(1) How would you deal with a controversial question based on an incorrect biological presupposition? (inspired by this question on Meta)
A good question based on an incorrect presupposition constitutes one of the best opportunities to write a fine answer, because one can explain what is wrong, and explain what the real question is and answer it. However, when the question is controversial and leads to dispute and debate, mod intervention may be needed to end it. The mod can comment to indicate that the discussion is fueled by a faulty presupposition. If this does not lead to clarification by OP and the debate rages on, the question can be mod-closed based on “unclear what you are asking”, if not done so already by the commmunity.
(2) 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 start with placing a comment under the answers that generated most controversy. If that doesn’t help, I would invite the user into chat and talk it out. I would stress the value of the answers, but point to the shortcomings. Often, the user should be urged to base answers on primary literature, as most comments and flags are generated from answers based on opinion, or unsupported/anecdotal evidence. Also, pointing the user to linked good answers may help as well. If all is in vain the mod may need to start deleting answers to urge the user to improve the quality, and ultimately email contact may be needed.
(3) How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Place a comment and go to the chatroom and work it out.
(4) What skills do you have that would make you a good moderator, independent of your knowledge of biology?
I am patient in general, forgiving to newcomers, yet critical to established users. I have a PhD and I am a parent, so I have proven I can handle complex situations of all sorts and deal with people in a wide age range under many different circumstances.
(5) Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?
I haven’t had a previous position as a mod. However, I do know what I find the most challenging situations so far at Biology.SE. First, there are users that generate many well-researched questions, but they are simply unintelligible, or too specific. Although they may meet most criteria, these questions often stay unanswered without intervention. The other challenge are users that generate well-written, well-researched answers that touch on the question, but do not answer them. Converting them to a comment is impossible due to their length, closing them based on ‘not an answer’ is not justified, as it touches on the question. However, leaving it in place basically deters other users from answering or results in clutter and controversy.
(6) There has been a fair amount of discussion relating to our policy on "homework" questions and those with little/no independent effort. (1, 2). What do you think the best course of action should be for Biology SE regarding these related but separate issues?
The homework close reason is used as a tool to close poorly researched questions. In fact, few questions closed as homework are homework. I think the homework close reason should be used only for homework. A new reason could be generated such as poorly researched. I see many active users being frustrated by questions that can be answered by copy-pasting the question in Google – the dreaded lmgtfy questions. A lmgtfy close reason would be justified in addition to the homework reason, keeping the homework closure for those cases where it is dead-obvious they want you to do their homework. Lastly, trivial questions, e.g. “Why do we have two hands?”, are not homework either. No professor will be stupid enough to ask that as an assignment. Closing it as homework feels almost like an insult to our site, because it makes us look unprofessional. Instead, a trivia close reason is justified.
(7) What would you do in your position as moderator, to correct and encourage more quality questions, and do you think downvoting can be a good way to achieve these goals?
Many questions hold potential, but do not find fertile ground because of language barriers, jargon conflicts, not knowing the site's rules, poor knowledge of Biology and so on. In these cases, I as a mod would try to edit the questions and place comments. The downvotes should not come from me, the community will handle that. In case of lazy ‘please-do-my-homework’ questions downvoting will not help too much either, because those folks don’t care anyway– those questions should be closed, preferably by the community through voting. In case of potentially interesting questions, but that needs polishing, downvoting is a great way to urge people to improve their question, but only with a decent comment accompanying it.
(8) Considering that biology is such a vast field, and most questions are from non biologists, Would you prefer to close a question if it appears too broad, or would you rather let the question ferment, and let the community edit and/or vote to close the question?
Broad questions can be commented upon. If not edited, the community has proven to do an excellent job in keeping the site clean of poorly defined questions without the need of mod interventions.
(9) In your opinion, what do moderators do?
Apart from generating great answers and asking good questions, a mod should be mostly invisible when it comes to moderating the site. The community can handle 99.9% of the issues by voting. A mod should not start discussions- a mod should only end them when they escalate. A mod should not mod-close marginal questions, only close those that are outright offensive, rude or truly deliberately nonsensical.
An area where mods can be actively participating is to guide new users. For example by attempting to rescue questions by making careful edits and placing comments quick and promptly. Many questions, especially those by newbies hold great potential, but they just need some help. Rescuing a question from closure prevents scaring off new users away. Placing a comment after edits to explain what you did helps them to use the site better in the future. This site is built on questions. We should cherish those questions. In my opinion, formulating good questions is where the challenge is - answering it is the easy part.
(10) In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
My view is that newbies or folks from other disciplines deserve guidance. A substantial part of the questions that are being closed could have survived as valuable posts with a little attention. This view has been countered with skepticism now and then. Indeed, I have received the verdict of being too gentle and of spoon-feeding users. As a mod, I hope this view may not have to be defended anymore. My views can always be put to the test and modified, but it should be respected with a diamond added.