Let me first try to explain my main motivation for writing this post. It is, to put simply, to try to understand our new Code of Conduct (henceforth CoC) and the scheme of flagging chat posts more.

Reasons for Writing This Post

  1. Very recently I have observed this comment in the CRUDE chatroom. However so far my understanding goes this comment should be seen as clear violation of CoC. To be precise, I don't think that the chat post respects the following (quoted from here),

    • No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language. Even if you don’t intend it, this can have a negative impact on others.

    • No name-calling or personal attacks. Focus on the content, not the person. This includes terms that feel personal even when they're applied to content (e.g. “lazy”).

    I have flagged the chat post but it was denied. I also had a chat with a mod regarding this (details can be seen here) but he told me that the case was borderline. Some further chat posts are listed in this post and even though they were flagged as spam/offensive, they were not removed.

  2. Very often when I am in CRUDE and see something inappropriate and I flag it as spam/offensive, it is denied. However, when I flag it for moderator attention, it gets removed (mostly by non-MSE mods). Also it seems to me that there are some users for whom CoC isn't applied as strongly as it is for other users. I can name specifics, but I am leaving it for now. If someone really wants to know, let me know in the comments below this post.

  3. We know that if a comment seems inappropriate, flag it. To quote from CoC,

    • Flag the harmful content. Depending on the content, flagging will alert moderators or trigger an automatic deletion.

    However, very recently I along with another user was suspended for flagging a chat post because the conversation was ended before one day (by the way, I was suspended for flagging this chat post (or so I thought). As is remarked by the mod who suspended both of us (see here for details [mods and CM's only]),

    You can flag, but you don't have to. If the conversation is long since over, it can be better in some situations to leave it that way rather than reanimate it with flags. Remember that flags get seen by all network mods and anyone with 10k reputation network wide.

My questions (edited especially in view of this answer)

  1. Are the chat posts I quoted above (i.e. this and this) not violating CoC? Can anyone give me some opinion regarding how can I decide when a comment is really violating the CoC or not? This is really important as I think if I am really overreacting, this may be helpful to reduce the number of flags from me.

  2. When can I flag and when even though I can, I don't need to flag chat posts even if they violate CoC?

  3. It is written in the answer due to which I added this question that, "You were suspended because you engaged in a discussion in another room that also turned vitriolic and snarky, which is also not okay." However, the only conversation that I have had that may be relevant to the issue of my suspension is this. Can anyone tell me how it turned vitrolic and snarky warranting suspension? More specifically can anyone point out to me the specific parts of my comments which is not keeping with CoC? In my chat with the mod who suspended both of us I asked the same thing to him/her (see e.g. here). But he/she didn't give me any specific answer. So I am wondering about the better ways to formulate my comments.


I think that my second question is slightly misunderstood without context. In fact I was hoping to discuss about it in a separate post but reading the answers made me feel that a bit context may be helpful for assessing the motivations for writing this post. So I am providing below what-I-think-to-be sufficient context.

  • I have created a chatroom for the purposes of general discussions specifically intended to be done with me.

  • amWhy left a chat post there which I found distracting and to ignore further such posts from him/her like this and to prevent myself from getting engaged in some highly non-constructive discussion I tried to press the button "ignore this user (everywhere)".

  • However, as the room ownwers of a chatroom are surely aware, due to the consecutive position of "ignore this user (everywhere)" and "kick-mute this user" - I mistakenly clicked on the latter instead of the former.

  • Immediately (i.e., within 5 seconds) I was kicked out from CRUDE by amWhy even though I apologized to him/her in my room here explaining the situation. I even tried to explain the situation to him/her here also (because as I already ignored him/her, he/she wasn't pingable).

  • Since I ignored him/her, I wasn't notified of his/her latter comments before leaving the chatroom that day.

  • Later when I came back I un-ignored him/her to see if he/she has left any message in my room. Then as I went on to Math Meta Chat I saw the message and flagged it.

  • I was suspended immediately then.

  • Only after (instead of before) I was suspended, the following message was written by the mod who suspended both of us,

    If you can find it in yourselves to disagree respectfully, you'll find yourselves being removed from chat much less. As it is, you can both have some time off for being bloody-minded about the whole thing. I'm going to clean up; you both need to either be constructive or actually use that ignore button.

Most Important

Please go through all the links that I have provided and don't answer if you haven't done so. Also if you decide to post an answer to the question please post them question wise.

