Paul Johnson here ... aka Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2
Here are my answers to the questions to potential Moderators.
I hope you find me worthy of your vote.
- The site has core cadre of 'die hard' members and, because of the popular subject material, attracts a lot of casual passing users. How would you use the role of moderator to encourage new users to contribute to the site more?
The first thing you do is welcome them to the site (usually through a comment under the question). If the new user feels they are welcome, I'm hoping they will feel that welcome and would want to come back. Seeing that a moderator is taking time to welcome them I'm hoping goes some distance in that feeling of welcome. Doing these types of things also helps those “die hard” members of the community it’s a good idea to help new users get over the hump and on the road to success in the SE world. There are a lot of great communities here, covering a large amount of subject matter. It continues to grow all the time.
- Being a moderator you will be able to close questions on your own and override other community votes. Will this change how you vote to close questions?
A Mod has what is affectionately called a Mod Hammer. We have to use it very judiciously. There are some questions which everyone knows right off the bat are off topic, so can be closed without thinking twice about it. Other questions are, well, questionable. In this case, you let the community take care of it, which is (for the most part) how they should be handled anyway. Allowing the community to take action on these types of questions makes user everyone is in agreement and people aren't seeing the Mod as heavy handed. If, as a Mod, I feel something might be off topic for the sight, I may leave a comment as such, or drop a note in the Screening Room to allow the community to pick up on it and decide for themselves if the question isn't a good fit. I don't need to wield the Mod Hammer to get things done, but it is there just in case.
- A user has posted a question that was quickly closed as being Trivia. The user however disagrees believing the question is valid, on-topic and not "trivia" and proceeds to post their frustration in the comments and on Meta, dismissing the opinions of others trying to help, etc. How would you determine if the question is Trivia or not? How would you defuse the situation?
Questions which help us look like imdb.com or the like are not what we should be looking to answer here. These are the types which are most often trivia based. Trivia, given in the name itself is trivial. There is nothing really important about it, nor does it bring life to a movie or TV episode. It’s just that, trivial. Why should we entertain it?
That been said, we cannot please every user all the time. We’d be foolish to try and do that as then the entire site would fail. If the community has spoken and stated a question is off-topic because it is trivia, we as Mods should not be quick to reverse that or even try. It may be that we can assist the asker in editing their question to make it so it isn’t trivial. If the question isn’t salvageable, we need to work with them to help them understand why it isn’t going to be allowed and hopefully they will find their way towards understanding. As I stated, we cannot please all the people all the time. It just won’t happen. We can, however, help people to understand why things are as they are and move on from there. It’s sometimes a hard pill for people to swallow, but it is the cold hard truth of the matter. We as Mods just need to ensure we are being nice about what we are doing and how we handle it. If the user still feels they are being slighted, we can direct them to the Community Moderators through the Contact Us page. This will get them a response. If we, the Mods or the site are being out of whack, the CMs will contact us and help us to change their ways. With three Mods on the crew, though, this is something that rarely if ever happens.
- 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?
You have to clean this stuff up right away, which means deleting comments. These types of users will usually continue to do the same thing without some type of intervention. When they see their comments are getting deleted, this will usually deescalate situations, but may not get the person to stop their antics. From here, if they continue, you would contact them through email with a Mod Message. A well written Mod Message can go a long way to settling someone down from what they are doing. If they continue past this, then a suspension may not be out of the question. You hate to see it get to this point, but sometimes it is needed to get the point across. While a steady stream of valuable answers is a good thing, comment flags & arguments should not be tolerated from anyone. This tends to drive people away from a site. It's one of the reasons the Code of Conduct was recently revamped. I for one, was glad to see this, as it took a lot of ambiguity out of the entire thing.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Every Mod has the ability to create a "Mods Only" chat room where they can discuss the runnings of the site away from the community. This allows them the ability to talk between themselves and to ensure what we are doing is the correct way of doing it. If confronted with this scenario, I'd call my fellow Mods to this room and ask them why it was done this way, as well as give my opinion as to why I may not see it this way. Usually, there is a consensus. It is really easy to reopen a question if needed or to undelete an answer if it has been axed. There are very few actions which cannot be reversed, so there's really no worry if someone makes a mistake. It can be rectified. Realistically, though, it comes down to communication. If I felt they've done something wrong, I always listen to what they have to say about it. I expect the same from them, because sometimes differences of opinion will arise.
