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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 submission count, we have selected all provided questions as well as our back up questions for a total of 8 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.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, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

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!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):

  1. L.B.

  2. S Pr

  3. TanMath

  4. theforestecologist

  5. Bryan Krause

  6. De Novo


  1. Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

  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?

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

  4. Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

  5. Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

  6. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

  7. 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?

  8. 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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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Grace for initiating this election. Much appreciated. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 18 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I just want to make sure I understand... I should copy and paste that part into an answer here? $\endgroup$ – L.B. Feb 19 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ @L.B. check out the 2017 questionnaire for examples of how this was done. I hope this helps :) $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 19 at 15:42
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Bryan Krause

  1. Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

Ideally, this shouldn't ever be necessary because the community should be closing by themselves. However, many of us who spend time here know that doesn't always happen on Bio.SE simply because the number of people contributing to community moderation is too low. Moderators should monitor the dynamics of the community moderation and respond accordingly, being more aggressive when community moderation is low, and backing off when it is sufficient. I think this will help some of the long-term users who have been a bit turned off by the quality here to return and therefore contribute to community moderation.

Moderators should use their diamond to close the questions that are extremely unlikely to be salvageable, and should be more free to use that power as questions accumulate close votes. There's no reason in my opinion to let obviously poor questions linger with 2-3 close votes.

Moderators should use their diamond to close the questions that actively harm the quality of Bio.SE, such as zero-effort homework questions (i.e., screenshot from their exam, question is "Is it A B C or D?") and personal medical advice questions. These questions tend to attract poor answers from transient users which encourages similar questions in the future.

Moderators should avoid using the hammer where they see a likelihood for controversy or disagreement with the close reason, especially in borderline cases outside their area of expertise, since in my experience with the community those are usually the places where the community itself disagrees with closing.

  1. 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?

Once a polite notice to the user about their impact is not effective, I think these situations need to be handled with a discussion among the mod staff , and on a case-by-case basis. The nature of the flags is going to be key to my own assessment: chattiness in the comments isn't much reason to sanction an otherwise productive user. Personal attacks or comments that cross serious lines into bigotry or harassment have no place in our community, regardless of other contributions.

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

Because I expect other moderators to be similarly judicious in their use of these powers, I think these situations need to be discussed between the moderators before they are reversed. In my view, the moderators are together maintaining an agreed standard of quality, rather than maintaining their own personal standards. If there is disagreement, then the solution is to establish what the actual standards of quality are, either through discussions among the mod staff or querying the community's position on Meta; an edit war between moderators would be far worse for the community than the fate of a single question.

  1. Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

Only for communities in which I was more of an "owner" than moderator. In those situations, the challenging aspects were always balancing the differing needs of different users which often came in conflict. I always tried to make sure people were heard and were able to make their case to me, even if I ended up disagreeing with them and not acting in their favor. The most challenging cases were situations where the needs of the community had to be balanced against a single individual, in particular when an individual who got a lot of joy from the community nonetheless had to be removed because of their impacts on other people's enjoyment.

  1. Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

People here often want to be helpful, and therefore end up answering questions that they should not. I think it's bad pedagogy to hand out answers to some of these questions. In the past, for questions that have no effort behind them I have always voted immediately to close, but for those that can possibly be salvaged I have also tried to help the asker in the comments to get to the answer on their own or to formulate a better question. As a moderator, I would continue this policy, closing questions that are poor for the community, but also taking special care to monitor whether these questions can be reopened after edits. The hammer goes both ways.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators support the goals of the community. Moderators don't own or dictate to the community, they are ambassadors elected from the community to itself. Most of the actual day-to-day work they do is janitorial: mostly underappreciated when done well, but also a vitally important part of the infrastructure of the community and strongly missed when absent.

  1. 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?

As I've discussed in chat, I think I need to revise some of my commenting behavior going forward: to avoid back-and-forth arguments, to not call out certain users that I disagree with, etc. I'm very aware of the extra weight the diamond holds. That said, I also stand by anything I've written here, my name is on it, please look through my history of activity.

