1

What can be done about moderators who delete reasonable comments and answers, simply because conflict with the moderator's personal prejudices? Or perhaps because they dislike the person posting the answer: I have no way of knowing how many other people experience this, but one particular moderator seems to delete just about everything I post.

5

This one surprised me, because I have never associated your user name with particularly low-quality content, and I wondered which mod you were referring to.

Then I looked at your answers, and, indeed, you do have a lot of deleted answers. Thirteen in total.

Who deleted them and why?

  • Oddthinking:

    1. It only provided an anecdote, which are not accepted here. Cleaned up as part of a an effort to prevent a question turning into a list question.
    2. Apologetic clean up because the answer only addressed an earlier version of the question, which was not notable.
    3. Repost of a deleted answer.
    4. Didn't answer the question
  • Sklivvz

    1. Didn't answer the question (and had no references)
    2. Repost of a deleted answer.
    3. Theoretical argument
    4. Comment on question, rather than answer
    5. Didn't answer the question
    6. Comment on the question.
  • Larian LeQuella

    1. Unreferenced anecdote
    2. Didn't answer the question
    3. Didn't answer the question (and then the question itself was deleted by Sklivvz)

So, if you think there is one moderator who has it in for you, I would suggest the evidence doesn't support that - three moderators have been separate involved in cleaning up poor quality answers here.

If you think it is me that has it in for you (After all, I was the most recent to delete one of your posts.), I can only give you my word that you have never even popped up on my radar as a user who needed special attention. I have nothing against you at all, honest!


If you are concerned that a mod is abusing their powers, or generally not doing a good enough job, this post details some options, including contacting the Community Manager team:

What recourse do I have if I believe a moderator has abused their privileges?

  • To play devil's advocate, this doesn't preclude collusion. Mod 1 says "Hey, Mod 2, I had to delete a bunch of his stuff last time, will you delete this one please so my name is not on it?" If there is a desire to appear like a unified team and a dearth of time mods can give, taking actions for another mod without personally investigating the reasoning seems possible. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 8:06
  • 1
    @fredsbend: Agreed. I would file under "I can only give you my word". – Oddthinking Dec 28 '18 at 8:08
  • One problem with this kind of 'evidence' here is that it's site policy to be intransparent about this. Reasons for that aside, we have to trust the mods, the community and the cm-managers (SE) on this. While I do that, I wonder if that's really the best design. Complaints like that from OP are not really isolated across the network. (Maybe I misremember, but I think "benevolent dictatorship" was once used to describe the situation?) – LаngLаngС Dec 28 '18 at 11:52
  • 2
    @LangLangC unfortunately we have to deal with the software being designed to work on 170 sites with different rules and topics. I agree we should be more transparent. I've spent many evenings discussing possible alternatives with Shog and the community team. Long story short we would need a "closure" for answers here on skeptics. I'm not sure what it would look like (because after all if an answer is visible "closed" means nothing). But I would like the community to be able to "close" or "delete" bad answers (and vice versa undo those decisions). – Sklivvz Dec 28 '18 at 14:23
  • Right now this is not possible software-wise and I think that under the current direction the company has taken I think nothing special per-site can be expected in the near or mid term. – Sklivvz Dec 28 '18 at 14:23
  • @Sklivvz Yeah. Was thinking imprecisely. Actually it's SE-policy. As this 'problem' is also SE-wide, it should be tackled on that level, even if Skeptics would be one of the 'needier' sites to gain from such a change? – LаngLаngС Dec 28 '18 at 16:11
  • 1
    @Oddthinking: I obviously can't read your mind, but I would ask you to explain why you think it is not relevant to point out, first in a comment (which was deleted), and then in an answer (also deleted) that other answers might well be engaging in confirmation bias, and give brief examples? Since I can't see when other people's answers are deleted, I don't know whether I'm being singled out or not. However, it seems to happen ONLY on the Skeptics site. It's most annoying, and the reason I avoid it unless a really interesting question pops up in the hot questions list. – jamesqf Dec 28 '18 at 17:54
  • 1
    @sklivvz Has it been discussed if the mod banners (e.g. "this answer needs sources", etc.) could be integrated into the review queues? I'm quite in favor of less deletion if official (i.e. community run) "this answer has these problems" banners were added as necessary. Like wikipedia banners. As such, banners at the top make far more sense than the bottom. This seems the best alternative to a deletion heavy policy. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 18:08
  • 2
    @fredsbend yes, in fact the fact that banners exist at all is because of skeptics in large part. I did propose that the community should be able to add/remove banners via voting somewhere in Meta Stack Exchange but it never got implemented. I agree it's a good idea. – Sklivvz Dec 28 '18 at 20:08
0

I personally think deletion is heavy on this site, for both comments and answers.

For comments, well we already know those are not meant to be permanent anyway. If your comment gave a legitimate criticism of the post (factual corrections, logic errors, heavily biased sources, etc) or added a valuable fact or context (and I mean strictly fact, not opinion) then just comment again and assume the mods acted in good faith. Often, there's a dozen comments and it's just easier to nuke them all. Understand, they're volunteers with duties in real life that actually pays their bills.

