Everyone here should interact with everyone else with respect. That includes interactions between regular users and interactions between regular users and moderators.
There seems to be a problem connected to that moderators are still regular users, posting questions, answers, comments. The problem is not that mods act as regular users. The problem is that mods are perceived as being not (also) regular users. This seems to have an almost intimidating effect. An effect I think the little diamond should not have in situations where a mod wants to act as an ordinary user.
Two examples from the recent past:
This question on meta:
I saw your question. It had some problems, so I edited it to improve it. I didn't do that wearing my mod hat - it isn't directly the role of the mods. I did it wearing my regular user hat: it improves the site to have high-quality questions, and that is the responsibility and role of every user. Even first time users are encouraged to submit edits to improve posts.
And on main:
Included the following exchange in comments:
If fixed the answer for you, if next time you can avoid the attitude and just fix it, I'd be grateful. – Sklivvz ♦
Yes, that's correct. I'm not the one that added that table. That was site management that did that. I'm not thrilled; the table is incorrect. But going over management's head is usually stupid (career suicide), even when management is wrong. – OP of answer
I find this situation quite unlucky. As I already commented below the answer for the first example:
Apart from tone of voice missing often from written material, how are people supposed know which hat you are wearing (, if that makes such a difference)? Seriously, I suggest the mods here might want to adopt a short standard phrase to indicate that ("RegHat:"?). Not that mods should not behave like regular users or even restrain from regular participation, but it's difficult to distinguish these roles.
Apparently it does make a difference which "hat" or role a mod is wearing during regular exchanges. This is somehow in conflict with "do not argue with mods, ever" "mod votes are binding" and some little snippets from A Theory of Moderation:
But what do community moderators do? The short answer is, as little as possible!
As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have.
Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.
As moderators should continue to be able to act in all possible ways just like regular users – although the system's design may prevent some oft that (mod-close-vote as the first in review being one example) – I guess it might be a good idea to have a more immediately visible way to ascertain what "hat" is being worn for what action, if there is some ambiguity for the action itself.
Here, I am looking for an improvement that lessens any possible intimidation, encourages mods to act as regular users (even more so than before, if they are inclined to do so and may feel a bit stifled by their powers?) and a more streamlined exchange that does not invite so much misunderstanding.
Maybe a distinction between a "mod-comment" and a "comment by a user that just happens to be a moderator as well"? Indicated by prefixing a mod-comment with another diamond (indicating "hey: this is serious!")?