I think anything a moderator says that has nothing to do with moderation is equal to anyone else.
If you think I say something that is completely bonkers and call me out on it.. that's life.
The commentary on the actual moderating is frustrating because the user base only sees one side of things. There are the reported posts, there are the moderator discussions, there are the PM's that get sent.
There are a lot of people that say "Foobar did X and got banned. Barfoo did it too, why didn't he get banned as well?" Those arguments are often based on the things you see only on the boards. There is also a natural propensity in human beings to side with their friends.
People also take any kind of moderation against them in a very deep and personal way. I sometimes will send someone a warning. I will use it simply to let them know that they are heading down a path that will lead to an infraction. I even tell them that it is just a warning and it has no impact on their ability to use the site. The response is usually anger.
People who have moderated at other boards, like MOZWA for example, can tell you that it's much different when you see the whole thing.
Moderation is not perfect. It is not a science. Often times moderation decisions are reversed. My personal goal as a moderator is to keep the forums going in a positive direction, expecially out-side of the Off Topic section.
I have said this before but the moderation here is very lax. I have been on boards where I have had posts deleted because the moderators felt that my content was not valuable enough. I have been on boards where you can't post for a week. You can't add an avatar or a sig file until you've reached 100 posts. Lot's of sites have rules against images in a sig file; none allowed, no animated gifs, nothing bigger than a thumbnail.. et cetera.
Now flame away!!!
Thanks for the perspective from the other side, but I think that the biggest problem with the way bans and "timeouts" are handed out here is that the mods' explanations are so poor. Users don't have a list of potentially bannable offenses (unless they're blessed with a HIM-like common sense), warnings aren't always given before infractions (I didn't get one), and, most ridicilously of all, the actual infraction notice is sent via PM--but when a user is banned, they can't read their f***ing private messages (nor are the messages emailed, if you have that option checked)! Seriously, how difficult can it be for the moderators to be more up-front about the hows and whys of banninations?