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I decided to write this because of the comments posted in the election chat room.

Actually I agree with part what Dilworth has written. As I have told Suresh, Dave, and Shog9 I feel I use moderator powers more often than the community likes and that is one of the main reasons I have decided to step down.

But I think I have followed more or less what I wrote when I nominated myself for becoming a moderator.

I firmly believed and believe that cstheory is mainly for professional researchers in theoretical computer science. I don't think I have ever been even slightly impolite towards any of them and I have not used mod powers in dealing with any of them. I have tried to follow the policies and the opinion of the community even when I personally disagreed with it. So I have been a minimalist moderator towards the target community of the site.

But I don't think we should be welcoming at all to anyone who clearly wants to abuse cstheory for purposes that are likely to hurt the participation of professional researchers. I have tried not to be rude even towards them however I don't see any reason why we should be welcoming to cranks. Rather I think we should not tolerate at all any crank who clearly wants to abuse cstheory and keeps annoying others with low quality comments and answers.

In my opinion we should have been much harsher in dealing with cranks and that would have saved us a lot of trouble and trolling by a particular crank that hasn't shown much improvement in behavior over a long period of time and despite our efforts. In fact the abuser seems to interprets the community's tolerance as support for his behavior and has started bringing other cranks to the site and go as far as nominating himself to become a moderator. I think these clearly show the effect of tolerance on such abusers. But since the community didn't wanted to deal with the user that way I left it to other moderators to deal with him as they think is suitable.

Another contentious issue has been question closing. The moderator closing vote replaces the normal user closing vote. In other words, a moderator cannot cast a non-binding close vote. So as a moderator when I see a question that I think should be closed I can either close it or do almost nothing and it is quite difficult for me to do nothing about a question that I think is off-topic. If I could cast a non-binding vote I would prefer to do so but the system doesn't support it.

These are some of the main reasons I have decided to step down as a moderator. I still care about cstheory and I am going to continue to actively participate on cstheory. I think it is a very useful resource for connecting researchers from different fields in theoretical computer science and helps them with their research though I think we have a long road till we reach where MO is. We have many active users that can take on the job of moderation and closer to what the community would like. I hope that over the past 3 years I haven't disappointed the community and those who voted for me (at least not too much).

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    $\begingroup$ You have definitely been the "bad cop" on the site, by choice or no. I for one emphasise (even if I don't agree with all your opinions); someone has to do the "dirty" work or an SE site is easily overwhelmed by irrelevant content. Let's hope the new mods are up to the task. Thank you for your work; I hope you can leave with a smile. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jan 25 '14 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with both what you've said and your approach. Your and Suresh's moderation styles complemented each others well, and I would vote to keep all three moderators if I had the option. $\endgroup$ – Huck Bennett Jan 25 '14 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ I, for one, think you did a great job! It's a difficult problem what to do with certain users who occasionally contribute good content but spend a lot of their time lowering the quality of the site. I don't remember often (or ever?) disagreeing with any of your decisions. $\endgroup$ – Lev Reyzin Jan 25 '14 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks guys, it has been a nice experience to be one of the cstheory moderators, and I am sure the new moderators will do a good job. :) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 26 '14 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for all the time you have spent over the past few years helping to shape the site and its community. I agree that it would be better if the moderators could choose to vote on closing as an ordinary user, instead of always applying an override. $\endgroup$ – András Salamon Jan 31 '14 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, Kaveh, for three years of service. This site is much stronger thanks to your moderation efforts. $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Feb 3 '14 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @JɛffE. :) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 6 '14 at 1:54
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    $\begingroup$ Looking back after 2 years I am very happy that I decided to step down: we got two fantastic moderators and I like being an ordinary user without mod powers. :) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Feb 3 '16 at 20:18
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Last spring, I spent several weeks analyzing closed questions on all Stack Exchange sites, in preparation for the changes that would enable per-site off-topic reasons. All too often, I would find questions closed without any discussion or explanation as to why they were closed...

But here, that was rare indeed. Almost every question I looked at had a comment explaining why the question was inappropriate, usually including links to more extensive information or pointing to another site where the question might be more appropriate.

...And most of the time, that comment was from you.

I'm sad to see the angst being directed at you here; it's not deserved. This is a site dedicated to a niche topic and a niche audience; it's unavoidable that a lot of folks showing up here are going to be turned away, simply because they ended up in the wrong place... That you've so often taken the time to explain this and offer assistance to those folks is not something you were required to do, but it undoubtedly made the experience less painful.

I sincerely hope that the folks who've volunteered to take your place follow your lead - not just in upholding the high standards for questions that the community here has demanded, but also doing so while showing respect and understanding for those who fall short of them.

