2010 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.

See a theory of moderation for the typical roles and abilities of a moderator. Once elected, moderators may hold the position as long as they wish, unless they become inactive or exhibit gross misbehavior.

Community moderators are accorded the highest level of privilege and trust on our community, and should themselves be exemplars of positive behavior 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

Depending on the number of nominees that enter, and the number of moderator positions to be filled, in some circumstances the election may skip the Primary phase and proceed directly to the Election phase.

Please participate in the moderator elections by voting, and perhaps even by nominating yourself to be a community moderator!

This election ended Dec 17 '10 at 1:00.
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.

Called up after the election to meet additional demand:

394 voters were eligible, 174 voted

I discovered math.stackexchange.com less than 4 weeks (at the time of writing this) ago and I have been a regular follower/contributer since then. I am relatively new to online mathematics and have not been a particularly active member anywhere else, partly because I am relatively new to mathematics itself (I used to be an engineer and switched to math a couple of years ago).

I have been especially interested in this community and also math overflow (which I also joined only recently) because of the absence of discussion format which is probably the reason for the high signal to noise ratio. If elected, maintaining and improving this efficiency would be my main goal.

I believe in a largely laissez faire operation of such sites and as such would trust the invisible hand of the majority to take care of most issues. I generally prefer to keep my discussions technical (as can be seen from my posts) and as such would avoid imposing my opinions.

I wish to see this site prosper and be of permanent value to active and amateur mathematicians at every level. I will try my best to play my part in this.

Let me introduce myself first. My name is Willie Wong, and for what it is worth, I am a mathematician. And (at the risk of the nomination statements reading like broken records) I have also been a long-time participant in MathOverflow, have been lurking on Math.SE since public beta, and have been involved with TeX.SE since its inception. So I have some familiarity with the type of community the StackExchange platform is trying to forge. Compared to the other nominees, my name may be much less familiar to you, but I assure you this is not due to lack of activity: I do visit the website every working day, so I pledge to be usually available for moderating duties. My (relatively) low reputation score should be taken as a reflection of the large number of very capable people providing answers on this website, and of my personal belief in suggesting improvements to existing answers, instead of posting duplicate ones.

If elected as a moderator, I promise to moderate in moderation :) That is, with the exception of extreme cases of abuse (spammers, trolls, or offensive posts or comments), I will in general defer to the concensus of the community on what is or isn't appropriate, and I ask voters to also help set this website's scope and nature in Meta. I also promise to not involve myself in personal conflicts against other users, and be generally courteous in tone when dealing with whatever situations that may arise (unfortunately, the necessity of using the written form on the internet sometimes lead to unintended interpretations of words; I will try my best in my communications to avoid this).

As to why I want to be a moderator: I was rather late coming to this website, and initially had some reservations about its purpose. I was afraid that it may be overrun with cranks or homework problems. After lurking for a while during public beta, I've been won over by the consistent level and focus of the discussions that take place here, and I want to do my best to help maintain this standard at Math.SE.

I am an active member of both math.stackexchange.com and mathoverflow.net. So far mathoverflow has been a valuable source of research-level questions and answers, and I see math.se becoming the same at a more general level.

I would like to see m.se as a site for well-focused mathematical questions and I would take a robust line against spammers, trolls, flamers and so on. So far the site has attracted few of these individuals, but with increasing success, the danger is that more would come. As a former regular on sci.math, over the years I watched the newsgroup degenerate into a bear pit filled with flame wars and crankery. I wish to maintain the high signal-to-noise ratio presently here.

Were I elected, I would regard my appointment as for a period of not more than one year, and I would resign or seek re-election before or at the end of this time.

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    $\begingroup$ You are the only candidate who does not claim to be a member of math.se, Stockholm University's maths portal... $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Dec 7 '10 at 13:48

I've been a user of math.SE and MO since the inception of both, as well as the meta forums on each. I would take a relatively light approach to moderation: that is, let the community as a whole close questions (except for obvious spam or duplicates), and allow generally free discussions on meta. On the other hand, I'd be certainly be interested in discussing policies (about, say, homework) with the community. I would of course be willing to intervene when discussions degenerate into flamewars, but on the whole, I would aim to facilitate a more open community.

I think it a useful and worthwhile project to create an active mathematical Q/A at a more general level than MathOverflow and would be happy to serve if elected. Outside of here, I've participated in various aspects of the internet mathematical community (e.g. blogs, MathOverflow, and for a brief while nLab); it appears to hold promise to me, as I have found involvement in it to be productive and enlightening.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm curious how homework would be handled on Math.SE given the bit of a religious-war it has become on SO. The actual answering of known homework problems obviously occludes the purpose of having homework, but sometimes a single tutoring answer instructs a much larger percentage of the population than the repeated deletion of duplicate questions. Would you be against answering homework questions, or would you rather have an explicit policy about how homework questions would be treated? $\endgroup$ – jcolebrand Dec 2 '10 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @drach: in case you want to pose this question to all moderator candidates, see meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1254/… . $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 2 '10 at 19:35

I have been an active member of math.SE since the public beta, and before that I was an active member of MathOverflow; I have participated in meta on both sites. While MathOverflow is a uniquely valuable resource to the research mathematics community, math.SE is a valuable resource to the wider community of those interested in mathematics, and for that reason I am committed to seeing it continue to grow and to run smoothly.

I check math.SE frequently, so it would be relatively easy for me to carry out janitorial duties such as closing spam questions. I am particularly interested in merging tags; they are quite cluttered at the moment. I won't take a particularly active role in closing questions other than those which obviously don't belong. I just want to make it easier for interesting questions to be found and answered.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ please keep comments on-topic for the specific candidate. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Dec 2 '10 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ Qiaochu is understating his own experience -- he has been a critical member of MathOverflow since Day 1. Furthermore, he was an excellent moderator and major contributor to another mathematics forum (Art of Problem Solving) for years before Stack Overflow was a gleam in Jeff and Joel's eye. What's amazing is that he maintains the same superhuman level of activity and commitment to each of these sites long past the "honeymoon period" that most others do. I'm absolutely certain Qiaochu would be an amazing member of this community for a very, very long time indeed. $\endgroup$ – Adrian Petrescu Dec 3 '10 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ I'm quite flattered, Adrian, but I was never actually a moderator at Art of Problem Solving, although I did help out with online classes from time to time. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Dec 3 '10 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, really? I always had the impression you were, in a few of the College Playground forums. Oops... I feel like my point still stands, though. $\endgroup$ – Adrian Petrescu Dec 6 '10 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ How do I nominate someone? I would like to nominate Qiaochu Yuan and Arturo Magidin $\endgroup$ – user957 Dec 7 '10 at 21:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user957: You cannot nominate others: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1212/…. By the way, Qiaochu Yuan has already nominated himself, and that is why you see the description of him on this page. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 7 '10 at 21:33

This election is over.