I know this is long, but it's part of an important topic (electing moderators) and I feel it needs serious discussion and I've taken a little extra time to make sure my points are clear and there are no leaps in reasoning.
I can understand why and agree that if someone leaves comments on candidate nominations that are name calling or something similar, they should be deleted. But with a situation as important as picking a moderator, more leeway in deciding what to delete should be required of the moderators.
The case I'm talking about is someone who has nominated himself to run for moderator on SF&F. Here's his nomination. My first comment is, I feel, a legitimate and necessary question. If he's been on SF&F for a year and has hardly any activity, how do we know if, after a year of ignoring the board, he'll devote the time and effort to the job of moderator?
A question like this, to a candidate, is an opportunity. It's a chance to step up and face a challenge and say, "I know I haven't been here much, but here's what I will do..." It's a sales technique: Objections are opportunities to sell one's product. (And in an election the product is one's self.)
Now, if you've checked the link, note his reply. It essentially amounts to a personal attack against me, accusing me of ambushing him and negatively attacking him with a sardonic comment. I could have flagged this and complained that it's a personal attack and is name calling, but I did not because I feel it should be on the record.
There's another exchange, and after that second exchange, I made a comment that was deleted, a terse sentence that was pretty close to, "But you still have not answered the question."
I know that may be considered being chatty, but in the case of elections, such a comment should not be deleted. He has sidestepped the issue, has attacked me personally, and has even gone off on a tangent about the good thing he did in his nomination, all to avoid the question.
I didn't complain about a personal attack and that's still there (and it should be - a candidate should be allowed to define himself publicly however he wants). But a simple, short comment calling him on his evasiveness has been cut. If one is going to start deleting comments, which is more appropriate to a discussion with a candidate - a personal attack, or someone drawing the line and saying, "You're being evasive and that's not appropriate?"
Yet the one that was deleted was not an attack, was not rude, and simply took him to task for not dealing with the issue at hand -- but it also gives him the opportunity to return to the topic and address it. (It's up to him whether he does that or tries to avoid the issue again or ignores it.) He's running for moderator, and I can't imagine a single moderator out there not knowing that having a thick skin when being called on a mistake is a requirement of the job. It also should be a requirement of someone who wants that job.
If this were an election for a government office, the media would be expected to call a candidate on evasiveness like this. It's not that kind of election, and there is no media, but it's still a responsibility of the members of the community to call a candidate when they're being evasive.
And it's the responsibility of the current moderators to not get in the way of that.