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I have now seen the new Code of Conduct and one thing is notably absent, especially because I asked twice to include it in the new Code of Conduct.

Each Stack Exchange site has a meta where people can ask questions about the site itself. It was also used to lodge complaints if someone felt that (s)he was treated unfairly by a user or moderator(!) and it helped to disengage from conflicts.

This possibility of using meta to conflict resolution is not mentioned anymore; the new CoC only mentions flagging, moderators and direct contact.

This leads to the question:

What is the future of Meta? Is Meta as a conflict resolution mechanism effectively defunct now?

Could someone who feels upset about a certain course of action (user/user, user/moderator, moderator/moderator, etc.) use Meta as channel? And with use I do not mean "Well, we allow you to complain, but it has no influence on the decision at all." Is use of Meta for conflict resolution dissuaded now?

Meta was also interesting to follow, because it gave information about conflicts. While some users did vanish without any given reason, many users provided feedback why they were (thinking about) leaving the site. If the new Code of Conduct is implemented as it is, it is unclear what exactly happened.

If an account vanishes, did the person delete their account without goodbye, did the person die, or was the person banned? Is this intended to minimize drama and is in fact the usage of meta to write termination reasons now frowned upon?

  • I see some confusion between Site Metas and SE Meta. You start out with "Each Stack Exchange site has a meta." So, I took this to be saying that the Site Metas are a place where users can go for conflict resolution, and this option should be mentioned in the CoC. But a couple paragraphs later, you ask, "What is the future of Meta? Is Meta as a conflict resolution mechanism effectively defunct now?" I'm confused. Could you clarify, please? Maybe write a fresh post with a clearer focus? – aparente001 Oct 6 at 15:15
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It was also used to lodge complaints if someone felt that (s)he was treated unfairly by a user or moderator(!) and it helped to disengage conflicts.

That's kind of vague, but in spirit, Meta is still fully capable of handling that situation. You simply avoid naming the specific user, and focus on the actual issue instead.

To be fair, we've never allowed calling out specific users on meta and even had to write up a formal policy on it. Meta was never designed to be a place to find out what happened to a specific user, complain about someone's behavior, or otherwise keep a record of a certain user's history. That is better left to flags or the contact form.

The Code of Conduct itself doesn't really have any effect on how Meta will function moving forward. Meta has always had a fairly specific purpose of discussing important issues of the site, and that hasn't changed. You seem to have been under the impression that Meta was a place for a type of question that shouldn't ever exist.

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    I must disagree: While Meta was not an information service about users, it was always the first station if something happened which could not be solved by flagging. Moderator intervention you disagree with. Simple question what has happened with a specific answer/comment. People have different views how a situation should be handled and deciding the course of action with voting. These kind of things. – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 21:40
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    All of which can be handled without pointing at a specific user. – animuson Aug 7 '18 at 21:41
  • How do you get the idea about pointing at a specific user? The question does not mention "a specific user". – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 21:43
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    Your question repeatedly makes mentions of using Meta in situations that only talk about a specific user. Most of those examples are off-topic for Meta and always have been. The rest can be phrased in ways that aren't about a user, but instead about a problem which is what Meta is for. – animuson Aug 7 '18 at 21:45
  • Ok, e.g. User X edits own answers several times without consent and Moderator Y has deleted an answer without having an idea what was wrong with it. As far as I know, you write a question in meta and say "Hey, my answer is edited, my answer disappeared, what is going on?" You can remove the name, but the problem is related to User X or Moderator Y. This is a typical meta problem. And I really cannot see that the question claims that X or Y must be mentioned. Perhaps I did not express it in a more understandable way, so if you can state it in a more understandable way... – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:03
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    @ThorstenS. A user editing a post and then the post getting deleted by a moderator don't seem to be related to the CoC at all unless there's some context you're excluding. A question on meta asking "why was my answer deleted?" doesn't need to mention the people involved in the editing or deletion - that's irrelevant. What's important is to give the OP a place to discuss it... and Meta is where that should happen. – Catija Aug 7 '18 at 22:25
  • @Catija It is an invented example which happens regularly. The CoC defines only two options: flagging and direct contact. Meta always was a third option. So, is Meta now disfunct if it is not longer mentioned in the CoC? – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:32
  • @ThorstenS. You seem to be missing what we're confused about. The Code of Conduct is not meant to cover all forms of conflict resolution - it is targeted at very specific types of conflicts where there is harassment, bullying, and other rude kinds of behavior that have absolutely nothing to do with the example you provided. Your example is just a normal site moderation issue. The Code of Conduct essentially replaced the Be Nice policy, which also never mentioned Meta at all, because Meta was never an appropriate place for resolving rudeness. You're tying two unrelated things together. – animuson Aug 7 '18 at 22:35
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    The CoC is specifically talking about cases where a user feels that they have been treated abusively, harassed, or otherwise were treated unkindly. None of those things happened in your example. @ThorstenS. Your example question wasn't "I've been abused by userXXXX and the moderators are ignoring it!" It was "why was my answer deleted?" - there's no indication of a CoC violation there. – Catija Aug 7 '18 at 22:35
  • Just a reminder: When I talk about Meta, I do not mean only this meta, but as in the question stated, every site meta. – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:36
  • @animuson If that is the case and I am barking up the wrong tree, where specifically are Meta conflict resolutions mentioned for a new user? Let's say, I am a new user, I see that my answer was deleted by a moderator, how do I know that I could use meta? – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:39
  • @ThorstenS. Meta is mentioned in a variety of different places where it is relevant. For example, users are told on the Ask Question page in the help at the right to ask on Meta if they're asking about the site, and plenty of help articles link directly to posts or other things on Meta. We also occasionally direct users there if they reach out to us and we feel that the issue is better handled by the community. – animuson Aug 7 '18 at 22:42
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"Conflict resolution" and "lodging complaints" doesn't have be mutually exclusive with addressing issues with civility and mutual respect. We get it; anyone who's ever tried to engage with others online has probably been tempted to lash out at someone or something they disagree with.

