On this question Was it harder for Syrian Christians to immigrate to the US than Muslims? , comments were as shown below:

While the question is on topic, it seems of little importance. – Sklivvz♦ 30 mins ago

Here's an example claim that contains more details. Note: it's an opinion piece, not factual news: The U.S. Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees from Syria – Andrew Grimm 22 mins ago 1 up voted

@Sklivvz while the alleged situation is very likely to change, possibly making it moot, I'd say that such a claim will make any present or future policy directions that discriminate in the opposite direction seem more justifiable. I'd say that that makes it fairly important. – Andrew Grimm 19 mins ago

I was justifying my downvote, I don't think that an appeal to consequences change the usefulness of having a question. If this claim has consequences then it becomes important. Right now, it's just noise. – Sklivvz♦ 5 mins ago

Why are you OP flagging my comments which are about your post, not politics, as political? please don't abuse the flagging system to make a point. – Sklivvz♦ 1 min ago

I flagged Sklivvz's comments as political because it was my opinion that they were political. I was not trying to 'make a point' and am not clear what that point would even be. Choosing to flag comments rather than responding in kind does not seem like "abusing the flagging system" to me. I thought that was what the flagging system was for.

Why (in my opinion) this question is not "of little importance": To me, religious discrimination is an important human rights issue. Where it's about refugees - so potentially a question of life and death - even more so. Particularly to the refugees themselves. In the context of US politics the separation of church and state as a constitutional principle is also quite relevant (eg).

As a statement made by the President of the United States in the context of an executive order promising to discriminate on religious grounds against certain groups of refugees, this did seem important to me.

I appreciate that other people may have a different view and didn't want to turn the comment section into a debate on that, so I resisted the urge to post a comment saying so, and instead flagged the comments as we've been asked to do ("If you see comments that are not constructive in helping explain or solve the question, please continue to flag them").

Now I'm being attacked by a mod for "abusing the flagging system". Other mods, please could you politely ask Sklivvz to refrain from doing this please. I'm feeling unfairly singled-out by Sklivvz's heavy modding of and comments-criticism of a number of my recent posts, which seem political to me in that they dismiss on-topic claims as unimportant (as in this case).

I'd suggest that mods in future refrain from dealing with flags on their own posts, and leave them for a different mod to judge the merits of.

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    Related question: meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3858/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 10:13
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    Related chat messages: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/35061812#35061812
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:22
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    What do you mean by "flagged as political"? Did you do a custom mod flag? Those flags take more work to resolve and consequently you should make it clear what you want a mod to do when you use them. If you think the comment is non-constructive criticism that should be deleted, I think the appropriate flag to use would be "not constructive" or if you did resort to a mod flag, write something more explicit than "political" like "I think this criticism is not constructive since I cannot change people's opinions about this matter's importance; could a mod other than Sklivvz please review this?"
    – paradisi
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 13:17
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    @sumelic the flag was "Political opinion - per meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3858/…", my comment it refers to is "While the question is on topic, it seems of little importance."
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 14:50
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    @sumelic I don't think your example quote for a custom flag is useful. Criticism on the usefulness of the question legitimate, whether valid or not. The appropriate response to Sklivvz's criticism (assuming he said it clearly in the first place) would be a comment attempting to invalidate the criticism. This is all a meta post over miscommunication and misunderstanding.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 23:10
  • Other SEs are under the impression that this SE has become a hotbed for liberal tin-foil hat wearing and cheerleading. And they aren't exactly wrong in that.
    – user36356
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


I'd suggest that mods in future refrain from dealing with flags on their own posts, and leave them for a different mod to judge the merits of.

That's our typical practice - I don't know if it is formally written as a policy anywhere, but it is one of those obvious integrity issues. I just handled them. (Sorry for the delay. I've recently returned from a short trip.)

I know enough about Sklivvz's personal politics to know not to read his comment as an anti-immigration political message on first reading. Maybe this coloured my interpretation, and I didn't notice how it could be construed by someone without that knowledge. The discussion after that seemed to be largely misunderstandings.

Ultimately, I decided that I didn't need to take a side here. These were only comments. Comments are second-class citizens, and highly disposable, even the ones written by a mod. If they are causing arguments and confusion, the site is better without them, and I deleted them.

The big picture controversy, that Sklivvz was hinting at, remains:

Does the value of tightly policing the claims of politicians to encourage a skeptical populace and evidence-based policy outweigh the desire to avoid pedantry and being distracted in the weeds, to tackle the most important issues?

