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 2 '11 at 21:00.

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

3,834 voters were eligible, 566 visited the election, and 310 voted

I've been around a while: back in the 90's, when NIC handles meant something, mine had only a single digit, and from the residual use of handles at ARIN, it looks like I got the company I worked for back then onto the Internet in 1993. Skipping forward a disturbing number of years and operating systems, I followed the development of SO on Joel's blog and forums, and though I missed the beta of ServerFault, I've been here pretty much since the beginning.

I'm not as active on SF as some of the other candidates, and when it gets to the election phase, I'm figuring on voting for Warner and sysadmin1138, and either Farseeker (or whatever his real name is) or myself as 3rd choice. I decided to nominate myself partly because I think more candidates will make for a better election but mostly because I think I'd do a good job.

I flag and vote to close, and I've been involved in meta for a long time. (Not that meta.SF has anything to do with me, but I did bitch about meta.SO not being appropriate for SF's meta discussion) I look at how active the other candidates are and WOW! they're in another league for answering, editing, voting, commenting, chatting, but I'm in there too, trying doing my bit.

If I were elected, I don't see any need for harsh moderation, and I think everyone so far who's standing for election has a similar mindset: stomp spam, close (not migrate) bad questions, be gentle and try to give some help to the new admins who ask desperate questions.

Now it's off to start answering all those questions...

Once upon a time, I was a sysop of a successful local BBS in the 614 area code. I also shared co-sysop responsibilities with some other local boards. When I discovered the Internet, the potential was immediately clear, and I began to participate on USENET. Later, I ran successful Web sites with active forums, which has helped further my understanding of effective communication utilizing technology.

Since discovering the Server Fault, the value was immediately clear to me. I was ecstatic to find a community of professionals with an impressive depth of knowledge. I began to actively participate immediately by answering your questions. Fortunately, it seems you liked my answers, as you voted me to 10k in 143-days.

As the community tools grew with meta.sf and chat.sf, I have been actively participating as the tools became available. It was a pleasure to begin to get to know many of you better.

I want to help more professionals locate and participate on SF, which I took responsibility of by working to promote SF at the 2010 Ohio LinuxFest with Evan Anderson. I hope to continue working with staff and the community with further promotional activities.

As many of you have seen me espouse before, I want to see your Server Fault continue to be a community of top-notch professionals. With this, I have encouraged policies and moderator actions that enable professionals, while discouraging participation of those who do not work in the Information Technology field. As a moderator, I will continue to encourage professionals, while guiding the end-user to the appropriate site.

As a moderator, you will be giving me a direct view of how you would like to see the site mature. I want to help you by taking direct action as a result of your flagging. I want to help you grow SF to the next level. Vote for me and I will help fulfill this vision!

