I have been very active on this site for the past 1.5 years (member for 4.5 years), and consider myself to be well versed in the site's working, policies, and culture. I have spent most of my time here on site maintenance tasks: I have completed 2600+ reviews, 400+ edits, and have raised 800+ helpful flags. I have also contributed to improving tag wikis, re-tagging questions, and finding redundant tags. In addition, I have been an active member of various Stack Exchange sites since 2016, including Math SE and Stack Overflow, and have a good general understanding of the network.
I have been visiting this site since before I created an account, and it has greatly helped me in my academic life, right from when I was an undergraduate student. I am keenly interested in the upkeep of this site and being a moderator would improve my effectiveness for doing so.
- 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?
In principle, the usefulness of an answer should not be used as a justification for improper behaviour. That is, such users should be treated just as any other user, and depending on the nature of their actions, receive warnings, suspensions, or bans as applicable. While it might be a loss for the site to lose a valuable contributor, it is far more harmful as a whole if the site allows toxic behaviour to go unchecked.
That said, it is difficult to be completely objective, and I do think high rep users would inevitably get treated slightly more leniently than others, particularly in borderline cases, and I do not think this is a very serious issue. When in doubt, I would consult with the other moderators.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?
I would first check with that moderator for their reasoning and present my own, and in case of disagreement, I would bring it up for discussion among the entire group of moderators, and accept whatever is decided as a group.
- As a moderator, I find that comments are a tricky thing to deal with. Under what circumstances will you delete comments? Note that there are lots of flags that comments are obsolete/no longer needed.
The following are my views. Note that this does not mean I will act as per this without some level of agreement with other moderators and the community:
Rude, abusive, and spam comments should always be deleted.
If a comment requests for clarification and such a clarification has been clearly provided by editing the original post, such that it is clear that the comment is no longer important, then it should be deleted if flagged, but I would probably not try to be very proactive in searching for them and deleting them in other cases.
Comments that provide valuable critique, add value to a post, or request clarification that has not yet been provided should be left up whenever possible.
Comments that are tangentially related or those that are intended to be (harmlessly) funny can be left up, as long as they are not very numerous, and do not receive a lot of flags.
If a comment thread gets very long, it should be moved to chat if:
A long comment thread emerges between a small group of users that makes it hard to find useful comments.
Several interleaving discussions take place. It is also easier to follow such discussions in chat, since the users being replied to are highlighted there.
Completely off-topic and unrelated comments should be removed.
- What is your stance about the current scope of Academia Stack Exchange and how this is enforced? Should we close any question that does not strictly comply with the current scope? Should we be lenient and keep open questions that can potentially generate good answers even if borderline off-topic? Should we narrow or broaden the scope?
As a community member, I think questions that are borderline off-topic and that could potentially receive good answers should be kept open. The OP could also be encouraged to edit their question to make it clearly on-topic. Unlike some other SE sites, Academia SE does not receive a very high traffic of questions, so the risk of not closing a borderline question is minimal. Moreover, any good answers it could potentially receive could be valuable to the community and future visitors.
As a moderator, I would refrain from casting any close or reopen votes on borderline cases and let the community decide.
I believe the current scope is reasonable and does not require significant narrowing or broadening at present. However, the site keeps evolving, so we should be open to discussions on changing specific aspects if and when necessary.
- Academia.SE frequently has questions rise high on the Hot Network Questions (HNQ); often these questions are on more controversial topics than the mean question here and attract visitors from across the SE community who otherwise don't participate here. What do you think the moderators' role should be with respect to HNQ list questions? How do you think presence on the HNQ list should affect moderation decisions?
Questions on the HNQ would require more moderator attention due to them being much more active than typical questions. A question that receives several low-quality answers should be protected, and very long comment discussions should be moved to chat (but see Q3). I do not think the presence of a question in HNQ should change the standards by which interactions with it are treated, in either direction.
That said, the site already has well-reasoned policies on when a question should be removed from HNQ, so the guidelines should be followed and updated from time to time as necessary.
In general, I think HNQs have a net positive impact on the site and have often resulted in excellent answers from new members who were active in other SE communities.
- What question or answer of yours on meta best exemplifies your philosophy on moderation? Why do you feel this is the best example?
I only have two questions on Meta so far, both of similar nature, e.g. Should [coauthors] be a synonym of [authorship]?
Though it is not much, I would still consider to be a (small) example of my philosophy on moderation: be alert towards issues and avenues for improvement of the site, be active in discussion with the community, and take decisions (to the extent possible) with community consensus.
While I have not posted very often on Meta, this has generally been due to the relatively low traffic of our Meta site, and the fact that questions quickly get authoritative answers. I have however been an active reader of Meta, of both recent posts and older posts that define current site policies (and have also voted on them). As a moderator, I would expect to have a more active role on Meta.
- How do you view the balance between "trying to be helpful to an OP" and "strict adherence to the stated rules"?
The following are my views on this:
If a question is very clearly off-topic and unsalvageable, then it should be closed. However, assuming it is in good faith:
I would encourage the OP to ask a new question if I feel a topically adjacent but significantly different question might be on-topic.
If I have any advice to give, I might leave it as a comment.
If a question is a clear duplicate, then it should be closed, but if the OP disagrees, I would advise them to edit clearly pointing out the differences. Based on the merits of the edits, I would either reopen myself or leave it to the community to vote.
For less clear cases, I would let community votes decide. However, if I notice significant inconsistencies, e.g., questions of similar nature that are sometimes well received and sometimes closed, I would consider posting on Meta. The same if a question ends up with a close-reopen war (but that seems to be quite rare on this site).
In all cases, as long it is asked in good faith, I do not see any issue with users posting additional advice in the comments of a closed question, which helps the OP as well as adheres to the site’s rules.
- In your opinion, what do moderators do?
Moderators help enforce standards agreed upon by the community. They resolve flags that indicate potentially problematic content. They help guide the maintenance of the site’s policies themselves, by helping to identify when a policy might need to be updated, and encourage discussion within the community. They ensure that the code of conduct is adhered to, and help in maintaining a positive environment for all users. They also act (to some extent) as the liaison between the community and the Stack Exchange community managers.
- 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?
With regards to behaviour, I understand that a diamond comes with responsibility, and I believe that my conduct on the site so far has not involved any conduct unbecoming of a moderator. However, moderators are not infallible, and I trust the community members to take this into account if they have any issues with my previous posts and comments. I will of course also be open to constructive criticism to improve any aspect of my conduct.
With regards to post quality, I believe votes on each individual post are a much better indicator of validity than the presence or absence of a diamond.
- 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 currently have 3.3k rep accumulated over the past 1.5 years, and do not foresee it to suddenly increase at a rapid pace. I spend most of my time on the site reading posts, voting, editing, flagging, and reviewing; and post occasionally when I feel I can answer a particular question well. Since most of my presence on this site is in helping with site maintenance, becoming a moderator will help me be more effective at this and enable me to perform actions which I otherwise could not have due to my relatively low rep.