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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. Due to the lack of submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 6 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. Oh, and 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.

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!


Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

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?

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

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

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Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

Yes, I do treat these differently. While SE does not have any policy asking moderators to recuse themselves from situations where they are involved, I feel I should do so whenever I feel that my personal involvement can bias my decision or could be perceived by others as biasing my decision. So when a flag is raised in one of these situations, I decide my course of action based on how I would make my "ruling" on the flag.

If I were inclined to rule against myself, I go ahead with the action. For example, if someone were to flag one of my comments as rude or offensive, I have no problem deleting or editing the comment myself.

However, if I were inclined to rule in my favor, I will leave either leave the flag for one of the other moderators to make a decision (my preference) or get a second opinion from another moderator before making the decision.

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?

Naturally, the first thing to try would be to try to provide feedback/guidance in normal comments. However from the tone of this question, I assume that this was tried and hasn't helped. I also am assuming based on the question that this is not a problem that requires an immediate resolution/action on the part of the moderators.

While every case is different, I would imagine that the best way to address this is for the moderators to send a private message to the user, explaining the problem behaviors, how they are affecting the community, and what can be changed to improve these behaviors. If the problem behaviors continue, further steps may need to be taken, starting with suspension(s).

If the situation warrants it, I would discuss this in the chat room that we have maintained for our site moderators so that we can agree on a course of action and provide a united front. Some situations (personal threats, plagiarism, etc) do not require discussion, so in those cases I would let them know after taking action so again everyone could be on the same page.

Personally, the fact that the user may or may not have contributed valuable content should have no bearing on handling behavior that is harmful to the community.

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

I believe it is important for moderators to maintain the authority of the other moderators. If another moderator has taken an action that I disagree with, generally I will leave it be as the community is to an extent self-correcting for most decisions like this. If I felt strongly about it, I would open a discussion in our site's moderator chat room.

The exception to this would be if I felt the issue was of greater importance than the simple action they have taken, for example if I believed the actions were targeted at a specific user. In this case, if discussing it with them doesn't resolve my concerns, I may take the issue to the Teacher's Lounge for advice or contact SE directly to look into the matter.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

In my mind, the word that best describes moderators at SE is facilitators. Here most of the traditional tasks that a moderator would be responsible for can be addressed the community.

So, what do moderators do? They are the members of the community that have been chosen by the community for a number of purposes:

  1. First and foremost help the community maintain and improve the quality of the community as a whole by upholding the standards they have decided upon.
  2. To be able to take action quickly when necessary. Deleting spam posts are a prime example of this need.
  3. Handle some of the tasks that may not be a good idea to provide to the community at large. I hate to pick on spam (yeah, right), but destroying accounts created just to post spam comes to mind.
  4. Be a neutral party that can make judgements about issues (flags) when members of the community feel they need to be addressed and/or which they may not be able to address themselves.
  5. Provide a point of authority to handle issues with individuals that may be causing problems for the community.

In other words, moderators help facilitate the community as it tries to make itself better.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I would like to say this doesn't make much of a difference to me as I try to be respectful and help strengthen the community whether I am a moderator or not. In general this is true, however since I was asked to be a moderator, I do find myself trying to exercise more restraint when I post responses. Being human, I know I don't always respond well and this is just another check that helps make it less likely that I will regret my response later on.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Actually, in some ways I think it makes me less effective. For example, there are many times I wish I did not have a binding close/reopen vote. For questions that don't fall clearly on one side of the on/off topic line, I feel I often need to refrain from voting to let the community make the decision. I also tend to feel the same way about reopen votes, unless I used my binding vote to close the question and feel it has been edited to address my concerns.

All that said, it does give me additional opportunities to strengthen the community in ways I already detailed above (i.e. what do moderators do).

