Do you agree with MDMarra's linked assessment here, and do you think that anything can or should be done about it? If so, what?
I don't entirely agree, and I don't entirely disagree.
While it's true that we have a significant number of low-quality HALP HALP and gimme teh codez questions on any given day, I think it's important to differentiate between well-constructed basic questions and poorly constructed questions. None of us began as subject matter experts, after all.
There's also a difference between basic questions and questions which were plainly answered in the product documentation. It's one thing if you read the documentation and don't understand it; it's quite another if you never even attempted to look for the documentation! One of these is correlated with good answerable questions, and the other is correlated with crap questions.
So I think it's important to not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. I've proposed one idea for dealing with such questions (though it seems most people misunderstood the proposal) and I'll probably have more in the future.
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?
Having seen one such user in the recent past, my thoughts are:
I would certainly encourage him to choose his words more carefully - this is a site for professionals, after all - and if he really can't say anything nice, to use an alternate means for expressing his disapproval with the questions, such as downvoting or voting to close.
I would probably encourage him to take a vacation - not from SF, but in "real life" - because he's probably very burned out and needs it desperately.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
I would talk with the other moderator in private chat with an eye toward reaching some sort of consensus on the status of the post. If we could not reach agreement, I'd consider asking other moderators to look at the situation as well.
How would you deal with each of the following cases: A new user who is posting many off-topic questions (good quality, just not on-topic) | A new user who is posting many poor-quality questions (poorly researched, "do my work for me", or generally not up to the minimum standard of professionalism) | A user (new or established) arguing about a moderation decision | A user (new or established) harassing other users
No fair, that's really four questions!
In the first case, I would advise the user to read our FAQ, About page, and perhaps meta to learn about what sorts of questions we do and do not allow. Users who don't take the hints and post too many off-topic questions, though, will hit the automatic question ban.
In the second case, I would close the questions as appropriate and point the user toward resources here on meta where they can learn what we mean by professional capacity and how to write better questions. Again, users who don't take the hints will hit the automatic question ban.
In the third case, we see such questions on meta from time to time. Often they're pretty obvious, and only need a clear explanation of how Server Fault (or SE in general) works. Sometimes they're not so obvious, for instance the user who provided the critical information for his SF question in his meta question about it being closed.
Finally, it says in the FAQ of every site: "Rudeness will not be tolerated." How much less should harassment be tolerated! It should be made abundantly clear to the user that such behavior is not wanted on Stack Exchange; while I don't know what the exact penalties are I am aware that there are some existing guidelines for setting penalties in such cases.
What can we do to keep people like MDMarra engaged in the main site and not just chat? It seems like after a certain point, Q&A isn't enough for expert-level people. There needs to be design and architecture discussions to keep people at a high-level interested, but we all know that discussion is not allowed on main. Is chat part of the natural "evolution" here, or can something be done to the main site to bring people like me back to it?
I have always thought some of Server Fault's most interesting questions were ones from the very early days which would be closed or locked as historic now, precisely because they led to discussion, were subjective, or were shopping questions. Some of these are actually in our list of canonical answers.
Stack Overflow had a similar problem, that being that some of the questions we really need to ask and answer are subjective, and its solution was to spin off the sister site Programmers. I'm not quite ready to spin off a new site What Would Limoncelli Do? but I think some of these questions do need to be able to be asked and answered.
For the moment I think the first thing that needs to happen is for everyone to remember that "subjective" does not always mean "not constructive." When I see such a question, I prefer to edit it to improve it, when possible.
Server Fault has long held itself to be "a site for professionals" - our FAQ specifically calls this out: "Server Fault is for Information Technology Professionals needing expert answers related to managing computer systems in a professional capacity." How do you define "in a professional capacity" in the context of this site? What minimum standards of effort/professionalism do you intend to encourage as a moderator?
The canonical answer to "what does professional capacity mean" is sysadmin1138's excellent answer, with which I agree in its entirety and will refer you to.
One point I want to stress here is that this is a line being drawn for the questions, not for the users. If a new sysadmin, or a developer, or even a CEO can write a good professional quality question, then that's no problem, if the question is actually about professional system/network administration.
In the nominations, every candidate has focused on what would make him a good moderator, but one thing I'd really like to know is: Where do you want ServerFault to go and how do you plan to help make it go there?
I've consistently heard two criticisms of Server Fault: First, that it's hostile to newcomers, and second, that it has too many wrong answers.
The latter seems rather absurd given the ability to downvote, and indeed, I've only heard of this complaint, rather than hearing it myself, so it's something I'll keep an ear open for, in case I actually run across someone making this complaint.
Hostility is a difficult problem, since so many of us truly are surly curmudgeons who have to put up with twelve hours of stupidity in a typical eight hour work day, and are ill disposed to "suffering fools gladly" in our free time.
As I said above, I would encourage people having issues remaining civil and polite to take a vacation, at least from SF and possibly to Cancun. I voluntarily took a week off from Server Fault myself not too long ago, since I saw in myself that I was beginning to get a bit less friendly in my replies than I would like. I feel much better now.
People who consistently have issues with remaining civil and polite may need to have a brief vacation imposed on them, but I would hope to avoid that if possible.
Moderators have the ability to close questions without the concurring votes of other community members. In light of this, how (if at all) will you change the way you evaluate questions that might need to be closed?
Closing a question is often a signal that it needs to be improved in some way. (Though both new and established users often don't understand this...) So as a member of the community, I vote to close enough that I consistently run out of votes on any given day.
That won't work as a moderator. Close votes also help define who we are as a community and what we do and do not answer, so I prefer to have the community's agreement on most questions. I will close very little, things like blatant spam, absurdly off-topic questions, things not written in English, questions that are truly indecipherable.
One thing I really like about this site is that a lot of the moderators tend to hang out in the Comms Room. This sort of "live support" is a lot more receptive in today's "instant" world versus email. While doing so is not explicitly required and nobody can expect a moderator to be available 24x7... Do you (as a potential moderator) think that this is a valuable way for a moderator to participate on the site, and why?
For those who don't know, The Comms Room is Server Fault's main (and usually only) chat channel.
Participating in chat has been valuable for me. As an open ended format, it really helps to cement the community connections I have with people here in a way that Q&A cannot. Also it provides a venue for open ended discussions which don't work in the Q&A format. It thus acts as a complement to the main site.
I think moderator participation in chat makes it more apparent that moderators are people too, just like you, and makes them seem more friendly and approachable. Perhaps two or three times a week we'll have someone drop in to chat to ask about improving a closed question or a potential question they haven't asked yet. Both moderators and others in the community participate in helping these people.
What is not well known is that Moderators also have final authority in the /review queues. Once a moderator has picked something, it's out of the queue one way or the other. The vasty closed-queue was emptied in large part because our existing mod-staff stepped in and helped muck out the stables; otherwise it would have taken a lot longer. Now that the glut is passed, what is your policy for delving into the /review queues as a moderator?
Some of the review queues, such as Low Quality Posts, First Posts and Late Answers, only require one person anyway, so I won't change much what I do in those queues, except to avoid closing questions. I probably won't ever touch the close review queue again, unless we get another huge backlog.