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UPDATE: The Community Team has evaluated and agreed with this request. Read more on this post.


Due to the events of the past week that led to the cancelation of the first moderator election and suspension of multiple users, I would like to pose a question to our Bioacoustics Stack Exchange Community:

Should we request a DEFERRAL of the second attempt at a Moderator Election, scheduled to start August 29th, until a future date when our community is ready and can identify nominees that can help build a successful Bioacoustics Stack Exchange Site?

I ask that our Bioacoustics community (members of this site) show their interest in this deferral with a VOTE UP if you agree and VOTE DOWN if you disagree with this request, as well as answers explaining why you think this would be beneficial or detrimental to the community.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd also like to encourage folks to leave answers sharing your reasoning, and how you think the time would help. Voting is important, but reasoning things through in writing is always critical, too! $\endgroup$
    – Slate StaffMod
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ As a sidenote, this is just a best-practice I've found from years as a user and moderator, but... In general, when trying to establish community consensus, I'd suggest posting the question itself in the form of a question, and then using answers to recommend what should be done. (There can be multiple answers presenting different reasoning for the same course of action, of course.) I suggest this because voting on the question post can affect the visibility of the post on the meta site's front page. $\endgroup$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ @V2Blast Also because reputation gates voting up and down differently, and more people can vote up than can vote down. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2022 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ Also true. Jon Ericson's answer to this MSE question about building consensus has some great recommendations on how to construct meta questions to establish a consensus. ...Anyway, I hope y'all find that helpful. :) $\endgroup$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ I do see one disadvantage with this: this increases the amount of time the Stack Exchange team has to moderate the site, as they have to moderate for the period between site creation and it getting its first moderators. I do have some alternative options which I'll propose in answers. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 25, 2022 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @gparyani - I know we're all appreciative of your desire to minimize the time that staff invests here (sincerely), and I will admit that this site has certainly been the focus of a disproportionate number of staff hours these last couple of weeks, but luckily, thats' not a metric we track. If my team invests additional hours to get the site off to a positive course correction, I'm willing to swallow those hours as a necessary part of community building. So yes, please, keep it in mind, but know that we're not sweating the hours. $\endgroup$
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ Should the status complete tag be added to this since the election was delayed? $\endgroup$
    – Ethan
    Aug 26, 2022 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Ethan- the status complete tag is typically used for feature requests, and indicates when theyre completed. (There's a whole set of "status" tags for use with feature requests or bugs). $\endgroup$
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 22:40

6 Answers 6

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Some of us who got suspended for a year to candidate for the moderator election have just received a message saying:

suspensions do have an appeal and review process, and if an appeal is accepted then you may become eligible to run in the election. [...] however, that there is no guarantee that the outcome of the process will be [...] complete in time for the election scheduled to start on August 29th.

Defering the election would allow to make this appeal possible before the election.

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Deferring the election will allow newer members that may be interested in nominating themselves time to earn the 300 reputation points required.

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We are currently in the middle of prime fieldwork time and summer vacations for many of our northern hemisphere contributors, so a little extra time may be helpful to be inclusive. Given the recent confusion and unexpected changes to our election, I think we need a little more time to discuss moderator eligibility and recruit from among our ranks.

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So will people who got suspended be allowed to nominate themselves as moderators (like the original moderator nominees)? I am not seeing a clear answer to that question. Would they have to win an appeal in order to run again? Many people in the community want them to be allowed to run. This is, in fact, what seems to be the biggest sticking point for many users I've spoken to in getting over all this drama - allowing the original moderator nominees to re-run.

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    $\begingroup$ There's an SE-wide rule that anyone who was suspended on any site on the network in the year preceding an election is not allowed to run in the election, unless the suspension was in error or was successfully appealed. So yes, they would have to successfully appeal the suspension in order to win. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 26, 2022 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Moderators have access to a lot of personal and private information of users (possibly very critical when a site is closely linked to a professional community). They're also responsible for guiding the community according to SE standards. If users have been suspended for breaching trust on other sites on the network by not understanding core tenets of SE (like voting for content rather than users), perhaps it should be seen whether others are able to step up. If the site is successful, it will certainly have additional election periods in the future as every site does. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ In the meantime, most moderation should really be done by the community - close votes, edits, flags, helpful comments, meta participation, up and down votes. Most diamond moderator work is in handling the occasional edge cases and gray areas. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 13:56
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As I said in a comment:

I do see one disadvantage with this: this increases the amount of time the Stack Exchange team has to moderate the site, as they have to moderate for the period between site creation and it getting its first moderators. I do have some alternative options which I'll propose in answers.