  • 1
    Re: "In my mind, the word that best describes moderators at SE is facilitators." I'm going to be more blunt; in a word, I'd say the word is janitor :-). Moderators clean up messes. It's often more work than most people would imagine. I'm not leaving this comment to be negative; I'm (hopefully) helping those who may not have been mod yet understand that this job involves substantial work. We do it because we love the community and hope to somehow continue building it into something even better. All that said, thank you for offering to be our janitor again ;-) – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 5:02
  • While I agree it sometimes feels that way, my view of moderators at SE sites is as facilitators. While I agree a lot of what we have done is "janitorial" in nature, my hope is that as the community grows it will take on more of those tasks and moderators are left more to deal with those things that can't be "moderated" by the community. – YLearn Jun 9 '15 at 5:06
  • Mods are facilitators to the degree that they can help point out where posts are unclear and help get them documented. I'd simply point out that after trying very hard, most people just don't respond to requests to document their questions; I wish that were not so. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 5:11
  • Pulling from a couple different definitions of facilitator: someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan how to achieve these objectives or a person responsible for leading or coordinating the work of a group. Like I said, while it feels like most of being a moderator is being a janitor, that is a really just a task that is currently required to facilitate the growth of this community. And again a task that I hope will be increasingly dealt with by the community as it grows and matures. – YLearn Jun 9 '15 at 21:05
  • "the fact that the user may or may not have contributed valuable content should have no bearing on handling behavior that is harmful to the community" Excellent stance. – Ryan Foley Jun 10 '15 at 3:40
2

Here's my set of answers. Just to be clear, I have not read answers by other nominees and the followup yet.

Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

I would treat this differently. There are good reasons to have more than one active moderators here, and in my opinion this is one of them. If possible, I'd let one of the other moderators handle this since there may be a conflict of interests here. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't take notice. I'm not perfect, I don't know everything and for sure I have made and will make mistakes. So I'd take a good look at the flag and try to figure out what the reason was and possibly discuss this with another moderator.

Looking back at things I've done and written and learn from them is something I've always done in my professional carreer and what I'll do if I should become a moderator as well.

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 have a gut feeling what triggered this question :)

This is a tough one, and unfortunately there's no simple, one-size-fits-all solution for this. The trick is to make this person see what problems some of these comments and answers have and what he should do to improve them. This may be harder than it sounds since there can always be differences of opinion on the quality of answers and this person may be unwilling to change. Being able to understand and explain the rules of this stack exchange should be one of the important tasks here.

Since this person obviously has some value to this stack exchange, it would be my goal to try to keep him motivated to stay active in a good way, so I'd try to talk with him while handling the flags.

I know that banning people may be an option, but in my opinion this is something not to be done lightly, especially for people who are posting useful things as well. Should talking, closing posts, flagging and downvoting them not work, I'd talk with the other mods about a way to solve this.

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

Well, the obvious anwers for me is to discuss this with him. Just like I may have good reasons to do one thing, another moderator may have good reasons to do otherwise. By talking to them I may be able to understand this or to convince the other moderator of my point of view.

As a result of this discussion, it can be useful to propose changes on wording of for example what's on topic, to make sure it's unabiguous and these differences of opinion won't have happen again.

But of course it can also be the case that we can't agree. In that case I'd ask the third moderator for his guidance.

I don't really hold grudges and am willing to listen to other people and accept their opinions, so this is not something I think should become a problem.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Hah. I think that's something many people on this site don't really know, me included. Since I considered running for moderator I learned some things about this, but only the current moderators can answer this one correctly. So I'll just answer with what I think they should do. The role moderators on this SE have is the one of facilitators. If this SE runs properly, moderators mostly operate in the background, making this stack exchange a valuable place for everyone.

Obviously, one of the most prominent things moderators do is to implement the guidelines which have been determined by this community on what's on topic and off topic. This is a very important and sometimes quite tricky task, since there are quite a few gray areas between this stack exchange and for example Superuser, Serverfault, Electronics and Security. The importance primarily lies in keeping this stack exchange interesting enough for professional network engineers, without being too unwelcoming to new people. One of the roles of the moderators is to guard this balance, so that both people with questions and people able to answer them use this site.

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I'm aware of that. However, from the start I've chosen to use my own name for this account. So I'm already aware of the fact that everything I post may be linked to me and that this could be used in my professional life, both in a good way and in a bad way.

