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Given the age of our site - soon to be 300 days in beta - and the relatively early election of pro tempore moderators, it seems natural that situations may have changed, along with the makeup of the site itself, in the time since our first batch of mods were chosen.

Would it be possible for us to start fresh with a new batch of duly elected moderators, seeing as how our constituency is far more seasoned and varied than it was way back when we three got promoted?

If possible, desired?

If both, let's get to it!

  • Fwiw, I don't think there's needs to be an election. SE sites seem designed to encourage discord over concord, which I think we need to be aware of. (For example, you are repeatedly discouraged from thanks, "me too", and appreciation, but encouraged to post criticism, differences, and raise concerns. Also only a single answer can be accepted). As with the "points", I suspect that many of us are somewhat equivocal as to the character of the tools we are presented with. Of course this makes it quite understandable that a moderator, at the eye of such things, might wish to be done with that. – Dan Sheppard Apr 11 '15 at 20:10
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    Is it possible to put the featured tag on this to highlight this question? Just a thought – Crab Bucket Apr 12 '15 at 7:03
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    @DanSheppard, I know it seems that way, but those truly aren't the goals. The problem with "thanks" comments isn't that we don't like em - it's that the posts that help the most people can generate dozens of them, which pushes the answers off-page. We can do a lot more to build stronger senses of community and co-operation, but it's worth mentioning that we do value those things. – Jaydles Apr 14 '15 at 17:09
  • That's good to know @Jaydles . I wasn't careful enough when I said "designed to", I suppose I meant more "has the effect of". It's the big place I have difficulty knowing what to do. Upvoting is cool, but it would be nice in comments, for example, to be able to non-anonymously upvote a comment that was in response to one of yours, say, or some way of donating some kind of kudos to users who you really value. – Dan Sheppard Apr 14 '15 at 17:37
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    @DanSheppard, yup. One thing I do often to give more specific, pointed encouragement is to compliment a specific thing I liked. It varies a bit site to site, but most communities that may delete "Thanks" comments as noise, will leave in "The point you made about stuffed monkeys in particular was a huge help!" – Jaydles Apr 14 '15 at 17:40
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Even if unprecended I think it could be a good idea. Personally I would like to see 3 moderators who are active and who want to do the job. We are a different community to when we came out of beta. Some users have dropped out and some have come to the fore. We have a lack of questions but no shortage of people that answer. Maybe it would be a good idea to reaffirm our choices.

There is an aspect that makes Buddhism SE unusual. The moderators are likely going to be practising Buddhists and as such could and probably would go away on retreat perhaps for extended periods. This could leave quite regular holes in the moderation team so perhaps that makes it even more important to have the full set of moderators.

I personally would like Yuttadammo and Andrei to stay if they are willing and respectfully ask Hrafan if he might consider stepping down. But if we did have an informal vote then we could all express this kind of opinion.

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An informal election like this would be highly unusual and probably unprecedented, but likely not disallowed. We can't run an official election (like Stack Overflow's) on a beta site like Buddhism, but we always honor a moderator's request to step down if desired and we take the community's input into account when selecting new pro tems.

If the rest of the Buddhism SE community wants to do this, we're fine with it, as long as:

  1. The purpose of this informal election is not to force an existing moderator out of office (we have other protocols for that situation); and
  2. All three of the current moderators agree to this arrangement; and
  3. The Community Team retains the final decision-making authority.

It's not very democratic, and it's not how elections work on fully graduated sites, but there's a reason the Community Team has more oversight on Beta sites. We keep a closer eye on making sure the site is growing and moving in a positive direction, and the moderator team plays a big part in that process. That's why we'd want to retain our final say in this (again, unprecedented) situation.

Buddhism SE is a unique community with specific needs, so I'll leave it to others here to hash out whether this is wanted or needed beyond our requirements above.

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Thanks, Abby for your answer. Personally, I'm thinking I would like to step down and only stand for "re-election" if there were not enough qualified candidates. Hrafan is MIA since March 1st, but Andrei is still around, if a bit subdued in his activity.

So, a full election might be overkill; if Andrei wishes to continue as mod, myself and Hrafan can step down (assuming Hrafan agrees) and new mods can be chosen with community support. Does that sound more precedented?

Not that setting a new precedent is not tempting, but Buddhists tend to eschew giving in to temptation :)

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    Whether you stand down or not, thank you for your activity as moderator, which I think has been / is very valuable and has helped / helps build the site. – Dan Sheppard Apr 11 '15 at 20:05
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This is an important issue. Lack of any timely moderator action back in January, when I was struggling with a particular highly opinionated user who was leaving comments criticizing certain schools of Buddhism around the site, was troubling enough to me that I pulled way back on participating in the site at all. I believe some of the comments I flagged were eventually removed; but it was clear that, at that time, no one was actively moderating on a regular basis and the site was beginning to feel like the "wild west" where anything goes.

I probably should have voiced my concerns in Meta at the time. But I did not want to be critical of our moderators who surely need time away from online activities sometimes to focus on study, practice, teaching, retreats, travel, emergencies and more. And also, no moderators were around to read the concerns. ;-)

A reasonable option might be to build a larger than normal moderator team for this site to take into account the fact that Buddhists do need to drop offline at times to concentrate on their own practices which are not always compatible with online activity. And that's very important of course.

Is there anything that would prevent us from having 4-6 moderators on this site to ensure that daily concerns are taken care of without placing a burden on any one individual?

A team that included @yuttadhammo, @Andrei Volkov, @Crab Bucket, @ChrisW, and perhaps one or two users who have been especially active in the Review queue would be a great, strong team with plenty of room to allow for any one individual's need to be offline for a time.

A question for our third current moderator, @Hrafn, it appears you have not been active for a very long time. If circumstances have changed and you are unable or unwilling to be active as a moderator, would you consider stepping down in this role to facilitate the formation of a strong active mod team?

Thoughts?

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    Hrafan has decided to step down, so the very least we can do is elect one new moderator. I'd suggest Chris... He's an SE vet. – yuttadhammo Apr 19 '15 at 13:10
  • @yuttadhammo I have to say I would support Chris as a moderator. His network profile is impressive and he is very active. If there was a situation where another moderator was required then I would certainly put myself forward but I think Chris is the right choice for this spot. – Crab Bucket Apr 19 '15 at 17:06
  • Hi Robin. That is such a shame - I really registered your absence. I appreciated your answers - they really seemed to come from the heart, However if it doesn't feel like a welcoming environment you are totally right to step back. I hope we can get this moderator thing sorted out and it will become a more welcoming place for everyone – Crab Bucket Apr 19 '15 at 17:18
  • @CrabBucket, thank you! I am actually back to checking into the site more often now. Things are definitely better. I just wanted to share my experience from last winter as an example of how quickly things can get negative when moderators are not available. I do think there is some practical value in considering a larger group of moderators for this site to allow for the Buddhist tendency to need to be away from ordinary responsibility and routine to concentrate on personal practice at times. – Robin111 Apr 19 '15 at 20:55
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Would it be possible ...?

I've seen new moderators appointed on another beta site: what happened there is that "they" (i.e. the Community Team, and not the 'community' of users) chose users who:

  • Visited the site daily
  • Were generally friendly, never unfriendly, communicated well
  • Had high reputation (from answering questions)

The community Team then 'reached out' to those users, i.e. invited them to be moderator -- with, so far as I know, happy results (they're both still moderators a year later).

If possible, desired?

I'm sorry you were criticized recently, consequent to your being a moderator here. That recent criticism was, I thought, unreasonable (i.e. untrue) and shockingly rude.

You and Andrei both deserve your reputations as top-quality posters/users. Thank you for the time you spend helping with answers to people's questions.

I also think that you and Andrei have both been impeccable as moderators, never making a moderator decision I disagreed with.

If anything you may be too light-handed, allowing and not deleting some fairly low-quality questions and answers, but maybe that (erring on the side of permissiveness) is better at this stage.

In summary:

  • If we did vote, and if you were a willing candidate, I would gladly vote for you again.
  • Ditto Andrei
  • Otherwise, looking at the list of the top users on the site, I'd trust almost any of them to be reasonable

Given that both you and Andrei are competent, if we must lose one of you I hope we don't lose both of you simultaneously: i.e. that at least one of you will stay.

I suggest that the remaining incumbent should be invited to veto or select any new candidate[s] because I guess it's essential that moderators be able to agree/work with each other, and the incumbent should be able to avoid anyone who may not easy to work with.

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I feel not well with the perspective, that because of one user's problems (how to interpret the editing and commenting - even if it is a bit aside of the question what happens to all answerers from time to time) the structures of the SE-platform become challenged. What if really a bigger conflict arises?
For me it is unbelievable, that our user yuttadhammo - different from all his qualified, serene and constructive contributions which I've seen so far - should have misused his moderating - tools and role. In my view he even did not misuse his normal, common user-tools and role.
Even I got the contradictory impression when I've read that related chat between the other user and yuttadhammo: that he should have used his moderator-role to calm the heated other user down and watch the process of escalation - a type of completely baseless escalation which I've not yet seen in buddhism.SE (but well, perhaps this shall become standard soon, similar to what happens in many usenet-newsgroups, why not...)

So that's my recommendation to the user and to the moderator yuttadhammo, which I think need not be explicated more. Perhaps I'm completely wrong, missed essential information... but I don't think so.

  • For me it's more a matter of being open to criticism as a monk and teacher of a specific tradition... there will always be suspicion of bias and ulterior motive as a moderator, I think. I'd rather focus on answering questions than dealing with accusations of corruption and god-complex. – yuttadhammo Apr 10 '15 at 19:49
  • @yuttadhammo: ah that's as well! :-) – Gottfried Helms Apr 10 '15 at 20:30
  • @yuttadhammo Instead of your "dealing" with an accusation of that sort, if a conversation descends to such a level then what I've seen happen on other sites is that another moderator takes over the conversation (IOW it wasn't wrong of you to quit that chat when you did). Another option is a private chatroom for a private reprimand, and/or to suspend the offending user e.g. to "cool down". – ChrisW Apr 15 '15 at 22:33
  • @ChrisW thanks... I admit, part of the impetus for this question was a lack of any other moderator involvement in this latest issue. It seemed a pretty clear example of where other moderators should jump in and take over. Abby has been helpful, anyway. Would you be willing to step up as a moderator? – yuttadhammo Apr 17 '15 at 0:14
  • @yuttadhammo I would. Or Crab Bucket has a high reputation, and a lot of meta-activity (i.e. 24 helpful flags, 440 posts edited, 1300 votes). Or if writing highly-upvoted answers is significant, according to this the people with more than 40 answers and an average score of more than 2.5 votes/answer are: Unrul3r, Robin111, Rabbit, Thiago, Sankha, Bakmoon, Crab Bucket, tkp, and MatthewMartin. – ChrisW Apr 17 '15 at 12:53
  • @ChrisW thanks for the name check. I would put myself forward for moderator too if we did hold informal elections. I think your list of other users is very reasonable to but I'd like to take ongoing activity into account too. But if we did the informal vote then that would come out in the wash. – Crab Bucket Apr 18 '15 at 7:22
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I agree the presence of moderators is something to work on. It might be challenging (as Crab Bucket explained), but there were times that apparently no one was around.

I don't know how much B.SE. takes from @yuttadhammo, and I understand how stepping down would cool down vedanā-s, but he seems to be the most active of the moderators.

In any case, do we have committed candidates?

  • Actually, it's pretty manageable... And this isn't really because of one incident, it's more that the one incident made it clear that we aren't really set up to deal with incidents like that yet. If there are not enough committed moderators, I'll stay on... or run for reelection would be better. I'm starting to think an election really is for the best. – yuttadhammo Apr 11 '15 at 13:38

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