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I have profiles on several Stack Exchange sites, but some of them I hardly ever visit, have very low rep (over the basic 100), and have not answered or asked anything for months (if not a year). Still, I'm prompted to participate in the moderator elections for them.

Is that really a good idea? I mean, shouldn't there be some kind of interest-in-the-site filter? Or, alternatively, should I not be able to define a minimum level of engagement at which I feel confident to participate in elections?

Important note: There could be a different threshold for being allowed to participate and being actively encouraged to participate. Perhaps it's the latter that's more appropriate to limit.

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I mean, shouldn't there be some kind of interest-in-the-site filter?

I agree! However, there is already an interest-in-the-site filter: whether the user is interested in participating.

Many mechanisms of Stack Exchange are made by intertwining algorithms with human behaviours and decision-making faculties. This is one of them, where a simple algorithm (a notification) interacts with a complex human decision-making faculty (a user's complex feelings and thoughts about the site and its election) in order to efficiently get the right people to participate in elections.

A programmatic pre-filter for interest would be hard to design, and worse, redundant with the human faculties which are already designed into the election-notification system. The only benefit of an expensive (in run-time and in development time) algorithm such as that would be to not have a notification show up for a handful of users. A programmatic filter would also likely be worse at correctly identifying interested users than the current system, making it both inefficient and ineffective.

The current system is highly efficient, elegant, and effective.

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I'm pretty sure you don't get notifications about elections if you're not able to vote in them. (I think this happened to me on some sites this election season.)

If you have 150 reputation points on a given site, you're eligible to vote in moderator elections. I think that's a pretty decent bar for participation to ask a person to vote -- this means that you've posted some good questions and/or answers, and the community has decided to award you some points for that. At that point, you're as much a part of the community as anyone.

If you think the bar should be set higher, you can ask post a with another amount, and see how that goes.

Finally, as Jason C noted, you don't have to vote if you don't want to. There is absolutely no obligation to vote in any site election; if the thought of doing so makes you uncomfortable, feel free to simply ignore the election. It'll be over soon enough, anyway.

  • If I got to 150, say, 5 years ago, but then never visited the site - do you think it's appropriate for me to vote in the elections? – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 30 '17 at 7:35
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    @einpoklum Say you reached voting age 5 years ago and have never followed politics - would I think it's appropriate for you to vote? Probably not (unless you're going to do an inkling of research)... however, you have a right to do so and it'd be inappropriate to not remind you of it. If you're not interested - just ignore it. – Jon Clements May 30 '17 at 11:35
  • @JonClements: Remember my question was about being propositioned to participate. Maybe I should make that clearer. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 30 '17 at 12:18
  • @einpoklum perhaps... but surely if you're able to vote and get reminded and don't want to - you can ignore it. People missing out on voting because they weren't reminded but would have been interested in doing so is a worse outcome than users just choosing to ignore it. – Jon Clements May 30 '17 at 12:20
  • @JonClements: Why encourage people who are inactive to participate in elections? Of course you can always not vote if you don't want to. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 30 '17 at 12:34

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