2011 Moderator Election

On Stack Exchange, we believe the core moderators should come from the community, and be elected by the community itself through popular vote. We hold regular elections to determine who these community moderators will be.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior and leaders within the community.

Our general criteria for moderators is as follows:

  • patient and fair
  • leads by example
  • shows respect for their fellow community members in their actions and words
  • open to some light but firm moderation to keep the community on track and resolve (hopefully) uncommon disputes and exceptions

Every election has three phases:

  1. Nomination
  2. Primary
  3. Election

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!

This election ended Feb 5 '11 at 20:00.

Anyone may download the election data. Voters have access to pre-built OpenSTV software to audit the results; all others may use this source distribution.

1,930 voters were eligible, 413 visited the election, and 229 voted

I'm putting myself forward for moderator simply because I believe I can help the community realize its potential.

Creating something successful takes work, and anyone who tells you that StackOverflow (the software) could be recreated in a weekend is quite simply mistaken. The care that went into designing and building the system is directly correlated with the strength of the resource that SO, and now StackExchange, has become. Similarly, the vision that the creators of the site have is also key to this success.

By the nature of the site, as questions are answered and the resource is built, so is a community. The better the harmony between the vision and the community, the more the site will thrive.

Moderators will not be responsible for creating a vision that the intended audience will be receptive to. Joel, Jeff and company and their feedback loop with the community (meta.stackoverflow.com) are responsible for this. Initiatives to improve understanding such as Real Questions Have Answers show this in action and are important steps in this process.

However, moderators do have the admittedly difficult job of keeping the community in line with the vision. The better a moderator is at his or her job, the higher chance that this will be a learning experience for the users, rather than a discipline experience.

To that end, I'm not an "inclusionist", or a "deletionist", or any other kind of -ist regarding questions and answers. I simply believe that the power to delete, close, etc. needs to be wielded carefully.

  • There should be no "us vs. them" feeling.
  • Rules should be applied consistently, but the message will need to adapt to the user and the circumstances.
  • Salvaging questions through encouraging edits is a win for the user and a win for the long-term community. Borrowing a phrase from a user on SO, closing or deleting questions is a lose-meh.
  • We're all learning. Where the rules/guidelines are gray, ask questions and help the user investigate, before acting.

While I believe I understand the purpose of the site well, I know my understanding is not perfect. That's partly due to a changing environment—subjective questions are new to StackExchange and there are bound to be some adjustments and rethinking along the way. I'm willing and able to adapt to that.

I believe in the SE system and its ability to make the Internet better. As a member of the site I strive to help it reach that goal. The potential is there, and as Mark Trapp said, it will take some navigators to help it achieve that. I believe that moderators can help the community become navigators as well, and with that harmony, we have the best chance of succeeding.

  • Your introduction is very inspiring. Good luck. – user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 21:26
  • +1 for encouraging edits – Shog9 Jan 26 '11 at 3:44
  • Since @Pierre is not running my vote to Renesis – Gaurav Jan 29 '11 at 5:43

I'm a Delphi programmer from the midwest with a positive attitude! My moderation philosophy would be to give curious question askers the benefit of the doubt when asking questions. I belive Ryan Hayes motto, edit before close, to be an excellent one. By no means would I seek to make the website a free for all, but I would apply the most liberal possible interpretation to the FAQ, while remaining a "strict constructionist" when it comes to the purpose and vision of the website.

I've moderated our company's phpBB3 forum for the past two years (It was a bit hands off, since I deal mostly with friendly nurses). But it taught me two good lessons.

  1. Be prompt.
  2. Be thoughtful.

And that's how I'd moderate.

I disagree with most of the intention by the 'powers that be' to drive away subjective, argumentative yet interesting questions. I believe that real questions don't always have answers and that sometimes the best thing we can do is form a list and pick the most appealing answer.

