I am worried that the moderators can now only be selected from those with 10.3k reputation.

I understand that we must limit our options using some method, as too many choices would make this process more difficult.


  • Very high rep users are not any more likely to moderate than those in the 7-10k range - in fact I'd say their participation, by definition, tends more towards answering questions than moderating.
  • It widens the gap between the high rep and low rep users. While it's not a political office, it's more of a policing function, having people who are very good at getting rep do the policing may result in moderation that tends to favor those who are good at getting rep.
  • Reputation is more a measure of expertise in a variety of subjects, but does not at all correlate with being fair, impartial, and patient.
  • It doesn't seem democratic at all to only allow the "higher class" to participate in elections.

I'm not saying anyone should be able to nominate themselves, but should we not consider the above further, and ask if this is the best way to determine the 30 people who will go into the primary election?

I'd rather see 50+ people go into the primary with 3k or 7k and above reputations and go through the list, upvoting those in the primary that seem reasonable, than see people who would be great moderators drop off the list because they only have a measly 10k rep.

  • 13
    People who are at 10K and above already have some partial moderating experience. I have read all of the nominations posted so far, and the ones posted by 10K users and above generally demonstrate a better understanding of what being a moderator is all about.
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:35
  • 13
    +1 - I agree. The "30 with highest reputation" part seems very artificial. Democracy isn't just about voting, it's also about building the process.
    – Kobi
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:36
  • 9
    I also found it odd that MSO repuation is not taken into account at all. (People are going to vote just on reputation ranks anyway, so including a moderation-relevant one might be helpful.)
    – mario
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:38
  • 1
    @Robert - And you came to that conclusion by reading their nomination, not by evaluating their rep. Correlation does not imply causation. Or are you willing to go so far as to say that all the nominations of those below 10k rep clearly show lack of qualities you desire to see in a moderator?
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:39
  • 3
    I am willing to go so far as to say that all the nominations of those below 10k rep (so far) clearly show lack of qualities I desire to see in a moderator.
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:40
  • It is kind of interesting...on Super User, many of the nominations are of a lower-rep threshold - between 3K and 7-8K...shows that all SE sites are not equal...
    – studiohack
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:42
  • 1
    @studiohack: All SE sites are not equal. I haven't looked recently, but I doubt that SU has a half-dozen users with over 100K in rep; SO does.
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:44
  • 2
    @mario - Meta rep, while serving a distinct purpose, is hardly a good measure of whether a moderator would be good or not.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:46
  • our highest rep user has 68K, and only 5 users have 20K+ rep. @Robert Harvey
    – studiohack
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:48
  • 2
    I've kept my trap shut about this and I'm glad you've called it out. The nomination process whiffs a bit, quite badly actually. In fact when I realised what was going on when one or two reasonable looking people dropped off the radar I was a bit gobsmacked. This certainly isn't democratic.
    – Kev
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 17:53
  • @Robert ... I don't know what to say, I had several people encouraging me in my nomination who I feel are rather participatory on both SO and MSO and I'm well under 10k on both sites. I'm glad that this is a democratic process, but I'm ready to watch the popularity contest kick in. To that end, I'm waiting on JonSkeet to submit his nomination so he'll just go ahead and become a mod. (altho I imagine a call to Jeff would "correct" that easily enough, if Jon wanted it)
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 18:05
  • @drachenstern: Did you nominate? I don't remember seeing your nomination.
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 18:09
  • 2
    @studiohack It's pretty much an SO only issue. In the SE 2.0 sites, the absolute top 30 users goes as low as 2k on even some of the more active sites.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 18:15
  • 1
    @Pollyanna You make a good point on correlation versus causation, but when dealing with large numbers of people and trying for "good enough" instead of "the best", I think it's OK to use possibly-flawed heuristics to help present a good crop.
    – Phrogz
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 19:31
  • 2
    My suggestion on the topic was to cap the reputation bar at 10000. So a user gets into the preliminary if he either has 10k reputation or is in the top 30. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/75453/… Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 19:39

7 Answers 7


There have been a number of similar arguments on the ServerFault election page as well, notably:

I think a balance of 10k and non-10k users is important in moderator circles, as it prevents grandfathering (i.e. "That's just the way it's always been done") and provides new insight.

– Mark Henderson 19 hours ago


I agree with that sentiment so much that I'd almost like to see a rule that no one OVER 10k can get elected moderator (prolly a thought for meta but worth a comment I think)

– Jim B 16 hours ago


@John - putting aside whether or not I personally am suitable mod material or not and looking at the issue of reputation, it's possible to have >10k from answering questions but not otherwise getting involved in making the site "tick", and therefore not be good mod material or to have <5k but spend a lot of time getting involved in the site and be exactly the right kind of person.

