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Public apology on a moderator decision

+ 1 like - 2 dislike
584 views

Dear PhysicsOverflow community,

This post serves as a public apology for a hasty decision on my part, which went against some of the core principles of PhysicsOverflow – community moderation, and user rights.

You may see from some recent meta discussions that I had made the blunder of actively editing out certain comments from a user’s comments for being “offensive”. PhysicsOverflow explicitly guarantees freedom from any political censorship, including the censorship of rudeness, and I recognise that my actions are a complete violation of this policy.

PhysicsOverflow grants a number of rights to its users, including that they have the final say on the content of their posts. As a comment edit history is not implemented yet, my actions are also a blatant violation of these fundamental rights of PhysicsOverflow users.

As I had edited out sections from comments, they did not qualify as deletions to be recorded as such in the event log. Please be assured that this was not deliberate.

My actions were made out of haste and panic, as I was afraid that the comments were repulsive to new users. However, I now realise that such actions of censorship are much more repulsive than any such comments.

Please be assured that I, or no other moderator, to the best of my knowledge will ever repeat such a mistake again.

I recognise my blunder as a blatant violation of the very principles of PhysicsOverflow, and a terrible form of content censorship. I consider this the first official warning against my moderatorship, for having violated the principles of PhysicsOverflow. Two more, and I will be forced to step down from moderatorship. But be assured, that I will not leave any opportunity for even one more, as I will not violate the principles of PhysicsOverflow. I will openly cast a vote to delete on any comment discussion that I consider off-topic, and not unilaterally misuse my moderator powers. And I will certainly not delete a comment for being offensive again.

I apologise to the community and pledge to not go against the principle of community moderation, or to violate the fundamental user rights again.

asked Jan 26, 2015 in Conflict Resolution by Dilaton (4,295 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Jan 15, 2016 by Dilaton
Most voted comments show all comments
@VK, you really don't need to worry, since we have further settled the no-censorship policy, but be prepared that lots of you posts might get moved to chat, given the pattern of your posts.
@drake I initially was completely blinded by my panic to see that there was something wrong with what I had done while I then erranously thought it is the right thing. I refrained from saying anything because I felt anything I would say, would only make things worse for the site. When I did realise that it was a bad blunder, I was really just afraid of my guilt, and also the consequences (to PhysicsOverflow, not my power as Ron may claim, I only care about the success of the site and not about myself) - since my action was a really big blunder. It was an act of both cowardice and dishonesty, I shouldn't have done so, and am very sorry.
@Dilation I believe you are being honest now. Your apologizes to the forum are enough, I think, and honor you. You should perhaps consider apologizing to Vladimir Kalitvianski specifically, as he has been the target of your persecution and censorship, and to the moderation team, because you hide them crucial information.

I am sure that Dilaton really feels sorry about what he did, and I really think he has the intention of never exerting such censorship any more, but for the apologize to be effective, I would appreciate that he spends a couple of hours collecting the lost informacion of VK account and comments to the best extent possible (including whatever might be found in the internet wayback site). In that sense I think Ron is right, an apologize works well only when accompanied by restoring the damage that was done in the first place.

This site was founded by Dilaton himself together with Dimension10 and others, with the explicit intention of having a site where everybody could argue and discuss about high-level physics with no censorship. I don't know what has happened. Dilaton probably went too passionate, I am sure he will never do this again. But the damage should be undone. An apologize alone is only enough after you insult a person or something similar. If you steal something from someone, your apologize is right only if you restore whatever was stolen, together with your apology. If you delete information, it only makes sense that your apologize if you restore that information as well, up to the best extent.

I hope Dilaton does such research work and brings to life as much of the deleted information as possible. This and a direct apology to Vladimir would be a real way of undoing the damage to the site.

@VK I see, your username was in the "Declined users" plugin, as are all other deleted users (all self-requests), so that nobody uses the username again. I have removed it from the list now.
@RonMaimon I would agree with un-editing the comments, but as for returning the posts to the account, VK requested deletion himself, and only provided reasons after his request was completed. Maybe it would be possible for questions and answers, but simply not possible for comments.
Of course it's possible, it just might require manually entering the database.

1 Answer

+ 2 like - 2 dislike

Apologize to PO? You should first apologize to Vladimir Kalitvianski. He's not on PO now.

It's not called a blunder if you know it's wrong as you are doing it. It's also not a very credible apology if you are forced into it by being exposed first, it's a Nixonian Checkers speech. The issue is not only the comment deletion, which violated Vladimir's user rights. Another issue, more pressing for me, is that you didn't tell the other moderators about it, you knowingly misled us, and happily let us accuse Vladimir of lying when he brought it up. And then you let him leave the site over this, knowing what happened. And you continued to keep quiet, until I happened to figure it out. "Detective" wasn't part of the job description, you know.

You also took the time to smear me a ton in private emails as I was looking into this, not like I cared, except I figured you must have done something wrong. You asked me to go away and stop moderating, and so on and so on. You still bring up my scientific criticism of Marco Frasca as if it were a personal attack, or a dirty trick. I only bluntly pointed out Frasca's scientific mistakes, and when he didn't get it, I made too-rude comments on his wall in frustration.

You also have the cojones to introduce a novelty: "three strikes" for moderators.

I consider this the first official warning against my moderatorship, for having violated the principles of PhysicsOverflow. Two more, and I will be forced to step down from moderatorship

How about that? You get to lie to the moderators twice more. That sounds like fun. Do you realize what a collossal waste of time this was? Do you think people have patience for two more? Also, there's no guarantee that the next time won't be super subtle. It's not like anyone noticed anything was wrong until I started cursing about it.

What did we say about official warnings? There is no need for them, not even against yourself. We don't have a "three strikes" policy for moderators, we never made policy about moderation problems, besides being allowed to discuss it openly on meta. No moderator has ever really been accused of any deliberate wrongdoing before. I think the community decides whether to accept a moderator, based on all available information. That voting community must include Vladimir Kalitvianski, by the way.

The question is how to prevent this kind of nonsense in the future. I think one problem here is anonymity. I see no need for anonymous moderatorship. It helps prevent problems if your real name and reputation is at stake, just like everyone else's.

answered Jan 26, 2015 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]
edited Jan 31, 2015 by Ron Maimon
Most voted comments show all comments

He wasn't forced into being "exposed" - he did admit it himself, that he had edited out sections of a comment.

What do you mean exactly, @dimension10?

@RonMaimon The spam filter and bugs issue was different, regarding the old deletions; that was really caused by the weird spam filter (which is now disabled). By the way, as for "go away and stop moderating", that was started by you, actually.

@physicsnewbie It is still true, and it is also true that the wall messages were deleted by Vladimir himself, as nobody else has the ability to delete wall messages.
@dimension10: But polarkernel said it was not due to my low reputation! Where does "low reputation" come from in your explanation?
@VK yes, I was confused then, and conflated some different, separate issues in the same email. It was the stupid automatic spam filter, not the negative reputation as I had claimed.
@dimension10: my highly negative reputation (thanks!) was preventing me from commenting, but I found a backdoor and informed polarkernel about it. Later on I was allowed to leave comments.
Most recent comments show all comments

@Dimension10: How do you know it was "really" a spam filter? Please be a little less gullible--- it is clear that the comment erasures have been going on for months, VK has complained about it since the beginning of time. I don't believe in any spam filter, sorry. (Edit: there seems to have been a spam message which included the word "reformulation", now lost)

@RonMaimon Well I believe polarkernel and these deletions were happening instantly throughout all time zones.

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