2013 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 Oct 15 '13 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.

2,996 voters were eligible, 1,447 visited the site during the election, 656 visited the election page, and 310 voted

With support from others in the meta thread 2013 Moderator Nominations, I am formally nominating myself for the position of moderator.

I have been an active participant at MathOverflow for close to four years now, and a participant and observer of the meta sites for nearly as long. As a mathematician unattached to a university, I rely almost exclusively on internet sites (MathOverflow and the nLab, to name two) to stay abreast of developments in mathematics. Maintaining high quality of such sites is thus an enduring concern and commitment of mine.

Since the inception of MO, there has been a healthy dynamic tension between those who on one end prefer strictly mathematical questions pitched at very high professional levels, and those who are more permissive. My own positions (as expressed in comments and at meta) are at many points along this spectrum, but generally I hew toward the original vision of MO as being largely for mathematicians who need answers in areas where they are inexpert. While I am generally impressed by how the community monitors itself, I try to counteract tendencies toward snap judgments I see in myself and others.

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    $\begingroup$ Now I officially wish there were three openings. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 7 '13 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ This is good news :-) $\endgroup$ – Francesco Polizzi Oct 7 '13 at 8:47

I will also put myself up for the moderator election.

I've been a long-time contributor to MO and really enjoy the atmosphere where people are free to talk about any research mathematics. It has been very useful for me.

I've been a fairly regular contributor to various community moderator aspects of the forum like closing/reopening, deleting and undeleting questions as well as many policy discussions, primarily on the old meta forum.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, you were nominated by Daniel on the nomination thread, so it's hardly "nominate yourself", is it now? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 6 '13 at 21:20

I hereby nominate myself.

I have been a MO user for over three years now and have been pretty active both on the main site and (less) on the old meta. In this time I have learned an enormous amount of math from MO and its users —most of which I would not have had probably even come across without MO— and have managed to help a few people myself along the way.

I very much think MO is an extremely valuable resource, and I somewhat marvel both at how well is has worked in the past and at how well this success has continued into the present: almost four years of existence, in Internet terms, is an eon. This is in no small part due to the way problems —which have of course arisen— have been managed, and that we owe to both the excellent people which have been doing the moderation and the remarkable set of users the site has.

For some two years now, I have been moderator at math.stackexchange.com, so I am quite familiar with how the moderation tools work at SE: that always helps.

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    $\begingroup$ Uhm, "almost"? Tt's already slightly more than 4 years. Did you miss my thread? :-) More seriously and why I am actually commenting: if elected here, would you keep the math.SE moderator position or resign there? (I did not yet completely make up my mind how this would influence my opinion, but in any case I would like to know this). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 5 '13 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ 4 is 3 up to a small error, quid :-) I do not plan to resign from M.SE. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 5 '13 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ Ah good to hear you do not plan to resign. Otherwise some of us would've voted against you just to keep you on board! :-) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Oct 7 '13 at 8:32

I will stand as a candidate. While I have become less active in posting questions and answers to MO, I still check the site daily. Moderating seems to me like a good way to remain involved and contribute.

I believe that my background (mathematician in industry/government; research typically focused on physics/CS) can be a good complement to the remaining moderator team, insofar as that would ever matter.

An ideal moderator would be noticed iff circumstances demand it. I would attach the greatest importance to careful deliberation and reaching consensus, both internally amongst the moderator team and the community at large.

Yet there is inevitably some latitude in the actions a moderator might take. I would, for instance, tend to err on the side of encouraging:

  • questions at or above the level of a strong second-year graduate student;
  • a progressively broader and more representative cross-section of mathematical activity, especially questions of applied mathematics and substantive mathematical questions from other fields;
  • professional questions about the discipline of mathematics that are not obviously better asked elsewhere (e.g., academia.SE).
  • $\begingroup$ For somebody that saw you contribute to older meta discussions, could you say if what you state now is essentialy what you said and did then or whether you changed your mind and if so in which direction. (To avoid any risk of confusion this is in no way meant as a criticism it'd only allow me to get a better feel of what you intend to do if you could compare it to your earlier positions, and since this is not too recent past it might be that you changed your mind). Anyway, I am glad to know you intend to be more (visibly) active on the site again as I often appreciated your contributions. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 5 '13 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @quid- I have always felt that MO has a bias towards certain subjects at the expense of others, if that is what you are asking. $\endgroup$ – Steve Huntsman Oct 5 '13 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply. It was not exactly what I was asking but I think it still answers my question in that I infer that you did not (significantly) change your mind regarding what should or should not be on MO. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 5 '13 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @quid and SteveHuntsman Do you mind if I ask for a clarification here? What are these contested previous views that quid is referring to? Is it just the three bullets at the end of Steve's nomination post, or is there more? $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Oct 7 '13 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ The only thing that I can think of is here: tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1483/… ...which might be confusing, though I think less so later on the thread. $\endgroup$ – Steve Huntsman Oct 7 '13 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni from my point of view there are no particular "contested previous views." The sole point of me asking whether Steve Huntsman changed his mind is that lately he was not very active and the three points in OP can be interpreted in various ways (necessarily for such a brief description) in particular also very soft. To be still more clear, I just wanted to make sure he stayed the reasonable person I knew (though we did not always agree) and did not change into some anything-goes-on-MO kind of person. So I am rather glad he did not change his mind (not the converse). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 7 '13 at 16:38

I would like to nominate myself.

I have been on MO for more than three years, so I think I understand how the site is evolving, what has worked, and what may use some improvement. One thing I've always admired about the current moderators is their fairness. I hope we can continue this thread, and I would like to do my part for this as well. This may require that I curve down being as opinionated as I feel sometimes, but that is a given.

