Inspired by a question on Physics I just wanted to ask if us mods here on Skeptics are welcoming to folks who come, and still manage to uphold our standards? I know that we have very strict standards here, and I can see how it may be off-putting to folks who are new here.
I would like to temper the idea that Mods are the Welcoming Committee.
Yes, mods should tend to be polite. Yes, mods should tend to be encouraging. Yes, mods should tend to role-model behaviours for the community to follow. Yes, our community is small, and the mods are not just mods, but also big players in the community.
But I don't think "Welcoming Committee" should fall onto the shoulders of the mods. It doesn't require mod powers. It doesn't require the wisdom of Solomon to arbitrate. It isn't about "exception handling". It is something anyone in the community (with sufficient rep to comment) can do.
I think it is a duty (Duty may be too strong; how about "a nice thing to do"?) that we are all responsible for.
I think @Carlo_R deserves a shout-out here. Even when he was fairly new to the scene, he was posting messages to first-timers encouraging them to stick around. He demonstrated you don't need a black diamond next to your name to be welcoming.
[Disclosure for the newer members: I am an ex-mod (pro temp) of Skeptics.SE from the beta days.]
It is extremely difficult to post here, to the point where I'm not an active contributor.
However, because of the nature of this topic, Skeptics wouldn't be the great resource that it is without the standards. I feel confident that if I'm searching for an answer to something, that what I'm seeing is indeed accurate information because it's so well sourced.
Without the standards, this site would just be random people on the Internet making claims. Because of standards, I have a lot of respect for what is said here and take users' contributions seriously.
As for new users, perhaps removing the number of links restriction for new users would be helpful. After all, if someone just posts garbage, that's what we have spam flags and moderators for. ;) By all means, make it easier for people to meet the standards, and be nice to them, but don't lower the standards. This site is what it is because of the dedication of the members of this community.
It's hard to post on Skeptics. I haven't even answered once yet, only asked questions. The fact is that there are strict requirements and you're never too sure that what you wrote is going to work.
Nevertheless, it's not a problem of people. Yes, my start was not the most brilliant, but I didn't mind that much. Downvotes are always around the corner, life is too short to really worry about such things.
And anyway, even if you meet "not-so-nice" users, you know they are everywhere and it's not a problem specific to Skeptics. The intimidation only comes from the requirements, but I wouldn't want the requirements to be really more bland. They are a part of what helps to keep the standards high: and the community chose them if I remember correctly.
Once you understand the basic mechanisms of the site, the reward is great. This is the only site where answers are always above the 10+. That's the reward.
I would say: Welcoming, but intimidating. The requirement for sourcing and all that makes it difficult to really get in the community. And then, if a new, new person comes here, they get smacked with the limit to number of links in an answer pain that Brooke had. Just seems like there could be some exceptions for the requirement of this community.