Answering in order:
I hope we are ALL humble members, we live to serve, after all.
Moderators are chosen after a long and arduous vetting process involving Ed Zotti, the staff, and the potential moderator in a veritable trial by ordeal. Only the strong survive.
Seriously, it is a long process and the mods have a voice in it; their input is solicited and appreciated.
Mostly moderator candidates are judged by themselves, what they say on the boards, what they say in the application. We expect a good moderator candidate to be a participating member of the board with some solid history behind them, proven smarts, patience of Job, nerves of steel, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, etc.
I can tell you that the things that knock out many candidates are basic problems. This includes lack of grammar and spelling skills, non- or negative involvement on the board, and unfamiliarity with the columns and other Straight Dope writ. “I just think it would be cool” is not reason enough to be a moderator. “Because I want to have the power of life and death over others” is not a good selling point either. “Who’s Cecil?” will guarantee the application gets made into paper airplanes.
Ed is the final arbiter. (Cecil can’t be bothered.)
No promise that we can read every post, but we do try to keep on top of things as much as possible. We have multiple moderators in the more heavily traveled areas and we all pitch in and do what we can throughout the board. That being said, it’s impossible for any one of to read every post in every forum, or even every post in the bigger areas; just too much traffic and we all have lives. Well, most of us.
The work of moderating is not compensated by mere money but in the glow of satisfaction that comes from doing good and making the world just a tad less ignorant. That goes a long way. You also get a coffee mug and our heartiest best wishes. The Reader throws us an occasional calendar.
While it could easily become a life’s work, moderating the board is an extra activity all of us have besides whatever we do to earn a living. We fit it in wherever we can; some can read from work, others from home, sometimes it changes depending on circumstances. We do our best. We do expect it to be an investment of time and effort on your part.
Applications for becoming a moderator are available from me, just send an email to start the adventure. Remember, many are called, few are chosen.
Hope this answers all your questions.
your humble TubaDiva