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Increasing user participation in the upcoming moderator elections

+ 2 like - 1 dislike

Prompted by dimension10's remark 

I want to resign too (because I feel I'm in an utterly deluded world
thanks to mod powers), but I'm staying because there's no replacement

I was thinking about what would be needed that I could happily accept a nomination for moderator. The result were the three posts

Moderator evaluation and election

User rights and duties

Moderator rights and duties

I have no intent to fight for the content. But in case anyone should want to have me as a moderator, now is the time to prepare for it and make me comfortable.

This post should have accompanied the other three, but it was my very last activity very late at night and I must have been so tired that I forgot to press the ''Ask the question'' button.... This mistake gives me the opportunity to say a bit more.

Be assured that the only reason I want to have the three topics mentioned discussed (and in fact the main reason for everything I did in the past two weeks) is to make in the election PO as inviting as possible for old users that we might have lost through what happened in the past. I'd like to propose that in the upcoming election after completion of the moderation nomination, in the night where the second, voting phase starts, @polarkernel or @dimension10 send an email to all present and former registered users with the request to vote (possibly including a comment, ''after PO has successfully overcome a very difficult time''). These users should find themselves returning to a clean, professional, and attractive site.

The above three issues have nothing to do with dilaton. I was never trying to protect dilaton from stepping down. In fact, this morning he wrote me that he will resign from moderatorship this weekend; a less explicit announcement is already here. So please don't think that I'd continue to put pressure on any of you; as I said here, I stopped fighting.

In the list of Recent activity in Meta, I saw the downvotes on my posts. I deliberately don't look at the pages before I finish writing the present plea. Please reconsider in due time (but I hope before the election starts) what I have written and try to see it from the point of view of how it would benefit old and new users. Remember that my proposal for editing guidelines was voted down heavily when I posted it two weeks ago, but now, slightly modified, they are official guidelines with strong and unanimous support. It is alright with me if, after more discussion, dimension10 proposes better formulations of the matters in the three posts above and deletes in his version the then still controversial pieces, but please consider what I wrote in a positive spirit that, I hope, will accompany all our future activities here on PO.

asked Mar 27, 2015 in Discussion by Arnold Neumaier (12,355 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 27, 2015 by Arnold Neumaier

Regarding my future stepping down, I do not intend to step down now. When I said "because there is no replacement", I mean there is no replacement as far as I know for administrative and minor technical stuff. I know you can a number of other users would be able to do good and fair moderation.

Could you please title the post a bit more clearly? After reading the body thrice, I still don't really understand the question or discussion you're trying to prompt here/

I upvoted the question only because you now seem willing to be nominated as a mod, but after reading Ron's reply I'm no longer sure what the message you want to convey is. Could you clarify?

Is this actually a kind of chat discussion? Perhaps this would be better suited in chat (as well as some other discussions like [1] [2] [3] [4]) edit: Actually, I'll move them all to chat anyway, because this is something any 500+ rep user can do, and very easily reversible (by anyone).

@dimension10: I wouldn't mind having [3] [4] moved to chat.

I believe [2] is an important document of the emerging peace and remaining dissent and should remain here. 

[1] is probably pointing to dilaton feeling uneasy about there being no-one who could check you in case you hide something during this period. I think the danger is small now but perhaps you could say something reassuring before his impending step down. This would have more impact if it stays on meta. 

The present thread explains why I wrote the other three; it was difficult to find a reasonable title. If you'd like to move this to chat, fine; then I'd open another thread just containing the two sentences containing the text marked bold - this would have a clear title.

I don't know yet whether I'd accept a nomination for moderator, but I'd consider it; my decision would depend on the way the discussion of the three topics mentioned proceeds, in a way I don't know myself at present. In the past I was always against being moderator as my total time for PO is limited and what goes to moderation will be taken from physics. (See also what I responded to a post of Ron on my wall.)

If you think there is no shortage of willing moderators then nobody should nominate me. 

@ArnoldNeumaier Done... I know there's a shortage of moderators, I probably will nominate you.

@dimension10: Fine, though the multiple retitling was confusing at first. It may be good in the future to not to retitle more than 1 item an hour.

