The current elections are over, but KRyan raised the issue of "Does a week for Election nominations seem too short to anyone else?" here and got overwhelming support for it. The next elections will come eventually, and we should raise the issue on meta.se where we can make the request and maybe get it through.

To do so, we should workshop a proper proposal, so what should we propose, and what is our reasoning for change - consider the onus is on us when we want to create change.

What are the already rejected proposals such as Could the election period be extended to more than four days?, and how can we present the issue in a manner that others have not done yet?

  • \$\begingroup\$ golf clap now that's getting out in front of the thing. I agree; they may tell us to stuff it, but it never hurts to ask. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2021 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ real clap, if only to show I am more enthusiastic about this than Korvin. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2021 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ It appears that there may not be an actual consensus on the extension of voting. Rather than jumping to this stage, maybe we do need to spend more time figuring out if this is really a need or if it was a reaction to this particular election cycle. For those who strongly believe one side or the other - I think this will still be helpful and I hope we can discuss it in a friendly and helpful manner. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 15, 2021 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ If we're talking about changing election things, surely we can come up with more robust eligibility criteria. 300 rep is nothing. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 21:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Personally, I'd rather keep this focused on the current issue of length. Eligibility may be a worthwhile point to discuss, but I think this meta doesn't need anything (more?) weighing it down. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Proposal posted on meta.se a week before this post: Split moderator election nomination phase into private submission phase and public commenting/discussion phase \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2021 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why does the final election phase only last 4 days? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Dec 3, 2021 at 17:02

4 Answers 4


4-3-2-1 Proposal

Per my Q&A with Slate, I was given the following recommendation for how to proceed:

My advice, I think, is gonna be: write it up how you'd want to see it. But, be clear about the intents at each step, and underlying reasons why you think it would help. At worst, if it's not technically achievable, or if we don't have a way to allocate time to it, having those intents & root causes documented will help guide us to figure out what elections may look like in the future. And if some kind of partial solution is achievable, that might work as well.

With this in mind, I'm proposing the following for each phase of the election process:

  1. Election Questions - Proposed Duration: 4 weeks

This may come off as the most absurd duration, however, as a whole our community takes awhile to come to consensus on things. Furthermore, we have seen at least a few times that meta Q&A has one answer that floats to the top almost immediately and then sinks back down after several weeks.

Per the site's overall analytics for the past few months, we see very large spikes in visits primarily on Fridays and Saturdays; and if I had to guess, that's probably game night for a lot of folks.

6 month site visit analytics

As such, we likely have a lot of folks whom might be learning about the election for the first time on Friday night and then have to get back to the table or something. If they're not visiting daily, the next time they will get a reminder might be next week.

Giving these folks a few weeks to provide their input on questions might be very helpful for garnering a list of questions that are of interest to them.

There are some folks who wish to make the point that the weekend spikes sync with new visits and those are correct. But that doesn't mean there aren't a significant number of regulars who visit the site during that time frame. Taking the time frame from September 30th through today (November 13th), we see the following increases in site visits over the preceding week's average after removing the new visits:

  • October 1st: +2,627
  • October 2nd: +5,981
  • October 8th: +1,688
  • October 9th: +4,461
  • October 15th: +1,853
  • October 16th: +5,136
  • October 22nd: +1,913
  • October 23rd: +5,013
  • October 29th: +327*
  • October 30th: +298*
  • November 5th: +2,706
  • November 6th: +6,872
  • November 12th: +1,637
  • November 13th: +4,830

*These values were as low as they were due to a maintenance outage.

  1. Nomination Phase - Proposed Duration: 3 weeks

This most recent election had me contemplating on running myself, but a big hangup for me was having enough time for answering the questions. I suspect I'm not the only one in that position, either. Between a very busy work schedule, home life, and other obligations it is often difficult to find a few hours to read, think, and write up responses to questions.

This may mean that I'm too busy to take on another obligation, or it may mean that I need more time to figure out how to fit this potential obligation into my life. Either way, time is necessary for this.

  1. Primary Phase - Proposed Duration: 2 weeks

To the best of my knowledge, we've only had 1 primary. However, with the increased time for the nomination phase the plausibility of a crowded field becomes more practical. I don't consider this to be a bad thing, though.

