The edit history of this page says the initial edit was "copied from meta.SO (with minor modifications)". I can't find anything that it could have been copied from. It is asserted there that moderator elections are held periodically. "Periodically" means the time from one election to the next is always the same. There is no truth whatsoever in that statement. Where is the page that this was copied from?

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    Even if it is wrong why does it matter where it was copied from?
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:08
  • @Cai : It does if the page that it was copied from needs correction. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:13
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    Are there specific reasons for the two down-votes? Are the down-voters capable of writing a sentence? Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:14
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    I just wrote a sentence. The downvote is because I completely disagree with your assertion and don't think this is useful to anyone.
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:21
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    Re: I can't find anything that it could have been copied from. Since we were engaged in a comment exchange on meta.math.SE exactly about issues related to moderator elections and since you can see from the revision history that the initial revision was from me, you could have simply asked. I can confirm that I copied it from the tag-info on the main meta. (IIRC this was before the division between meta.SE and meta.SO.) I'll do my best to write more thorough edit summaries in the future.
    – Martin
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:33
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    "Disinformation"? For someone grammar-naziing it up, you don't seem to have a very good understanding of what that word means. For your edification: false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.. So clearly the wrong choice of word here. Perhaps you meant to say: Slightly ambiguous (to some people, possibly) information on moderator elections
    – Clive
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:45
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    I'm downvoting because I'm an EL&U snob and the insistence that "periodically" must mean "regularly" is incorrect.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 10:16
  • "Periodical publications" are not things that appear whenever the occasion arises, but weekly or monthly or quarterly or the like. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 17:55
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    @MichaelHardy If you're serious about exploring polysemy, you're welcome to come on over to English Language & Usage and ask about the meanings of periodic. But I don't think you'll like the answer you get. Just because a word is used to mean one thing doesn't meant it isn't used to mean other things. Hence what you did wrong wasn't saying "periodic means regular" but that "periodic only means regular". That statement is not only incorrect but baseless.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 20:24
  • @DanBron : Those who create an ambiguity are the ones who should bear responsibility for it. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 22:50
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    The reaction to this question is incomprehensible. I've never understood what people on "meta" behave the way they do. Bullying is officially but not explicitly encouraged. What motive anyone has to participate in it I don't know. But there it is. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 23:18
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    You're making statements and don't really seem open to actual discussion to the issue. People are picking up on that, and disagree with the premise of the issue. And generally, attacking those you disagree with is just going to make more downvotes happen.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 23:39
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    "Are the down-voters capable of writing a sentence?" The structure of your comment sounds like an attack. Beyond that, your tone indicates you're unwilling to entertain any other viewpoint, therefore, people downvote.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 0:19
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    @fbueckert : That has been a general complaint of mine for a long time: Disagreement should be expressed verbally. Down-voting without speaking is offensive. You see above that I have entertained other viewpoints against people who are so extreme about being unwilling to entertain other viewpoints that you would think they are lawyers. It's as if they can here to win an argument. I did not come here to win an argument, and several others did, and that's not a legitimate reason to be here. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 0:23
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    You'll find you get a much better reception when you try to address things constructively. I don't see you trying to entertain other viewpoints, so much as dismiss them. And comments are totally and utterly optional. That's by design. And for exactly this reason, among others.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 0:26

2 Answers 2


It is copied from the same tag on Meta SO.

According to an online dictionary the meaning of periodically can be:

from time to time, frequently

And that is the meaning of the word used here.

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    Lexicographers abdicated more than a half a century ago, saying we must all conform as quickly as possible to the misunderstandings of those who refuse to think, and that "literally" means the opposite of "literally". But if "frequently" was intended, and if the word "frequently" had appeared rather than "periodically", then it would still be false if the last moderator election was more than two-and-a-half years ago after they were held more than once a year before that. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:00
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    @MichaelHardy: In any case, frequently or otherwise, "from time to time" is surely anything but precise in its stipulations, so it must be this meaning of "periodically" that is in use here. Would you prefer "once in a while", "every now and then", "every so often", or some other synonymous phrase? Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:52
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    (@MichaelHardy Note: TFD gives some citations of "periodically" used in this fashion from as much as a hundred and fifty years ago by skillful wordsmiths such as Karl Marx and Arthur Conan Doyle; this is not some sort of new-fangled usage millennials can be blamed for) Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:56
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    @MichaelHardy According to the first edition of the OED (1909 for the volume in question), "periodically" meant "At regularly recurring or definite intervals; also loosely, from time to time, every now and then." (See p.700 here.) So you've never lived in a time where the meaning of "periodically" was restricted to your very narrow sense. Quite frankly, I think you are being intentionally obtuse.
    – user642796
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:51
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    @NathanTuggy : Saying "when the need arises" could work. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 17:57
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    @MichaelHardy: That's a reasonable change to make; it would be a little clearer without introducing any new errors. By the way, auto-antonyms like "literally", while annoying to deal with, are far from a new invention. Consider "cleave", which has been that way for centuries, or, in ancient Hebrew, the word normally translated as "bless" (בָּרַךְ)… which, 4000 years ago, was also used to say "curse". Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:17
  • @NathanTuggy : What is far more annoying that auto-antonyms is a general rule that we must all become followers of those who don't want to think. And many lexicographers have adopted that rule. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:20
  • Elections don’t occur either regularly or frequently. Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 23:31

Maybe the original source of that word is the moderators tab in the list of users

We believe moderation starts with the community itself, so in addition to privileges earned through reputation, we periodically hold democratic moderator elections.

(emphasis mine). This is not a user-editable string, but comes directly from the SE staff.

I also find the use of the word "periodically" confusing. Its usage may be technically correct here, but the fact that it is prone to misunderstandings should be a sufficient reason to change it, from the point of view of user experience.

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