Our longtime colleague Ubiquitous is stepping down as moderator, so let me take a moment to say thanks for your contributions to our site, both as a moderator and as a member. So now the site has two moderators, myself and EconJohn, where it's usual to have three.
Because our site is in Beta, we've never held an official election, though we have had a referendum before. SE Community Managers have suggested though we try to organize an actual election however, to fill the third slot.
To avoid finding ourselves in a situation where an election would fail due to an insufficient number of candidates, I was asked to post this to try to assess community members' willingness to step up and nominate themselves, if and when an actual election's nomination period starts.
Please leave an answer if you'd be willing to run for a moderator position, should we decide to run an election.
Comments on moderating:
What does being a moderator entail?
Being a moderator mostly involves checking in on flags that steadily come in every day, usually not for very long. Rarely have I spent more than an hour a day having to moderate, and usually it's shorter. Sometimes when I wasn't sure what to do, especially when I was newer, I've had to go to the Teacher's Lounge (a private chat room with all mods) to ask the community of mods what they think would be an appropriate course of action. There's also a lesser used private chat room for just Econ mods, which I've used on occasion, but now I prefer different means of communication (more on this later).
StackOverflow has a private Q+A section for just moderators to ask more involved questions related to moderating. It's also used to communicate network wide things to look out for, like a spike in certain problem users across multiple related networks. So this is a resource that is very helpful for when you are moderating.
Every moderator has their own strengths and weaknesses. The SE team tries to be supportive about helping moderators deal with whatever may come. For example, there's recently been a short online course put out for moderators about conflict resolution. As for between us mods, for me and EconJohn, I've found for the most part we've successfully avoided stepping on each other's toes and working with each other's moderating style. I think EconJohn is a bit more diplomatic and patient than I am, whereas maybe I'm a bit more stern on certain issues, (and have sometimes taken things too seriously). Our different styles are helpful depending on the situation, and in the end I think we're both good influences on each other.
Currently, me and EconJohn communicate through Discord, which I think is an agglomeration benefit for both of us, since we use it for other communications, and it sometimes provides a more direct way for other users we know to get our attention. SE is pretty rigid when it comes to how to communicate with other users, which I think is for the best, but it's nice to have a more informal/flexible place to be able to talk to other users. (As an aside, these venues of course require moderators to keep private user information private.)
Hopefully then this will give you some idea of what it is like to work as a moderator with us existing mods.
What are the benefits and costs to being a moderator?
The benefits of moderating are mostly abstract as far as I can tell. The costs are different for everyone. For the costs, there's the usual staring at flags. Most flags are not too hard to sift through, but sometimes you'll have to make a judgement call as to whether someone is being uncivil or not. Trying to interpret some behavior over text is hard.
Some reviews in the review queues can also be head scratchers and take some time. I've found since a moderator vote, say, in closing a question is instant, regardless of who else has voted, I've taken a more hands off approach to dealing with some questions. That said, if the queue is very large or a specific issue is very urgent, sometimes you find it best to deal with these sooner rather than later.
The tasks that take longest are trying to help correct users in a tactful and helpful way, writing messages to users for particularly bad behavior, and trying to write topics in meta like this to keep the community in the loop. All of these tasks above get better over time as you get a feel for your own jurisprudence and get to know the rhythm of the other mods.
The opportunity cost of being a moderator is higher if you are a busy academic or working professional, so what I expect is that some of the best contributors to the site will find themselves putting their efforts...well, not in moderating. But moderators should have some substantiative knowledge about economics so they don't find themselves out of depth. I can't speak for everyone, but the main benefit to moderating for me is fulfilling some sense of civic duty, or if you so please, altruism in the utility model. :) I just like being able to contribute to the Econ.SE community in this particular way.
I think the ideal moderator probably will not worry too much about any tangible benefits, and will be somewhere in the middle of that broad range of human capital of economic knowledge that will help them to deal with the wide variety of issues that come up in many of these threads. So it'd be someone who is already pretty active and has consistently good contributions, and then would be willing to substitute some of that time more directly into keeping the streets clean out here.
Anyhow, forgive the organization of these comments. I wrote more than I thought I would. Please also refer to EconJohn's written answer below on his view of the costs and benefits of moderating.
(Edit: I have removed the section asking for nominating others, to try and get a better feel for who is interested enough to put themselves out there. Please feel free to continue to put yourself out there.)
NOTE: This is not an official election nomination thread, just a "pulse check" to get a notion of how many people here would be willing to step up.