I'm ArtOfCode, and these are my answers. They're also some random thoughts I had while writing answers.
1. Views on Scope
Not long ago, I posted Is Worldbuilding a What If Site?. For
anyone who hasn't seen it, it's the result of my observation that Worldbuilding has changed its focus to more what-if
type questions over the past few months. In it lies my opinion of idea generation questions: I think Stack Exchange's
model got it right when they banned (well, not banned, but discouraged without specific criteria) opinion-based and
idea generation questions.
Worldbuilding does do these questions better than many other sites on the network ever could, but the root problem
still lies firmly where it started. There's no objective way to judge answers. And with that issue comes another,
which is that it's suddenly rather difficult to define what an answer is, which in turn makes flagging as NAA and
subsequent deletions problematic.
I think Idea Generation questions should generally be out of scope, unless they're directly about worldbuilding and
can be objectively answered. Yes, that's a flaky definition - though Green has sort of got it here - and we need
to do some definition of it. I intend to get that done after this election, whether I'm elected or not. Expect plenty
of Meta posts!
Individual actions/plot questions
You may not be surprised to learn that I think much the same of these. Worldbuilding is not plot-building,
character-building, or scene-building. We have a Writers site, which can deal with some of this. Worldbuilding
should be more about, well, building the world. Unless your character is so pivotal to the world itself that a
single action of theirs effects change on a global scale, Worldbuilding is not the site for these.
There are always exceptions, of course - and part of the meta-discussion I intend to do after this election is to start
defining more exactly what those are.
2. Why do you want to be a moderator?
Honestly? Because it's rewarding. So I guess my reasoning is a little bit selfish, though it does also get the job done.
It's nice to be able to come onto the site, and be someone who is seen to be capable, trustworthy, and reliable.
In my experience moderating on Stack Exchange (Hardware Recommendations and Open Source), it's also fun. Some
may disagree with me on that one, but I'd certainly enjoy the post, and I think that's important - a moderator who
doesn't enjoy their job won't be as dedicated to the site and its community as one who does. Having a great community
is also a massive boon, which Worldbuilding has in bundles.
3. How do you deal with a valuable but controversial contributor?
(Is it really a good idea to keep these old questions in circulation, when they've been answered many times over?
Hmmm... there's a discussion for MSE.)
Contributions are great. Arguments, flags, and the disputes in the community that stem from them, are not. The
latter outweighs the former by far. Of course, it's not just down to that - for a successful community, you can't allow
anyone to get away with breaking the rules, no matter how valuable the content they produce is.
Someone like this needs to be contacted. On noticing the pattern, I'd be sending them a mod message about it.
Communication is always the first resort: it's entirely possible that the user is just unaware of the issues they've
caused, and informing them of that is the first step to solving the issue.
There's also the option of taking the user into a private chatroom, if I think their actions aren't so egregious that
it's worthy of a mod message and the permanent stain that leaves, but I want to engage with them and have a conversation
about what can be done.
4. How do you handle a moderator action you disagree with?
Communication is the basic answer to most of these types of question. If a moderator has taken a moderator's binding
action on a post, they clearly thought there was something wrong enough with it to warrant that. Perhaps I've missed
what it is they saw. Unless I talk to them, I'm not going to know.
Most sites have a moderator-only chatroom, for moderators to talk about their duties and issues surrounding the site.
This is a prime example of what such a chatroom should be used for - I would head over there, and ping the mod in
question to ask them why they took that action. That starts a discussion, which leads to a resolution either way.
5. What are Worldbuilding's greatest challenges?
Our biggest challenge right now is nailing our scope down. I've talked about that in my answer to bilbo_pingouin's
question, which is honestly demonstrative of the challenge it is. That's my opinion there; other people will have
different points of view that are equally valid. Scope changes are always heavy on the discussion front, which as a mod
I could facilitate. I feel like once this election is over, we should be trying to make a decision on Idea Generation
Our second biggest challenge is, I think, cross-site communication. And that's hard. Code Review had to build a bot
so that they could monitor Stack Overflow recommending questions being moved to CR when they were off-topic on CR, and
even now I believe they still run it and have the occasional issue with Stack Overflow sending them stuff. This is
partly linked to the last point: I think one of the reasons we get so many what-if type questions is that other sites
don't understand our scope and see us as more of an "anything goes" site. We need to challenge that and change it, or
we'll never solve our scope issues.
6. Why are you more effective as a moderator than as a high-rep user?
Well, to be pedantic, I'm not one of the high-rep bunch!
