I'm submitting myself as a Mod candidate following an invitation from Eddie Kal.
Almost every day I edit, flag, vote and comment on questions, and I'm active in the review queues. I already do Mod-like work keeping things calm and focused in the comments. I religiously stick to facts over opinions, and if I just have a "feeling" about something, I leave it in a comment.
I'm a lifelong teacher and language nerd. I majored in Linguistics at university and have since studied four languages. I understand a language learner's heart and I'm compelled to help wherever I find them. I recently ended a wonderful sixteen-year career as a teacher of English as a Second Language, and I really miss the intangible rewards of the job. Helping out at ELL fills that hole by allowing me to continue supporting my fellow language learners around the world.
I have served as a daily online moderator elsewhere. I also developed a curriculum and trained people in conflict deescalation and mediation, which I can apply towards any conflicts that arise. It also means I don't take things personally and can keep a cool head.
- 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 communicate with them privately, and lead with something like, "I want to let you know how much I appreciate all the great answers you provide. I can see that you care like I do about helping people learn English. There's something I hope you can help me with. I want you to continue with your quality contributions, but I often notice you're involved in arguments in the comment section, and your comments have been flagged as inappropriate more than once. I'm concerned this is leading towards requiring some kind of punishment, which is the last thing I want to have happen to you. So thought I'd start a conversation with you so we can find a way to avoid that. What do you think?"
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?
I would communicate with that mod privately, and lead with something like, "I noticed you closed [this question]. I currently don't think it deserves to be closed, but I don't know your reasoning and I'd like to chat with you about it so one of us might change our mind."
- What are your criteria for what makes a good question? What qualities cause you to upvote questions? What qualities might cause you to downvote a question?
Nearly all of my criteria for a good question are captured by the rules of what type of questions are allowed, and the [How do I ask a good question?](https://ell.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask) page, to which I regularly refer question askers. Beyond that, a really good question is one that is presented so clearly that I know it will attract solid answers, and another learner with the same question down the road will understand that this is exactly their question.
If a question is poor quality, I prefer to either leave a constructive comment or vote to close rather than downvote. For me, downvoting a question is reserved for people who seem to be going against the spirit of the site, like asking the same type of low-quality answer over and over, despite getting comment feedback on how to do better. If reputation means anything, that type of question has earned a reputation hit, that's worth sacrificing some of my own reputation to do it.
That said, I mercilessly downvote answers when I believe they're wrong or misleading. I have no time for misinformed people interfering with a learner's progress like that, so I always leave a comment about why it's wrong.
- What do you think is the most important issue that the ELL community needs to work on, and what would you do as moderator to address it?
I think the biggest area of concern for ELL is how we treat people asking questions, especially new users. Other candidates have already mentioned unhelpful downvoting and comments. I extend that to include close votes without consideration for whether that question deserves to be closed. So often in the close votes queue I see questions that appear to be voted closed for "lack of research/details" simply because the question is brief, but is actually a well-formed question as it stands.
I'd propose a badge for commenting on a question after downvoting it. For over-eager close votes, I'll continue commenting that people should consider whether a question actually violates the rules of the site, or just seems to.
- Sometimes people post comments on ELL that attempt to answer a question, in whole or in part. How would you handle these comments?
In these situations, I often leave comments like, "That looks like a complete answer to me. Care to make it official?" I'll continue doing that regardless, but perhaps to greater effect if my comments carry the weight of the Mod diamond. I do the same for partial answers if there's already an answer that doesn't cover that aspect of the question. Otherwise, there's lots of half-answers in the comments, and I haven't seen any harm in it. I like it that people often leave short and simple answers in the comments because it maintains the standard of fully fleshed-out answers as the norm. Simple yes-no questions don't deserve full answers.
- This question is about your site commitment and involvement. Users may feel that they want moderators who understand SE English Language Learners in particular and how it works. Many sites now have moderators that moderate on five or six sites. How many other sites do you moderate on? Is this one of your top two sites in terms of reputation? Why are you a good candidate for English Language Learners in particular?
I currently moderate on no other sites. This is my top site in terms of reputation and current participation. I'm a good candidate for English Language Learners in particular because helping people learn languages is the only thing I'm expert enough in to contribute to the extent I do.
- Generally what is your stance on comments? For example: Do you consider comments ephemeral and nearly always distracting? Do you agree that they should be deleted if they do not ask the author to clarify? Do you believe that a long discussion under an answer or a question does more harm than good, and must be deleted once someone raises a flag? Why? Do you consider that discussions, as long as they are on-topic, should be left alone? Why? Should lengthy discussions be migrated to chat? When?
The comments I see in the forums are mostly helpful, not distracting. Almost every comment contributes something. I see very few "me toos" and the like on ELL. A long discussion isn't a problem in itself, but it's a signal there might be a problem, and therefore worth looking into, but not necessarily responding to. If it's off-topic, then I'll delete it. If it's helpful, I'll tend towards leaving it where it is. Moving helpful discussions to chat creates extra steps for users to read them --leaving the main page and coming back-- which is a barrier to access, not part of a user's flow. I suspect very few discussions moved to chat are ever read by anyone else. Also, the chat interface is so much less intuitive than the site proper.
- Some native-speakers on ELL have a view that native-speakers understand more about the subject-matter in questions than learners—who may have been learning about English and English grammar for many years. Some native-speaker users also think that native-speakers are the best judges of what makes a good answer for learners. Are native-speaker users a better judge of good answers for learners than learners themselves?
It's all about collaborative effort.
I don't think anyone -- native speaker or otherwise -- should decide for someone else that their question is wrong. Yet sometimes people asking questions in any venue accidentally demonstrate that they don't understand their subject matter, and need help just to ask the question.
Just today someone asked a vocabulary question about a sentence. Someone corrected the content of the sentence as an answer, and turned out to be wrong about even that. I downvote those and comment that they don't address the OP's actual question. I also comment to the OP to confirm they want what they asked for. As a Mod, I would delete that answer.
On the other hand, I've also seen native speakers --and I include myself here-- realize that the OP is almost certainly asking the wrong question, and use this as a "teachable moment" by reformulatiing the question, explaining why, providing an answer to that, and still offering to answer the original question if they're sure that's what they want, taking into account the possibility they're wrong. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on this type of answer because I looked beyond the words of the question, figured out what the OP really wanted, and they agreed.
Also, I don't think it's only an issue just for native speakers. I've seen some very brash English learners do this too. Everybody's got an ego.
- In your opinion, what do moderators do?
The biggest role moderators have is to participate properly in the site, and so lead by example. To the best of their abilities, a Mod should first and foremost be a good user. On top of that, Moderators also have special powers and responsibilities they use to keep things running smoothly, often using a firmer hand when the normal self-corrective processes from the community aren't working, or if one particular act requires an immediate strong reaction.
But above all, a Mod should be a good user.
- A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?
There's one somewhat aggressive comment I made a few months ago where I thought, "I sure am glad I'm not a Mod or I wouldn't let myself leave this comment." If I'm elected, I'll try and delete that comment. Otherwise, I'm quite happy to have my actions be marked as representative of how the community should work. Going forward, I'll have to consider that my words will have more impact than others' because of the diamond, and gauge what I say accordingly.