I understand that the diamond behind my name may have some effects to others. Like a lot of things, this can be used for both good and bad: it can be used to lead by example, but I also understand that anything 'inappropriate' I write and have written may reflect badly on this stack exchange as a whole.

As for what this may do to my reputation (in a positive or negative way), I don't care much about this: I like being active on this SE and helping out.

Lastly, I know that some people may see me differently when I'm marked as being given moderator rights. I think that it's not a bad thing, it can be useful for being approachable for people who have questions about things happening here. However, people may also look up to me because of the 'extra powers'. This is something I don't really like, as far as I'm concerned moderators are just like other people who enjoy helping this stack exchange to run smoothly.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

Being a moderator and being someone who's good at answering many of the questions on this SE are two different things. They may go hand in hand, but they don't have to. Someone can be very good at reviewing questions, answers and flags and it would be a shame to have him have to reach at least 10k reputation, because at this time there aren't that many people who have the knowledge to reach that here given the number of questions asked, how specific these answers are and the number of upvotes on questions and answers.

I think it's a shame to miss out on people who are willing to put time and effort in moderation and who are good at this because of their lack of reputation, and I think this applies to me as well.


Just a few closing remarks: I chose to run as a nominee because this stack exchange deserves enthousiastic, good, active moderators and I because I think people here should have a choice in who is granted the 'powers' of moderation. One thing I've come to realise in the last couple of days is that moderation is something which often happens in the background and which invisible to most 'normal' people. I don't think I know everything there is to know about being moderator, but I'm willing to learn and put the time and effort in it.

1

Ryan Foley

Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

In my opinion, flags against yourself shouldn’t be dealt with by yourself. A moderator is supposed to be fair and impartial at all times; you can never be impartial about a post you wrote. Ranking members of the community always (with some exceptions) write in a manner that they feel are in line with the stack exchanges guidelines. Having a fellow Mod review the situation is the best bet. This also presents a good community image because it relays that someone will deal with the situation with an unbiased view.

No one person should have the final say, especially a community moderator.

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?

Users that fail to conform with the policies of the SE network need firm guidance. I would bounce recommendations off fellow moderators, but if they still can’t abide by the simple rules SE offers, they need to go. I have a much more harsh stance on this and a zero tolerance for alienating repeat members who have valuable, consistent information to circulate.

This stack is small enough for most people to know each other. We also have - in my opinion - some of the strongest sources of knowledge the network engineering field offers. Mudding the waters with rude and/or insulting replies is totally unacceptable. This stack can thrive with, or without the person in question.

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

If the moderator in question cast the last vote, then he didn’t use his moderator powers and is totally fault free. That’s his opinion as a member of this community as well.

If he used his moderator powers to kill it, then a discussion needs to ensue. I would put my best foot forward and try to work it out with all the moderators. This goes back to the first question; I do not believe any single person needs to control what does and does not stay open. That is a community effort.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

There are a few things I believe moderators do.

  • They close apparent off-topic questions. This is the most visible thing they do for the community.

  • The work in Meta to develop to propose and implement new, community driven projects. Such as the default off-topic reasons. Improvement is what keeps things fresh.

  • They enforce the law of the land. Regular users that conform don’t take much upkeep. It’s the small fraction of users that need to be set on the correct path that need attention.

  • They continue to contribute useful content to the parent site. Being a moderator is a big responsibility, but the main objective and what brought us all here is to post useful content that others can use. If elected, I will continue to post useful content (or what I consider useful content).

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I will need to contribute even higher quality content. A lot of new users will indiscriminately up-vote diamond moderator’s posts. That's a big concern. Making sure you provide correct content is paramount.

My previous posts should reflect this same caliber of posts I intend on producing in the future.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

It will give me a bigger voice in the community. Similar to the previous question, community members oftentimes follow (sometimes blindly) moderators. If a moderator contends something, it usually makes it difficult for regular Joes to push new policy. I’d like to change that.