Reputation is a figure, a measure of your participation on a site. It's never been a good judge of who you are - there
are some high-rep users on some of the larger sites whose behaviour is truly appalling. A moderator's diamond shows
everything you do in a different light, and makes you not only an 'authority' figure, but respected.
Firstly, you get access to a bunch of extra data and tools. Those allow you to perform your primary duty as a moderator,
which is to handle flags. This can't be done by the community in any tangible way (yes, there are a few ways in which
the community handles flags, some even before they get to the mod dashboard, but they're... convoluted).
Secondly, you become an ambassador. This means that you're looked at by other sites on the network to be knowledgeable
about your site matters, and by your own community to be able to, well, moderate - to mediate and arbitrate discussions
and generally facilitate the running of the site.
While some of that can be done as a regular user, I've found it's generally easier as a mod, and would allow me to
represent the site.
7. Are you OK with enforcing definitions you don't agree with?
In a word: yes. I already do that on HR, where part of our scope is "pre-purchase inquiries". I don't think that
they should be part of the scope for a number of reasons (which aren't relevant here, so I won't detail them), but
since the community has decided that we want them on the site, it's my job to enforce that scope.
It's important for a moderator to be open-minded, and this is part of that. If a moderator attempts to force their idea
of a scope onto their site, it's going to go badly and has done in the past. Moderators' points of view are of course
still valid, but they're not worth any more than an opinion from any other community member, and can be shot down just
the same. If that happens, it's time to shrug and move on - trying to argue will only cause more issues and arguments.
8. When are you active?
Ooooh, this is an easy one! I'm in the UK, so GMT or BST depending on the time of year. That's UTC+0 or UTC+1.
I'm generally around the sites a good proportion of the day - not necessarily actively participating, but certainly able
to respond to anything urgent that comes up. I become more active from 16:00, all the way through the evening. That
pattern is pretty consistent through the week, and the weekends see a little more activity.
And yes, I do need to get a life.
9. What's your review activity like, and how will it change?
My review queue activity is consistent with my general activity profile. It dropped off as my participation here did a
couple of months ago, but it's coming back now as I do. I generally try to be as active at reviewing as possible,
because it's really useful community moderation. If you like numbers, then I am currently:
- 9th in reviewing Close Votes
- 9th for First Posts
- 13th for Late Answers
- 7th for Low Quality Posts
- 8th for Reopen Votes
- 11th for Suggested Edits
As for how my activity will change, I'd be reviewing here with much the same attitude I take to the review queues on
other sites where I'm a moderator. If a case is clear-cut and I'm certain enough to act on it unilaterally, I'll act on
it. That's the purpose of a mod's binding vote - to expedite the normal community moderation processes. If I'm not sure,
then it's just a case of pressing the Skip button. I come around the review queues and have a look at the outcome of
some review tasks I've skipped every now and then, so that I can get a feel for how the rest of the community is
reviewing. That's a good practice, actually - I'd recommend it whether you're a moderator or not.
10. What do you want to preserve about the current moderation?
Currently, I can see deleted posts. Looking through some of those, it's obvious that the approach to moderation on
Worldbuilding is pretty hands-off. The cases where I see a mod-closed question, or a mod-deleted post, are rare -
especially in cases where it's debtable.
The mods here are doing an excellent job of letting the community get on with the moderation, and that's a great
advantage to the community. When a community is left to moderate itself in all but the most egregious and clear-cut
cases, it ends up being more of a community site than it ever could be if we just relied on the moderators to enforce
the standards for us.
That's what I want to preserve most. There are other things too, obviously, notably how friendly our mod team is, that
I'd love to keep, but if I were to pick one thing that's it. I think that's important to the well-being and community
spirit of the site.
11. Where else are you active?
As I've mentioned, I moderate Open Source and Hardware Recommendations, so I participate on both of those.
Open Source generally sees more participation and less moderation (because there's less moderation to do and more
stuff I'm interested in to answer), while the nature of Hardware Recommendations means that a significant amount of time
there is spent moderating and checking through for quality.
It's important, while moderating, to remember that you're not a thin blue diamond line against a tidal wave of incoming
spam, low-quality and off-topic posts, but in fact you're a welcoming face who should be giving helpful advice and
guidance on how to improve a new poster's posting. That's the moderation philosophy I try to practice, and I believe it
Other worldbuilding communities? Um. Not really. I guess you could say I helped build a world for an RPG campaign once,
though that wasn't so much of a community as a tiny group. I do also try to watch social media for interesting
worldbuilding stuff - but I don't have masses of involvement in other worldbuilding communities, no.