Moderator Elections

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

Moderators: hgm, Rebel, chrisw

User avatar
hgm
Posts: 27898
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am
Location: Amsterdam
Full name: H G Muller

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

mclane wrote: Mon Mar 04, 2024 5:21 pm 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.
Seems to me the tcAdmin can still do all of that even when you make the rule that he should unconditionally obey the moderators. Making rules can never prevent people from violating those. Unless the only rule is that everyone can always do whatever pleases him...

And my guess is that a cheating / lying tcAdmin would easily been found out. Refused registrants would complain by approaching other members with known e-mail addresses; and it is not like all TalkChess members are completely computer-illiterate, and would believe false excuses.
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.


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.
Seems you are mixing up the issue of how the forum should be run if everyone does his duty, and how to deal with malicious persons in key positions. We are talking about the former here.

Rogue admins are easily dealt with. You just revoke their admin rights. And if they erased the forum (which an admin can do any time he wants...), just reinstall a recent backup to minimize the loss. This is the only recourse we have, and the measures we have to take for limiting the damage have to be taken anyway for ameliorating the consequences of attacks from the outside. (Such as hacking of the site through ransomware.)
smatovic
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Full name: Srdja Matovic

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

mclane wrote: Mon Mar 04, 2024 5:21 pm [...]
There must be a mechanism that the new forum cannot be taken over by ONE single person as it has been done before.
What HGM mentioned, to escalate things to the Founder Group, can work in both directions, TCAdmin can call in the FG in case Moderators go rogue, Moderators can call in FG if TCAdmin goes rogue, "separation of powers" does not mean that there is no power at all, or alike.

--
Srdja
User avatar
hgm
Posts: 27898
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am
Location: Amsterdam
Full name: H G Muller

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

Fact of life is that a forum admin can completely erase the forum.
A webmaster can completely erase the forum.
The site owner can make the entire server disappear by terminating the subscription.
Even a single moderator can completely erase the forum, even though it would be a lot of work for him (deleting postings permanently, one by one).

There doesn't exist a technical method for preventing any of that. We will have to live with the fact that the forum can be destroyed any time, no matter what we specify in the charter. It is like quarreling about human rights; when Putin decides to nuke you, you would still be dead.

The best we can do is make sure we can recover from such an event. And that is not so difficult that there has to be any discussion about it. Just make sure that at all times many recent backups are floating around in many different places.
User avatar
hgm
Posts: 27898
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am
Location: Amsterdam
Full name: H G Muller

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

We will also have to discuss about the technical aspects of the election process itself. There is little control over who can register as a member (we don't ask for copies of an official ID), so it would be very easy for cheating members to create 'sock puppet accounts' under a false name for increasing their voting weight. It therefore makes sense to limit voting to those with a genuine posting history, or with some minimum mebership duration. The forum poll mechanism does not support that. It also isn't completely safe; a web-admin with direct access to the database can change the number of votes at will.

The only method I can think of to make the result of an election verifiable by the voters, and still guarantee anonymity is this:

Voters publicly announce that they are going to vote, which would then enable them to deposit a vote + secretly chosen key in the ballot box. The list of votes+keys is published after the election, but because it is not known which key was chosen by which voter (other than temselves) the voting is still fully anonymous. Voters can verify if the vote that is listed with their key is correctly represented. Everyone can verify that the total number of votes equals the number of people in the public list of voters. So votes cannot be altered, deleted or added, without this being detectable.

It doesn't guard against voters that maliciously would want to cast doubt on the validity of the election by falsely claiming their key is not in the list, or has the wrong vote associated with it. I guess one can always make such claims, but in a case where the results are verifiable such a claim would have credibility. This seems to be an intrinsic problem caused by verifiability. I guess that the only defense against this is that small-scale tampering with election results has no effect, and that an overwhelming majority of the voters is honest. To alter an election result would in general cause many more accusations of tampering than could be expected through deliberate lying of voters. This, and the idea that even a dishonest web-admin would not want to tarnish his reputation for no benefit, makes it justifiable to simply ignore such claims if there aren't enough to overturn the election result.
smatovic
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Full name: Srdja Matovic

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

hgm wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2024 9:25 am ...or with some minimum mebership duration...
Maybe look up manually each member duration of voters? I say 3 months.

--
Srdja
User avatar
hgm
Posts: 27898
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am
Location: Amsterdam
Full name: H G Muller

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

The forum would display the date of registration next to the posting. So if all those who want to vote post this intention in an election thread, it would not be much work to check all these dates. Especially is people that are not eligible to vote would be decent enough to not poste the intention to do so.
smatovic
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Full name: Srdja Matovic

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

hgm wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2024 11:26 am The forum would display the date of registration next to the posting. So if all those who want to vote post this intention in an election thread, it would not be much work to check all these dates. Especially is people that are not eligible to vote would be decent enough to not poste the intention to do so.
Hmmm, I prefer anonymous votes...but you moderators have to carry the load, so...

--
Srdja
smatovic
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Full name: Srdja Matovic

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

smatovic wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2024 11:57 am Hmmm, I prefer anonymous votes...but you moderators have to carry the load, so...
Will say, secret votes.

--
Srdja
User avatar
hgm
Posts: 27898
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am
Location: Amsterdam
Full name: H G Muller

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by hgm »

smatovic wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2024 11:57 amHmmm, I prefer anonymous votes...but you moderators have to carry the load, so...
Sure, they don't have to post how they vote. Just that they intend to vote. The names of those that qualify will then be put on a list, and people on that list will then be allowed to vote secretly.
smatovic
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:18 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Full name: Srdja Matovic

Re: Moderator Elections

Post by smatovic »

To know who gives a vote and who not is not anonymous IMO.

--
Srdja