- Many moderator duties concern the removal of low quality content. Aside from this, what will you do to facilitate the creation of high quality content?
To be honest, I do not see many tools available to a moderator that would allow to directly facilitate the creation of high quality content. This seems to be a community endeavor. If I am wrong, I would love to hear suggestions.
However, there are ideas that, when supported by moderators, could create conducts that might be able to improve the situation.
One such conduct is to vote up more often in content that you think is desirable. I am under the impression that users (and I include myself in this) tend to, over time, diminish their upvoting pattern. Less upvoting not only means less "incentive" (for better or for worse, we are under a gamified system), but it also makes things seem dead and this can have deceptively deep consequences. Since low-quality content is usually correlated with people wanting to storm in for the acquisition of points, those end up being more active and alive.
Voting up desirable content also makes it more explicit via exemplification what we want the website to be about and can serve as a guide to bypassers and users alike.
This is only one idea (and I think it is the most straightforward one), but I am definitely open to conversation, and I think this is a very important question.
- Have you ever been suspended from this site or another StackExchange site? If so, please provide a description of the situation that led to the suspension, and how you have reacted to it. Would you have suspended a user for a similar behavior today?
- Imagine a time in which the site has become divided between two groups, each of whom desire a future which is anathema to the other. The status quo is unstable; it is all but guaranteed that one group will be seen as ascendant and the other will leave in frustration. And... You've been elected to serve both groups. How might you approach such a situation? If you would seek compromise, how could you hope to garner agreement from enough people to make it work?
Well, this question is tough. In part because the hypothesis is so apocalyptic that it almost seems like asking "the end is here, what do you do?".
Nevertheless, an answer is needed. The first thing I would want to guarantee is that people provide reasonable arguments for both sides. As long as both sides are arguing reasonably, I strongly believe that both can coexist. Condescendence, dismissiveness, fatalism etc are symptoms of people unwilling to supply constructive feedback.
If there is no other way, and I was forced to push a button choosing a "group" out of "two" otherwise everything would collapse (for the sake of being explicit, this phrasing is in part intended to illustrate that I think this is an absurd situation), I would choose the group which was more willing to discussion and considering the opinion of others. The rationale is more than just an ethical option: we would have to fix a huge wound, and this can only be done under cohesion.
- Why do you want to be a moderator? What is your motivation for running in this election?
This website had and still has a very important role on my education as a mathematician. To be more specific and give an example as to how, it was here that I improved the most in my mathematical communication/writing skills. This is very important to me, and I believe that this is hardly achieved by textbooks or other media (apart from face to face conversation), at least compared to MSE.
The way the website is structured propels that even further. But for that potential to materialize, we need a balanced environment in several different meanings. I think I can help achieving that goal, and this is why I want to be a moderator.
- How will you deal with enforcing policies that you disagree with, if you are elected as a moderator?
I think I will not have any problem with that. As long as there is a rationale behind a policy (and I've never seen one in SE which does not have some thought on it, regardless whether I agree or not), I believe I will have close to zero problem with it. If there is not a rationale, I will probably be a little uncomfortable and try to look up for some justification (if I reached one, then we would be back to the first case), but I will enforce it if necessary.
To give a more thorough description as to why, I believe one positive aspect of my personality is that I am able to consider and evaluate multiple (even conflicting) opinions. This comes together with a blurring of what is agreeing/disagreeing, with me usually just filling a mental tab with aspects of each opinion.
- There are two basic schools of thought regarding PSQs (problem statement questions) - they should be quickly closed and deleted, or they should not be closed or deleted. With which of these two camps do you more closely align? Why? As a moderator, how would you act to enable "your" camp in dealing with or accommodating PSQs?
This question is tricky in many different ways. First, let me answer the literal question, with "PSQ" meaning "problem statement question".
I don't think PSQ's in this sense need to be quickly closed and deleted, a priori. They live in a grey area, with some good questions lurking underneath (although the majority is almost certainly bad ones). To give an example, take this and this (Disclaimer: I am one of the answers of the first one). I think they are a good addition to the site, and I personally would like more questions like these. Sometimes, the question can be contextualization by itself. In the end, this is a judgement call of the community and is more nuanced than usually is admitted.
That said, there is the nonliteral question, which is "PSQ" meaning "please-solve question" and the like (usually accompanied by a demanding tone). These should be quickly closed and deleted, in my opinion, as I believe they do not resonate any good aspect we expect to cultivate here.
