1) What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?
I think the moderation of the site has been good, even accounting for C. Ross admittedly being less active of late than he would have liked. Our comments are on-point and don't devolve into meandering tangents; our open questions are high-quality; and our meta discussion robust.
At some points in the past I've felt that marginal answers had been deleted too quickly; as a moderator I might look at adjusting that. On the other hand, I feel that there are answers that are obviously the poster mistaking us for a forum that get a pass for kinda looking like frame challenges, and I feel that such forum-reply non-answers should be deleted more frequently than they have been. But I'm detail-oriented, and overall these preferences would amount to minor tweaks rather than significant changes in practice, especially since mods do have to roughly agree on how to approach such things.
2) As a moderator, how would you respond to learning that a user, or group of users, feels unfairly treated by another moderator? What steps would you take to learn their complaints, validate them, and what would you do with them if you felt they were valid or invalid, respectively?
Part of the point of having multiple moderators is to share the load of administrative tasks. Part of it though, is to balance each other.
As a mod in that situation, the best I could do is listen. I can't promise action or resolution, as a problem between a user and a different mod is ultimately outside a mod's direct power. But I can hear, and make up my own mind, and let that inform my own actions and what I advocate for publicly and privately.
3) We have a problem here, occasionally, when a new user will ask a question that doesn't quite fit our format, and thus gets put on hold very quickly. This often leads to the new user feeling unfairly targeted and leaving the stack soon after. As a mod, what would you do to help improve these new user's questions while still encouraging them to stay on the site?
I'm going to give the unpopular answer here: not all new users are a good fit for the site, and losing them is an intended design feature of SE.
I know. That's hard to swallow. But it's the first passive defense we have against the ravening hordes beyond the walls, out in the wild internets.
When a new user asks a question that doesn't fit the site, we already know that they didn't read the prominent banner, click through to the tour, or read the how-to-ask advice hugging the question-submission box before posting. That doesn't mean they're going to be a poor fit, but we do know that one way of becoming a well-fitting user didn't reach them.
When a new user gets feedback on their question, they can either respond well or poorly. Some of them will be on the fence, responding poorly to poor feedback and well to good feedback, but the ones not on the fence are already decided: poor and good fits, in a kind of Schrödinger's Box with an unknown user inside. How they respond to our feedback tells us something about whether they're likely to be a good fit for the site or not.
Fortunately, we don't have to be their judge and jury — by design, someone who doesn't like getting feedback that their question has problems will often (but not always) remove themselves from the site for us! That's wonderful. They're hopefully going somewhere else that will suit them better, so that they won't waste their time being frustrated with a site that doesn't suit them.
Those that do respond well are jewels to be treasured, but again — we have to do nothing to keep them, as they see they fit and do the job for us.
We have some small amount of control over what the fence-sitters do. The more inviting our feedback is, the more likely their potential response will resolve into a positive one, and then they're functionally indistinguishable from a user who started out as a clear good fit.
So, that's my probably-unpopular answer: greet them warmly, correct them firmly but gently, and then let this first layer of the SE's filters do its job to identify fitting new users. And ultimately, this is a community job rather than a mod job, so I can only try to lead by example.
4) What presence, if any, do you have, or would plan to have if you became a moderator, on the main Meta? Would you be willing and able to help RPG push for things there?
I am slightly active on Meta.SE currently, with a few questions and answers. I regularly dig through it to find answers to questions I have about SE operations. Featured posts always get my attention, and I tend to also check in occasionally to see if anything interesting is happening, but not nearly enough to have the pulse of the network.
I don't plan to increase the amount of time I spend there just checking in. However, I'll probably see more of it in passing regardless: as a mod I expect issues would crop up more often that I would want to bring to Meta.SE, and I would have more procedural or system questions to research than I do now.
5) 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?
If the pattern is an outlier for the site, I'd bring it to the rest of the moderation team and we'd discuss whether and what to do. That is of course assuming that just dealing with the flags has been insufficient to change the pattern.
The easiest remedy would be asking them into a private chat with the mods, to ask them to re-evaluate their posting/commenting style. The advantage of this approach is that getting official mod attention conveys some of the gravity of the problem, while the type of forum provided by chat allows for a nuanced approach to figuring out the issue and problem-solving cooperatively.
6) How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been? What about if another moderator reopens/undeletes a question that you think should've stayed closed/deleted?
The moderation team is a team first, otherwise the site suffers; but I also expect significant disagreements of this sort to be rare. At most it would get discussed behind closed doors, and likely the community wouldn't see anything noteworthy happen. If overt action had to be taken as a result of those discussions, it would be a joint decision presented without fanfare.
