- What is community moderation?
- Why is it important for me to get involved?
- What can I do to help, and where do I start?
What is community moderation?
Community moderation is the "cleaning up" of the site by users like you! It involves flagging, closing, commenting, editing, and sometimes deleting posts. It also involves "implicit" moderation — not doing anything considered inappropriate for this site (e.g. getting involved in long comment discussions which would be better off on chat).
Why is it important for me to get involved?
Well, in the end, this is your site. You are the community, and by and large you get to decide the path it will take. Helping out by participating in community moderation keeps this site on-topic and clean, all in all a fun place to learn from. Neglect community moderation, and it slowly goes on to becoming more and more like most places on the Internet — an untamed wilderness that's no fun to be at.
Yes, it is the job of ♦ moderators to keep the site clean. But they cannot do it without participation from the community. There are too many posts coming in for moderators to be able to read through all of them, and they can't be in all places at once to keep an eye on things. This is where you come in — you keep a lookout for stuff that needs cleaning, etc., and do your best to address it. This may involve commenting, flagging, and/or closing.
What can I do to help, and where do I start?
As mentioned before, community moderation is basically when you edit, flag, comment, close, and/or delete a post with the aim of keeping the site clean.
So, what is SE's definition of a "clean" site? It is a site with good, on topic posts; a site where questions, comments, and answers are used how they are meant to be used; a site where all the users behave and are nice to each other.
How can I find things that might need fixing?
A good way to find stuff that may need fixing is to look at the review queues. Posts which may need attention are identified (by the community or the system, depending upon the queue), and kept here. You can go through these, and act on posts (flagging, voting, commenting, etc) when necessary. You can get the Custodian, Reviewer, and Steward badges for reviewing here (you can get each badge multiple times, once per queue).
What do I do when I find something that needs to be addressed?
Flagging (15 rep)
Flagging a post/comment lets other users review it and act on it. When you are unable to do something about a post (for example, if the necessary actions require you to have more rep or moderator powers), flagging is the way to go. A few cases that need flagging:
Note that the "it doesn't belong here, or is a duplicate", lets you flag for a post to be closed. There is more on why a post can be closed in the next section
Closing (3,000 rep)
You need 3k reputation to close a question, however you can always flag a question to be closed if you feel it necessary
A question is "closed" to prevent answers. This may be because the question, in it's current form, won't promote good, useful answers and may lead to unwarrented noise, or possible due to another reason.
Closing may be a "time out box" for some posts. It lets them be improved while preventing answers. If you feel that a post may be improved, comment, explaining to the user how this may be achieved. If you don't feel that it can be improved, let the OP know what he can do next time to avoid closure (use some of the links above).
Community Moderation Tools (10,000 rep)
This is a whole set of tools that give you additional access to posts that need information, including a way of dealing with some types of flags.
At 20,000 rep, you get some additional powers for increased efficiency. (See the privileges page) for more info.