This post is inspired by two controversies that arose during the nomination phase of the current Stack Overflow moderator election. One of them pertains to allegations of plagiarism by one of the candidates in their responses to the moderator questionnaire, and the other to allegations of gaming the election system via a last-minute submission by one of the candidates.
This post is related to this proposal by TylerH, which I believe addresses the second case, but not the first.
I'm also responding to this answer by nvoigt suggesting there's a problem with the questionnaire questions themselves.
Splitting the nomination phase into two:
- A private nomination phase, where candidates submit their nomination and answers to the moderator questionnaire privately, have the ability to edit their nomination post as much as they like, but are unable to see anyone else's nomination. We could still make public the list of candidates nominating themselves, but keep information like candidate score or questionnaire private.
- A public phase, where the nomination is closed, the list of nominees is locked in, their answers to the questionnaire are made public and no longer editable (or editable with the usual edit history present for all to see), and the community is given the opportunity to discuss each of the nominations in the comments.
This ensures all candidates get the same amount of time to have their nomination challenged or endorsed by community members in the comments, so there can be no allegations of impropriety when it comes to late submissions.
This would also ensure the candidates can't see each other's answers until after they've all been submitted and locked in, which would reduce the likelihood of candidates drawing inspiration from each other, which would hopefully lead to more original answers to the questionnaire, or at least make it easier to test nvoigt's assertion that the problem lies with the questionnaires themselves.