For answers, I'd like simply to see less deletions. Reasons such as "theoretical" or "not an answer" I find are sometimes quite debatable. On this site, if it's not sourced or gives only an anecdote when the question calls for studies, you can expect deletion, and I think that's fair.

I've seen many calls for the mods to delete less. Despite this (and I'd bet the existence of empirical evidence that this site deletes a lot more than others) I've not perceived less deletion. Perhaps a straw poll in meta may help, and maybe the surfacing of said empirical data, but it would still require remaking deletion policies so the mods have a new direction.

I've also seen many accusations that the mods are politically biased. I'll be frank: I don't buy it. If anything, it seems to me the mods are more annoyed to wade through those trivial political crap questions in the first place. In other words, when it comes to politics, I perceive the mods are starkly "no nonsense". Nonsense and politics are long-time bed buddies.

I do think they are quick to delete comments that might have an edge, calling them offensive or whatever. To that, I simply think people just need to grow up and expect that harsh criticism is not inherently offensive or rude.

I do think that the mods have a bias against religious topics. It's mild, but does exist. It's mild enough that I don't think it's a problem worth addressing.

In summary, I don't think any extraordinary measures need to be taken against the mods. Odd has shown that there seems to be a reasonable spread among the mod actions taken against you. I'll note that Sklivvz is far more vocal, so he may appear to be "an offender" more frequently. If you don't agree with me here, your options are limited to more fact finding (polls, data, etc.) or appealing to the Stack Exchange staff. I'm sure that's happened a lot, so I'd take that as "waste your time, nothing will come of it". I think the former option is the best course, and you have my support if you go that route.

  • Would you care to elaborate on "the mods have a bias against religious topics"? [Genuine question without any rancour; it is easier to fight against implicit biases if you understand what they are.] – Oddthinking Dec 28 '18 at 8:22
  • Out of pure curiosity I'd be interested in investigating the site dynamics as a whole and in principle. But for this "deletions"-thing I can assure you that any kind of polling would be the worst idea of all. We'll never get a random sample and just pile bias upon bias. Some hard data is there but can only be analysed with diamond-powers (at least). And on top of that we'd need a thorough content analysis of posts and mod comments (if they are there). I see quite a few nice dissertations or smaller studies possible on this. But no polls, please. – LаngLаngС Dec 28 '18 at 11:45
  • @Oddthinking Sure. My first pointer would be a meta post of mine: Questions about Christianity get down voted. That doesn't provide any examples, but it is an elaboration of my thoughts on this as you request. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 20:08
  • For examples, I'd point to Was Jesus a refugee? as closed while Was Sergei Brin a refugee? is not. I think the Jesus question is "good subjective", though apparently my assessment is not popular (I still think I'm right, by the way, lol). Sklivvz apparently rejects the Jesus one as "good subjective" because of the contention on what Jesus had actually done when he lived. I think it's clear Sharpton means the story, not the history. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 20:08
  • Is there a disparity between the number of US schools teaching creationism and the population's desire? shows that going beyond "just the facts" is apparently acceptable if it makes Christianity/Christians look foolish. This is your own answer, so you have an inside track here to evaluate motives and attitudes. This issue was much bigger in the past, and there's many 2011 and 2012 questions and answers that are frankly an embarrassment for a skeptics ethos. I don't complain because they are old and it's not as bad as it used to be. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 20:12
  • My final example really threw me for a loop. Was the Earth one big ocean once? Sklivvz changed the question into something else entirely, removing any meaning for the OP and failing to represent the claim. He and Larian apparently do not want any such question as it originally was. They further seem quite unhappy with answers like mine. Again, I think I'm right here, and provided a "good subjective" answer. But it first received a mod banner then deletion. I neglected to address either issue because of the massive edits to the question. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 20:13
  • @odd For the record, your "creationism taught in school" answer is good. I very much prefer that tangential considerations be included in answers. Proper skepticism is through. My complaint here is that mods pretty frequently edit answers to remove that stuff. This, in my opinion, is only a weak compromise for deletion. However, such edit acts don't seem to occur for "anti-religious" answers. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 21:49
  • And if I remember correctly, that question is a good example of the hostility you can receive in comments on such topics, which is further indication of the larger community's feelings on it. – fredsbend Dec 28 '18 at 21:51
  • @lang Ask and you shall receive. This is the first I've seen this, so maybe it's new, but it's on all the meta sites for 2018 at least. – fredsbend Jan 1 at 16:35
  • @fredsbend Comparing sites on posts deleted might set a mind straighter than before. I was surprised how few posts (in total) were deleted on Skeptics. For sure not what I expected. But I didn't look into base rates and the like and naturally 'targeting' or 'biased' deletions can't be (dis-)proven even with more numbers of that sort. But I guess mod-available stats (no idea what these actually contain) and some dataSE queries could illuminate that at least a bit further. – LаngLаngС Jan 3 at 13:22
  • 1
    @LangLangC Hey, I found this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/306197/2017-a-year-in-closing. Looks like Skeptics doesn't have the highest closing percentage, but it's pretty high. I see mostly 20's and high teens, while skeptics is at nearly 40% of questions closed. Skeptics total question count is low on average, but looks close to the median. This, however, is only close actions and also doesn't differentiate mod unilateral actions, mod with users, or only users. – fredsbend Jan 4 at 23:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .