If an SO, Inc. employee is a participant on a site, and has the required reputation, should he/she be allowed to vote in the current elections?
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Disclaimer: I am a candidate in the elections.
They are also a member of the community if they meet the requirements for the election.
They are equally as interested in the wellbeing of the sites as the rest of your customers. And, they may even be better equipped to know who would be a good moderator on the sites.
I definitely don't think there is any conflict of interest.
Well, if it's important to disclose this ahead of time, it'd be prudent to note that I have nominated myself for candidacy as well.
The idea behind the required reputation is that it represents someone who is invested in the site, does it not? So if you have the requisite reputation, you're effectively a part of the community.
Sure, you can get a jump start on the minimalist 150 by an association bonus, but so can any user anywhere. The employment doesn't affect your reputation.
Ultimately, the votes themselves are silent, anyway. Because no one can actually tell whether or not any employees vote, your employment status is literally unimportant with respect to how your votes are cast during the voting phase. Any possible impact your employment can carry (such as endorsement) is isolated from your voting due to the anonymity of the process.
In the same way that employees of a company who hold stock are eligible to vote for stockholder issues, SOIS employees who have earned enough reputation should be allowed to vote for moderators.
The only reason to disallow them from doing so is if there's the possibility of harming the election, site, or company, or to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.
Since there is no conflict of interest, and no way their votes could significantly sway the election, there is no need to prevent them from participating due to their employment.
Yes, if he earned the rep, he is entitled to an opinion as everybody else on the site.
Besides it will (probably) be an instructed decision, and hopefully fair and unbiassed.