I have been participating in this site since it was in the proposal phase in area 51. I've nurtured it through the beta period are remained active ever since. Although I have become less active in recent years, I still visit almost every day (according to my profile I have visited the main site on 3143 days, the site exists 3240 days).
Aviation is a fascinating field, with fascinating people. I have the pleasure of working in engineering roles in Air Traffic Management for over 15 years and I enjoy sharing my knowledge here and learning from others.
The community is important to me. I want people that come here to learn and that are willing to contribute to this site to feel welcome and respected.
Good quality content is important, but more important are the people that provide that content. We should be patient with those that are willing to spent their time here, even if their contributions initially are not be up to the high level of quality we are used to.
As a moderator I want to contribute to a better user experience for our new users and maintain a healthy community
- 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?
It is important to understand the issue before acting.
First, I would review the history of the arguments and flags to get an understanding of what the cause of the problem is. Is the user rude or abrasive, is there a cultural clash or language problem, or does the user hold an unpopular professional opinion that causes heated arguments within the community?
Next step would be reaching out the user. Does the user agree there is a problem? Would they accept (to) help in addressing the situation? Or are they just trolling or otherwise intentionally harming the community?
Based on the information gathered and discussion within the moderator team, the next step could ranging from coaching the user to improve their communication style, starting a meta discussion on how to address professional disagreement in constructive way or, when nothing else works, handing out warnings and eventually suspensions.
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?
First of all, I think moderators should be very careful using their mod-powers on closing & deleting questions. Content moderation is first and foremost the responsibility of the members of our community. By taking over that role from the users, moderators run the risk of alienating the community.
If I disagree with an action taken by another moderator, I would discuss with the other moderator and try to understand the reasons for the action taken. When handled properly, a disagreement and subsequent exchange of views is an opportunity to learn for everybody.
Based on the exchange, either I understand the reasons behind their actions, or I don't. And either the other moderator will revert their action, or they will not. I will not be engaging in open/close wars with users nor moderators. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.
- Being a moderator means sometimes that for the good of the community you might have to do things with which you disagree. How would you deal with such scenarios? E.g.: closing questions you would like to keep open (or vice-versa), disagreeing with the outcome of a meta discussion and having to enforce the result.
As a moderator I will act in the interest of the community. Only if I strongly disagree with a community-enacted policy, I may recuse myself from enforcing it. Occasionally I have done so in the past when handling the close votes queue. But in general I agree with the policies, or at least understand and subscribe to the intentions behind them, so enforcing them will not be a problem.
- The site participation has been declining for a while. Do you think this is a problem mods should be invested in solving? If yes, how?
Yes, this will become one of my primary focus areas should this community elect me as moderator.
I've been part of this site since before it was launched into beta. In the early years, I've spent countless hours in nurturing it. It hurts to see it decline.
After an initial period of about a year where we focused on defining the scope and building a culture and growing a healthy user-base, the focus slowly shifted from the users to the content. It seems that at some point along the line we chose to care more about the quality of the content than about those who provided that content. I now believe that was a mistake, and I believe that is where the participation started to decline.
I sometimes see established users looking for reasons to close, delete or to migrate content from new contributors. Content that with some love and time and effort could be turned into something of value and a basis for a new user's career on this site. It hurts me to see new users being turned away. If I would have been treated like that on my first days here, I would not be here right now.
I would like to see this community going back to helping each other to become better in writing good questions and good answers.
Don't get me wrong: I am all for setting high quality standards on the content, but we should be patient with those who come here as new, inexperienced users, looking to learn and to contribute.
A community that fails to attract new members, will eventually die.
- What do you think a moderator does, and why do you think you can't do the same/enough with the 20k-rep moderation tools?
A moderator's primary tasks is to foster a healthy community. By healthy community, I mean a community of members that are respectful to each other, that help each other and that welcome new users into their community, so that the community can grow and remain healthy.
Most of the content moderation can be and should be done by users with sufficient reputation, and does not require mod powers. Moderators are there to handle the exceptions, to handle the flags, to handle site abuse, to guide the community, and to intervene when community members are in a disagreement that gets out of hand.
The diamond carries weight, moderators have to lead by example.
