9

I'm vaguely considering running in the current moderator election but I'd first like to work out whether I would be useful and whether I can commit enough time to take on my fair share of the duties.

I'm also sure that there would be better candidates if they choose to run but I don't know if that will happen!

What are the main tasks of a moderator on Personal Finance & Money? For example is it mostly about handling the flag queue, or proactively looking out for problems, or something else?

Is there a lot of dealing with problem users? If so is it mainly repeated problems with existing users or mainly new users/"drive-by"s?

I would also expect things like involvement on meta, of course.

Roughly how much time do moderators spend on it per day/week?

This is partly a question for existing/past moderators but also for any normal users with opinions about how the site is running or could be run better.

11

First and foremost, I am a perfect example that you don't have to be the most knowledgable person to be a mod. The mods are not content experts they are a community ambassadors.

Duties

  • Handle flags; but that is easy because the other mods will help and the StackExchange team is very friendly and supportive. The community flags stuff and you make it the best you can for the site.
  • Welcome new users and guide them; you will get a sense pretty quickly oh who is going to stay and who won't. This isn't really any different than the responsibility you have now as a long time, high rep'd user. (You just get better tools. You don't need to be any more proactive than normal I found.)
  • Respond to the occasional StackExchange employee request.

That isn't a whole list, but it what came first to my mind.

The mods are elected by the community because they are already respected members of the community, so the biggest job is to keep doing what you are doing. I could say stuff about fairness, keeping calm, spending a bunch of time hunting spam, blah blah blah. The SE team will share all of that with you. The truth is that you probably won't notice a huge increase in 'required' work if you visit the site a couple of times a day anyhow.

Differences with your non-mod day to day

  • You should probably leave the browser window open or get one of the apps installed so you can quickly respond to alerts. My visits became more frequent just because I responded to chats or flags. However I did it while at my regular job so it wasn't a huge time sink.
  • I found the power of the tools to be almost too much at first. My votes just closed things. My edits just happened. I could move comments and content. For me, that made me back off on some of the minutia. I just about stopped voting and clicked "skip" a ton. I didn't want the community to think I was editorializing. Most mods I know expressed a similar sentiment.
  • You will feel pretty sweet the first time you obliterate a spam account. The word destroy might give you a high. I really relished being able to destroy spam accounts.

Expectations I had that didn't happen to me

  • For me, I thought I had to start reading the questions that didn't interest me, just to look for stuff and be aware of what is going on. Honestly, this community is mature enough that you don't really need to. Do what you do.
  • I was afraid I would have to make a bunch of tough decisions with vicious or malicious users. Didn't happen. Sure, there were times when folks didn't see eye to eye, but it happened once and the SE team was there to support.
  • I feared I would blow up the site / ruin content. Turns out the SE programmers are pretty competent. If anything, I didn't get far enough into stuff.
  • I was afraid I couldn't keep up with the work, but that never happened. There are plenty of mods, plenty of support. If you are busy and don't hit the site for a couple days, it isn't a problem. Taking a holiday break? Never an issue.

Stepped down because I am getting busier at work and at home, and as much as anything it is time to let someone else in the community get invested as a mod. It is honestly a fun experience, and one that made me feel even tighter to the community.

  • I thought this for sure: "I didn't want the community to think I was editorializing. Most mods I know expressed a similar sentiment." – Alex B Apr 28 '15 at 18:24
9

The moderation level required for this site is pretty minimal most of the time. Especially if we go back to three moderators. I typically see 3-5 flags a week. More often the work is cleaning up comment threads that are turning nasty.

7

I also tend to keep the site in the background. If I had to quantify things, I'd say 15 minutes twice a day for mod work. I still spend more time answering questions than modding.

Over the last year, we lost an interesting member that got out of control and left before we needed to boot him. In general, members are civil and the issue of "please be nice" doesn't come up too often.

6

I wish I could answer "expect N hours/week" and back it up with statistics, but the truth is that my experience as a moderator is probably not representative.

I was never first a "regular" user. I didn't separate the moderator time from all the rest of my activities related to promoting a new site. I spent a lot of time obsessing about whether or not the site would succeed, wondering whether it was growing fast enough, worrying about when it would have metrics impressive enough to graduate, as well as pestering Stack Exchange about graduation :)

Of course, things are different now:

  • We graduated and so the site is a full-fledged Stack Exchange community. (Whew!)

  • Through all our years and the many thousands of questions, the community has figured out reasonably well what should and shouldn't be on-topic. This mitigates what was once a far more frequent source of issues.

  • The user community has grown a lot and matured well. There are many high-rep and valued users (including some, ahem, former moderators) and they're generally doing all the right things: welcoming others, providing quality answers, up-/down-voting, flagging issues, voting to close questions, posting comments seeking clarification, improving posts, adding tags, etc.

So I'll point you to the other answers for a better idea of the time involved, but I did want to say why I can't give you a good idea, even though I was a moderator for quite a long time. What I can definitively say about being part of the moderator team is that it is worth it.

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