What follows is a heavily-revised version of an earlier post. The revisions are intended to address issues brought up in other answers.
Richard as a moderator
First of all, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Richard has been an excellent moderator. Let me explain why:
- Availability: One thing that cannot be disputed is that Richard has been available — even when the poor man was on holiday recently. Richard has been visible and ready and willing to respond to issues, crises, and dramas of all sizes. In many cases, he has prevented larger issues from occurring.
- Outcome of Decisions: Do people disagree with his decisions? Of course. If something needs to be moderated, then there are usually two sides to the story, and someone will always feel slighted by the process. Also, moderation on the stack is not a tribunal process. Moderation requires action. I would say that Richard's moderation has solved more problems than it has caused, which means he was acting and often taking the correct action.
- Impartiality: I see very little favouritism or other such abuses in his moderation history. As one example, let's take comment removal. He snips comment threads when they get too long (or too heated). Some people take issue with this, but (a) comments are described in the overarching SE philosophy as being temporary, (b) I have seen no "patterns" in his comment removal, and (c) I have seen him remove comments that would benefit him if they were to stay. In general, if one is unhappy with a moderation decision, it is easy to start seeing "patterns" of favouritism where there are none.
- Chat Room Behaviour: It's been noted that he whips out the "mod hammer", etc., when in the chat room. But the chat room is not the site. I would be more concerned if Richard posted the mod hammer in comments below a question or answer. Richard's personality was "available" to the public prior to his election. I'm not sure we should penalize him for being himself in chat.
All in all, I will be sad to see Richard go as a moderator. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this community in your moderator capacity.
Richard as a user
I feel that some of the issues with Richard as a moderator come from the perception of Richard as a user.
Let's be clear: Richard is more famous on this site for being an extremely high-rep user than for being a mod.
For instance, at one point, an issue was taken with him as a moderator when the real problem was with him as a user. Richard had downvoted a question which (in all honesty) was perfectly legitimate and identified himself as the downvoter, which then caused or further fueled a downvote mini-apocalypse. The OP became agitated at this, and Richard's influence as a moderator came up:
I hope you can accept the criticism that on many occasions I see you downvoting or criticizing myself and others (Ernie most recently comes to mind) in a not-unbiased way which isn't befitting a moderator. In this instance, downvoting should be primarily for ill-formed or off-topic questions, not because YOU think the answer is "yes, it's a coincidence." YOUR leadership influences people.
The OP makes an interesting point, but it's really about Richard the high-rep user, not about Richard the moderator. Richard exerts this perceived influence because of his high rep and visibility, not because he is a moderator.
I contend that Richard has, indeed, been excellent as a moderator, and everyone is allowed to make a few mistakes. I feel, however, that ever since he became a mod, we have been unable to separate Richard the moderator from Richard the user.
One might counter this by saying that he hasn't sufficiently separated these two roles, but I also contend that he has, to the extent that sometimes I feel that I have been dealing with two different users, Richard with his mod cap on and Richard with his "my answer is better than yours and the novelization thinks so too" cap on. ;-)
For the record, Richard the user is a good guy, too, but I think if there are concerns, they are with the asker/answerer not with the moderator.