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I've been on this site for over 4 years, and there hasn't been an election held. From my research, seems there hasn't been one for DA since 2012.

I've nothing personal against them, and I hope they don't take this personal either. Their 32k reputation is much respected.

From my time here, I can hardly recall a time when mpdonadio or googletorp have closed or put on hold a question. Maybe back in the day they were more into it?

Did they get bored? Maybe they don't have as much time due to work/family changes?

Is it time to hold moderator elections?

What are your thoughts?

Vote up if you agree, vote down if you disagree. Let's see how many votes we get.

Please read all comments & answers before voting, thx!

  • (1) I am alive. (2) Clive is #1 is flag handling now, with me at #2, over the last month. (3) I visit the site throughout the day and handle flags when they come up. Most of what I do is behind the scenes housekeeping. (4) I will write up an answer with more details later. – mpdonadio Jul 11 '18 at 13:05
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    I am not contrary to elections. I am wondering if the community's feeling that the moderator activity is done from just two moderators is a reason sufficient to open an election. Maybe the community feels as two moderators out of three means impartiality on the taken actions. Vice versa, is the lack of community feedback to this question, and activity in the main site, a reason enough to request a moderator election? – kiamlaluno Jul 14 '18 at 6:05
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There are a few misconceptions in your question and the responses here that I'd like to address because I see them around the network.

Part of this is poor phrasing choices on the Network's part for how elections work and what moderators do and part of it is that this Network is somewhat different than how others are.


When do we hold elections?

This site hasn't had elections since 2012, which is when both of the previous elections were held. When deciding whether a site needs to have an election, we look at a few things:

  • How are the moderators doing in the diamond moderation tasks?
    • Are flags being handled quickly?
    • Are concerns about moderation being addressed on Meta?
    • Are the moderators present and active on the site?
  • Do any of the moderators feel like the site needs help from additional moderators?
  • Are the moderators happy to continue in their position?

If moderators are absent or looking to step down or they feel like they really need help, that's when we generally consider having an election. If none of these are the case, we leave things as they are.

Moderators don't serve "terms". They're allowed to stay in the position as long as they want it (there are a few extreme cases but they don't apply here), so holding an election "just because" just adds more people to an already saturated system.

That said, if one of the moderators is interested in stepping down for any reason, they can always reach out to us and let us know, but it's their choice and they can always ask to come back later. As they say "Diamonds Are Forever".


What are moderators responsible for?

We consider every user on the network to be a "moderator" of sorts. The reputation you earn gives you access to various moderation tools. This includes everything from voting and unrestricted editing, to closing and deleting posts. This is discussed in a blog post from way back.

So, what are the primary tasks for the diamond moderators? From that blog post:

If you see anything in the system that is evil, weird, or in any way exceptional and deserving of moderator attention for any reason… flag it! That’s the primary job of a moderator: to look at every flagged post, and take action if necessary.

Considering that, this site is... pretty low-key. I've moderated a high-flag site pretty handily with only four active mods and this is much lower-flag volume than that. From what I can see, the mods here are doing well as they are. Flag handling time is impressively short (average of 12 minutes over the last month) and the moderators are generally active and engaged in other site activities.

On closing

Yes, moderators can close questions that are off topic but they can only do it unilaterally, not as a single vote. Most moderators I've talked to prefer to save their close votes for cases that are extreme or obvious, leaving the close voting to the community in most cases. On sites with relatively inactive close queues, moderators may be more active but still generally prefer to be a fourth or fifth vote rather than first. In fact, on most sites, moderators who too frequently use their unilateral close voting ability are accused of abusing it.

For users with sufficient rep to close vote, we hope they will show their engagement in the community by actually using it that vote. In fact, completing 250 reviews in each review queue (earning the "Reviewer" badge) is one of the things that raises a user's candidate score were an election held here.

If getting sufficient votes to close a question seems to be a problem, start doing more reviews or voting to close posts from the question page... or, if you have 10k reputation, consider taking advantage of the close votes tools page. There you can see questions with several votes to close and vote on them directly rather than scanning through the review queue.

But, remember, if you're looking to the moderators to do more than handle flags and address users who aren't abiding by the code of conduct or other network policies, there are bigger problems in the community than the diamond moderators... there's a lack of community coming together to make a great site.


Giving others a chance

Because we give moderators the chance to hold their position on their own terms, we're not going to ask them to step down - let alone force them to. Unlike elected office holders, moderators aren't creating policy, they're enforcing it. Many of the tools moderators have can be accessed by a user with >20 or 25k reputation on the site.

Moderators aren't really change-makers here on Stack Exchange. They don't make decisions about the scope of specific sites or whether specific types of questions should be allowed or not - the users do. All of that work of "leading the community" can happen at any reputation and without a diamond next to your name. Some of the most influential users on the network aren't moderators. They're people who see things they feel need to change and talk about them in well-written meta posts, either questions or answers.

If you think that something about the site is failing, bring it up, talk about it, encourage users to see things the way you do and make that happen. Be a force for positive action on the sites you use. If something needs to change in a broader way, take it to the network meta, Meta Stack Exchange.

