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Note: This question is partially spurred by this thread here on Meta Stack Exchange as well as this moderator Q&A thread on Meta Science Fiction & Fantasy. Full disclosure: I have been suspended from “Science Fiction and Fantasy” for the time being so if that colors your opinion of this question… Well hey… I can’t stop that. Being transparent here. I understand the suspension and respect it.

Occasionally in the main “Mos Eisley” chat room for Science Fiction & Fantasy I have noticed a few users who have engaged in the following behavior:

  • They will post a disparaging chat comment against/about another user. Sometimes that target of the comment is in the room or someone who is not in the room and has not been “pinged” about it.
  • Moments later, that chat comment is removed. The assumption is they are posting the comment so whoever is live and active in that room at that moment can read that comment, digest it and then… Just toss the comment to remove a trail.

To me, I am conflicted about this behavior:

  • On the one hand it doesn’t seem nice or respectful in any way to the target or the community.
  • But on the other hand, it seems like chat rooms on this site are made to be ephemeral, so maybe someone letting off “steam” like that is an appropriate use of the chat room?
  • But past any of that, I have seen this pattern emerge between a few different users and I am—in this post—in erring on the side of respecting others.

So the question is how can I—or anyone—report this type of behavior to anyone else in power on this site such as moderators or community managers? Or should this be an issue brought up with community managers via an email? Or is this a non-issue since chats are chats and nobody cares?

In full disclosure, while I cannot participate in this moderator election for Science Fiction & Fantasy—and even if I could I would most likely abstain since I am a casual user at best there—I’m 100% positive one of the moderators that is up for nomination engages in this type of behavior quite regularly in the “Mos Eisley” chat room. I personally wish I could leave a comment on their “Vote for Me!” answer to this effect, but I am not even sure if I had the ability to comment if that would even be appropriate? Perhaps that is another question? Would the context of the question—and the acceptance level of their behavior—be different for someone who is seeking a moderator role versus being those who are just regular users?

UPDATE: Just FYI, while I am clear about what spurred this post, since there are 150+ sites here and related chat rooms I cannot be the only one who here who has seen users in other chatrooms engage in behavior like this. Also, it seems like my mere mention of Science Fiction & Fantasy is a “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” albatross around my neck. Look… Is this behavior—self-removing disparaging comments said behind other’s backs in chat rooms—good, bad or something else and what can someone do to report it?

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Deleting your posts/comments/messages doesn't protect you from the consequences if those messages are abusive or insulting. Someone noticing that they misjudged their tone a bit removing their messages is fine, but that should be the exception.

Chat moderator flags aren't ideal in this case as they are shown to all moderators, and in this case a SciFi mod would be the right one to handle it. Using the "contact us" link would also work, either a community manager handles it then, or they'll consult with the SciFi mods.

Ideally link to other instances where this happened as it isn't exactly easy to find this in chat, or actually impossible without manually scanning the whole transcript as far as I know.

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    Grabbing the message ID after it is deleted is challenging. However, grabbing the two messages that bracket the deleted can be just as good for SE database side digging. Deleted messages aren't shown in the transcript at all (unless there is super secret mod powers there) - you have to be looking at them in the actual chat window to see the (removed). – user213963 Jan 27 '16 at 20:08
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    We have some scripts for viewing deleted stuff in transcripts easily enough - I'd prefer something more built-in but for now it's very workable and thus simple proximity to the events of the deleted message would be fine. – Grace Note Jan 27 '16 at 20:12
  • @Grace CM only scripts, or will it work for "ordinary" moderators as well? – ShaWiz Jan 27 '16 at 20:16
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    If you asked me when I got the scripts I probably would've been able to tell you but baha! I don't know! – Grace Note Jan 27 '16 at 20:20
  • @ShadowWizard I've got a script that works for plain ole' diamonds. – Keen Jan 27 '16 at 20:39
  • @Keen but I guess it is using screen scraping of some sort? Not ideal as Grace is probably talking about actual scripts against database. I think. – ShaWiz Jan 27 '16 at 20:41
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    @ShadowWizard I'm assuming we are all using this to see deleted messages. We don't have any built in tools to easily view deleted chat messages. – Taryn Jan 27 '16 at 20:57

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