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I'd suppose and hope that the bulk of users who are served with suspensions, (i.e. given a 1 rep., and banned from asking or answering questions), merit their bans, and the SE network is much better for it.

But suppose the system might be fallible; let's say that bugs and imperfections in the moderation rules and helper algorithms, (i.e. built-in aids to moderation, algorithms to select moderators, algorithms which bring users to the attention of moderators, etc.), lead to rare erroneous suspensions, or worse those bugs become known to some, and are game-able, so that a pool of bad actors, can game the system to discredit users who espouse valid ideas, (that might even be correct), the better to promote incorrect but locally remunerative views.

(NB: "bad actors" might be astroturfers, propagandists, or consist of some diverse set of users, mods, employees of SE, et al, with coinciding interests, whether self-serving or oblivious, and those influenced by them.)

And as a consequence, now an innocent user X is banned, not for providing incorrect or bad faith answers, but for providing correct or good faith ones, rather like the plight of journalists or authors censored and punished for writing about bad things done by dictators, gangsters, or fanatics. Meanwhile the bad actors enjoy less opposition so that they may more easily promote the inaccurate ideas they live by.


Does SE have a position on this? That is, does it consider the possibility that it sometimes might punish the innocent, (and promote error), as either:

  1. very unfortunate, but the least worst option available. That is, every other option would punish more of the innocent, and promote more error.

  2. impossible, since the algorithms are provably perfect.

  3. impossible, since the moderators are fine people, and always will be.

  4. impossible, since the userbase is presumed to forever be too virtuous to perpetrate such a wrong.

  5. irrelevant, as the mission of a corporation is to make money. If the users don't like it that's their problem.

...or something else?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Rob, Joonas Ilmavirta, Pierre.Vriens, Ward, Robert Longson Apr 23 at 5:06

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    Are you talking about post bans or suspensions? You mention the post ban by name, but then you describe setting rep to 1, which is part of the manual suspension process, not the post ban. – Robert Columbia Apr 23 at 1:37
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    @RobertColumbia, Thanks. Whatever constitutes being given a 1 rep. and banned both from asking or answering questions. If I have put the wrong name or label on those things, please (if possible) post a URL noting the correct distinction, so I might sooner revise the Q.'s imprecise wording. – agc Apr 23 at 2:02
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    The only thing that resets your rep to 1 is a suspension. There is also the question/answer ban, which prevents you from posting the respective type. There's also the review ban, which prevents you from reviewing in a certain queue. Beyond that, your comparison of murdering journalists by a dictator is hyperbole at it's worst. – fbueckert Apr 23 at 2:15
  • @fbueckert, Depending on one's definition of journalism, prolific SE posters might well be journalists. It's possible good answers posted on SE, however indirectly, might save lives. It's also possible errors, (or even inferior answers), posted on SE might, however indirectly, get people needlessly killed. As such, the silencing of a truth for sake of broadcasting some lesser truth, or even an error, might conceivably be, however indirectly, deadly. – agc Apr 23 at 2:29
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    It's hyperbole. Playing semantics with it doesn't change the fact that people don't die. Either clarify your post, or don't, but the comparison isn't helping you. – fbueckert Apr 23 at 2:31
  • @fbueckert, What makes you sure people don't die? Computer bugs can be catastrophic. Re clarification: pending... – agc Apr 23 at 2:40
14

You are apparently talking about suspensions, which are imposed by people - moderators - not by algorithms.

So all of your comments about possible bugs or imperfections don't apply - there's nothing for your "pool of bad actors" to manipulate. You might argue that the actions of moderators can also be imperfect, but those actions can be and are reviewed by others, ultimately by employees of the company that created and runs these sites.

SE doesn't need to have a position on the situation you're postulating, because it simply doesn't work that way.

  • In other words #3 "impossible, since the moderators are fine people, and always will be.". – agc Apr 23 at 12:42
  • Re "nothing ... to manipulate": suppose an anti-Z stealthy pool of bad actors downvotes or flags certain otherwise unobjectionable pro-Z posts. Resulting in more mod reviews. The result is a general greater friction for pro-Z posts, so it costs more time to maintain a pro-Z post than a non-Z post; a chilling effect. – agc Apr 24 at 9:40

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