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    $\begingroup$ maybe you need to analyze "unilateral closing by a single moderator" compared to other moderators for the site (ie wide disparities in this metric) and how that can be unbalanced. maybe you need to look at overall closing statistics for a site. $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 25 '14 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ Moderators are supposed to act "unilaterally" in the sense of acting when no one else is able to, @vzn - they're expected to uphold the standards of the community who elected them when that community is unable to do so alone. That's why they're trusted with the ability to do so - if they weren't going to use it, they have no business being moderators. As for statistics, the most important one here is probably the % of time a given moderator's decisions are overturned... And that's not particularly high for any of the moderators here. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Jan 25 '14 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ hmm, pt missed in a rather wide way. imho [can this at all be controversial?] the mod team needs to have some cohesion/meshing in views/actions. if one mod is the one doing all or most of the closing, that is potentially unbalanced imho. from experience of having maybe a half dozen questions closed or more, typically it seemed k. was involved every time, no other mod... yeah but nobody is gonna talk about this elephant in the room, theres zero indication of this on meta etc.... as for overturning a moderator, huh?!? has that ever happened? is there even a documented mechanism for that? $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 26 '14 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yes - anyone who can vote to reopen can overturn a moderator's decision to close. This happens maybe 3-4% of the time. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Jan 26 '14 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ there are votes to reopen questions. how often are there votes to reopen questions that do not succeed? so there is a large threshhold built into stackexchange for users to overturn moderator decisions. thats a design feature of se software that moderators have huge powers over users that are rarely overturned, it applies across all sites.... $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 26 '14 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ You're asking a lot of questions that are too much to answer in comments. Feel free to post them as a separate question. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Jan 26 '14 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ you have avoided the issue just stated, nearly entirely ... sorry, have no interest in getting shot down in a new post here. more scapegoat target practice for the old/new mods & everyone else! $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 26 '14 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ sigh... Look, I came here to write this answer, which I did - it's done, and this discussion is tangential at best. I'll happily answer any questions you might have, but not here. If you don't want to ask them, that's fine too - I have other things I can be doing. They involve pepper steak. Your call. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Jan 26 '14 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'm glad you chimed in @Shog9. As for the remark that "only one mod is doing all the closing", that's a reflection on the rest of us, not on Kaveh. It's a stretch to interpret my inaction as his overreach. There are probably one or two instances over the course of the last two years when I've had even mild disagreement with what Kaveh has done, and even then it was only a matter of degree, not the basic assessment of whether something should be done. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Jan 26 '14 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for this answer @Shog9. I feel the reaction against Kaveh is entirely based on the fact that he is doing a lot of the work that is necessary and others for one reason or other have not been able to do. And they are based on the strange mentality that a site with a very specific topic has to be inclusive beyond that topic. $\endgroup$ – Sasho Nikolov Jan 27 '14 at 2:15
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I think that your argumentative attitude sometimes promoted, what you call, "cranks". You were "feeding the trolls" with your constant futile battles. Second, you were also keen on closing questions from new or beginning users, who are not "cranks". Some of these questions were quite interesting and not off-topic. I think this attitude is intimidating not only to the beginners but also to senior researchers, who would not want to risk their reputation by getting involved in such a hostile environment.

