What do you love about the moderator job on Unix & Linux?
I actually enjoy cleaning up. I have no idea why, and anyone who has ever lived with me would be very quick to tell you this isn't a general feature of my character, but I am proud of this resource we're all building together and it is rewarding to do my bit to help it along.
Also, being a mod gives you considerable insight into the workings of the community and of SE as a whole and that is really an interesting perspective. Whatever your opinion on SE as a company, I think that it's clear that they've managed to build a great tool here and I like being a part of that.
How do you spend your moderation time? Which tasks take the largest amounts of time? And roughly speaking, how much time do you spend on moderation tasks (not counting your “just plain user” time like asking and answering questions)?
I don't really know how much time I spend on moderation tasks, to be honest. I currently have 11 SE tabs pinned in my default browser session. On a regular day, I will have work stuff on one workspace and SE stuff on another. So whenever I need a break from work I'll just swing over to the other workspace and see what SE has to offer. But it's really hard for me to quantify how much time I give to each part of my activity here since they tend to be very intertwined. I may handle a flag one minute and then post an answer in the next.
Roughly speaking, however, mod tasks on this site don't take that much time. We rarely have very many flags (I don't think I've even seen 20 at one time), so dealing with those doesn't usually take too long. Dealing with the occasional drama can take much, much longer, but that isn't too common.
What have been your biggest challenges as a moderator? Without revealing privileged information, can you talk about how you (personally and collectively) have addressed them?
The biggest challenge for me has been dealing with specific users who for a variety of reasons haven't been happy with the site, with other users or with me. I have spent hours in private chat rooms trying to sort out the various problems that inevitably arise when you get a bunch of opinionated nerds like ourselves in one place. This has at times been very frustrating, but it has also been very rewarding. Those times when I have managed to convince a user that we're not actually so bad, and have gotten them to understand what was going wrong are priceless.
What’s on your “moderator wish list”, and why is it important? By “wish list”, I mean things you would like to do as a moderator, but haven’t got round to yet (as opposed to qualities you would like to see in moderators).
I've long toyed with the idea of having contests. Say see who can answer the most old unanswered questions in a week or something. SE has been known to offer site swag for things like that and it would be nice to improve our answer to question ratio.
Back when I was first elected, I also thought it would be nice to highlight users who've had a particularly meteoric rise in rep. For example, the user who gained the most rep in a month (but only counting things posted that month, else Gilles would always win). Then we could
give them a cookie congratulate them on meta. I was thinking this might be a nice thing for new users who've gotten invested in the site. Sort of a user of the month thing.
One thing I really need to find the time to do is open a meta discussion about what we really want to do with Kali questions...
What advice do you have for somebody considering this job? What are the questions people should be asking but aren’t?
Be ready to handle complaints. Be patient and fair but remember that you will make mistakes. When you do, own up to them, fix them as best you can and move on.
As for questions, I think most of the "important" ones are included in the election questionnaire boilerplate SE posted. I think mod candidates should be aware that the primary responsibility is janitorial. We really don't have as much POWAH as some users seem to think. We have some, sure, and we have access to some information not publicly available, but we are also limited in what we can do. Our main job is to keep things running smoothly, so if you're in it for glory, look elsewhere.
How do you balance your “moderator time” with “regular user time”? Do you still feel like participating as a regular user after performing your moderator tasks?
I definitely post fewer answers since becoming a mod. Moderating does take up some of the time I would otherwise have devoted to answers. I was the third user by rep not so long ago, and have now been overtaken by a couple of users who used to be yapping at my heels! At least they both know a lot more about *nix than I do, so it's not all bad :).
But I haven't stopped altogether (stats are from 2019-02-08 to 2019-03-08):
Overall, I have greatly enjoyed being a mod here. I am very proud of this community and moderating it has been a very rewarding experience. Although I now also moderate two other sites, U&L will always be special to me.