In the meantime, if you really want to moderate the site, be active on meta, use the review queue, the 10k tools, and start working on your candidate score if you're not already. The closer you can get to 40, the better. If you want to know where you stand, here's a SEDE query that will tell you, just put your user ID number in the "UserIds" box.

  • Thank you for the write up, I think you pretty much covered everything. Accepting this answer. – No Sssweat Aug 22 '18 at 8:34
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Speaking as a current moderator, I don't think there's a need for an election at the moment. There are 3 active moderators, and, truth be told, we already don't have that much stuff to moderate.

Your original premise for the need for an election is actually fundamentally flawed:

From my time here, I can hardly recall a time when mpdonadio or googletorp have closed or put on hold a question. Maybe back in the day they were more into it?

A moderator's main duty is to handle flags, which all 3 of the active moderators here are doing in reasonably similar volume (I've checked the statistics in the moderator dashboard). Voting to close is something that the community have the tools to handle, but often choose not to for whatever reason (no judgment intended).

Case in point. You yourself commented on this question earlier. That question is obviously of very low quality, is ambiguous, unclear, and should be closed. But you didn't vote to close, nor did anyone else.

In my opinion that is the all-too-familiar behaviour we need to address. As happened in this example, moderators only close questions because historically we know that the community here often struggle to do so, even when they have the right tools. In an ideal world we (moderators) would rarely, if ever, get involved in a question closure.

Adding more moderators in an attempt to address that problem would just hide it further, and reduce the chances of the root issue being fixed. And I don't want to see that happen.

I'm not against new moderators, but I am against new moderators just for the sake of it. If we can demonstrate a real need, then let's do so, and get an election rolling.

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    "Case in point. You yourself commented on this question earlier. That question is obviously of very low quality, is ambiguous, unclear, and should be closed. But you didn't vote to close, nor did anyone else." Yeah because I'd be only 1 vote out of 5. My closing power seems quite useless to me. Getting 5 votes to close is a rare thing. I only feel compelled to vote to close if there has been at least 3 votes already casted. Chances are either Kiamlaluno or you are going to come along and put it on hold at the end of the day. So it feels like a waste of time to even mark it to begin with. – No Sssweat Jul 11 '18 at 23:49
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    I can't really reconcile your complaint that question closing isn't happening often or quickly enough, and your refusal to vote to close. You can't have it both ways, as has been explained several times now, closing questions is not supposed to be a moderator's job. – Clive Jul 12 '18 at 11:17
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    Even a single closing vote can make a difference, especially the first one, since it puts the question in the closing review queue. There are questions closed only from the community, or where a moderator cast the last vote (which means the effect of that vote is like the effect of a vote cast by a non-moderator user). It's not that the community is not able to close questions. – kiamlaluno Jul 13 '18 at 17:46
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Thanks for bringing this up! I hope there'll be a fruitful discussion about it. I agree with your suggestion but from a different reason.

As you said there hasn't been any elections for quite a while. Which actually just made me wonder (again) just today and so I decided to have a look at Meta if there maybe hasn't started one just to find your question.

To make it short, all I'd wish for, and maybe this can be seen as a compromise of the ongoing discussion under your question, is that there would be moderator elections on a regular base. Maybe once year, maybe once every two years, something like that. Then moderators get elected for a certain time period and when this period is over and they still want to go on moderating they can throw themselves in the ring again for another period.

I think this would be a healthy mechanism to also give others that are interested (myself included) the chance to lead the community that's given them so much and were they like to spend their time following and answering interesting questions about a topic they love.


Apart from that I'd like to mind my Meta question about question templates that would also be a huge help IMHO to initially minimize the amount of low quality questions.

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    I agree, I know some other SE Communities hold them every year or 2 years. 6 years for DA seems like a long time and it's well overdue for one. – No Sssweat Jul 11 '18 at 11:37
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    The need for moderators (and subsequently an election) is based on the workload that mods have to get through. Having elections for the sake of it, as in one election every year, even if there's no problem with how the current moderation is being performed, isn't the philosophy, and I doubt would happen. Reviewing it each year to see if it's necessary, however, would be normal. But elections are only caused by a real-world necessity for new bodies in moderation, there's no point taking on however many new moderators every year without a demonstrable need for it. We don't have the concept... – Clive Jul 11 '18 at 12:04
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    ...of term limits either: once you're a mod, you're a mod until you quit, or you do something so terrible they throw you out. So I'm afraid I'm going to have disagree with your thoughts here, as they don't marry with the SE philosophy of moderation and elections. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/121142 and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135749 for some network-wide thoughts on the subject – Clive Jul 11 '18 at 12:05
  • And your earlier query about question templates is actually being discussed network-wide at the moment I think, or at least something very similar is. I'll try to dig out a link for you later – Clive Jul 11 '18 at 13:02
  • Stack Exchange stopped from doing regular moderation elections time ago. Now they are going to start a moderation election where there is the urge of having a moderator more. On Stack Overflow, that still happens regularly, but only because the number of moderators is not sufficient for the number of posts and users the site have. – kiamlaluno Jul 12 '18 at 10:00
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This answer may or may not be coherent and/or linear, as I am picking away at it..

