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I find it quite weird that I am having such a hard time finding details about the moderator election process.

Everything directs somewhere else, but I find barely any answers to my questions.

The only information I could gather is mostly from the election posts and one other question someone asked about the term length of moderator elections. (Answer was until they resign or screw up and get kicked out - the latter happens very rarely.)

The following quote is from the sidebar of the election message.

Nominations are not binding; nominees may withdraw at their discretion at any point during the nomination phase.

After 7 days, the top 30 nominees, ordered by reputation, advance to the primary phase. However, if there are 10 or fewer candidates, we skip directly to the election phase.

But the election process itself seems to be kind of a mystery.

Seeing the results in the election threads of 2017 and 2016 I can see that in the 'primary' tab regular up-/downvotes can be cast on candidates and in the 'election' tab you get 1st to 3rd choice vote for all the candidates.


The questions

What do the votes in the primary do? When do candidates get narrowed down? Is there just a specific amount of people who can make it to the final election? Is it 10 as said in the quote?

How are the votes counted? 2016 had 4 new mods, 2017 had only one. Why? What are the criteria to be fulfilled for a certain amount of new mods?


I find the documentation of the process kind of lacking. And the things I did find were not as easy to find as you'd expect either. I am very interested in the election as I really like this site and community and the ideas that brought forth, so I would like to know more about the process of electing moderators to help select those most beneficial to this site and community.

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For the primary you can look at Why is there a primary election? Basically it's a way to up- and downvote and thereby reduce the amount of people that will be considered for the real election. It's especially important when there are lots of nominations, which tends to happen more often on bigger sites. This answer also mentions that a maximum of 10 people will advance to the real election if there are more than 10 people when the primary starts.

The real election will then be giving you a chance to vote for your rank 1, 2 and 3. No "upvotes", no "downvotes", just a choice of "Which of these would you prefer?"

About the amount of mods elected: the first election you mentioned was the very first election, which means that this was the first time we switched from appointed pro-tempore mods to elected mods and needed a whole team. For the next election the team needed to grow, but as it was not that a whole new team was needed there was only one position. The criteria are basically that the current mod team decides that they would like to have more members because the workload is getting too big - the site is simply growing!

For more information about how voting counts you can look at How are moderator election votes counted, in plain English? Your votes are used in an iterative process to decide who "wins". I also like the easy description in this answer:

Here's the so-├╝ber-short-it's-almost-misleading version:
Meek STV does calculations in rounds (or "iteratively," for you programmer types). In the first round, all votes count for the candidate marked as the first choice. The system figures out how many votes are needed to win. If anyone gets that many votes, he wins, and any "extra" votes he got are handed out to the voters' second choices. If nobody wins, the weakest candidate gets cut and all votes he received go to the voters' second choices. Then the next round starts. Rounds keep going until enough people have been elected.

For a comprehensive overview over the election process you can look at There's an election going on. What's happening and how does it work? The short form is:

  1. 7 days Nomination:

    Anyone may nominate themselves to be a moderator as long as they fulfill certain conditions.

  2. 4 days Primary:

    This is where the voting starts. Any community member with at least 150 reputation may vote, but candidates are not allowed to vote for themselves. You get one vote per candidate in the same manner as a question or answer. There are no comments allowed.
    [...]
    After 4 days the top 10 nominees by vote advance to the election phase.

  3. 4 days (or 8 if Primary was skipped)

    Lastly, comes the election phase. Once again any user with 150 reputation or more is allowed to vote; unlike the Primary phase candidates are allowed to vote for themselves. Once again, no comments are allowed and the candidates are displayed in a random order.
    [...]
    Each community member gets 3 votes, 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choice. Any number of these 3 votes can be used. Votes are tallied using the Meek STV method.

To get an idea about what each phase entails for candidates and voters you can look at the answer from @MonicaCellio to the question What are the current goals of each of the election phases? The nomination allows candidates to present themselves and voters to familiarize themselves with the candidates. The primary allows candidates to elaborate on their views in Meta discussions, comments and the chat, while the voters can ask specific questions to sort the top 10 out. In the election the voters decide which people should become newly appointed mods.

If you are thinking about nominating yourself you can check your so-called "candidate score" before submitting your nomination with this SEDE query. The candidate score is calculated by checking your reputation (1 point per 1k reputation up to a maximum of 20) and different badges for moderating (8 badges), editing (6 badges) and participation (6 badges), which leads to a total of 40 points you can achieve at most. This score will be displayed next to your profile when submitting your nomination. You can find your userID when going to your profile and checking the URL in your browsers address bar which is "blabla/users/yourUserID/yourUserName" with yourUserID being the ID you have to Enter into the field under the query on SEDE. In my case the userID is 28789 for example.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! So the mods decide how many new mods they will 'recruit' and the community selects them? $\endgroup$ – ArtificialSoul Jul 3 '18 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @ArtificialSoul The point of a moderator election is for the community to choose who they want to see as diamond moderators. The existing moderation team generally makes a request to the community managers for an election for some given number of new moderators, and makes a case for that (based on a variety of factors, including workload), but the ultimate decision of how many slots (and thus how many new moderators are elected), if indeed any election at all, is in the hands of Stack Exchange employees. The very first election for a site is a special case, but not all that different. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 3 '18 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ It might be worth adding the Candidate Score SEDE Query into this answer so that candidates are aware of their score before self-nominating. Ideally, candidates should know enough to find this before nominating, but you know.... $\endgroup$ – user10945 Jul 3 '18 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Snow Thanks, I added a paragraph with the link. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 3 '18 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ No problem. But don't tell them how to use it, it's a test in itself.... :D $\endgroup$ – user10945 Jul 3 '18 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Snow The people who have read this answer up to that point have passed the test already :D $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 3 '18 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also of possible interest (but not yet updated for the new timing of questionnaires): meta.stackexchange.com/q/253342/162102. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jul 3 '18 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer @MonicaCellio, I added a paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 3 '18 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ Solid answer, its like you are running for mod or something :D $\endgroup$ – James Jul 3 '18 at 15:39

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