I recommend the 2-week schedule simply because there's a lot of candidate responses to comb through at this point.

  1. Election Phase - Proposed Duration: 1 week (2 weeks if there's no Primary)

At this point, the community as a whole is effectively aware of the election and has had ample time to review the candidates' responses. Thus, this is proposed to remain the same 1 week duration as before. This allows those folks who pop in just on Friday night to quickly make their picks and then get back to roll bones against the goblin horde.

In the most recent election (election 6) 7,510 were eligible. Of those, 1,320 visited during the election (17.5% of electorate). Of those, 719 visited the election page (9.57% of electorate). And of those, only 323 voted (4.30% of electorate). Based on folks showing some interest in the election and those whom cast a vote, there's a significant disparity of nearly 55%.

We may be able to close that disparity by giving those folks more time to provide their input. This may be doubly necessary if they're part of that group whom seem to visit most often on Fridays and Saturdays.

This phenomenon isn't unique to this election, rather it seems to be about par for most of them:

  • Election 5: 23% visit site; 13% visit election; 6.3% voted (52.8% disparity)
  • Election 4: 33% visit site; 18% visit election; 10.6% voted (41.4% disparity)
  • Election 3: 30% visit site; 26% visit election; 12.2% voted (52% disparity)
  • Election 2: 40% visit site; 25% visit election; 17.9% voted (27.4% disparity)
  • Election 1: 40% visit site; 22% visit election; 16.4% voted (26.8% disparity)

Disparity is defined as 1 minus number of people who visit the election page divided by the number of people who cast a vote.

If possible, I'd like to see this disparity number as close to 0% as practicable. I note that elections where we had the least amount of disparity were those early on and the candidate responses were pretty brief (maybe just a 2-3 paragraphs).

Given the much more extensive responses we expect from candidates, affording voters more time to consider those responses can be helpful for garnering greater participation.

Is this too long a period?

A concern has been expressed that a scheme like this would leave the site short of moderators for too long. On this site, at least, elections have rarely been run quickly to fill a perceived urgent need. Specifically:

Election 2: unknown whether a time-pressure to elect SSD and WaxE was felt--perhaps mxyzplk could chime in?

Election 3: Wax Eagle had been largely inactive for six months before the election; mxyzplk and SSD reported at the time that the site wasn't too much for them without WaxE (but that a broader representation of viewpoints was desirable).

Election 4: SSD and mxyzplk had decided well in advance to step down and did so when SE was able to run an election. (source: nitsua60)

Election 5: doppelgreener and nitsua60 had decided well in advance to step down and did so when SE was able to run an election. (source: nitsua60 and doppelgreener in comment)

Election 6: V2 stolen by SE, Inc.; election was scheduled at SE's convenience and then-current mods relay no urgency to run any faster than that. (source: Someone_Evil & Oblivious Sage, in mod-room conversation of 15 Nov 2021)

