I must premise that the present OP, albeit motivated by a personal experience on Mathematical Stack Exchange, aims to solicit an open discussion about an important general issue concerning the common rules for a fair behavior in formulating comments on public chat rooms here on the Stack Exchange network.

For that reason, please do not focalize on the specific cases I'm referring to, but consider those just as a concrete example to better guide the discussion about the main questions.

Recently I have been suspended for 7 days for a comment in which I've expressed my own opinion about the lack in correctness and honesty by one user in his/her action on MSE. That comment has been considered rude and not tolerable by MSE Moderation Team, leading to my first suspension in 5 months of experience here.

Here below the message I've received on April 22 at UTC 6.18 PM from MSE Moderation Team to notify the suspension.

enter image description here

I fully respect the decision made by MSE Moderation Team, indeed my comment was of course out of place and eligible for some punitive/corrective action by the MSE Moderation Team.

What I can't really understand is why the same criteria for the suspension were not applied to a deliberate defamation action against my person perpetrated by some users and posted on public chat rooms named CRUDE and Math Mods Office which, I presume, are not aimed to manipulate someone else's reputation.

I’m referring notably to the following deliberate and reiterate public false accusations:

  1. First remarkable defamation on March 15 2018 at UTC 2.00 PM on Math Mods Office chat room

    enter image description here

  2. Second remarkable defamation on April 21 2018 at UTC 6.17 PM and 8.11 PM on CRUDE chat room

    enter image description here

  3. Third remarkable defamation on April 22 2018 at UTC 6.17 PM and 4.06 PM on Math Mods Office chat room (2 hours before suspension decision)

    enter image description here

Notably my questions are:

  1. Why a rude but extemporaneous opinion given during an open debate by a comment can lead to a 7 days suspension while a purposeful, deliberate and reiterate public senseless accusations (i.e. defamation), perpetrated through public chat rooms, which should be aimed to different scopes, can be tolerated and allowed by the community?

  2. Is that abusive use of the chat rooms compatible with the fair harmony of the community?

  3. Am I overestimating that issue?

I've formulated almost the same questions to the MSE Moderation Team after my suspension, but up to now I didn't receive any reply about that.

With reference to the abusive use of chat room, I’ve received the following reply from SE support.

Stack Overflow Team (Stack Overflow)

Apr 23, 10:45 EDT


This kind of behavior is not forbidden in a general sense, but it has resulted in problematic behavior in the past. Ultimately, it just requires keeping a close eye. Most of these groups across our network operate in a way where they only target clearly bad questions or answers, staying away from more subjective materials. If a group ever becomes abusive and starts closing clearly good questions or doing other things that become problematic to the site, the moderators can always step in and intervene.


Stack Overflow Team

  • 2
    Did you flag the problematic chat messages? – Monica Cellio Apr 29 '18 at 19:24
  • @MonicaCellio No I didn't since I've read about that only after suspension. Anyway flagging is not the issue here. The issue is the defamation. Of course Moderators are aware about this abusive behaviuor since the defamation was posed also to their attention by those users and also by myself in the latest comunications after suspension. – user Apr 29 '18 at 19:28
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    gimusi, several users have edited your question to fix the formatting, grammar, etc., and you keep rolling it back. Folks are trying to help; I'd recommend taking their advice. – HDE 226868 Apr 29 '18 at 19:35
  • @HDE226868 Any correction and improvement to the grammar is welcome, but I prefer don't change the general format if possible. Thanks – user Apr 29 '18 at 19:36
  • @kiamlaluno Thanks for the edit but could you please explain what was going wrong with my original format?. The answer is quite long and I would prefer mantein subtitle in order to make the OP clearer. – user Apr 29 '18 at 19:41
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    @gimusi There is no need of sub-titles. The question is well-readable without. On the opposite, sub-titles are just distractions, like putting And my question is before a question. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 19:45
  • @kiamlaluno Thanks a lot, I'll follow you suggestion. – user Apr 29 '18 at 19:54
  • @gimusi I comment back here to avoid notifying Monica. I would avoid speaking of defamation, but that is just me. I would try to be neutral as much as possible, but still saying what you find not right. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 21:14
  • @kiamlaluno I know that it is a defamation since I don't have any sockpuppet account! Can you suggest some other synonymous to be more neutral? Thanks – user Apr 29 '18 at 21:18
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    The chatroom remarks seem to have been neither "senseless" (as they were based on potentially verifiable fact), "remarkable" (as sockpuppeting is sadly common and detection is often piecemeal), nor "accusations" (as they were clear in claiming only suspicious circumstances). People are allowed to suggest that someone might have a sockpuppet, even if it's not an open-and-shut case, even if they turn out to be wrong, although it is generally much better for them to just flag a ♦ mod with what they know. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 30 '18 at 9:51
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On busy sites, moderators don't see everything. So the answer to "why did you act against this but not that?" is almost always "we didn't see that but we saw this". And while moderators see and act on some subset of stuff in their normal use of the site, the only way to make sure they see it is to flag it. Chances are that your comments were flagged but that the chat messages weren't. (Chat flag history is kind of a mess, so -- six weeks later, now -- it would be near-impossible for anybody not on staff to find out.)