Most of the time discussion probably wouldn't even be necessary, since the community's own voting powers are often enough to resolve the issue.
7) Sometimes, we end up with multiple mid-to-high rep users arguing over a question, or a meta policy, or something else that happened on the site. These arguments can often range all over the site: from meta posts, to chat, to the main site. As a mod, what would you do to defuse arguments among users in good standing?
Arguments happen, and frankly it's on the users to conduct themselves with integrity and resolve their differences, and on them if they fail. (Speaking from experience.) The only ways in which it's a mod's job to intervene is where it is affecting the operation of the site (which includes effects on the site due to annoyed bystanding users).
Then, the usual firefighting toolkit is effective, from mundane to emergency measures:
- removing inflammatory comments removes the fuel
- directing disputes over procedure to meta may turn it productive
- shunting in-chat arguments that drown a chat room into a separate room reduces collateral damage
- private mods' chat discussion with the users involved, separately or together, may resolve the issue
- mod messages telling the belligerents to knock it off can serve as a wake-up call
- timed suspensions, as a penultimate resort, provide users space to think and give the site a reprieve from significant strife
- the last resort of permanent suspensions save the site from the incurable and cut them loose to find a new niche
Somewhere in that list of escalating responses, users of high standing will step to a personal brink and decide it's indeed time to step back. Anyone of high standing who doesn't eventually check themselves is, unfortunately, someone who has self-selected to stop contributing constructively to the site. I hope I never see it get to that point.
(These things are subject to being schooled in Moderation Best Practices, of course. But these are my untutored instincts.)
8) What do you want the community at large to do to help you when you're a moderator? What in particular would you encourage us to keep doing, and what would you like us to do differently?
Flag more clearly-obsolete comments as obsolete! Cleaning up comments is easier (and less controversial) when the community is taking part in deciding what needs to go. We have a very active community and years of comments have piled up that have long since done their job and been forgotten. When you're reading through an old question, consider the comments and flag any whose business is done. Flagging makes work for mods and I know that makes some of us hesitate to send those flags, but handling flags is easier than going looking for old comments manually, and gives us a less-noisy site.
Welcome new users and help them learn how to become good users. We're pretty good at that, and I think it's something to encourage. Welcoming gives the site a friendly face, in general. And when it's someone who might be making a mistake, thinking in terms of welcoming them makes it easier to word advice so that it's more likely to be welcomed in turn and acted on.
9) What, in your view, is the role of a moderator as opposed to the role of an active, high-rep user? Why would you being a moderator make this site better than you being an active, high-rep user who can lead by example?
I see the mod team as guides and leaders. Mods also have the responsibility of seeing the site from a high-level, operational view that users are often free to ignore while they advocate for specific questions or issues. There's a bit of a tension there — I think mods should be guiding the community toward better self-moderation, but also need to speak up for those larger operational issues; mods have to see both forest and trees.
So, I rather like the official analogy of mods as human exception-handlers: where the normal community process doesn't work, mods step in to take necessary action. Otherwise, they are just one (slightly louder) voice in the community.
Honestly, I don't think the site will be markedly better with me as a moderator than as a high-rep user. Someone needs to do the job, and I'm willing, but someone else would do it if I don't. I'm well-positioned in terms of time, energy, and willingness for the responsibilities of a moderator though, and few of our high-rep users do want the responsibility — so that's the most significant distinction, for me, between staying a high-rep user and becoming a mod. (Although I am really looking forward to being able to kill spam on sight.)
10) How will you, as a moderator, react to community consensus that you disagree with? How will you, as a moderator, handle issues on which the community has failed to reach consensus, particularly when you personally favor one particular side in the debate?
For starters, there are always at least three moderators, and though the Team might aim to present itself as a unified body, opinions behind closed doors won't always be in accordance. So, my own reaction to community consensus that I disagree with is only a small part of the relevant story. Mods are there in part to balance each other, and I expect I will be balanced as much as I balance others.
If the whole mod team strongly disagreed with an emerged community consensus, I think that would be something of a crisis for the community. I think such an even is unlikely though, and no logjam like that can last forever anyway: either the reasons for acting contrary will become better understood and the consensus will shift, or a "third way" option will come out of some clever user's brain and give us a way to resolve the crisis. We're RPGers: we're creative and good at imagining new possibilities.
What to do about a failed consensus is fairly straightforward: since the status quo is unchanged, there is normally nothing for the mods to do. Cases where something clearly must be done are the exception — but exception-handling is a mod's job in the first place and it's unlikely that such exceptional issues wouldn't be dealt with before they got to meta. In the cases where quick mod action results in the community forming a consensus of dismay, that's a conversation to have after the fact, to see what can be changed for the better now and what can be done better next time.