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I'm not meaning to offend anyone (certainly not the creators of Stack Overflow), but is it really a good idea to have the general community choose its own moderators?

It would seem to have the same potential weakness that having the asker of a question choose the accepted answer may have—that is the decision is being made by potentially the least qualified person (or people, in this case) to do so.

The current moderators seem well chosen, but has the rapid growth of Stack Overflow made this a more risky endeavor that perhaps it was in the past?

For the record, I have not and will not nominate myself. I know that I don't have the temperament for it.


EDIT: Perhaps this is the way it was from the start, but now I see that only the users with the top 30 reputation scores are being included as nominees.

I think this is an excellent idea. Again, perhaps is was there all along and I just missed it. There are some great lower-rep users, but I think that overall it is for the best.


EDIT 2:

Here's an example of my concern:

Vote Rook for evil!

As a campaign promise I will hand out harsh punishments for minor infractions. Everyone is a criminal and retribution is my duty.

This nomination was received this comment:

if this is not a serious nomination, it is harmful -- it blocks one of the 30 slots available to serious nominees. – Jeff Atwood♦ 11 hours ago

...which was then followed by a comment from the nominee:

@Jeff Atwood♦ or perhaps you dislike dissent. – Rook 10 hours ago

...and Rook's nomination remains. I feel bad for the sincere would be nominee at number 31.

Sometimes the most juvenile posts get the most votes. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

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Is having the public choose its own government still a good idea? :) –  Jon Seigel Jan 19 '11 at 4:21
    
@waiwai933: Thank you for the grammatical corrections, though I must say that I liked my attempt at emulating the half-bold SO logo. That's alright, I'll go with the flow. ;o) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:22
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Changed your picture again, I see - I hope you're not having identity issues! :P –  Matt Ball Jan 19 '11 at 4:22
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In my book, anyone who has a pic of SRV as their gravatar can't possibly be "out of line". (P.S.: A perfectly legitimate question regardless...) –  raven Jan 19 '11 at 4:24
    
@raven: Consider that my last avatar was David Lee Roth. :o) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:27
    
@Matt Ball: I need a change of pace every so often. Also I figured I'd get more up-votes with Stevie Ray. ;o) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:28
    
@patrick dw: You're killin' me! I take back what I said and now hate you! :) –  raven Jan 19 '11 at 4:31
    
@raven: Give me a break! I'm a child of the 80s. What'd you expect? ;o) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:39
    
@patrick I am sorry. That was not funny. –  abel Jan 20 '11 at 8:17
    
@abel: Alright. I deleted my comment too. –  user147519 Jan 20 '11 at 15:50
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@patrick Thanks. See you around. :) –  abel Jan 20 '11 at 18:54
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2 Answers

Yes, it is absolutely a good idea for the community to choose its moderators.

I disagree with your statement:

It would seem to have the same potential weakness that having the asker of a question choose the "accepted" answer may have.

Because there isn't the same kind of Q&A in the election process. Sure, there is certainly a question:

Who is the best community moderator for our community?

But there is no objectively correct answer to this question, and there is no one asker. In fact, it's the entire community who decides on the answer to this question. It's a circular thing: the best community moderator (in a given election - that is, ignoring current mods, and so on) is by definition the one which the community votes for.

By design, it's up to the entire community to give meaning to the words "best moderator."

As for your concern about "the rapid growth of Stack Overflow [making] this a more risk endeavor:" I think that this too is a non-issue, because there is a minimum rep required to cast a vote in the election. As the FAQ says,:

Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you.

Therefore, a reasonable rep threshold equates (roughly, mind you) to a trust threshold. Not enough community trust? No participating in the election.

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Matt: You may be right on all points. Why am I not seeing the minimum required to vote? Could you please point it out to me? To be honest, I rarely have a terribly high opinion of the masses. Individuals, yes. But masses seem more easily swayed. I know you've seen answers where one or two people upvote an answer, then the rest follow suite, irrespective of the fact that the answer was completely wrong. Same with down-votes on correct answers. I fear the same here, but again, I guess I don't know what the rep requirement is. –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:38
    
Thanks for the info. I see that recently Nick Craver was made a moderator. There wasn't any election of which I'm aware, but it seems like a good and obvious choice. I guess I'd prefer that sort of selection. By the way, of the current nominees I had two pegged as ones I'd vote for. You represented 50% of that list, so I'm pulling for you. –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:47
    
...hey, where'd your comment go? ;o) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:48
    
@patrick: aha, found it! In the Primary and Election phases, users much have 150 rep (fairly low, IMO, but whatevah) to cast votes. –  Matt Ball Jan 19 '11 at 4:49
    
@patrick Nick is a developer now; that's why he has a diamond –  Michael Mrozek Jan 19 '11 at 4:50
    
@patrick: I deleted it because I found the real source of le infoz for this year (as I'm sure you're about to figure out). Nick was made a diamond mod because he was mashed up, freeze-dried, reconstituted, and finally made into a Valued Associate. –  Matt Ball Jan 19 '11 at 4:52
    
Ah, there you are. Yeah, 150 is too low for my comfort. Democracy is great, but I don't think we should let 1 year olds vote. A person needs to grow a bit and perhaps earn it a little. But then I guess it also bugs me that an up-vote from @madjqueryskillz is worth as much as an upvote from @CMS or @bobince. –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:52
    
@Michael, Matt: I see. Point stands that he was a good choice made for good reason. –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:53
    
@patrick: on one hand, my gut agrees with you. It took me something like a week to get 150 rep. On the other hand, as others have said before, we're not electing the freakin' President here. One good community mod is basically the same as any other. SO just needs more warm bodies to share the load. –  Matt Ball Jan 19 '11 at 5:02
    
Actually I think fewer qualifications may be required to be Pres.. Anyway, SO is still a pretty decent site. I'd hate to see it go down hill. Of course it isn't a huge deal overall. I just don't want to stop coming here before I have a chance to cash in my rep points for the frequent flier miles. That is how it works, right? –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 5:09
    
@patrick: beer, actually ...one can dream –  Matt Ball Jan 19 '11 at 5:11
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mmmm... beeeerrrr... Goodness. I spend enough time here. If I could earn beer points, I'd probably never sleep! –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 5:31
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Yes.

1) StackOverflow is run by its users. So, users should choose the mods.
2) The community is so large, that it essentially requires awesome volunteers to moderate it. This can come from community only.

Edit:

3) As the thing is quite large, creators can't completely know about every tag and every area of the website. But community does.
4) It makes it more impartial, open and transparent. 5) As role of community increases, users feel more attached to the community.

And as Jon Seigel put it, it's like democracy, which is awesome and fair.

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Thanks for your answer. I don't mean to imply that there shouldn't be moderators. Certainly I want those blue diamond users to be around. But my concern is more with the general community choosing them. I'd personally rather see the creators delegate the responsibility of choosing the moderators a smaller group of top users. (I would not consider myself to be among them.) –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:09
    
@Patrick, updated my answer regarding your concerns. –  shamittomar Jan 19 '11 at 4:22
    
Point 3, understood, but again thinking it would be more a matter of having the creators delegate the responsibility to a smaller group. Point 5, compelling point. –  user147519 Jan 19 '11 at 4:33
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