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A new election started on Super User this morning. I'm already a moderator on SU, and since the election started, I've noticed a drastic uptick in flags and other activity from certain users who have nominated themselves.

It seems pretty obvious to me that this surge in activity is to get those precious election stats up. Flag count and meta participation are shown directly on the election page, and other stats such as voting and badges are shown on the election stats page.

If users suddenly pile on the flags during the election to get those numbers up, it does two things. First of all, it's not an honest assessment of their contributions over time - they're intentionally skewing the statistics. And secondly, it creates an inordinate amount of work for the current mods.

To keep users honest, I think that the election stats should only show data up through the day before the election started. This would give a more accurate indication of how much a user participates over time, and would remove the incentive for users to go crazy during the election.

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Now imma let you finish, but going crazy during elections brings out the most irrational users of all time. OF ALL TIME! – random Jul 10 '12 at 1:13
Hell no! Seeing mod hopefuls awkwardly running to answer all the things on Meta after they get their first "Y U NO META" comment, or a candidate with more Meta participation appears is the main reason I'm following elections... Don't take my entertainment away! – Yannis Jul 10 '12 at 1:25
Should't it be fine during the nomination period? – nhahtdh Jul 10 '12 at 1:40
"...other stats such as voting and badges are shown on the election stats page" - Hmm, is it as likely that someone could significantly skew these particular statistics in any meaningful way in such a short period of time? – Tim Stone Jul 10 '12 at 1:40
@TimStone: They can skew the number of flags (not sure about SU, but I can flag 10-30 flags per day on SO, sometimes even use up all the flags). The number of edits... Don't know but very possible (minor edits). Voting is even easier. – nhahtdh Jul 10 '12 at 1:52
@nhahtdh Voting is easy, but if you haven't bothered to vote consistently in the past I'm not sure it's overly likely that you could skew the numbers in such a large way that you'd look better or close to other candidates who had been "good voters" throughout the time they'd been users on the site. You'd still have the potential to make yourself look better, but I'm just trying to understand where it makes the most sense to consider making changes based on the difference it'll make. – Tim Stone Jul 10 '12 at 2:02
There's nothing like leaving a comment about it under the nomination - comments like that from existing mods work well in the SO elections (like Sathya has done (in a positive way)). – slugster Jul 10 '12 at 9:29

Elections are a completely democratic process and as such require others to watch and evaluate who is actually participating and trying to make Super User the best place to get questions answered within the community of computer enthusiasts and power users. There's nothing wrong with trying to make an effort to make yourself look awesome during an election - this is no different than any other election that is held for a position of authority.

If the burden on the current mods is too high due to excessive flagging on the behalf of a particular candidate we would encourage bringing this issue up in a public place such as the moderator chat room. The stats and reputation for a candidate are a very small indication of what would make a good moderator.

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I'd add that in the elections I was interested in, I did notice which candidates were rushing to look awesome at the last hour, and in one or two cases it did affect my vote - although they were in my choices initially, I ended up voting for someone else, as I felt their behaviour showed a lack of confidence in their up until then presence. I like my moderators confident and well prepared for the role some time before the election is even announced. – Yannis Jul 10 '12 at 7:28
This would be useful for looking at the election pages from previous elections - some of the candidates have gained significant rep/meta participation since the election, but the old pages show current stats which distorts the view somewhat. – Flexo Jul 10 '12 at 7:54
@Flexo That would be interesting indeed, but it wouldn't require the stats freezing as soon as the election begins, they could simply freeze after it ends. – Yannis Jul 10 '12 at 8:19
"this is no different than any other election that is held for a position of authority" - but maybe it should be. Who likes the politicians who build elaborate facades during campaigns? – Daniel Jul 10 '12 at 14:48

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