In this recent thread, Is it time for us to disallow challenge-only questions? it seems that moderators have a very specific idea of what this community should be, with which a large portion of the community disagrees.

Update: It seems that beta sites are strictly forbidden from electing their own moderators, so I've removed my proposal.

But still I think we've got some issues here that we need to - if we can do it politely and constructively - discuss as a community. So feel free to use this thread for that.

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    $\begingroup$ Beta sites don't have elections, they have users picked by SE based on who appears to understand the way SE and the site they are on operates. $\endgroup$ – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '14 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @AJHenderson, my suggestion is that that decision (whether to have elections) be made by the community, rather than imposed upon it. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 3 '14 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @A.E. - while the moderators made a mistake in taking some policies of SE that have been flexible for certain sites, the idea of term limits and beta elections has been covered before and outright rejected by StackExchange before. You can see related Meta.SE posts. Moderator selection works the exact same way on every site and there's never been any departure from that for any site. I don't expect this will be the first to manage to get a change. $\endgroup$ – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '14 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ I did let Robert know about this post. (I'm a mod on other sites.) Hopefully he'll be able to respond directly soon. $\endgroup$ – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '14 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @AJHenderson! Much appreciated. Given today's events it seems like it might not be correct to simply assume that the existing rule may not be questioned/bent/amended. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 3 '14 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ very true, though in the case of today's events, those are actually rules that have been given a lot of leeway and flexibility across sites. In terms of contents, things have been becoming more and more flexible, but, as of yet anyway, the basic mechanics of the sites have remained consistent. (I'm sure in no small part due to the complexity of managing over 130 distinct communities if each had its own structural way of operating.) That could change potentially, but it certainly doesn't hurt to ask about it. Worst case scenario, it gets a "status-declined". $\endgroup$ – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '14 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AJHenderson, exactly, it doesn't hurt to ask. The community can express its preference and then (if that preference is other than the status quo) we can see if that's possible/practical/permitted. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 3 '14 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I just wanted to let you know not to get your hopes up too much. And that if it comes down to it, a reselection by SE would be a far more likely outcome. So the more pressing question is probably, should SE select new mods. Personally I don't think so, but that one is far more likely to get action if it is what the community wants as a whole. $\endgroup$ – AJ Henderson Dec 3 '14 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ I would also add, for anyone disappointed in the mods, that even Robert disagreed with the influx of challenges at one point. This really is a new, and fascinating, site. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Dec 3 '14 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ Reading on from here is highly-pertinent: meta.puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/1638/… $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Dec 7 '14 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Raystafarian why should it be closed? if you disagree with a proposal you DV... closing is for something else. your opinion is yours alone of course, by it is a legitimate call imo $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Dec 7 '14 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Raystafarian, not nearly as negative or counter-productive as the mods' recent treatment of the majority of this community's members as idiots whose contribution is worthless. When mods suggest the community is so without merit that it should be deleted in its entirety, I think it's time to start questioning things. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 7 '14 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ @AE fair enough if that's how you perceived it, I didn't, but maybe I missed something. I'll remove my initial comment. $\endgroup$ – Raystafarian Dec 8 '14 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry @Raystafarian, I'm not my usual affable self this week, a friend just died suddenly of cancer and the funeral is on Friday. So I may be seeing things through shit-coloured spectacles a little bit. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 8 '14 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @AE no worries, my condolences. $\endgroup$ – Raystafarian Dec 8 '14 at 12:17

A E, Note that I removed the yes/no voting blocks you pre-posted to allow for open discussion. It is better to let everyone have a voice rather than one person posting all sides of the conversation for a vote. I hope everyone who commented will post their thoughts as proper answers. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants while allowing for the possibility that there's a discussion that we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion.

Elections are something that happen once the site leaves beta. That is, in part, the very defintion of "graduation" — when we can assure that the growth and sustainability of a site can adequately support activities like an election.

Having said that, I don't think a radical change is warranted. This seems to be largely a misunderstanding with moderators trying to stay within the SE-ness we impose on sites when things seem to be getting off the beaten path.

That's our fault; not theirs. Stack Exchange as a whole is evolving. We're becoming more open to trying new ideas, and we created this site knowing it would likely fall on that other side of the fence. We didn't expect this to be a pure Q&A site following in the footsteps of Stack Overflow.

So maybe they didn't realize where this site stands… or maybe they genuinely dislike the way this site is evolving. I hope that's not the case, but it's for them to decide if moderating this site has the appeal it once had — and they have my full support.

On the other side of that coin, I'm a bit worried that speaking out against that proposal will be seen as a blanket statement that "any questions is now fine." Far from it. There are community moderation challenges that come with this subject, and laying all the blame on the moderators is all-too-often followed by everyone relinquishing responsibility and just giving up. It's an ill-founded silver bullet where the community at large becomes really passive and no one cares enough to make anything happen.

So think about it. This community is based on community self- moderation. The Moderators♦ (capital M) are working hard to make this site great, just like anyone else.