2 Answers

+ 3 like - 0 dislike

I generally like your suggestion here to make the election systematic, as well as your point here on sending an email to all registered users inviting them to vote on the election. This might also revive interest in the site. Perhaps we should finalise the exact procedure.

  1. 2015-04-04 (1230 GMT) - The thread Moderator elections (2015) - nomination and discussion is posted in the Public Official Posts sub-category of meta.
    • Post body should make it clear that (a) votes here are non-consequential (b) comments about candidates should be done here (c) any external discussion regarding the elections will be moved to this thread.
    • A mass-mail is sent to all users, informing them of the election, and the election is placed in the news section.
  2. 2015-04-10 (1230 GMT) - Moderator elections (2015) - nomination and discussion is closed from new answers, but new comments are still permitted.
  3. 2015-04-11 (1230 GMT) - Moderator elections (2015) - voting is posted in the Community Moderation sub-category of meta.
    • All nominations that satisfy the conditions in the moderator manual are transferred over to here.
    • Post body should make it clear that (a) all new nominations will be deleted (b) all comments here will be moved to the nomination page (c) the nominating posts will be associated with the nominee's account, even though it might not be a self-nomination. (d) voters are allowed to upvote or downvote any number of nominations.
  4. 2015-04-17 (1230 GMT) - Voting period ends.
    • The page is saved from a non-moderator account with at least 500 reputation points.
    • Victorious candidates (at least a +3 score) alerted about the victory one-by-one from the top, until there are two who are ready not only to become mod, but an active one. In the case that there's a tie at the end of it, then three would be promoted to mod.
  5. 2015-04-23 (1230 GMT) - Promotion of victorious and accepting candidates.
answered Mar 27, 2015 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 17, 2015 by dimension10
Most voted comments show all comments

@Dimension10: There's a simple solution to this: ask the nominated person post the nomination themselves. Then they can't vote for themselves, and the count shows the absolute vote. If they aren't around, just transfer the ownership of the post to the candidate.

@ArnoldNeumaier Yes it's possible (that's also how discussions are moved to chat - each comment is posted on the new thread by a mod and then the authors are changed).

Both the call for nomination and the call to vote should also announce the maximal number of moderators to be elected and the precise conditions for having been elected, in particular a quorum (at least +2 net votes?) and the tie-breaking rules. In case of a tie in the net number of votes, I think the candidate with the least number of negative votes should be preferred.

Unfortunately, I have to revisit my offer to create a small plugin that should disable voting on nominated moderator candidates automatically when the voting period ends. Because voting is possible from several different pages (the election thread, answer list, etc.), the only place to implement it is in the permission system of Q2A. However, this system is accessed very frequently to enable/disable displaying of posts, buttons, links, voting buttons, etc. Integrating the proposed feature there would slow down the system noticeable.

Therefore, and because we do not hold an auction, I propose that we come back to the proposition that just a PDF-copy of the page is made by a respected user at the end of the voting period. This document can then be published on PhysicsOverflow.

To point 3. The post should also say (just for clarity) that a user can upvote and/or downvote any number of candidates. 

Most recent comments show all comments

To point 3: ''All nominations that satisfy the conditions in the moderator manual are transferred over to here.'' The moderator manual contains an unspecified constant k in the rules for being nominated. (It would also be nice to have page numbers on the moderator manual, so that one can refer to details.) 

It would make sense to copy these rules also into the call for nomination.

@ArnoldNeumaier k is defined on the first page.

+ 2 like - 1 dislike

I understand your concern about professionalism Arnold, we need it on the site. This is why your proposal for user edits were accepted unanimously. Your other proposals, are impossible in light of the past consensus since founding, however, and it is exactly the slippery slope to these type of proposals that was the reason your editing proposal was initially downvoted.

For the reasons why these are a bad idea--- above you wrote the following; " In fact, this morning [Dilaton] wrote me that he will resign from moderatorship this weekend... " If your rules about private messages were passed, that sentence could get you blocked summarily. You have revealed the content of a private message. Now of course, nobody would ever block you for this, and Dilaton will say that you had permission. But if Vladimir Kalitvianski had written "Last week, Dilaton wrote me that he will resign next weekend, but it hasn't happened...", or any other user who has a conflict with a moderator, the moderator would be under the impression that there was no permission, this would turn into an extremely unfair block pronto. That's why the private message rule cannot be enforced, or even written down. You can just get a promise from users to keep it private, like in all other situations in real life.