Alternative choice 1:

Use the old method of nominating moderators through a meta nomination thread

Prior to 2017, moderators of beta sites were decided through a question on the site's meta where users could post moderator nominations as answers, and Stack Exchange staff would select moderators from those nominations. For various reasons, I still believe this is a better system than the current method of elections especially when it comes to choosing the site's very first moderators, such as that it allows the Community Team to vet the nominees. However, the two key advantages it would have specifically for this site are:

It allows users to nominate other users, in addition to just themselves.

In a recent post, a Stack Exchange staff member said the following:

There are many viable election candidates within this community who we hope will nominate themselves for the position.

Everything hinges on that one word: hope that those who are suitable moderators will nominate themselves. However, in many past site elections, I've seen that many users who would serve the site well as moderators (as seen by their activity on the site) don't nominate themselves, as they don't believe they would or don't think they're cut out for a moderator position even if they may be (tl;dr they underestimate themselves).

The old nomination process allowed (and encouraged) users to nominate other users, or in other words, publicly state that another user is a good fit for the position. I remember running the initial pro-tem moderator thread for the Software Recommendations site, and at least one user who went on to be selected for the position said they initially didn't feel like they were suitable but changed their mind after seeing that another user nominated them. (They later went on to do great things for the Stack Exchange network; the Charcoal group that fights spam across the network would likely not have continued to exist if they hadn't been nominated.)

If we have lots of users who would be viable election candidates not step up because they don't feel well cut-out for the position, that of course creates a problem for the site's future. Rather than hope they nominate themselves, this process will allow other users to nominate them.

(Of course, the user would have to accept the nomination in order for it to be considered. In the above mentioned Software Recommendations thread, there were many who declined nominations because of time constraints or other reasons. I'm not suggesting changing this.)

There is no reputation requirement for nominees.

It might be possible that many users who would serve the site well as moderators don't have the 300 reputation required to nominate in an election. The old process didn't have a reputation requirement, meaning that such users could still step up.

I remember that two of the three users who went on to become moderators in the Software Recommendations thread I ran didn't have 300 reputation at the time they nominated themselves or got nominated by another user. (One of them is the one I mentioned in the earlier section.)

This would also alleviate concerns that some users who wouldn't be good moderators would just earn the 300 reputation required to nominate without gaining any real experience on the site at all, and would win the election by default if not many others nominated. In the old process, users who clearly didn't have real experience on the site could be picked up by community members or be denied the appointment by Stack Exchange, but this isn't possible with today's pro-tem election system.


This choice would involve canceling the election scheduled for August 29, and instead immediately posting a nomination thread just like in the old days.