This is probably best handled in a separate meta-question. I am getting off-topic here, but while I am thinking about it: Our very recent questions have definitely been leaning strongly toward focusing on the small trees, and ignoring the wood behind them. I don't have a good solution here, but we may need to find an answer to this question.


There is nothing political in my comment. A criticism of your post, or your flags, is not an "personal attack" in any way.

The only intent of my comment was to justify my downvote. The question is not useful to the site, in my opinion. I left literally the same comment on another question on a completely different subject.

Your question is political, but that does not mean that any comment criticizing it is political too. The intent of Sorry, but we don't care about your political opinions was clearly not to censor any discussion or disagreement on political questions. In fact, if anything, that post is about not making everything a political discussion. I fear that your flags are going in that undesirable direction: they unjustly deflect a non-partisan criticism of your post by calling it a political comment.

Human rights, and religious discrimination, are hugely important to me, as are refugee rights. That does not mean that I will find every single question about these topics great or useful.

If you think this claim is important, that's fine too. Maybe you were not very convincing in the way you wrote the post. Write it better, make a better argument, and I'll be happy to upvote you.

My comment is only meant to help you understand my downvote. Please accept the criticism more gracefully next time, for example by asking clarifications about intentions or meaning, or updating your post according to the criticism or even by ignoring it.

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    Can you please explain how A E's behaviour was ungraceful?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:21
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    @AndrewGrimm I did not say it was. I said that they should accept the criticism more gracefully - in this instance they seem not to accept it at all.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:31
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    @Sklivvz I think they can reject your criticism ... as unfounded, which there is a certain and obvious degree of that happening here. The short and skinny is that you weren't very clear in your first comment. It was almost ominous, considering your a mod and your reputation for closing questions.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 23:06
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    I don't think there's a lack of grace on anybody's part. Just miscommunication and misunderstanding.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 23:07
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    While I disagree with the specific judgement in this case (I think the claim IS important and useful), I must point out that this is a part of a larger issue on the site - useless trivia claims being examined ad nauseum - and that these sorts of comments have been made on many other different questions of different bents. You may agree or disagree on a specific judgement call made here, but the call wasn't made for the purpose of a specific attack on a specific question .
    – user5341
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 23:29
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    My 2 cents: When you (@Sklivvz, or anyone) write a comment, it's your job to be understood. It is not the reader's job to understand. If people are misunderstanding you, you should write more clearly. Don't accuse others of being "ungraceful" because they interpreted a terse comment as political in the context of a political question.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 5:11
  • @Kevin if anyone writes an unclear comment to me, it is equally my job to ask for clarifications or whatnot. I would not react by assuming bad intentions and or by accusing others in flags or in meta. That is what I found ungraceful. If this kind of behavior was directed to you, we would probably be reacting with a mod message.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 9:09
  • @Sklivvz: No, actually, this is asymmetric. The writer has information the reader does not. The fact that the reader has misunderstood is, to borrow a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, an unknown unknown from the reader's perspective (or at least, this has the potential to happen). Therefore, the responsibility must fall primarily on the writer because the reader does not have the ability to identify misunderstandings in all cases.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 18:24
  • @Kevin sure, but once one writes something, there is nothing they can do until they are notified that their writing is unclear. That notification should be graceful, IMO.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:14

The question posted by the user A E was not "political", as claimed by the third paragraph of Sklivvz's answer. It quotes Donald Trump, and provides a source of the quote, but doesn't provide any commentary on the claim, or on the policy enacted by Trump.

I think that Sklivvz's initial comment was not very constructive. He claimed that the claim was not very important, but didn't provide any details as to why the claim was not important. Without useful feedback, it's hard to ask better questions.

As an additional note, I can't anything ungraceful about A E's behaviour.

As unrelated feedback, the original version of the question had "President Trump says that Muslim refugees have been given priority over Christian refugees. Is this true?". Usually we don't mention individuals who've made a claim in the title. That's because some claims are made by many individuals, not just one individual.

  • The original version had also the politics tag, so it was political according to the OP. The question was certainly not opinionated, but it is a question about a political event (I removed the tag because the claim is not about politics, but it is politics).
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:36
  • @Sklivvz from your answer: "Your question is political, but that does not mean that any comment criticizing it is political too."
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:39
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    Yes, I maintain that the question is political, and I also maintain that the OP agreed because they put in the politics tag.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:43

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