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Summary: Bioacoustics Stack Exchange will begin the nomination stage for an election on August 29th to pick your inaugural pro-tempore moderators.

Back in 2015, we established that having active moderators was one of the only active requirements for keeping sites around in the Stack Exchange network:

If there's enough moderation for a public beta site to consistently remain free of spam, for flags to be cleared, and for our Code of Conduct to be upheld, your site will remain open. However, if community leaders drop off, flags sit without being addressed, and we can’t find any suitable volunteers to step forward, the site gets closed.

Without a successful first election that results in 3 users being appointed as moderators, the site will not be able to progress, and will instead be shut down. As such, having a successful first election is a very important step for a budding community such as Bioacoustics.

Most of the details surrounding elections were explained when I announced the first attempt at an election about a month ago. As you are likely aware, that election had to be canceled due to extraordinary circumstances, which were later explained in this Meta post. As such, this post will mostly go over the timeline for the election.

The timeline:

  • Starting on August 29, users can nominate themselves on the election page. Users can also ask questions on meta for potential moderators to answer. (Use the and tags.)

  • On September 5, if there are 4 or more candidates, the election will move into the voting phase. If not, I'll extend the nomination period for a week. If, at the end of that extension period, there are 3 candidates, I'll simply appoint the candidates. (Bear in mind, users who have been suspended in the last year are not eligible to run and may be removed.)

    • If there are less than 3 candidates at the end of the nomination period (or its extension), the election will be considered a failure, and the site will be shut down.
  • If the election moves into the voting phase, I'll announce the results on meta on September 13 (or September 20, if we need to extend the nomination period).


We recognize that the circumstances surrounding this election are uncommon, but I want to reiterate what I said last week: There are many viable election candidates within this community who we hope will nominate themselves for the position. The Community Team is confident that this community can still be healthy and thrive.

The success of this site rests on the outcome of that election, and at least 3 moderators are required for it to be considered a success — for that reason, we encourage anyone who is eligible to nominate for the position once the nominations are open.

If you have any questions about the process, please ask them in an answer below.

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    $\begingroup$ What a welcoming warm invitation for users to nominate themselves to moderate a site that appears to be doomed, thanks to the mishandling of this situation, users might not have the same enthusiasm as they did 10 days ago. A sensible measure would have been to wait at least a month, regain the trust of the community and give yourselves the time to carefully evaluate each user affected by the suspension, and allow each user the possibility for them to defend themselves. No. Instead the ship must sail even if the crew is half absent and many its officers are in jail. $\endgroup$
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ thanks @Mari-LouA, indeed we (70 users according to SE) have not been able to respond yet as the 7-day suspensions have just been ending now. This includes: 4 out of 5 candidates of the cancelled moderator election; 5 out of 6 editors; most of the active users since the site activity has dropped from ~5 to 0.3 questions a week during the 7-day suspensions. This is a somehow strange practice! As far I'm concerned, I got no warning before the suspension. $\endgroup$
    – Noil
    Aug 25 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ I've talked to many folks who did not receive any warnings before their suspensions. $\endgroup$
    – Carly Batist Mod
    Aug 25 at 17:01

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Just to address a prominent concern...

The site is not, at this point in time, inherently doomed or destined for closure. We keep an eye on community health metrics as a routine part of starting up a new site, and honestly, the signs are mixed, but modestly positive overall. That's frankly impressive given the volume of users that have not been able to participate over the last week. Here are some examples:

Daily actors on the site:

The description of this image follows below.

The red line in this image denotes August 18th, the day the suspensions were issued.

It's typical during a site's launch for activity to start high and slowly fall off to a healthy baseline over the following 3-4 months. This chart does show that there was a dip in activity following the suspensions, but it's not such a stark drop in activity when compared to the normal 'settling-in' phase of a new site. In fact, while there was a low period shortly following the suspensions, the number of actors to the site seems to still be equilibrating, which is overall a possible positive sign.

Posts per day on the site:

The description of this image follows below.

The red line in this image denotes August 18th, the day the suspensions were issued.

While it's obvious from this chart that the suspensions had an impact on the site's overall post count, it also makes clear that it's difficult to determine exactly what that impact was. The day the site went from Private Beta to Public Beta, there was a significant bump in activity, but ultimately the site seems to have been settling into a much slower routine. It's also worth noting, we also have many healthy sites on-network that see fewer posts than this site currently does.


In the long-run, will this series of suspensions have an outsize impact on the health of the site? Given the signs we can currently see, I'd personally consider it to be a dubious claim. Of course, there's no forecasting months or years into the future. But I suspect that if this site can find folks willing to moderate it, we will, in the long-run, be looking at a healthy site to come.

A word of advice: focus for now on trying to make sure the election is successful. I'm convinced this site can make it through this rough spot, and that this situation is far from unrecoverable. To ensure the future success of the site, though, we need to ensure y'all have a healthy complement of moderators: folks who can start to handle flags, lead discussions around site scope, and aid the site in forming good long-term quality standards.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. How is a "Daily actors" defined? $\endgroup$
    – Noil
    Aug 25 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Noil Any user who did one of the following on that day: Comment, vote, flag/close vote, post, review, or edit. (Other actions don't count as activity for the purposes of this graph.) $\endgroup$
    – Slate StaffMod
    Aug 25 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ Before declaring the patient is alive and well, I would wait to see how many of the 70 suspended users return to regular activity. $\endgroup$
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 26 at 0:31
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For the graphs, you should also consider that during the first week in August there was the Biennial Marine Mammal Conference were most underwater bioacousticians were focused. So, the 1-8 August count could easily be higher, which makes the drop after 18 August (removing most underwater bioacousticians) significant.

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