To the reader: I provide some additional background at the end of this post, which the moderators may move to a more appropriate place. I do not want to clutter the process with explanations, but I think the answers I give fall short of complete without it. Please follow links as appropriate.
(1) For pseudonymous candidates, Are you a professional mathematician? In what capacity?
Please see Background to appreciate the distinction that follows. I am a user of MathOverflow with a large user number. As such, I am not a professional mathematician. However, many of my comments have been perceived by others and referenced in their answers, so some see my contributions as having some mathematical value. Also, as this user, I have posted on meta a scenario which resonates with some others on this forum, so I have some notion of what professional mathematicians can experience.
For those who conflate this MathOverflow user with the organism that punches the keys that determine the statements I make, that organism (called by a different name) is also not a professional mathematician. However, that different name appears in acknowledgments of several papers in mathematics, and references to that organism's unpublished works also appear in journals and books. That organism spent years studying with professional mathematicians, and is sympathetic to some of their concerns.
(2) Assuming a notion of "culture" as explained here, what would a newly elected moderator do to preserve it? Will there be more efforts to preserve the culture, or more to steer it toward things nearer to "what a Stack Exchange forum should be?"
Culture as I understand it is a product of the community, not of the moderators. MathOverflow before the transition (based on my lurking on MO and meta) was trying to find itself, even in the midst of guidelines for behaviour, types of questions, quality and tenor of responses. While the moderators tried to make a safe space for the community to grow, it was the community that tolerated or did not tolerate, used politeness or brusqueness, did brief or lengthy responses.
I would like to influence the community to preserve the ideals and the "fun" that appears in the early years of MathOverflow, but I also realize that MathOverflow is still finding itself. I would prefer to steer MathOverflow to "what a MathOverflow forum should be". My hope is that there will be as much fun in the future as in the past.
(3) What time zone are you in?
I am currently in UTC-7 timezone. (By no mere coincidence, so is the organism typing this.)
(4) 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?
I would ask advice from other moderators as to how to approach discussing the user's behaviour with the user.
If no other tactic occurred to me, I would frame things in terms of keeping the community together. I would point out how it is easy to fracture a community with divisive remarks, and how various previous forums failed from lack of sufficient moderation. If the user had a point to be made, I would suggest how that user could communicate the point and still keep the community going.
I would also emphasize the user's contribution and say that the forum really needed the answers more than the flags, and ask them what could be done to ensure higher quality contributions from the user.
(5) How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?
How I handle it would depend how strongly I felt about the event. Take a major edit as an example: I would ask the other moderator why such an edit was done, and why another alternative was not done. If I still felt that something wrong occurred, I would consult the rest of the moderation team. I see no situation where I would perform any rollback or subsequent edit without support from part of the moderation team.
There is possibly the extreme situation where I stand on one side of the issue and the rest of the moderation team stands on the other. If I felt the issue important enough, I would resign/quit my position as moderator.
(6) In your opinion, what do moderators do?
Primarily, moderators stamp out flames.
One of the reasons MathOverflow works well is the level of respect given to many. Flame wars are almost extinct, and even mild expressions of discouragement and disrespect are often handled quickly. It is crucial that MathOverflow have a subcommunity to watch for flames, and a moderation team to help put them out or steer them away.
Moderators can also have the job of encouraging participants to contribute in different ways, not just in maintaining atmosphere and quality content but also in determing and promoting forum goals. I hope to see more of that, once the corporation MathOverflow decides what those goals are.
(7) A diamond will be attached to everything you say and have said in the past, including questions, answers and comments. Everything you will do will be seen under a different light. How do you feel about that?
I have generally intended my contributions to be helpful to the forum. Some of my more lighthearted comments might be read in a different way as coming from a moderator, so I may have some regret about that. My future posts would likely have more of an official (hopefully still light) tone, commensurate with the position of moderator. In general, I will feel that I need to have more care about being clear than about being entertaining.
(8) In what way do you feel that being a moderator will make you more effective as opposed to simply reaching 10k or 20k rep?
As part of a moderation team, I would be in a position to encourage people on an individual level, as well as in a forum level, on how beneficial their contributions are, as well as to make suggestions on how they could help further.
Having some people acknowledge your contributions with upvotes is one thing; having a representative of "the boss" tell you how you are helping the community and how you could help it further has a different and perhaps more lasting impact. It is this additional impact I could deliver as moderator.
(9) Do you think women are underrepresented in the MO community compared to the mathematical community as a whole? Is this a problem for MO? If so, what would you do about it as a moderator? See also: 1483 and 985
I do not know if women are underrepresented on MathOverflow.
If it were a set task to increase the number of women participating in MathOverflow, I would start by asking women in mathematics what they would like to see in such a forum, and make some incremental changes to the platform to encourage participation.
I think it is more important to encourage community growth and be watchful for issues that might prevent one or another group from participating. Women may need to be such a group, but so may numerical analysts or people with statistical experience. As MathOverflow continues, the community can (and should) monitor itself to decide how to grow. The moderation team can serve as examples and send continual reminders to the community on how to do this.
(10) As MathOverflow is growing, the diversity of the moderator team might become an issue of interest. As I understand, the present moderators have much in common, and women are, to say it that way, underrepresented. In which way do you think would you contribute to the diversity of the moderator team?
I think it is more important for the moderation team to have a unified vision than to have a diverse set of experiences. MathOverflow is a resource to be used by everyone who appreciates it, but in actual fact it was intended for an audience with a specialized interest: promoting mathematical research, and doing so in English. While it may be good to require diversity among gender status, nationality, or other spectra, it is more important that the moderator team encourage community behaviour so that the forum can prosper and be useful.
I think that as more issues arise, the moderator team can ask for advice from other moderators at StackExchange to handle situations that require diversity. I would share my experiences as a new user, as a non professional coming from industry with mathematical interests, and if needed, as someone half a generation older than many of the present moderators.
Looking over the moderation team and the current candidate roster, I see attitudes and positions that encourage diversity in the forum, and I see nothing that discourages diversity in the long term.
Background: I had been reading MathOverflow when I first learned about it from a sci.math.research post in 2010. I have spent a lot of time reading posts on MathOverflow and on meta.mathoverflow.net. I had some concerns over the migration of the forum from 1.0 to 2.0, and wondered how the community would change in the transition.
I found the easiest way to participate on the migrated forum was to create a new user account, handle "The Masked Avenger". I realized that this would be an opportunity to see how someone new to the system would be treated, and if there would be any substantial differences resulting from the migration.
I will shift "I's" now, and speak as the new user. In the few months I have been active on this site, I have seen many reactions, some encouraging and some discouraging. I think I have a better understanding as to why some users would gravitate to this forum and others would shy away from it. I have gathered even more data since joining the election, and for those who are interested, I will share my experiences later. However, I am not doing this for a lark. I think there are situations where a moderator can operate effectively while using an anonymous handle in the forum. I have no such expectation of being anonymous, nor of being unaccountable, to the MathOverflow moderation team or the StackExchange Network admins. If elected I will take steps needed to ensure I work smoothly with the moderation teams.
Shifting I's once again, one can ask whether "The Masked Avenger" is a sock puppet. I have read over the debates, and note that on one hand, "The Masked Avenger" is technically a sock puppet, as it is not the first account I have used.
On the other hand, other users have had more than one account for whatever reason, and my reasons have not been to abuse the system in any way. Indeed, I have found value in the use, and am willing to share the value. If "The Masked Avenger" does get elected, I will do my best to support that user in the moderation position, not because I prefer anonymity, but because of the support and feedback I can give to MathOverflow.