14

Let's say I'm deeply convinced that a particular candidate in a moderator elections is deeply unsuited to the role.

What are available/appropriate avenues to oppose that particular candidate?

  • Unlike Moderator Pro Tempore nominations on Beta sites, there's no "vote down" option.

  • There's also no way to post a comment when voting

  • While you can post comments during nomination process, people are unlikely to read nomination posts during an election itself (presumably), and even less likely to read comment threads.

  • I'm guessing that posting a Meta question as an attack ad on a candidate is at best inappropriate and at worst, off-topic as per Meta rules and closable

  • I'm also somewhat hesitant to use Chat for negative campaigning.

  • 6
    Are you able to say what about this particular (hypothetical) candidate is troubling you? – Valorum Jan 27 '15 at 14:52
  • 3
    The appropriate avenue would seem to me to just vote for other candidates. – user8719 Jan 27 '15 at 15:15
  • @Richard - No, but it wasn't you specifically (since you asked :) I'd be glad to shuffle you off into the thankless work of moderation in the vain hope that you'll surpass my rep a month or two later than as it is now :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 27 '15 at 20:09
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    Just to be a bit more transparent, the issue isn't personal - it's that the candidate (who shall rename nameless) has a strong pattern of casting close votes that I very strongly disagree with in a large portion of the cases (e.g. I end up voting 100% opposite direction in either open/close queue reviews, or VTRO after s/he VTCs) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 27 '15 at 20:10
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    I am surprised and disappointed that the nomination comments are hidden during the election. It particularly hurts me, because the positive comments made about me are now hidden from the average voter. – Jack B Nimble Jan 28 '15 at 20:59
10

Very limited indeed, bordering on none.

Your main opportunity was during the nomination phase (by commenting and asking pointed questions about a candidate's suitability to run) and since you've ruled out the possibility of using the Mos-Eisley chatroom (and presumably by extension the 2015 Election chatroom) as a vector to attack a particular candidate, you aren't really left with any realistic ways to make your voice heard.

You could probably get away with asking a more general meta question ("should candidates who've only got x be allowed to run in a moderator election?") but that could easily backfire, either by creating a Streisand effect or actually encouraging people to vote for your unsuitable candidate out of a sense of sympathy voting.

8

Another option is to instead of attack, praise. Instead of criticizing the candidate(s) you don't want elected, talk up the candidates you would prefer are elected. Encourage people to vote for the people who you think will do a good job, and that can help earn them votes.

  • Sensible on the surface. However in real life, positive ads (in real elections) are found to have almost no effect if the candidate is well known :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 27 '15 at 20:07
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    @DVK - SE isn't real life and this isn't a normal election. My guess is that if you could corral a couple of hundred voters into picking your preferred candidate, you could make a substantial difference in the election. – Valorum Jan 27 '15 at 20:26
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    @Richard - If I had the power to corral a couple of hundred people to do my bidding, I'd be running for election myself (actually, no. I'd make an awful moderator :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 27 '15 at 20:37
8

In most cases bad candidates simply won't win the election. The election itself is the primary defense against unqualified candidates.

Critical comments on the nomination during the primary phase are the main method for criticism. They can be rather effective when there is some actual evidence that a candidate would make a bad moderator. But as you said, because they're not visible during the actual election, their effect is limited.

In extreme cases SE can forcibly remove a nomination. But this ability is rarely used except for obvious joke nominations. If you have clear evidence that a candidate intends to abuse their moderator abilities, you might get SE to intervene.

In the most likely case of a problematic, but not obviously evil moderator that manages to win the election, you can still work towards removing them afterwards. Clearly document abuses of power and bring them to meta. If there is a pattern of abuse, you can contact SE and get the other moderators to invoke the ability to remove a fellow moderator.

5

In a past election on another SE site, negative comments on a nomination probably (IMO) contributed to a candidate not being elected.

  • The comments were not attacks on the person and not cranky in any way.
  • They were presented in a very matter-of-fact way: "I think this candidate's statements A and B mean that they are likely to do C and D and I think C and D are not desirable."
  • They were made by a long-standing, active member of the site
  • Some other active members agreed with the sentiments expressed

https://serverfault.com/election/1

By contrast, in a more recent election, comments on a nomination might have had a Streisand effect, contributing to a candidate's election:

  • In this case, there were many serious comments, mostly not made in a very matter-of-fact manner - more like "You're kidding, right?! You can't possibly think this guy would make a good mod!?!"
  • Many of the comments were made by people who are not active members on the site.
  • Many of the comments were made by SE staff including ones who used to be active on the site but hadn't been seen much for a few years. So these came across as the powers-that-be jumping in on something they didn't understand.
  • Multiple people who are active on the site strongly disagreed with the comments.

https://serverfault.com/election/4

(But on review, to find all the relevant comments, you also have to browse some of the Qs on meta.ServerFault. I'm too lazy to post links, but there are 4 questions in a row on Nov 20 and 21 2014 that I was thinking of when I made this post. )

If it were me, if I had what I thought was a serious concern that I could express in a dispassionate way, I'd certainly post it on the person's nomination. I would guess that if it's a concern that not many others share, it wouldn't have much impact. OTOH, maybe there are other people who would agree with you, they're just waiting for someone to be brave and take the first step...

  • Out of sheer curiosity, which site(s) were both examples from? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 27 '15 at 20:53
  • How did Evan Carroll not win? The odds of him winning just keep going up and up with every election he enters. By now, it seems like it should be a sure thing! – Beofett Jan 27 '15 at 22:43
  • @Beofett Like JackBNimble in our elections? :-p – Rand al'Thor Jan 31 '15 at 21:53
  • @randal'thor from that comment, I'm going to have to assume you don't know much about either Evan Carroll or JackBNimble. Evan runs because he is a troll, seeking to be as disruptive as he can. Jack, on the other hand, is an active, respected contributor who does a lot of very positive things for this site. I'm actually voting for Jack... again, and in previous elections he has received a significant number of votes. Don't let his humorous nomination messages fool you. He'd be a great moderator. – Beofett Jan 31 '15 at 21:58
  • @Beofett I know nothing about EC, so any insult to Jack was entirely unintentional! :-) From your comment I assumed EC was just someone who kept running in elections and barely missing being voted in. – Rand al'Thor Jan 31 '15 at 22:02
  • @randal'thor EC's platform basically comes down to 3 points: he's awesome (in his own eyes), every moderator and SE employee throughout the network is an evil oppressor that he will fight, and he gets a t-shirt for every election he runs in. – Beofett Jan 31 '15 at 22:05

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