- How would you deal with a highly regarded user that breaks the rules? E.g.: either network ones (see CoC, and being rude to other users) or community made ones (see for example not closing questions that the community agreed would be off-topic here)
Depends on the kind of rule breaking: anything abusive and harmful to the community is unacceptable. In coordination with other mods, I will talk to such a user and when no improvements in behaviour are made there will be consequences in terms of official warnings and (temporary) suspensions.
A highly regarded user not closing off-topic questions? I don't really see a problem there. We can't force people to click the close button. How would you even police that? I think it is perfectly reasonable for users to occasionally recuse themselves from enforcing a community policy that they can't agree with. Also, I sometimes don't know what to do with a question in the review queues, and then I leave it up to others. Am I punishable now?
A few months ago I answered a question from a new user that I thought was borderline on-topic. The question was (airline) business related and my answer focused purely on the aviation context. Despite the aviation focused answer, a moderator closed the question for being off-topic and I got told off for answering it. We lost that new user and my interest in contributing here received a dent. In the subsequent exchange between me and that moderator, I was told that my reaction to closing the question made him lose his joy in his moderator role. What started as an attempt to save a question from the bin and give new user a good experience on our site ended up in a bad experience for all involved. It shouldn't be that way.
Just to be very clear: I have no hard feelings to that moderator in any way. I know the job is hard as hell and you can't possibly do it right for everybody... Also, the same question looks different though a different set of eyes.
But unless users are actively encouraging questions that are blatantly off-topic, I will be careful with taking action against users that are not closing off-topic questions, and always assume good faith.
- Why is Aviation StackExchange important to you?
I have participated in building this site since it was still in area 51. I was hoping for it to become a site where you could talk about aviation & aerospace engineering and where people would treat each other respectfully. The result did not disappoint.
I remember the excitement when answering the first ever question on aviation.stackexchange, and also the fear that the community would not being able to define the scope clear enough and that it all would degrade into an unpleasant mess. Luckily we made it into something good.
I've learned a lot here. About aviation, about other people, and about communicating in writing to a wide audience of various backgrounds. I am very grateful to some of the people that were here in those early days, that encouraged me to keep improving my answers, even if they were written poorly in the first attempt.
I enjoy being part of this site, especially when I see people helping each other finding answers or improving their writing style.
- What one policy already enacted at Aviation StackExchange would you change if you had ultimate power?
I am actually not sure if it is an official policy, but I have seen that answers have been deleted because they are factually wrong. I think there is a better way of dealing with those answers.
I prefer us to keep those wrong answers, especially if a user clearly spent time and effort into crafting such an answer. Better to down-vote AND explain why the answer is wrong or write a correct answer to compete. If the owner of the wrong answer understands why their answer is wrong, they will delete or amend it themselves. If we delete such answers (because we claim to know better), that is a form of censorship and that gives me an uncomfortable feeling.
The exception may be when a wrong answer, when taken as advice, would result in large safety risks. In that case I would consider putting a big warning on top or delete the answer.
- On Aviation.SE we have a history of being more liberal with comments than other stacks; in particular we tend to accept jokes in the comment section (if without harm to other users) to leave a valve open for those that would like to be a bit less uptight. Many users from other SEs will come and flag such comments. Will you uphold our "traditions" or will you delete such comments?
An occasional display of humour is good for the community; it allows people to show bit of their personality outside the strict Q&A format that we otherwise limit ourselves to. I will leave the occasional joke untouched.
But when one person's attempt at humour escalates in a contest of who can make the wittiest remark, the value gets lost. That quickly gets cheesy and distracts from the objective of this site. At some point I would start to delete those comments.
Humour that is harmful has no place here at all and will be handled accordingly.
- What is your experience in the field of Aviation, and how do you think this might help you moderate this site?
I studied aerospace engineering and have been working in various engineering roles in Air Traffic Management for about 15 years now. I contribute to the development and international standardisation of new technologies, and this brings me into contact with people from all corners of the aviation industry, and of many nationalities. In such an environment, with its many cultural differences and language barriers, there is a constant need to make sure people understand each other.
I believe the professional experience I have will be of use as moderator.