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During a political election it's usually incumbent on the civil servants to be fairly neutral in their views.

Should our existing mod team exhibit the same neutrality (other than applying a guiding hand regarding content, manner, disposition and rules) and not post possibly influential comments such as:

++ So this is what your tweet about SO Careers being so wonderful was all about, eh? Haha. All politics. Either way, you've got my vote! – xxxx♦ 15 hours ago

+1 for the pornstar name – xxxx♦ 2 hours ago

A++++++++++++++++++++++ would vote again. – xxxx♦

I'll vote if you can do something with the overall awful quality of iPhone dev questions. damn that was snarky. But I do think it would be a good thing to have an iPhone dev on the mod team. – xxxx♦

@Nick Craver: Is there time for me to get in a rousing endorsement for this Justin Nels fellow? (see history) – xxxxxx♦

Even if they're not, these could be construed as endorsements.

Just a thought.

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  • 1
    I was wondering this myself. How do you feel about existing employees of SOIS endorsing candidates?
    – jjnguy
    Jan 19, 2011 at 16:52
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    "During a political election it's usually incumbent on the civil servants to be fairly neutral" I don't know what election you're talking about, but a lot of politicians currently serving in office will publicly support political candidates in upcoming elections. Not that this is particularly relevant to the issue at hand, but if you want this election to look like political elections, they you would have to allow existing moderators to "stump" for candidates.
    – Pollyanna
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:07
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    @Justin It might hurt their chances :P Jan 19, 2011 at 17:10
  • @pollyanna - When I say civil servants, I don't mean politicians. I mean people who are employed in government regardless of who holds office. Certainly in the UK these people (especially in higher office) are generally bound to a position of neutrality.
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:11
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    Well, I'm not sure the analogy holds then. Since it's an elected position, it's not as though we're comparing police commenting on the hiring of additional police officers. It's more akin to senators commenting on more senatorial candidates.
    – Pollyanna
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:13

5 Answers 5

30

Moderators are probably in the best position to evaluate candidates. They know what will be required of them, and they've very likely run into a given candidate on the site repeatedly, so they know what their style of moderating is likely to be like.

Further, they act as sort of a bellwether. If a moderator likes a given candidate, then those who are familiar with that moderator may take that like a movie review, "Most of the movies reviewed by X I like, so if they say they like this other movie reviewer, then chances are good I'll like their reviews too." Or alternately, "This moderator is always moderating in a way that rubs me wrong. If he thinks this candidate is a good choice, chances are good he's not a good choice for how I want things done."

Quite frankly I welcome, encourage, and would almost go so far as to request/require existing moderators to weigh in on the candidates.

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  • If they know a moderator better, why not choose him/her without election... What's the point of all drama?
    – user178465
    Jan 19, 2016 at 7:02
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Moderators are members of the community too. First and foremost, really. Should users with really high reputation also keep their opinions and views to themselves?

Also, influence is a double-edged sword. There are a few people that I'd like to endorse, but I don't really know if my endorsement would do more harm than good. (Who wants another moderator who's going to behave exactly like me? Why not give someone completely different a chance?) So maybe it balances out?

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    I endorse this for its first sentence.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 19, 2011 at 16:46
  • Re Double edged sword: This is true. There is a mod that I would not like to be be backed by...(it's not you though)
    – jjnguy
    Jan 19, 2011 at 16:50
  • @Grace, I agree (But that's what my upvote was for)
    – jjnguy
    Jan 19, 2011 at 16:50
  • High rep users are just that, high rep users they're not moderators. As I said in a comment to @Lennart, that diamond glyph does carry some clout and you are part of a team that have more privileges than joe schmoe. Therefore I feel you should be impartial.
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:08
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    @Kev: We do have more privileges, but we also have more information. We know who flags for mod attention a lot, whose flags are typically good to follow up on, and whose had their account annotated for bad behavior. Should we really stay impartial when one candidate uses all of their flags every single day to help us find posts that need deleted and another has multiple recent annotations for questionable behavior (let's just say, hypothetically)? Jan 19, 2011 at 17:20
  • @Kev: I am playing devil's advocate a little bit here. I do intend to stay neutral myself. Jan 19, 2011 at 17:28
  • Yes but that's what voting is for. If you guys see a candidate that you all agree is someone worthwhile pooling votes for (privately amongst yourselves) then that's fair enough. But I think at this stage your public face should remain impartial.
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:30
12

What the heck!

enter image description here


And enter image description here


And I don't think this is impartial at all! enter image description here


You're definitely acting like a politician here! Implying that mods shouldn't comment on elections and then doing it yourself! Why, you....

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    But he has such a nice smile, I just had to vote for him.
    – mmyers
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:16
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    Well, you know the saying, "if you cannae beat them join them". There was no definitive answer and I only threw the question out there as a discussion point, I was kinda on the fence back then.
    – Kev
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:18
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    Well, for what it's worth, I was a great addition to the SO mod team. ;) (Modest, too.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:20
  • And now the temptation to link to Onion articles as fact....Just.. have... to... resist....
    – Kev
    Feb 8, 2012 at 18:26
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It's really important to know what others think about the nominees. I've never seen half the people on the Nominee list (and I bet half of them have never seen me), so to know how a moderator feels about a nominee is really important to me, after all, the Moderators of all people should have an opinion on potential nominees.

It really goes to the heart of online behavior: Act right and there's no issue; act badly and be prepared to be called on the carpet for it.

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3

I don't see any problems with one moderator endorsing another. Yes, it may be influential, but if a moderator has done a good job, is that a bad thing? I don't think so.

Many programmer communities and foundations are based endorsing, and you can't become a member unless another member vouches for you. Although that exclusivity has democratic problems, endorsements in themselves do not.

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  • I think you're conflating regular user with diamond mod. Diamond mods have a much higher visibility and whilst not employees of SO they are that diamond does carry some clout (rightly or wrongly).
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:05
  • @Kev: I'm not conflating anything. My point is that a moderator endorsement of a candidate moderator rightly has more clout, and hence is not a problem. Jan 19, 2011 at 17:08
  • Then in that case the elections aren't neutral, there is bias from a group of people who can be viewed as an extension of the "will" of Jeff and Team.
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:20
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    @Kev: We're not an extension of the "will" of Jeff and Team. We were elected by the community and are an extension of the community. Jan 19, 2011 at 17:25
  • @bill - I'm not saying you are, but others will regardless of the fact that you are elected by the community at-large and not Jeff & Co..
    – Kev
    Jan 19, 2011 at 17:32
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    @Kev: Yes, the elections are neutral. Information and arguments, even from people with experience, is not a democratic problem and not a neutrality issue. People are free to ignore endorsements. Jan 19, 2011 at 18:12

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