We did a call for moderators back when we had trouble with trolls/spammers, and no one stepped up. We even invited a couple people and ran into the ‘I’m not sure if I’m qualified. What’s the workload? Will you tell me when to moderate?’ kind of thing, which is counter to the point of having moderators keep an eye on things (self-sufficiency, sense of propriety). Effectively, a moderator has to know when to be tolerant and what’s harmful without regard to their own views on the content, to know when to use a light hand or a firm one, and to be someone seasoned enough with the community that they both have its respect apart from their ideas (agreement isn’t respect) and a sense of where the community breaks down. That’s a bit of an order (as in tall order). On top of this, they need to pretty much read most things, so that means reading quickly with accuracy.
On top of this, a moderator’s own behavior has to be stellar, and they have to be supporters of the ecosystem we’ve developed. If they’re continually stirring confusion for instance, they aren’t really moderators in the making. Moderators are ensuring the continuity of the community and it’s growth. That also means a degree of tolerance. A short way of putting it, is a moderator requires the skills of a great parent, neither helicopter nor ‘kick your arse’ if you look at me crosseyed or don’t do things our way.
In the absence of moderators, we have more of a fix it when it breaks approach, on the Support side, including when someone breaks the system by posting garbage, and an idiosyncratic approach in the form of Dr. Farrell having to make judgement calls on a case by case. Moderators are probably a good idea as the forum reaches over 1000 participants, but we have to make sure moderators meet all those criteria AND are interested. Until we get those nominations and see those behaviors borne out, we don’t have them.