- What do you think are the biggest issues Raspberry Pi SE could face in the future - and how as a moderator would you go about solving them?
Our material can be highly specialized across a diverse range whose unifying factor (the Raspberry Pi) is arbitrary. For a smaller SE site, particularly one which overlaps a number of larger ones, this presents a challenge to participation, which in turn affects the number of users with sufficient reputation to cast close/open votes, edit without approval, etc.
However, these are not insurmountable obstacles. A moderator gets to make a lot of little decisions involving scope, something we have some leeway with. By remaining attuned to what's going on and making judgements about what is possible, we can exploit this flexibility to grow and/or focus the site. It will take time to accumulate more committed high rep users, but as we do so we will become more defined and tightly knit as a community.
- The products made by the Raspberry Pi foundation are aimed at all ages and skill levels, including children and beginners with technology. As such, many of those who use this site for the first time may not be familiar with the ethics of our site (and the internet in general). In the past this has brought many low quality questions and answers with problems. We have a huge backlog of these questions and answers, and while some of these have been fixed, most of them have not. As a moderator, what can you do to help clean up this site, and keep it clean in the future?
I've spent more than a few hours with the data explorer going through a large backlog of questions with certain characteristics (no accepted or upvoted answer) and reviewing them. I've closed hundreds of very stale, hopeless questions this way.
I've also been rigorous about insisting new questions meet certain standards, while trying to avoid scaring too many people off. We are an intersection of widely varying skill sets, levels, etc. and this requires a degree of sensitivity. One of the things I have shied away from that I intend to pursue more going forward is radically editing questions rather than closing them -- not just spelling and formatting, etc., but taking something that is too broad or unclear and turning it into something clear and specific and still useful to the original author. Where feasible, this could be a more productive demonstration than, "Sorry, please try again."
- 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?
That would depend a bit upon the exact nature of the flags, etc. Someone who contributes positively more than negatively deserves consideration, but not a license to commit murder. We have very few problems of this sort.
People who are very aggressive, annoyed, or annoying are best dealt with in private chat, where perceived audience is not a factor. A one-on-one padded room dynamic can be conducive to coming to a mutual understanding. I am very happy when I can achieve that and believe it is almost always possible, particularly with people who demonstrate a desire and ability to produce good content.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Having multiple mods ensures there is a degree of oversight, but it is primarily about sharing the workload. That is negated if we are constantly second guessing each other -- it should not take three people to screw in a lightbulb.
I am comfortable with other people having perspectives which are not identical to mine. Closing questions is sometimes a nuanced judgement call. If another moderator makes a different call than I would have, I would have to feel strongly about it in order to contradict them, in which case I would first discuss it with them privately.
Steve and I are mostly copacetic, but on occasion one or the other of us has asked "Do you mind if I reopen this question you closed?" and that's fine. I think the most important thing there is to actually communicate via chat before acting and diminish the chance for any misunderstanding.
- As a Moderator it is conceivable that the users of your Stack Exchange Community will ask you about a desirable feature for your Community that the parent SE organisation either does not currently provide, or can never provide. How would you work out the difference and what would you aim to do for each?
The first thing I would do would be to dig around Meta SE and see if this has already been proposed and discussed in the past. The "Teacher's Lounge"1 is also a good place to investigate this kind of thing. I'd then pass that information on, and explain a purpose of Meta SE (open to everyone) is exactly this kind of proposal. If I thought the proposal viable and worthwhile, I might offer to help them with it. This is not strictly necessary, however, and I'd prefer to see people get involved themselves rather than me taking the ball.
- In your opinion, what do moderators do?
As I wrote in my self-nomination, moderators are the most privileged members of a system which allows users to play a significant role in how the "limited supply and demand economy" of Q&A is regulated.
I've put in thousands of hours answering questions here and on other SE sites, and before that, other technical forums. I benefit from the work of others doing much the same thing. I am a believer in the power of knowledge, information, and communication. The internet is an important tool, and "crowdsourced" conduits of information such as this are one of its most impressive aspects. What moderators do is try to keep it impressive. More specifically, I wrote that while providing answers is obviously fundamental to the existence of a Q&A site,
...being a moderator is not about answering questions. It is more often about deciding which questions can be asked. This helps to define the community and keep it sustainable.
Moderators by and large are people who have provided a lot of helpful answers. Having done so doesn't just mean "you are good at this stuff so you should be moderator" -- we represent the supply side of the equation. That the site and answers are free does not mean this supply is infinite or without value. First and foremost, moderators are here to ensure that attitudes and misconceptions on the demand side do not squander the supply. We're also here to nurture that supply by helping other people who want to help. Hopefully this adds up to everyone finding the help they need, even if sometimes they need to put in a little work to get it.
My analogy is not intended to imply a sharp distinction between a Q group and an A group or an S group and a D group so much as illustrate that sites like this are resources which can function and be used more and less efficiently. What moderators do is make decisions about, and try to focus other user's attention upon, the details that make the difference between "more" and "less".
- 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 stand behind what I write. This does not mean I never make mistakes, but when I do I make an effort to rectify and own up to it. I do think that the role of moderator places an extra burden upon you to exemplify a model of behaviour, but I don't think that needs to mean sacrificing one's individuality or idiosyncrasies.
- 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 in the obvious sense that being able to do simple things like close/reopen questions by fiat makes it easier to do more complex things like those mentioned in my answer to #6. Being able to edit (my own) comments without a 5 minute time limit is also useful; I communicate a lot with comments and often put as much thought into them as I might an answer. Comments on questions are a key place for providing insight and guidance to people new to the system and/or confused by a particular problem.
Being a moderator probably also helps in being taken seriously when someone is frustrated and might prefer to ignore something they don't want to hear. There's a lot of frustration to find in technology such as the Raspberry Pi, and often there is no quick and easy way out of it.
1. An SE network mods only chat room, hotbed of conspiracy, controversy, and unbridled keenness.