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I know this question isn't going to change company policy externally, much less internally, but I think it's very important that the community gets a voice in this.

Should Stack Exchange staff be allowed to vote in any of the: community elections, meta Q&A, base site Q&A?

Should Stack Exchange staff get to alter what is shown and not shown in any of the: community elections, meta Q&A, base site Q&A? This can be either by altering what is visible in the question tabs, or by altering user permissions.

Finally, should Stack Exchange staff get to alter pages on a specific Stack Exchange site, thereby altering the rules by which they follow?

Note that all of the questions above assume that not the community nor the moderators have given consent to said actions.

As per request of πάντα ῥεῖ:

One may compare the legitimacy of staff voting in community elections to the US Federal government having a say in state and local elections. This is not something that is wanted by the United States themselves, nor the federal government.

The same analogue follows with Meta Q&A: Why should one person in the US west coast be telling another person in the east coast how to live? That's not a community. That not what Stack Exchange claims to praise.

Altering what is shown is also a big no-no, and the reasons for this should be obvious. Why should some be hard and others silenced? Obviously, that's a be- all end all. On a smaller scale, things like shadow edits have been enacted on posts which don't show up in edit history, once again removing the power of the users.

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  • obligitory invitation (beg) to add a comment with a downvote on how I can improve this question. Also, Don't remove my comments.
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 6, 2019 at 14:19

2 Answers 2

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I think you answered your own question right here:

One may compare the legitimacy of staff voting in community elections to the US Federal government having a say in state and local elections.

Government employees are actually citizens of the United States; and as such, have all the same rights and abilities to participate in that process. So as a member of the staff (of Stack Exchange), I often use these sites just like anyone else.

Even the President of the United States gets to vote in elections; as such, even if there are things I can do (as a Stack Exchange Employee) that no one else can, that does not preclude me from participating in the sites we've built together.

Of course, there are safeguards and checks-and-balances to avoid abuse (across the staff and Moderators◆ who have similar abilities) — but that does NOT include being barred from participating in the legitimate use of these sites.

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    @tuskiomi I don't understand what you mean. Why would my one vote (and perhaps my questionable motives, if that is what you are asking about) be any different than yours? Can you clarify and try again? Aug 2, 2019 at 17:55
  • A great point, and not one that I really have any criticisms of. If we follow those theoretical government workers to the voting booth, and find out why they voted, would it be a fair assumption to say that they're a free agent completely? For example, you're the director of community management, and have got a lot of things to manage. do you think that sometimes you find yourself voting for the greater good than what you actually think? I'm not trying to say this harms your integrity as a user, rather to justify my point that those with the keys also have the metaphorical steering wheel
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 2, 2019 at 18:03
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    Yes... at least to the same degree as anyone else. One person, one vote. I don't have any "stronger" a vote than anyone else... and no more a stake or influence in the outcome than any user of the site. Aug 2, 2019 at 18:05
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Should Stack Exchange staff be allowed to vote in any of the: community elections

Actually, this is one of the things they can't, unless they have the required reputation (150) like everybody else.

Should Stack Exchange staff be allowed to vote in any of the: ... meta Q&A, base site Q&A?

Many users on the network have an account which qualifies for the association bonus. The 100 bonus reputation gives you the privilege to upvote good content, which many users do on sites where they have hardly have any participation (proof: the skewed voting on Hot Network Questions and their answers). Why should Stack Exchange staff be exempt from this? Also, votes are private, so how do you know they vote?

Should Stack Exchange staff get to alter what is shown and not shown in any of the: community elections, meta Q&A, base site Q&A? This can be either by altering what is visible in the question tabs, or by altering user permissions.

Yes; when they edit something, it'll become visible as a revision to the post, so that other users can audit what they're doing. Same for deletion: that can be audited by 10k users via the moderator tools. In very rare cases they've opted to remove records directly from the database, but for good reasons (e.g. child pornography). Remember that this is the Internet; you just can't delete something from the Internet.

On a smaller scale, things like shadow edits have been enacted on posts which don't show up in edit history, once again removing the power of the users.

Yup, that happens, those are called redactions and are much rarer than you think. They're primarily used to hide personally identifiable information (i.e. they're for protection of the author); they're not used to silence anybody. Oh, and they're 95% used by ♦ moderators, elected by the community, not by staff.

Be assured that when staff (or moderators) edit or delete too much, complaints will be raised somewhere on Meta. Altering user permissions? Staff can add (or remove) ♦ powers to an appointed or elected moderator, or suspend a user (but regular ♦ moderators can do that too). Again, presumed abuse of powers can and will be discussed on Meta.

Should staff be allowed to vote, edit votes, and change sites?

Yes. They own this place, and if they feel some action is necessary for the future of the network, they'll do it. This includes such drastic measures like closing a site which isn't actively moderated by the community.

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  • this answers if they can, however, it does not answered what I asked. should they?
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:15
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    I think this answer perfectly counters your questions @tuskiomi
    – Luuklag
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:17
  • @Luuklag Counters? you make a mistake. I'm not on any side. I've upvoted the answer. it has good information.
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:17
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    Your questions implicitly makes a stance @tuskiomi . If you are not on any side you didn't write your question clearly. To me it reads like you oppose any meddling by staff.
    – Luuklag
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:19
  • @Luuklag I'm not sure how anyone should respond to that. can I just post a disclaimer "I really don't care one way or another and have no strong opinion"? That's the opposite of the content you want to add to a question. Don't get me wrong, I'll do it, but seems like an invitation to debate my stance rather than the question itself.
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:21
  • good info on redactions. For the record, I think that so far SE staff have been doing an amicable job.
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 2, 2019 at 17:27
  • @tuskiomi beginning any question with "should" is similar to asking "is it a good idea?" The implication being you don't think it is. You set the tone for the entire post with that one word, should, which you used repeatedly and which is often used in negations, e.g. I know I shouldn't but I can't help it, He shouldn't be doing that, it's against the rules etc. Aug 6, 2019 at 6:37
  • @Mari-LouA feel free to suggest a more neutral wording
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 6, 2019 at 12:30
  • @tuskiomi unfortunately, any suggestion at this hour would be too late. I commented to offer an explanation as to why the downvotes and in reply to your earlier comment …you make a mistake. I'm not on any side. Aug 6, 2019 at 13:55
  • @Mari-LouA I disagree. The question is still open. It is not too late.
    – tuskiomi
    Aug 6, 2019 at 14:18

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