In chat, we realized that using a common thread for posing questions to moderator nominees as Math.SE did does not scale well. The general consensus is that it turns into a circus, and after consideration, I agree.

At the same time, I feel that it's important to be able to distinguish the good candidates from the bad ones. A user with 10k rep might not understand the site as well as a user with 1k rep who spends his/her time constantly on Meta, such as myself. Users might not be familiar with specific nominees for various reasons-e.g. they may spend their time in different tags. These users I'm referring to are not the inactive users we don't want; rather, they represent minority sections of our community. However, by asking specific questions as to how they intend to moderate, we can identify those users who might not be suited for moderation, despite their expert knowledge of the subject.

In addition, the current nomination statements are not enough. They tend to be very abstract- I will close off-topic questions, I will do what the community wants. These tend to be either "duh" promises or promises which cannot be proved or not proved to have been fulfilled. It is the borderline questions that we need to know what our nominees think about - we've defined our existing policies for SO here at MSO, and I'm sure the M.SF and M.SU communities have done similarly. However, can we trust our nominees to be familiar with these policies and enforce them even if they disagree with them?

How can we resolve this issue? Allow users (250+ rep?) to each post 1 or 2 questions that are displayed to nominees. (Perhaps make questions go through a vetting process to eliminate duplicates?) Nominees shouldn't be required to answer these questions, but if they don't, it may obviously reflect poorly on their willingness to work with the community. Answers should be publicly displayed to all, of course. This should naturally be built into the election software, since that's the whole purpose of this request.


Is there any reason you couldn't create a chat room, and have starred questions that moderator candidates should answer, if they want your vote?

I also think you're dismissing meta too quickly for this function, based on the math community which is .. kind of a pathological one in the network. I am not sure math is representative of any other community we have, they're a bit .. uh .. special.

A meta question of the form "how would you, moderator candidate, handle these two scenarios?" -- and each answer should be from a moderator candidate that wants your vote.

  • US television apparently dubbed TROPIC THUNDER to allow a lot more instances of the word "special" that just weren't there in the theatrical release. – random Jan 19 '11 at 5:38
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    aaarh, don't say that the math folks are special, that's exactly what they want us to believe! :) – Benjol Jan 19 '11 at 6:01

You can do this on meta, for example:

List of questions for candidates in 2010 moderator election

  • Yes, but the community felt that this would be a circus. The links are in the first paragraph. – waiwai933 Jan 19 '11 at 5:15
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    @wai there's no way what you propose can happen in any reasonable timeframe, so you either need to do it on meta, or not do it at all. – Jeff Atwood Jan 19 '11 at 5:16
  • @wai another way is to post comments on the nominees and have them answer there. – Jeff Atwood Jan 19 '11 at 5:16
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    Not for this particular election, I understand, but in the future. – waiwai933 Jan 19 '11 at 5:17

Of course, answering questions on meta supposes that the nominee actually has an account here:)

I think there is a risk of the 'Peter principle' coming into play. Someone who's good at answering questions (and thus has a high rep) will probably not make as good a moderator as someone who spends a lot of time editing, flagging, etc. (all non-rep-increasing activities).

I'm not sure that the community has sufficient access to that information in order to be able to judge one candidate against another.

I think it might be quite useful in this context to have some kind of 'probation' period post-election, where the existing moderators can decide if the new ones are up to scratch or not.

  • "answering questions on meta supposes that the nominee actually has an account here" - this is exactly the type of supposition I would make of a moderator candidate I might vote for. As for the probation period, that sounds like a separate meta question - shouldn't just be crammed into this answer IMO. – Merlyn Morgan-Graham Nov 19 '11 at 1:20

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