  • 2
    So many misunderstandings above... 1) If you think users blindly upvote moderator's posts, I'm afraid you've got a big surprise coming if you're elected. AFAICT, it's unusual to get votes as the result of your diamond. 2) the focus of "how to you feel about diamonds being attached to your posts" includes your past posts, which will also have diamonds attached to them retroactively. 3) Moderators don't necessarily need to contribute content to the site, in fact as a moderator you have significantly less time to do so. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 3:07
  • 1) If that were the case, then the last question would be largely irrelevant. 2) Thanks for the insight, I totally misunderstood what was being asked. 3) I disagree with this wholeheartedly. I intend on staying an active member of this community. – Ryan Foley Jun 9 '15 at 3:16
  • [cont'd] 4) Please elaborate more on your harsh stance and how you would give firm guidance. Perhaps pick an example problem from the past and how you would have responded. Quite honestly, it bothers me to hear someone saying they have a harsh stance on this, and I hope we have moderators with a "gentle, but firm hand". While I cannot claim to have always had such myself, that is my personal goal, as well as what stack exchange hopes for. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 3:17
  • Finally, this comment about people blindly following ranking members has been echoed by you a few times. This out of all things confuses me most. It seems that you think you aren't somehow included as a ranking member; yet you're well in the top 10% of NESE users by points (currently #12 out of 10,500 users). Further, there seems to be a sentiment that there is something about our established site practices that should be changed. Please elaborate on this issue. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 3:25
  • In your response to point 1) above you mentioned "If that were the case, then the last question would be largely irrelevant." Are you responding to "In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?" If so, this has nothing to do with people upvoting your posts. It has to do with why someone thinks they should be a moderator, and why having moderator powers (such as a binding close vote, or the ability to suspend users) matters to you personally. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 3:31
  • 1
    In your response to point 3) above, you mentioned that you intend to remain active. However, I may not have been clear enough. I'm pointing out that moderation can easily take a couple of hours per week of your time (handling flags, adding comments when people complain, responding to meta questions, etc...). Most of us have limited time due to work / family commitments. We depend on moderators to make flag handling, and community service a high priority, that usually takes away from your time to answer questions. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 3:45
  • 4) For instance, this user, produced so much stolen content from all over the web that it's amazing. And guess what, we didn't even mop it all up. Here's some. And some more. And more... I don't even know how many times I flagged this garbage. At some point, enough is enough, I would have banned him. – Ryan Foley Jun 9 '15 at 4:08
  • Regarding 4). I don't remember flags for the posts above; however, I know that Stack Exchange handled the discipline for this plagiarism. YLearn and I cleaned up quite a bit of the plagiarized content that we knew about. All that needs to be done is cite the source if you're sure that you know it. Unfortunately I no longer can see the history of when he was disciplined. This is all besides the point. Why would you permanently ban someone instead of simply suspending him? SE typically either sends a formal email, or suspends starting with a week and creeping towards 10 year bans. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 4:18
  • You do not do wholesale copying of content, you summarize and provide attribution to relevant portions. What he did - for a lengthy period of time, I should add - was unacceptable by any standard. I'm not purview to any standards in place for moderators, but I would have gone down that road as soon as I discovered what was happening. – Ryan Foley Jun 9 '15 at 4:35
  • Users may copy content (within bounds of copyright law) as long as it is properly attributed. Again, all you have to do is attribute it if you know it's copied from somewhere else. I asked for an example of how you'd take a harsh stance, and we seem to have wound up with (summarizing) "I don't know what moderators should do, and I would have figured it out". That sounds like you're backing away from a "harsh stance"; if so, perhaps you could edit your answer to say you'd consult with the stack exchange moderation community for advice. – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 4:47
  • Finally) People will always follow those in power. Moderators are as high in the local stacks as you can get. Moderators answers hold more weight, and that's the reason behind question #6; "more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?". Further) I, along with a lot of the community, feels there needs to be some change in the way we do business to appeal to the masses. I would suggest we make more of an effort to keep questions open, versus defaulting to "How can I close this?" – Ryan Foley Jun 9 '15 at 5:04
  • How did you conclude that NE's default position is "how can I close this"? Most of the things we close are A) too broad or B) Not on-topic. So... are you suggesting that you'll change what is on-topic, or allow broad questions? – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 5:08
  • 1
    Re: "Some of the highest-voted questions should be too broad". Welcome to Stack Exchange. Popularity does not equal On-Topic. Where should I start? For instance the Hidden features of Python (over 4 thousand people starred as a favorite) – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 5:18
  • 1
    To be frank you really shouldn't have any knowledge about the punishments handed out by moderators to individuals. That is between the moderators, the individual and SE. While I was reading these comments, I wasn't going to point out any actions taken by the moderators because they simply aren't the business of the community at large. – YLearn Jun 9 '15 at 5:43
  • 1
    @Ryan, in general closed questions are deleted after 30 days, if they have no upvoted answers. Closed questions with upvoted (or accepted) answers are not deleted unless the community votes to do so – Mike Pennington Jun 9 '15 at 5:49
1

