I suppose the issue here is regarding the interpretation of the rule. After a long private discussion with Ron, I finally figured out that he interprets "off-topic" in a very different way. As I see it, there are two possible ways to interpret "off-topic":
- Off-topic for the site: Posts about things irrelevant to Physics, e.g. "Why is bamboo poisionous to humans but not to pandas?"
- Off-topic for the thread: Comments, answers and reviews that are not relevant to the topic of the thread/parent post.
I've been interpreting "off-topic" in both ways, i.e. both posts irrelevant to physics, and those irrelevant to the topic of the parent post, qualify as off-topic. However, Ron suggests that we restrict it to only the first way.
I've believed that interpreting it in both ways is necessary to maintain the quality of the site, but I'm now leaning more towards the neutral regarding this issue as far as punitive actions are concerned. After all, the second interpretation does leave too much room for discretion, which isn't exactly good for the long-term stability of the site.
Regarding the specific issue in hand, let me make this clear: warning Vladimir and deleting Vladimir are completely unconnected issues. Vladimir was warned for posting off-topic (in the latter sense of the word) content (he posted such comments some 49 times, but was warned only once). He was deleted because he requested deletion. He left the site not due to the warning, but because there are no anti-rudeness rules on the site.
There are three possible ways to meaningfully define the new policy:
- Posting off-topic content, in either sense of the word will get you banned with the fifth warning. OR
- Posting off-topic content, in the former sense of the word will get you banned with the fifth warning. In the latter sense of the word, the content will be moved to chat, or if it's worthless, deleted. OR
- Posting off-topic content in either sense of the word will get the content moved to chat, or if it's worthless or off-topic in the former sense of the word, deleted.
The current policy stands as (1) while what Ron suggests stands at (2). I'm for the most part neutral now, but I suppose that for the long-term stability of the site, my vote does, finally go to (2).