Currently, we only have 10 nominees in the Stack Overflow moderator elections.

Granted, it's only been a day, but given the size of Stack Overflow, the moderator election is something that everyone turns out for and we should have a much higher number of nominees for at this point in the nomination phase.

The only difference now is that the notice was put in the community bulletin, which is possibly resulting in a little "blindness".

Given that the moderator election affects everyone who uses a site and that we use a voting system designed to be the most fair as possible (by most accounts), we want to encourage as much participation as possible.

That said, I recommend that for moderator elections on any Stack Exchange site, the link should be put in the community bulletin and the system message should be shown as it was in previous elections, for a period of two days after each phase of the election.

Honestly, I'd do it myself, but given the history of the system message on Stack Overflow (as well as the desire to make this general for all sites), I'm tossing it out for the community and SE to provide feedback/approval/disdain on.

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    Shhh...we only want SE mods to know so we can get our fav's elected – Kev Jun 6 '12 at 16:18
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    Sekret elections would solve a lot of the problems we have around here. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 16:19
  • What would you suggest the body of the message be? I might just do it. This election has to solve some problems and we need all eyes on it. – Tim Post Jun 6 '12 at 16:19
  • @TimPost "should be shown as it was in previous elections" - Whatever that was. I'd dig through the history and update for this year/season/moon phase. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 16:20
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    I also wonder why we're limiting it to so few mods on StackOverflow, given the size. Why not use a process that may allow for all 10 to ascend to moderator-ship if they can get enough votes? – Joel Coehoorn Jun 6 '12 at 16:21
  • @JoelCoehoorn Because we want BLOOD! – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 16:21
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    @casperOne So perhaps "Are you interested in becoming a Stack Overflow moderator? Nominations are now being accepted!" ? I don't see anything bad about doing that. – Tim Post Jun 6 '12 at 16:22
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    @TimPost That would imply that anyone can, and they can't. If that was the previous text (I hope it's not, but I haven't checked yet) then it should be updated to something along the lines of "the <site name> moderator nomination phase has started, [link]participate now[/link]". We can have CHAOS handle the copy if we need something snappy/snarky/witty. Or Brocka. Or Mrozek. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 16:25
  • @casperOne I'm thinking that it will draw more attention to the process, and get more nominations from those who meet the requirements since the page is extremely specific when it comes to who should nominate. Setting the system message is deliberately within our grasp, the worst that could happen is I get slapped on the wrists and it's removed. I'm fine with that, and I'm rather surprised that you aren't. (honestly, I didn't think of doing that, or I would have). – Tim Post Jun 6 '12 at 16:26
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    Yes for the primary and the election, no for the nomination phase. I'd expect those who are actually qualified to notice that there's an election going on without the "in your face" banner. – yannis Jun 6 '12 at 16:31
  • For onlookers, we need three very active and productive mods added to the team when this election finishes because we're drowning. Whatever it takes to get that, we need to consider. – Tim Post Jun 6 '12 at 16:31
  • @YannisRizos No go, we did it before with nominations, we do it now. We're not looking to limit the field, the nomination phase is just as important as the rest. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 16:32
  • @casperOne Fair enough. I wasn't suggesting limiting the field, just that it's a bit redundant and extremely annoying. So, let's not do it at all. – yannis Jun 6 '12 at 16:33

A better solution would be to insert a single election message in people's inboxes.

  • it is guaranteed to be read that way

  • once read, it will be dismissed forever and never bother you again

  • elections happen about once per year, so this wouldn't be spammy

I think the wrong solution is being proposed here.

