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Lewis Namier once remarked:

Although we know that most men's actions are conditioned by factors other than reason, in practice we have to assume their rational character.

Does Namier’s assumption of the ‘rational character’ of action hold for the moderators of SE forums? My impression is that once an individual is granted SE moderator status, they have the unilateral ability to interpret and determine the underlying meaning, tone and manner of all comment threads (this matters only when threads become fractious).

  • Are moderators immune from justifiable accusations of procedural browbeating, bullying and goading of lower status participants?

  • What functions are in place that act as checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of moderator power?

marked as duplicate by random discussion Apr 7 '17 at 13:17

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    What functions are in place that act as checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of moderator power? you just arrived at that function. What is your specific question? – rene Apr 7 '17 at 13:17
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    Are moderators immune from justifiable accusations of procedural browbeating, bullying and goading of lower status participants No, moderators are also held to the be nice policy. – rene Apr 7 '17 at 13:18
  • @rene It seems that you're assuming that all moderators are equally ecumenical, agnostic and even-handed in exercising their power. My point is challenging this assumption by noting that, in my experience in more than a few instances, this has not been the case. Regrettably, moderators can be and are as biased as any other participant. Anyway, this is all moot as the question has been put on hold. – DJohnson Apr 7 '17 at 13:30
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    I'm not assuming that at all. And I have seen more then enough cases where moderators took a decision that I couldn't comprehend. In those cases I prefer to seek assistance from the community in helping me to understand whatever I have missed. I don't start such questions with Do moderators have too much power. The title and wording of your question doesn't read as an invitation to have a healthy discussion about whatever the problem is. That moderators are biased is true, but so are you. If you can choose a more neutral wording with (a) specific example(s) we can have a discussion. – rene Apr 7 '17 at 13:50
  • @rene I like your comment and readily acknowledge that I, too, am just as biased as anyone else. It's a human failing shared by absolutely everyone on the planet. What would be interesting (and helpful) would be to see how you would reword the title of my query to invite a more "healthy" discussion. If I knew how to do this, I would have worded it differently on the asking. Thanks! – DJohnson Apr 7 '17 at 14:43
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    It is your question and you know what bothers you. I lack that psychic powers, sorry. It is not only the title but the question as a whole that lacks info. Why don't you write down for your self first what bothers you most, seek examples, analyze why it upsets you/how it defers from what you consider to be the policy etc. Study the given duplicates and the many other trainwreck questions about moderator abuse and see if your question will turn out any different. if it doesn't, refrain from asking. If it does I'm sure you'll find a title that matches your question. – rene Apr 7 '17 at 14:55
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they have the unilateral ability to interpret and determine the underlying meaning, tone and manner of all comment threads

Well, yes. They have to decide what action to take on something they see, just as regular users do (those can edit, flag, close and delete posts). Moderators are appointed because they are trusted by their community.

Moderators are backed by community managers, employees of the SO company, which can decide if a moderator has stepped out of their boundaries. If a moderator fails to comply to the moderator agreement and the site rules, they will be terminated as moderators.

Moderators are not immune, but they earn our respect and a little trust for the effort they make every day to keep the site nice and clean.

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    Moderators are not immune means what exactly? – DJohnson Apr 7 '17 at 13:26
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    @DJohnson "Are moderators immune from justifiable accusations of procedural browbeating, bullying and goading of lower status participants?" – Patrick Hofman Apr 7 '17 at 13:50
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    Two clarifications: (1) in most cases, moderators are elected by the community, not appointed. That's an important difference! (2) Moderators do not act in isolation, nor does any one of them have unilateral powers. The first backup a mod has is their fellow mods. The second is the community itself. Those provide more than ample mechanisms to address the concerns insinuated in the question. – whuber Oct 9 '17 at 15:16
  • @whuber Nice points. Thanks. – Patrick Hofman Oct 9 '17 at 15:17

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