  1. 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 think the roles of a moderator and a high rep user are different, such that it doesn't make much sense to compare their 'effectiveness.'

I don't know that I will actually be more effective as a moderator than as a community member voting, contributing, and flagging, but the moderator roles here should be filled by members of the community that understand the community and can help in service.

If I remain a normal user rather than a moderator after this election, I'll continue to contribute in all the ways a high-rep user can. If I take a moderator position, my goal will be to help the other moderators share the effort so that no individual person feels like they have to carry the weight of the entire stack.

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    $\begingroup$ Awesome you decided to nominate! $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 23 at 20:11
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theforestecologist

  1. Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

Traditionally, I've been very opposed to this action and to much of the close-vote activity across SE sites (see #1 here), and I have even flagged instances where I thought close-hammering was done in an inappropriate manner.

I do believe that this action is absolutely necessary for spam, garbage, troll, etc posts that will never have a chance of being useful or voted positively upon. However, a number of posts that are valid biological questions/answers with little or no effort put into their length, detail, prior research, cited support etc. are a much broader and more common post type that need to be managed in order to preserve site quality. In these instances, I believe the default should be a hands-off approach by the mods: no close-hammering. Let the community decide amongst themselves.

However, as site quality has declined, expert users have walked away, and community moderation has dried up (or at least diminished below sustainable levels), I believe that mods in the short term future must begin using the close-hammer with greater frequency. I think such actions should be limited to posts with tags in which the mod has regular or outstanding usage/involvement. If community moderation efforts return to sustainable levels, then I believe the mods should absolutely back-off of close-hammer usage.

In all instances, the mod should include a comment indicating to the OP why the close-vote occurred.

See my comments under question #5 for further discussion...

  1. 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 talk directly with the problem user and explain to them that yes, they are a valuable resource/user in our community, but they need to remember this site's model: "Be nice."

  • "Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do."

More specifically, I would explain to the user that we have received multiple complaints/flags regarding their comments and that they need to change their behavior. I would inform them that they will likely be somewhat more heavily scrutinized by the mods, and that if they fail to be nice, they risk having their account suspended.

  • Mind you, suspension is a last resort. I assume that most high-rep users "get it" and would heed any warnings they were given. Regardless, if a user failed to change their behavior, I would think that a brief discussion would occur among 2+ mods to discuss the user, the user would be warned an additional time, and failure to adhere to our model following that warning would unfortunately have to result in "disciplinary" action such as a suspension.
  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

I would first ping that mod to have a brief discussion about why he/she believed it should be closed and about why I believed it should not have been. If we cannot come to agreement, I would respectfully suggest that community input should be sought, and I would post to Meta discussing my argument for reopening.

  • My argument would likely provide some major points made by the other mod if they are pertinent to the discussion, but overall the meta post would have no reference to mod "disagreement" and would stand on it's own as a community discussion on that specific question and/or closing topic.
  1. Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

I have not. But I perform a number of community moderation tasks here on Bio.Se already, so I am somewhat familiar with these processes. The most challenging aspect is finding the time to consistently provide helpful feedback to community members whose posts are flagged, commented-on or closed. Ideally, each action would be associated with a quick comment so that the affected user(s) can learn from the experience. Due to high traffic at times, sometimes these comments get skipped. This is likely one of the reasons this election is for two new mods -- so that 4 mods can share this task more effectively.

  1. Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

My approach as a regular community user has been to leave comments as often as possible to give the OP a chance to know why their post is receiving close votes. I will continue to do this if elected.

As for unilaterally closing vs tolerating:

