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I hate posting meta things like this because I honestly doubt it changes much, but I just want to bring Oddthinking’s behavior on a question I posted nothing short of bullying behavior on a part of a moderator.

The question in question is this one:

In 1982 did then President Ronald Reagan send a letter to an 8-year-old kid congratulating him on getting a Pac-Man high score?

And I was completely taken aback by Oddthinking’s complete reworking of the question based on one simple comment exchange. Upon seeing their edits, I immediately rolled them back. They clearly reworked the question enough to make it fall into an edit that veered from my original post’s intent.

In comments that are now deleted, I explained why I did that. But restated my position in the comments that remain when I said:

‘I guess you missed my comments. I really had a problem with your “improvements” that clearly changed the focus on the question from being the Reagan letter to the plausibility of the high-score. As I clearly state in my question this is not about the validity of the high score but rather the claim that Ronald Reagan sent a congrats letter to Jeff Yee. Past that even if I do agree with your “improvements” the edits were quotes that were so badly formatted and attributed that they are shocking—at least to me—they were made by someone with mod rights. Please do not edit like that.’

To which I also added the postscript comment of:

‘And please let me know when you have read that comment so I can delete mine. I think the previous comment thread about this—and this new incarnation—should be gone.’

And thought it would pretty much be settled. To my surprise I see not one response, but THREE comments chastising me.

While I did end up editing the question to clear up citations—which I think is a fair criticism—their overall tone, tenor and behavior come off to me as someone who is an enthusiast of the site but was given mod privileges too soon. Simply put, Oddthinking’s behavior is really trollish.

Again, I am posting this here not because I want to debate this ad-infinitum. But my feeling is of Oddthinking is a mod and behaves this way? They should not be a mod.

The concept of this Stack Exchange site is great and useful. And requires diligence to keep things on an even keel. But please, there are boundaries and there are limits.

Screenshot of comments for the record below:

enter image description here

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  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because meta is to debate the site rules, not its moderators. Take it with SE instead.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 18 '18 at 6:51
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 19 '18 at 7:23
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    let me re-iterate once more: please stop the personal accusations and contact the SE community team if you are unsatisfied with a mod's performance. Stop arguing here.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 19 '18 at 7:26
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I am not happy you feel bullied. I am not happy you feel that reporting an issue won't change anything. Just so you are clear, if you have an issue with a moderator abusing their power, you can report them to Stack Exchange on the contact page.


When I read the text from my perspective, I see no sign of bullying. I acknowledge that tone has always been difficult to convey over email, and you are seeing it differently. A key part of our Be Nice policy is assuming good intentions. I would encourage you to re-read our interactions, but with the assumption that I am genuinely trying to help improve the question.


Here is what I did, from my perspective.

I saw your question. It had some problems, so I edited it to improve it. I didn't do that wearing my mod hat - it isn't directly the role of the mods. I did it wearing my regular user hat: it improves the site to have high-quality questions, and that is the responsibility and role of every user. Even first time users are encouraged to submit edits to improve posts.

We can see the edits I made here:

Screenshot of edit

  • I simplified the title while retaining the meaning. Keeping the title short and focused makes it easier for readers to skim questions to select what they want to read.

  • Both of the references were to the same source, so I removed one.

  • I quoted the claim. This protects against link rot, against the Wiki page being edited and it is fewer clicks for the average reader, so it is more likely to be read.

  • I followed the format of the quoted text for the indenting. I played around with trying to make it shorter, but I couldn't see how without losing enough context to make the claim clear.

  • The quote and your text were now covering the same ground (the name, the score, the location, etc.), so I shortened your intro text.

  • I included some context around the link name, rather than "here", which follows common advice to let people know whether they want to click it.

  • I removed your discussion about whether the high score existed, precisely to keep focus on the question: i.e. whether the letter was sent.

  • I added tags to improve findability.

I think all of those changes are worthwhile and defensible.

I did not make any of them in response to the (now-deleted) comment suggesting you change your question to to be about the high score itself, but I responded to that comment showing why it was not necessary, and that my edits made that clear.

In response, you posted and then deleted a comment that I didn't notice, and reverted my edits.

I didn't get into an edit war. As a mod, I could have forced my changes and prevented you from editing, but I didn't do that either. Instead, I asked you why you reverted it, pointing out the key issues.

Your answer accused me of overstepping my mod powers and of making a bad edit. I responded with a list of specific problems that should be fixed. (Yes, the list was longer than one comment worth, but you acknowledged they were on point.) I defended against the claim that I overstepped by pointing out I hadn't used mod powers at all. I expressed by disagreement about the bad edit claims, but acknowledged that that was (just) an opinion. I again, didn't use any mod powers. [Oh, except to read the comments that had since been deleted.]


I am unhappy that you are unhappy, but I believe that my behaviour was fine and certainly not trollish.

The accusation that I got my mod powers too early is an unfair supposition, unsupported by history.

I am sure the other mods will read your complaint and haul me over the coals if they think I was being unreasonable. Again, if you still have an issue with me, or any mods, please contact the Stack Exchange Community Manager via the link above.

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    The current exchange is beyond the scope of this comment. // Apart from tone of voice missing often from written material, how are people supposed know which hat you are wearing (, if that makes such a difference)? Seriously, I suggest the mods here might want to adopt a short standard phrase to indicate that ("RegHat:"?). Not that mods should not behave like regular users or even restrain from regular participation, but it's difficult to distinguish these roles. Jun 18 '18 at 13:31
  • @LangLangC Exactly! If I see a diamond () next to someone’s name here I know they are a mod and understand their actions will be that of a mod. This sudden gear-shift to suddenly, “Oh, right now I am not a mod…” is confusing. “I didn't do that wearing my mod hat - it isn't directly the role of the mods.” And this is even more confusing. Mods will spend more time than others on a site. Mods will interact more with a site. Mods will generally be known to be mods by the () next to your name. So how the eff am I supposed to know what “hat” a mod is wearing? And why should that be my task? Jun 18 '18 at 13:46
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    @JakeGould But I have to say that do not see your problem with an edit in general and with that edit in particular. Odd tried to do some work for you (and presumably in the same spirit) and you exercised your right to rollback. I see neither of those actions as problematic and wonder why we have to conclude "well, that escalated quickly". I hope you two can somehow agree on "twas a misunderstanding" and move on. Jun 18 '18 at 14:29
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    @LangLangC you are correct: an edit is an edit, no matter the user who makes it, and the quality of an edit is also independent of the user. This applies to anything any user can do: the very same rules and expectations apply to users and mods alike. This is universally true everywhere in our help center, in meta or in the guidance given by Stack Overflow's community team. Moderators have exceptional duties only when using their mod powers (suspensions, deleting comments, access to PII, etc).
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 18 '18 at 17:46

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