The following is a "digest" version of the 2011 Moderator Election Town Hall Chat. The format, as described on Meta Stack Overflow, is one answer to this question for every question asked in the Town Hall, containing all the candidate's answers to that question.

To view the digest chronologically, please sort the answers by "oldest".

If you have questions or comments about this, please do not answer this question as the answers are designed to be used for the questions from the Town hall itself. Instead, please ask on the parent question or in the Town Hall Discussion Room.

If you see any corrections which need to be made to this digest, or if you were a candidate who was unable to attend the town hall and would like your answers included, please @Rebecca or @TimStone in the comments or in the chat room and let us know!

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12 Answers 12

Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked the candidates for final thoughts


jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I want everyone to vote their heart, but don't "not vote for someone" just because you think "everyone else is going to vote for that person". Vote for the three you want to have moderate, because those are the three you want to be the current moderators.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: Vote for who you think will do a good job on the site. That's the most important thing about these elections.

Nick Nick answered: Final thoughts: Databases suck. Real Programmers write everything to a text file.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: If I get zero votes, I hereby pledge to continue to support the site as much as I can, and not go off and sulk. I encourage you all to do the same, especially @jcole :)

DTest DTest answered: Coffee for all* provided by stack exchange. (*disclaimer: They are not really going to provide coffee for all).

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@Jack - What happens if you get a few votes? –  Nick Chammas Oct 5 '11 at 14:56

jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: Do you think there are hard and fast rules for questions from other sites to be migrated here? Where would you draw the line on "that doesn't really belong here"?


mrdenny mrdenny answered: No I don't. I think there's some guidelines that the other sites have, but I don't think hard and fast rules would help anyone.

Nick Nick answered: Programmers was created, among other reasons, for more discussion-type questions that don't have a right answer. If it does, and it is about hardcore DB design, I would propose migration right away. Obviously, I would want the Programmers mods to agree with me before taking any action. In general, though, there aren't hard and fast rules for migrations--only precedent and consensus.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Hard and fast is the part that makes me say "uh no". As for "where do I draw the line" if it fits on the home site, I say leave it there. No sense migrating something that's already well at home.

DTest DTest answered: This goes back to the overlap issues that DBA has (what is expert-enough). In my opinion, if it deals with consequences of a certain design, it belongs here. I would probably stray more towards migrating interesting questions, like hierarchy design. If in doubt, ask in chat for community support, or leave it.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: The question for this site is what to do with content that is migrated here - SO, SF etc need to decide for themselves what to migrate - we can only try and raise awareness and plead our case, primarily by providing an excellent home for content they do migrate

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jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: Do you think that Powershell questions would have a place on Database Administrators?


mrdenny mrdenny answered: "it depends". If they relate to working with PoSH and the database engine for managing a large enterprise, sure. If it's a PoSH in general question then it should be kicked to SF or possible SO.

Lazer Lazer answered: No, SO is the right place.

  • jcolebrand jcolebrand noted: Technically they could be on SF, SO, SU or here. Even Programmers and CodeReview

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I think that any technology that a professional dba has need of is generally fair game here. This isn't a site for ONLY powershell questions, but they have some room here as well.

Nick Nick answered: Absolutely, as long as they are about using Powershell as a tool to manage databases. Of course, they would probably have a good place on Server Fault as well and that would up to us to decide what questions were too "server-y".

DTest DTest answered: Late to the party on this one, but I think most questions would qualify on SO (with any hosting questions on SF)

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: What is Powershell :p

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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: 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?


jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: In three stages: I would encourage by use of comments for them to change their behavior, I would encourage them next via system message to change their behavior, and then I would encourage them via suspension to change their behavior.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: Start with a comment, then an email with some consequences. If a helpful users just wants to pick fights there are other sites they can be a PITA on.

Lazer Lazer answered: Will try to explain to the user how important he/she is to the community and how a small change from their end would make them even more 'reputed' here. I hope they will understand and I will not need to do anything further.

Nick Nick answered: Encourage the valuable material with upvotes, do the converse with the inflammatory material plus comments advising a change of behavior in those instances. Persistent bad behavior should eventually result in suspension, even when complemented by valuable material.

DTest DTest answered: Being unfamiliar on what tools are available for mods, I would comment to encourage a change, talk to them in chat to give them a chance to give their side of events (a lot of context is lost in text and limited space of comments), and discuss with the other moderators other courses of actions. Obviously this is a community and at some point abuse and flagging will outweigh the value of the content the user contributes.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: I'd do nothing without giving it a lot of thought first, and here's the reason: content is what makes or breaks the site, "a steady stream of valuable answers" is a goldmine.

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Nick Nick asked: What is the biggest problem facing DBA.SE today? [1]


jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Lack of content and lack of "brand awareness" and lack of participation on meta. We need more people on meta more often.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: Lack of users and questions being spread over SF and SO that could/should be on DBA.SE.