I'm not saying you were doing this on purpose. But for some reason you were sticking to auxiliary "rules" in a too-rigid manner which is counter productive in my opinion.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think I have been impolite towards beginners. I almost always explain where their question would be more suitable and it works well. I don't recall any recent example where a beginner user has complained about my attitude. They often thank us for directing them to the more suitable site. Contrary to that they get annoyed when their question is down-voted but no one explains to them what is the problem with the question. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 25 '14 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ The acceptable questions has changed over time, originally questions had to be research oriented, we supported the creation of Computer Science to have a place to send other questions. Recently acceptable has become more or less anything that can be interesting and not on Wikipedia/in undergrad textbooks. I have written in other meta discussions that this is not a good criteria in my opinion, "being interesting" is not objective enough, but for considerable time I haven't unilaterally closed any question that might be slightly possible to be on-topic, I am usually the forth or the fifth close vote. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 25 '14 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see the harm in letting people of various styles, seniority and seriousness level participate in this site. "Crank" posts can be valuable sometimes as long as they are not offensive. The problem I noticed with your attitude is more directed towards beginning users and a tendency to long futile arguments. As a moderator you should be an "enlightened educator" and not a police man, because cstheory is too small as of now to repel people away from this site. I hope that the next moderators would be much more calm and laid back. $\endgroup$ – Dilworth Jan 26 '14 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ Another very alarming attitude is that you sometimes attacked personally users or referred to their perceived capabilities instead of concentrating on the content of their posts. I hope that future moderators know that this is not a legitimate approach. $\endgroup$ – Dilworth Jan 26 '14 at 6:01
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    $\begingroup$ You are entitled to your opinion. As I have written I don't recall any recent case where a new user got offended because of my attitude. In my opinion telling someone he lacks the basic knowledge about a topic is not a personal attack, and as I have explained I think the presence of cranks is harmful for the site. Part of being a moderator is dealing with persistent trouble making users, most of the time informing new users works well, but occasionally it doesn't work and there is a need for a harsher treatment (over the past 3 years I think we had 3-4 such cases). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 26 '14 at 7:02
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it is legitimate to tell someone you don't really know, after reading two or three sentences of his, that he or she lacks anything (or that they don't "have mathematical maturity", or that "they are not experts in some field", etc). Moderator should moderate not judge people. In rare cases, if you think someone doesn't know something specific you can ask him or her politely if they know this and that. But the rule in my opinion should be that no personal remarks what so ever are made by moderators. $\endgroup$ – Dilworth Jan 26 '14 at 7:50
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    $\begingroup$ The examples you give are from cases we had to deal with cranks, not ordinary beginners. I have never told a user because of "two or three sentences" that he lacks mathematical maturity, but if someone lacks mathematical maturity to the degree that he has trouble understanding what is a valid mathematical argument and yet keeps posting his "proofs" for famous open problems and is really incapable of understanding the answers and comments that others give in repeated cases and keeps engaging in long fruitless discussions then IMO it is fine to tell the user what is the problem. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 26 '14 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ You might not be familiar with it but the term "mathematical maturity" is a term officially used in academia for stating the prerequisites for taking 3 and 4 year undergrad theory courses. cstheory is supposed to be a Q&A site for researchers not an elementary undergraduate education site for people who are not even suitable to take 3rd and 4th year undergrad theory courses who believe they have a solution for famous open problems like P vs. NP. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 26 '14 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ It is interesting that you exercise the same faulty behavior even here. You question or insinuates that I'm not familiar with the term "mathematical maturity", you "enlighten" me that this is a term "used in academia", as if you are an authority or a representative of "the academic world", and it seems that it doesn't even occur to you that I'm well familiar with this term and with the academic world. $\endgroup$ – Dilworth Jan 26 '14 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think your issue is my attitude but the scope. You have your views about what the scope should be but it doesn't mean that was/is the scope. As a moderator I have my understanding of what the scope of cstheory is and of course I act based on it (otherwise what I am doing being a moderator?). I didn't close the question, I just commented to express my opinion, and as you saw many users agreed with what I wrote. You disagreed and you are free to do so. Some users may vote to close a question, others may vote to reopen it, and we may discuss on meta what we think the scope should be. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jan 26 '14 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry to budge in. Although I agree that Kaveh was a bit more harsh than necessary in his last comment there, this was only after a very long string of comments where he had to repeat himself over and over again. It is also an isolated example from a huge amount of moderation that Kaveh has done. I understand that this comment looms large in your mind Dilworth, but in my opinion I think you are overgeneralizing Kaveh's behavior from a few slips. I think he has done an great job overall. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 26 '14 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ Let me stress that I'm commenting here not because I enjoy it, but because I wish the next generation of moderators would understand that even slight impoliteness, offending or condescending tone, personal judgments against question's posters etc. is counter-productive and will likely to hurt this site. This sentiment of mine was also expressed (from a different perspective) by other posters, including senior participants, like Noam Nisan and others. $\endgroup$ – Dilworth Jan 27 '14 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ @vzn it doesn't matter how much reputation Dilworth has, he is raising relevant points and Kaveh is responding to him because everybody deserves respect (at least until proven otherwise). I personally don't think this conversation is futile, for instance I learned something very important: as a moderator you have to be extra careful with your words and think carefully about saying personal things even when they might be justified under normal discourse. I support almost every decision I have seen Kaveh make, but I can also see the discomfort this caused Dilworth. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 28 '14 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @vzn I don't think Kaveh behaved inappropriately in his interactions with you. The community has been incredibly accommodating of your participation. People have repeatedly given you feedback and explained to you why your questions and answers perform so poorly on the site, and yet you never seem to take their advice and continue with the same exact behavior. I think that on most other SEs this would be considered disruptive. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 28 '14 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ I've just flagged several of @vzn's comments as not constructive. From personal experience: When you have the urge to post in bold italics all caps...just walk away. Don't dig yourself deeper. $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Feb 3 '14 at 5:01

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