If you are asked to defuse a situation between two users who are angry at each other, what would your approach to the resolution of this dispute be?
Like with most questions, it depends on the individual case what actions should be done. Generally a moderator is there to moderate and help both parties to settle the argument in a way everyone can live with. Should it not be possible to find a peaceful resolution or at least get them to stop arguing in public, it might be necessary to put them in the infamous "penalty box" by handing out short temporary suspensions as a last resort until they managed to cool down.
However, I think most important is to avoid any damage to the site and unrelated members, so if there's e.g. a strong dispute in the comments below some post, it should rather be cleaned up quickly and possibly taken to chat if there's still more need to talk it out, or even private messages in terrible cases. Ask Ubuntu is meant to be welcoming and friendly, but the main site is also meant to stay focused and on topic.
How would you handle a user who gets annoyed at you (if you were a moderator), over moderator actions taken against one of their posts or comments?
Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes sometimes. Just bearing the moderator title would not make me infallible, but I believe I can handle constructive criticism and getting corrected in cases when I am wrong pretty well. Therefore I'd not be shy to admit if any of my decisions was wrong and correct it once I realize that. I also think this is pretty important to maintain transparency and hold up the trust our community puts into the moderator team.
However, if I am not convinced to be wrong, I would take the time and explain my reasoning to the user in question and make sure they can understand why things happened this way. Meta and the help center are good resources to aid in explaining our community policies here. Should we still not be able to agree, I know I can always ask the rest of the team for their opinions on the matter and discuss it internally how to respond. Even escalating a disagreement to Meta and asking for the community's standpoint might be worthwhile in some cases.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a moderator, and what role do you believe a moderator plays here on Ask Ubuntu specifically versus other sites?
A moderator should be a both a representative and servant to the community.
With the diamond, all actions and posts gain extra weight and make a big influence in shaping how people experience the site, even though the volume of moderator posts overall is comparably small. People would likely align their own behaviour with what moderators as well as high-rep users show, so they end up being role models for the community and have to lead by example.
In my opinion, they are not really supposed to lead by authority though, as the Stack Exchange model is deeply based on community self-moderation. It is important to stay humble and respect the community. "Moderators are human exception handlers" and are given their additional powers to deal with flags and extraordinary situations, while still continuing to keep the site clean by helping out in regular review and moderation duties.
All this holds true on every SE site, but on Ask Ubuntu specifically we have a community that strives to be very open, friendly and "human". We don't want to scare anyone off and should put even more effort in guiding and assisting newcomers than other sites.
How do you think Ask Ubuntu is doing at being welcoming? In what areas could we improve? Could you have any impact on this as a moderator?
As I just mentioned, from my personal experience and what I hear from others, the Ubuntu community (not exclusive to Ask Ubuntu) is generally already one of the most welcoming technical communities out there. Ubuntu is meant to be used by humans of all experience levels, from total newcomers to expert sysadmins, and that is just how diverse we are as a community.
Of course we can still get better in some areas and e.g. try to avoid saying things in ways that might upset reasonable groups of people, be it based on gender, beliefs, origin or whatever. I believe most people intend no harm, but simply don't realize when their expression or humour could hurt people, and we have to make them aware of that and clean up the not so nice things, without ending up as a censorship authority.
We also should avoid just closing questions, downvoting posts, or other moderating actions without giving friendly explanations and hints how the posts can be fixed or improved. Few things are more upsetting than coming here seeking for help or wanting to contribute and getting turned down without even having a chance to understand why you didn't meet the quality standards.
What does Ask Ubuntu get when you become a moderator? That is to say, what do you think makes you different —better or not— from the existing talent pool in terms of your aims, drives, focus, etc. What effect do you think this will have on the site and its community?
A tough question. Actually I have the impression that the current moderator team is already doing a very good job most of the time, and I couldn't point out a single thing that I (or any other potential candidate) could improve alone. It is all about team work and making progress in small but continuous steps in the right direction.
One thing that might make me different is my involvement in various technical and learning communities on Discord, where I created and lead another Ubuntu centered community and am a helper in the largest Python server. Both gave me valuable additional insights and experience in dealing with people in similar settings like here, except that Discord basically gives you real-time chat instead of archiveable Q&A. This should allow me to add some different viewpoints to the moderator pool.
I would probably be influencing the site as a moderator to focus a bit more on solving people's problems if possible, rather than being on the quick side to close borderline questions. Even if something is slightly off-topic, a comment pointing in the right direction does not hurt but gives a whole different user experience. Doesn't mean we should not still close questions to keep the site focused, but I believe everything should be done with common sense and human judgement instead of strictly following inflexible rules. I am also very open and direct to point out problems when I come across any.
Looking at your personal profile, personality, qualities and background, in your opinion/expectation, what would be your biggest pitfalls you'd have to consider if you become a moderator?
One thing that is currently a problem until roughly end of August will be time. I am in my final university semester right now and there will sure be phases where I need to focus more on that and a bit less on the site. After that time period I foresee no problems to return to higher activity levels again.
I might also be a bit pedantic and perfectionist, taking more time than others to do a task thoroughly. Probably that will rather be a quality than a pitfall for a moderator though.
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?
Depends on the benefit of the community from this user's knowledge as well as the kind and severity of issues they cause. Probably I would rather tend towards taking harsher moderating actions if necessary, than to tolerate behaviour that shines a bad light on the site and community in general.
Of course the first steps will always be to seek a dialogue and try to understand their behaviour and help them realizing its effect on other people. If there is no will to change and/or issues keep coming up, I believe we would benefit more from a peaceful and friendly community image that attracts and welcomes new people, than to cling onto one person and bend our rules and policies around them. I would not be afraid to argue for temporarily suspending people constantly causing trouble when discussing the problem with the rest of the team and deciding on what to do.
How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
If there is a disagreement, we can talk about it and learn the other's point of view on the issue. I'm always open to hear others' opinions and reconsider my own if there are good arguments, but I also speak up when I feel like something is wrong and expect the same ability to take constructive criticism from others too. I don't expect any unsolvable conflicts to come up within the team there.
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?
I am quite confident about my current posts and those of the more recent years. As I gained reputation relatively quickly and am now among the top 20 members of the site, everything with my name on it already does have a significant weight anyway (but of course still way less than with a diamond). People also know me by this name in other places and I don't think there is anything I need to be ashamed of.
On the other hand, it would probably not hurt to go through a couple of my early posts again and look for opportunities to polish them up a bit with what I learned since then.
In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
I am quick to spot problems, and if I feel like there is a mostly obvious right way to handle them (e.g. closing or deleting something), I can efficiently tidy up a lot without having to wait until enough people with enough reputation reviewed it. Of course that means I am taking the sole responsibility for these actions too instead of just casting one out of three or five votes, and I am aware of that and willing to rather discuss an issue first or leave it to the community if I am hesitating.
For some reason I also prefer handling the "bad cases" like going through the Low Quality review queue or flagging spam/abusive posts over the "regular" tasks like finding duplicates. Being a moderator would especially give me more powers in these areas, as "human exception handlers", to quote Jeff Atwood again, which I think suits me quite well.
Thanks for reading through all of this. It grew much longer again than I intended. Hopefully I didn't sound like a politician too much...