  • 6
    @Warner, while you are certainly knowledgable in subjects appropriate to SF I have always had big problems with your attempts to change the focus of SF, as demonstrated by your posts in meta. I therefore believe mod powers in your hands would do more harm than good. Comments such as "which I took ownership of" should send a shudder down the back of all those who want the site to remain essentially as-is. – John Gardeniers Jan 20 '11 at 9:19
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    @John, the concept of "taking ownership" is a business concept in the US meaning roughly that he believes in the project, will support it, and will take his fare share of responsibility in successes or failures. It does not litteraly mean he's transferring ownership of the site to himself. – Chris S Jan 20 '11 at 13:10
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    Thank you for that clarification, @ChriS. That is literally what I meant. Other examples of this concept are the Oz Principle and Results Oriented work places. I suspect that these are values you would likely share yourself, @JohnGardeniers, even with our occasional disagreements. I strongly believe in accountability and self direction, which can be even more essential in a volunteer position. – Warner Jan 20 '11 at 14:19
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    Are there specific "attempts to change" SF that you had in mind, @JohnGardeniers? I often refer people to the FAQ and encourage participation of professionals like you, which is something I understand to have always been the focus of SF. – Warner Jan 20 '11 at 20:52
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    @Warner I feel that you tout your quick ascension to 10K too much. For example, you say nothing of who you are as a person in your profile. You only advertise your services and brag about your reputation points on SF. Now in this moderator election your reputation again comes up as a point of pride. This is not a rep-pissing contest. This is a choice for people who will effect the culture of a very popular and important SysAdmin community. Reputation points play a very, very little part in this. – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 17:48
  • What little part they play is satisfied by your reputation number being in your "flair" signature in your post. If people are interested in the stats on your rep, they can click through and see your profile and how long you've been a member. In your campaign rhetoric you say much about your tactics and little if anything about your strategy. "I did BBS stuff, I use mod tools on SF, I post on meta" We get it, you like computers and being online. All of us here do. I like that you specifically said you want to promote SF amongst the professional community. Excellent and thumbs up! – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 17:48
  • That's a high priority for me too. However that was the only specific "campaign promise" I could see. I see mention of "you will be giving me a direct view of how you would like to see the site mature" - Okay, but what are you going to do with that info? "I want to help you by taking direct action as a result of your flagging," That's busywork that any admin will have to do. Nothing noteworthy there. "I want to help you grow SF to the next level." What level, who's level and how? – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 17:49
  • "Vote for me and I will help fulfill this vision!" ignoring the eye-rolling rhetoric (we're sysadmins, not sheeple at a political rally), what vision? I saw no vision. I saw a maze of twisty little passages all alike. I saw one honed thought: promote SF. I'm behind that! But SF is worthy of promotion because of the culture that it has had for the last year and a half. What do you think of its current culture? What would you like to change about it? How are you going to change it? – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 17:49
  • We need more insight into your feelings about SF as it has been, as it is now and what you want for it in the future. Sorry for the long, segmented comment spam. SF isn't set up for this kind of communication, really. Keep rocking the bow-tie. =) – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 17:50
  • We provide free professional services on this site. Those two things in my profile are specifically relating SF and IT, which is why they are there. I do not broadcast my personal life on the Internet, which I have discussed with others on chat before. Others also identify milestones on the profile, some of which are in the top 10 users on the site. Would you not be proud of recognition of accomplishment within your profession? – Warner Jan 21 '11 at 17:56
  • In regards to the "next level," this is part of dialog started on meta when the site was introduced. Here is one example.. meta.serverfault.com/questions/749/… – Warner Jan 21 '11 at 17:59
  • I had considered my message before writing is as I did, as that approach is often met with resistance by technical people. However, it is a part of who I am. I can also back it up with my technical capabilities as well. I believe it is also defining of who I am outside of a bullet list of responsibilities that are likely to be shared by most of the moderators of the site. Those responsibilities are unlikely to be unique on an individual level. – Warner Jan 21 '11 at 18:03
  • FYI, questions about SF culture are being fielded here: meta.serverfault.com/questions/1108/… – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 18:04
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    It would be fantastic if SF were recognized as the definitive place to seek assistance from exceptional professionals in our industry. While we have some exceptional professionals participating, that's next level, we're not quite there yet. Part of that, is creating an environment that people of that caliber flourish. – Warner Jan 21 '11 at 18:09
  • 1
    I think most of our disagreement on this site is as a result of a differing view on what defines a professional SysAdmin and what questions are worthy of attention on the site. Very important cultural elements that will effect the future success of SF. Thanks for the link to the meta thread on the "next level". As to not putting anything on a personal level online, I can completely understand that. However, that will likely hinder you from running for some kind of seat of authority. I don't know of many who want to vote for someone that they know nothing about on a personal level. – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 18:13

Back in the dark old days, when a certain hyphen site was the best of a bad bunch of ways to get answers on the internet, I got as frustrated as many people. Having to spend hours digging through badly answered questions, adverts and sleasly sales techniques to find an answer to your question was no way to spend an afternoon!

So when I saw Jeff's idea for StackOverflow, I was immediatly intrigued. As StackOverflow grew in it's brilliance, I was convinced, this is the way Q&A should be! But what about us sysadmins? Well after much prodding and pushing, our prayers were answered, and we got a resource that has been a huge help to all of us.