- If you got the hypothetical power to change anything about this site without any repercussions, what would you change and why?
I don't think I'd change much of anything. I like the site. I like the people. I love movies. TV? I binge watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Heh. Yup, pretty much addicted, lol.
- How are you going to cope with the additional workload of being a moderator in comparison to your activity as a normal user asking and answering questions? To which degree do you feel your new moderator duties might decrease your rather content-wise contributions to the site? How will you balance that if necessary?
There's not much of a balancing act in this case. I'm on Stack Exchange every day of the week. I've not missed a day of being on SE for well over five years. I'm dedicated to how SE works and the great people we serve. Moderator duties didn't change how I do things on Mechanics.SE and it won't change how I do things here. When I'm in, I'm in it to the teeth.
- What area do you feel the site could use the most improvement in and do you have any possible ideas for trying to tackle that issue?
Voting. Voting never seems to be good enough. Unfortunately, the only thing we can really do about it is to encourage others to vote. Holding contests to get people to vote might be one way to encourage it to happen. Voting is very important. It's also one way to help people to understand the importance of good questions/answers. And as Jon Ericson once said to us on Mechanics.SE, "... voting is the engine that drives the reputation economy." Voting keeps seasoned users interested and new users coming back.
- Somewhat recently there was a policy change in which Identification Requests were made off-topic, however a group of users were not happy with the decision citing concerns of not having a say in the matter. As a Moderator you will be seen as a part of the team implementing and enforcing new policies such as updating help pages and/or close reasons, mod closing and/or deleting questions and answers. To ensure that the community is on board with proposed policy changes, what would you do to get more people to "have their say" in such discussions? Do you believe that this was missing in the Identification Request policy change debate?
It's unfortunate ID questions had to go away. I was one of the ones who sided on keeping them. I do understand why they were made off-topic, though. I realize they created the greatest amount of poor questions and content for the site. What some may not realize about the ID questions was, they were what propelled M&TV out of Beta. Without them, we'd most likely still be there. You can look at the question count today and realize with 7.9 QPD right now, that is well below the 10 QPD threshold which is used as a litmus for graduating a site (it's not the only thing, but a strong indicator).
While I may have misgivings about ID questions, the fact remains there was ample time for discussion and argument about the policy change. If people feel they did not get their voices heard, it wasn't because the community didn't allow it to happen. They had the chance, but their side was not loud enough or didn't argue well enough to allow the ID questions to stay. The community spoke and the outcome was the ID questions went away. It is what it is and there really isn't much more that can be said about it. All I can do for someone who feels this way would be to commiserate with them and tell them there's not much which can be done about it. Maybe given time and some effort, the policy could be changed back. As a Moderator, it's not my position to go against the will of the community. The community spoke, so I must listen.
- 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 would allow me to be better attuned with the site. I have enough rep to have most of the Mod powers right now. I can tell you it was very strange when the site graduated. I had enough rep before the graduation to have access to all of the normal person powers … then, in one fell swoop, poof! Some of those things I was very used to were no longer there. It wasn’t a big thing, but it happened. You feel a sense of loss. Now I’m used to it. Clearing out the review queues should be done by the community. Flags are what they are as they get taken care of when they arise. On Mech.SE, I handle most of the flags because I’m on the site the most. If they’re there, you handle them. If you have questions, you can ask your other Mods how they’d like to see something taken care of or if worse comes to worse, there is also the Teacher’s Lounge or the Mods Team Site where you can ask questions and receive answers to very troublesome issues. Weird things do happen, but for the most part, there isn’t anything which cannot be handled.