One of the reasons that MO (also SO) was able to grow so well in the early days is that it had a small dedicated group of people who guided the site through its early stages and kept things on topic. I think that we need a moderation team here ASAP. I have a few nominees in mind (as do some others from MO). The longer MU takes to get a team together, the more momentum it will lose once the public beta begins.

Optimally, MU should have a moderation team in place by the public beta. As people who have committed to this site, it seems that we should be in charge of electing the first team of moderators.


Note: I have no intention of becoming a moderator here, so don't worry. Like Noah, you can expect me to fade away once MU has been stabilized.

Note 2: Yes, the title is a shameless plug for Civ4.

Edit: Since we've got some nominees already, I'll start listing the ones who have accepted their nominations:

Moderator nominees

Tom Stephens (nominated by Harry Gindi)
Akhil Mathew (nominated by Harry Gindi)
Katie Banks (nominated by Tom Stephens)
Bryan Bischof (nominated by Katie Banks)
Kaestur Hakarl (nominated by Isaac)

I think we can all agree that self-nominations should be prohibited.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds good, although by time of public beta may be a little late. What selection process did you use on MathOverflow? $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ MO was different, since it was founded by Anton rather than by a "community." $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 21 '10 at 6:15
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    $\begingroup$ It's too early to be doing this, simply, in my view. No-one has really had a chance to prove (or disprove) their worth. How does the Area 51 process work with regards to this process anyway? $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 21 '10 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: Many of the MathOverflow folks already know and trust each other. I agree that it's too soon to start any kind of election, but why wait on nomination? We need to have moderators selected before public beta begins in 6? days anyways. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: Fair point. I was unaware we needed moderators from the very start of the public beta... The set of moderators shouldn't be considered static of course, however. We should at least re-evaluate at the end of the public beta. Let's continue for now though. :) $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 21 '10 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ Why should self-nominations be prohibited? If somebody really wants to donate their time to moderating the site, why shouldn't they be able to put themselves up for evaluation? $\endgroup$ – Anton Geraschenko Jul 21 '10 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Anton: Moderators should be trusted by the community. If nobody is willing to step forward and nominate you, you are probably not the best choice for moderator. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: By 'need,' I don't mean that it's a rule imposed by StackExchange or anything (although it might be, I don't know). I mean 'need' as in a practical requirement. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: Indeed, I knew what you meant. It's a need in both ways. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 21 '10 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Anton: Huh? Who was arguing against self-nominations? I disagree however, if no one is able to nominate another user who wants to nominate themself, they shouldn't be a moderator anyway. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 21 '10 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ The OP said "we can all agree against self-nominations." $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 21 '10 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: I'm not suggesting that self-nominated people should be exempt from evaluation by the community, just that people you might not have thought of might be interested in moderating. For example, I wouldn't nominate Noah to be a moderator (either because I'm pretty sure that he'd decline, or because he doesn't spring to mind), but if he put himself forward as an option, I would absolutely vote for him. If somebody get's a lot of support from the community, it doesn't matter whether they nominated themselves. $\endgroup$ – Anton Geraschenko Jul 21 '10 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Noah: Ah, fair enough. Looks like I missed that. I've had some refresh problems with this site at times... $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 22 '10 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: He already declined. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry: Thanks, I've deleted his associated answer and added a list of people who declined nomination to the election question. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 22 '10 at 19:26