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    No, those comments you link to are not a violation the CoC. The first one is part of an exchange between a user and an RO, the second one is part of thread where they discuss a site policy/scope. It is inevitable that you classify users in such discussions, otherwise the discussion bercomes too abstract. – rene Dec 14 '18 at 18:36
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    @user334732 let me not comment on that and instead share a general observation: Due to this CoC I now see a tendency that we trigger on words while we lose sight on the context it is used in. By banning words or terms you're not solving a problem, you're hiding it. Users will from then on use innocent looking words instead while expressing the same frustration. Casual on-lookers/visitors (and an RO or mod) will now think a civil conversation is taking place while in reality a slow burn is going on. I'm more in favor of open moderation, asking someone to rephrase words or flag for an edit. – rene Dec 15 '18 at 8:35
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    I don't know exactly those kind of comments are a violation of our CoC and I'm sure that in his proposal Jyrky is totaly in good faith. I simply think that this kind of language should be avoided throught a self censorship especially form users who have served as moderators here. The the bad thing of these kind of comments is that they could potentially make grow up hostility between groups of users with different point of views about the use of the site, which is really not effective to make things better. Only for that reason, I think that Mods should make any effort to avoid that. – user Dec 15 '18 at 10:50
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    @user170039 in respect of your third question I can only offer my answer below, in which I aim to suggest that mods have better things to do than to ensure justice is 100% just, especially in respect of relatively trivial penalties, so I get the impression it's easier for them to take the approach that it takes two to tango and cast a fairly wide net over everybody involved. So don't expect to always be able to identify what you did wrong. If your every comment elicits outrage from a certain user, just block them on chat, and problem solved. – samerivertwice Dec 16 '18 at 20:28
  • Without referring to the actual context, rene's first comment is extremely misleading. "No, those comments you link to are not a violation the CoC. The first one is part of an exchange between a user and an RO, the second one is part of thread where they discuss a site policy/scope." What kind of justification is this?! – Jack Apr 19 '20 at 23:05
  • In the first link mentioned in the post, "Admittedly I am also extremely annoyed by the fact that they create opportunities for the local gang of homework automatons to participate in their hourly circle-jerk of textbook answers and upvotes." is by no means a simple "exchange" of conversation, it is completely a malicious personal attack. – Jack Apr 19 '20 at 23:08

To start off, we're talking chat, not comments, and in this case MSE means Math, not Meta.SE, since in this case I'm potentially one of said non-Math mods.

An essential part of effective chat moderation is de-escalation. You'd find that, far more so on chat than anywhere else, it's useful to deal with a potential problem quickly rather than letting it fester.

While somewhat crude, it does feel like it's an observation over problem behaviour, with a certain degree of frustration. It appears there was a local moderator in the room, and he steered the conversation elsewhere.

@rob: Did you decline my last flag?

Slightly concerns me though, especially in the context of the ongoing, and seemingly fairly civil conversation. Yeah, specific language crosses the line, but it's worth considering the broader context when judging intent and good faith.

When you flagged it, users counterflagged that it was not offensive. So, to at least the number of users who saw that (presumably the 5 necessary to decline a flag), they did not agree it was against CoC.

Sums up one of the good and parts of chat moderation: folks took a look, and decided that it wasn't offensive. These folks are 10k-ers or mods anywhere on the network.

Looking at this - full context helps. Cherrypicking what amwhy said without pointing out the full context isn't cool. If there was revenge kicking, that's another story.

You can flag, but you don't have to. If the conversation is long since over, it can be better in some situations to leave it that way rather than reanimate it with flags. Remember that flags get seen by all network mods and anyone with 10k reputation network wide.

Is brilliant advice. You should take it. Sometimes it's better to let the past be past.