– Robert Moir 7 hours ago

Granted I understand that StackOverflow has a lot more users with a lot more rep than ServerFault, however, I can think of a lot of users under 10k who would make great moderators. I also think you make a great point that having all the mods have over 10k rep could lead to them being biased against low-rep users. However, I think that's where the meta reputation comes into play. I saw one user with over 50k rep on StackOverflow but less than 200 rep on Meta. I personally wouldn't vote for such a candidate as a mod.

Having said all this, I am not sure what the answer to your question is... because there has to be some way to keep the number of nominations to a reasonable level. If the 30 highest rep users isn't it, I'm not sure what is. But I do see issues with the 30 higtest rep users, at least on StackOverflow.

  • 10
    Additionally mention that there was a user (I remember the UID but I won't share it, I'm not that mean) that was refusing to participate in meta but wanted to be a mod. There's no place for that for a mod, in my opinion (and over 30 others before I lost track of the comment ~ durn you no 10k tools)
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 18:01
  • @drach: to be fair, he only refused to participate because Meta doesn't use Slash. (Score: 3, Troll)
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 19:08
  • @Shog9 that's fine, I was just commenting that it was such an occurrence. ;)
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 19:10

In practice, what tends to happen in the election is that high reputation users generally win over lower reputation users.

I'm not saying it's right, but it is what we have observed to happen, multiple times.

Some statistics from the Stack Overflow moderator election results

Just as I went to post this, the title auto-search showed me another post on election statistics. In the comments there, Jeff suggest a strong correlation between the user's rep and their election ranking. So I added that into my graph. Sure enough, there is a correlation: approximately half of the voting behavior is likely based on the user's reputation

Therefore, I would much rather have an election where people have to make a meaningful distinction between 10 relatively high reputation users rather than reflexively voting for the highest reputation users in the list.

(and obviously this is only an issue when there are are more than 30 nominees, anyway.)

  • 5
    If reflexively voting for the highest reputation users in the list is (part of) the problem, couldn't temporarily hiding the reputation of the nominees (profile page, nomination page) be (a part of) the solution? 44K vs 15K is a huge difference... Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 23:32
  • @ChristopheD +1 - it doesn't hide it (people can still click through to see all the candidates details obviously), but it might prevent people from basing their vote mostly on reputation.
    – Justin
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 1:20
  • @Jeff I don't think that anyone is arguing that we should have more than 30 nominees (already the nominees page is pretty large), its more how those 30 are selected.
    – Justin
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 1:22
  • 1
    I don't think it's wise to look at past correlations, and build them into the system as requirements. Still, barring a better solution, which I certainly don't have(yet...), this is probably the best system we can use at the moment, especially without making things more complex.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 3:47
  • 3
    Not to mention 10k is almost nothing on Stack Overflow. If you haven't shown your commitment thus far to achieve 10k, you are not suitable for a moderator role yet. If you're new and want to help, use your close votes and try getting more rep and trust from the community. It's NOT going to be the last election! The important thing to consider here is we just need 2 people right now, and the population above 10k (or any pool of 30 relatively high-rep people, for that matter) have excellent people to fulfill that role perfectly. Sure, there are other good people, but we benefit from them later.
    – mmx
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 7:54
  • Some of this is not purely based on the amount of rep a user has though. For instance, the people I voted for in the SO election are people I've known since I began participating in Meta. I think it's a bit misleading because high rep. users have been (usually)around longer and it's more likely that they are recognized by other people
    – Earlz
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 23:22

As @Jeff notes, people will reflexively go for the highest reputation. That is a huge loss, because - as others have noted - high reputation does not necessarily a good moderator make. I'm not saying most of the high-rep users on the list aren't capable of good mods, but there is a lot of talent going unnoticed.

How about next time, reserving some nomination slots, say five or ten, for users with less than 10k reputation? It wouldn't be any kind of Affirmative Action, as they would still have to make their stand in the elections. But I find it terrible that moderate users of the site don't even have a chance to survive the first round.

  • 1
    "But I find it terrible that moderate users of the site..." - I'm not sure that moderate users of the site will make good moderators.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 0:24
  • 2
    @Justin there are some below 9k reputation who would make good candidates, and who are excluded from the whole process. Plus the level may rise even more if a few more high-reputation users choose to throw their hat in the ring. That strikes me as unfair
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 0:31
  • 1
    Here is how I see it. The percentage of good mods in the 10k+ crowd is much higher than the percentage of good mods in the 3k+ crowd. So narrowing it down by rep is good for the community in general. (Even if it is detrimental to a few lower rep users.)
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 4:29

Reputation is more a measure of expertise in a variety of subjects, but does not at all correlate with being fair, impartial, and patient.

Reputation doesn't directly measure expertise. It is more measure of how active you are on the system.

Are lower rep users even using the system enough that making them a moderator will be helpful to the site as a whole? I am sure it somewhat depends on the person, but a higher rep tells me that a person is more active.

