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A week before a moderator election starts, the election is announced on meta, with a post asking for questions for the candidates. These questions are collected, and candidates are strongly encouraged to answer the questionnaire (normally consisting of the 10 most upvoted questions posted as answers in the original thread). A link to the candidates' answer appears on the election page. For example: question collection, election page (with a link “The candidates answer your questions”); the candidates' answers.

When the election proper starts, i.e. when candidate nominations open, a notification is sent to all users who have enough reputation on the site to nominate (300 rep, more on SO). Then, when the voting phase starts, a notification is sent to all users who have enough reputation to vote (150 rep). These notifications are sent even to users who don't visit the site often.

Thus even occasional users of the site get to know about the election, in time to nominate if they can, in time to vote if they can. But occasional users who don't check the meta site don't get to know about the question collection phase until it's over. When I'm an occasional user of a site, I have a few posts there but I don't check it often, I have no interest in running in the election, so I'm not terribly interested in the nomination phase. I do think that it's good that everybody who can run is informed, but for most people that's just pro forma. On the other hand, even if I don't participate much on a site, I am interested in knowing more about candidates than what little is visible on the election page. I would like to be able to ask a question or two, and to influence what questions are selected for the questionnaire by voting.

Things have been done this way since early 2016. Before that, the questionnaire was compiled during the nomination phase. This meant that the candidates' answers weren't available until some way into the voting phase, which was bad, hence the change. But an unfortunate consequence of this change is that there is no longer a notification in time for people to participate in the question nomination phase.

Please send a notification of the question collection to all users who will be eligible to vote in the election, so that they can weigh in on the questions that will be put to the candidates, even if they don't check the site very often.

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    I think notifications are tied to elections code, and since a question collection post is just that, a meta post, substantial dev work is required. A cheap compromise would be to begin question collection half a week before nomination phase, and run it for a week as now. Then the notification arrives in the middle of collection, allowing users a chance to participate. The questionnaire then becomes available halfway through nomination, so the nominees will have reasonable time to complete it. – user315433 Feb 3 '17 at 1:58
  • For the 2016 GIS election we gave advance notice (about 9 days before Question collection was announced) to users so that they could start thinking about whether they wanted to nominate - see meta.gis.stackexchange.com/questions/4314/… In retrospect I should have suggested that they start thinking about the questions they wanted to ask the candidates at the same time. In any event, I think it would be best to formalize this coming from staff rather than a site moderator. – PolyGeo Feb 3 '17 at 1:59
  • @PolyGeo The problem is that notices on meta don't reach occasional visitors. – Gilles Feb 3 '17 at 10:19
  • We made it featured at the same time to increase the chances that everyone would see it via the sidebar. – PolyGeo Feb 3 '17 at 10:29
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The question-collection post is now featured when posted (recent example), which means it appears in the Community Bulletin on the front page. (I don't think this was always the case.) Moderators are also now told in advance when an election is scheduled and are free to share that information with the community using chat and/or events in the community bulletin.

A featured post a week before nominations open is pretty visible. If you don't normally look at the Community Bulletin and don't want to miss election-related posts, you could also subscribe to the "election" tag on the meta site, which can notify you 15 minutes after posting. Moderators can give more and/or different notice, too.

I don't think we need a third election inbox notification; if you miss the chance to submit a question during the week the post is active and featured, you can still ask candidates directly in the election chat room or on meta.

  • I think employees do normally make the question collection featured for a while, and if not moderators could always do it. That's not a notification. If I don't visit the site, I won't see featured posts. Even if I visit the site briefly, featured posts are pretty much invisible (they're almost always off-screen for me). – Gilles Jul 27 '18 at 7:14
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    @Gilles you can also subscribe to the election tag (edited that in). While I'm sympathetic to people who are normally active but just happened to be away during that week, I don't think we want to notify a bunch of people who are inactive and who wouldn't have questions to ask anyway, when they can -- if they want -- ask their questions in other ways anyway. Unless, I suppose, the goal is to create "election fatigue" so that by the time the third notice arrives, those people will just punt and not vote. – Monica Cellio Jul 27 '18 at 13:41

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