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Per my previous question, it seems like the beta phase of sites is continuing much longer than previously. Currently, pro-temp moderators are nominated when a site is only a few weeks old, when the site is still very new and unshaped. They continue until they are unable to moderate, or the site graduates to a full site. The problem that I'm seeing is that there are now sites that have been in beta for over a year, which is a time period sufficient that many changes can be made in a persons life, that the community has started to take ownership already, and as a whole, seems to be ready to start taking at least some ownership.

So, the question is, should we allow elections for beta sites that have crossed over some considerable amount of time, perhaps 6 months or something around that mark?

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The problem that I'm seeing is that there are now sites that have been in beta for over a year, which is a time period sufficient that many changes can be made in a persons life, that the community has started to take ownership already, and as a whole, seems to be ready to start taking at least some ownership.

Why not just appoint new moderators if something has changed so that the original person is unable or unwilling to continue serving?

Jeff has said before that we don't want to hold moderator elections unless we can be reasonably certain that they'll be successful—meaning plenty of nominees, plenty of voters, etc. If all of those things are in place, then the site is probably ready to graduate out of beta, and then moderator elections can/will be held as scheduled.

You note that the community seems to be ready to take some ownership, but don't forget that community members with the necessary privileges can already share in the work of improving their site. Many features are available to them, such as the /review tab, the ability to edit questions and answers, moderator flags, and the Meta site. You don't have to be a moderator to make a difference!

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I don't follow. How is appointing new moderators by fiat any better than asking for nominations, even if they are relatively few? –  ire_and_curses Aug 17 '11 at 15:40
    
@ire_and_curses: See the middle paragraph. We don't want to hold elections until we're reasonably sure that they'll be successful. Appointing moderators doesn't require community votes so a poor (or no) turnout is not a problem. –  Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 15:41

should we allow elections for beta sites that have crossed over some considerable amount of time, perhaps 6 months or something around that mark?

Elections are tied to beta specifically because there is no point in holding moderator elections for a site that is still in its formative stage.

While it would be nice if every site was well defined after a set period of time, we have to recognize that each site is unique, and the community that forms around it will decide, ultimately, what it will be.

The beta time is set aside for those changes to occur, in addition to the normal questions of viability.

Pro-tem moderators know their terms are limited. They don't know how long they'll serve, but they understand that they are only in place until the site becomes stable enough to be released from beta.

Elected moderators, however, currently have unlimited terms.

Electing a moderator prior to release from beta leaves us with a problem in that the moderator may have a different idea for what the site should be than what the community has chosen after their election. Pro-tem moderators wield a significant amount of power in forming that community, which is why they are carefully chosen by Stack Exchange. Once the community is put in power of selecting its own moderators, though, it is expected that they will choose the moderators that will continue to enforce the community's mandate as to what the site is.

During beta, the community is not complete.

Therefore, moderator elections are not held until after beta release.

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A large part of why a site has not graduated is they need a higher level of participation. Coincidentally, the criteria for holding an election is also achieving a high level of participation. So the two events (graduation and election) track together rather tightly.

Having said that, we keep in constant communication with moderators. If a moderator feels they need a break, we can (and have) appointed additional moderators to help with the workload.

Part of the beta cycle is to allow time for the community to take complete control of the site; To become self governing. Elections can and do go badly when the site is not ready. While that self-governance is still taking shape, it simply is not advisable to hold a half-baked election cycle.

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