After considerable thought and as much profound reflection, that is, after entertaining a whim and examining the votes for and against the candidates, I've determined the best way to demolish the ELU clubhouse is to advance the primary candidates with the fewest downvotes, rather than those with the most upvotes.

  1. This approach would be much more in line with the community-avowed desire to make the site more friendly to newcomers, and more friendly all around, for the simple reason that those candidates with the fewest downvotes have obviously inspired the least acrimony in the electorate, and could be expected (however erroneously) to continue along that path.

  2. The approach can be adopted without any feature changes on the ELU site, and could be specific to, and perhaps fitted only for, ELU.

  3. The approach would frustrate the unseemly and counter-productive ambitions of the candidates who have spent years cultivating troops of followers in the backrooms, excuse me, chatrooms, gladhanding and perhaps palming off bitcoin on the more susceptible members of the ELU community in order to secure their upvotes.

Timing is essential, though; if adopted, I suggest the change not be officially adopted until the primary election is on the verge of being complete.

  • 4
    Alleging people are bribing others with bitcoin is a great way to make your point... Aug 18, 2016 at 4:00
  • 1
    the community-avowed desire to make the site more friendly to newcomers, and more friendly all around Is that a thing?
    – deadrat
    Aug 18, 2016 at 4:23
  • 3
    If your plan were adopted, then wouldn't I vote for the candidates of my choice by simply voting against the others? And how do I get some that bitcoin palmed off on me?
    – deadrat
    Aug 18, 2016 at 4:26
  • 6
    What does the "no girls" sign have to do with your question?
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:06
  • 3
    Also, this is not a change we could implement for this election. It would have to apply to the next election. It's inherently unfair to change the rules halfway through the process.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:07
  • Dude, we'd be glad to have you in chat.
    – Mitch
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:14
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    Also, isn't the current pass through to phase 3' by 'upvotes minus downvotes', taking both into consideration?
    – Mitch
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:19
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    Also, the most downvoted seem to be exactly those people who are not longtime ELU users (what I would expect you'd think are the core of the 'ELU clubhouse'). Also, they seem to be exactly those people who are the least upvoted. So maybe forget the mechanism, is it that you really just want a turnover from the old guard?
    – Mitch
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    I would call this certainly out-of-the-box thinking. But I don't see the point, as two-to-three candidates (supported by the majority of the votes) seem to be a great fit for the job, and who cares about the runner-ups?
    – Matsmath
    Aug 18, 2016 at 14:07
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    This is a satirical post, isn't it? In actual fact, the majority of voters have to be from the old boy network. They are the ones who are most motivated, the ones who care the most. Or do you sincerely promote the notion that someone who receives 400 upvotes but 25 downvotes is less representative than someone with 100 upvotes but only 5 downvotes?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 18, 2016 at 18:53
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    @KitZ.Fox the "no girls" sign refers to the absence of female candidates. If for every 100 male users on EL&U there is one female user, that's a personal guess, it stands to reason that the pendulum swings in favour of men. BTW I am not in the least bothered, as long as there is one woman on board, i.e. one female mod, I am satisfied.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 18, 2016 at 18:58
  • @Mari Are you sure there are no female candidates?
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 18, 2016 at 19:01
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    Beg your pardon? I barely understood anything you were saying (and centrally the pretense of participatory democracy, with volunteer labor enlisted for unimportant tasks in a quasi-internship program) You mean those who are self-nominated to be mods? Never mind, I'm sure others better educated, and more knowledgeable than myself will have understood.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 19, 2016 at 7:24
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    Currently, the mod team is 25% women. I don't know the gender ratio of the community on EL&U, so I can't say whether this is representative or not. Still, the only hint of gender inequity is in the title of the question. So again, I will ask what does the "no girls sign" have to do with the rest of your question?
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:42
  • 1
    @JEL I have less than 200 rep here and I can see the vote breakdowns. It's not an issue of rep.
    – Laurel Mod
    Aug 20, 2016 at 1:09

4 Answers 4


I don't see the point of this. This primary is only going to eliminate one candidate, so your proposal could only frustrate the ambitions of a single person. Your post uses wording that suggests that you think more than one candidate has been engaging in shady business. So even if I agreed with everything that you're saying (which I don't) I wouldn't see this as an effective way of "demolish[ing] the ELU clubhouse."


