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Would it be beneficial to have a broadly representative set of perspectives on Christianity amongst our diamond mods?

If so, is it appropriate to ask current and prospective moderators what perspective(s) best match their views on Christianity?

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    Although it's possible to run in the election with only a modicum of reputation in all likely hood the race will come down to a handful of names that have been active on the site enough that folks voting recognize their names. As such there will be an open book on what their personal views are anyway. But I thoroughly agree with Lee that making it an explicit issue in the election would not be constructive. It would backfire and you wouldn't end up with the best people for the job if you focus on that directly. – Caleb Jan 15 '17 at 21:30
  • @Caleb Just like regular politics. Voting based on the candidates' religious beliefs is ineffective in placing a vote on the most qualified. – 3961 Jan 17 '17 at 1:02
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Human nature being what it is, asking prospective mods their religious views would more likely, in my view, lead to people voting for mods who agree with their views and not for those who don't. It would bring "popularity contest" voting into the mod election. Although having a diversity of perspectives within the mod team is a good thing, I doubt this is the best way to achieve it.

Also, it's more important to have mods who are fair, thoughtful, and dedicated to the site than it is to have mods who represent various viewpoints. Aptitude for the position should be the primary factor in people's minds as they vote.

Achieving diversity of perspective on the mod team is probably best achieved in the process of cultivating candidates who will run for the position rather than in having them declare their religious perspectives at the time of the mod election.

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    This is a great and well thought out answer. I definitely think that, ceteris paribus, it is better to have a more theologically diverse team than not to. But I also think you're right that the best way to accomplish that is by helping develop a diverse group of users. – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Jan 15 '17 at 19:27
  • This answer earns a 9.9 score from the Russian Judge. Stuck the landing. (And Mr Bultitude's last point in comments supplies the last 0.1 needed). – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 18:03
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Systemic biases are hard to tackle, and a diversity of personal convictions among the mods would, with all else being equal, most likely help the community as a whole be aware of minority positions and the injustices they face.

But not all is equal, and it would be unwise to appoint mods here as measures of affirmative action. We don't have the luxury of many equally qualified mod candidates from every kind of Christian background.

  • This site is small, with only about 30 users who gain 100 rep per month, several of who are already mods (or were and don't have the time to be mods again), and some are inactive users who still get lots of rep for old posts
  • Being an English language site, on a technological network means that the site is heavily biased towards English speaking countries, and particularly the US, though see our site demographics
  • This means we're biased towards protestantism and away from Catholicism and Orthodoxy. We're also biased towards younger users and those with an analytical approach to their faith, which I think likely biases us towards evangelicalism rather than "mainline" protestantism, whose churches are often older and sometimes emphasise doctrine less.
  • Although we aim for an academic approach, to my knowledge we have few professional academics in Christian fields here. Were that number to increase we would likely level out some of these imbalances, though the nature of their career might mean they would not have the time to be mods.
  • Our restrictions against pastoral care and truth questions cut out the interests of a lot of Christians - the person who loves this site despite our refusal to allow some of the most important questions a Christian will face is a rare breed.

What size our pool of potential mods would have to grow to in order for us to consider affirmative action is a question I can't answer.

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  • Being Christian has a strong core of experiential components, and an overanalytical approach to the faith can be counterproductive. This I have learned the hard way myself, in terms of the head/heart balance. We risk alienating a large potential audience if we lean ever harder to head than heart. I realize the constraints of how SE sites are meant to operate, which already self selects out a portion of potential contributors. I do agree that the affirmative action approach is loaded with peril. – KorvinStarmast Jan 22 '17 at 1:37
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If the moderation team understands, adheres to, and enforces the site guidelines, then the theological viewpoints of the moderators is irrelevant. If a moderator allows his or her theological beliefs to dictate how they act on the site, then they have no business being a moderator on this site, period.

So far, I believe you've had that from the team. Here's to hoping that continues.

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  • This is true and should be considered very carefully when electing moderators. You don't want a moderator that handles things differently depending on the theological bent of the content. You do want moderators who are savvy enough to separate themselves from the viewpoints to weigh only issues that are in scope for moderation. – Caleb Jan 16 '17 at 14:56
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    My only counterpoint is that it is useful to have moderators from multiple backgrounds because of perceived bias even if there isn't. For example we've had Mason deal with some LDS posters who were accusing us of partiality where he could say "I am a Mormon so obviously I'm not biased against them but you're still breaking the site rules". It's been a rare problem in the last few years but sometimes people's perception of moderator actions is different even if the action would have been the same had another moderator done it. – Caleb Jan 16 '17 at 14:56
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    I'd also give the counterpoint that people can be biased in subtle ways without realizing it. Anyone who is more than "subtly" biased shouldn't be a moderator, but a diversity of perspectives can help to check the subtle bias that is present. Please note that I'm not saying anyone currently moderating is biased, just that it's possible for anyone (including moderators) to be in spite of their best intentions. – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Jan 18 '17 at 17:24
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I wouldn't want to say something utterly unpopular here. I stuck my foot in my mouth elsewhere and my only hope for the election is that most users don't read Chat or Meta.

I lost in the first election by a little bit against the 4 pro-tem mods appointed by SE, the second election I sat out because I thought David was 2/3rds Catholic to begin with and would make a great mod. This time around, I feel a bit zealous about giving it a good shot - and helping this site grow its scholarly Catholic audience (or at least make it a good better reference for Catechists).

If there is a problem, it's a language problem. Right now, we need a mod who.speaks Catholic; Not for the catholic church. But one who knows what ordinary and common mean, for instance.


To Bruised Reed's point, I feel as though I have tried a few times to explain the Catholic viewpoint here. The lack of sola scriptura means we've got a lot more cut and dry . I think a Catholic mod would be taken a bit more seriously; and would be more sympathetic to those who don't necessarily want to take their case to meta.

Either way, I don't mind raising awareness, I'm glad I got a few questions reopened today and maybe I'll just stick around this time.

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    Thanks for your contribution here. Perhaps you can elaborate on why this its particularly desirable to have these qualities in a Mod rather than by acheiving your objective through further refinement of the site standards (especially in regard to Catholic questions) on Meta. I think Caleb's comments on the undesirability of unilateral moderative action are something you don't really appear to be engaging with. – bruised reed Jan 22 '17 at 0:55
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    Your complaint is not that we need catholic moderators. We need more catholic experts. I think I may agree. I find the highly nuanced catholic questions some of the most interesting, but the answers too often lacking like nuance. – 3961 Jan 22 '17 at 4:47
  • @bruised reed yeah, because I'd never do it as moderator. I don't believe id be able to get away with it either. – Peter Turner Jan 22 '17 at 6:33
  • If you wouldn't do it why are you going around talking like you would? – Caleb Jan 22 '17 at 8:13
  • @caleb as mod, after you modify a question to bring it in line with what you know is in scope (and there was nothing out of scope, but it was unfocused) why would do you need to wait for the community to reopen the post? Don't they trust you with what is appropriate as well as what is inappropriate? – Peter Turner Jan 22 '17 at 14:31

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