2020 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 Mar 3 at 20:00.

The results of this election can be viewed online via OpaVote. 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.


838 voters were eligible, 317 visited the site during the election, 270 visited the election page, and 155 voted

Why vote for me?

  • Relatively high reputation on the site
  • Active on this site for multiple years
  • Still constistently log on almost every day
  • Formal education in AI (M.Sc., working on PhD)
  • Actively publishing AI research
  • I do care about the quality of the site and hope it continues to grow in quantity and quality

Why not vote for me?

  • Historically not been the most active on https://ai.stackexchange.com/, reviewing queues, our chatroom, etc. (have been sporadically present in all of them).
  • Much more interested in answering questions in my direct area of expertise, than in janitorial duties.
  • Primarily nominating because I was asked to, and because I think that increasing the number of nominees increases the "credibility" of the election and the site as a whole.

If I were to be elected, I don't think I could guarantee that I'd be the type of moderator who actively seeks out things to moderate. I would actively log on almost every day, and wouldn't mind taking a look when notified. So I guess I'd be able to work best when other people on the site are also keeping an active eye out, and flag when attention is required.

  • $\begingroup$ Dennis would definitely be a good moderator given his good overall knowledge of the field and his apparently calm temperament. He has even helped me in many cases when I was initially learning about reinforcement learning (and other topics). Of course, as I said for John, it would be ideal to have regularly active moderators, though, especially for a small community like ours, where the community isn't often able to handle the closure of posts, etc., alone, so it isn't able to determine the right direction the site should take. In any case, I would be glad if he was selected as a moderator. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 23 at 14:41

I am an AI researcher. I worked in academic research for about 10 years, including some time as a professor. More recently I have moved to industrial work, including as the principal scientist at a startup, and now in the AI/NLP group at a major corporation. I continue to publish AI research in machine learning and multiagent systems, and to serve on the program committees for many AI conferences, including AAAI, IJCAI, and AAMAS.

I joined this site later than most users, and have been sporadic in my activity, but am now ranked fourth overall by reputation. When I'm on the site, I'm active in the meta discussions, The Singularity chat, and in the moderation queue.

I've been asked to run, but cannot promise that I will be substantially more active than the previous moderators, especially in the near term. That said, I care about the site, and would like to see it improve. You can see my opinions on the various issues facing the site by consulting my post history in meta.

  • $\begingroup$ John is one of the best persons for this role. Apart from his overall very good knowledge of the AI field, he's a relatively patient person (at least, this is my perception). I just hope he will be regularly active on the site, in case he's elected, because our current moderators aren't as active as I think they should. Having active moderators is fundamental for a small community like ours, which often is not able to handle posts alone (e.g. posts that need to be closed are often not closed because the community does not take action). A regularly active moderator would solve these issues. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro ,We should sometimes get serious on this! If you recommend subjects,just because they have been around than the rest,and active on the site.We are not blind on this brother.Lets wake up or else we close it.There have been discussions about candidates shoring up their stats when they find out what the requirements are. That shouldn't be how it works; if you meet a requirement, it should be because you've been helpful all along, not because you suddenly became interested in helping because you want to qualify for an election.Am not against all elections here!! $\endgroup$ – quintumnia Feb 20 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ @quintumnia Are you talking about whom? Anyway, both of us (me and John) didn't know there would have been an election until recently, but both of us have been contributing for more than 1 year. So, of course, we have not been contributing to the site in order to become moderators. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ Ever since our system started to be gamed by multiple targets from various accounts.That's when us we stepped aside,to let the called so "know it all" to pass by! But this does not mean we don't want to take effect!.... So we have been around Okay! This is what I mean ai.stackexchange.com/users/181/left-se-on-10-6-19 $\endgroup$ – quintumnia Feb 21 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ @quintumnia Sorry, I'm really not sure what you're asking for in these comments. Is there a policy or change in moderation behavior that you would like to see? $\endgroup$ – John Doucette Feb 21 at 12:23

I'm a computational linguist, and have been working in AI for the past 6 years (first a start-up and now a company developing conversational AI systems) after about 20 years of being a university lecturer. I am fairly active in checking out the review queues every day, and would be happy to take on more responsibilities if selected.