Ideally, the role of the community as a whole is to manage the quality of posts on Bio.Se through up/down voting and voting to close. This approach (i.e., not close-hammering and letting the community "decide") would always be my default since that is part of the underlying structure of SE communities. However, I can recognize along with current moderators and other long-time members on this SE site that the quality of posts has been declining for over a year, experienced users are being driven away, and the remaining community members are not actively (or appropriately) managing posts. To avoid further degradation of the quality of this site (and to avoid scaring away the remaining so-called experts), I believe moderators must increase their close-hammer usage in the short term. If 50+ VTC questions pile up and 24 hours goes by with no community moderation efforts, that's a time for mods to step in and clean up. If the community begins actively managing bad posts, then the mods can step back and let it happen as it was intended.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Moderators essentially play the role of any high-rep user, except they are expected (vs. simply encouraged) to perform moderation and review duties. In addition, they keep the site functioning "smoothly." This includes maintenance actions (e.g., tag synonyms/merges), deleting/regulating spam posts, deleting low-quality closed posts, intervening with problem users (e.g., warnings, suspensions, deletions), migrating questions as appropriate, etc. I also feel that mods should be active on Meta -- both through support tags as well as through community discussion (see below). Importantly, I believe moderators should be very active, and I think at least daily visits from moderators are expected.

Although I don't think it's an absolute responsibility of moderators, I think that moderators could and should play a role in encouraging conversation and consensus: whether this be through meta posts, responses to meta posts, chat, etc. I don't think that mods should necessarily employ any binding power in these instances, but rather use their diamond status as an indication that a voted (and well-respected) user finds a certain topic to be pertinent for discussion.

  1. 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 feel that mods should exemplify "model" user behavior and etiquette. I feel confident that I've tried to approach my interactions on this site in a fair, objective, thorough and friendly manner* since I started here (mostly as a result of being poorly treated by high-rep users when I originally join(ed) a number of other SE sites). So I think that I've tried (and will continue to strive) to act in accordance with this expectation regardless of my status. As a result, I feel perfectly fine with the diamond after my name. I would hope that the diamond would help put a bit more spotlight on my approach/behavior for others to use as example.

*Disclaimer: like everyone, I've not been perfect in this regard, but I do regularly try to exemplify "be nice"/constructive behavior and provide "model" (i.e., well thought out and well-cited) answers :)

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

Well, I tend to answer questions with somewhat less popular tags and my answers are usually well thought out and heavily cited. As a result, I gain rep fairly slowly and likely will not reach 20+k rep for a couple more years. Becoming a moderator will allow me to access the full suite of mod tools sooner so that I can better perform tasks such as site "clean-up."

I would feel an obligation to spend more time moderating/reviewing than I already do, and a mod position will likely make me even more active on the site.

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  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I'm really glad to see you nominated after all. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 23 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I am concerned about your attititude to close votes. The Tour is quite clear who the site is for — "biology researchers, academics, and students" — and the Help on asking questions explains what is on topic, how to ask a good question, and what sort of questions to avoid asking. The obvious reason for this is that if the site is flooded with poor questions, biology researchers, academics, and students will shun it and the quality will fall. My question to you is, as a moderator, would you follow the SE Biology agenda or your own? $\endgroup$ – David Feb 25 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @David I would certainly err on the side of following the typical SE guidelines, as I have done in my normal close voting practices. In fact, I vote to keep open just as many if not more questions that have already received close-votes than those I vote to close. (See my link in my first answer for further thoughts). However, I recognize from multiple discussions with high-rep users and other mods that site quality has tanked and true "experts" have walked away. In some way, we must turn the quality of this community's posts around to remain sustainable. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 25 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ I won't act on my own agenda, but I would begin to discuss this topic ad nauseam via chat and on meta. Other stacks (SO and CV come to mind) are already much stricter and more adequately moderated to remove low quality posts and to stick with community goals. In the absence of users in the community performing such tasks, something must be done. If the moderator team and other high-rep or long-time users agree to it, then I certainly believe now is the time to use close-voting a little more liberally (though appropriately under our help statement) until quality or moderation effort improves $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 25 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ That being said, the close-voting must be constrained to obviously bad posts that don't follow our guidelines or to other agreed upon scenarios. E.g., perhaps the mod team decides that avoiding closing questions with only 2-3 close votes is no longer an issue if we truly believe the question to be worthy of closing. I think use of the close-hammer (with always 1 or more other existing VTCs) should be limited to only tags in which the mod has a lot of experience. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 25 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ In conclusion: it's not to drastically change our approach, but rather not to avoid voting in a broader range of instances until site quality improves and community moderation picks back up. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 25 at 21:54
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De Novo

  1. Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

Generally, it is the community's responsibility to vote on questions, and that includes close votes. With an active set of 3000+ rep users, a moderator can downvote, comment, and edit questions instead of using their unilateral close vote. However, this community has gone through periods of time with more or less review activity from 3,000+ rep users. There are some circumstances where a moderator's close is helpful.