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    \$\begingroup\$ "This most recent election had me contemplating on running myself, but a big hangup for me was having enough time for answering the questions." - It's worth noting that questionnaire responses (and candidate intros/statements) can be edited by the candidate after they're posted... Though waiting to post until you've answered everything is fair, given that voters may have concerns about incomplete responses. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 12, 2021 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ And for anyone wondering about what determines whether there's a primary phase for an election, see this FAQ on MSE: "This phase only occurs if there are more than 10 candidates who've nominated in the election; if there are 10 or fewer, this phase is skipped and we move straight to the election phase." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 12, 2021 at 19:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll chime in with personal experience on your point about the nomination phase. I agree that writing up an answer to the questionnaire takes a good bit of time: I'd say it's some number of days mulling ideas on a back burner, then an hour or two to draft, you want to walk away for a day or two before coming back to it, then spend another hour trimming/polishing/explaining/&c, maybe repeat the cycle. (cont.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 13, 2021 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I (personally) don't think that "can drop everything for a multi-hour project within a few days" is really a requirement for moderation. Yes, multi-hour projects come up, probably about monthly in frequency. But they're rarely something urgent/time-sensitive, they're usually something we're working together on, and often take weeks or months to deliver. So squeezing the questionnaire into a shorter-than-representative-of-mod-work window seems (to me) an unnecessary filter. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 13, 2021 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I'm not sure how other folks deal with time management, but I have ADHD and it's just awful for me to focus sometimes. If I can get into hyperfocus on the issue at hand, I can blast through it really quickly and thoroughly, but I have to enable conditions for that to practically occur. So part of my thoughts with that longer duration is to allow neurodivergent folks to figure out how they can make things work for themselves, but also folks whom are just really hecking busy to figure it out. My free time before becoming a parent and after are starkly different. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2021 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're singing my song(s), man =) I always tell people that having one kid made me think "I've got no free time, now." Having a second made me think "oh, no, I was wrong. Now I have no free time." Then having a third made me think "yeah, I was right. I did have no free time before. And now I've got another kid, too." \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 13, 2021 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like it's mainly the nomination phase that should be longer. One week seems to be enough for the actual election phase (and presumably for the primary phase, in the rare case we have one). In the latest election more than half of all votes cast were cast in the first 24 hours. Or to put it differently, it will only take most users 10 minutes at most to vote, but deciding whether to nominate yourself and then answering the questionnaire takes considerably longer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 15, 2021 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I've edited to detail the nature of the most recent election's results. While this issue may've arisen due to concerns about an insufficient number of well qualified nominees being part of the nomination, there are potentially additional issues that I infer may be due to a short voting window. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note regarding the data, those weekend spikes are also correlated with new visits who don't participate in elections (or are even shown it AFAIK). Visits and activity of registered users (see eg. the votes graph) takes a dip during the weekends. I'm not sure the argument of spreading it across more weekends really holds water as most of those users aren't gonna be shown any part of the election (the bulletin box isn't there if you're not logged in). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Nov 15, 2021 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil well then I'd point you to the evidence of multiple proposals spawned within meta that start off as highly voted and then after a few weeks are ranked 3rd or 4th. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I've completed an analysis on the weekend data to demonstrate that higher than average site visits occur from folks who are not new. Saturdays are definitely the preferred day for gaming. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct, site maintenance was on oct 30/31 and the day before we experienced some outages. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Nov 15, 2021 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I confirm the description of election 5 from my POV as well. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16, 2021 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is based on my recollection, and I’ve never been a mod so I didn’t see the inside of it, but on election 2, C.Ross had been barely active for months if not years, and Brian Ballson-Stanton had a scheduled and planned exit due to real-life events (earning a degree, if I recall correctly). By the time we had the election, we only had one mod, but if there were more concerns about carrying the load for too long, that election could easily have been scheduled earlier. Frankly, it never should have gone as long as it did with C.Ross as inactive as he was—but it seemed fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23, 2021 at 2:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven’t been able to confirm this, but the most recent election almost certainly had something to do with Rubiks being largely inactive for more than a year now. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2021 at 15:32

Who moderates the site in the meantime?

Some elections happen when everything is great on a site (such as graduation elections). But elections also happen because the current mod team is overwhelmed. It could be the workload increased. But it could also be that a moderator has left. (Under an exceptional circumstance there could be multiple leaving. Hopefully that won't happen again.)

Currently, an election takes about three weeks from the first public announcement. If we more than triple that amount of time, what happens? And that doesn't include the time that it takes between when the moderators ask for an election to when the first official announcement happens. On ELL, moderators asked for an election in January and the election started in late October.

I don't know why it took so long, which makes it hard to know what would work in practice. Is it possible to start the questionnaire well before the election could be scheduled? That would be effective, since any potential candidates know an election is coming and those who want to nominate can start writing their answers in advance, before the nominations even begin.

Though I didn't envision it happening this early as no moderator election is even planned (and the votes seem to indicate others also felt it was too early), there is now an unofficial thread for questions for the next election: Informal 7th Moderator Election Q&A – Question Collection

How to get the jump on nominations anyway

With the assumption that the current system will not be changed, I have some advice from experience: Start answering early. You should be at least thinking of what you will write.

