- You notice a question that is likely not something that we can constructively deal with. It is also a popular hot button topic and in the first few minutes attracts a few up-votes and answers that are of questionable value. As the day progresses the comment discussion starts piling up under both the question and the answers. What if any action do you take? At what point do you feel it is your duty to step in and stop the spectacle? Do you wait for flags to take action or do you step in preemptively?
I think the key here is the term "piling up". This tells me that the comments aren't likely being used for the purpose for which they were designed and when that happens, it needs to be cleaned up. I believe the preferred way to handle that is to move the comments to a new chat room (linked) and encourage the discussion to continue there.
While I believe in a light touch, I think to always wait for flags negates the mind which have to make decisions. A flag is to bring something to a moderator's attention. If I, as a moderator, already notice something that needs attention then I believe the moderator should then evaluate it as though it were actually flagged. In other words, would I flag it myself and how does this weigh against the guidelines?
If the "spectacle" has a lot of "bad" answers by no/low reputation users, I'd protect it as appropriate. This does tend to happen in questions with a high amount of comment activity since new users aren't able to comment everywhere just yet.
As I've said (and will likely repeat throughout this questionnaire) moderation is something that needs a light touch where possible.
- How do you deal with flaring tensions between answerers and commenters with widely differing opinions?
First and foremost I'd encourage the commenters to put their differing opinion in an answer of their own. Comments have a narrow purpose and debate isn't one of them. I'd encourage them to take it to chat and if it got out of hand, migrate the comments into chat. Ideally, I'd rather have the commenter make his own answer there and let the community decide (via votes) which has more merit.
- Recent discussions on meta and in chat have raised concerns about rudeness and other non-constructive behavior on The Workplace. Do you think we have a problem in this area? If so, what will you as a moderator do to address it?
I don't think we really have a problem, at least an ongoing one. My biggest concern is when a criticism stops being about an idea and is directed at the person making the statement. I think I lot of times, a reminder helps. If it gets way out of hand (and I mean way out) then I could lock the question or chat room for a short period of time and in severe cases, the "difficult" individual(s) could be given a "time-out". While that's not a very last resort, restricting a person's access is not something to be taken lightly and should be done when other means have seemed to fail. We don't see a ton of suspensions here and that's a good thing, I think.
- This site periodically gets high traffic questions (via Hot Network Questions) that straddle the border between controversial and trolling. Both when it's not clear if the poster was intending to troll; and in cases where they were but a legitimate question is tangled in the mess. How do you think they should be handled.
Without knowing the mind of the OP, who can say if it's a troll? But controversial isn't much better I'll admin. Regardless, I can't judge intent. I can only evaluate what is written and in nearly all cases have to take it at face value.
I think editing is very underused. Many questions could be salvaged by some careful editing that preserves the perceived intent while avoiding the potentially controversial aspects of a question. I think the responsibility would be to pull the good question out of the potential troll and hopefully avoid the conflict that such questions seem to bring with them.
- With respect to reopened questions that again attract close votes. What do you feel the moderator's role is in questions where the community are divided whether they are on topic?
I think the role is as a resource. I should point out where to decide what constitutes on-topic and off-topic but not cheerlead for either position when I do. If it's to be a community, then the community should be allowed to determine these things. I think there may be exceptions at times, but these are quite rare and need to be very, very obvious and justified in so doing.
- What is something new and/or unique that you can bring to the moderator team and/or to the site? (e.g. active at unusual times, familiarity with a certain topic, past applicable work experience, extreme love of waffles, etc.)
Having over 30 years in the workforce I've got an extremely broad range of experience in work environments and situations. I've seen the evolution of policies and practices that now seem commonplace. I have experience on the management and labor side of working and a number of other workplace related topics as well. How this lends itself to moderation is that there's very little I haven't seen in one form or another. I'm not easily shocked or surprised. It means that I'm more apt to be understanding of a question that someone else find ridiculous simply because they haven't encountered that type of situation.
- What do you think the key traits of a moderator are, and how have you demonstrated them thus far in your activity on the site?
I think to be a moderator you have to have a sense of fairness that can be applied beyond your own personal bias. The person who annoys you with veiled snark must be treated the same as the person with whom you've bantered playfully for the last 6 months.
I've tried to treat people as fairly as I can. I'll admit that I've had a bit of snark now and then but that's been few and far between (and is also no longer here). I am, after all, only human. But what I've said as "joe user" takes a different import with that diamond next to your name because whether you believe it or not, that little diamond means that (to a degree) you're speaking for the community leadership. Having said that, I do believe that I've kept my nose clean and I am not ashamed of anything I've said here.
- What is one thing about The Workplace "culture" that you want to change or improve? As a moderator, how would you go about doing it?
There is a "close culture" here. People seems like would rather close a question rather than to find a way to keep it open, possibly through editing. I believe for some, closing questions may be a meta game in itself, which would be unfortunate.
I'll be honest, I don't have a solution for it. I think we need to take a hand in editing questions that are borderline and make them more on topic. I think we need to keep reminding people what does and does not constitute a "legal question" that can't be answered versus something that any HR pro could answer, which actually is on topic.
I'd like to see more questions reopened when closed for no other reason that they have a passing similarity to a previous question.
But ultimately, I do genuinely believe in a light hand.
- As a Moderator what would you do differently, that you haven't seen other Moderators do so far?
I think I would try to be more careful about deleting comments. I guess the interface makes it time consuming to parse through and weed out the bad from the good, but I still think it's in amiable goal. Maybe having another moderator will help that.
I think it's a good goal to have regardless because users really, really hate having the comments deleted. If it's possible to move them to chat, every effort should be made. If there's abuse involve, obviously that can't be done. But I'd like a goal to leave the applicable comments in place wherever possible. I think it would also help in how moderation is perceived.
- 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?
I would endeavor to treat him like someone who's been here a week. Unless the user becomes a problem (unruly behavior, abuse, etc.) I would deal with the comments on their own, largely as I suggested above.
Let me clarify however. That doesn't mean they would get a free pass. Just because you have tons of good work doesn't mean you're held to a different standard. But that works both ways too. It doesn't mean that come down on him because "he should know better". Heck maybe he's having a bad day, I don't know. I'll judge his comments independently of his reputation.
If the individual is genuinely becoming a problem, I'd discuss that with the other mods and seek their guidance.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I'd discuss it with the mod behind the scenes to try to convince them to change their mind. If they don't, I'll defer. If they do, great. None of this means that I would reverse what the other mod did.