In general, I think MO is a great resource for the mathematical community, and I would like to contribute to it beyond my (meager) mathematical contributions.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you would make an excellent moderator, Andres. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Oct 5 '13 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks, David. $\endgroup$ – Andrés E. Caicedo Oct 5 '13 at 5:40

I have been reading MathOverflow and meta.mathoverflow.net since 2010. I chose to adopt this username for the 2.0 migration to see how the new version works and to see how a new user would be treated. (Not as well as I had hoped, but perhaps my expectations were too high.) I am familiar with many of the policies of MO, with some of the debates, and with some of the concerns.

I inhabit the same time zone as the departing moderator, and I have seen some of his work as moderator, enough that I have a good example to follow. Although I prefer this persona presently as contributor and possible moderator, I am prepared to reveal enough of myself to the other moderators to establish a good working relationship.

My virtual hat is in the ring.

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    $\begingroup$ It has been told to me that "Avenger" might not serve well for a moderator handle. If elected, I am willing to change it to something more appropriate for moderation duty. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 3 '13 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ I would vote for Gerhard Paseman but not for The Masked Avenger. Any chance the latter is a nom de plume for the former? (I will delete this comment if my speculation misses the mark.) $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Oct 4 '13 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ When designing this experiment, treating new users sorta badly is one thing; but do you really think that people would elect and anonymous new user who claims to be a veteran user? (I'm not saying you're not, I'm just saying there's no proof of that.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 4 '13 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, Carl. What would you like to know? SSN? Mother's maiden name? Chest waist and hip measurements? I have an interest in graph theory and in multiperfect numbers . I like dark beer. If you must, you can call me Freddie, but at the moment I am using The Masked Avenger as a handle. I play chess sometimes. How about you? $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 4 '13 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ Asaf, I claim to have been reading the forum since 2010, I haven't claimed to posting for that long. What would serve as proof for you? Also, I hope that people will take the opportunity to ask me about forum and community issues, and use my responses and overall behaviour as a guide. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 4 '13 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ Really, Joseph, you think I'm that guy? Well, let's try a style change. The Masked "Can't Think of What to Say" Avenger, 2013.10.04. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 4 '13 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ Your wit unmasks you. :-) $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Oct 4 '13 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with passive readers is that you cannot really tell what they are thinking. It's hard for me to get an accurate "feel" of what sort of person are you, and what are your opinions on some issues, without seeing you partake in a few meta arguments and discussions. I hope that you won't take it the wrong way when I won't vote for you, it's just that I don't like buying cats in boxes with a cesium atom and a poison capsule which will release when the atom decays... Especially when it comes to moderators. MSE had a long issue with that, and the box was open back then... $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 4 '13 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ I will not be offended by your vote either way. However, I don't fit into the passive reader category either; you can check the activity tabs on my user and my meta user profiles. They provide a snapshot of my thoughts and beliefs on various forum issues, and I invite you to ask me and the other nominees about them. If you prefer to base your vote on other data,that is your choice. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 4 '13 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but pre-election questions are very hard to give an actual indication; and a few months are also not enough. My guts usually tell me that I need to have a few drinks with someone, or at least see them in meta arguments for a year or so (which is a sufficient time for some topics to go up and down, so a uniform and reasonable opinion can be consolidated in my mind). I misjudged some people before for one reason or another, and later on I realized that I think differently on them. Seeing how moderation on SE is forever, it becomes a big deal for me, and I hope that for others too. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 4 '13 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ I see Steven Landsburg has nominated Timothy Chow, one of three I suggested in the election chat room. (The other two already declined, as I expected.) If he and Qiaochu Yuan both accept I predict the community will vote them in, which would be a good thing. I see my nomination as highlighting important issues however. I will stay in the election even if they do accept. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 5 '13 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @MA I don't think you are taking my (deleted) comment seriously. If you are a mod, with similar responsibilities to the editor of a journal, then I personally think you need to have a similar amount of contact info available to be accountable for your actions. If you think the majority of MO users disagree, fine. PS: I also play chess, though not as well as Noam Elkies. $\endgroup$ – user25199 Oct 7 '13 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ I am taking a light tone to keep the flame and contention level down. The part about revealing myself was indeed to make myself known and accountable to the moderation team. The response to your comment has an earnest question: What do you want to know? Or should I change my handle to something like Grace Note or Tim Post? If you wish, we can continue this in chat. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Oct 7 '13 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ What do I want to know? I said contact info: Name and work address. But like I said, it is what the community wants that is important. $\endgroup$ – user25199 Oct 7 '13 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ TheMaskedAvenger First, I am not sure what your point is as Grace Note provides a real name "a click away". I doubt that @Carl would not find this sufficient as this is basically what he does as well. Second, IMO, you approach that thing a bit strangely but well you do as you like. Third, I do howver agree that the some arguments against pseodunymous moderators and users are not very 'hard' but rather somehow 'psychological' (for lack of a better word), which some even admit freely and does not invalidate them. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 7 '13 at 17:06

Let me "step forward" and volunteer to candidate for the role of a moderator in the service of the MathOverflow community. This is certainly not to claim that I am the best one to take this role, and I also suggest you to take my candidacy as an encouragement to candidate yourself.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the present moderators have done a great job so far! --

In fact, I cannot remember to have seen a single instance where I would have disagreed with what a moderator did or did not do. I would feel honored to get the opportunity to help that also in the future as many as possible members of the MO community make a similar experience.

From a practical perspective, while 4 of the 6 present moderators are based in the US, one in Japan and one in Australia, I live in Germany and would thus improve the coverage of time zones in Europe.

Finally, getting back to what I said above, in due course I will nominate at 2013 Moderator Nominations someone else whom I think would be an excellent moderator.

This election is complete.