I like to give back to this community by providing good answers, helping to organise, edit and prune the site where needed, and now I'd like to give back some more by standing for a moderator position.

I believe I would make a good moderator, here are my reasons why:

  • I have been an active Serverfault user since day one, and even before that in campaigning for a Sysadmin version of StackOverflow. Now that we have one, I want to it to be the best resource available for Sysadmin questions and I would like to be at the forefront of making that happen.
  • I'm very active in closing, flagging, editing and re-tagging posts when it's required. I've got to a point now where I am more concerned with providing the best resource for Sysadmin questions, then I am about gaining reputation.
  • I have been highly active in promoting Serverfault in my area of the UK, through my colleagues, contacts and community involvement. I feel a moderators role should be as an Ambassador for the site, in all areas.
  • I try and avoid a heay handed approach to moderation, I am keen on trying to encourage users to write better questions, offering advice and guidence to try and assist them in getting better answers to their questions. We all benefit from having better questions, rather then closed ones.
  • I'm active in Meta and Chat, particularly in looking for ways to promote Serverfault and get the best answers, and the best users involved in the site.
  • I've run out of Serverfault stickers.

I believe good moderation shouldn't be something users notice very often, it should just happen when it's needed, quietly in the background. All the users should see is a site full of well constructed questions and answers that is improving every day.

I am an enthusiastic, active and well liked (well I hope at least!) member of the Server Fault community and I believe I would make a good addition to the moderator team. You'll often see me retagging questions in an effort to get the right people looking at the question, and equally you'll find my close votes on questions I think would be better answered on another Stack Exchange site. I'm all about keeping the knowledge contained inside Server Fault well organised, and generally making it the go-to place for professionals to share knowledge.

If I were elected as a community moderator, I would continue my efforts to retag and reformat questions passing through the system, as well as dealing with some of the spam we receive. Something I'm also very keen on is drastically reducing the amount of "non answers" which are added, whether it be removing "me too" answers, making "answers" into the comments they should have been, or splitting new questions which were posted as answers.

I'm often in the Server Fault chat room, and I'm easily approachable to discuss any issues a member might have. I'm also active on Meta Server Fault, where I try to share my opinion and help to shape the community and give opinions on the general direction the site is going.

  • I'll probably get flamed for this, but I don't think someone who is only 22 years old has enough IT experience, let alone life experiences to be as good as some one older. – jftuga Jan 19 '11 at 2:39
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    @jftuga - I'm going to disagree with you on this. I've seen sysadmins who are twice my age struggle with simple concepts (I'm 25 and a member of my own team is 32, and I used to have someone who was 35). That said, a candidates experience at sysadmin'ing is almost irrelevant when it comes to moderator elections - the main skills you need are social skills, not IT skills. – Mark Henderson Jan 19 '11 at 2:45
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    @jftuga - I think being a moderator is somewhat about good and effective communication. The idea is to nudge people into the right direction when they either don't understand or misuse the site. I hope if you were to look over some of my posts that you'd find someone with good communication skills trying to convey some rather technical things in a manner the original poster understands (when it's sometimes clear they don't quite know what they want or even what they're talking about). I do this by drawing from my real life experiences of explaining things to non technical management. – Ben Pilbrow Jan 19 '11 at 7:16
  • Couldn't have said it better myself @Mark Henderson. – grufftech Jan 19 '11 at 18:51
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    I'm 57, so have been around long enough to have worked with people of all ages in all sorts of jobs. I can't even remember the last time I had a boss older than me. While youth as a general rule does have its problems I've seen a LOT of very young people demonstrate great wisdom and responsibility. I suggest we judge Ben not on his age but on his SF activities and contributions. Marks comments about the irrelevance of sysadmin experience to the ability to perform as a mod is absolutely correct. – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 20:51

I think I'd make a decent candidate for moderator for the following reasons:

  • I'm active in both the chat and meta for Server Fault.
  • While I am not a 10K user, I have a fair amount of reputation and have used the facilities that have been available to me to help improve the questions on Server Fault.
  • I am patient and consistent in my approach to improving problem questions and answers.
  • I'm based in the UK, which might improve the moderator coverage outside of US "core" times.