Sorting by reputation doesn't bug me at all really. I do wonder if there was a way to only sort by rep earned over the 6-12 months (rep league data?). Since I think the only important information you can get from reputation as it relates to moderation is how active a person is.

Though it might also be interesting to take into account how many comments, answers, and other actions a person has made on the site.

Some quick stats about the number of comments, including comment upvotes, number of edits, number of retagging, casting close votes, flagging content, would show their ability as a moderator much better then their reputation. Yes, that will exclude people that have a low rep too, but they can just work on being active on the site, and participate during the next election.

  • well, we do include meta stats now which I think are pretty crucial.. and then there's Yi Jiang's epic awesome election page: se.awio.com/election.html Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 6:01

I think that this is exactly what will cause people with less than 20k rep to not even bother entering the election, and I think that it is a travesty. If you subscribe to the sentiment that someone with more reputation will knock you out of the race before the primary even begins, then you won't at least try, and you will ensure that the list is dominated with users that have over 20k reputation.

If you think you will be a good moderator, nominate yourself and make a good case for why the community should support you. My SO rep is only 12.6k at the time of this writing, which means I'm 2 - 3 rungs away from getting knocked off the ladder. I'm also a recently retired pro-tem mod, and I know I could do the job. Will I get a chance to do it? Who knows. Maybe, if I manage to hang on until the primary.

In contrast, 80k rep users should not think twice about nominating themselves, even if they know that they will prune the list by doing so.

My point is, it's no reason to throw your arms up in angst and not participate.

I think it would be a little more well rounded if SO + MSO rep was combined to produce the 'standing', since at least several running aren't very involved on MSO. Every single mod needs to be prepared to be called out on MSO if someone disagrees with an action that they took, it is part of the job, so rep here should be part of the score that says you might be qualified to do it. That should result in 30 candidates who would probably make great moderators, and I think that is the intent.

Still, that's addressing how the system could be improved, and not directly addressing the nominations being dominated with those who have very high reputation.

  • Not only that, but it's possible some won't participate in the election (as in voting) because it's seen as a high rep user only club.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Pollyanna - I don't think it would discourage people from voting, voting is a feature of the site that (even a little) reputation entitles them to use. Still, I won't argue that many would appreciate a broader representation of the community when that time comes.
    – user50049
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 19:59
  • 1
    Heh, this was an interesting read over three years later. I now work here, and probably wouldn't if I didn't hang in that election. So, don't you dare not participate if you really want to do the job. :)
    – user50049
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 8:09
  • 5 years later.... Do you think the number of "useful" flags should also be included along with MSO rep? Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 16:52

Lifted directly from comments on the election page.

@Nick Possibly its too late for this election, but a 30 nominee cap doesn't seem like the best mechanism for limiting the number of candidates. How about the requirement that all candidates must donate a certain amount of reputation (proportional to the total number of candidates) in order to nominate themselves? This would discourage joke nominations and the reputation could be reimbursed for any candidates that receive a certain number of votes, meaning that any mildly suitable candidates aren't penalised

Its pretty obvious that in reality high-rep users are far more likely to become elected, and so it might seem sensible to limit the number of candidates by rep, but that's not really in the spirit of a democratic process - there is no real reason why a low rep user wouldn't make a great moderator, its just not as likely.

In some other elections the list of nominees is restricted by financial incentives - the cost of running a campaign can be fairly expensive, and on top of that there is generally a small fee for entry. Obviously we can't demand money from community moderator candidates, but we could weed out less serious candidates by requiring that they give up a chunk of rep to enter.

This still favours high-rep candidates, because they are more willing to sacrifice the reputation and some low-rep candidates might not have enough reputation to enter (the amount of rep would probably have to scale with the number of candidates).

Candidates could receive a reputation refund if they withdraw before the end of the nominations phase (for example if the cost of entry raised above the amount of reputation they required to enter), or if they received a certain threshold of votes in the primary phase (so potentially all candidates might receive their reputation back).

Just an idea.


I'm very concerned that with just using rep as a criteria, we could end up with a high-volume questioner, who's never set foot in meta, never voted, and never edited anything :(

EDIT My point is that if you're not hanging out on meta, then in my book that means you're not interested in HOW the site works, you're just interested in asking and answering questions, (and maybe, just maybe, in gaining rep).

Moderators should be the FIRST people to know about the new stuff. They should be actively participating in discussions about how to edit, how to review, what suspension is, when it should happen.

And chat engagement is important too. Moderators need to be on the ball - communicating with each other about hard cases.

Just turning up to answer questions on SO without being curious how this stuff all works just won't cut it.

  • I highly doubt that the person you describe above would win an election on SO.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 5:56
  • @Justin, they only 30k+ who has a 'decent' showing on meta is Lasse (in my - currently outdated - list)
    – Benjol
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 6:34
  • I'm not on that list because I'm 28k? I suppose that makes sense, and your point.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 6:40

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