  • See this old post for an illustration. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Dec 14 '18 at 21:28
  • @AnneDaunted: Very helpful post. Thanks. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 3:44
  • Please see the edit. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 4:18
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    "When you flagged it, users counterflagged that it was not offensive. So, to at least the number of users who saw that (presumably the 5 necessary to decline a flag), they did not agree it was against CoC." - unfortunately this is one of the canonical arguments from the "group" of users who deny this kind of flags even though when I flag them for mods they agree to it. I can't say anything more regarding this issue publicly but I hope you get the point. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 4:41
  • But here, we're putting out trust in the community, That it hasn't gone your way dosen't mean that there's a fundamental breakdown. Besides, the COC is a shield, not a stick - meant to protect users. Here it seems... weaponised. And literally you're choosing to carry on an argument long gone. – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 5:03
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    "Here it seems... weaponised." - where exactly? – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 5:30
  • That we're talking about making content go away and, well, implicitly who's right and who's wrong. Folks have been aware of this chat drama a while, and well - I'm not convinced as is that we're headed towards a peaceful resolution. Dragging out "this happened, and this happened and this happened" hardly helps defuse things. The moment we go "This must happen because of the COC" - its turned into a bludgeon. – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 6:14
  • I don't see I ever said something like "This must happen because of the COC" or even something from which something like that logically follows. But I get your point and even though I have some things to clarify from you regarding the above comment, I think that continuing this here is only going to be off-topic. So I will not continue this here. But thank you very much for providing your viewpoint. Thanks again. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 6:33
  • @JourneymanGeek an understanding of the room in question adds a lot of context here. This might help: math.meta.stackexchange.com/q/28390/334732 – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 9:49
  • That said though nothing I've talked about is specific to any room. We're aware that there's a load of drama in math.se . If y'all have a problem with CRUDE (which is literally something identical to what many sites did before the review queue) - that's a problem for Math.se and its mod. I've entirely focused on the tone and issues in this post, all of which are vaguely generic – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 11:12
  • Any idea regarding my third question? – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 12:19
  • ABout the kick? I've never accidentally kicked anyone before. Other than the baby eating incident, but that needed a suspension, but I was too distraught. Annnywaaayyy... The user was clearly annoyed - and acted out. That said, there's no real benefit in carrying on. Moving on is a great option - as that modern classic goes let it go, let it goooooo – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 12:27
  • Nope not about the kick. Please read my 3rd question. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 12:35
  • That's for the mod in question to address - I wasn't on the ground, and I'm not going to second guess him. Still, this does still seem like something that isn't really productive. I don't even know what room its in. – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 12:44
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    Very appropriate and reasonable answer, across the board. – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 5:26

Let me address your points one by one.

  1. I agree that the message you've linked isn't in keeping with the code of conduct. If I had seen a flag for it, I would have removed it.

  2. While I do quite a bit of chat moderation, I'm not a regular on Math.SE or in any of its chatrooms. Without that familiarity I'm not about to condemn either a room or specific users as being consistently abusive. I'd encourage you to keep doing what you're doing - if your offensive flags are getting declined on content that's pretty clearly offensive, flag the offending messages for moderator attention. Explain why you think the message(s) should be removed and why you're resorting to a mod flag rather than an offensive flag. This creates - well, not a paper trail, but a mod trail - if moderators start to notice objectionable stuff being a pattern in a room, we can start doing things about it.

  3. Let me clarify here. I'm the mod who issued both suspensions there. You were not suspended for flagging a message; unless you're seriously abusing flags - which you're not - you don't get suspended simply for flagging. You were suspended because you engaged in a discussion in another room that also turned vitriolic and snarky, which is also not okay. Flagging to help mods remove objectionable content is useful; engaging in that content with additional snark is not.

  • Please see the edit. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 4:19
  • @user170039 We've been over that before. – ArtOfCode Dec 17 '18 at 14:37
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    Indeed. But you didn't want to give a specific answer. That's why I added the third question. It's entirely up to you to answer my third question. But I think that if there are some phrases/words in my statements that you characterized as "engaging in that content with additional snark" it should be easy for you to answer that, otherwise it is really doubtful whether it was really my comments or something else that motivated you to suspend me - noting that it is my first time ever to be suspended. – user394678 Dec 17 '18 at 17:32
  • "Answer me or the suspension was clearly wrong" is... hardly a compelling argument, @user170039. If I didn't answer it the first time around, what makes you think asking again makes it more likely? – ArtOfCode Dec 17 '18 at 17:50
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    First "Answer me or the suspension was clearly wrong" - I didn't say any such "argument", not sure where you found it. Second, I didn't think that asking you again makes it more likely - again not sure where you got such an impression. In fact, I was convinced at the beginning that no specific reply from you regarding this matter is going to come. But I decided to give a honest try and also because I was intending to accept this because it very nicely (and concisely) answers my first two questions. – user394678 Dec 18 '18 at 3:25
  • Modifying the message to @user170039, I'll suggest for you, ArtOfCode: You can suspend, but you don't have to. If the conversation is long since over, it can be better in some situations to leave it that way rather than reanimate it with suspensions. Remember that flags get seen by all network mods and anyone with 10k reputation network wide, but don't always require any action whatsoever. And remember, site mods are in a better position to understand the history and context in which the flag is cast, so aim to defer action and pass the matther off to a site mod. – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 12:37
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    Part of abiding by the guiding wisdom I express above, requires, to be successfully implemented, requires that mods be objective (as much as possible), be in tune with their own demons (we all have them, and some demons can interfere with appropriate assessment of some situations), and humble, willing to admit they may have been mistaken, and hence, welcome (even insist that) others to review and act otherwise if anything whatsoever in one's actions is suspect. – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 12:43
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    Nothing there that we haven't discussed at length in the teachers' lounge, @amWhy. Other mods are more than welcome to review this, if they wish to. – ArtOfCode Dec 19 '18 at 13:56
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    That's the precise issue, @ArtOfCode. The "teacher's lounge (mod's lounge/tavern)" encourages a "code of silence", from my experience, in which one site mod doesn't want to step on the toes of another site mod, even if they disagree strongly with an action taken. And you all know you've got this form of "protection," whether within one site, or across sites. That CM's aren't bothered by this is troubling. – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 14:29
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    That's an... interesting story, @amWhy. – ArtOfCode Dec 19 '18 at 14:39
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    Interesting or not, it's rather true, as well, @ArtOfCode – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 16:27