Folks addressing disagreements in good faith can do so constructively and respectfully, much like you typically expected to deal with a colleague sitting across from you in an academic or professional setting.

The Code of Conduct says, essentially, that we require all participants to act in a professional and civil tone when using these sites. If another user has wronged you in some way, or you have a good-faith disagreement about policy, it is often helpful to remind ourselves that keeping things friendly and constructive doesn't have to be at odds with being right.

Honestly, a Code of Conduct should not be at odds with folks engaging in constructive discussions, even where others might disagree. I think the new Code of Conduct actually lays that out quite nicely.

My favorite part of that write-up is how it lays out unfriendly vs friendly alternatives:

  • Unfriendly: “You could Google this in 5 seconds.”
  • Friendly: “This is called Invariance and Covariance. If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in an answer here.”

  • Unfriendly: “If you bothered to read my question, you’d know it’s not a duplicate.”
  • Friendly: “I don’t think this is a duplicate. My question is about cement board, while the question you linked is about drywall.”

  • Unfriendly: “Are you speaking English? If so, I can’t tell.”
  • Friendly: “I’m having trouble understanding your question. I think you’re asking how to add a swap after system installation. Is that correct?”

  • Unfriendly: “I came to get help, not to get my question edited.”
  • Friendly: “Thanks for trying to help, but your edit isn’t what I meant. I’ve removed your edit, and have updated my question so it’s clearer.”

We've all been there — I have, at least — when you really want to use that first example… even when the latter will invariably get better results. The examples above are targeted more at comments, but the concept applies equally well to meta discourse.

  • full head of steam lashing out against issues or people you disagree with. This is a strawman; in fact, many complaints do want clarification why something happened and often in fact it was a misunderstanding or even an admitted moderator error. Remember, such egregious complaints you are painting are met in meta with a stream of downvotes. We don't allow that Who is we? Please clarify. And most of the answer deals with conflict resolution in general and misses the point how Meta comes into the conflict. – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 21:32
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    @ThorstenS. Your assertion is that the CoC dissuades or disallows Meta as a channel for conflict resolution. I do not see conflict resolution and civility being mutually exclusive. Maybe I misunderstand your post. – Robert Cartaino Aug 7 '18 at 22:01
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    Your assertion is that the CoC dissuades or disallows Meta as a channel for conflict resolution. Correct. Civility is required on all interpersonal levels: chat, meta, direct contact. My problem is conflict escalation: You cannot contact a user by flagging and you cannot leave comments under e.g. a deleted answer as non-moderator. The new CoC gives the impression: Cannot flag? Ask directly! We used meta to solve moderator troubles before, so the question is: Is Meta now defunct? It is not a question of civility. – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:14
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Meta is a pretty harsh place, especially this one, but also most per-site metas. You’re expected to know the rules when you post on meta, and complaints that are perceived to be unjustified tend to get very heavily downvoted.

Meta is not the place I’d send a new user to complain, that would be quite mean. If you’re not familiar with many of the rules of the site, it’s easy to end up with a heavily downvoted meta post.

The SE community team is much nicer in general than the meta population, it’s a better way to complain than meta for new users in my opinion. Experienced users can certainly use meta to achieve the same thing, maybe even more effectively. But those already know where to find meta, for everyone else contacting the SE community team is probably the better idea.

  • I do understand that it is much easier to direct users to helpful staff and yes, meta can be tricky, so yes, your answer has merit. One problem is scale: Can SE maintain such user service? The other is that you still assume Experienced users can certainly use meta to achieve the same thing and I would like to be sure that this in fact the case with the current CoC. – Thorsten S. Aug 7 '18 at 22:18
  • Where is this "SE community team" found? I've been on the SE sites for some years, and I still don't have a clue what this refers to. – Fizz Aug 8 '18 at 2:14
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    We're hard to see; you have to look out of the corner of your eye, @Fizz. Or, refer to this handy bestiary – Shog9 Aug 8 '18 at 2:25
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    Ironically, the SE community team does send people to meta fairly regularly. But... Only when we know they have an appropriate use of meta in mind. "How do I ask an effective question about [topic] here?" is good for meta; "Nazi mod Mad Scientist closed my question!!!1" not so much. – Shog9 Aug 8 '18 at 2:28

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