On the math.SE site, we're trying to organize elections through meta (currently by coming up with a short list of nominees). We would like to try to have some people in the community itself to take charge and continue to shape the community by the end of the private beta if at all possible.

It is very important that we have some sort of formal leadership before the next university semester begins, as this is when the site will be inundated by calculus homework problems.

Is there any way for the community to start a moderator-election procedure?

2 Answers 2


Your community should already be picking out potential candidates to "represent" your site — Helping us find Moderators Pro Tempore.

Please go to your meta site and start/participate in the Moderator nomination discussions.

I am in the process of creating positions for Moderators Pro Tem from each community. This is how it will basically work:

About a week into the public beta, we will look for members who are deeply engaged in the community development; members who:

  • Are currently a registered user in good standing
  • Have a reasonably high reputation score to indicate active, consistent participation
  • Exhibit patience and fairness at all times in their questions, answers, and comments
  • Lead by example, showing respect for their fellow community members in everything they write
  • Want the responsibility. Moderators volunteer a lot of time and work. Its can be hugely rewarding experience but it isn't always a popularity contest.

Bonus points for:

  • Site proposers
  • Members who referred a lot of followers/committers on Area 51
  • Members with participation in both meta and the parent site (i.e. interest in both community building and expertise in the field)

These users will be contacted and three of them will be selected to act as Moderators until the formal elections.

They will:

  • Have access to the tools to perform the duties of Moderation
  • Have access to a special chat room where we will collectively work through the challenges of moderation and community self-policing
  • Drive the process of selecting the site's attributes (domain names, design issues, the FAQ, etc.)
  • Help get publicity for their sites and organize their communities

Basically, they will have the ear of the Stack Exchange team for anything we can do to help their sites succeed. They will act as a liaison — a job that "links" the Stack Exchange team with the individual communities.

Moderators solve a basic scalability problem. We can't be in each site, identifying the issues and helping each community grow. That's where Moderators come in; they make sure communities are enabled to solve these problems where they can and elicit our help when necessary.

  • And once (and if) the site graduates from beta, there'll be a new election to vote on continuity of pro tempore moderators or new ones? (yes, I know, this probably is getting ahead of ourselves)
    – juan
    Jul 22, 2010 at 15:06
  • @Juan Manuel: Ideally, Moderators should be elected by the community, not appointed by us. So most likely there will be a new election where the (appointed) Moderators are free to join the group of users who wish to be considered for the position. Jul 22, 2010 at 15:27
  • @Robert, is there any chance you could leave the nomination process to us, or at least consult our nomination thread on our meta? Jul 22, 2010 at 17:23
  • 4
    @Harry, that's how it's done actually. Read again Robert's first sentence.
    – juan
    Jul 22, 2010 at 17:48
  • @Juan: In the original revision, it wasn't clear to me what Robert meant... Jul 22, 2010 at 20:45
  • @Harry, no problem. I was just trying to help :)
    – juan
    Jul 22, 2010 at 20:48

After seeing a little about how the election process has been going so far, I have the following advice for other communities about to undertake the same process:

Domain knowledge is important up to a point: Moderators should be able to recognize what topics are or are not appropriate, whether questions are tagged correctly, etc. However, the most knowledgeable users are not necessarily the best choices for moderator. As Joel said in one of the podcasts, you don't take your most skilled programmer and put him in charge of passing out cookies at lunchtime.

Have a community wiki question for moderator selection where each answer corresponds to one candidate. Nomination is a simple matter of creating a new answer, with the nominee's name as a heading (# in front), with links to their profile on both meta and the parent site. Each candidate can then edit his/her associated answer to give a brief description, including what time zone he/she lives in and what hours he/she will most frequently use the site. Or he could decline the nomination by editing out his name and adding it to a list of declined candidates in the question itself. Discussion can take place in the form of comments on each answer. After selection has finished, this question can remain as the 'get to know your moderators' page.

Voting is done by upvoting every candidate you approve of. This has the benefit of ensuring that those selected are trusted by a large proportion of the community. (voting members of the community, anyways).

The scope of a moderator's responsibility is very different in a new site vs a mature one, since the site is in bootstrap mode (some tools are trivial to access), but there are no high-rep users (some tools are impossible to access).

  • What you are proposing is how it's actually done Kaestur
    – juan
    Jul 22, 2010 at 20:08
  • 1
    @Juan: Are you referring to the stackoverflow moderator elections? Yes, that is how it's being done on math.stackexchange, and that's why I recommended the same for others. I think that members of other SE2.0 sites trying to elect moderators will come to this question first. I tried to mention things not in Robert's answer or linked article because I thought it would be helpful for people who might not know where to look.
    – Larry Wang
    Jul 22, 2010 at 20:30

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