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    That would reach people who have an account on the site but never visit it. That's too much. The recently-departed in-your-face click-to-dismiss notifications (formerly used for badges and migrations and other unimportant stuff) would be a better format, because they only appear if you actually visit the site. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 7 '12 at 8:39
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    not true, unless they have explicitly turned on email notifications for the global inbox. Which are off by default. Mine, for example, are off. Even if they were on, one email per year doesn't seem onerous. In particular we could limit the insertion of the message to folks who have been active on the site in some small way, say, by voting at the very least, and of course having the requisite rep necessary to even vote in an election. – Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '12 at 8:42
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    I don't understand your comment. Let's say there's an election on RPG: I have an account on RPG, and I may even have cast a vote there, but I don't participate on the site; I don't care if there's an election on RPG. So I don't think I should receive a notification for the RPG election. I think visited the site during the nomination period is the right criterion to apply there. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 7 '12 at 10:06
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    @Gilles: you don't have the rep on RPG to vote in their election anyway; it would make more sense to just exclude the large number of people like you who've never done enough on the site to get past that threshold. I'm a little bit concerned about the "slippery slope" nature of using inbox notifications for this, but if it's important enough for a system message then it certainly warrants something a bit more targeted. And frankly, your argument that you "don't care" applies to a lot of people visiting Stack Overflow right now, so we might as well use it to shoot down anything. – Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 16:41
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    @shog I would say that moderator elections are arguably the most important things that happen on any Stack Exchange sites, the ultimate proof that power is truly vested in the community itself. If we can't see fit to send a single inbox notification for that, then ... – Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '12 at 21:55
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    Fair point; I don't have any problem with using inbox notifications for this at all, I just don't want to get into the habit of using them for everything someone thinks is important - that's where sysmsgs went off the rails. – Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 22:20
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    Ok; I do have one problem with it: when? The obvious time is at the start of the election, where most members can't/won't do anything. A couple days in when there are some nominees could be more productive, and sending it at the start of the final phase when the most important voting happens and everyone can take immediate action would likely produce the most votes. My gut feeling is "two days into nominations", but I gotta admit that's fairly arbitrary. – Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 22:24
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    @Shog9 Inbox notification for start of nominations... and the secondary subdued notification for the remaining phases? (Or the other way around - secondary notification for nomination and primary, inbox ping for elections.) – Adam Lear ModStaff Jun 8 '12 at 18:42

I agree, the moderator elections should be made more visible. It has been announced only on the blog and with a barely-visible link in that little box near the ads.

Having this election go practically unannounced means that only people who follow all community information channels closely will know. Now, admittedly, this makes some sense: moderators are supposed to pay attention to more than just the questions and answers on the main site. Still, several candidates and non-candidates have commented that they only noticed the election because someone went out of their way to point it to them. (For example, if I didn't hang around in the Teachers' Lounge, I might not have noticed.) This makes me uncomfortable: a moderator doesn't have to be one of the "meta crowd".

A system banner (a barely-visible line of text near the top of the page would be a good start). Even better would be a notification that is actually noticeable, such as what until recently told us of such mundane events as getting a "nice question" badge.

  • Hell, even some of the candidates and meta regulars didn't know about the election until they were told or until they read my post about being nice. – casperOne Jun 7 '12 at 0:30
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    A moderator doesn't have to be in the "meta crowd" for them to be informed... note that the nomination is 7 days long. Most people here are freaking out because they didn't see it within 10 seconds of the announcement. Yet, they somehow managed to read about it within the next 24 hours, leaving them with 6 more days... I can understand the visibility argument for vetting purposes, but there still are other options like the town hall chat. I'm not opposed to using the system banner per se, but rather the notion that we might miss out on candidates because the message was not in-their-face. – Lorem Ipsum Jun 7 '12 at 0:45
  • @yoda There's an observation bias: the people you see here tend to be part of the MSO crowd. The election chatroom (I think you meant that, and not the town hall chat which happens after the nominations) is irrelevant for visibility: you'd need to know about the election first. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 7 '12 at 0:48
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    @Gilles No, I did mean the THC — I think one of casper's points was that it is not possible to vet after the nomination phase. I'm saying that it still is possible, although it might not have the shock value from comments from several users (a la genesis 2011). If everyone's doling out anecdotal evidence, then well, I first learnt about it from the sidebar on Gardening & Landscaping – Lorem Ipsum Jun 7 '12 at 0:56
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    I guess one big failure of putting it in the community bulletin box is that people who launch SO from tag pages and always stay inside them or inside /review or /tools will miss them. I will concede that I hadn't thought about that, and I personally never used to visit the homepage when I was more active – Lorem Ipsum Jun 7 '12 at 1:01
  • @yoda: the bulletin board is visible on tag pages, and on every single question. There are a bunch of more obscure pages where it isn't visible, but the goal was to make it as ubiquitous as possible. – Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 1:13
  • @Shog9 Excellent! I should've checked it myself before posting. I thought the community bulletin was home-page only. I now have no qualms about not having the banner. – Lorem Ipsum Jun 7 '12 at 1:15
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    @Shog9 The community bulletin is awesome, I'm just not sure about its placement. The right side bar is something that has not contained information that people regularly read for the last few years (Tags, who got what badge recently, ad for something, etc). Even though it's right in front of me I have to remember to look for it. That will eventually change as my brain gets used to doing that, unfortunately I have no suggestions on how to make it more visible where it is currently placed. – Tim Post Jun 7 '12 at 2:57
  • @Shog9 The community bulletin is right next to the ads. I tune out the ads. Anything next to it is calling for being ignored. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 7 '12 at 8:37

I have this since we won't be adding a system message for this unless traffic is shown to really be suffering as a result of it being removed.