There are two guaranteed questions, as mentioned by the question collection post:

  • How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?
  • How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc. a question that you feel shouldn’t have been?

For the other questions, it's a bit of a gamble. On RPG, there were 12 questions that were suggested for the 2021 election, but only a maximum of 8 could be used (chosen by upvotes). While you can't know exactly which ones will be chosen you can get a very good idea, especially as the nomination period draws nearer.

On some sites, nobody asks any questions and they use three other generic questions. This is much easier because that's 5 questions total, and if nobody's posted anything and it's two days before nominations open, it's unlikely a huge influx of questions will happen.

Be warned that your questionnaire must be 12000 characters or less, by default including the quoted questions (but not including your nomination, which is 1200 characters for you to introduce yourself).

I did this for my nomination for the 2022 English Language and Usage election. I followed the question collection post and began to think about how I would answer each new question as it came in. About two days before the election I put the two default questions and maybe 6 of the highest voted questions in a doc and began to write my answers. While I didn't finish writing before nominations opened, I was able to finish up on the second or third day (well in advance of the deadline) and post.

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW the mod team size has a fair chunk of built in redundancy. The site can run with just two active mods (and has for periods), that's just cutting the redundancy short. The CM workload and scheduling is what delays elections from initial request (and that been more pronounced recently for Reasons). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Nov 15, 2021 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not for nothing, but this isn't actually an answer to the question of 'what should we propose, due to the popularity of this thread to propose something.' While I understand your null proposition, but you're just making assumptions without any data to back it up. This is just a comment to my proposal, which is fine, but really should just be a comment. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 20:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of responding to that comment of who moderates the site in the meantime, the answer is the members do. The bulk of moderation duties are already handled by high-rep members. There may be some items which specifically require a moderator to handle and those items will just take a little longer to get addressed. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a good question to raise: I'm making an edit to my answer which I hope will help address it. Thanks for the (implicit) poke. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ <headdesk> I don't have an answer on this post. I'm gonna... go? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical It is a proposal all its own: Either collect questions early or don't do anything, but certainly not significantly delay the election. Since this is workshopping a proposal for Meta SE, it needs to be something that works across the network, even on sites where high rep users don't do most of the work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Laurel
    Nov 16, 2021 at 4:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Laurel thanks to nitsua's assistance, I've edited my answer to further detail that elections are requested well in advance of some kind of urgent need for a new moderator. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16, 2021 at 16:17

We should not extend the election period.

  1. What does it really help? People that don't participate in Meta aren't going to participate given a couple more weeks. The period right now is pretty long given the declaration of creating questions and all, anyone out for 2 weeks can still participate.

  2. Elections are usually because mods have left or the mods need more help. Making that process take 10 or more weeks is an unacceptably long time.