I would only close obvious trolling and spam. Flame bait is good business in my book. For the first time in my life, on this website I was referred to as an spammer, an troller and an anarchist. As a moderator (and in general), I would never condescend to use those terms on someone I thought to be human.

I have been using StackOverflow since it was in beta (user #1765) and I've seen it evolve and devolve and revolve and I like it. I think it is a swell place, filled with awesome people.

The other thing that separates me from the other candidates, is that I am willing to stick my neck out on the line and ask questions. I've asked more questions than all the other candidates combined (sad to say, some have been closed and deleted).

So, in closing.

  • Pete, could you please tell us in your introduction how you will be different. You asked for election in this post: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/863/… – user2567 Jan 23 '11 at 9:07
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    Peter, you seem to be running on a platform of moderation which differs fairly significantly to the rules outlined in the FAQ. Are you saying that you wouldn't enforce the FAQ as it currently stands? Is it really practical to have a moderator who is effectively working on an alternative set of rules? – Jon Hopkins Jan 23 '11 at 9:59
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    I want to be moderator in a forum of friendly nurses. If I vote for you will you make this dream come true? – user2567 Jan 23 '11 at 10:06
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    At last, someone who is not promising to be a toady and be a force for good, for the community. Gets my vote. – Orbling Jan 23 '11 at 11:53
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    @Jon Hopkins: If you can not vote someone in, that can do anything other than follow guidelines from on high, then the entire democracy system here is a total sham and illusion. (Which I fear it is.) Reminds me of recently "liberated" countries elections. – Orbling Jan 23 '11 at 11:57
  • @Peter: You have my vote. Real questions don't always have answers, and not many people probably realize this. – Fanatic23 Jan 23 '11 at 13:18
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    Doesn't the phrase "in closing" normally precede a closing statement of some kind? Not trying to be a grammar critic here, I'm just wondering if you meant it that way or if you forgot to finish the sentence. – Aaronaught Jan 23 '11 at 17:29
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    @Orbling: As long as we're making spurious analogies to the executive branch of a political system, let's stop to consider that they cannot enact or repeal any laws without the approval of a senate, and that all laws are still bound by a constitution of some kind. But really, moderators are more like elected judges than elected governors; their job is to resolve disputes within the framework of existing laws and very occasionally set new precedents for gray-area cases where no prior history is available. – Aaronaught Jan 23 '11 at 17:33
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    I also frankly do not see how asking a lot of questions is of special relevance to a moderator nomination. If you have a history of excellent, high-quality questions then I suppose that counts for something ("lead by example"), but everybody asks questions; what's important here is how one will moderate, which means we want to know how you use the existing moderation tools: Editing, closing/reopening, flagging, and to a lesser extent voting. You've had fair meta participation relative to many of the other nominees so if I were you, I'd play that up instead of question activity. – Aaronaught Jan 23 '11 at 17:45
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    Aaronaught would be a good candidate here :) @Jon: Peter likes the mess on PSE, he probably likes the mess on his topic :) – Maniero Jan 23 '11 at 21:13
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    @bigown not quite appropriate. Keep the sledging somewhere else. – Nicole Jan 24 '11 at 3:23
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    I'd like to personally thank the fellow who decided to modify the StackExchange voting engine to highlight my "meta-participation". – Peter Turner Jan 25 '11 at 3:15
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    @Pierre, if you vote for me, I'll do everything in my power to elect you moderator of area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/19231/… when it comes of age. – Peter Turner Jan 25 '11 at 17:26
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    @Pierre - I wouldn't want to say but I think there's some people here have a bit of history which is being played out in a few of the comments. – Jon Hopkins Jan 25 '11 at 23:34
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    Peter - I doubt that the election page was modified specifically to highlight your meta participation; it's highly relevant information for any mod nominee on any site and was shown on Yi Jiang's app before this election even started. I maintain that yours is a net positive; generally I would rather see negative meta scores than none at all. Any ideas are better than no ideas, and although I don't agree with much that you've written on meta, it does demonstrate a level of care and enthusiasm for the site. – Aaronaught Jan 27 '11 at 19:19

After some thought I've decided to put myself forward for election to full time moderator.

