The community bulletin says that there is a moderator election occurring.
How does the election work and how can I get involved?
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What's happening? The community is electing diamond ♦ moderators; those individuals responsible for moderating the site the election is happening on.
Elections are called as needed by the Stack Exchange Community Team on all sites. Depending on the site's current status, the election will either be a "full election" (established sites) or a "pro tem election" (beta sites and smaller, newer non-beta sites). The number of slots to be filled, and the type of election ("full" or "pro tem"), are both announced at the beginning of the process.
Moderators are elected by a four-phase process:
An election is announced by a post from the Community Team on the site's meta.
Also, a call is put out to solicit questions from the community for the candidate questionnaire, which will be posed to all candidates who nominate themselves. (This generally only occurs on "full" elections; it usually doesn't occur on "pro tem" elections unless the community specifically asks for it.)
Anyone may nominate themselves to be a moderator as long as they fulfill certain criteria.
The user must have a minimum amount of reputation on the site, generally 300, with a couple of exceptions:
The minimum reputation is only raised in extreme circumstances and is by default not customized per site.
On Stack Overflow, the user must have a set of required badges. The badges needed to nominate oneself are:
Nominees on Ask Ubuntu must have signed the Ubuntu Code of Conduct and link to their Launchpad page for verification.
A nominee must be "in good standing". Any nominee who was suspended at any time during the past year on any site in the network will not be allowed to run as a candidate (unless the suspension was in error or was reversed on appeal).
A nominee must be 18 years old or older, or be 18 years or older by the end of the election.
Nominations are not binding and nominees may withdraw themselves at any point, in any phase. The nominations are displayed in the reverse chronological order of nomination; earlier nominees will be at the bottom of the page.
Nominees create a small introduction to themselves and why they think they would make a good moderator. Any user has the ability to comment on each nominee’s introduction.
If the site is holding a questionnaire, it will be compiled by the Stack Exchange team with two standard questions plus the top eight questions proposed by the community, for a total of 10 questions. (If the community doesn't supply enough questions to make a total of 10, up to three additional default questions will be added up to a maximum of 10 total questions.) Nominees are encouraged to answer the questionnaire; if they do so, it will be linked from their nomination.
(On older elections, the questionnaire was a separate meta post rather than part of the election system itself - as such, when browsing past elections, you may see meta post links to questionnaire answers instead.)
After 7 days, the top 30 nominees ordered by reputation (top 20 on Mathematics) advance to the primary phase. If there are ten or fewer nominees (but at least one more than the number of moderator slots being filled by the election), then we skip directly to the election phase.
If there are too few nominees, depending on whether the election is declared as a full election or a pro tem election, the following will happen:
This phase only occurs if there are more than 10 candidates who've nominated in the election; if there are 10 or fewer, this phase is skipped and we move straight to the election phase.
This is where the voting starts. Any community member with at least 150 reputation* may vote, but candidates are not allowed to vote for themselves. You get one vote per candidate in the same manner as a question or answer. There are no comments allowed.
You vote by using the up and down arrows next to the candidate's post. An upvote indicates you want that person to move on to the next phase, and a downvote indicates you do not.
Nominations are not binding and nominees may withdraw themselves at any point. The nominations are ordered randomly.
The vote tallies are public, so you should be able to get a good idea of the most electable candidates. Note that if a candidate has a negative score, the score will be shown as 0, or as 1 or -1 if you upvote or downvote it; if you have enough reputation to vote*, you can see the true count by clicking the number as you would on a post.
After four days, the top 10 nominees by vote advance to the election phase.
Last comes the election phase. Any user with 150 reputation or more is allowed to vote*; unlike the Primary phase, candidates are allowed to vote for themselves. Once again, no comments are allowed and the candidates are displayed in a random order.
Each community member gets one vote, with which they rank the candidates in order. Votes are tallied using the Meek STV method; to understand how STV works, see this video. Each voter can select the candidate they most want, and also specify additional choices of candidates they prefer should their top choice candidate not receive enough votes, in order of their preference. These additional choices may also receive partial votes if a voter's top choice wins and receives more votes than the threshold required to win.
(In past elections, voters could only rank their top three candidates; however, this has since been changed so voters can rank all candidates if they wish.)
Unlike the primary phase, the voting tallies are private, so gaming the result is impossible.
Winners of pro tem elections are elected with the understanding that when the site has its first full election, they must nominate in that election as a candidate and be re-elected, or they'll cease to be moderators once that is over.
ArtOfCode has created an election site that provides statistics and overview of running and upcoming elections. (There was originally a site created by Yi Jiang and hosted by Stack Exchange, but this was closed due to a culmination of issues around the HTTPS move.)
Past election pages are preserved for posterity and are available at
<site name>/election; for example, the results of all Gaming elections are available at https://gaming.stackexchange.com/election.
When an election is in progress, previous results are partially hidden and are visible at
<site name>/election/<election number> instead. For instance, the first Server Fault moderator election is available at https://serverfault.com/election/1. When no election is in progress, all previous elections are visible at https://serverfault.com/election.
* - The check to see if one can vote only checks for the required reputation; users with moderator rights but not the required reputation are not permitted to cast a vote, nor to split the vote count in the primaries.