- Describe the current challenges specific to the PhysicsSE community.
I think the biggest challenge is sorting out what is and is not within the scope of the site. Physics is, in some sense, all encompassing and so we still don't always have clear lines for what is or is not on topic. Engineering, scientific computing, and math questions always seem to have a moving line on what works here, and I think it leads to inconsistent moderation and confusing policies for new users.
Ideally, whether a question on any topic stays open or not should not depend on which set of users happened to see it. There should be more consistency and clarity on where various lines should be drawn.
- How much time do you expect you can commit to moderating the site? (A couple hours a month? Ten hours a week? Ten hours a day? Take a good guess) Also, do you anticipate any reason why that amount of time would significantly decrease in the future?
I've been able to visit the site almost every day for many years (holy cow, it's been 7 years already!). My profile says I've visited 2386 days, which is 6.5 years out of the 7.5 years of total time. I pass most of my time while codes are compiling to poke around the site and other SE communities. A modest estimate would be an hour or two a day.
- Can you highlight some of your posts on Meta that have been received poorly, and describe what information you've gleaned as a result of those discussions/experiences. If you have no such poorly received questions, consider a case where your answer has a highly scored competing/contrary answer to your own.
Looking through my meta history, anything of substance has been moderately well-received. Although, part of that is because they evolved from conversations (chat, or other questions/answers) and so they tend to represent something that is a consensus among at least a few people who all agree.
I think the biggest thing learned/observed over the years is that many people are very passionate about the site and passionate about what they want to see done here. Sometimes that passion is a little too intense and it leads to problems. So it's important to remember that we all have the same general goals, but we might disagree on how to get there -- there is no one, singular, correct way to move forward and we need to build consensus where possible. And when we disagree, we still need to enforce the policies as they exist instead of going rogue.
- A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments and chatroom messages. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. Do you feel like all the material you've posted on the site reflects that you would be a good moderator? Will becoming a moderator induces significant changes in what you do—and refrain from doing—on the site (outside the obvious addition of moderator duties)?
I used to be more openly opinionated and perhaps I don't need to be. It was uncommon that I would really get fired up back then, and now it's incredibly rare. I guess that's part of getting older.
My recent activity, aside from a few frustrated "Have you even tried to do this yourself" type comments has been benign. I don't anticipate getting too riled up or needing to worry about the extra weight of the diamond.
- 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?
Generally speaking, we don't know how to solve N-body problems and it would require figuring out where the problem actually lies. I have seen instances of people being antagonistic and so maybe the user "generating" the flags isn't at fault and are being targeted. Or maybe the user is the one acting up and causing problems. It's hard to say what the correct path is for such a vague hypothetical, because each situation is different and may have it's own history or background of the people involved. That's where it is fantastic that we have a long-serving team who are likely well aware of any histories between people.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
The first step is to talk to them. But realistically, it's okay to have diverging opinions on things. Understanding why somebody else feels an action is the correct one goes a long way, even if I don't agree. Ideally, a middle ground or clarity emerges.
- What are your thoughts about the homework policy?
That about sums it up. We've had so many discussions/arguments/dust ups/whatever over the 7 years I've been here about this. We reached a middle-ground consensus that did not make anybody happy, but at least made sense and was clear where to draw the lines. All efforts to revise it have not gained any traction. I'm perfectly happy if somebody else comes up with a policy that works, but they need to understand the history and discussions for/against everything that was decided until this point. Because everything recently proposed has either been tried and failed, or was picked apart and rejected before.
- Do you have any Meta posts that you're particularly proud of, or that you feel best demonstrate your moderation style? (source) Alternatively, do you feel that you've contributed significantly towards some other aspect of site maintenance (e.g. reviews, flags, related/possible-duplicate comments)?
I think it's hard to point to any particular post. I will crib from my questionnaire in the 2016 Moderator Election answers and say that I have worked hard to address the challenge of designing scope (but have not fully succeeded, if success is even possible):
- What is engineering and what is experimental design?
- What is the fate of the engineering tag?
- Should we allow software questions? (take 3)
- Big list resource questions
- Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics
- It is on-topic to ask about computer software useful to do some particular task?
- Network science can be a branch of physics
- Adding computational science to the list of on-topic items in the Help Center
- Realistically, are atmospheric physics questions on topic and acceptable?
- Are questions about mathematics used in physics always off topic?
- Engineering questions and answers that are closely related to Physics
- What, if anything, would you do with a user who posts a steady stream of answers that derail questions to talk about their own personal theories, while not technically breaking any civility rules?
Personal theories are not on topic, regardless of how politely they are stated. The way to handle it is the same as how to handle anybody who repeatedly breaks the rules -- point them to the applicable policies, give them some time to cool down and think it over, and wash-and-repeat until they get it.
- Chat: How actively will you participate in chat (H Bar) moderation? Do you believe that it needs some more activity from Physics moderators?
I used to be much more active in chat. But it became fairly toxic and I did not enjoy spending time in the room anymore. This was really due to a select few users.
My view on moderation, both in chat and elsewhere: This is a site for professionals and students, and so in addition to communicating physics knowledge, we should be communicating professional norms for behavior in professional environments. That means we should be able to discuss topics without resorting to insulting, demeaning behaviors. It means we should be comfortable with what we put on here being seen by a Human Resources department of our employer. If I were having a conversation in chat, it should be just like having a conversation on my workplace Slack/IRC/whatever. If something is said that HR would find unacceptable, then it should also be unacceptable here.