I don't know anything about Math and the moderation therein, but as a moderator on other sites I know a little bit about chat moderation. It's kind of a mess, I'm afraid. Here are a few things to know:

  • When a chat flag is raised, it is seen by lots of people, not necessarily including the moderators of the local site. Chat flags are very much a matter of "whoever's around sees them and nobody else gets notified". Even if those messages had been flagged (and you said in a comment that you didn't flag them), the Math mods might never have known.

  • People handling chat flags tend to take age into account; if a message is weeks old and buried in the transcript, they're much more likely to say "meh, why are you flagging that now?". I'm not saying this is right; I'm just reporting what I've seen.

  • I have nonetheless seen older messages that are super-rude (like personal attacks) get deleted in response to direct, polite requests that include transcript links. I have been a victim of such attacks and this worked for me.

The messages you included in your screenshots seem borderline to me; some are talking about patterns of public behavior, like when posts are made and upvoted, but it seems kind of unsavory to me. I don't know the context or what's been going on on your site. If I saw flags on those I'd probably ignore them and wait for a Math moderator to handle them. Other people might dismiss them as below the bar.

I suggest that you make a calm, polite request to the mods on your site to review those chat messages. Don't present it as "if I'm bad, so are they"; just ask for a review and explain why you feel they're inappropriate. In the future, if you see problems, flag them right away.

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  • 1
    Thanks a lot for your reply. As I wrote I've already asked to the moderators for a clarification about their point of view on this kind of issue but I didn't received any reply about that. My question is aimed notably to have different point of views about the interpretation of that fact. I suppose that accuse an user to have sockpuppet accounts is an highly abusive behaviour but maybe I'm wrong. – user Apr 29 '18 at 19:53
  • I can say that as moderator, I saw some flags for chat rooms that were not even associated to the site where I am moderator, for the fact moderators on a Stack Exchange site are moderators for all the chat rooms on the stackexchange.com domain. That happened very few times (because the high number of users who can act on them). I would be surprised if the moderators for the site to which the chat room is associated would even notice a flag has been raised for a chat post, leaving out the fact they should be in chat. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 19:56
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    @kiamlaluno Anyway those comments were posed at the attention of Moderators. Is flagging of those comments a necessary condition in order to act with a corrective action from Moderators team? I also was doubtful whether Meta SE was the right place for that OP, do you think I should ask that question on Meta MathSE? – user Apr 29 '18 at 20:12
  • Unless a chat message @-pings an individual moderator (who has been in the room recently enough to receive the ping), don't assume mods have seen it. I moderate a site with a very busy chat room and I don't see every message that says "mods please look at this" or the like. If it doesn't get to my inbox, I probably haven't seen it. (I do try to scan the transcript from time to time, but I know I miss stuff.) – Monica Cellio Apr 29 '18 at 20:14
  • @gimusi Flagging it for moderation attention is the right action. It's just that on the stackexchange.com domain, you don't know which moderators saw the flag because every moderator for a single stackexchange.com site is also moderator for every chat room on that domain. For example, I am a moderator on drupal.stackexchange.com site, but I am moderator for every chat room on stackexchange.com. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 20:17
  • @gimusi As for the meta site where you posted, since you are suspended on a site, you cannot even post on the meta site associated with that site. It means you can just post here. That is by design, and I am not sure it would be better if suspended users should be allowed to post on the meta of the site where they are suspended. Asking here it is asking to users who don't know the history of the suspended user – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 20:22
  • @kiamlaluno Note that in the first and third examples of "remarkable defamation" the users which replies are moderators on MathSE. Thus I suppose that are aware about those comments. My question is: why is a defamation tolerated and allowed? – user Apr 29 '18 at 20:22
  • @kiamlaluno The suspension end today! – user Apr 29 '18 at 20:23
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    @gimusi To that question, only the moderators of that site can answer. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 20:26
  • @gimusi In that case, it depends from which users you prefer to get an answer. If you feel that on this site you can get an answer for more neutral users, you can post it here. As for the exact reason why the moderators answered in that way, that is something only the moderators can answer. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 20:29
  • @kiamlaluno Thanks, maybe I'll delete here and I'll repost on Meta MSE. – user Apr 29 '18 at 20:31
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    You can't delete it here because it's been answered. You asked a general question here and received a general answer; it's ok to ask a more-specific question on Math. You should probably link to this question when you do. – Monica Cellio Apr 29 '18 at 20:32
  • @gimusi You cannot delete the question, since there is an answer with a score of 5. You can flag the question and ask it to be migrated, or you can simply ask the question on their meta site. – kiamlaluno Apr 29 '18 at 20:32
  • @kiamlaluno Ok thanks! Can I reply the same question on Meta MSE? – user Apr 29 '18 at 20:35
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    @MonicaCellio Thanks Monica, I've really appreciated your kind and balanced suggestions. Bye – user Apr 29 '18 at 21:12

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