You can see from my profile that I've been active on Programmers' since the site launched and from my Area 51 profile before that too.

I was appointed moderator pro-tem back in September 2010 and have tried to make sure that the site follows it's rules and keeps on track. It would great if I didn't have to do anything and I could let the community decide everything, but at the moment that's not possible. There aren't enough 3K+ and 10K+ users, but if we keep the site on topic there will be a time when the moderators can take more of a back seat. However, even if there were there would still be those questions that need closing straight away and those non-answers that need deleting.

I've been involved with the Stack Exchange for two years, firstly on Stack Overflow and then on Super User and Meta Stack Overflow so I know how the system works and how its evolved. I also know that for a site to work it has to be well focused and clear about what is and isn't allowed. I saw Super User progressively tighten it's rules until it evolved into a site that probably has the clearest goals in the network. You need someone who's prepared to take the tough decisions about the borderline questions in order to achieve this.

Being involved in MSO means that I'm aware of what's going on in the rest of the Stack Exchange network and I can ensure that our site's voice is heard when decisions are being taken that directly affect us and the quality of our site.

Being a moderator isn't about being popular - it's about knowing when to step back and let the community decide what to do and knowing when to step in and take the lead. I hope that I've demonstrated that I can do that over the last 5 months.

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    I'm tempted to sabotage @ChrisF's nomination so we could have him as a fellow moderator on Super User. However, I think Programmers.SE needs a firm hand to keep the site focused and now from my own experiences that @ChrisF is very capable of doing so. Therefore, above anyone else you should definitely pick @ChrisF as one of your moderators – Ivo Flipse Jan 22 '11 at 12:26
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    I'm happy to see Chris running. Aside from having the most actual moderation experience of anyone here, moderating two of the busiest Stack Exchanges, it's important to have someone who sees the big picture (namely that reputation-based moderation is an economy of scale). I've talked to Chris about controversial questions and cannot think of anyone more objective and level-headed. If you want someone who's actually impartial and not just nihilistic or apathetic - Chris is it. – Aaronaught Jan 22 '11 at 16:16
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    I needn't to say that ChrisF has my support and one of my three votes. Great job so far. – Maniero Jan 22 '11 at 19:43
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    Glad to see you decided to run: we definitely need moderators who have your experience and calmness for the year ahead. – user8 Jan 22 '11 at 19:53

I believe a moderator should exercise their power very carefully. This is a community site and as such, it's governed by the community. We have plenty of tools to allow community members to self-moderate and only occasionally is the need of an actual moderator required. I think I would rarely - if ever - use my power as a moderator to interfere with the community unless such interaction was clearly needed.

In particular, things like off-topic questions, nonconstructive questions and so on can all be community-moderated. There would be no need for me to step in, unless serious disagreement broke out - and that's exactly what I would do.

I have been very active on Programmers.SE very nearly since it first went public. I've watched the site grow, evolve, and become more focused.

I have an excellent track record of answers (most with score above zero and none below zero at the time of me writing this). I strive to provide meaningful answers even to questions that encourage one-liners. This proves my dedication to participating on this site and making it a better place for questions and answers on general software development topics.

I have been backseat modding for the last few weeks, greeting new participants and helping improve or close questions as needed. I'm not afraid to upvote or downvote when deserved and to engage in constructive discussions in comments. I've been ramping up my participation on the meta site, both here and on SO itself. I monitor the tools available to me daily and check the site even when I don't have a lot of time to spend on contributing new answers.

If elected, my goals as a moderator would be to uphold and further evolve the standards and direction of the site by continuing to monitor questions, direct new users to existing FAQs and resources, and step in where needed while still letting the community do the bulk of sorting itself out.

