Happy new year!
tl;dr: there will be a moderator election some time in March. Start thinking about if you'd like to be elected.
UPDATE The community management team have let me know they are working on scheduling it and will be sharing information regarding the election soon!
UPDATE UPDATE Question gathering will start on the 7th of March, with nominations starting on the 14th of March.
You may or may not have noticed, but we have not had a moderator election for quite some time. It's been six years since our last one. The main reason for this is that the moderators have felt that we can cope with the level of work required without extra help.
Towards the end of last year SE staff approached the moderator team and asked if we wanted extra help or if anyone wanted to step down.
Well, I have been thinking about this for well over a year, and I've decided it's time to end my run.
I've been moderating for eight years, and after a while I stopped enjoying it. I did some introspection and asked myself why I was still doing it and the honest answer was that I liked the extra respect that moderators get and I like being a part of the moderator community.
Essentially I like the power but not the job, which doesn't seem like a healthy place to be. So I told SE that I would like to step down, and the moderators have decided that we should at least replace me, so there has been an election scheduled for some time in March. I've said I'd like to stick around until the newbie is comfortable, but then hand in my diamond.
If you're thinking about running let me give you some insights into what it's like.
Before I ran for moderator, I had high hopes that being a moderator means being able to drastically reshape the site and turn it into exactly what the community wants. This is not true. We mostly try to incrementally improve the quality of content on the site. Deleting, closing, editing. Like not being a mod, but with less oversight. We get access to the flag queue, which is a list of posts and comments that users have flagged for some reason. When I started there were a lot more flags, I could handle 20 per day and there would still be dozens left over. These days there are far fewer, but participation in the site has declined as well (check the difference between 2018: a year in moderation and 2021: a year in moderation).
Flag handling, of course isn't all moderators are good for. One of the most satisfying parts of the jobs for me is destroying spammers. A few clicks and the account is gone, taking the spam with it. We also have to intervene with users who are not happy for some reason, perhaps they're removing their content, or maybe they're stirring up trouble. Talking people down is a useful skill to acquire. I'm not sure if I've truly got it, but I feel like I've improved.
Another user moderation task is finding sock puppets that are being misused. I am not too good at this, so I let other moderators handle it. Some users are so problematic and widespread that there is a coördinated effort between moderators of multiple sites to find them and stop them.
This, handily, brings me on to my favourite part of being a moderator: the moderator community. I will be very sad to lose this connection (this and unlimited editing time for chat messages). These are knowledgeable and friendly people, this includes the community managers that SE employs.
The mod community is very important as you often find yourself not knowing or forgetting how to do something, and they will know. Also, you'll probably happen upon tools you didn't even know existed, thanks to them.
I can recommend being a moderator, if only for a bit, just to get a good perspective on how SE works behind the scenes. You can always stop when you've had enough.
Thanks for having me as a moderator. It's been a ride!