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I recently noticed that elections for 3 moderator positions were going to be held. I looked through the list of candidates so far, and actually found people with, like 500 reputation, among the candidates. Also, I found that all votes were given equal value. So, I am posing 2 direct suggestions relating to elections.

  1. One must have much more reputation to contest, 5000, atleast.

  2. Votes of people with more reputation should have greater value. Maybe those with 1k-25k rep could have a vote worth 3 normal votes, and above 25k (and moderators) could have a vote worth 5 normal votes.

I am sorry if these issues have already been discussed somewhere.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/17637/… $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ Also related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9507/… As for your points, I agree with #1 (though not sure about the exact threshold), but #2 seems like a big no-no to me: some reputation is needed, but after a certain point, it isn't as meaningful. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Najib: What if we lower the rep. threshold on the second point to 12,927 points? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Heh. No, I'd still disagree. If I could personally choose all the mods myself, though... $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 9 '14 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ As far as point (2) is concerned, existing moderators' votes should be worth at least 10 normal votes! (waits for other moderators to upvote this comment.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 9 '14 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ As crazy as it sounds, I think that @ArthurFischer may have a point there; the current mods need to work with whomever gets elected--if there's someone that would not fit at all with the current moderation crew, it would be best for the entire site to learn of that sooner than later. $\endgroup$ – apnorton Dec 9 '14 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ What about a fee of around 100 rep? This would put off low rep users and filter in the more serious ones. $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Dec 9 '14 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @anorton: That is correct. There was a case that a single moderator was essentially a "rogue moderator" and it took six long months until the issue was cleared up and we got peaceful moderation back. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 9 '14 at 18:46
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For now

I don't think we can change the rules of the game after it began. We can comment on nominations, though. No need to be harsh; just leave a matter-of-fact comment puncturing the bubble.

Also, use the page Moderator Candidate Statistics, not just the nomination page. It offers more statistical information about the candidates, in a very readable layout. It is also less cluttered because the comments under nominations are omitted.

In the future

We should move toward stricter requirements for nominations; the site is now big enough to have big-city problems, including frivolous nominations. The moment this is brought up I hear the shouts of Rep! Rep! Moar Rep! but this is not the only or even the main thing I have in mind.

Stack Overflow requirements for nomination are: 3000 reputation and the badges

  • Deputy (raising helpful flags)
  • Civic Duty (voting)
  • Strunk & White (editing)
  • Convention (participation on meta)

There are currently 49 users meeting these criteria. The query sorts them by the last access date (as of the last data refresh), so that the inactive users are at the bottom. (I count 7 as no longer active, 3 are current moderators.)

(An aside: I hope some of the users on this list will nominate themselves. I will not single out anyone in particular.)

This does not seem to be a wide enough pool of candidates. Dropping the editing badge and lowering threshold to 1000 does not make much difference: 57 users.

When Convention is also dropped, 121 users meet the criteria. This looks more realistic.

We might also be more flexible and require, say, any two of the aforementioned four badges. The point is, some prior effort to serve the site must be a prerequisite to be considered for moderator's role.

