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Is it appropriate to down-vote a question because one disagrees with beliefs of the poster that are not mentioned in the question?

Is it appropriate to characterize as a "rant" a paper one has not seen, in comments under a question that doesn't mention the paper and that doesn't mention its topics?

Is it appropriate to accuse someone of "ranting in the comments" merely because one thinks that the commenter will write a paper that constitutes a "rant", when one has never seen the paper that one considers to be a "rant", and when the question under which one comments does not mention the topic of that paper?

Is it the policy of Stack Exchange to condone that behavior?

This is, as you would probably guess, not hypothetical. It was done by a person who is in the "top 0.08%" for this year (I surmise that that means in reputation points earned). The person who did all this stated explicitly in the comments that it was because of the "rant" (his word) which he had not read that he did these things. I know that he has not read that "rant", as he calls it, because I haven't written it yet. I had early posted a different question asking where would be a good place to publish a paper on widespread fraud committed by mathematics teachers. I made no attempt to make that paper's case in the question since that would be off topic; I merely asked where would be a good place to publish it. He concluded that the paper is a "rant" and that he should say so in comments under another question I posted that doesn't mention that topic.

  • All of the above happened. In the question above mentioned the username of the person who did all of this. The user called "psubsee2003" deleted the person's username. – Michael Hardy May 19 '15 at 0:15
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    I deleted it because calling out specific individuals is not appropriate. The purpose of meta is to discuss issues, not users. – psubsee2003 May 19 '15 at 0:18
  • I still think it should be stated that this is not hypothetical. It was done by a person who is in the "top 0.08%" for this year (I surmise that that means in reputation points earned). – Michael Hardy May 19 '15 at 0:28
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    No one said it was hypothetical. You have an issue, and bringing it meta is a valid option. But you should be discussing the issue, not the users involved. You don't need to state it. It should be assumed that all meta posts are about specific issues and not hypothetical ones. – psubsee2003 May 19 '15 at 0:32
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Is it appropriate to down-vote a question because one disagrees with beliefs of the poster that are not mentioned in the question?

No, because that is downvoting the poster, not the post. There is a huge difference. As put here,

  • Focus on the post, not the person. Keep it professional, and avoid criticism of the author, (as opposed to the post). Don't make assumptions about a user's identity, and avoid references to demographics unless they are an essential part of the question or answer. Refrain from name-calling and other ad-hominem attacks.

Is it appropriate to characterize as a "rant" a paper one has not seen, in comments under a question that doesn't mention the paper and that doesn't mention its topics?

No. I can't think of many cases where a person can pass judgment on something without having read it. The exception would probably be if a user has continually posted spam or other content harmful to the site, in which case it is likely that future posts will be of the same ilk. Still, before passing judgment on any posts of that type of user, read the posts. You never know if you'll find a hidden gem.


Is it appropriate to accuse someone of "ranting in the comments" merely because one thinks that the commenter will write a paper that constitutes a "rant", when one has never seen the paper that one considers to be a "rant", and when the question under which one comments does not mention the topic of that paper?

No. The rationale here is the same as above: you never know for sure.


Is it the policy of Stack Exchange to condone that behavior?

I cannot speak for Stack Exchange, but I have yet to see anyone with an affiliation to the company (e.g. a CM) condone that behavior.

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No, nasty comments do not sound appropriate. I recommend that you flag the particular comment for moderator attention and explain why you are flagging it, and let them sort it out. Hopefully they will take appropriate action, e.g., deleting the comment if it is inappropriate.

Of course, I can't comment on any specific incident, as you haven't linked to the specific case -- but this answer should be on pretty safe grounds, on general principles.

I should say that down voting is a different matter. It is unlikely that a moderator is going to take any action because of a down vote. For better or worse, people are free to upvote or downvote -- an isolated downvote is not something that a moderator is likely to pass judgement on. So, focus on inappropriate comments, and just let the downvote go.

Incidentally, I don't recommend getting into a back-and-forth with that person in the comment thread; just let the moderators address it. (I'm not implying you necessarily would do that, just trying to give advice in case it is helpful.)

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