What is the point? Why not just vote for the nominees who you want and the highest "n" get elected?

It's not like nominees have an election campaign (actually we are heavily restricted in character count), and there's no "super Tuesday" or any of the other USA-centric election components.

Where I live there is no "primary" election. I can't see the point of one here.
Can someone explain one good reason to have a primary?

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    Related: Should the primary phase of the election be eliminated? Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 9:20
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    ~7000 votes.. man.. congratulations
    – Maroun
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 10:36
  • @MarounMaroun Thanks. To be completely honest, I had absolutely no idea I was that popular. I only nominated myself because I thought I could do the job, but I thought my chances of being elected would be not much more than anyone else.
    – Bohemian
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 11:37
  • @Bohemian That's the regex effect... :D No seriously, I see your comments and answers, always helpful, you deserve to be a moderator, best of luck.
    – Maroun
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 11:39
  • Refer this link : meta.stackexchange.com/a/169910/248519 Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 12:08
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    For the same reasons that "real" political elections have primary elections: to narrow the field of candidates.
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


I only have limited time and willingness to carefully consider lots of candidates. The primary cuts down the number of candidates to those that has some chance of winning, so reducing the effort needed to decide how I vote.

At the primary stage, I just give a quick up vote to candidates that I like based on 30 seconds of consideration per candidate and a down vote to any candidate that I have already decided that I don’t want. With lots of people doing this, we get enough good candidates getting into the “real” election with very few bad candidates, so making it practical to list all these candidates in order.

  • I'm not sure, I think you can also mention the point where member can withdrew from election in the primary stage
    – Bala
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 10:42
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    So, basically it's laziness. Let the bulk of the filtering work be done by people who care a bit to make the final choice simpler, then when the votes really count let the community at large piggy back off the work already done. People are people I guess :/
    – Bohemian
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 11:31
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    @Bohemian: The four more days that you might think you'd gain by eliminating the primary phase might be insufficient for you to thoroughly consider every one of the 30 candidates before deciding which three to choose. Maybe there wasn't so many candidates previously (didn't look it up and don't remember it myself) and so primaries might not be needed then, but the present situation justifies this phase for me perfectly well. And it may have no more to do with laziness than making a decision which question to answer: it may just be about amount of time you are willing or able to invest.
    – Andriy M
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 12:05
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    @Bohemian Laziness? Seriously? Laziness is not answering the mod questionnaire after it has been up for a whole day. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 14:34
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    @Bohemian I have participed in every election since I'm a user, and I look forward for every phase of this process, why?, I can assure you that it's not laziness. This particular part of the election works for me to better know the candidates after nomination, and also gives me an idea of how they will react once they are a mod, since this phase puts them to many eyes and their behaviour tends to change (or show, really). So, for me, this whole process is incredibly value before I cast a final vote for the people I would want to become a mod of a site that I care about
    – Lamak
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 14:42
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    @Bohemian Please answer the questionaire or withdraw your nomination. I've really been taken back by your recent meta question and comments. I really wish these could be visible under your nomination.
    – Kermit
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 15:41
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    @FreshPrinceOfSO That's a tad harsh, no? I don't see anything wrong with his questions, and disbelief in the effectiveness of an institution isn't exactly a disqualifying quality.
    – user50049
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:13
  • @TimPost I'd like to think it was a joke. Hopefully.
    – Geobits
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:15
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    @Bohemian This one
    – Lamak
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:21
  • @AndriyM "laziness" was a poor choice. I meant "time poverty" of some a significant portion of the community. The rest of my comment hopefully makes more sense now, and is less "offensive" (I was quite calm about saying it - I didn't mean to start a flame!)
    – Bohemian
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:23

I was elected as an underdog in the 2011 election, in fact the first Stack Overflow election to utilize our built in moderator election system (other smaller sites had used it previously). I also didn't think I stood much of a chance of being elected, after all, I only had a small percentage of the reputation points that everyone else had.

I barely made it out of the nomination phase as the low water mark continued to rise. I wasn't just competing against people with high reputation scores, I was competing against people that weren't half as serious as I was about doing the job with higher reputation scores. Even at that point in the site's history, I had invested a great deal of time and thought into what we were building, and I really wanted to get in a position where I could be more effective.

If it hadn't been for the primary phase, I probably wouldn't have been elected. This was the junction where people could seriously consider who was capable, and apparently enthusiastic about doing the job. This really helped move them ahead in front of those that might just be after a little more bling on their user card or a peek at the extra privileges.

Things are different today. The system now presents you with a much better picture of each candidate as a whole, we have a third party election app created by the community to help folks make more informed decisions. And, in this particular election, we saw an amazing turn out. I want to vote for almost every single person that nominated this time - but I know I can't.

Ten of those very awesome people will advance to the final election phase, which means (in this election), we're likely to have a 100% chance of picking the right moderators, as all of them should be fantastic candidates.

We must make certain that those who enter the final phase are capable, serious and passionate about doing the job; this process does quite a bit to ensure that. A lot of eyes fall on every single person that might make it to the next phase - this works extremely well. You might even see some folks withdraw - the process isn't for the faint of heart, and neither is the position itself.

I don't think any system of election is perfect, at least not one that I've ever studied, but our's works pretty well. It helps alleviate option anxiety, which is important, but it also helps to guarantee that someone that isn't really all that serious moves on to get elected.

I don't think you asked a bad question, if elected you're definitely going to run into more things where you wonder how these crazy people came to do things certain ways. Nothing but dusty old moderators and hipsters on this team, and you seem to be heading straight at working with us :)

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    This is what I wanted to say with my previous comment. Without the primary phase I wouldn't have been able to know much from the candidates other than some statistics, and really, statistics is not what's important when choosing a moderator (of course, they help). Actually, I remember voting on the 2011 election and changing my mind because of this part of the process. Oh, and kudos for being a great mod
    – Lamak
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:29

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