Please don't exaggerate such things. I agree that the wording "circle-jerk" in that chat message is profane language and not a 100% appropriate regarding the CoC.

Though there wasn't any getting ad hominem with a particular user or harassment I can see.

The other message you mention is just about general chat room behaviors, and kicking from a room is just meant in that context.

All in all I can't really see any seriously harmful with these messages. Denying your flags, was OK and a calm reaction IMO.

  • Please see the edit. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 4:19
  • To exaggerate is different to "making a mountain out of a mole hill". I think you mean the latter which implies assigning more significance to something than it deserves. Whereas the first implies changing the facts, which I don't think has happened here. But I think this is simply a subtlety of language rather than a deliberate exaggeration on your part. – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 5:00
  • @forest this post adds some context to the nature of the room, and therefore the context in which new users arrive at it, wondering why their question has been closed and deleted, to be surprised that public insults have been traded about them behind their back: math.meta.stackexchange.com/q/28390/334732 – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 9:51
  • @user334732 Looks much like the SOCVR at Stack Overflow. – πάντα ῥεῖ Dec 15 '18 at 9:54
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    @user334732: "But it sits within the a wider question of the attitude those who police the site take towards those they police, including both askers and answerers." Well... yeah. Generally speaking, your garbage collector will have a worse opinion of someone who scatters their garbage in the streets than someone who puts it in the can where it belongs. – Nicol Bolas Dec 16 '18 at 5:22
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    @NicolBolas but there's disagreement what constitutes garbage. A street artist has made a picture in chalk on the sidewalk which some people are enjoying, and your volunteer garbage collector came along and rubbed it out and said it was policy not to allow such things, and you're saying it's ok for him to also call the artist a w***er. And I'm saying he should at least be nice about it. – samerivertwice Dec 16 '18 at 6:55

To abuse the targets of closure and deletion behind their backs, and for mods to decline flags, creates the impression that the room's users can act with impunity, even when there may be resentment or malice in their actions, and this is not a good look. I thought response to the Is Crude healthy? question indicated the community was sensitive to the matter.

Mods, especially from other sites on the network don't have time to cross-reference and determine exactly who's to blame accurately. It's probably easier just to dish out a penalty to everyone involved and the effect of that will be to stop all users getting involved. I've had the same happen to me and I just suck it up and not read too much into it. Life's not fair at the end of the day.

Re the circle-jerking homework automatons comment you flagged, I think it is very different to abuse somebody to their face, and behind their back.

I can understand the exemptions in chat that make what would be unacceptable elsewhere, acceptable. And actually, I prefer some sharp and forthright comments, it's part of the joy of chat. If chat was just a huge politically-correct love-in, I and many other users would probably use it less.

At first I chuckled at this comment, then I reflected on the time I was the target of a similar comment in the same room and I remembered that I discovered it by accident, when I was already feeling aggreived about closure and deletion of my question.

Then to discover a group of users had been discussing me in a derogatory fashion behind my back was a shock and made me wonder if this was a one-off and whether it ran deeper, and I wasted some time reading the transcript.

I posted the Is crude healthy? question at that point.

My personal opinion is that to publicly abuse someone behind their back should not be given the same leeway as when it happens face to face, and secondly what happens in that room is by its nature already sensitive, so to abuse the targets of closure and deletion behind their backs, and for mods to decline flags, creates the impression that the room's users can act with impunity, even when there may be resentment or malice in their actions, and this is not a good look. I thought response to the Is Crude healthy? question indicated the community was sensitive to the matter.

I actually think Jyrki doesn't feel any malice, rather a great deal of frustration that another's users interpretation of the purpose of MSE is at odds with his.

