- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 :)
- 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.