Basically we want moderators to be people who make a significant contribution (in particular they should have decently high reputation), who play well with others (i.e. can build a consensus, not ruffle feathers unnecessarily), and who are interested. I'm not sure who of the current top users is actually interested in a moderator type role (I'm certainly not, I intend to quickly ease my way out of the site once it's going well), but I think several of them would have my support if they were interested.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, this is a project that I have been excited about since it became available. I am just beginning a PhD program and I have two years of mentored undergrad research experience. I've used MO as a procrastination device for several months so I am familiar with how effective sites like this can become. I am willing help any way I can. $\endgroup$ – Tom Stephens Jul 21 '10 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Tom: FWIW you are one of my nominees. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ I would like to nominate Katie Banks to the community. I presume she is already on somebody's short list. $\endgroup$ – Tom Stephens Jul 21 '10 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ I would be interested. I too am a lurker on MO who gets a lot from many of the answers, and would like to see this site become an active math community as well. Part of my goal is to attract people who would ask and answer questions at an advanced-undergraduate level (e.g., other serial MO lurkers who have not-quite-MO-appropriate math questions). I'd like to keep the mathematical level up, in the sense of encouraging mathematical correctness and quality to answers, while limiting the scope of appropriate math-related questions as little as possible. $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 21 '10 at 8:01
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    $\begingroup$ As long as we seem to be nominating, I'd like to nominate Edan Maor. $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 21 '10 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, Katie was one of our other nominees. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Noah Snyder: even though you want to leave soon, why not be a moderator at least for the beginning? If and when you decide to leave, there will likely be other people standing out to take over from you. I think you have lots to contribute for now. You fit your description of good moderator very well: "Basically we want moderators to be people who make a significant contribution (in particular they should have decently high reputation), who play well with others (i.e. can build a consensus, not ruffle feathers unnecessarily), and who are interested." (except maybe you are not interested...) $\endgroup$ – Vivi Jul 21 '10 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ If nominations need to be seconded, I'll second the ones for Katie and Noah. If not, I'd like to add Charles Stewart and Justin L. to the list of nominees. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Katie Banks - Thanks for the nomination, much appreciated. But I'm afraid I'll have to decline, like Noah, I'm planning to lower involvement when the site gets going (lack of time, unfortunately). $\endgroup$ – Edan Maor Jul 21 '10 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ I really really can't, you see in addition to needing to publish a lot this year if I want to get a job, I'm also working on a little project called the "MIT mystery hunt" that takes up all my "helping run things" energy. Fwiw, from what I've seen so far I think Katie would be great! $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 21 '10 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Sensible nominations so far I would think. If you're still looking for other candidates, Kaestur Hakarl or possibly workmad3 might be decent ones... $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 21 '10 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Noah: sure, Kate would be great, but the website won't have just one moderator, or two (right?). But I understand your situation $\endgroup$ – Vivi Jul 21 '10 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, probably we'll want 3 or 4 to start with? Just guessing here. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 21 '10 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Noah, @Vivi: Looking at other sites, 6 moderators total seems standard. It looks to me like we have two active moderators at present: balpha and Jason Punyon. So 3 or 4 more would be a good number. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 23:22

I would like to nominate BBischof, if he's interested. He's provided a number of mathematically sound, good answers and is active so far.

  • $\begingroup$ Seconded. I know Bischof from MO and briefly from IRC. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ +1! haha just kidding! But ya, I would do it if others agree. I like this site. Go read the HW questions post if you want my opinion of what I would like to see happen here over the coming weeks. $\endgroup$ – BBischof Jul 22 '10 at 0:30

Nominating Akhil Mathew.

Because not many highschoolers know algebraic geometry...

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    $\begingroup$ I accept the nomination. Thanks! I must only point out that I'm an undergraduate now, though... $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Jul 22 '10 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry: If you're going to edit the original to include your nominations, it's only fair to include everyone's nominations. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jul 22 '10 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Isaac: Alright, but I'm not adding Justin L. It's clear that he should not be a moderator. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry: I don't think that's clear at all, but I did read his comments to indicate that he was declining the nomination. Thanks for the edit. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jul 22 '10 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ Akhil, I thought you said you'd be easing out after the site got up? Not complaining, I'd love to have you around! $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 22 '10 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ Katie: Did I? Maybe that was on meta.MO -- I don't remember saying that. In any case, I changed my mind. I plan to remain active (regardless of whether I do get elected), albeit probably somewhat less so than I have been for the past couple of days. The site looks promising, and I'd be glad to help if I can. $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Jul 22 '10 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ awesome - you're right, I think it was on meta.MO $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 22 '10 at 17:15

I'd like to have a few temporary moderatorships for just two or three weeks, enough to have more hands on the diamond tools when the public beta starts. My first stab at a list is:

  1. Katie Banks
  2. KennyTM
  3. Akhil
  4. Jason S.

which is a slate that covers participation here, particularly in comments and on meta, and on people with track records on the SOFU sites, and on the Math Overflow site.

I would want to see much more in terms of real, lasting commitment to the site before giving a permanent moderatorship to any of them.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that having temporary moderatorships to deal with the first few weeks is a very good idea. After that, there will be a larger community, and potentially new candidates for moderatorships as well as a better sense of what the current candidates are like. $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Jul 22 '10 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer and with Akhil's comment. I don't know how many moderators we should have - although it would seem that the four listed (Katie, KennyTM, Akhil, Jason S) are enough. Let's get this show on the road! $\endgroup$ – Tom Stephens Jul 22 '10 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer and Akhil's comment entirely, more so knowing that there has been some indication (on meta.MathOverflow) that there are people who are interested and committed to the beta but have not been allowed to sign up by some area51 fluke. $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 23 '10 at 2:34

How about Kaestur Hakarl? He's been active here thus far and has contributed thoughtful questions, comments, and answers, particularly on meta.

