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In order to nominate one self for the community moderator elections one must provide a link to one's LaunchPad account in order to verify that one has signed the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. However some individuals such as myself may not want to link to their LP account because it contains provide details about oneself such as the real person's name and an email assigned to the GPG key.

So is it an absolutely must that a user has to provide their LP account (perhaps it is expected of a candidate to reveal their true identity or at least not try to hide it, but that hasn't been made clear so it seems as though the linking of the LP account is only about proving the signing the Ubuntu Code of Conduct) or could the user just send a link to a current moderator (or the current moderation team) so that they can verify that it is the case?

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    If you're squeamish about this, what will you do if you ever need to email a misbehaving user, who would be more likely to misuse that information than anybody here? (There are ways to send messages here, but still...) – muru Jun 7 '16 at 22:34
  • First, muru is a mod (on another SE site). And I email users all the time for non-serious contact. – Oli Jun 8 '16 at 6:49
  • @D.W. No, I didn't. I did because I have received such emails, I know mods here emails users when needed. (Why else do you think I wrote: "There are ways to send messages here, but still...") – muru Jun 8 '16 at 9:59
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    @muru, alright, then let me try responding a different way. (Sorry, I didn't realize you were a mod. My fault!) My answer is: the premise behind your question is faulty. There is never a need for a moderator to email a misbehaving user from your private email. The moderator can do all the contacting they need to do, through the site's built-in functionality (and that's arguably better than sending a private email -- or at least no worse; for instance, it ensures there is a record visible to other moderators and to the SE team). I don't know what the "but still..." is alluding to. – D.W. Jun 8 '16 at 18:17
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    I have to agree. I am also a mod and have never abused that privilege to send an email to a user's private email. In fact, I would consider it completely out of line to do so. Emails are private information, if a mod needs to contact a user, they should do it on site or not at all. That way, there is both a respect of the user's privacy and proper oversight of the mod's actions by SE. If you ask a user's permission to email them, that's slightly better, but without permission, it seems very wrong to me. – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 18:39
  • @muru see above. I can't think of any situation where a mod would need to contact a user via email – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 18:41
  • @terdon maybe so, but I know mods here do emails (not just the ones sent to me, but you can see chat for mentions of emails about the recent vote correction). What should be and what is seem to be rather different things here. – muru Jun 8 '16 at 18:43
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    @muru are you sure that was the mods and not SE? More importantly, mod messages are sent as emails. If a user received an email from a mod, there is no reason to think the mod used their personal account. – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 18:45
  • @terdon I have received emails independent of mod messages, and I see no reason why they should say "email" instead of message when talking about it. – muru Jun 8 '16 at 18:46
  • @muru, you publicly list your email address -- it's on your personal web page, which you link to from your Stack Exchange profile. Therefore, it's not a violation of confidentiality for a moderator to contact you by private email. However... if you hadn't listed your email address publicly, as terdon says, it'd be a bit dubious (if not a violation of the moderator agreement) for moderators to contact you by private email to that address. The moderator agreement restricts how we can use PII -- and that includes the email address registered with Stack Exchange. – D.W. Jun 8 '16 at 18:53
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    @muru I just mean that receiving a mod message also triggers an email. In any case, my main point is that I would consider it way out of line if a mod took advantage of the fact that my email is visible to them and chose to contact me without first asking for my permission. Emails are hidden and only shown to mods and, as such, fall under the PII clauses of the moderator agreement. I have shared mine with SE under the assumption that nobody will start spamming me. – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 18:55
  • @D.W. maybe so, but why not use a private chat room then? I'm just saying: You and terdon can argue with me all you want, but the fact remains that emails were sent. (And I have no particular objection to that: as you note, my email is publicly available - not only on my site, but on Github, and possibly other places as well.) – muru Jun 8 '16 at 18:55
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    Fair enough, but mine isn't and I try to keep it that way. And you're quite right, this is getting off topic and turning into an argument with you which was not my intent. I guess the only relevant point here is that there is never any real reason for a mod to use their private email to contact a user unless that mod chooses to do so. Therefore, your first comment to the OP is moot. – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 19:01
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You are absolutely right. Speaking prescriptively (rather than descriptively), you really should not need to publish your real-life identity as a prerequisite to serving as a moderator on a Stack Exchange site, or as a prerequisite to standing for election. There are many excellent Stack Exchange moderators who keep their Stack Exchange identity strictly separate from their real-life identity.

As a workaround, here's what I suggest. Create a single-purpose email address and a single-purpose Launchpad account, solely for this purpose. Maybe create paranoid.panda.askubuntu@gmail.com, or something like that. Link it to your Stack Exchange account. That will let you meet the requirement, without disclosing your real name or your real GPG key.

No, in an ideal world, you really shouldn't have to do this. Ideally, Stack Exchange ought to set things up so that isn't necessary. But in the interests of expediency, and as you can probably set up a one-time account much more quickly than the site can adopt new policies to support this... I'd recommend you do so, and call it a day.


(For what it's worth: I'm a moderator on a different Stack Exchange site, and I do something similar. I have a separate email account that I use only for Stack Exchange. This has never negatively affected my ability to do my job as a moderator. And yes, the email address I use with Stack Exchange is confidential and not published anywhere, and I don't share it with anyone. No, moderators never need to email users from their own personal email address. That's not a thing. In fact, I believe we're more or less discouraged from sending email in this way, for multiple reasons.)

  • Note that things are a bit different on Ask Ubuntu because we are part of the larger Ubuntu community too, not just Stack Exchange. Hence the requirement of a link to your launchpad profile. – Seth Jun 8 '16 at 14:52
  • @seth hence the requirement for signing the code of conduct, OK. However, the requirement for linking—or having—a launchpad account seems over the top. – terdon Jun 8 '16 at 18:44
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    @terdon Having a launchpad account is the only way to sign. Launchpad is used for pretty much everything ubuntu. Linking is the only easy way to verify that you've signed as well. – Seth Jun 8 '16 at 18:46

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