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This question is designed to pull out specific feedback and views on the primary election in the 2013 moderator election. Early comments suggest that there were lots of primary only voters who may not have realised that this was a two phase election.

Did the extra phase help to generate better knowledge of the candidates? Did it create more confusion and diminish the election?

This does overlap a little with issues like how the election was advertised. But given the lively debate before the election, it seems worth having a debrief on this specific point afterwards.

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    $\begingroup$ Jonas Meyer raised a point in one of the other threads that I'm slowly beginning to warm to: maybe the people who couldn't be arsed to read that this is in fact a two-phase election are the people we don't want having a say in who our mods should be, anyway. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician May 22 '13 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. That's just the kind of point I was trying to collect - not just because it is interesting, but also because there may be counter points to be weighed in the balance, and different views. $\endgroup$ – Mark Bennet May 22 '13 at 8:50
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A benefit that existed here was that there was time for the candidates to respond to questions before the final election began. This is helpful to voters who want to be better informed before voting, and potentially encourages users who would have voted hastily to put a little more time into judging the candidates. If there were an immediate transition from nominations to election, then voting would begin before many candidates have responded to any questions.

A benefit that potentially exists, and is advertised, is that the primary narrows down the field of candidates by weeding out all but the 10 most plausible. In this case, there were only 11 total nominations, so the effect was minimal. I agree that it is a good idea to do this weeding in general, that there has to be an arbitrary cutoff somewhere, and that 10 seems good enough.

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    $\begingroup$ ...and apparently the primary also served to weed out not a few voters. :D $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician May 22 '13 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ Re the first point: a primary isn't necessary for that: just a canvassing period. Where is the second point advertised? $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor May 22 '13 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Peter: One place it is advertised is on the right side of the window on the election primary page, but it is also on some meta threads about the elections. "In the primary phase, all nominees advance to preliminary community voting. ... Initial voting should provide a rough sense of which candidates are most electable. ... The primary is not binding; nominees may withdraw at their discretion at any point during the nomination phase. After 4 days, the top 10 candidates based on primary vote score proceed onward to the election phase." $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer May 22 '13 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Peter: Regarding your comment about a canvassing period, I am not sure exactly what that means, but if it means a delay between nominations and voting without a primary, that idea was raised on meta, but not supported by SE. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer May 22 '13 at 17:15
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There was less information in the primary voting page than in the questionnaire thread on meta, so I don't think it helped us to know the candidates better.

In fact, I can't see any point to having a primary election in a proportional voting system which doesn't have any kind of party or alliance. Community Moderator Election Format and Design doesn't really say anything about the reason for the design, and the best conclusion I can draw from it is that the purpose is to allow people who think they lack support to withdraw early.

In short: it has neither an obvious benefit nor an obvious attempt to document a benefit.

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    $\begingroup$ I think it's time we start forming parties. As a set theory student, I already spend a lot of time in clubs! $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 22 '13 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: You’re probably even stationary there ... $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott May 29 '13 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian: That's true. I don't dance. My ex-girlfriend used to like going to clubs, so I would usually sit under one of the spotlights and read (at the time I was reading Darwin's book, and I applied its method to investigating the changes of dancing people and their movements with regards to the density on the dance floor). So I was damn stationary... But since we broke up some years ago, I don't recall being in a club. Except clubs of regular cardinals, of course! $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 29 '13 at 5:17

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