15

Summary: Parenting will begin the nomination stage for a special election on April 30, 2018 to bring in one more moderator.

Last year (has it really been a year?) I broached the idea of beta elections. As a pilot project, we're going to attempt running an election here on Parenting. This community seems like a good candidate since the site has gone over 7 years with moderators appointed by the community team and the scope of the site has long been settled. Now is the time to let democracy work its magic.

There are a few differences between this election and our normal procedure. Perhaps the biggest is we won't require this election to be competitive. Normally we won't run the voting stage of an election unless there are at least one more candidate than open slots. For a graduation election, that typically means we need four candidates so that the three slots are filled with one person left out. That ensures voters have an actual choice. We'd still prefer Pro Tempore elections to be competitive, but we can use this process on smaller sites if we don't make it a requirement.

As a consequence, the election will end at the nomination phase if voting would not be competitive. Whoever has nominated themselves will be appointed moderator. This streamlines the process and avoids wasting time on a voting stage that won't change the results. Another consequence: the community team reserves the right to remove a candidate at any time. We already disallow nominations from people who have recently been suspended. It should be very rare that we'd exercise that power, but when an election is non-competitive, there's a risk it could be subverted.

Long-running beta sites tend to be tight-knit communities where regular users tend to know each other. Therefore, we won't run our standard nominee questionnaire on meta. That doesn't preclude someone on the site taking that initiative and posting questions they would like to have answered. The election is a few weeks off so that you have time to do this if it seems necessary.

Finally there are a few wonky details that won't be immediately obvious and probably won't matter to most voters. Winners of Pro Tempore elections will need to run for re-election along with appointed moderators if they want to continue being moderators after graduation. To avoid problems with badges, newly elected moderators will be treated like an appointed moderator when installed rather than as winners of the election. (If I do it right, there won't be any visible effect. But I figured I'd mention it in case things go sideways.)

I'm very excited about this experiment as it's a step toward removing the beta label for sites that are firmly established on the network. Please let me know if you spot any problems or have any concerns about the process.

  • So, when will nominations open? – gparyani Apr 6 '18 at 1:20
  • April 30 at 20:00 UTC. – Jon Ericson Apr 6 '18 at 1:58
  • "I'm very excited about this experiment as it's a step toward removing the beta label for sites that are firmly established on the network." Is it a signal that Parenting may reach a state between beta and graduation (like you described it in the answer to Catija's post you linked to)? – Anne Daunted Apr 6 '18 at 20:02
  • 2
    @AnneDaunted: Pretty much. To be honest, most sites older than a few years is in that in-between state. – Jon Ericson Apr 6 '18 at 23:26
  • 1
    A couple of things went funky. I'll explain in an answer coming soon. – Jon Ericson May 15 '18 at 20:02
3

Overall, the election went smoothly in my estimation. Four candidates gave voters plenty of choice and participation was solid:

1,788 voters were eligible, 475 visited the site during the election, 331 visited the election page, and 152 voted

That's an 8.5% turnout, but you figure many eligible voters are no longer active on the site after 7 years. 32% of voters who visited during the election voted, which is more encouraging. This gives me a good deal of confidence we can do this on other sites, such as Board and Card Games.

However, before we do that, there are a couple of problems that would need addressing:

  1. We sent out an email to existing moderators warning them that they need to nominate themselves if they want to continue being moderator. That's because the first election after graduation has always been the first election. Looking ahead, the graduation election on Parenting will skip the email. The code is:

    if (Current.DB.ModeratorElections.Count() != 1) return;
    

    It really should be something like:

    if (Current.DB.ModeratorElections.Type() != GRADUATION_ELECTION) return;
    

    But, of course, we don't yet have moderator election types. And I might as well plan ahead to cover other parts of the plan.

  2. The election page gets automatically updated with the winner if I tell the system who won the election. But if I do that, it'll screw up awarding the Constable badge a year from now. I already manually insert the link to OpaVote results, so it's not the worst thing to do manually. But it's an annoyance I'd like to automate away.

  3. Nobody took the initiative do the candidate questionnaire. I don't think it was necessary this time, but we might want to think about how to encourage longer answers to voter concerns in future elections.

At any rate, I'm going to work on getting #1 fixed and try this process again on another site. Thanks for being my test subject!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .