Shortly after joining this site 2015 I noticed a notable stagnation in the community activity first, then a total absence of one of the moderators. Nevertheless alhamdulliah due to my own wish to share my knowledge, my stubbornness, my wish to write high quality answers and questions and improve my English, I've made some efforts in giving some good answers on the site and help others to improve their own answers or write clearer and more focused questions.
I was appointed as moderator pro-tempore on November 30th 2017.
Since I've joined the site I passed through highs and lows sometimes fearing this site will get closed as it was the case for the Arabic.SE which was closed 1 month after I've joined it in summer 2015 and the hope that this site will graduate one day.
What makes me a good moderator?
I have about 4 years of experience moderating this site, and at least 5 years of experience as a user with access to moderation tools. Even if my main activity became more and more restricted on islamstackexchange I'm active on many other sites in the stackexchange network and had the chance to see how other moderators and communities interact and work.
- 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?
On a site where various followers of a religion and other people express their views on that religion, it is hard to expect arguments and debates not to arise.
Nevertheless, it is usually not difficult to process and focus questions and answers in such a way that such debates are alleviated.
Therefore, I see it as a first step to provide such posts with a comment. In it I would put on wound or point out the problematic and the debates do not belong in our main page but are continued genre in the chat.
As a next step, I would see a revision of the posts in case the user is not cooperative. Further steps such as warnings etc. would then follow.
It is important here as a moderator not to let yourself be led into a debate, among other things because comments are very difficult to moderate and often misused.
Comments that do not directly improve the post will be handled depending on the progress and user behavior, possibly by means of a note, deletion with reference that the page should not be "used for debates".
The quality of the users' contributions only plays a minor role here, because their behavior should adapt to the stackexchange policy.
I know from my own experience that although one likes to skim the site definition quickly and the rules can only be worked out over time and sometimes through 1 or 2 "clashes" with the moderators ;)
- How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?
Before I take action, I always contact my moderator colleagues in the moderator chat and question the background, because sometimes they are not visible to me.
If afterwards I come to the conclusion that my first impression is still the same, I try to convince my colleague of my point of view and hope that he will reverse his action himself,
otherwise I will inform him before I possibly do this myself would.
I would of course prefer if the community would do this with its resources in this case.
- We attract a lot of low-quality questions from users with little to no expertise in Islamic topics, which can often drown out questions on more advanced topics. The community has a wide array of privilege-based tools (e.g. voting, editing) to curate the site and maintain a standard of quality. How important do you feel the moderators' role is in this process?
Stackexchange is a community moderated page, therefore -in the given cases- I see the moderator role in the background. A moderator has to intervene where "normal users" cannot and that should not be the case here as a rule, since the community has enough tools and options available: For example through flags and their voting behavior, both of which are a reflection of the desire of the community.
As a moderator, I want to hold back as much as possible and only intervene if it harms the site, e.g. in the case of spam and inappropriate content, I think it is important to proceed quickly.
- As a pluralistic site, Islam.SE is meant to be both welcoming and useful for questions on all denominations of Islam. How well do you believe it has accomplished this so far and what do you feel could be done to improve the experience of under-represented and less mainstream users?
Respecting the stackexchange site policy is an important approach. Because it expects us as users and communities to respect people of other faiths or denominations. Thus, the framework conditions are already set. As a moderator, I can mainly refer to these references and follow them as a role model. For this purpose, questions or general posts from all users must be processed with the necessary respect and seriousness, even if you cannot answer them (up-vote, or comment, here again I can only set a good example). As a rule, I try to welcome every new user to the site - as long as I am one of the first to read their posts - and I would like to invite all users to do so at this point. A "warm welcome" is always well received!
In general I guess we are doing fine with this, but there is clearly room for improvement.
- Under which condition would you delete or hide a question? An answer? A comment?
I would delete
Comments: If they generally are of no further use, for example not meant for clarification or improvement, if they end up in discussions and debates (see my answer on question1.). Further in case that they are rude/abusive/spam etc.
Answers: Honestly speaking for both answers and questions I tend to avoid deleting them and leave it for the community to down-vote them until they are deleted by the system. An exception for both (answers and questions) would be the case of spam and inappropriate content as mentioned in my answer for question 3. and specifically for answers the case of a warned user who is constantly posting copy-pastes or link only answers or answers who miss the topic of the question entirely.
Questions: A specific exception for questions would be the case of a duplicate (of the same user) question. However my approach is usually asking the user to do it himself first.
- As a moderator, your actions and behaviour will reflect not only the Islam.SE community, but the Stack Exchange network as a whole: this will likely involve endorsing and enforcing policies that you may disagree with personally. How do you feel about that? Does it matter if the point of contention stems from your religious beliefs rather than just a personal conviction?
Generally this is not a big deal, as the policies of stackexchange are compatible and in agreemt with religious beliefs. Of course sometimes as a Muslim one wants to help people looking for advice or in a desprate situation who may ask an incompatible question, but in either way there's always the option to rephrase a question in order to make it fit or to leave a -helpful- comment before closing it.
- From time to time we have a huge activity of people who certainly have good intentions, but want to preach the "truth". What do you think is the best way to handle with such people and situations?
A scholar said the truth is one, but the paths leading to it might be many. Therefore sometimes having such answers could be of benefit for the site especially if other users post a different answer. As a mod I'd have to encourage and leave the site being pluaralistic, but if thenigs go to extrems I might need to act or react in an approriate manner from leaving a nice comment (there are a couple fo meta posts tto which one could refer), to warning, to further actions (repharsing posts, ...,suspension).
- As this site is pluralistic, sooner or later you - as one of the moderators- or the community will close a question. However the reaction on this closure might be a meta post complaining about your "anti pluralistic" behavior (direct reference to moderator "X"). How would you react? Or Will you react on such a post? If yes under what circumstances?
As in most of the questions here communication is the key: One -moderator or "normal" user- should always leave a short comment explaining why a question was closed or an answer was deleted. However once this message was left one should avoid getting drown into fruitless discussions.
- Islam Chat and Islam Meta are both valuable tools for gauging the needs and priorities of the community, but the community has not been particularly inclined to take advantage of them. As a moderator, how crucial would you consider this sort of community engagement and what, if anything, do you feel should be done to improve it?
Both the chat room(s) and meta reflect the user activity. Both show that users are interested in the site and want to improve it or know more about it. Therefore one should at least actively give a kind of feedback if possible. It is important to show the community that there's somebody taking their input/questions etc. seriously and encouraging them to keep on doing so to keep the site alive.
- Many low quality question posts come either from Muslims with a bad basis in their religion or from non-Muslims who are simply curious about something. Would you make a difference between low-quality questions on a specific basis? For example the religious background?
Well one could say a Muslim should know more about his religion, but this would be a bad approach. I must confess I'm not much consistent on this topic, sometimes one has the impression that this question is more important to the questioner even if it looks like he/she did no or a superficial prior research, but nevertheless one likes to leave an answer. However I think some kinds of standards must be defined in our meta. And it is important to let people know that a one liner question sometimes is hardly answerable without more input. The biggest issue however is to not drive out people who might feel affected by a kind of "rejection" of their question.