In the nomination phase, any community member in good standing with more than 300 reputation may nominate themselves to be a community moderator.

300 reputations points seems ridiculously low to me. Shouldn't there be some higher standards ? I think reputation points give some natural authority, which is needed for a moderator to function well. I think 3000 reputations points should be the absolute minimum to nominate as moderator. From 3000 points you get the privilege to: Vote to close, reopen, or migrate any questions. It seems reasonable to me that a users has been playing around with those tools before becoming moderator. One could even argue that you should have at least 10000 points to nominate as moderator.

Besides that, shouldn't there be a requirement for meta participation? I think a moderator should at least know what is going on at the meta.

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    $\begingroup$ Something worth pointing out: knowing what's going on at the meta does not require participating, only lurking. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker May 11 '13 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ It would be interesting to know how the reputations at the time of the elections were previously for elected moderators, but all past and present moderators have at least $14$k reputation now. $\endgroup$ – TMM May 11 '13 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @TMM: If I recall correctly, only once the elected moderators were not the top-reputed ones. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 11 '13 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @TMM Last election had much higher reps, and the top 3 rep candidates were the ones elected. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker May 11 '13 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex: Last election was for two slots. After Zev took a temporary leave and things started heating up, the runners up were brought in as well. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 11 '13 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Ah, thanks. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker May 11 '13 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ The first moderator elections are held when a site is a few months old, and does not have a lot of high rep users... It's hard enough to find decent candidates without narrowing the pool by formal criteria... Almost any formal criterion can be met by gaming the system: collecting LHF points, expressing popular views on meta, etc. $\endgroup$ – 75064 May 11 '13 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @75064: So we're lucky that this is not the first election on MSE, are we not? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 11 '13 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Yes, we are lucky that MSE lived long enough for more than one election to happen... The idea of a time-dependent minimum score looks good at first... but then we'd be discussing how it is calculated, or whether it happened to be set for a particular election just so that a particular candidate cannot run. Overall, it would amount to a machine making more choices for people, and SE already has a lot of that going on. $\endgroup$ – 75064 May 11 '13 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ Why is this worthy of discussion? I am going to apply, and I don't think I will get more than $300$ in two days. $\endgroup$ – user77356 May 11 '13 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting. Right after user77356 ("Mit Romney") announced his intention to run for moderator, he was deleted. Political assassination? (No, it turns out the user was on the spammy side). $\endgroup$ – 75064 May 12 '13 at 2:45

Although mathematical knowledge does not make someone a good moderator, reputation does show a certain interest in and commitment to the site. It also stands to reason that a person who has had experience with the "moderator tools" that become available at 10,000 reputation will have a shorter ramp-up time as a moderator. However, that experience can come with time.

Dealing with meta issues is an important part of what a moderator does, so familiarity with the proceedings on meta seems like something which a moderator should have.

I feel more comfortable choosing someone whose ideas and personality I know to be a moderator. Most of the people who have been around long enough for me to get to know, have a fair bit of reputation. However, I know quite a few people from chat who do not have a lot of reputation, so again, high reputation is not essential. However, only a small portion of all users participate in chat, so those who don't must rely on meta participation and comments to judge a candidate's personality.

My gut reaction is that 300 reputation seems a bit low, but thinking about it, I am not sure that more is needed, and if so, how much.

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    $\begingroup$ If a 1,000 points get you to a level of privilege called "Established user", perhaps that would be a good place to start. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 11 '13 at 17:47

Reputation is not a good measure of future moderator success, though a minimum bar can help to sort out very new users that would not have a chance of getting elected anyway. You can have very good candidates with less than 3k reputation. I personally think that a 10k limit would be a really bad idea, the difference between a 3k and a 10k user in moderation experience can be rather small, this would just exclude possibly good candidates.

The goal of the minimum barrier of 300 reputation is not to eliminate all unsuitable candidates, but just to prevent too many nominations that would not have a chance anyway. The number of nominations is also capped at 30, if more users nominate themselves the users with the lowest reputation are kicked out.

Stack Overflow has much higher requirements, candidates need at least 3000 reputation and certain moderation-relevant badges as well.

If the number of candidates would actually get near the 30 users limit, then raising the bar would probably be a good idea for the next election. But until then any increase in the requirements might cause more harm by excluding good candidates while providing no significant benefit.

And meta participation is expected from moderators, that is why the meta statistics from the candidates are displayed in the nomination.


I believe that the conditions you state (3k+ rep, 10k+ rep even better; meta participation) are indeed generally applicable to Mathematics.SE. I for one notice that my assessment for suitable moderator candidates takes these things into account, among others.

However, as is usual with these election matters, the bar of 300 reputation is a StackExchange-wide standard. For SE sites with a low volume and ditto meta activity it may be infeasible to gather large amounts of rep and hard to assess what "actively participate in meta" means. More so in the early stages of existence of sites (e.g. the first election, after the "Pro Tempore" mods).

One should be cautious about setting up large barriers for passive participation in elections (just like in ordinary democracies), and trust that the community will take these factors into account when casting their votes.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, and I imagine that any changes to criteria to run for a moderator position would have to be voted on in meta by the community first. Surely if enough people decide that a given condition is necessary to nominate yourself for moderation, then any candidates not meeting this criteria wouldn't get elected anyway! $\endgroup$ – Tom Oldfield May 11 '13 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @TomOldfield Actually, changes to the election process would not have to be voted on in meta. Those things are decided by SE overlords. $\endgroup$ – 75064 May 11 '13 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @75064 Certainly, but the only way to ask for the overlords to change the election process specifically for MSE (it has already been pointed out that the reason it is like it is currently is for the process to work on other sites) would be through meta. I imagine it would be a necessary (but by no means sufficient) condition! $\endgroup$ – Tom Oldfield May 11 '13 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ "One should be cautious about setting up large barriers for passive participation in elections (just like in ordinary democracies), and trust that the community will take these factors into account when casting their votes." I agree in some sense, but I think allowing a 300 rep user to nominate as mod is like allowing a 3 year old to nominate for president. $\endgroup$ – Kasper May 11 '13 at 19:37

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