I will agree that I have been less active on the site as a user, asking/answering questions. I don't think my activity as a moderator is much different.

As of right now, the average flag handling time is 32 minutes over the last month (this time may include the ones that mods don't see right away), and

  • Clive => 44 flags
  • mpdonadio => 28 flags
  • kiamlaluno => 25 flags

This time window includes me being away (vacation where I wasn't allowed to use the computer) about ten days. I also think this looks lower than average monthly totals.

I have always tended to close less than the other mods. Over our careers, I have handled about 25% more flags than Clive, but he has deleted and closed more posts.

As a elected / diamond moderator, I visit the site throughout the day to check for flags. And, I will say that a large portion of my moderator activity is flag driven. Other activities tend to be behind the scenes (unfreezing chat, spam cleanup, CM communications, things like that).

Diamond moderator are supposed to be the human exception handlers. We are not expected to read and moderate every piece of content.

The entire community is supposed to moderate the site, by editing, question/answer voting, close/open voting, and flagging things that they can't do themselves. I have been a big advocate that the close/reopen vote thresholds can't be the same across SE. The trilogy sites can close out a bad post in a few minutes, where a post can linger here. However, I just read a post that has four close votes on it for being off-topic, that I don't agree with.

Based on the workload of tasks that only a diamond moderator can do, I don't think this site needs another mod. The CM team checks on site health, and asks us from time to time whether we think we need more help.

If the problem is an increase of bad posts, then I much prefer the community weigh in on closing posts rather than the mods taking immediate action.

  • May expand this tomorrow. – mpdonadio Jul 11 '18 at 21:05
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    I'd be curious to know what's the flag handling time for similar sized SE sites. – No Sssweat Jul 12 '18 at 1:04
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    @NoSssweat I put in a request to see if this is tracked. And, this is an example of activity that mods typically do that very few people see. – mpdonadio Jul 12 '18 at 1:37
  • I would say that each moderator is more active in a specific activity, which is not necessarily visible to the community. I was not moderating the site for about a month, and the site didn't have any consequences, even with the community not closing all the questions that should be closed. – kiamlaluno Jul 14 '18 at 5:20
  • @NoSssweat I don't have official word on this yet. But, it looks like our handling times are about the same as similar sites, where they have active mods and are relatively trouble free (eg, deal with abusive users on a regular basis). – mpdonadio Jul 14 '18 at 17:08
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If elections here were anything like the real world, where the impact would be a change in representation for the State of Drupal Answers. as a part of the Federal Republic of Stackchangia, (where theoretically it'd mean a change in voice and/or influence in how Stack Overflow addresses features, changes, etc.) then I'd say yes.

However, that's not the case here. As I understand it, elected mods do the meta-moderation work of ongoing community actions (taking action on flags, stepping in where the process has broke down, etc.). If there were a large backlog of that work, I'd say yes. But that's not the case either, the review queue is not backlogged from what I see in day-to-day mod actions.

I'm more interested in improving things like:

  • The UX design for asking questions as @leymannx mentioned.
  • Addressing particularities that this SE niche sees as the result of being about a quirky CMS.
  • Improving the experience for both sets of users:
    • Asking questions (e.g. no drive by downvotes w/o constructive feedback, quick forwarding a user to a better site venue when it's off-topic)
    • Adding answers (e.g. swiftly shutting low-quality questions that will never be answered clearly, forcing a question asker to respond to answers).

All of the above is likely too much to ask for, on a volunteer basis, with the low activity here (relative to other SE sites) in terms of:

  • Support from Stack Overflow
  • Influencing others to improve how they're using this site

Anyway, my vote is no, unless there's some hidden politics I'm unaware of that can improve the aforementioned gripes.

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    Thank you for your input. If there were a large backlog of that work, I'd say yes. But that's not the case either (Immediately goes and looks at the backlog) ummmm... – No Sssweat Jul 13 '18 at 2:54
  • That proves our point nicely @NoSssweat. Only 23 items to be reviewed across he entire site, and they can be handled by the community. Another tick in then”no new mods needed” box. – Clive Jul 13 '18 at 11:43
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    Alright @Clive but I will be keeping an eye on these backlogs for the coming weeks & months to see how bad they get. I still wonder how much more efficient the WordPress site is with 7 mods. – No Sssweat Jul 13 '18 at 13:16
  • I think it would be difficult to answer that @NoSssweat, you'd have to take into account how the time spent moderating is split (there might be 7 mods but if they each only moderate for 5 mins a day each and the 3 of us here do 15 mins each then we've done more), how much moderator-specific work there is to do, the community's involvement, the community's expectations, many other things. I understand why it's tempting to want to compare the two, but even if you successfully extracted some data, I'm not sure it could be meaningful – Clive Jul 13 '18 at 13:44
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    I've rarely since the queue as high 23, but that's anecdotal (also, that's community work, not work for a mod to take unilateral action on) @NoSssweat: Maybe you can make your case using data via the data explorer (data.stackexchange.com/drupal/queries) compared against others SE sites? – Shawn Conn Jul 14 '18 at 18:23

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