Although your proposed solution is quite clear, I don't understand the problem you are trying to solve.

You seem to be making certain assumptions for which I do not intuitively see any arguments, like:

the unseemly and counter-productive ambitions of the candidates who have spent years cultivating troops of followers in the [...] chatrooms,

Being actively involved on chat and meta is regarded as a good indication of a person's actual involvement in the site. There are even badges for it, in order to encourage such behaviour. Assuming that such participation emanates from "unseemly" and / or "counter-productive" ambitions looks like nothing but a non-sequitur.

I'm all for making the site more accessible and welcome to new users, but I don't see how the moderator elections are a plausible venue for that.


Regardless of its inadequacy as a means in this particular election of eliminating the most experiences candidates in favour of the least experienced -- given only one of the 11 could be eliminated -- the idea of promoting a campaign to engineer a last-minute "voting plunge" in the primaries seems an extraordinarily anti-democratic proposal. It's quite blatantly a proposal to rig the election outcome.

I'm not suggesting it's the case, but * if * a hostile or unrepresentatative clique or cabal exists, and if this group controls anything in EL&U, the solution is to engage in the democratic process by electing an alternative group of candidates who, by their activity on EL&U, have demonstrated their worthiness. It's known as factional politics.

The division of the active and passionate minority of a group's membership into alignments is generally inevitable. There's no doubt such alignments exist within EL&U, but they're mostly unplanned, amorphous, fluid, leaderless and directionless, with the only convergence being a shared view on typical faultlines such as putting answers as comments, or downvoting posts, or how to deal with SWRs or VLQ answers.

If the most experienced EL&U members seem to have cemented into a consistent view on these matters, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing, let alone a clique. But even if it has become a conscious grouping that defends a particular culture of behaviour within EL&U, this is a normal process in organisational dynamics.

Sometimes such a group may become out of touch with an evolving membership, at which point it's common for the Young Turks to lead a rebellion, which often fails because their antagonism is too overt and is offputting to the general membership (which then rallies in defence of the status quo). Eventually though, if the more experienced members don't address the issues, a second wave of activists steps up, whose focus is not on "the bad guys" but on a considered platform of improvements. The membership is open to this message and elects them to power.

If any of the above describes the situation within EL&U, then it also describes the available solution: the democratic process. Defining your enemy by blunt measures such as patterns of voting on posts, presence in chat rooms, duration of membership or simply amount of rep points completely fails to address what's wrong that needs improving. Worse, eliminating "enemy" candidates using ambush voting is a corruption of the democratic process.

Nearly 20 years as a dissident within the political arena has taught me two things above all else: (1) naked antagonism is doomed to failure, and (2) building relationships through demonstrated competence is the only path to achieving your goals.


It's an interesting approach: choose the least disliked candidate instead of the most liked, with the premise that down-votes carry more weight than up-votes.

While it's possible that posts need to provoke more of a reaction to elicit a down-vote than they do to elicit an up-vote, the approach doesn't necessarily help with your aims. In particular, if one has an cadre of sycophants (and I'm not suggesting that any candidate of this election does), it's just as easy to direct them to down-vote others as it is to direct them to up-vote themselves. And a low down-vote score may simply indicate a lack of engagement with the community, rather than a friendly person.

The real problem with voting is that people either don't vote, or they don't think about what they're voting for. Call me a dreamer, but I would like people to vote for those whose policies and known behaviour resonate most with them.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that we should promote a welcoming and friendly culture, but not by changing the election process mid-stream. This would smack of election manipulation, which you oppose.

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