Buti think in that room (or in the case of any sensitive activity), and if we're going to label a group behind their backs, these flags should not be declined.

Incidentally, since the comment was deemed acceptable I change my username to "close-delete automaton" in protest. It was not long before I received a moderator message informing me my username had been changed back, and not to do so again else face further sanctions.

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    It is interesting to note that even though the phrase "close-delete automaton" is acceptable in comments, (apparently) it is not acceptable as a username. – user394678 Dec 15 '18 at 6:23
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    @user170039 yes, it would be easy to conclude the moderators were being unevenly-handed by permitting the term to be used against one set of users but not against another. But I do happen to think the case for being more permissive in chat is well-founded. The problem we have, is that mods from MSE will understand the sensitivities of that room, while mods from other network sites are unlikely to. The sensitivity of that room, in my opinion, justifies more discipline to be nice, especially to strangers who are not present. – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 9:41
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    But chat flags attract mods from across the network, and they cannot be expected to know the full situation. Incidentally, I think due to better understanding of that room, your question would have been better-received on MSE Meta. – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 9:41
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    On the other hands, us mods are chatty and one way or the other mods are made informed of things that involve their sites. – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 10:44
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    @JourneymanGeek that's good to know. It's also probably worth bearing mind that talking with two different mods from the same site can give polarised perspectives on the same matter or individual. A mod of the site itself is likely to know where in the spectrum of opinion, their opinion sits, but in chat to a third party site mod, the opinion is more likely to be conveyed modulo the full spectrum. – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 11:17
  • From experience mods talk amongst themselves too - especially where a mod's involved in a post. For example - if I felt there was a problem with this post, I'd drop another mod a line and go "Hey $other_Mod - this post concerns me, but I think I have a conflict of interest. Could you please keep an eye and do the necessary?" – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 11:20
  • @JourneymanGeek yes, I get that. I recently had a chat ban from another site mod and I assumed a local mod had roped them in so as not to appear partial. – samerivertwice Dec 15 '18 at 11:21
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    Personally it usually goes the other way "Hey, so A and B got into a bit of a tiff. I've suspended them to cool off, but feel free to review and have a word with the users involved". I think most mods would really rather settle things themselves. – Journeyman Geek Dec 15 '18 at 11:23
  • @JourneymanGeek I suppport your take on this, though unfortunately there are off-site mods that insert themselves into a chat at a moment of tension, and make wrong calls, and do so in a biased manner. Having a bad day?: "Zap, your gone for a day, a week, hell what do I care?" And in my experience, math.se mods are loathe to intervene in a chat suspension inflicted by an off-site mod do some sort of a "moderator code" rarely spoken, but understood to mean: "I may not agree with your actions, but I'll never reverse your action, out of some sense of "mod loyalty". Your message to site mods – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 12:16
  • ... under such an obviously existing ethos means nothing more to other mods than "Hey, so A and B got into a bit of a tiff. I've suspended them to cool off". Then the deal is done. If off site mods were to defer taking action until mods can take action, they ought to, else you get absurd consequences. (Hey, we have to wait for a site mod to answer a flag on-site; why not let us wait until a site-mod can handle a moderator flag in chat, too?) – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 12:19
  • @amWhy Well, there's a few issues. Firstly - that its not just mods that handle chat flags. In the instance I dropped in, I'd checked to see if one of your mods was around, and the flag was already processed. I dropped in because I wanted to see the context of said flag, and try to de-escalate. In short, this wouldn't change if mods sat back and did nothing. – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '18 at 12:22
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    And pretty much - the point of a chat suspension is to cool down the situation immediately and there's room to review. Which is why I say what I do. At the end of the day local mods and mod-regulars end up being the ones who clean up and I respect that. As for waiting - its not always an option. We've had that arguement, that non local mods are unwelcome to act, and it rarely ends well. – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '18 at 12:24
  • What I tried to convey, @JourneymanGeek, is that in too many cases, e.g., my recent chat suspension, there was no such review by site mods. Or I should say, they may very well have reviewed it and agreed with my position that the suspension was an overstep of mod powers, but were reluctant to overthrow another site-mod's decision. (That's the kind of blind loyalty to one another that undermines the very basis of this site and any claim to objectivity.) – amWhy Dec 19 '18 at 12:29
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    They could have - or not known about it, or well decided it was necessary, Without asking the mods in question, we'll never know. Having people, well, deal with things on their own though is best. CRUDE seems a little way from that :/ – Journeyman Geek Dec 19 '18 at 12:54

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