While my reputation score might not be as high as some others', I have similar scores on various other stackexchange site, as I see myself as more of a generalist than a specialist in one particular area.

My main area of interest is NLP and related issues; I tend more towards symbolic AI than ML approaches, which — however — doesn't mean that I am dismissive of them. My impression is that many newcomers think deep learning is the cool silver bullet, when it is often not the best approach to solving a problem at all.

Happy respond to any questions asked in the comments!

  • $\begingroup$ I think you would be a good moderator. The only misgiving I have is that I haven't seen you participate in Meta and other issues often discussed in the chatroom 'The Singularity' about issues plaguing the site. So are you aware of the problems our site faces and how some of them has been resolved in the past? $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Feb 18 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ @DuttaA Yes -- so far I haven't, but happy to change that. I am aware of some issues through looking at the kinds of posts that come up. Will have a look at the Meta and chatroom. $\endgroup$ – Oliver Mason Feb 18 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ Please, have a look at this answer where I compile a list of issues that our current site faces. Also, have a look at https://ai.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1616/2444. In general, I encourage you to read all my meta posts, because I was probably the most active user on meta in the last year. In general, it seems to me you're a quite active user on this stack, but as Dutta says it would be better if you also were active on meta and in the chat room. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 18 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro that's partly a lack of awareness, as especially the chat is quite well hidden if you don't look at the links at the bottom of the page. I already read the first answer you linked to, and it makes perfect sense. And yes, happy to participate more on Meta. $\endgroup$ – Oliver Mason Feb 18 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think you will still be able to be as active as you have apparently been? For example, do you think you will be able to visit the site once per day (and eventually handle the flagged comments, questions, etc.)? At least in the last year, the moderators haven't been very active (as I say in the answer you said you've already read). It was often the case I was the only person trying to edit posts to improve them and this was too much workload for a single person, so I think that having active moderators will be very important (especially, for a small community like ours). $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 18 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro I pretty much look at SE every weekday $\endgroup$ – Oliver Mason Feb 18 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Oliver I would like very much to see your list of issues to be addressed, similar to what nbro provided above. Or if your list is the same or just addition/corrections to nbro list. ANother thing I'd like to see from mods is guideline, what should be considered acceptable or good answer, similar to wikipedia guideline: acceptable references, acceptability of original research/personal experience etc $\endgroup$ – mirror2image Feb 19 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ @mirror2image I agree with nbro's list, generally. I find a lot of questions are unrelated to AI, but then the popular meaning of "AI" has shifted somewhat in recent years. As for acceptable or good answers, there needs to be a balance between referenced ones, but also ones based on personal experience, where you can't always provide a reference. Having practicioners give advice/answers is a valuable source of information. $\endgroup$ – Oliver Mason Feb 19 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ @mirror2image Please, have a look at What should the on-topic page look like?. See also https://ai.stackexchange.com/help. Most of the info you're looking for is there. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 17:16

I am running for a moderator position because I can further help the community with the moderator privileges.

Who am I?