I have previous experience of building and encouraging "community spirit" in an open discussion forum/newsgroup as I was a Microsoft MVP for 8 years.

  • 21
    I think a balance of 10k and non-10k users is important in moderator circles, as it prevents grandfathering (i.e. "That's just the way it's always been done") and provides new insight. – Mark Henderson Jan 18 '11 at 22:16
  • I agree with that sentiment so much that I'd almost like to see a rule that no one OVER 10k can get elected moderator (prolly a thought for meta but worth a comment I think) – Jim B Jan 19 '11 at 1:28
  • 1
    I wouldnt say no one over 10k, but I'd like to see a mix. New blood is a necessity in this arena. – ErnieTheGeek Jan 19 '11 at 1:37
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    New blood is good but without the settling value of old blood the site would quite likely get turned into something else altogether. A quick scan of posts by newbies on meta will illustrate my point. – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 3:09
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    John: I hear you, but someone who's got to 8158 is probably not an uncommunicative newbie. 10k is an arbitrary, decimal limit, and I would expect that quality moderator material can be found on both sides of the fence. – MadHatter Jan 19 '11 at 9:03
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    @John - putting aside whether or not I personally am suitable mod material or not and looking at the issue of reputation, it's possible to have >10k from answering questions but not otherwise getting involved in making the site "tick", and therefore not be good mod material or to have <5k but spend a lot of time getting involved in the site and be exactly the right kind of person. – Rob Moir Jan 19 '11 at 10:13
  • @Robert, It appears people are reading something more than I wrote. I was certainly not implying that everyone over 10K, or ANY arbitrary number, would make a good mod. Far from it! I have over 10K and most certainly am not mod material. All I was getting at is that new blood needs to be tempered with old blood. Either one on its own has problems. Old blood gets too settled and new blood often comes in with ideas that don't fit the site. For the record, I don't think of an 8K member as a newbie and your rep, or indeed the rep of any of the candidates so far, would NOT be a factor in my vote. – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 20:32
  • @John I see what you're saying now, sorry for any misunderstanding. You're absolutely right, of course. A good mixture of new and old is always good for any site. – Rob Moir Jan 19 '11 at 20:55
  • @Robert, you're not the only one who read it differently to what was intended, so perhaps I need to work on my wording in future. – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 23:09
  • Props for mentioning patience. Also, being an MVP seems to prove a community mindedness. – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 18:18

I would be a good Server Fault moderator because:

  • I'm a firm believer in making the internet a better place
  • I have been a 10k user for quite a long time
  • I use the 10k tools virtually every single day to help close questions
  • I'm active on meta.serverfault
  • I'm active on meta.stackoverflow and have gone into bat for Server Fault from day one (question was originally on meta.stackoverflow and was migrated to meta.serverfault).
  • I have previous moderator experience on webmasters.stackexchange (and would be willing to rescind my moderator status there in order to serve here)
  • I'm active during a timezone that is during the US and UK's night-time, helping to provide round-the-clock moderating for the Server Fault community (GMT+11 or +10 when DST ends)
  • Have a long track record of closing or migrating questions
  • Was the 2nd (or 3rd) user to receive the Strunk & White badge
  • I have a history of participating in hard discussions, sometimes against the common belief.
  • Was once called "The Rollerdex of Server Fault" (question was migrated to SU, my old username was farseeker)
  • 8
    I believe the timezone issue needs to be taken into consideration. I'm sot sure how the current mods are spread in that regard. – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 0:44
  • @JohnGardeniers From what I've seen, we're weakest in the GMT-8 through GMT+/-12 range. – sysadmin1138 Jan 19 '11 at 3:25
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    I constantly see Mark making great improvements to the site. He's always in there cleaning things up and gently instructing people where needed. I think he'd be an awesome mod. – Jason Berg Jan 19 '11 at 4:11
  • @Jason - thanks for the confidence. – Mark Henderson Jan 19 '11 at 5:04
  • you got my vote Mark! – Nick Kavadias Jan 19 '11 at 6:09
  • @Mark, Sydney is GMT+10 (11 in DST), not -10. :) – John Gardeniers Jan 19 '11 at 20:44
  • @John - thanks, consider it my brain fart for the day (well, yesterday anyway)! – Mark Henderson Jan 19 '11 at 21:38
  • Nice set of fast facts, Mark. And wasn't I the one who called you SF's Rolodex? =) Can you tell us a bit about what you like about SF as well as what you dislike about it? There's also a question about culture here meta.serverfault.com/questions/1108/… – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 18:18
  • @Wesley - it was; it didn't click since you changed your display name (like I can talk, I changed mine completely). What do I like about SF? I love the community here, I love the fact that people are well behaved and polite, and I love the fact that I can get my questions answered quickly. I love the fact that there are so many people willing to give their time to people they don't know to help make the internet a better place. What DON'T I like? I don't like how SF felt like the unloved half-brother of SO for a long time (it's better now). I was a bit sore about some of the questions that... – Mark Henderson Jan 21 '11 at 22:16
  • ... where being asked for a while, but then I changed my tune when a few people (including Joel Spolsky) pointed out that perhaps I'm taking things too personally and that I should just leave those questions for other people to answer if I'm tired of them. I think the search feature sucks, and if it sucked less there would be many fewer duplicates. – Mark Henderson Jan 21 '11 at 22:17
  • 1
    Gotta agree about the search feature. I find it very near useless. – John Gardeniers Jan 23 '11 at 21:06

I believe I'd make a good moderator for several reasons:

  • I have been a 10K user who has been actively flagging and voting. What's more, I've seen existing moderators flag and act on items I would have acted on.
  • I have earned the Strunk & White badge for editing, mostly by cleaning up and improving questions.
  • I am an active Meta user.
  • I'm on the US west coast (GMT-7 most of the year) which means I can cover UK/Eur evenings and US east-coast after-work periods during my day, and my evenings cover the currently mod-light period (UTC 02:00 - 08:00).
  • I have frequently blogged about ServerFault activity on my own blog (see profile) and firmly believe in its mission.
  • I already deal with the very occasional SF user contacting me directly via SF-chat or other methods.

Also, I have quite a bit of experience dealing with challenging people. My activities surrounding the eventual banning of a certain very difficult user should stand as strong evidence of how I work. I have 20 years of experience as a sports referee, so I have decades long experience calmly handling people actively questioning my competence and even-handedness. In workplace meetings and working-groups I am often seen as our most approachable system-administrator, even by those me and my department routinely disagree with.

  • 50
    @sysadmin1138 shows all of qualities that I think will make for a great moderator. I have never seen him be anything but patient, respectful, and knowledgeable about both Server Fault and system administration on chat, meta, and the site itself. – Kyle Brandt Jan 18 '11 at 21:30
  • 7
    I've been following his blog for years. His knowledge is deep and thorough and his "Answers" are never just a comment but a detailed explanation or recommendation. – SpacemanSpiff Jan 19 '11 at 1:52
  • All the nominees (so far) are people who I would happily have as moderators, but since we only can choose 1 then sysadmin1138 is my clear choice! – pauska Jan 20 '11 at 8:17
  • @pauska, there are 2 positions available. – John Gardeniers Jan 20 '11 at 9:26
  • He is deserving since he admits to reading manuals. – squillman Jan 20 '11 at 23:32
  • @Pauska - and you get three votes – Mark Henderson Jan 21 '11 at 3:01
  • @squillman - I expect my mods to be so fscking smart that they don't NEED to read the manual. Especially when compiling Ikea furniture. – Mark Henderson Jan 21 '11 at 3:02
  • Yay for being a referee, but that kid's foot was obviously over the chalk line! =P – Wesley Jan 21 '11 at 18:19

This election is complete.