Your proposals about which text can be shown and which text should be hidden were discussed many times previously, and you are not taking all the previous progress into account. This is demoralizing to those who made consensus for the rules. They were built up in the same agonizing way that your editing guidelines were accepted, which means they were all fully vetted and achieved consensus in that terribly slow, extremely inefficient Democratic process that produces acceptable material.

Your rule about protecting moderators is impossible, because moderators can impose power on users, the users need to be able to complain freely without any restriction. It is very easy to avoid user complaints--- just don't do anything against their will! The only time you get a complaint is when a user feels imposed upon. It is possible to moderate PO without ever doing anything against a user will. It is also possible to resolve complaints by simply stopping moderation.

If making you comfortable requires abandoning this process, there is nothing one can do. If the time that there will be only one moderator is of the order of a month, it is better to accept this than to make incorrect changes to rules that have been vetted by long discussions, and where the changes violate fundamental principles.

answered Mar 27, 2015 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 27, 2015 by Ron Maimon

Ron, I had asked dilaton for permission whether I may talk about his schedule for resigning; I even quoted exactly what I wanted to write so that he can object.

A moderator should never delete anything on the basis of guesses on privacy, but only on the basis of a complaint about privacy violation. (And even then not delete but move to a less accessible place).

My discussion proposals were not meant to be complete or final. Of course any progress obtained should be taken into account in the final guidelines.

(The downvote is not mine!)

@ArnoldNeumaier done. To avoid content duplication within the site (which badly affects search engine optimisation), could I delete the above two comments (which are already discussed there)?

Yes, you had the impression that you asked Dilaton for permission, and Dilaton said it was fine. Another user could also get that same impression by mistake. To resolve any dispute, moderators would have to pore over all the private messages between the two users to determine whether that impression was justified. Rules are only made with considerations of situations of conflict, not for situations of harmony, and your rule is completely obvious in situations of harmony, and becomes impossible to fairly enforce in situations of conflict. It's exactly the type of rule that can be exploited for terrible abuse.

See my answer here: http://physicsoverflow.org/28982/proposed-addition-to-user-rights-including-user-duties?show=29016#a29016

I am not proposing rules but user rights and moderator rights (and duties).

Not legal rights (even the current user rights emphasize this) but guidelines, a code of conduct, a goal to be aspired to by all participants, even though only very little of it is (or can be) enforced. As you should know by now, I am against using force except under the most severe circumstances. 

Take as your model the universal declaration of human rights. Their author's didn't have the means to enforce any of it. But it is an important, powerful , and influential document for mankind.

@ArnoldNeumaier: Yes, but unlike your proposals, the user rights are policy. They are binding rules on moderation, and if they are broken, the moderation can be called on it, and the moderator may be subject to review and removal.

You can't mix up informal suggestions which are enforced only by social convention with formal rules, which are enforced by involuntary sanction. It muddies the water, and it becomes confusing to enforce.

Your code of behavior is also problematic in a different way, because it encludes special consideration of moderators, "moderator rights" different from user rights. This type of thing is impossible to countenance, because even if it says it is not a rule to be enforced with deletion and moderator power, it always becomes a thing that is enforced with deletion and moderator power, simply due to the extra power of moderators. They will delete and remove material that they feel violates their special rights, and they will become de-facto censors. This is not a hypothetical consideration, as it is what happens on every site, including this one in the not so distant past.

Any informal code of conduct is easy enough to insert as a non-policy addition to the FAQ, so long as it is made clear that there are no avenues though which one could begin formal proceedings to complain about any violations, and there are no sanctions associated with these suggestions except perhaps a stern "tut, tut" to the user. Then you can have whatever flowery thing you want as a guideline, it won't lead to abuse.

Still such a thing can lead to a slippery slope, where someone at a later date promotes the guideline to a rule, and begins to enforce it with sanctions of some kind. So I prefer not to do this. You asked for a major modification in expected behavior--- encouraging tone edits--- and you got it. Lets see how it works out in the future. There might be no more remaining problems.

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