Lazer Lazer answered: Missing real dba's on the site, which contributes to poor content

DTest DTest answered: I think the 'fuzzy' line on what constitutes questions to be on (or off) topic. An example is the overlap between SQL query help (at what point is it considered 'expert' enough to go on DBA?)

Nick Nick answered: We are at risk of just becoming another old-school RDBMS Q&A site instead of a serious platform for database expertise of all kinds. This is closely related to our name being "Database Administrators".

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: I take an optimistic view of the site, which is still in it's infancy. I think the focus should always be on content - our content is good but it could always be better. We especially need more great answers, because that is what benefits the majority of visitors (who arrive from search engines). If there is one problem it is shared with all the SE sites: you'll probably get more rep from 5 shoddy answers than one really good one :)

[1]: Question inspired by the Gaming Town Hall Chat

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Nick Nick asked: If you could change one aspect of the DBA.SE community (not the software) without repercussion—whether it's banning a particular type of question that's currently acceptable, allowing a type of question that's not, emphasizing on something that DBA.SE ignores now, or something else—what would it be and why? [1]


Lazer Lazer answered: We should not migrate any simple db questions to SO, if they are first asked on this site. I am not sure if this has happened or not, but users should not have to go to whole another site because their question is easy.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: The only real kind of question that I've seen recently that I don't like (saw this most recently on SF) is the "opening this question to be the catch all for this type of question" questions. There are always different angels that need to be explored and these catch all questions just don't work. The one that comes to mind was about software licensing. People wanted to close it as duplicate because there was a generic catch all question that didn't answer the specific question asked.

DTest DTest answered: The biggest type of question I struggle with being off-topic are subjective questions. An example I think these are closed too quickly, and can provide valuable resource for the site.

Nick Nick answered: I'm with Lazer on this. I think "easy" DB questions are OK if they are asked first on DBA.SE. I would also like to see a lot more NoSQL, NewSQL, and BI questions. Finally, I actually think DBA.SE would benefit from having a few "shark vs. gorilla" discussions that get CW-ed/closed after a bit. They are always big hits, draw lots of traffic (just look at SO).

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: The ones that I want to see brought here are the NoSQL category of questions. I think that too few people think of database administrators as having expertise in non-RDBMS systems, and I think that the concepts fit to both categories equally well. I would love to see more of these types of questions on our site.

[1]: Question inspired by the Gaming Town Hall Chat

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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: Can you explain (or link if you can easily find it) an example that demonstrates a valuable contribution to the site that shows your leadership / how you would handle something as a moderator?


Nick Nick answered: I linked to the following two posts in my nomination blurb. First: My tag cleanup discussion. Second: My response to a new user who was put off by some SE standards.

Nick Nick continued: I enjoy organizing and simplifying our tag ecosystem and I love SE's structure and philosophy enough to make sure new users buy into it and understand why it's good.

DTest DTest answered: Aside from flag weight, editing, etc, I feel compelled to leave comments to new users to encourage them to provide more detail, or leaving comments especially when I downvote

mrdenny mrdenny answered: I'm sure I've got examples from over on ServerFault, but I can't think of any because I don't really remember that stuff. Just sort of do as needed and move on.

mrdenny mrdenny continued: There's all the normal stuff of talking to the new users getting them to actually provide the information needed to get their question answered, even if it isn't a question that I'm going to be able to answer.

Lazer Lazer answered: Can't find anything in particular to link to for leadership. I brought up two issues on meta - logo and recently, code tag size.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I was happy with my responses Sometimes, an answer is just plain wrong. What to do? and I know that there are many actual occurrences on Database Administrators proper of my existing moderation that I think show well how I deal as a moderator. If it is of importance, I can add details on this at request.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: An Oracle expert recently took offence to some editing of some posts he made, having recently arrived at the site - I tried to understand his point of view when he raised his issue on meta, and contacted him via the feedback form of his blog in the hope of encouraging him back at least to read my effort at reconciliation. I think the approach worked in this case as he has since returned and is contributing again.

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Rebecca Chernoff Rebecca Chernoff asked: In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching higher rep privilege levels?


mrdenny mrdenny answered: I've got the time to help keep the questions on point, and I like giving back to the community when I can.

Lazer Lazer answered: It is not about the rep for me, and I don't have it anyways :) . I will be here more often and will get a chance to contribute back better.

DTest DTest answered: The mod tools offer more in the way of in-your-face notifications that things need looking at. Reviewing content represents most of my activity on the site, so my reputation doesn't go up quickly to reach those tools otherwise.

Nick Nick answered: Reaching higher rep means you ask and answer a lot of questions and do so well. You may not be interested in cleaning up after others, steering the course of the site, or taking care of things like the tagging ecosystem. Having mod privileges means there is less time to action and a stronger feeling of commitment to the community. It also does not bind one to spend a lot of time doing things for rep. They can spend that time moderating.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: Even without 10k rep and mod tools, a non-mod can be very 'effective' in moderation by looking hard at content and flagging it appropriately - I don't feel becoming a mod would necessarily make us 'more effective' in that sense. However, moderation is a vital role, particularly for those times when things go wrong and in those rare cases I hope to be able to contribute more.

