I'm DJMcMayhem. My nomination
- A challenge by a new user is posted, and it quickly receives a fair amount of downvotes (and potentially even close votes), because it has some specs that we dislike. However, you think that the core idea is good and that the post is salvageable. What would you do in such situations as a moderator? What if the OP doesn't want to change their challenge, and insists on keeping the disliked specs?
The very first thing I would do would be to comment on the post, explaining what about it is unpopular, and requesting that they edit it. In the end, if they don't want to improve their posts with the community's guidance, then they will just have to live with the downvotes and/or close votes. It's unfortunate if it has to come to that, but there are very real legitimate reasons we have the list of things to avoid.
- How active of a moderator will you be? What times will you generally be around to offer help when a moderator is needed? How much time do you expect you'll be able to spend on janitorial moderator tasks? (Just an estimate. No one will hold you to this schedule)
Well frankly, I'm addicted to this site :P I do have a pretty full schedule between work and school, but right now, it's pretty much just part of my day that I'll check out PPCG from my phone during any spare moments. So I'm available to talk to pretty much whenever I'm awake. Generally, I will be most active in moderating tasks around 0-5 UTC. This chart shows when I'm most active in chat (all times in UTC)
- Let's say that a new user comes to the site and posts a question with some problems. For example, either a challenge missing some specifications, or overruling default rules that we like to have on this site. Or it's not even a challenge, but simply a programming question, off-topic for this site. Then, a member of the community responds to this post in a harsh and unwelcoming way, either insulting the OP or rudely explaining which of our rules have they have unknowingly broken. What would you do to calm the tension in this situation? What would you do to discourage people from harsh responses in the future? What would you do to make sure that the new user still feels welcome?
I have very strong opinions on this matter. I've written a lengthy meta post on exactly this issue before. But, I'll summarize my thoughts on that post here.
There are two different issues at hand.
The post is off-topic, or has some serious problems that need to be addressed, and
The harsh response of the community member is completely inappropriate.
1) fairly easy to fix. If the post is off-topic, I would close it and leave a comment welcoming them to the site and explaining why their post is off-topic. And if the challenge just has some problems that can be fixed, I would comment on it, explaining what is wrong with the challenge, why the community dislikes certain things in challenges and asking them to edit it.
2) is IMO a bigger issue. I strongly believe that all users should be welcomed to the site unless they repeatedly show hostility or a lack of willingness to comply with the community's rules. The OP, in this case, has done nothing wrong. They are simply misguided. And the number one rule across SE sites is be nice, and the user is clearly violating this rule. My response varies depending on exactly how rude the comment is.
At the very least, I would delete the rude comment, and write my own more welcoming comment. I would also tell the user who wrote the rude comment that their behavior is inappropriate, and will not be stood for. If the comment is straight out insulting, or this behavior becomes a longer pattern, I fully believe that a short suspension would be deserved.
- Given the recent debates surrounding "baseline" answers, how do you feel you will balance the following, in general?: (1) guiding the community consensus, (2) building the community consensus, and (3) abiding by the community consensus; In particular, is there something unique or special you feel you can bring to the community to help out with questions like these?
As for 1 and 2, I believe that moderators have more cultural sway, but in the end have just as much responsibility to help build the community consensus as any other community member who chooses to be active on meta. So I recognize that if I were elected, my words would carry more weight, but I would still only be one voice in the discussion. For 3, I can say that I will always do my best to enforce the policies that the community has agreed upon, rather than my personal opinion.
Is there something unique or special you feel you can bring to the community to help out with questions like these? Well, I have been active on this site for a long time, so I have a good feel for what would be healthy for the site, just due to familiarity.
- Suppose a fellow moderator takes action in a manner with which you disagree. Furthermore, several community members see the action, and also disagree with it. How would you go about addressing the controversial action to both the moderation team and the community at large, to resolve the issue?
To the moderator team: I would bring this up in the private chat room as soon as possible. The goal is to come to a clear consensus on the right steps forward before taking any steps to undo the action. Since ideally, the moderator should come across as unified in their actions, I would tend to default towards not overruling the action. But if it becomes clear that most of the moderators agree that the action was incorrect, we can discuss steps to fix it moving forward.
Since after this election, there will be 6 moderators, I'm pretty confident that their will almost always be someone around to discuss what the correct course of action is.
To the community: Since this action is by definition controversial, I think the worst thing to do is prematurely respond to the community and tell them what will happen. As long as the issue is being worked on, there is no reason to rush it. I think a simple We're discussing it, we'll get back to you once we know for sure is perfectly appropriate.
- Somebody posts a solution, which seems to be valid at first sight. However, you analyze it further and find out it's invalid. Nobody else has already commented or flagged about it. What do you do?
Well, as a community member, my response would be to explain to the user where their post is lacking, and link them to the relevant meta posts if necessary, sometimes accompanying a flag to make sure the issue is eventually fixed.
As a mod, my actions would not be that different. I would comment, let them know the post is invalid, and give them some time to fix it. I would also save a link to the post, and make a note of it, so that I can delete it later if they don't fix it in a certain amount of time.
- How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable posts, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
This is a tricky situation. In the end, I think that having a peaceful site without a large number of arguments and flags outweighs the value of the user's posts. In each individual case, the flags can be handled, or the arguments moved to chat. But after noticing a trend, it comes to time to escalate it.
The first escalation is to message the user. I have never been a mod before, so I don't exactly know what features are available, but I'm pretty sure there is a feature for private messaging. Or private chat rooms. I would explain to the user that we want them around, and their input is valuable, but that their current behavior is disrupting the site. I would ask them to stop and monitor whether it improves in the future.
The second escalation is a suspension. Assuming the user had not been suspended before, a week-long suspension would be fitting. It's unfortunate if it has to come to that, but like I said, I believe that a peaceful site is far more valuable than any one user's contributions. If the disruptive behavior continues after the suspension ends, the cycle will have to continue: PM's asking the user to stop and warning that a suspension is imminent, and another suspension with a greater length.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
The same way I would handle #5.
- To an otherwise hard challenge, someone posts a very trivial, built-in solution, either in a practical language specialized for those kinds of tasks or in a golfing language. A new-ish user submits another answer, which they worked hard for. As it usually happens in any internet community, the trivial answer receives a lot of good feedback (in the form of upvotes), while the other submissions don't receive much attention. Then the new user leaves a comment under the other user's answer, politely complaining about the voting culture. How would you act in this situation as a moderator? What would you do to stop/discourage this phenomenon? What would you do to stimulate healthy voting and encourage non-trivial solutions? I know you cannot enforce this by any means, but how would you use your influence as a moderator in this situation?
I don't think there really is anything to do in this situation. Overall, I dislike the current voting culture, but that's not the kind of thing that one user (or even one mod) could fix. In this specific instance, really the only thing that could be done is to delete the comment if it's off-topic or causing an argument. Beyond that, the only thing I could do to influence voting culture is
To write challenges which aren't likely to result in trivial answers, and
To do my best to reward exceptional answers, be it through voting, bountying, or bringing attention to them.
But these are all things that have nothing to do with being a moderator or not.
- In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
In a perfect world, I would not have to do much. The community would be able to handle issues as they arise, and mods would not be needed. But we don't live in a perfect world. So as a moderator, I would be able to jump in in situations that the community can't handle. I would channel my obsessive review checking into flag-handling and help the community take care of issues faster. And I would be more effective at moderating chat since there are certain privileges granted to mods that are not granted to room owners.