  • No community close votes:

If I thought a question should be closed, but it had no prior close votes, I would downvote and comment on how the question could be improved. Clearly rude or abusive questions and clear spam would be an exception to this rule, and would get a close hammer.

  • Some community close votes:

If the close queue was backed up, I would use the close hammer for questions with some community close votes that were clearly not salvageable or had sat for a while without being edited to address problems. In either circumstance, there would have to be some community close votes and it would have to be obvious that the question should be closed and the issue was not enough close vote reviewers, rather than a borderline question.

  • 4 community close votes:

Here the close hammer is no more powerful than a community vote, and I would vote to close based on my opinion as a community member.

  • Revisiting these rules:

If the quality of questions starts to deteriorate and I thought moderators should be more aggressive with the close hammer, I would first post in meta to look for consensus on the situation.

  1. 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 follow the recommendations for moderating comments regardless of the reputation of the commenter.

In terms of public actions, the content is what is important here, not the user. The user's history does open up an opportunity to discuss any problematic behavior (in a chat) in the context of the history of positive contributions the user has made. This could help me, as a moderator, learn more about what is going on with the user, perhaps give the user a chance to vent, and gently redirect whatever is causing the problems.

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

I would discuss it with them in chat, possibly bringing in other moderators for consensus. As a new moderator, I wouldn't see my role as overturning other more experienced moderators.

  1. Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

I have never been a moderator in an online community, though I have fulfilled administrative roles at various points in my career. The most challenging aspect involved actions where my personal interest conflicted with the joint interests. The solution was to remind myself that my role was to represent a group, not to advocate for myself. This was actually quite freeing. I could see a similar conflict here, for example, if the community decided to explicitly make medical questions off topic here and migrate them all to MedicalSciences.SE. I would be disappointed, since I personally feel medicine is a subset of biology, but would remind myself that I was a moderator, and my role wasn't to decide policy, but to apply it.

  1. Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

This is largely addressed in the first question about when to use a close hammer. Generally, I would downvote and comment with constructive criticism about how to improve the question, allowing the community to vote to close. These typically don't require a close hammer. If our 3000+ rep users were less active for a period, I'd consider closing as the 3rd or 4th vote, given a backed up close queue. If the community was no longer adequately handling the queue on a regular basis, I'd post to meta and get community consensus on whether mods should start using the close hammer on these questions.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A lot of grunt work :) I understand the day to do is primarily handling flags. The overarching task, though, is to act on behalf of the community to ensure this site continues to be a high quality, useful source for questions and answers about biology. The key phrase there is "on behalf of the community". I would expect most of what moderators do to be behind the scenes, but there is a key aspect that involves communicating with the community and its members, whether through meta posts, explanatory comments, and at times direct communication with specific users. If you're acting on behalf of the community, you need to be transparent and accountable.

  1. 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 have no concerns here :)

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

Mostly, this moves review tasks from being something I do occasionally to being something I've promised I'd do for a large group of people that I value. But that's not the point. Being a moderator isn't how much more effective I will be; it's about acting on behalf of the community.

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Here are my responses:

Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

Obviously, troll posts/spam/questions with severe content problems. I think that if there are some questions that are obviously homework questions with no attempt at solution or are unclear (based on the Homework Policy), it should be acceptable for a moderator to close without letting the community decide.

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 want Biology.SE to be an open community for all. I would try to discuss with the user in the comments, but hopefully in a chatroom to determine the problem at hand. If the situation is not resolved, I would suspend the user for a given amount of time depending on the situation.

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

I would discuss with the other moderator, and try to view the situation from a different point of view. If I am still not convinced, I will vote to reopen the question.

Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

Unfortunately, no. However, I frequent visit the review queues for this website, and therefore "moderate" this website as a privileged user.

Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

I have asked many homework questions on Biology.SE, and so I know its importance as a homework site. But, if the user shows no attempt at the question, or is asking a question that is quite broad, I will not tolerate such a question.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

My opinion on what moderators do is based on this post. I think that moderators are meant to deal with the special cases that the regular moderation by privileged users cannot deal with. This would be if there are disputes/arguments regarding questions being closed/deleted/reopened, or when there are users posting spam/abusive content. In that regard, I definitely think that there is a more human element to being a community moderator.

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 fine with 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?

I think this again has to do with the fact that moderators deal with the special cases that regular community members do not deal with. As a moderator, I would be able to keep peace in the community by utilizing tools that one does not have as a privileged user: close hammer, dealing with flags, etc.

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I'm L.B. (aka Leah B.)!

  1. Under what circumstances (if any) should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without letting the community decide via voting? (I.e., Under what circumstances (if any) should a mod use the close hammer?)

I would use this privilege if it were an obviously spam or abusive question.

  1. 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 suppose this would depend on the situation. If the user is being flagged repeatedly for abusive content, then I would try to explain the situation and if that didn't work then I believe they would have to be removed or something of the like. However, if it appeared they were being flagged or argued with for rather petty things, I would try to intervene, explain the situation to both parties if I felt there was a misunderstanding and leave it at that for the time being.

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

I would ask the moderator what their reasoning behind it was - perhaps I missed something. If they pointed out something that could be fixed with an edit or if I felt it could be reopened, I would consider voting to reopen it (with needed edits and such).

  1. Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

I have not previously held a moderator position here on S.E.. However, I was a moderator for a page on Google Plus and I am admin of a caregiving group on Facebook. The most challenging issues I have had on those sites has been trying to determine if certain posts or users were spam or legitimate. While I always make an effort to be fair, there are times where I have had no issue removing a user from a group or reporting it to the platform (Facebook etc) for removal.

  1. Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because of my background, but here goes... If it is obvious the question is just fishing for someone to do their work for them, then it's definitely getting closed. However, we do need to be aware of the existence of students like myself whose homework questions stemmed from being homeschooled and not having the answers to the questions we had. What I am trying to say is I had questions of my own closed because they had the homework tag on them and I wasn't asking them to have my work done for me but rather because it wasn't a question that anyone else in my family had an answer to and the teacher's manual for the textbook wasn't helping. This would definitely have to be on a case-by-case basis and based on if the user has tried to do their own research already and what their school background is.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Short answer... The job of a moderator is to keep the peace and keep things clean. Slightly longer answer is that moderators exist to help keep comments and posts free of arguments/fighting and close/delete (whichever is applicable) questions that don't meet guidelines and cannot be edited to (things such as spam, abusive posts and so on).

  1. 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 okay with this... Short answer, I know, but it's all good.

  1. 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 believe it would make me more effective at least in some aspects because it is an elected position. If I am voted in as a moderator, it is because several someones felt that I deserve to be able to have the privileges of a moderator. Someone who has 10k or 20k in reputation doesn't automatically make them a good moderator or a good fit to be closing questions, deleting them etc. Having a high reputation simply means they have asked a lot of questions and answered a lot of questions. As a moderator, your job is to be fair, having high reputation doesn't make you fair, just probably means you're really smart.

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    $\begingroup$ I just have one more question: can you give enough time on a regular basis for the site for the exclusive mod duties (address general issues, handle flags, etc)? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 21 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I typically have a fair amount of time throughout the day during the workweek. I have less time in the evenings and on weekends - not to say I have no time, just a bit less. $\endgroup$ – L.B. Feb 21 at 17:47
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Here goes:

Under what circumstances should a moderator close a question with too few close votes without a community vote?

Common sense serves well for extreme scenarios. If unsure, leave it for public scrutiny.

How would you deal with a user who produces a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate many arguments/flags from comments?

The comment section ought to serve as an addendum or footnote to valuable answers, a place to indicate lack of consensus, or serve future readers in an insightful way (think 10 years from now). Valuable answers are a priority. The fact that someone is argumentative or disagreeable is a virtue of open-source scientific discourse. I trust the average person is capable enough to ignore aimless argument. The rest is constructive; if not for me, perhaps it may be for others.

