would be met with longer suspensions.
If the comments were abusive or offensive, the first message would be much sharper and things would proceed more quickly. No one has the right to abuse other users, no matter how many good answers they’ve written.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Starting a mod war is definitely the wrong way to handle the situation. I would start by asking the other mod, in chat or in comments, to explain the reasoning behind the decision they made. If I felt the question was truly borderline and the other mod’s reasons seemed sound, I would probably leave it there, even if I didn’t entirely agree; these decisions are usually not clear-cut, and sometimes you have to trust your colleague’s judgment, even if it’s not exactly what you would have done yourself. Also, if the community feels the question is valuable, they can override a mod’s decision by voting to reopen/undelete; if that didn’t happen, it would indicate that the other mod made the correct decision from the community’s point of view.
On the other hand, if I felt the question was not borderline, that it fell into an undefined area of our policy, or that the other mod made the decision for unsound reasons, I would probably confer with the entire mod team and start a discusson on Meta to allow the community to have input.
- We have a number of community events from annual events like Conspiracy Santa to one off events like EU A&M Meet up. Are there any other Events you would like to see occur to help bolster community cohesion, attract more users to the site and/or increase activity and participation on the site?
Recently I’ve become a big fan of Screen Junkies Movie Fights. It’s a game show where people who love movies answer debate questions like “Pitch the next Wolverine movie”, “Best Quentin Tarantino movie”, “Most traumatizing kids movie”, and even “Which superhero would win the Hunger Games?” The host judges answers based on the quality of the arguments, and there’s a fact-checker to make sure people don’t get away with making things up. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and I think it would be even more fun to play an anime/manga version.
I envision this as a Meta event with accompanying chat events. Some topic ideas I came up with were "Choose a relatively serious anime and pitch a magical girl spinoff starring one of the characters, in the style of Pretty Sammy or Prisma Illya", "What genre should get a Madoka-style deconstruction next and what would the show be like?", and "You've just read the title Boku no Real Love Napkin in a forum; what do you imagine is the plot of this show?" I’ve worked out how we could organize it, and I’ll be happy to jump in chat one of these evenings and talk about it if anyone is interested. It would be a great opportunity for us to get creative, have fun, get some of those “X vs Y?” questions out of our systems, and plumb the depths of our anime knowledge, and as a bonus, we could outsource the fact-checking to the main site by asking questions on anything in doubt.
I also think topic challenges like Worldbuilding, Movies and TV, and Writing do could be interesting. I’d envision it as similar to the tag bounty challenges that senshin was issuing, where we choose a theme, but the question could be in any tag with that theme, not just new tags. We could do it without a bounty like Worldbuilding does, or high-rep users could offer bounties to the top voted posts.
Both of these events would spur more diversity of content by encouraging us all to look outside of our favorite show or favorite genre.
- What's your opinion on Taisho posting images in site's main chatroom? Taisho's image posting did got criticized in the past for being unnecessary or for not being safe for office. So what you think in favor or against it?
I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t have time at work to be in chat anyway; I have work to do at work :)
More seriously, Taisho is a beloved part of Maid Cafe, but I can understand where he might be problematic in a work setting. If this is a problem for enough people, we could look into doing a review of the images he posts to make sure they're all reasonably SFW. You can also hide specific users' posts; this might be a good short-term option for people who don't want to see Taisho.
Since Taisho is a subject where I don't have strong opinions, any action I took as a moderator would be taken after a round of discussion and input from the community.
- What additional value would you add to the existing moderator team?
This is a bit tough to answer for someone like this:
All I can bring to the team is passion for the site and a track record of working for its benefit, sometimes in helpful ways and sometimes in misguided ways. This is the only anime community that I've ever felt moved to participate in over many years of loving anime, and I want to see it become even more amazing.