SUMMARY: By request of the community, the Community Management team has evaluated and agreed to postpone the election scheduled to start Monday, August 29th. We are now waiting on the Bioacoustics community to signal readiness for an election. Note, however, that we can start an election no later than November 7th, so we’ll run one then if we don’t hear a ready signal.
Based on this community’s consensus on requesting that the election scheduled to start on August 29th be delayed, the Community Management team agrees that doing so would be appropriate, and in this community’s best interest. Thank you all for the active attention paid to the proposal, and for sharing your reasoning in answers there.
We sincerely appreciate the open and honest dialogue about the events that led to this situation, and how we can move past it in a way that best serves this community. It is clear that there is a real community effort to make this site your home, and to learn how to do so in a way that respects the norms of the Stack Exchange network — and the CM Team wants to work with you to make this vision a reality.
So what’s next? What’s the timeline?
As proposed by Slate in comments, we wanna put the ball in your court, given the situation’s unprecedented nature. As such, we will wait until this community explicitly indicates readiness to set a new data for the election.
That being said, we do have calendar constraints (we need to fit an election in the network’s election schedule, and ensure elections don’t heavily collide with major holidays and such), so the latest date for the election to start must be November 7th. By mid-October, if you haven’t requested that a date for the election be set, and there is no ongoing conversation about when that should take place, I’ll come by Meta to get that conversation going.
What about the users who’d nominated in the first election and were suspended? Can they nominate for the new election?
As has been pointed out in various places over the course of the past week, it is standard Stack Exchange policy that users who’ve been suspended are disallowed from nominating in moderator elections for the year following the suspension. For that reason, the users who’ve been suspended will not be able to nominate in the upcoming election.
We do have an appeal and review process for suspension, and these users are allowed to go through it by sending a message via the Contact Us form located at the bottom of every page. If they do so, a Community Manager in the Trust & Safety team, who was uninvolved in the original suspension process, will be assigned to review their suspension details. If an appeal is accepted, then they may become eligible to run in the election — but we should be clear up front that these suspensions already come with concurrence from independent reviewers internally. It’s also worth noting that, due to the high volume of suspension review requests, it may take longer than usual for us to respond to these requests.
Community leaders and moderators
Even if the folks suspended cannot run in the election to become a moderator, it is worth calling out that these folks can still take a central part in shaping the Bioacoustics Stack Exchange community.
Being a moderator means having access to a few more tools than other users, and being part of the team that handles flags that the larger community cannot handle on their own. For this reason, moderators in the Stack Exchange network have historically been referred to as “human exception handlers” — ideally, they do as little as possible, and push most of the moderation to the larger community, who moderate using up- and down-votes, and through actions such as closing questions.
Any user can grow to be an important part of a community, even if they don’t hold the formal position of a moderator. With that in mind, not being a moderator does not, in any way, preclude active members of the community from taking a central role in leading a community. These users can still drive important discussions in Meta, take active roles in policy establishment, and perform many curation activities depending on their privileges on site.
On week 1 of your private beta, I posted some guidance on what you could do to help this site succeed — much of that guidance is still useful for ensure you have a thriving community, so I’d recommend reading through some of it again if you haven’t already. Additionally, if you’re looking for a deeper dive into specific parts of the Stack Exchange system, you can look through the Help Center page as well as the community-curated FAQ on MSE, both of which cover a variety of topics you can explore to get better acquainted with what makes our system special. As mentioned, there are plenty of different ways to contribute to the success of the Bioacoustics community, and I’m sure everyone can find something they enjoy doing.
It is the CMs’ hope that, over the course of the coming month or so, this community is able to generate enough viable candidates to have a successful election that guarantees the continuity of this site. To that effect…
The Community Management team is here to help
I’ve been keeping an eye on this site for a couple of months now, and you may have seen me and other Community Managers around, but we haven’t really taken the time to introduce the Community Management Team, and explain why we’re here and how we can help your community.
So hi! ^_^
I’m JNat, and some of my primary responsibilities include overseeing moderator elections on the SE network, and keeping an eye on sites through their early stages (from overseeing Area 51 proposals, to providing guidance while a site is getting started and doesn’t have mods in place yet) — which is why you’ve been seeing a lot of Meta posts from me. You’ve also prolly seen other folks around, Slate being the most prominent one. She’s been keeping an eye on this community alongside me, and a fantastic help with getting and interpreting data, as well as driving some of the conversations we’ve been seeing on Meta lately.
We’re both part of the Community Engagement and Enablement team, a subteam of the Community Management team that is responsible for providing communities and moderation teams with the support they need. That means we’re here to help your community succeed!
While communities are getting started and don’t have a moderation team in place, it falls on the Community Management team to handle flags and other tasks that would normally fall on the moderation team. During this stage of site growth, we keep a closer eye on the flag queue, the review queues (since there may not be enough users with enough rep to perform reviews), and Meta discussions in general.
Given the proposed course of action for the Bioacoustics community, this means those tasks will need to be undertaken by staff for longer than is usual. It is also uncommon for staff to have to perform these tasks once a site has made it into public beta. For that reason, I feel it would be beneficial for us to keep an open dialogue surrounding moderation during the period of time in which y’all haven’t picked a moderation team yet. To that effect, in addition to keeping a close eye on Meta (which we’ve already been doing) and a more active role in moderation discussions there, members of the CM team will also be in your main chat room for more informal conversations from next week on. It’s my hope that this allows you to have more input into how CMs moderate the site while volunteer moderators haven’t been picked, especially given the fact that CMs are not subject matter experts in the topics of sites on the SE network (for the most part, anyway). At the same time, this can also be a good opportunity for CMs to pass on network-established best practices, as well as any relevant knowledge surrounding the Stack Exchange network’s mores.
Questions, thoughts, dreams, hopes, or fears? Drop ‘em in an answer below, and we’ll do our best to respond! ^_^