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  Should questions/answers be hidden on meta?

+ 0 like - 2 dislike

One of the principles of community moderation agreed upon at the founding of the site was that meta was a place where community discussions could develop, and consensus be built up. Toward that end, there was no policy regarding "off-topic" or "low level" regarding meta-posts, just the usual stuff of no spam, no duplication, and no gibberish.

One of the most important things was that any disaffected user would be free to discuss their problems on meta without any censorship. This is invisible from the main site, and it is important for fixing any political problems that come up with overzealous moderation.

But in recent days, a user named "VK" has come here to complain about the treatment of user Vladimir Kalitvianski. These questions/answers have been deleted based on the (preposterous) claim that VK is not actually Vladimir Kalitvianski complaining about his treatment, but a user impersonating Vladimir Kalitvianski making malicious posts.

If anyone believed this preposterous idea, I assure them that I have spoken to Vladimir Kalitvianski on facebook, I know his account, and he has told me he is VK, something that should go without saying, because come on!

Since meta was supposed to be entirely free to criticize current policy and moderator action, I don't see the reason for the close votes and delete votes on meta questions and answers. The answers, no matter how ridiculous and off-topic seeming to moderators, are just preserved to make sure the community is free to change its moderation policies when they are not working, without silencing anyone who is unpopular and affected by these moderation policies.

What is the policy regarding meta? Is it going to be completely open as originally agreed? Or did the policy change at some point?

asked Jan 25, 2015 in Conflict Resolution by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Apr 2, 2015 by dimension10

"It was agreed upon..." - by whom? I don't remember any such discussion.

Oh, how quickly you forget.
@RonMaimon Please post a link to the relevant discussion or page.
You found it--- it's still part of the FAQ--- users may challenge moderator actions on meta etc etc., and obviously these discussions should not get deleted by the same moderators that took the action. The current comment, however, was interpreted differently by you, not as criticism of moderation, but as a request for new reviews of scientific papers, something which I suppose is indeed off topic. I wouldn't have interpreted it this way, but it's a reasonable interpretation, and closing in this case is appropriate, I suppose.

2 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

Regarding the specific issue

The questions and answers that were closed and deleted respectively through the community moderation threads were not about "criticising moderator actions".

The basic content of the posts were "I challenge you to prove I'm a crackpot.". However, no moderator actions were taken because he was a "crackpot", in fact he requested deletion himself, and the one single warning he got, that is now retracted, was in accordance with an old (now ammended) policy about posting off-topic comments.

To be honest, I may have called him a "crackpot" outside PhysicsOverflow, or in private discussions with other moderators, but does that really matter? I don't really remember calling him a crackpot on PhysicsOverflow in public. I apologise if I did. Whatever it is, calling someone a "crackpot" is not a moderator action as your question seems to imply. 

Regarding the hiding of the meta posts

The first answer was posted on a thread entitled "Should moderators be allowed to delete posts?". There is no way that an answer saying "Prove that I'm a crackpot!" is an on-topic answer for a question about "Should moderators be allowed to delete posts?". Thus, the answer was hidden. However, the answer was reshown by you later, so since the hiding appeared controversial, and I voted to delete it instead (I had initially thought that obviously off-topic, on the verge of spam, answers can be deleted uncontroversially). The vote to delete passed with three votes for and none against, and the post was hidden.   

Then (after the first deletion, but before the first undeletion), "VK" posted a question with the same content on meta. The question was off-topic for meta too, since meta is for discussion about the site, not about specific users' characters. Had the question been about a specific moderator action, it would have been fine. I voted to close it, and the vote to close went through in 23 minutes (or something like that) so the question was closed.

After this, "VK" again posted the same answer on the same thread saying "dimension10 this is on-topic so don't delete" or something to that effect. This was also before the undeletion of the first answer. I deleted it as a duplicate of a deleted answer.

Now again, before the undeletion of the first answer, the anonymous user "VK" posted a meta question with exactly the same content. I deleted it as exact vertabim duplicate of a closed question.  

I don't see any violation here, as the post was clearly not about a moderator action, but the "name calling" he thinks he is a victim of.

Now replying to the question

In my opinion, yes, questions and answers should be hidden on meta if of-topic, by use of the community moderation threads. This is to ensure that meta is always for discussion about the site (including moderator actions, but not the character of specific users).

There was never any policy saying that you can post whatever you want on meta. Yes, moderators are meant to be less strict when imposing "off-topic" rules on meta, but they still do apply to meta.

answered Jan 25, 2015 by dimension10 (1,955 points) [ revision history ]
perhaps if the question were rephrase to "is it proper for moderators to make the justification for deletion of comments 'user is a crackpot'". The context is the misuse of moderator power to delete comments and to treat users labelled a certain way differently than other users, singling them out for special harassment. This is a moderation issue. I agree it wasn't phrased in the optimal way, but it's not my place to judge, I didn't write it. Regarding the ability of users in bad standing to challenge administrative action against them, this was an agreed principle of the site. I guess all you can do is wait for the community consensus on what to do here.

