I am sure this situation gets arise often network wide. At least I came across some during my experience. Generally, there is no compulsion that moderators should participate in chat and answer queries. But it is much expected that they should be accountable to the community. Fortunately, I participate on sites where the mods are available for ping (whether they reply is secondary).

When we ping a moderator for a clarification of something regarding flags or moderation, it is natural that there will be discussions between moderator and the user. There could be long discussions when these are about meta matters and policy making or something related to deletion. I engage in discussions where the discussions take place for long time (not long as per MSE, SO standard but according to beta site standard) like 10 minutes regarding some policy. There may be an exchange of some 10 messages from each side. When this happens between a moderator and me, the other users do not participate and play some jokes that I am talking too much. I am entitled to clear the assumptions and claims made on me. So I reply. Moderators make assertions that I am blaming them every time and bunks the topic without answering the queries. Some or the other way, it gets portrayed that there is a fight between mods and me. Some play lame jokes that I am doing to achieve something. Some even think I criticize for each and every action which is not true. I tried to say that it is not a fight and a query and a discussion.

How do I let the users know that such discussions between a moderator and user for clarifications and policies are okay and common on Stack Exchange network and this is not a personal fight or hate towards them?

I am sure this happens on other sites too. I am linking to some chat conversation. This is an experience I have multiple times and tried clarifying that I am not fighting. I am looking for a general answer.

  • Why are you so passionate about the issues you bring up? – rene Dec 29 '18 at 8:59
  • 3
    @rene Is that a compliment or censure? I like the site and try to put the things straight. if not possible, I will try to know how to do that. That is why they look a bit serious. – Nog Shine Dec 29 '18 at 9:07
  • It is neither. It is an honest question that you need to answer every time you start a debate and be open about it. It helps a lot if on-lookers know your pet-peeves. – rene Dec 29 '18 at 9:15

I think interactions between users (non-moderators and moderators alike) risk being perceived as fights when one or other party ceases to focus entirely on the content of the Q&A, and starts to use personal comments directed at the other user instead.

If all users avoid doing that, then the perception of a fight should not arise.

Trying to say "but it's not a fight" to an audience that already thinks it is, is a much harder path to follow.


This is really an interpersonal problem - which leads to it being a moderation problems.

Moderators are only human. We're also massively variable in personality and how we deal with things. We've sometimes got to be aware of how folks see us, and how we interact. Sometimes the cumulative effects of interactions with a user could end up being more negative than one might expect.

If folks are seeing it as "being a fight" maybe there's a need to take a few steps back and analyse why.

While some mods and sites do use chat as a critical and active channel for moderation, not all do. Some folks just want a place to hang out and chill (Super User has a "main" room, and a "side" room for regular users to contact mods for assistance). Chat may not be the appropriate avenue for asking mods about stuff on many sites.

As such, if folks are perceiving it as fighting, there's a few things you can do.

Talk to the mod(s) in question - "Hey, so, I noticed there's some friction lately - is there anything I can do to work with you guys better?" and maybe even check if they're ok with this being done on chat.

Empathy is useful here - it's entirely possible the mods feel a bit second guessed and uncomfortable. It's essential to work out if that's the case, even with the best intent.

You might want to move it to site meta - but pick your questions carefully. I find that the best meta questions help set policy, rather than pick over specific decisions.

Finally, try to work out what's the real issue :). Is it a lack of trust of the mods? Unhappiness over the direction and tone of the site?

In short, there's no short answer. You just got to work with folks to find a balance that works for everyone.

  • After some thinking and applying to my situation, I accepted Polygeo's answer. It is very close to my situation. The other side is interested in my personal beliefs and opinions than the content I'm talking about about during the discussions and named it a debate. Talking with them and posting clarifications on meta thru questions and comments seemed useless. Good answer but I feel the other answer is apt to me. – Nog Shine Jan 17 at 9:59
  • Moreover, the mods are not reluctant to use chat rooms. They attend pings from other users like editing comment or putting a banner or closing a question. But they don't answer clarifications on flags when I ask. Hence, posting on meta is also ruled out. – Nog Shine Jan 17 at 10:31

I do sympathize and I have embroiled in a few lengthy conversations myself (not in chat) but sometimes I observe users who do not understand when it's time to let go, when someone is hinting that they no longer wish to discuss a matter any further. People have their own lives to lead, and RL will intervene, and it is tiring explaining the same point time and time again, especially if you know you're not alone. Chat is not private and rooms may have dozens of casual visitors assisting the debate.

This can lead to exasperation on both parties and a sense that the interlocutor is not listening, or is refusing to admit guilt or that they were mistaken.

Yeah... this is an interpersonal issue, just like Journeyman Geek's answer explains.

  • "Chat is not private and rooms may have dozens of casual visitors assisting the debate." No. They only watch. I'm the only one who talks. That made the mods feel that I'm the only one who opposes their moderation and take me to a grain of salt which is depressing. – Nog Shine Dec 29 '18 at 18:14
  • @NogShine "assisting" also means to watch, not necessarily to partipate – Mari-Lou A Dec 29 '18 at 18:36
  • @NogShine I've only just read your profile and I am a bit puzzled, you are not what you seem. I took your expression "take me to a grain of salt" as a non-native speaker's error (take something with a grain of salt = don't believe everything you read or hear) but now I see I have been fooled. :( – Mari-Lou A Dec 30 '18 at 3:34
  • Sorry if my profile or language was misleading. May I know what you mean by "you are not what you seem" – Nog Shine Dec 30 '18 at 9:27
  • @NogShine you seem to be an ordinary user, living in the States, possibly an extensive amount of time, whose second language is English (but I wasn't always sure of this). – Mari-Lou A Dec 30 '18 at 10:42

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