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Proposed rephrasing of the right to technocratic administration

+ 3 like - 0 dislike
126 views

The Right to technocratic administration in the user rights reads:

Right to technocratic administration

Moderators are expected to understand the technical content of disputes. This does not mean that they are allowed to impose their understanding through censorship, rather they use this understanding to judge if something is off topic, or low level. Right and wrong are for the community to decide, based on comments, and fair voting.

Moderators are to be elected based on technical contributions to the site, high-quality original material is most significant, and not on the basis of independent political popularity contests, which are easy to fix online. 

I think I understand (and agree with) the intention of this right completely, but I also think it's phrased in a rather shabby manner. I propose to make this more clear as follows(I sincerely hope my proposed amendments don't change the actual intentions):

"Moderators are expected to understand the technical content of disputes"

I believe the meaning of this sentence is "moderators are expected to not interfere in discussions where they do not understand their technical content", and this is indeed reinforced by the following lines, which say "rather they use this understanding to judge if something is off topic, or low level".

The current phrasing can be incorrectly interpreted to say that moderators should be knowledgable about every single subfield of physics, e.g. a string theorist elected as moderator must understand condensed matter, atmospheric physics, astronomy, causal dynamical triangulation, and so on. This is obviously not the intention of the text, I hope.

"Moderators are to be elected based on technical contributions to the site, high-quality original material is most significant, and not on the basis of independent political popularity contests, which are easy to fix online."

This could be incorrectly interpreted as "elections don't matter!", because elections are, after all, "popularity contests" (but they cannot be rigged/"fixed", because of the 500 rep requirement on voters). I believe the intention of this line is to say that "moderators must satisfy certain conditions based on their content contributions to the site, besides being elected".

We indeed do satisfy this condition - as stated in the moderator manual, it is necessary that the candidate must have at least 500 reputation points on 11 April.

"Right to technocratic administration"

The word "technocratic" should be complemented with "democratic", because a technocracy is a system of governance where administrators are selected by the existing administrators, rather than elected by the community at large.


Therefore, I propose that the document be made more clear as follows:

Right to technocratic and democratic administration

Moderators are expected to not interfere in discussions where they do not understand their technical content. This does not mean that they are allowed to impose their understanding through censorship in discussions where they do understand the scientific content, either, but rather that they use this understanding to judge if something is off topic or low level. Right and wrong are for the community to decide through comments and (fair) votes.

Moderators are elected democratically, but must satisfy specific conditions regarding their scientific contributions to the site (as detailed in the moderator manual), and original high-level material is the most significant at this.

Please suggest improvements, or point it out if you feel that this changes the meaning of the right.

asked Mar 28, 2015 in Discussion by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Mar 29, 2015 by dimension10

This is a no brainer, your phrasing is correct, mine was imprecise, and the second part was obsoleted by the development of moderator elections. I removed one phrase which overqualified the text (moderators aren't supposed to censor in discussions where they do understand the scientific content either! But of course, that's probably what you meant.)

@RonMaimon you misread - the original propsal said "do" not "do not". It was meant to clarify exactly what you said, that moderators are not allowed to censor even when they do understand the scientific content. 

Oops! My mistake... I apologize for being so hasty. Perhaps your phrasing above is best--- moderators are expected not to impose their understanding through censorship, even when they understand the scientific content,...? Or is it ok as is? You decide, I don't care. But a qualifying phrase might be nonsensically interpreted as allowing censorship in cases where they don't understand the scientific content (as absurd as that interpretion would be). I don't think there is going to be confusion, I don't care. Thanks for the modification dim10, it looks unanimous (I can't see how it can be controversial).

@RonMaimon Ok, I reverted your edit, and added an italicised "either" and bolded the "do", to prevent the kind of (mind-boggling) possibility of abuse that you suggested.

I have appended the amendment in the user rights.

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