In my mind moderation is best done in moderation, and I look forward to serving this community to the best of my ability.

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    You've got my vote. I would have nominated you myself if I could have. Couldn't think of anyone better. – Steven Evers Jan 22 '11 at 3:30
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    Anna provides common sense and sane responses to questions, even when I do disagree with her. – Paul Nathan Jan 22 '11 at 3:49
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    You got mine too, we really need you as a moderator. Thanks for your nomination Anna. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 8:52
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    One of the greatest names so far. – Maniero Jan 22 '11 at 19:49
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    I strongly support Anna as a candidate. – Jeff Atwood Jan 22 '11 at 21:18
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    Thank you for your support, everybody. I really appreciate it. – Adam Lear Jan 22 '11 at 22:06
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    Anna's got my vote. – Adam Crossland Jan 23 '11 at 2:02
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    Got my vote for what its worth. – user7007 Jan 23 '11 at 16:46

Mine is a pretty simple pitch:

I'm not the highest-rep nominee here by far. I'm not the type to pounce every question that comes along. I tend toward carefully-worded attention to the few questions where I have something unique to offer, and the occasional quick one-off. I'm pretty liberal with giving praise (upvotes) and always comment on downvotes to help nudge my fellow community members into good habits.

I'm a pretty hands-off type of mod. Acting as an interim mod for writers.SE, I think I've done a good job of letting the community moderate itself. I've only needed to drop the mod-hammer on obvious spam, and that's as it should be.

I'm active on a few Stack sites, and in several open-source projects. Community-building is one of my specialties. I love programmers.SE because it provides opportunities to mentor newer coders, and exchange ideas with my peers and those more experienced than I. I like the way that SE sites are largely self-moderating, and I see the moderator's role as more of a community engineering position than a traffic cop.

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    +1 for community engineering vs traffic cop distinction. – Adam Lear Jan 22 '11 at 2:17
  • Fresh and simple. You have my vote... :-) – Tamara Wijsman Jan 22 '11 at 2:25

A moderator needs to be active in the community, fair, and welcoming. I have worked at a Red Hat subsidiary, my main development computer is a Mac, and I'm a Microsoft MVP. I not only say that my views are objective, I prove it, and have a strong history of it. That impartiality and objectiveness is evident in my activity with the current moderator tools and comments and votes, which are vital to an effective moderator.

I have been active since the Programmers.SE inception, and continue to be daily. If I am elected as moderator, I promise to make and keep no promises, except to continue being fair, and welcoming of newcomers as I have been in the past. I give honest, constructive feedback and work to correct bad questions and answers without being disrespectful to the user. In the end, that will grow the community more than downvotes and "You're wrong. Period." comments. I believe in correcting the user by helping them revise bad answers and questions (if possible), so that they can become better members of the community, as opposed to removing questions near instantly and never learning from it. I want to see this site grow and to continue to be a great place to find answers and a community who rewards constructive feedback, participation, and growth as an individual member. If I am elected, I will work to make that so.

In summary, I stand for:

  • Closing as a last resort for uncooperative users (it happens).
  • Using the moderator tools to quickly find and asses trouble content, and working WITH the community to make Programmers.SE a better place.
  • Fairness, respect, and an understanding that every new user to the site has the potential to one day be one of the top users or moderators this community has ever seen. Due to this, my focus is on helping users understand how their questions and answers relate to the rules set by the community of this site, and how they can be a better member.
  • A focus on firm moderation for repeat offenders and a last resort. We all wish we didn't NEED moderators at all, but moderation is required in certain circumstances.
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    Ryan Hayes is now a familiar name we like to see in the answers! If we were at the pub, everybody would shut up to hear what you want to say as soon as you open your mouth. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 9:18
  • @Pierre 303: Thanks for the kind words! Luckily there are a lot of great nominees here that I trust and know will do a great job for us as moderator. Whatever happens, we're in good hands. :D – Ryan Hayes Jan 27 '11 at 4:16


I have an excellent pattern of voting behavior on Programmers and other sites. I am not worried about down-voting bad questions, or up-voting potentially good answers. I frequently vote for closing and deleting questions that don't fall into Programmers realm. I'm am willing to show support for questions I feel should be allowed in but have been closed in haste or deleted without respect to other potential opinions.


