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6:43 AM
A: Some parting thoughts... and apologies for the drama

Shog9 Makes it hard to be communicative when I am actually being preventing from responding. You asked to discuss this in public, so I obliged. Once that began, neither one of us could put the genie back in the bottle - going back and replying privately after I'd posted publicly didn't really acco...

If SE wants the community to moderate, it might help if it stopped constantly telling us that we're doing it wrong. It's all very well to wish that poor HN had asked for help, but you seem to forget that at his election he was leading the vanguard of yet another attempt by the community to hold back the sea of rubbish. If SE repeatedly, and sometimes forcibly, prevents the community from imposing its collective will on the site, why on earth act surprised when all it can hear is tumbleweeds?
I've heard this claim repeatedly, and reject it outright. Unless this is your first time on the Internet, you know well that this isn't a battle to be won; it's an ongoing task, part and parcel of being a part of a public website. There is no holding back this sea; it is bigger than all of us. We can channel it, rise above it... or be crushed by it.
Which claim(s) do you reject? That the community has been told how to moderate, that HN was at the vanguard of a community pushback, or that if volunteers are overruled they will become disheartened?
The one I noted. That holding back rubbish is something to be encouraged, that discouraging it is counter-productive to improving the site. If you want to turn this into a battle between Defenders of the Realm and Crap-lovers, then you're blind to what's been happening here. How many people need to beat their brains out on the same stone wall before y'all start walking around it? It doesn't matter how many questions you shut down, how many people you drive away; there are countless more where they came from. You can either learn to handle them efficiently, or waste the last of your energy.
Shog, please, calm down. You may feel as you write above, and it looks as if you do, and passionately, too. But the community is entitled to have a viewpoint on this (this being the issue of quality of questions, and the desirable disposition of those perceived to be poor), too. I believe it has pretty clearly expressed it, over time. I know the powers that be don't like what the community says, but it's a legitimate viewpoint, and discourse is unlikely to be improved by constant unilateral emotive denial. We desire to handle these things efficiently, we disagree about how.
6:43 AM
@Mad, I've been doing this for a lot of years. I'm not telling you these things because I'm passionate about them; I'm telling you because I've watched the same sad little play a hundred times and it always ends the same way: the old die out from exhaustion and are replaced, their efforts come to naught. If you don't believe it, then ignore me; the evidence is right in front of you whenever you're willing to see it.
Shog, me too. I don't question your experience, but I do question why the powers that be seem to question everyone else's (and their motivation). All things die. You are right to note that. You may not be right in using that observation to justify your particular theory of why they die. We might have other explanations for why a community is dying (as you claim this one is); observing that a phenomenon is happening does not prove one hypothetical explanation of that phenomenon over another.
Please understand, @Mad - I'm not trying to win some rhetorical argument here. I've seen which communities function and which ones fail, within the context of this particular system - all I'm suggesting is that this one has been trying the same strategies for as long as I've known it, with the same results; if you're not happy with those results, then perhaps it's time to learn from the examples of the others. Whether this community lives or dies remains to be seen - but there's an awful lot of hand-wringing about it, yet seemingly an unwillingness to try something different.
That is a pretty fair point. But we also would like you to try something different - actually honouring the promise that "We don’t run this site. The community does.". It's easy to honour that when all goes well; there is then nothing in contention. It's what you do when things aren't seen as going well that says whether or not it's worth the screen space on which it's written.
@MadHatter it got buried, perhaps... but this was the intended point of my answer. The community needs to be running the site. Not the moderators, not SE, not a handful of people in chat...
Y'all disagree with "the SE opinion"? Then you will win out. No one's going to sit here all day overruling you.
But this has to be a community decision, discussed put into action by the folks actually using the site.
A: Individual community preferences vs. SE network policy: who wins?

Shog9 Anecdotal examples are nice and all, but here's the real question: to what extent can individual communities/sites override network policies? To what extend should they be able to do so? Well, they can override them to a fairly large extent, because the entire system is designed around commu...

7:00 AM
Morning, shog. Please bear with me, I have a recently-partially-paralysed arm and am typing more slowly - and erratically - than normal.
But one way the community expresses opinions is through mod elections. Arguasbly, this is a more involved statement of community ethos than anything else that happens on the site. We pretty clearly expressed a view at that time. How was that not "a community decision, discussed put into action by the folks actually using the site"?
8 hours later…
3:21 PM
@MadHatter no worries; the big advantage of chat is that it doesn't need to be real-time.
@MadHatter elections are fun; elections are important. But one vote every year or so, no matter how well considered, isn't a very strong statement. What matters is what folks do on the site every day.
1 hour later…
4:21 PM
That is certainly one way of looking at it. But in terms of a clear statement of community principles, the mod elections are hard to beat. Many people vote. There is much discussion. If at that time the community clearly endorses a single champion to go out and perform the functions the community has found desirable, then for all you believe this approach is destined to fail...
... the promise of the community runs this site surely requires you to let that community have its operations performed as it wishes, no? If you really mean the community runs this site as long as it does it in a way we think is sustainable and sensible in the light of our extensive experience running these things, then I submit that isn't the same promise, and you owe it to those volunteers who make (or break) the site to let them know what the ground rules really are.
5:09 PM
@MadHatter I understand the appeal. But it is horribly impractical. You get ~1200 characters to lay out your "platform", which most folks waste on irrelevant nonsense anyway, and voters have to make a decision based mostly on how well they think they know you (which usually turns out to be "not very well").
It's an extremely weak signal, so trying to amplify that into something that can be applied to the thousands upon thousands of decisions that must be made following the election just results in noise.
Meanwhile, there's a golden opportunity to discuss any issue at any time, with effectively no limits on how much can be said or who can participate.
@MadHatter when we say that the community runs the site, we mean exactly that. Not "via elected representatives".
SO started out with employees doing all of the moderation that couldn't be handled by individuals. We added elected moderators so that the work being done - often involving very delicate situations between people on the site - could be handled by folks who were there every day, who got that vote of trust by virtue of their presence.
It was never intended to be a system that superseded the original goal of community moderation. Nor does it work well as one; none of the tools, none of the systems for review and oversight, none of the policies are designed for that.
On some of the very smallest sites - 1-2 questions per day - it works out that appointed moderators handle most of the work, but this is done out of necessity and tends to be pretty rough on the folks involved once the site starts to grow.
On Stack Overflow at one point it worked that way because our systems hadn't scaled as fast as the site had grown. That was immensely painful for everyone involved, and spurred the development of the current review system.

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