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    $\begingroup$ I think Kaestur should tell us a little about himself and his background. I haven't seen much of his non-meta activity. I think that the people in charge here should be among the more knowledgeable participants. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac: Thanks for the nomination! I would be happy to serve as a moderator. @Harry: Your question is a fair one, and I'll try to write something appropriate tomorrow morning. I have been contributing more on meta at the moment because I feel that these topics require more attention so early in the site's life. Once everything is established, I'll be contributing more on the main site. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 22 '10 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry: It probably makes sense for everyone who accepts a nomination to provide a little background. While some people seem to know one another, I suspect that there are plenty of users here who do not know the nominees. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jul 22 '10 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ I had nominated him myself, but it seems to have gone unnoticed! :) +1 anyway. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 22 '10 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: ahh, so you did! I thought I'd checked all the folded comments before I posted, but I must have missed yours. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jul 22 '10 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Isaac: No worries. :) He's nominated, that's all that matters now. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Jul 22 '10 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry @Isaac: I've written a little about myself in the primary elections topic. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/150/… $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 22 '10 at 17:17

Justin L has answered a number of questions in a very clear and concise manner. I think he's a great candidate for Moderator.

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    $\begingroup$ Justin L also thought there were a finite number of primes... $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ And Harry Gindi sometimes acts like he owns the place. We all make mistakes. $\endgroup$ – Nick Jul 21 '10 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ Justin's question is embarrassingly elementary. It brings to mind the famous metaphor of "the blind leading the blind". $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ A agree with Katie, that although Justin L is a good user who is providing energy and contributing, I would not be comfortable with him as a moderator. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 21 '10 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Not a jackass answer at all, these are exactly the kind of things the community is expected to decide on during this process. $\endgroup$ – Nick Jul 21 '10 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ First, I would say that I am probably not going to be able to dedicate the time in order to properly moderate a site as this. Secondly, I would also point out that most (if not all) of my questions have been questions that I already knew the answer to. I am simply trying to seed the site with questions that I believe this site should contain. In this Private Beta, I believe that I am doing exactly what needs to be done to ready the site for public beta. Figuring out what questions shold or should not be asked. $\endgroup$ – Justin L. Jul 21 '10 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ I would hope that my questions were obviously not real! But the purpose was that people would treat them as real questions, so in that measure I succeeded. My reputation on this internet site is something that I am more than willing to give up in order to better it. $\endgroup$ – Justin L. Jul 21 '10 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Justin L: You should clarify that in the question. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 21 '10 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry - I don't believe my clarification would add anything to the community, personally. My goal was for people to answer it "as if it were genuine", whether they believed it to be genuine or not. $\endgroup$ – Justin L. Jul 21 '10 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Justin, @Harry: Asking questions you already know the answer to is important in seeding a site that is currently in private beta. Questions committed users have are not representative of questions the average public user will have, and we need questions they are likely to be interested in if we want to build a successful site. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 21 '10 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ Justin: I thought to ask first but went ahead and made the comment anyway, probably jumped the gun a little there. I'm sorry. I do think it's reasonable to clarify in the question that you're just asking because someone might, because to me some of those questions are borderline, and when users later are writing their questions it'd be good not to have precedent like that (i.e. those questions may come, but I'm not sure we want to encourage them actively by asking them as representative questions in beta). $\endgroup$ – Jamie Banks Jul 22 '10 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Katie: If math.stackexchange is successful, such questions will be asked, regardless of precedent. (Mostly because anonymous users will come and ask the question without looking at any other part of the site.) I think the most effective way to deal with this is to already have the same question, answered well, and with an informative title, so that such users will see it as a suggested link and click it instead of asking a duplicate question. (Of course, duplicate questions are inevitable too, but that's a different matter) $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 22 '10 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: The people who don't read the FAQ also won't search for duplicates... $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Harry: I am referring to the ones that appear automatically as you type your question. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Jul 22 '10 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Katie: I think people skills, commitment to the site's goals and a certain sense for rules matter much more than carefulness and knowledgeability. I could name half a dozen people right off who would qualify on the latter; on the former I'm not yet ready to nominate anyone. $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Jul 22 '10 at 12:44

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