Moderator Elections

Discussion of anything and everything relating to chess playing software and machines.

Moderators: hgm, Rebel, chrisw

smatovic
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Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

As soon as:

- all new forum issues are fixed
- the Linux sever was hardened
- talkchess.com survived one or two month in regard of DDoS attacks

we are free to hold moderator elections IMO.

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Srdja
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hgm
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

And now that we are on our own, rather than owned, we might want to decide how we want to set up a democratic organization with respect to other key positions in running the forum. We have:

* A Founder Group (Ed, Chris and HGM).
* The owner of the talkchess.com domain (currrently the CSVN)
* A 'site owner', who has the contract with the provides for supplying the VPS we are running on (currently HGM).
* Webmasters, who have root access to the server machine.
* Forum admins, who can reconfigure the forum, make backups, appoint moderators, approve registrations...
* Moderators, who can edit / move / delete other people's postings.
* Registered members.

We will need some 'separation of powers' to minimize the chances that a person gone rogue could hijack or destroy the forum. We will also have to decide who is to take orders from who, who makes which decisions, who appoints who and by which method.

The trustworthiness of the CSVN seems above suspicion, and there furthermore is a legal contract between them and the FG.

That there is a single site owner is a vulnerability, because whoever that person is, he would have the power to 'pull the plug', and erase all info on the VPS, or do with it whatever he pleases. Unfortunately that setup is forced on us, as the provider accepts only a single legal entity as its client. And even if there would be more, it would just mean that more people have the power to destroy the forum, not that there is more power to prevent that. The security against data loss must come from other people being in possession of recent backups. And it would be simplest if that is also the person in charge of making regular backups to guard against other forms of data loss (ransomware...)

The technical ranking of powers is that the forum admin can appoint and impeach moderators, while webmasters can change the status of anyone at will, by directly accessing the forum database.
smatovic
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

Yes, some kind of "separation of powers", if one individual goes rogue...

from an technical point of view, it makes sense that the CSVN and all members of
the Founders Group get regular (quarterly?) backups of web-files + database.

And you can divide the role of webmaster further into sys-admin with root access
to the server, and web-admin, with access to the web-files and database only.

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Srdja
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Rebel
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by Rebel »

smatovic wrote: Mon Mar 04, 2024 3:55 am Yes, some kind of "separation of powers", if one individual goes rogue...

from an technical point of view, it makes sense that the CSVN and all members of
the Founders Group get regular (quarterly?) backups of web-files + database.


And you can divide the role of webmaster further into sys-admin with root access
to the server, and web-admin, with access to the web-files and database only.

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Srdja
The idea is to make a daily backup of the database, the most important part we have. Could / Should be the job of the FG, An idea would be that the FG members weekly rotate and so the database is safe on 3 different PC's. The CSVN should not be bothered with that.
90% of coding is debugging, the other 10% is writing bugs.
smatovic
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

Making backups daily on the server is no issue, cron-jobs, compressed export of database as .gz is currently 403MB, web-files as .gz are 64MB, up to you founders, if want to download daily from server.

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Srdja
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hgm
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

How about organizing the forum as a 'representative democracy':

Moderators will be elected in teams of three, and are in charge of running the forum according to an 'extended charter', which consists of the basic charter augmented with the policy statement on which the team was elected (which can detail issues left open in the basic charter, but not overrule the latter). The chief admin performs tasks requested by (a majority of) the moderators that the forum software does not allow them to perform themselves, in so far he does not judge these requests to be in violation of the extended charter. (Example: the basic charter could specify forum sections cannot be added or deleted without the intention of doing this being declared in the policy statement, and endorsed by the members through voting for the team with this policy.)

If the disagreement between the admin and the moderator team for implementing a request cannot be resolved, it will be brought before the members, in the form of new elections. The sitting moderator team can then run again, with replacement of the admin as part of their policy statement, if they bring up another candidate willing to take over that position.

After the term of the sitting moderation team expires, there will be new elections if there are alternative candidates, otherwise the team automatically gets another term.

The founder group acts as overseers to make sure everyone involved abides by these rules, and act as an appeal board, but otherwise have a passive role.
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mclane
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by mclane »

Its not a good idea to allow the TCadmin to do something that is not in the will of the majority of the moderators representing the will of the members.

We had a situation in CCC when the forum admin decided that he is NOT following the orders of the Moderators and this nearly destroyed the whole forum.

An admin is a technical person in charge for the working of the forum.

But he has no mandat to act against the will of the moderators or the wish of the members represented by the moderators.

This should IMO be guaranteed in the new forum.
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smatovic
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

...maybe the TCAdmin must be separated from the sys-admin and web-admin roles, and all members of the Founder Group act as backup for all roles present, and CSVN acts as backup for the founders group.

***edit***
nostalgia ;)

Explaination of the TCadmin account
forum/viewtopic.php?p=156591#p156591

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hgm
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

mclane wrote: Mon Mar 04, 2024 2:16 pm Its not a good idea to allow the TCadmin to do something that is not in the will of the majority of the moderators representing the will of the members.
Actually I think it is a very good idea to do exactly that. Moderators can go rogue too. That two moderators want something, in no way means it is a democratic decision. The majority of the members might want something completely different. If two of the moderators instruct the admin to erase the database, I would not want the admin to slavishly obey that order. Admins should be bound to abide by the charter just as much as anyone else.

Having the admin automatically grant every technical wish of the moderators would effectively all-powerful dictators that care not bound to any rules, for the duration of their term.

The way I proposed it would delegate the decision whether the moderators or the admin is at fault to the members, thus guaranteeing maximally democratic rule, without the possibility for a coup.

And there is little danger, because the new situation is incomparable to the old one. The admin is not nearly the most powerful person now, like he was when he was appointed by a desinterested board owner. There are several levels of technical power above him, including a Founder Group consisting of active forum members.
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mclane
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Re: Moderator Elections

Post by mclane »

Your words and your opinion is IMO wrong. What if the TCadmin is blocking someone’s membership without telling the moderators.
E.g. IF they find out, he still can say: „oh there are technical reasons for it.“ Or say: „oh we have actually problems with people from poland because of some DDoS attacks from there“ or „saying oh we have problems with people using hotmail accounts“ , by that creating a different force, kind of supermoderator the other moderators cannot outvote.

You claim the TCAdmin is a kind of neutral position, protecting the „machinery“. But what if this is not the case. What if the TCAdmin has decided that the forum belings to himself and that the moderators and democracy is destroying his business idea ?!

Not that i have to invent those things. They happened before. We HAD the situation where the TCADMIN overruled decisions of a MAJORITY of moderators. And it was not such a trivial decision like deleting the whole database.

Reason was TCADMIN began to talk in the forum about topics like a normal member, moderating the forum AND also have all the power of a Supermoderator or owner.

And then ?

You claim : oh the TCADMIN will then tell the members and ask them.


Problem is: if he is NOT behaving that nice and has his own interests in doing the business.


Then we have exactly the same situation we had in Talkchess.

Democratically elected moderators, suddenly outruled by an admin who says NO.


You say then there are elections. But TCAdmin says: oh sorry, last update of forum software broke the server software and elections are not possible in the moment. Sorry for that.

And voila. Tcadmin took over.


IMO if you have a majority of moderators who had been elected before by the members in a secret election,
asking the admin to do X, the admin has no democratical right to do NOT X because he NEVER had a mandat by the members.

There must be a mechanism that the new forum cannot be taken over by ONE single person as it has been done before.
What seems like a fairy tale today may be reality tomorrow.
Here we have a fairy tale of the day after tomorrow....