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

Work it out in chat with a third party mod and/or vote to reopen. If mods disagree, chances are the decision ought to be reversed. I've experienced reckless mods online; valuable mods tend to err on the benign side.

Have you previously held a moderator-like position for another community, and if so, what aspect did you find most challenging?

Several in real life; in all honesty they would be difficult to detail here. Online I have moderated forums at university and currently I moderate a Facebook group for local semi-professional musicians. It's not much work though!

Here's a candid aside I can't help but share: I'd say moderating isn't challenging. In a heartfelt way, I think one's climbing up the wrong tree if one finds it challenging. Things to watch out for, however, are carelessness, being inconsiderate (hello solipsism!), not being quick to learn from mistakes, and also not working together with other mods in a constructive fashion. It's unfair to challenging jobs and an affront to the word challenging. /rant

Biology experiences a large volume of poor homework questions. As a moderator, how would you deal with this sort of question? How much would you unilaterally close, and how much would you tolerate?

Poor homework questions fall into two categories: poorly worded/phrased, and those that are blatant educational shortcuts. Those that are not cheap shortcuts require attention, because a misguided student awaits a response on the other end. Can the poor question be addressed helpfully by providing a study resource? A knowledgeable explanation provided as to why the question asked is not profitable? A hint or clue to inspire a train of thought? I recall well in my past learning about concepts in biology that really stumped me, and it took wiggling to learn, as opposed to clicking into place.

In your opinion, what do moderators do?

A mod is someone who keeps the site presentable in ways that will remain useful for future browsing and users seeking help. Explanations accumulate here, and a mod ought to take efforts to keep the library orderly. A mod should be a person informed about biology, with tendencies or skills in pedagogy, who can meaningfully respond to community-raised issues or suggestions.

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

"seen under a different light"

"diamond attached"

There's an optical phenomenon at work here.

Joking aside, I don't mind being a mod without a diamond. Take that, gold-diggers!

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

This will end on a bummer. The efficacy of being a mod now rather than gaining the privileges of a 20k rep user is a matter of time. A lot of time! I respect and enjoy the foundational concept of this site enough to want to devote myself sooner rather than later. It'd be dishonest to say anything else!

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for nominating. Don't you think that the New contributor auto tag says something about your (lack of) experience on this site? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 20 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed it does. I started using the site 8 months ago only, I know that counts against me, as it should. However, you've sparked a memory I should have dearly included! I used to be a frequent contributor on the biology and chemistry sections of Yahoo! Answers over 10 years ago (started around 2006-2007) for a few years, at least 3 years active (daily logins), when it was legit. I have 1,500 answers with a 21% best answer rate. That was StackExchange before StackExchange. It is not entirely inconceivable that I may be, in a real sense, one of the oldest contributors. Thanks for the memory! $\endgroup$ – S Pr Feb 21 at 10:34
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    $\begingroup$ Yahoo isn't exactly operating under the standards we are hoping to realize here. Personally, I would rather see mods starting that would attempt to raise overall quality of this site's content and that appreciate the ways in which the SE network differs from mainstream forums like Reddit and Yahoo.. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 21 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ A mod is someone who keeps the site presentable in ways that will remain useful for future browsing and users seeking help. Explanations accumulate here, and a mod ought to take efforts to keep the library orderly. That's what regular users do too and, if everything is working as it should, much more than mods. $\endgroup$ – terdon Feb 21 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think 2006-2007 is particularly old even in internet terms. I was answering biology questions on Usenet well before 1996 and don't think that gives me any particular seniority. $\endgroup$ – iayork Feb 26 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ Reviewing these as the election is finishing up, I just want to point out that you may have missed @AliceD's point. Your new contributor flag isn't about the main site, it's about the meta site. It sounds like you have strong opinions about the nature and direction of the site. Welcome to Meta -- that's where we discuss the nature and direction of the site! You've added your first answer! I hope you contribute more here! $\endgroup$ – De Novo Mar 3 at 21:12

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