Hard to believe it’s been only six months since the last moderator election on Stack Overflow…
Remember A Theory of Moderation? It talks about how moderators are the “human exception handlers” on Stack Overflow, elected to deal with those rare situations the normal community moderation can’t handle. It also notes:
The most common moderator task is to follow up on flagged posts. Every post contains a small flag link, which anyone with 15 reputation can use.
Over 200K users with at least 15 reputation have accessed Stack Overflow in the past three months. That’s a lot of folks able to raise a red flag – and a lot of them do.
With 12 moderators on Stack Overflow, handling the more than 1,300 flags each day has become an increasingly heavy load to bear – so we’re looking for a few good men or women willing to step up and help. If you’re an experienced, community-minded member of Stack Overflow, willing to devote a bit of time each day to assisting your comrades, visit http://stackoverflow.com/election and nominate yourself.
Of course, needing more moderators is a good problem to have - it means Stack Overflow is thriving, its community able to recognize when a something on the site needs attention. That said, there’s something a bit wrong with this many flags going to the exception handlers, when many of them can and should be handled by other trusted members of the community. Last fall we started experimenting with ways of presenting some flags – those most likely to require actions available to ordinary users – to the 10K users first, and forward them only to moderators when unresolved in a reasonable period of time. We’ll be expanding this in the next month to put flagging for action (close, delete, re-open, etc.) and voting for action in the same league when it comes to requiring moderator intervention. Stay tuned…
The trilogy elections are now complete. Welcome our new trilogy moderators for 2011!
I hereby declare the new election process, at least as judged by the quality of the final candidates and the eventual winners, a resounding success!
Thank you for so generously contributing your time to keep your community safe, sane, and organized!
First, a quick update on the Stack Exchange moderator election schedule.
Ending today, so get those votes in!
Coming soon, in this order, at 3 per week:
- webmasters.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 7)
- cooking.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 7)
- photo.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 7)
- stats.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 14)
- tex.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 14)
- english.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 14)
- unix.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 21)
- apple.stackexchange.com/election (Feb 21)
(as always check out Yi Jiang’s awesome Stack Exchange Moderator Candidate Statistics page for insanely detailed election stats on any of the above.)
As you can see, we have a lot of community moderators! That’s why we’ve been working so hard lately on improving our moderator tooling, to make sure our new class of incoming moderators have as pleasant, polished, and smooth an experience as possible.
One thing we haven’t helped much with, historically, is when serious behavior problems occur. We encourage direct one-on-one communication to resolve serious behavior issues before they become irreconcilable. Unfortunately, the only way for a community moderator to do this was to email the user from his or her personal email account. Ew, right? Far from an ideal solution, but it was the only one we had… until today!
To make these sensitive moderation scenarios easier, we just rolled out on-site moderator messaging.
This accomplishes several things:
- All moderator to user messaging is done on-site; no email is required, and it’s a private communication between the user and the moderators.
- A duplicate courtesy notification email can optionally be sent to the user’s email account. This email comes from
email@example.com(or the trilogy domain equivalent) so no personal emails are ever revealed.
- We provide a set of prefab moderator template emails which cover most of the common-ish moderator direct contact scenarios we have experienced. This provides ambient guidance on a few situations you might expect to encounter at some point. It also reduces the “don’t make me think” of composing these difficult messages, and helps guide both parties into a (hopefully) constructive and positive interaction.
The vast, overwhelming majority of users are perfectly well behaved, so it’s rare to even need direct contact. But by the time we have to contact a user directly … it’s either something very, very good … or something very, very bad. When it happens, we try our best to keep the interaction constructive. It’s not about the specific user, it’s about the specific behavior. Addressing the behavior is our only goal.
We have some other exciting changes coming for moderators that are complementary to the improved moderator flagging for users — so stay tuned.
Good luck to all our moderator nominees. We’re rooting for you, and we will keep improving the moderator experience as we go to make it as painless and easy as possible.
After running a beta community moderator election on math.stackexchange, and launching 2011 community moderator elections on the trilogy sites, we are now rolling out community moderator elections to all the public Stack Exchange 2.0 sites.
When we selected Moderators Pro Tempore on the public beta sites, we tried to be quite clear that the eventual goal was always to have the community elect its own moderators.
That’s why I am in the process of identifying and organizing a team of provisional moderators from within each community (about three per site, starting about seven days into the public beta). This is a temporary, short-term appointment. Pro tem moderators focus and expedite the essential needs of each new site. By the end of beta, the community will be better suited to hold their own elections.
There are a lot of public Stack Exchange 2.0 sites that are due for moderator elections — but we’re starting slowly:
We’re still refining the election process; after these three complete, we’ll proceed rolling elections on even more public sites. I’ve outlined the election rules before, and those rules are also on the individual election pages — so please refer there first.
We have a deep respect for all the work that the pro tem moderators do to help govern their communities, particularly in the tumultuous early beta days of a site when we’re still figuring out the 7 essential questions. However, in the spirit of fairness and representative democracy, pro tem moderators must run for election if they wish to continue on as community moderators. They are encouraged to, of course!
The page runs entirely in your browser. Click the icon of the site you want to see election details for … and prepare to be blown away.
Our election pages pale in comparison, but we do present the essential information about each candidate, including their introduction, user card and a brief summary of their meta participation.
Democracy is a highly imperfect process, but it is a participatory imperfect process. Please participate in your community elections — by nominating yourself as a community moderator, if you’re so inclined, and always, always by voting. Your vote is your voice, so use it!
After vetting the new, improved election process on math.stackexchange.com we’re ready for the next big step: 2011 community moderator elections on Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’d make a great community moderator!” — now is your chance to nominate yourself:
Don’t worry — all our excellent community moderators on the trilogy will carry on as moderators. It’s only on new Stack Exchange 2.0 sites with Pro Tem Moderators that existing moderators must run in the first election to continue their terms.
The community moderator election process is documented on the individual election pages in great detail, but in brief, here’s how it works:
- Nominations — seven days
In the nomination phase, any community member in good standing with at least 2000 (3000 on Stack Overflow) reputation may nominate themselves — and only themselves — as a candidate in the moderator election. Nominations require writing a brief introduction explaining to the greater community why the candidate would make a good community moderator. Comments are encouraged in this phase, along with plenty of editing to make the introduction better, but there is no voting. The top 30 nominees (ordered by reputation) proceed to the primary phase unless they opt to withdraw.
Note: If there are 10 or less candidates at the end of this phase, we skip directly to Election.
- Primary — four days
In the primary phase, all community members with at least 150 reputation can cast an up or down vote on each candidate, resulting in a public tally. No comments are allowed in the primary; any opinions on the suitability of each candidate should be expressed as a simple up or down primary vote. The top 10 candidates by score will proceed on to the election phase, unless they opt to withdraw.
- Election — four days
Once the election begins, there will be per-user site notifications to all eligible voters. In the election phase, all community members with at least 150 reputation can cast three votes: 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd choice. All votes are private until the election is complete, at which point the election data file (the vote totals for all the candidates; no identification of who voted for whom) will be freely and permanently downloadable by anyone. We will calculate the winners using OpenSTV and the Meek STV method.
In a little over two weeks, the election process should hopefully produce several new democratically elected community moderators!
Democracy only works when the community participates, so if you know someone who would make a great community moderator, urge them to nominate themselves. And as always, please vote!