Your suggestion has a lot of underlying assumptions:
- That any user will be happy to participate in moderation if elected.
- That all 500 rep+ users believe in community moderation, no censorship, etc.
- That all users are capable of moderation and can understand the technicalities of it.
- That if the community likes a user's physics contributions, they necessarily agree with their administrative ideologies and would like them to be a moderator.
If any of these assumptions fail (which they undoubtedly will), PhysicsOverflow will either become a censorious forum, an unmoderated low-level forum, a bureaucratic forum with no room for democracy, or some odd combination of the above. There are a lot of such forums, there is no need to become one among them. If we look at the list of all users who've been a moderator, excluding founders, none have actually done any much administrative work.
Let's look at the details of your suggestion:
In order to make the moderatorship of this site more transparent and "democratic", we could have rotating moderators.
Guess what? We already do.
- Each moderator would moderate for a maximum uninterrupted period of 1 year. After this period, they should wait at least 6 months to become a moderator again.
1 year! We need more flexibility than that. What if there's nobody to replace them? Let's read on.
- There would be a single moderator mailing-list containing all moderators. All moderators should use this mailing list regarding moderation issues or any stuff related to this site.
- Every user who has asked or answered a question on THIS site and has rep > 500 would be strongly encouraged to moderate for this period.
So no elections? Just existing moderators persuading people to be moderators? This is supposed to be a democratic site, not one run by some silly bureaucratic procedures.
Also, if all 500 rep users are moderators, then the community moderation threads should be scrapped?! Is this what you suggest?
- Even if a user lacks of time to moderate or doesn't want to do it for whatever reason, they should be strongly encouraged to become a moderator with the only passive obligation of belonging to the moderator mailing-list.
And what if all the moderators are unwilling or lack time? Then does everybody sit passively, letting the site become an unmoderated heaven for spammers? And what if the moderators don't believe in the principle of community moderation, or the lack of censorship, or user rights? Do we just sit and watch as PhysicsOverflow turns out to be the exact opposite as what it was intended to be?
- If there are no enough volunteers, the moderators will be chosen by draw among those user with rep > 500 who meet the other rules.
By draw?! How meritocratic! How democratic! Sorry, we have elections, not lucky draw contests.
Please, all USERS are encouraged to criticize and discuss these ideas and propose new ones.
What do you mean by "USERS"? Moderators are not allowed to comment? Oops.
These suggestions do the exact opposite of what you said they do, make the site "democratic". A lucky draw! How democratic! Bureaucratically "encouraging" users to mod! How democratic!
You can't democratically get rid of democracy, unfortunately. Democracy has to be shoved down people's throats, as ironic as it may sound. That's how Burma improved - democracy was enforced. On the contrary, what you suggest is simply how the reign of terror happened in France. Freedom was "democratically" censored.
Too bad, the principle of community moderation, our "constitution", makes it clear that:
The principle of community moderation on PhysicsOverflow is that members of the community who have proven themselves by earning reputation can moderate the community, while selected "experts", moderators, and administrators protect the core principle of PhysicsOverflow (the scope and level, and the principles of frankness, democracy and reputocracy), defending the needs of the community, to preserve the free and frank academic atmosphere at PhysicsOverflow.
In other words, you have democracy, but you can't vote to get rid of others' democracy.