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    $\begingroup$ I greatly appreciate your ideas based on what is clearly a long history with SE! But given the events of the past week, many in our community feel even more strongly that we should elect our moderators. The one benefit from this approach that would be helpful to capture are the characteristics that experienced moderators would hone in on to identify successful community moderators (hmmm… a new Meta Q?) $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Aug 26, 2022 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ There are 2 main reasons why we moved away from appointing folks in the direction of hosting elections: one of them Shannon identified in the comment above, and has to do with putting it in the hands of the community to chose their moderation team; the other reason is that the old process was way more time consuming for the CM team. You point out that the election system relies on hoping folks nominate, but the old system still relies on folks accepting the position once we offer it to them — and many times, folks wouldn't, and we'd be back at square one, making it a much lengthier process. $\endgroup$
    – JNat StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ It’s not unusual that the community nudges what they consider good candidates to self-nominate. That’s similar to directly nominating someone (old process), but without the issues JNat mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2022 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JNat First, if few enough people nominate that the nominees win the election by default, then the mod team isn't within the community's hands. The old system wasn't completely out of the community's hands, though: the team would consider votes on the answers when deciding. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 26, 2022 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ You also mention time taken by staff, but back when the old process was in effect there were way more beta launches at a time and yet the team was still willing to go through the longer process. Now that the rate of new betas has gone down by an order of magnitude, and there are more CMs than years ago to split the work, why is time taken by the CMs more of a concern? As well, having to investigate misconduct on the part of a moderator who isn't fit for the role also takes up time, and given that pro-tem elections often result in such mods that time could add up to the same as the old way. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 26, 2022 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ Finally, you imply that almost every mod who wouldn't nominate themselves but gets nominated by another user would decline the position. I argue here that that's not the case, by pointing out that such users are likely to change their mind and clear out any misgivings once someone points out in public that they're suited for the role, they're likelier to accept. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 26, 2022 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ Your comment also doesn't cover the second reason I point out here, the reputation requirement. Also, in addition to the two reasons I mention here which are specifically relevant to this site, I mention some more reasons in a chat conversation. One of those is the ability for the team to vet the candidates. $\endgroup$
    – gparyani
    Aug 26, 2022 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ I understand the thought process surrounding the impostor syndrome bit, @gparyani. From personal experience, though, many times I'd reach out to users to assess their willingness to take on the role, I was met with absolute silence (especially if they were nominated by someone else). So I'm not talking about declining the position, but rather about the fact that a CM would compile a list of candidates, reach out to an initial batch of 3, wait a week for a response, and then if the response was negative or absent, go back to step one — that is a lot of time spent on this. $\endgroup$
    – JNat StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 16:34
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As I said in a comment:

I do see one disadvantage with this: this increases the amount of time the Stack Exchange team has to moderate the site, as they have to moderate for the period between site creation and it getting its first moderators. I do have some alternative options which I'll propose in answers.

Alternative choice 2:

Run the election as scheduled, but if there are fewer than three nominees, bring in experienced moderators from other sites

Part of what was stated in earlier posts was that if fewer than three moderators nominated in the election, the site would be shut down. The hope of this delay is to increase the chances this won't happen. However, even if this election delay happens as planned, there's still a possibility of that happening.

With this choice, the election would still happen on the originally planned date, but instead of shutting the site down if there aren't enough users who nominate, the team should instead invite experienced moderators from around the network as "supplemental" moderators to fill in the gap. Once some time has passed (preferably a year from the expiration of the mass suspensions so that users who nominated previously - and haven't run into any further trouble since - can nominate), a new election is then held to replace the "supplemental" moderators who would then be expected to resign from their positions.

The primary concern indicated as to why the site would be shut down if fewer than three users nominate is that there wouldn't be enough moderators to prevent the site from turning into a bunch of broken windows. However, having supplemental moderators alleviates this concern.

Of course, I feel like my first alternative option, of having an older-style nomination thread rather than an election, is best, but this option at least allows the site to continue existing and allows the team to continue its plans to hold the election on its original date so they don't have to spend more time moderating this site themselves.

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  • $\begingroup$ Or, perhaps a ‘mentor’ moderator to help get moderators up to speed (if our moderators are much less experienced) $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Aug 26, 2022 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Shannon, I've been thinking about mentorship programs for mods for some time. While we're nowhere near ready to kick such a program off, it's on my radar screen, for sure. Until such time as we do launch a program like that, our temporary solution. is to make members of my team available to your site mods for advice. We check in with all mod teams regularly and we could certainly increase frequency of that here, if we feel its needed, though I think that would depend on who nominates and is elected. $\endgroup$
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Philippe I guess you could find a few potential volunteers for such a mentoring program within the more experienced mods as well. I’d certainly think about it, teaching new mods the ropes and paying forward the guidance I got when I started. And of course there’s always the TL for cross-site counseling. $\endgroup$
    – Stephie
    Aug 26, 2022 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Stephie, yeah, my experience at SE so far indicates that there are more than a few mods who are extremely generous with their time and would be happy to help out new mods. I don't think it needs to be a time-intensive process, but someone willing to throw in a few hours to help new mods could make all the difference. I need to do a lot more thinking about how to make it work, but I am fond of the idea. $\endgroup$
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 22:44

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