Candidate: AJ Henderson
1) What do you think about the ongoing contest for the header photo? Would you be willing to do some of the work on this? Several years ago, we decided to add a monthly theme, but that never happened in practice. What do you think about this? Are there other things you'd change about the contest?
I like the idea of the contest. I think it is good that we showcase the work of our members. I'd certainly be willing to help with the upkeep on it.
On the monthly theme, I think that is something hard to keep up without the community as a whole getting behind it. Moderators aren't here to run the community, they are here to help make sure the community runs smoothly. It isn't really a moderator's job (or right) to pick topics for the community. We'd need sufficient community interest in suggesting and voting on topics to use and I'm not sure we have that interest right now as a community. If there is enough interest, I would be willing to help with giving themes another go.
As for other ideas about things to change, I would personally like to see it tied to activity on the site. This would need to have a meta post and discussion to see if we want to change it as a community, but it would make sense that the header image reflect our members and removing or delaying entries by inactive members who won't even be aware of their image being displayed may be a decent improvement.
2) I'd like to get more questions (and answers) on the site dealing with the artistic side of photography. Since many people come to Stack Exchange from an engineering background, there's a natural bias towards technical questions about gear. How can we attract more questions about the artistic side of photography — and what might you do as a moderator to encourage this?
The big thing here is trying to help with the understanding of "good subjective". It's a struggle across all the artistic sites and my experience dealing with this is one of what I see as the biggest selling point behind my experience.
Most of the rest of SE has questions that are strictly right or wrong and are very clear cut. Applying strong filters to that gets trained in to people for a long time and it's only relatively recently in the grand scheme of things that artistic sites and more thought as to what makes a good subjective question has become more prevalent. While it is a well documented and relatively easy to understand concept once you understand it, it takes time and effort to retrain people from their established habits.
The best way to do this is a two fold process. One is to work on editing improvements to questions that make the good subjective parts of questions more obvious. The other is to comment on closures and closure attempts to explain what makes it a valuable question and why. This helps refine people's understanding of how good subjectivity works and reduces problems in the future.
3) 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?
Ultimately, this is something of a judgement call and depends on how they respond to constructive criticism. No matter how valuable a user may be, if they are consistently driving off other users, they will eventually drive away more value than they produce. If a user is creating a hostile atmosphere, it needs to be addressed.
4) How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
Either flag it for moderator attention or just directly bring it up in moderator chat. Strong communication between moderators is critical to a well moderated site and consensus is key. I let the original moderation action stand until I have a chance to first address it with them and then if they are unwilling to reverse and they are unable to convince me, we'll bring it up to the other moderator to seek a resolution of the disagreement. Ideally, the original moderator will then take whatever action is deemed appropriate by consensus rather than having another mod have to change their action.
5) We've collectively been rather aggressive (especially lately) about closing questions which involve a camera and lens but the goal is measurement or computer vision (or any other technical use where photography as such is basically incidental). Do you think it's good for the site to have this narrower scope, with a focus on the production of photographs (whether digital or in print), or would we be better casting a wider net? In either case, why? As a moderator, how would you approach this? For example, will you quickly close questions which are primarily about machine vision, or will you wait for community consensus?
I believe that the site's scope currently does not allow for these questions when they are purely about the analysis side or trying to determine what the best image would be for analysis purposes as it does not appear in any of the meta consensus and does not fit any of the "what can I ask here" questions. I don't currently think there is need to arrive at a community consensus about computer vision questions as I believe that the consensus is currently that they not fit. If it appears to have enough photography related content I would not speedy close it, but if it is purely machine vision, I would go with current consensus and close.
If the question is primarily about how to achieve capturing an image that looks a certain way, I think that will often be on topic, but when it comes to either analysis of an image or trying to determine what characteristics an image should have to be able to be analysed, we're getting into territory that is unrelated to the current scope.
I am not opposed to expanding to include computer vision related questions if the community wants to do that, and to a certain level, photography specific questions related to machine vision might be an interesting addition, but I believe the burden of consensus is on establishing that the community wants these, not that they don't.
6) In your opinion, what do moderators do?
Moderators are responsible for ensuring that a Stack Exchange community function according to the rules and policies of Stack Exchange and the rules and desires of the community which they moderate. They help facilitate consensus forming and act as intermediaries with Stack Exchange staff when necessary.
They do NOT rule or govern the community, but rather do their best to set aside their own opinions (outside of community discussion on consensus) and do their best to act in the way the community has elected to have itself governed, regardless of if they agree or disagree with any particular parts of the community's decisions.
In rare cases, they may have to go against community will when it violates what is allowed by Stack Exchange, but ideally they'll help steer the community away from any of these issues before it becomes a problem.
7) 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?
It's a limitation for sure. You no longer represent yourself, but rather the community as a whole. It means largely setting aside your own feelings on things and actings as a representative of the community instead. I make a habit of prefacing my opinion when I'm speaking personally rather than as a moderator, but I try to avoid doing that much as comments by diamond mods tend to carry heavier weight even when they say it is their personal opinion.
8) In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
Moderator tools allow much more efficient review of several different types of possible issues. Being able to review flags also helps quickly address key areas of concern that might not fit the non-moderator addressable flags that can be handled by non-diamond moderators. I divide my time between Stack Exchange sites based on the amount of impact I can have. Being able to deal with moderator flags boosts the effectiveness of my time.
Bonus Question from Comments: How does moderating other sites impact how you would do as a moderator?
As a moderator of 3 other sites, I have already established a practice of regularly making passes through the sites I moderate to deal with any issues that require my attention.
One of the problems that Photography has had in the past is that for the most part, it's pretty well community run in relation to review queues. This results in relatively low moderator specific issues which means that often when moderators check, there are few or no items needing attention. This tends to lead to inactivity and one moderator remaining highly active while others are less active and eventually to burn out.
This also means that meta tends to get less attention than it probably should in terms of establishing consensus when some minor disagreements appear within the community. Overall things keep running smoothly enough, but some more pushing for discussion could be beneficial as would having multiple active moderators at the same time so it doesn't all fall primarily on one person.
I already have years of moderating on other sites under my belt and planning for time to handle moderation is already a normalized part of my life. It does mean I won't have the time necessary for multiple high maintenance sites, but Photography doesn't need a high maintenance moderator or overly active moderator right now, they need a moderator who is able to be regularly and consistently available to make sure that moderation work load is being shared, even when it is light. It needs a moderation team with multiple moderators who are active enough to recognize areas that need further community discussion and will bring those topics up with the community.