I understand and agree that there is a positive correlation between those two interpretations, but I believe that they are conceptually different, and this can pop up in practice more often than expected.
All in all, I believe that we strive to have questions which make the website something that we would willingly recommend to colleagues/students/etc as a high-quality resource for mathematicians, math-users, math-entusiasts and math-learners. The struggle for "context" by part of the community is a very good attempt at this. I picture "context" as anything that would make the question interesting, meaning people willing to answer or acknowledging that an answer would be interesting if this was asked apart from gamification aspects. This justifies why it is so difficult (and even impossible) to pinpoint more precise descriptions of what that means, and that it may also be irreparably subjective.
I hope people understand that it is impossible to dive into the many intricacies of this subject in an answer of a questionnaire, but also that I clarified my opinion in the matter sufficiently enough.
Just to close the issue, with respect to 'enable your "camp"(...)', I wouldn't actively want to do anything with respect to this issue. The community is too polarized regarding this. Furthermore, I think I am not fit as a member of any of those camps, as my answer above implicitly illustrates.
- Do you think that your meta participation is enough to know about the current problems the community is dealing with, and the complicated views that people hold about them? How do you justify not participating enough on meta?
Yes. However, it is important to notice that I only started (actively) participating in meta in the last year or so. This means that I do not have the emotional baggage of some discussions which have existed for "ages". I know them, sure, and I've read them thoroughly, but I may not empathise with the feelings of people who have been actively discussing some topic over and over again. I don't think this is inherently good or bad, but is something worth noticing.
- You're not a moderator in isolation, you're part of a team. What do you know about the other moderators and where do you see yourself supporting or supplementing the work the moderating team do? It seems to me that moderators are as entitled to disagreements between themselves as anyone else, but overall moderation is most effective where there's either a consensus, or a majority-minority split with agreement on how to proceed.
I've engaged in direct conversation with a large part of the moderators, and I've seen all of them express their thoughts somewhere. They all seem intelligent, and I believe that working with them (if I were to become a moderator) would be a pleasant experience.
The question "what do you know" is complicated, since what there is to know are facts like names, nationalities etc. The rest is opinion, and I don't believe this is the right platform and place to praise or criticize the actions and thoughts of moderators (also due to the fact that they are potential "coworkers"). I've agreed with them in the past, I've disagreed with them in the past, and I've always appreciated the fact that there is thought in the discussions, regardless of the difference or not of opinions. I think this is enough to be said, although it isn't much.
I would add to the team by being another working hand in the daily tasks and chores, and a listening ear to the wide plethora of different opinions.
- It is an unfortunate yet incontrovertible fact that some users see Math.SE as a way to cheat on homework and tests. What ethical obligation, if any, do you believe the moderation team has to investigate and combat academic dishonesty? What actions, if any, would you take if an instructor flagged potential dishonesty in a Math.SE question? Is it ever appropriate to sanction a question-answerer for abetting academic dishonesty?
Obligation to investigate? None. This has a high potential for going out of bounds. Imagine a moderator having to scavenge some professor's website in another language to see if some exercise is a direct translation, or something similar to that.
Luckily enough, dishonest people are usually not very bright, and their action is frequently very easy to spot. Also luckily enough, the community is quite engaged in solving those situations, so I think moderator intervention is frequently not needed in those cases (which is probably a good thing).
If some situation is not clear-cut and escalates, then moderator intervention may be welcome, but mainly to handle the situation as a whole (meaning addressing the discussion that often ensues after these types of issues).
Regarding the question "Is it ever appropriate to sanction a question-answerer for abetting academic dishonesty?", this is very nuanced. Sometimes people disagree over what is/seems to be academic dishonesty and even what is/seems to be abetting academic dishonesty. But due to the phrasing "is it ever", my answer is: Yes, there are cases which make that an appropriate course of action.
- 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 proceed as I would with a regular user.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Cohesion is an important aspect in any team responsible for moderating a community. If the situation was relevant enough, I would discuss it privately with the other mod and attempt to understand the thought that went behind the decision. Even if I ended up not agreeing, this would probably be as far as my actions go.
If the situation has some deep repercussion and discussion and I end up thinking that presenting another point of view to the community could be a positive thing, I may attempt to do that. But being respectful, acknowledging the validity of the multiple opinions and never deviating from the cohesion of the team (I've never seen a situation here in meta where there was a point so absurd that it couldn't have been reasonably defended, so I am pretty confident that this last phrase is always a possibility). I would also communicate this with the team beforehand, of course.