I don't see this proposal fixes anything to a larger degree than what it breaks. The duration works for all of SE and we have no real justification for being an exception.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the section So what could we do better? I suggest how we could improve the election experience without changing anything about the mechanics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Nov 15, 2021 at 20:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ "The duration works for all of SE and we have no real justification for being special snowflakes." I honestly take umbrage with this statement as it mostly just comes off as, 'Well we've always done it that way,' excuse to avoid changing something or examining whether the way we've always done something is actually good at the goal as well as inclusive. As I mentioned within comments of my answer, I'm neurodivergent, a parent, and a busy person in general; the process doesn't really work well for me. It's possible that it doesn't work well for others as well. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2021 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does the existing system work well for all of SE? If we're having issues with it, it's entirely possible that other smaller stacks have had the same problems, and simply haven't articulated those issues anywhere we've seen them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 15, 2021 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage Are we actually having issues with it though? Do you think we would be talking about this at all if you and Nits had nominated earlier in the nomination phase? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16, 2021 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Makes a good point. The reason all this came up was because for the majority of the nomination period it looked like we were going to have a default victor as there was only one properly qualified candidate. Once Akixkisu, Nitsua60 and ObliviousSage also nominated the issues kind of became non-issues. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 11:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the fact that 2 last-minute nominees completely upended the probably outcome of the election makes a strong case in and of itself that the nomination period should be extended. How many more competitive nominees would we have gotten if we had waited another week? I was moving during the one weekend contained in the nomination period, and just barely had time to answer the questionnaire. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I'm not sure who won is relevant here. Would the case you make there be as strong in your mind if Akixkisu and myself had won instead? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16, 2021 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I would say that it's less about who actually won than about the odds. I think that going into the last 48 hours of the nomination period it was pretty obvious that you & Akixkisu were the only real contenders (full credit to the other two nominees for stepping up to try to help the site, but they were clearly not well-established members of the community and were not going to win). When nitsua & I nominated ourselves, things became much less clear-cut (well, I think it was pretty clear that nitsua was going to take one of the slots, but the remaining slot was up in the air). \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 15:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov But if we had run the nomination period for another week, or another 2 weeks, how many more serious contenders might have nominated themselves? Making the nomination period so short keeps out viable candidates. Again, voting from the set list of candidates once we hit the primary/election phases doesn't take that much time; deciding whether you want to run and then answering the questionnaire does. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov on whether who won is relevant: I'll say that, having won, I feel more free to talk about the process. If you and Akixkisu, for instance, had won, I wouldn't want to criticize the process for fear that readers might misunderstand it as critical of you two. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Pyrotechnical's answer in its last part now invokes (election 2) and characterizes (election 3) you--might be worth a look to see if you feel it's fair and/or if you have anything you'd add. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Nov 16, 2021 at 17:25

I don’t understand what the counter-argument is.

Without that, I have no idea what we have to debate, what we have to overcome. So far as I can tell, near-everybody on the site wanted it to be longer (even if not necessarily so much so that they wanted an extension in the middle of the election)—so why would this be a problem?

Is there a technical issue, where this is something that’s the same for all sites and making it different on each site is a problem? Do we just need to show it’s worth that much effort? I’m somewhat doubtful this is the case, though, because people pointed out that other elections have gotten extensions, which was confirmed by staff who explained the criteria by which they decide to do that. So that’s not even per-site, that’s per-election at that point.

Is there some concern about the quality of moderation during the interim? Or the workload for the remaining moderators? That was something I’d considered at the time, but none of our moderators spoke up so it seemed to me it was OK.

Is there some belief that a short election is better, as in, more representative of the site? I don’t see how this is plausible, really, but the linked discussion on SU maybe suggests there is something there? Frankly, I can’t even follow the case being made there, it made no sense to me, particularly seeing as it was talking about voting not even about nominations.

But without a sense of the reasons for not doing so, I don’t know how to make a convincing argument for doing so. To me, with the information I currently have, “because we want to” seems like it ought to be sufficient. We need to find out more before we can write a real proposal, which probably means talking to SE directly. I am not sure what the best process here is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I see where you’re coming from, and I think this response could be improved by providing a suggested course of action, as I think Akixkisu is looking for something concrete to take to meta.se. If I’m reading you right, something like “Let’s just ask the CMs if we can extend the election stages next time” would be the natural follow through of your thoughts here. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2021 at 0:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes, I thought that was obvious. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 11, 2021 at 2:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ As TM pointed out, this question is less "should we ask for the nomination period to be extended," and more "how should we ask for the nomination period to be extended?" We brought up the possibility to the CMs & election staff and they said it is not currently on their roadmap but a good proposal could change that. It sounds like it doesn't currently have a dial that CMs can use to easily adjust the nomination period, so we would need a solid proposal well in advance to get that dial added. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Nov 11, 2021 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage Yes, I know. That’s what I’m answering—we should ask by first finding out why they won’t do so just cuz we want to. The information that “It sounds like it doesn’t currently have a dial that CMs can use to easily adjust the nomination period,” was not available to me. That’s precisely the sort of information I was saying we need. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 11, 2021 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer appears to me to suggest that step 0 is 'do a bit more due diligence' and as such is a useful response. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2021 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you raise many correct reasons, but the conclusion is not "let them figure out counterpoints" that is what we need to do. With the proposal the onus is on us to drive change. So how do we answer all of these things? That is one of the main reasons I raised this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Nov 12, 2021 at 18:13

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