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: Since I'm already a moderator and have shown how I work, I don't know that I can add any more to this than my existing experience shows. However, I am active on many of the Stack Exchange network sites and want to continue to pay back to the community, and being a mod here allows me to do so.

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Lazer Lazer asked: What do you think about our logo?


mrdenny mrdenny answered: I'd prefer a more traditional database icon as a logo, but I think that as is it covers all the database platforms including the non-relational platforms. Granted I have no artistic taste what so ever, so you should probably just ignore me on this one.

Nick Nick answered: I like what we have so far. The blue silhouette give it a smooth look.

DTest DTest answered: Not a designer, but I like gbn's answer to the meta question, more transparency on the outter shell.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: Personally I hate the current logo. I'm not saying I could do any better, and it seems almost everyone else likes it so I made up my mind a while ago not to lose any sleep over it :)

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I think that our logo is too undefined when it's in a small resolution. I would like to see something wtih two or three colors.

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random random asked: Are you the kind of mod that will make decisions or do you need to have another name on that close/delete list before you act? Especially on borderline cases.


jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I generally act alone but am willing to defend my actions on meta, and am open to being shown I'm wrong. Having said that, it's always nice to have someone else to make sure I'm doing the right thing before I just charge in with swords and pistols drawn.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: Generally I like to let the community take care of the bulk of the closes. Especially is something is borderline, just because I don't want my will to overly influence. If there's something totally obvious I'll move it / blow it away without anyone else having ever voted on it. This is especially important on a younger site as not very many people had the vote to close right yet.

Lazer Lazer answered: Since my vote will shutdown the question altogether, especially on borderline cases, I might wait for someone in the community to echo my thoughts.

DTest DTest answered: If it's borderline cases, it needs to be a vote. If it's outright not a good fit according to the FAQ, I'd close it.

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: Jeff's blog A Theory of Moderation says "Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community — now that’s the true art of moderation." I agree with that principle, that a mod shouldn't be fighting against the community or aggressively trying to steer it.

Nick Nick answered: As you said, it's your confidence that matters. If I know that this is a slam dunk case I'm not gonna wait for others to take action. On the borderline cases I will consult with at least another mod before taking action. If the case is just symptomatic of a larger issue, I'll open a meta discussion around it to understand the community's stance before establishing a standard to use going forward.

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jcolebrand jcolebrand asked: What do you think constitutes a spam answer?


Lazer Lazer answered: Link to a totally unrelated website, or inline text about totally unrelated topic..

mrdenny mrdenny answered: I'd say that a spammer is someone who is simply using the site to advertise their product or service in every answer they make. The community is usually pretty good and pointing them out pretty quickly (at least from what I see on ServerFault).

jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I think that a spam answer is defined by the repeated use of a particular single or multiple URL in the posters answers to promote one of a handful of sites, which are geared towards tools for sale, and which appear to be the only reason for that user to post. I think that they have to have used URLs in more than half of their posts for us to consider them spammers.

DTest DTest answered: The biggest indicator of a spam answer to me is linking and promoting a specific product, without offering any expert-level advice to the original question. If an answer has expert-level advice, the product promotion can be editted out or encouraged to be removed through comments.

Nick Nick answered: Spam is promotion of anything without providing instructional value. It's fine to promote product or company if you explain why they are the right choice and that explanation has technical merit. Of course, I expect answerers to disclose any relationship they have to a product they are promoting.

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Nick Nick asked: Do you like our site's current name? If not, what do you propose and how will you go about making it happen?


jcolebrand jcolebrand answered: I am not overly happy with our current site name, because I think it detracts from the NoSQL crowd joining in freely, but I think the time has come and gone for branding changes, until we get much larger and am happy to keep things as they are. I would, however, love to see some better community marketing.

DTest DTest answered: I think the name is fine and is one of the things that attracted me to the site to begin with. I don't necessarily like that the domain is a subdomain, but unfortunately don't have a good alternative.

mrdenny mrdenny answered: I'm ok with the site's name. I think that it keeps the focus on the set and tuning of the various database platforms.

Lazer Lazer answered: Related to names, I dont like the decision that only expert db questions are supposed to be asked here. Its like go to SO if you have an easy one and come here, if you have a difficult dba specific one. I think 'Administrators' word is a bit distracting, but then again thats what differentiates us from SO, its a deadlock situation, i think

Jack Douglas Jack Douglas answered: I like the current name but I have a hankering for fullouterjoin.com because "full outer joins are esoteric enough ... and the 'full' kind of implies 'full fat' or 'full blooded/bodied' which is what this site is: a place for grown up database professionals and those who need their help"

Nick Nick answered: "Database Administrators" has served us well so far, but it threatens to limit our audience. I've proposed a name change but would obviously solicit community approval to execute something like that.

Nick Nick continued: As @jcolebrand said, it may be too late to change everything, but I wouldn't consider that an answered question. I want dba.se to really turn into something that all database professionals go to--NoSQL and data warehouse designers especially.

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