What would you do if you found a flagged, positively scored answer where 10 users flagged it as not an answer and 10 users flagged it as invalid? How would you handle a case where the community is clearly divided on what to do with a post, yet the community is also unable to remove the post on their own?
That the community is unable to remove it is, in a way, tangential; if it's that controversial, then even if the community could remove it, others in the community could also restore it. The real issue is that we have a major division over some element of our scope. We need to hear from the people casting those flags (NAA and invalid) to understand where they're coming from. Either there's a misunderstanding or something about our guidelines isn't clear (at least for this case).
I see two reasonable next steps here and I've used both, depending on some fuzzy evaluation of the specific situation. One is to post on meta asking about this case ("is this an answer according to our guidelines?" or the like), summarizing anything that's been brought up in comments or custom flags on the post. This should elicit responses that explain, in more space than a custom flag allows, either what's wrong with the post or why those other flags are wrong.
The other approach is to bring it up in chat, pointing out the post and saying that we're getting conflicting flags. I don't name any names; that would violate flaggers' privacy. But I ask if people could explain the issues on each side; some of the flaggers will probably do so, but if somebody else does so in addition or instead, that still helps. If the problem isn't clear then chat can be a good way to gather input. (There'll probably be a meta post later, assuming the discussion doesn't end quickly with the discovery of a basic misunderstanding.)
If there's no clear community consensus, then I err on the side of inclusion.
When you see a question or answer with major issues, such as being argumentative or poorly-written, what tool do you reach for first and why?
Edit + comment if I can fix it; comment alone if I can't. As I said to another question, my approach to comments is to assume best intentions and that I'm misunderstanding. If the problem is that the post violates site policy (e.g. not backing up an answer), I link to the relevant meta post. If the user is new then I start off by welcoming him and suggest he take the site tour if he hasn't already.
If it's a question and the situation is dire I'll close it, but that's not the first tool I reach for. In general the community should handle problem posts to the extent it can -- with votes, edits, comments, and flags.
Two experienced users, both good contributors at times, just can't get along. Every time they interact in any way, sparks fly. Acrimonious comments pile up, distracting everyone from the actual questions being answered. Tit-for-tat flags and votes accumulate. Passive-aggressive meta posts ruin your buzz. You suspect the moderators on other sites are talking about you behind your back, clucking like so many biddy hens about your misfortune... What do you do about it?
Aside from the custodial work (like cleaning up inappropriate comments), I'd try to initiate private conversations1 with each of them (separately) to probe what the problem is. Ask questions; listen to what the user says; check frequently that what I'm hearing is what he's saying; assure each that we want the positive contributions from both of them but the fighting is a problem. I'd try to judge in these conversations if a private discussion between them (with mods present) would be productive, and if so suggest that we all sit down to talk together. (I'm saying "I" but in most cases I would expect the mod team to have discussed the situation first.)
It needs to be clear to each user that they are both being judged against the same standards (as are all users); if the process does not appear to be scrupulously fair then there will always be doubts and that can become poisonous. This is even more important when there is a power imbalance, for example if one of the arguing users is a moderator or a community manager (which I've seen happen, unfortunately). If, heaven forbid, one of my fellow moderators were involved in such a situation, I'd bring it up in our site's moderator chat room before approaching the other user. If the moderator can see his own contributions to the conflict, then we can decide if it makes sense for him to initiate the discussion with the other user (hat in hand). If not, then I would proceed. If the problem were somebody else with a diamond, like a community manager, then I'd bring it up with my fellow mods so we can figure out what to do next.
The diamond carries extra responsibility here because everything you do on the site carries that badge of official-ness. Appearances matter, and if you can't admit that you're wrong when you are (as we all are sometimes), the moderator job isn't a good fit for you. Naturally, I expect to be held to the same standard.
1 "Private" here means "between the user and the mod team", not "between the user and only me".
What are the top two or three challenges facing the site as it moves forward, and what do you plan to do as a moderator to address them? What have you already done?
One of our top challenges is the shortage of users at the highest privilege levels (post-graduation). We have an active community and those privileges will come back in time, but in the short term the moderators are going to have to take some actions that ought to come from the community. The community seems to have closing/reopening questions under control, but we're short on delete votes.
I've tried to encourage users to do what they can before asking mods to act -- cast a close/delete vote if you can and flag if you can't, leave comments, and vote. Unilateral mod action should be rare. When I see a VLQ flag but no downvotes, or a custom flag suggesting closure but no close votes, I see users who need to be reminded to help. Depending on the situation I will (and do) bring such things up in chat, in comments on the post, or on meta.
Another challenge is posts that don't follow our guidelines (like "back it up"). We should review our help-center pages, tour, and key meta posts to make sure they're as clear, concise, and well-linked as they can be, but then our main challenges are (a) education (leave helpful comments) and (b) curation. There's another question about enforcement of guidelines, so see there for more.