We want the community bulletin to serve its purpose, not be a duplicate spot for important information. With that in mind, we have added a bit of eye catching styling to the side bar (short of obnoxious, intentionally) and will continue to monitor traffic in general compared to past elections.

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    I only noticed the elections because the top bar was there. – CodesInChaos Jun 6 '12 at 19:08
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    I don't think the elections are something you should use as a testbed for the community bulletin. Start out with something smaller, less important. The elections were requested by the current SO mods because we don't have the capacity to handle the workload now. In declining this, you're subverting the intent of these elections (intentional or not). – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 19:08
  • That said, I don't believe in this case, even though you've stated that "SE handles the elections" that it's your call. The moderators are the ones who specifically asked for this round of elections, and we should be able to get that notification out to as many people as possible. If the system banner is not it (and we don't agree that the community bulletin is it) then we need another way as a number of people aren't even aware that elections are going on. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 19:10
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    The red text in the bulletin makes it much more noticeable: thanks for that. Can something be done to make RPG's election more noticeable as well? – user149432 Jun 6 '12 at 19:12
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    @casperOne - This was one of the main intended uses of the community bulletin and part of the reason it was created, and the reason the system message was not automatically created as it was in the past. To be frank, you simply don't have the traffic numbers we do to observe the elections, we are keeping an eye on it. – Nick Craver ModStaff Jun 6 '12 at 19:12
  • Having the traffic numbers doesn't justify using this moderator election as an experiment. Additionally, those numbers can be exposed in the Blue Room so the SO mods (the ones impacted the most by this) can see them. Finally, there are a number of people, on this thread, and two others that had no clue that the elections were occurring, people who are prominent on the site and meta. So while you might have traffic numbers, it can be argued that you're looking at the wrong metric. – casperOne Jun 6 '12 at 19:15
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    @casperOne - I really won't debate this with you, it's a change we're making as a team. We've addressed the visibility issue and we'll see how it affects traffic over the next 24 hours. Try and keep in mind we're stuck with the results of a mod election as well, and are equally or more interested in it being successful. – Nick Craver ModStaff Jun 6 '12 at 19:16
  • fwiw I like the newer styling. – jcolebrand Jun 6 '12 at 22:00
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    @Nick you may be interested (or more, but I'd contest either statment as it was the SO mods that asked for it, not you, not that we know) but that isn't apparent from any of your responses. – casperOne Jun 7 '12 at 0:34
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    @casperOne - We were discussing it long before they were requested. We're constantly looking at what's going on, what's being missed, size of the queue, etc. and evaluating when elections are needed (we evaluate optimization to the dashboard and such well before additional mods). Also, there are much larger things happening around review and cleanup than you are aware of...trust that we may have additional reasons for doing things that you're unaware of..if we spent all day making sure everyone was 100% informed, we'd get nothing coded. – Nick Craver ModStaff Jun 7 '12 at 0:50
  • @Nick this is an old discussion and it's been had in TL numerous times in the short time I've been a mod; we're not asking for 100% transparency, but the level of transparency given now, even on a limited basis (to mods only) is seen as extremely low by a number of us. – casperOne Jun 7 '12 at 1:27
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    @casper: that discussion goes back to at least the first month or so of Meta SO, where one of the top users left in disgust because he didn't feel like there was any connection between what showed up here and what the team was actually implementing. It's a tough balance - the review tool Nick mentioned is something I've talked about (perhaps a bit obliquely) several times, you guys knew about the elections within a day of a hard date being put in the system, and we've talked quite a few times about tools or practices that eventually saw the light of day... The balance shifts all the time. – Shog9 Jun 7 '12 at 1:50
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    Well, the election page did see a bit of love as a consequence to the message flying for a while, so I am not sorry @casperOne did it (I was on my way to do it before he did). We got at least one more solid nomination and a flurry of other activity. Please do consider putting it back for a few hours before nominations close if nominations don't see much activity, and please consider flying it again for a few hours mid primary. It really seems to have made a difference. – Tim Post Jun 7 '12 at 2:50

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