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    $\begingroup$ +1: A very big plus one, especially for the polling v discussion link. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Dec 3 '14 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ +1 Robert, thanks for replying to this so quickly. No worries re the restructure, sure, it's a better way to do it. Not trying to lay any blame on the current mods personally, just their vision for the site seems mismatched to that of much of the userbase. Re "We're not going to have an election." - of course you can impose whatever rules you choose on the community, although I'd question the wisdom of doing so. $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 3 '14 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ @AE I don't see this as "impose whatever rules you choose". That makes it sound like he made a careless decision without considering the years of precedence regarding elections on SE as whole. Question the wisdom of that if you like, but I don't think that SE has ever advertised itself as 100% community run (which is part of the reason moderators and the like exist). $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Dec 3 '14 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for "We're becoming more open to trying new ideas, and we created this site knowing it would likely fall on that other side of the fence. We didn't expect this to be a pure Q&A site following in the footsteps of Stack Overflow." I think a lot of us would be very grateful if you could stress this to the moderators; they seem to believe the opposite, which has formed the basis for a lot of their argument. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: He did. That's what this answer, and his answer on the other question, has done. End of story. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Dec 3 '14 at 23:30

I don't think elections of moderators would be good or even of any help here. The problem was not the decision-making process, but the fact that there hasn't been a proper site-definition which "the community" agreed on. In fact, I think i don't over-state if I claim that the majority of people on site neither knew nor cared about that until today.

Today was an incredible interesting experience for me, and if one accepts 15min of silence for collecting thoughts and feelings, one would most likely see that it was an extremely good day for the comunity.

We have moved forward, deepend our thoughts on what the site should or could look like, and we had a surge of new engagement. All good things. Let's use this energy to clean up some of the outstanding issues of this site as suggested elsewhere, and then I for once am very happy to have moderators which work for those rules.

And knowing that the site - in the shape we decide on - has the principal backing of SE is an extremely valuable asset. Thanks Robert for chipping in.


I think you're being overly hard on the moderators. They came to us wth an admittedly unpopular and strongly-worded proposal, but they did nothing to force changes upon us or prevent us from discussing the changes. I'd go so far as to say that even though I disagree with them, I think the moderators did nothing wrong and a lot right. I appreciate that they took the time to discuss their proposed changes with us before acting because they assumed it would be received well.

As a result I think calling for new moderators, or even forcing the current moderators to run for re-election, is very short-sighted. We might be upset at them today because we disagree with them, but I would have moderators who ask before making big changes and listen to the community over moderators who I agreed with but wouldn't treat those who disagree with them with respect.


This is a very interesting idea and I would agree to it if it would work. Sadly it will not.

I really like our mods, they've been kind to us, and excellent at their jobs! But this time, they're going too far.

They have decided to blow up the very thing that has brought us so far. Fun! I mean seriously, the very reason this site is working out is because it is fun to come here, it's why we love the place so much.

But according to them "we" hate fun.

I didn't say I hated fun, and I can't either, because fun is... Well, fun! I'd say most of the community feels the same way. So instead of "running for our lives" as I saw someone exclaim in the chat today, we should be instead, encouraging the very thing that has brought this community so far, fun!

We're not just a puzzling site, we're not even just a community, we're a puzzle solving, code cracking, fun loving family!

Why should this site suffer when it has so much going for it? It just doesn't make sense. I want to see it get far on stack exchange, but with the route the mods are taking, it will crash and burn

Even if the site don't end up getting closed down, the community will leave. Why? because the moderaters are taking the very reason we're here! To solve (and create) puzzles!

Only puzzle theory and puzzle help will be allowed! Only it has to be genuine help. So we can't bypass this rule.

too long; didn't read?

I'm for it because this plan is gonna fail, and the community will be torn apart.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you need to read over Robert's comments on the question in debate and here. I feel you're missing the point. The mods acted in what they believed was the interests of the Stack Exchange, given the previous direction its leaders had imparted. Robert answered that this direction wasn't necessary and that this site is doing well. End of story. The "we hate fun" is paraphrased from Jeff Atwood. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Dec 3 '14 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange Employee #1. It applies to the traditional logic of the Stack Exchange. Robert has said that logic doesn't apply here. Thus, it's not relevant. In other words, the mods acted as they believed they should act, taking bold, unpopular decisions based on the guidelines of this site. Robert informed them this wasn't necessary. End of story, simple as that. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Dec 3 '14 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ This community worked for about six months, until guess-what-I'm-thinking challenge suddenly overwhelmed the site. If challenges go away, the community will still work. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 3 '14 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles If the challenges go away, the community will work. Work like a ghost town. $\endgroup$ – Victor Stafusa Dec 4 '14 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew makes a number of good points. I think it's worth us all remembering that the title "Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun" seems not to have been meant literally. The post does not argue that fun is bad. Rather it argues, light-heartedly, for a reasonable balance: "On Stack Overflow, contrary to popular opinion, we don’t hate fun. But only a certain amount of fun will be tolerated, and always with steely, businesslike frowns. :)" $\endgroup$ – A E Dec 4 '14 at 9:31

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