A third challenge is the issue of hot questions. I didn't say that hot questions are the challenge; they are too, but even more important than the hot questions themselves, IMO, is the frustration the whole issue is causing on our site. We've got people lobbying heavily for changes to the formula, people saying it's not a big deal, people trying to influence the results by voting on questions on another site, and quite a bit of chat discussion. I'd like to find a way to calm the agitation and move ahead more productively. I think we have to weather a few months and then we'll have enough trusted users to bring the problem under control; let's not let the frustration get to us in the meantime.
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?
This can, alas, be a common problem with people who come from a "forum" background. As with the fighting users in an earlier question, I'd invite him into a private chat to talk about it. I'd emphasize that we value his positive contributions and then talk about what's expected in comments. I would presume that he has good intentions and doesn't understand our norms. (An ideal outcome here is that the user comes to understand the problem and offers to remove his problem comments himself, but failing that, I'd do necessary cleanup.)
If the behavior continues, the next step would be a mod message. If that doesn't help, or if he crosses from arguments to outright trolling or other abusive behavior, then it's time for a short suspension (in consultation with the other mods). I hate having to suspend people, but sometimes you have to.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
This isn't hypothetical for me; here's a recent example of my reaction. If the action was public (almost everything is) then I raise the issue in the site's main chat room to seek community input. Sometimes I missed something in the history that called for prompt action; sometimes the other mod changes his mind; sometimes the community speaks.
When raising an objection (not just here but in general, like when commenting on a problem post), I strive to ask questions or talk about my own understanding, rather than making assertions about the other. "I'm having trouble understanding X" or "this seems on-topic to me; can we reopen?" invites conversation; "you're wrong" or "this is unclear" invites conflict. I prefer to assume that we're all adults who want to get along, and that we all have different communication styles and assumptions about what's obvious.
If elected, do you plan to increase your time on the site, or are you going to spend about the same amount of time but reallocate it? If the latter, what won't you be doing as much of now? What is the opportunity cost to the community of you becoming a mod?
I plan to spend about the same amount of time on the site as I have been. This means that I will probably answer fewer questions. I also probably won't be able to spend a lot of time in chat, though I'll make sure to at least review logs and stars and check in with my fellow mods. So long as somebody is there often I don't think we all need to be.
A large majority of moderation can be done by the community with enough reputation. Since we just graduated, there is a big gap between the privileges we had as a community a month ago, and the privileges we have today. With time, we will build more users who can form the basis for stronger community moderation again. What moderation (closing, editing, deleting, commenting, tagging, flagging, etc.) would you like to see the community be more active in, and how will you encourage that?
I'd like to see more votes (up/down, close, delete where applicable). Sometimes we have a post with negative comments or flags but not a single downvote, or a question with comments showing that the question is unclear but no close votes. I've been known to point out that mismatch in comments or in chat and will try to do more of that. We seem to be doing well with closures once that first vote is cast.
Soon NAA flags will feed into the low-quality-posts review queue (just like VLQ flags). This greatly increases the community's ability to remove posts that don't meet our standards without waiting for moderators. When that rolls out we'll need to post on meta and encourage people to help out there.
Our community seems pretty willing to edit, which is great. Any time we can improve a post to prevent closure or downvotes, instead of closing/downvoting and hoping somebody else fixes it, we all win.
I hadn't thought about it until this question, but our tagging could use some review and refinement.
How would you enforce Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others FAQ rules? Would you consider a bare link to Wikipedia page (eg: 42, without any accompanying quotes) a legitimate backup? Would you be comfortable managing cases when checking for repetition would require studying multiple other answers?
A bare link is not useful nor backup, but a link accompanied by a couple sentences is, just barely, a backed-up answer. I'd like to see more and might still downvote, but it meets the guideline.
Checking for repetition is a hassle because you have to really read everything (it's not like we're dealing with cut-and-paste). I expect the community to do a lot of the work here. Don't just flag saying "repeats other answers"; point out which ones. I'm not allergic to reading all the answers, but that might not be the highest priority for moderators.
Now the main question, about enforcement. I think our main issue here is Back It Up, and for this I'd like us to use annotations -- not as an end state but as a way of tracking and revisiting these posts. It's a two-stage process: when a non-compliant post is brought to our attention and there's no obvious edit to fix it, comment (if no one else has already) and drop an annotation on it. Then, periodically review the annotated posts; if the problem hasn't been fixed in a reasonable amount of time (to be determined, but somewhere between a few days and a week) then delete the post. The "citation needed" annotation shouldn't be sitting around on the site for weeks to months; its purpose is corrective, not shaming.
The mods here tend to get mistreated by some of the users(mostly low rep but not all). The users can be rude, and obnoxious when their questions/answers/comments are being moderated, and the more experienced users are likely to question some of your decisions as a mod. Do you think you have the temperament to withstand this, keep a good attitude, and turn the exchange into something constructive?
I think I do, and the users on Mi Yodeya seem to agree. I'm not afraid to make unpopular decisions, yet I approach the job with humility, openness, and the knowledge that I might be wrong (and if I am I'll correct the matter). I've been active here for almost two years, so what you've seen already is pretty much what you'll get.