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    $\begingroup$ Can the moderators collectively change such rules (for the next elction), or will the SE authorities have to be told? $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Dec 9 '14 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ The election process is administered by SE, so they would be the one making changes. I imagine there would need to be a feature-request for that, where the exact conditions are hashed out. Here I just threw a few ideas out; the election time is not the best time to actually make decisions about future elections. The dust should settle first. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ I think that the badge requirements is a definite. $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Dec 9 '14 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ The LastAccessDate doesn't seem right(?) $\endgroup$ – Thomas Dec 9 '14 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas It's correct as of the last data refresh, which happened at some moment over the weekend. Which makes it correct on the large scale (weeks or months). $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, so basically anyone with a date of 12/6 or more recent can be considered active? It doesn't say that the number one person is the most active, right? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Dec 9 '14 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas The query does not measure "activity" per se; the sort is used only to drop the users who left the site long ago to the bottom. If you are interested in current activity, this list is relevant. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ I just realized that I woul fail the strunk-white requirement. hangs head in shame $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Dec 9 '14 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Note that this badge was the first one I dropped when trying to adjust the requirements to Math.SE realities. That said, if you want to feel ashamed about not editing enough, I'm not going to stop you... $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 9 '14 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ I also worry about nominations for users who are not only minors, but barely teenagers - under 16 years old. Moderating, by necessity, requires a great deal of maturity. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Dec 10 '14 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ Is there an FAQ somewhere about what the expectations and duties are of moderators? I'm one of the 57, and while I don't think I have the time to maintain the level of activity that the position would require, I'm curious. $\endgroup$ – user7530 Dec 10 '14 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @user7530 See SE Theory of Moderation, and Math.SE practice of moderation. Note that the flagging procedures changed a bit, and so did the size of the site. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 10 '14 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael: You think you're a bad candidate!? I still don't have the Deputy badge. And this is apparently one of the important ones! (Who knew!?) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 10 '14 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer I guess we both wont nominate ourselves. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Dec 10 '14 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ After some feedback from community and moderators, I reworked the query into "Citizenship score". $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 11 '14 at 5:14
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I personally didn't expect to see many viable candidates nominate themselves in the first 24 hours. Granted, I also didn't expect the level of trollish nominations we're currently seeing. Right now it is probably important to try to ensure that this doesn't have a chilling effect on those serious potential candidates who are likely still mulling over whether or not they want to be part of this gong show process.

I know that I didn't decide to throw my hat in the ring until two days prior to the primary in the previous election. I thought pretty hard about what the heck I was (potentially) getting myself into, and whether I was up for it. I expect others are doing the same this time.

So, yeah. While things look pretty bleak right now, and changes are likely needed to forestall a repeat occurrence next time (and, sorry, I don't really have any concrete suggestions at this time1), we're still less than 24 hours into a week-long nomination period. And there's more to come after that. We'll have ample time to do a post mortem when this thing is all through. Take notes and screenshots, and think about what could be changed.

But also go out and try convince those you'd like to see run (and who haven't already announced their intentions not to) to put their hats in the ring. Think about whether you have what it takes to take on the responsibility. This election need not (and should not) be defined by its first day.

1I do think that very high rep requirements will be counterproductive. But mod nominees should at least have the ability to access the review queues. And as much as I might like my votes to be worth more, I cannot in good conscience agree that some (election) votes count more than others.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that if there is a rep requirement, it should be nontrivial but modest. Long-timers already know that high reputation on its own does not ensure someone is suited to be a moderator. There is a temptation to incorrectly conflate the skills needed to get high rep with the skills needed to be a moderator. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Dec 10 '14 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Carl: I think the rep requirements are only meant to measure the "seriousness" of a candidate. As you say, reputation as a user, and seriousness of moderating don't really go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any automated process to do this. Maybe some vetting should be done by actual human beings before nominations are posted. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 10 '14 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ "mod nominees should at least have the ability to access the review queues": It's a no brainer, and I'm stunned it's not one of the requirements. The current requirement of 300 looks completely arbitrary. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 10 '14 at 12:38
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There are two problems here:

  1. The requirements for nominees are still very low. This is the first election here that has needed higher requirements - which is a good problem to have, but one we didn't anticipate. For the next election, we'll definitely work with y'all to tighten them up a bit, but for now I've made a small change that should ease the strain a bit.

  2. A few people nominated in bad faith and were not immediately withdrawn. That's my fault - I'll keep a closer watch on nominations going forward and immediately withdraw those that are clearly not serious.

Consider these both to be growing pains - Mathematics Stack Exchange is becoming quite the place to be!

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm just wondering why the former mods and people like you don't invite (privately or not) users known as having high rep and moderated behavior to become mods? Maybe some of them are too shy to nominate themselves. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Dec 10 '14 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we do? Folks are free to make their own decisions, and not everyone wants to be a moderator... or wants to go through the election process. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Dec 10 '14 at 20:41

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