Out of curiosity, I looked at an old election thread here. There the OP who was co-ordinating the nominations posits:

I think we can all agree that self-nominations should be prohibited.

But, recently, the policy has been:

All nominations are by definition self-nominations. Nominating others is absolutely not supported.

I am not questioning the policy; I am just curious about the reason for the change of heart. It seems that the older elections in stackoverflow also supported nominations by others.

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For one, the thread you linked to seems to be started by a user, the "no-self-nomination" rule is his opinion. The current system is handed down from "up high", which reflects Jeff Atwood and Co.'s more position. So Two different groups of people, two different ideas. No "change of heart" involved at all. –  Willie Wong Dec 8 '10 at 23:50
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Like Willie Wong said, there is no connection between the opinions in those posts, but I too would be interested in an explanation of the policy on self-nomination. –  Jonas Meyer Dec 8 '10 at 23:54
    
@Willie Wong: I understand your point about that user. I wouldn't have asked the question for that alone. The thing to note is that past stackoverflow elections too had nominations by others. See this thread: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/35583 .... Also I must repeat, I am not questioning anything or asking for any change; I am just clearing my curiosity. In fact I rather like the lack of clutter when self-nominations are required. –  user1119 Dec 8 '10 at 23:56
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But your post as written is confusing, because you ask for a "reason for the change of heart" after citing evidence that is irrelevant to changes in actual policy. Perhaps you could instead include the link in your comment in the question? –  Jonas Meyer Dec 8 '10 at 23:59
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I didn't know that thread. Thanks for the link. –  Willie Wong Dec 9 '10 at 1:27

2 Answers 2

When we did allow outside nominations, it caused a lot of problems:

  • users often did not know they were nominated by someone else
  • users sometimes did not want to be nominated at all
  • it implies a lot of coordination, more than there actually is, between users

There is, I think, an important difference between nominating yourself and accepting someone else's nomination. While in theory this could work and feels very democratic, in practice it typically does not, and has a small but significant chance of causing confusion and possible hard feelings.

Best to let users nominate themselves so there is no chance of confusion or misunderstanding. I also think people who self-nominate are the most motivated to participate, anyway.

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What happened to the primaries just now? The election went directly from Nomination to final round Election mode. One candidate just joined 3 hours ago and people will be voting before seeing his comments (should he make any) in the meta. Like the nominations, the primary process seemed well considered so why not go through with it? –  T.. Dec 9 '10 at 1:48
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@T.. the description in math.stackexchange.com/election explains "Depending on the number of nominees that enter, and the number of moderator positions to be filled, in some circumstances the election may skip the Primary phase and proceed directly to the Election phase." No value to the primary unless there are a meaningful # of candidates to pare down. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 9 '10 at 2:15
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Under an instant self-nomination system, the primary has the additional value of delaying by a few days the final decision on unknown candidates who can join the fray at the last minute, allowing them air their views (or be seen not doing so) on the meta and generally to be "vetted". A friendly suggestion for future elections on any site is to build in delays of at least a few days between successive phases of the election (e.g., nominate-delay-primary-delay-final). It is understood that the schedule may have been accelerated in this case. –  T.. Dec 9 '10 at 4:17
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@T..: I can see that. There's a potential inequity that late arrivals don't go through the same level of vetting (or possibly any at all) that the earlier candidate receive. Users are free to flip back to the 'nomination' tab to read previous comments but comments will be completely lacking on last-minute candidates. But that sort of tactical delay (or lack of) is used in the political arena, too, so I'm not entirely sure there's anything to be done about it. But I its worth considering. –  Robert Cartaino Dec 10 '10 at 2:43
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@Rob, I should have also mentioned that, apart from voting and vetting considerations, having planned delays between election stages allows some predefined time period for duly sorting out unexpected problems (or verifying results), rather than dealing with them as the clock is running, or having to make awkward ad hoc postponements and announcements. In political elections there are ordinarily weeks or months between stages, partly due to natural logistical complexity but also to create a temporal buffer and the stability that provides. –  T.. Dec 10 '10 at 6:28

Not a direct answer to the question, but I think the nomination procedure of this election was very well thought-out and that self-nomination is by far the better option. It eliminates "politicking for endorsements", for one thing, and pre-election opinion antennae.

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