Sebastian

Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

I would ask my co-moderators to look at it and I would abstain from "moderating" on it except for clear-cut cases like someone posting SPAM answers/comments on a question I've asked. I would however ask the user why they flagged the answer to understand if I could do something better in the future.

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 try to mediate. Talk to them. Some people have great answers but are difficult to argue with. Sometimes they don't even know/realize why others are put off by them. If then there is still a large number of flags/arguments I would delete their comments.

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

Talk to him/her and explain why I think this was the wrong decision. If we still disagree ask the third moderator to look at it and tell us what he thinks. Perhaps this will resolve the situation.

That being said, I would not start an "edit-war" by reversing another moderators decisions unless it is clear that the mod is abusing his powers.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

As I said before, I think the big goal is to create a good environment for people to ask and answer questions. Keep the site clean. That means for example:

  • removing Spam and off-topic content
  • mediate when problems between users arise (to stop off-topic comments, flame-wars)
  • Guiding off-topic users to other sites
  • Go trough the review queues
  • Help new users understand how the site work and how to get around here
  • Help older users remember how the site works ;)
  • Recruit new users

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

I don't know, I never saw the diamond as some sort of "higher rank" or something that shows you in a different light (or makes you a better person?). It shows that the person has a part in keeping the site running and that they are there to help if there is a problem.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

I'm not here to farm reputation. I'm happy to answer questions when I have time but it's a long way to 10k/20k. We need moderators to keep the site running and I'm happy to help.

0

Craig Constantine

preamble: I've kept my answers a short as possible so you can, hopefully, hold them in your mind to get a fair picture. Fire away in comments if you've a nit to pick. Thanks, -craig

Sometimes the situation may arise where someone will raise a flag relating to one of your posts. This may be a flag directly on one of your questions, answers or comments, or it may be a flag on a answer or comment to your previous post. Would you treat this any differently than any other flag? Why or why not? And if so, how?

Handle as we've always done: If the other mods don't handle the flag, before I notice it, then I would mention in chat (there is a private chat room that only the site moderators can use/see) what action I was considering to get a doublecheck from at least one other mod. I've not had a flag raised on my content yet, but the other mods have, and this system has worked well.

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?

We deal with them objectively and on their own merit. Deleting/editing comments when they are not appropriate, directly messaging users when things are egregious. One's contributions to the community do not give you a pass to be inappropriate or discourteous.

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

Generally, I give the other mods a very wide benefit-of-the-doubt. Each mod has limited time, so if they take an action, it's not generally a trivial/flippant click. I'm not going to invest my time second guessing the other mods. On the rare occasion where other mods disagreed with me, we've discussed it in chat.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The mostly thankless janitorial work of keeping the site going. The moderators' charge is to constantly remind the community of what the community itself agreed upon -- "The speed limit is 60, you all agreed to it, so please slow down. If you don't like the speed limit, then do the work of posting in Meta and leading an initiative to change the speed limit."

A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?

Hasn't bothered me so far. I've gotten serial up-votes because of it (which SE rolled back) and I think I've seen some retaliatory down-votes (but nothing of significance.) C'est la vie.

In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?

I'm a long way from 10/20k. I'll either continue doing janitorial work in my available/spare time, or I'll settle back into my comfy Pro Tem retirement.

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