The user

  • $\begingroup$ IMHO if you seriously want to be moderator you should consider deanonymization. Not that's it necessary of cause. $\endgroup$ – mirror2image Feb 19 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ Pros: Most passionate about site, Most active on site, Most influential on site. Cons: Will down-vote you on grammar. Gets triggered real quick. $\endgroup$ – mshlis Feb 19 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @mshlis I've downvoted you once or twice because of inappropriate grammar or formatting, but it was only to show you that these aspects are also important, otherwise, you would have kept on using e.g. "i" rather than "I", etc. I think I removed the downvotes once you or I edited the corresponding answers. What do you mean by "gets triggered real quick"? You mean I can get pissed off easily? In general, I don't think that's really the case. In certain cases, that was the case, e.g. when there was a person that kept on writing spam answers, but this person was a serious problem for the site. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @mirror2image What do you mean by "deanonymization"? And why do you think so? $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro while you are knowledgeable and contributing a lot, I perceive your comments often as impolite and promoting a rather negative atmosphere on this site. Which might be acceptable for a user but, in my opinion, not for a moderator. Are you going to act differently as a moderator? $\endgroup$ – Sammy Feb 19 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Sammy Every user I had a dispute with in the past is now saying that I am impolite and I am promoting a negative atmosphere on this site (e.g. you or mshlis). I remember having commented under one of your answers and having negatively criticized you. This doesn't mean I have been impolite, similarly to the case where a professor gives you a negative grade on an exam because you didn't answer correctly (according to him). If you don't want me to become a moderator, find a better person that will be as helpful as me. For example, why don't you nominate yourself? $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Sammy The specific comments where we had a dispute are under this answer. Probably some of them have been already deleted, but you can see the tone. I didn't agree with or like your answer and you can easily see that from my comments, but I didn't insult you or something even remotely similar. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently, some of you have not been looking at my comments under the questions of new users and at my attempts and efforts to clarify questions, answers, etc. I wasn't always super polite with everyone, especially, when I think that something is completely wrong, but I don't have to be super polite and I won't be super polite. I will be honest and honesty sometimes hurts. This site needed someone like me that cared about something, otherwise, it would have already died. In any case, as I say in my nomination, I try to follow the expected behaviour and code of conduct. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 19 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro deanonymization - show your actual name and credentials. Useful to create context for your opinions. $\endgroup$ – mirror2image Feb 20 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ @mirror2image Of course, I don't have to do it and I won't do it. The opinions should be based on contributions and the history of the user on the site. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro i said positive stuff too, you have my vote, but in all sincerity take the criticism. This site shouldn't be toxic. My main issue is downvoting simple differences ("alot" vs "a lot"). Granted there are times you caught me writing something unreadable and that is unacceptable, but holding downvotes over peoples heads is obnoxious, furthermore getting angry when they dont improve in their english over time is even more so. I suck at English and it makes me wonder if its worth answering someones question when I dont have the time to quadruple check the writing. $\endgroup$ – mshlis Feb 20 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @mshlis Yes, you may be right that regularly downvoting for incorrect grammar may be a little toxic, but I haven't done this. I have done this once or twice with you and then I removed the downvotes (after having correct your language). Anyway, I also think that regularly writing answers or questions where you don't show any effort into writing also shows that you don't care enough about the quality of the site. I understand that sometimes you don't have time to care about the language, but regularly writing "alot" rather than "a lot" seems to be a mockery. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ @mshlis Also, that kind of "disinterested language" lowers a little bit the credibility of the site. If I am reading e.g. a blog post where people do not even care about writing "I" rather than "i", I don't even read it, unless it really contains useful information. It makes me think I am reading the comments under a Youtube video. Anyway, I appreciate your efforts to help people. I just don't appreciate when you regularly write "alot" rather than "a lot", even though you know that "a lot" is the correct version (even before I had told you, I am sure!). $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @mshlis To emphasize, I think you should also take into account my point of view. I care about the quality and credibility of the site. Furthermore, although, as I said, I acknowledge that often we don't have much time, I was trying to show you that this aspect is also important, not just on this site, but it will be useful throughout your career. In any case, I will try to be nicer with respect to this aspect and issues, but don't ask me to be super nice after having told you that "alot" is incorrect and you keep on writing it. $\endgroup$ – nbro Feb 20 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro I spent 20+ years of my life thinking "alot" was correct, you telling me once isn't going to break that habit nor does that make it a "mockery". I respect your intentions to improve the quality of the site, but with all due respect, your the only one that thinks minor mistakes like that degrades from the answer. Also if "i" vs "I" pushes you away from reading what could be a kick-ass blog, your getting in your own way on principle which is a dangerous mentality. I'm not asking you to be "super nice", I'm asking you to re-prioritize what should be emphasized on this resource. $\endgroup$ – mshlis Feb 20 at 15:58

This election is complete.