I try to provide detailed and informative answers that fit the subjective nature of Programmers. By far this is my favorite Q/A site to come out of the StackExchange model. I want to see it continue to grow, but make sure that blatantly bad material is removed swiftly. I have run out of flags and votes on more then a few occasions.

I am fairly active on SuperUser and StackOverflow. While I am a member of quite a few .SE sites I only contribute when I know it is beneficial to the community, not simply to gain rep. I'm fully vested in the development of the community as a whole, not only one site.

I'm one of five seven (not counting Community) users to have the Strunk & White badge for editing 100 entries. I am a fanatic and have consecutively visited this site every day since joining. Now I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing, so take that at face value.


Everything in moderation, including moderation

We need active members to quietly step in when something is out of hand. Not when things are in a grey area and can be handled by the standard body of moderation (3k+ users, that's you). As one of 7 10k+ users I have access to the normal set of moderation tools, which I have used effectively to review recent edits, respond to flags, and close or reopen questions.

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    Given your cross site reputation of 31k, your dedication and experience show that you would be a good moderator. You have my vote... :-) – Tamara Wijsman Jan 22 '11 at 2:20
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    Too much great candidates, how are we going to do??? – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 9:07
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    @Pierre: Vote for the best. ;) – Josh K Jan 22 '11 at 19:28
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    I could just up-vote Pierre's comment but I need to express my joy to see some users like Josh running here. – Maniero Jan 22 '11 at 19:57
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    Only candidate here with my vote. – Matthew Read Jan 23 '11 at 0:52

Good moderation means as little moderation as possible. Fortunately, programmers.stackexchange.com is not haunted by trolls and spammers, so maybe we hardly need any moderators at all; vote for me if you want a mod that hardly ever intervenes. That said, I wouldn't hesidate to use my mod powers if necessary. References: I've been TheDailyWTF moderator and also forum administrator for a long time.

  • I was wondering which European would nominate himself and that's you! I'm glad because you will be a great moderator! Being the only one on UTC+1 is also a major asset. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 9:15
  • @Ammo: You got my vote mate. – Geek Jan 22 '11 at 9:22
  • Thanks; Pierre: why don't you nominate yourself? – user281377 Jan 22 '11 at 11:47
  • @ammoQ: I'm not assertive enough and I put lot of importance in good social interactions here, and that would make be a terrible moderator. However I'm keen to participate to the community actively in any other ways such as answering questions, asking them and do improvement proposals. – user2567 Jan 22 '11 at 12:27
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    @Pierre 303: I think it is precisely those qualities you say make you unsuitable that would make you so very suitable. I would nominate you myself. – Orbling Jan 22 '11 at 13:46
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    Orbling: well said, exactly. I'd support Pierre. – user281377 Jan 22 '11 at 15:04
  • @ammoQ: Good that you wish to have a light touch moderation by the way. I have always thought the stack exchange community works well, despite the heavy-handed moderation. – Orbling Jan 23 '11 at 11:58

Back in nineteen dickety-five, my father ran for senior class president under the slogan "Slicer is Nicer". Well, I like to think I'm nice, but also fair and respectful of the technical community to which we all belong.

A vote for me is a vote for the everyprogrammer.

Edmund Burke
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

So I will not do nothing but I will stand up and do my part.
To pay back the community for all that I have learned.

Sun Tzu
"A leader leads by example not by force."

As a moderator should. It is not the moderators place to decide policy or impose his views. The community must decide its own ultimate goal and fate, it is the hand of the moderator that maintains the calm so that rational discussion may be had by the majority.

This election is complete.