@RonMaimon That was NOT the reason stated for any deletion or warning, real or imagined. Nobody used "user is a crackpot" as an excuse to delete, that's a plain lie. The post was clearly protesting against him being called a crackpot. You can't just interpret it differently to save the post. If you want the post to be kept, tell him to rephrase it. As of now, it just says "you called me a crackpot and I think this is a personal attack so I challenge you to justify it". This is not a moderator action, anybody can call anybody a crackpot, without moderator rights.

Also, as we just found from the other thread, "VK" was talking about a very old deletion, when the spam filter was active, and he already knows this from private discussions with me and public ones with polarkernel.

Edit: It seems there really was a deletion that I was unaware of. I apologise on behalf of the moderator who did so, and please be assured that such deletion will not occur again.

@Dimension10: You need to learn to read between the lines. When a person posts on meta saying "Am I a crackpot?" it's clearly a response to moderation which considers their postings crackpot. The request for a scientific rebuttal was out of place, but I don't judge how disliked users choose to express themselves. They are usually tone-deaf and generally rub people the wrong way, so I assume they will get on one's nerves automatically. That's normal for anyone with a new idea, and it's not an excuse for deletion. On the other hand, you can ask a person to rephrase the question.
+ 1 like - 2 dislike
Yes, posts can be hidden, closed, etc on meta too. Community moderation as well as the off-topic rule hold for the whole.site, in cluding all parts such as meta. This has been long time ago agrred on. Claims that there has been any community consensus which says somthing else are simply wrong.
answered Jan 25, 2015 by Dilaton (4,305 points) [ revision history ]
Most voted comments show all comments
@VK: There doesn't seem to be any need, as you are not giving the content of claimed erasures, and the log check revealed there are none. It's not you being a liar, more paranoid regarding the intention of the moderators. There is nothing specific to respond to.
@Dilaton: As to name calling, it is not my choice. We are grown up to keep our behavior civilized, not to unleash name calling. I really regret if conformak_gk left PO because of my behavior. @conformal_gk, please forgive me and be back. I got too carried away with flames, sorry!
@Dilaton: I agree with you, the name calling part may be removed, if not avoided. No problem from my part. I remember one of my comment partially "edited out" although it did not contain any name calling at all. It distorded my comment, though, and I was unhappy. It was in another thread and some while ago. P.S. Sorry, it became an answer instead of comment. I cannot convert it into comment. Do it for me, if possible.

@Dilaton: So you edited out this comment, and then didn't mention anything about it after a week of asking about comment deletion on meta? After a hundred comments by Dimension10 saying "no deletion happened"? And you did it in such a way that it would not appear on the delete logs? Is it possible that there is something wrong with that?

The comment was totally off-topic because it was not about physics. But if you are going to get rid of it, either hide it and all other content-free comments equally, or move it to chat and let them fight out their empty insult battles there, where nobody else has to look at it. Conformal_gk was bringing up other off topic nonsense on the same thread--- "reformulation" "consensus of experts", etc, none of that nonsense is about the question at hand (main question: "What would the universe look like with Higgs?", side question: "does the experimental data leaves any room for alternatives to the standard Higgs?".

Who cares about these nonsense comments? Nobody is going to cry tears over them. If the whole thread was moved to chat, leaving a link, and the off-topic comments hidden, everything would be ok. If you said "keep it on topic, the last 6 comments have nothing to do with the Higgs, and will get hidden", everyone would have been happy and the off-topic nonsense would be gone.

But the problem here is that the road taken was selective enforcement. That means deleting VK's subtly derogatory comments, and leaving in the explicitly derogatory comments of another user, so that VK just has to take insult after insult without being able to respond.

And then, when people brought it up, the procedure was to mislead all the other administrators about what happened on meta, leaving them to have to puzzle it out like Sherlock Holmes. Thanks D. Swell job.

Regarding conformal_gk not being seen anymore, that coincides with your administrative actions against VK also. I can't speak for conformal_gk, but if I was having an argument with someone saying silly things, and then I suddenly saw a moderator step in and remove their comments, I would say to myself "Who the heck is this moderator, and why does this person think they have the right to decide which side of a debate to delete? What if this person decides to delete me next?"

That's a hundred times more frightening than any individual misguided user, because this is the person in charge of the site, you can't really overrule this person as an ordinary user, and every answer adds to this person's sphere of control.

@RonMaimon I was unaware of this editing out, it was a mistake and will never happen again. I apologise, and will now edit all my comments in which I said that no deletion happened.

@VK Apologies about the erasing, I was unaware of it, and thought you were being dishonest.
Most recent comments show all comments
@RonMaimon It didn't work the second time you tried it, just after the first time, either, right? What had you used then? You could have clicked the delete button accidentally or something.
I just selected the text and hit the space bar, then saved it (perhaps silently, perhaps not). Then I scrolled down to see the comment, and it was gone. It's driving me nuts, because it never happened again!

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