-9

Right off the bat I'm going to make it clear that I know full well that comments are ephemeral, transient, and <third-word-here>. This question is more focused on the fact that a comment, which supposedly had something wrong with it was removed, yet when attempts to understand the reasoning behind the removal were made (for future references), no helpful information was provided.


In the post If someone is hurt by a literary reference, should it be removed? under my answer, I replied to a comment posted by another user directed at me:

@user So, essentially, 'My way or highway' - Glad to see how you're willing to discuss opposing points of views. The fact that you think using the poem in a different context other than the context of the holocaust is offensive shows that you don't understand poems and their interpretation.

(Note: Yes, there was initial sarcasm in the comment because I was originally under the impression that user in question was simply unwilling to hear out another opinion and were being dismissive as a result, but, other than that, I don't see anything worth the removal of this comment)

Today, I noticed that it had disappeared which seemed quite odd. So I flagged my answer with the following note:

Why was my comment to this [removed direct link to comment for the purpose of this post] comment removed? Please either reinstate the comment or delete the comment I was replying. You're are removing context for no reason and it doesn't help anybody. This sort of moderation is what gets us into these issues.1

and to my surprise, the flag was declined with a canned response:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

Now, I'm very much aware that a custom reply can be given by mods because I have previously been in situations where a custom reply helped me understand the reasoning behind a moderators action. So, I flagged it again with the following thoughts in mind:

  • If I had done something wrong, then I'd be told what I'd done wrong and learn from it so it can be avoided in the future and we could all move on
  • Or, if the mod had misunderstood the comment then I could clarify and again, we could move on.

Great, right?

The accompanying flag note I left was:

I don't see how it's fair that this comment isn't deleted. I don't want to keep flagging2 nor do I wish to make meta post3 so can I be given reason for deletion of my comment that isn't canned?

I feel that I made a fairly reasonable request, especially with the above two outcomes in mind. ~3 hours passed and I noticed that the flag had been declined, once again. Upon further inspection I was even more confused to see that no reason whatsoever had been given:

declined

that's literally all I'd been given. So here I am writing this post.

With that in mind, can someone:

  1. (ideally the mod responsible) Explain to me what's wrong with my original comment (as I don't believe the person who the comment was directed towards was offended and neither was I with the overall interaction with them)
  2. (the mod responsible can only answer this) Explain why the requests for more information in a scenario which would've helped either party understand their mistakes went ignored?
  3. Point me to a way to discuss these sort of things without bringing it so publicly to meta?

1 In hindsight, I shouldn't have added that final line as it was purely out of frustration due to the fact that recently I've been seeing comments disappear and either the context around them were left or there was nothing wrong with the comment in the first place and it was removed.

2 Because each decline brings me closer to a ban and it also takes mod attention away from other more pressing matters.

3 Because, really, we don't need more drama.

  • 8
    What do you mean by "brings me closer to a ban"? Comment flags never lead to an automatic suspension by my understanding. And there is no such thing as a comment ban. Did you mean something else? – Rubiksmoose Nov 1 '19 at 17:18
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    I don't think declined comment flags lead to flag bans, only flags on posts lead to flag bans. At least, that's what I was told awhile back. – tpg2114 Nov 1 '19 at 17:23
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    Or seven days, give or take. – user102937 Nov 1 '19 at 17:44
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    You're gonna have to let this one go. Stack Exchange is routinely deleting comments that skirt the boundaries, and the bar is set very low right now. They're not going to offer an explanation for a single comment; it's not worth their time or yours. If you really want your thoughts to have any hope of surviving for any length of time, post an answer, not a comment. – user102937 Nov 1 '19 at 17:46
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    @RobertHarvey I don't have a problem with that but my bigger issue with this is that what if a comment is in relation to an opposing view? If one side is kept, but the other side is removed then how is a fair picture painted for anybody? Say what you want about the initial sarcastic part of the comment (as I commented on it too) but my observation that the user didn't understand interpretation of poems (based on that interaction I had) I feel is a noteworthy point. Posting an answer in relation to a comment seems a bit of an overkill and would probably make it a bigger target for deletion. – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 17:47
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    The last words of your question are ones you should take to heart. "really, we don't need more drama." Feelings are running high. People are saying "we are really hurt by that" and others are like "oh really, I don't think so, or at least you have no right to be, justify it to me and I'll see if it's ok for you to not like me doing what I'm doing" and the first folks are like "seriously I don't have to I'm telling you it's awful" and you're like "wow you sure are judgy and pushy" and then when someone wipes it all for being completely unhelpful you flag, flag again, and then demand details? – Kate Gregory Nov 1 '19 at 18:02
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    @KateGregory I would advise you to read my answer and the comments (again). I wasn't saying you have no right to be offended, nor telling anyone to justify it. What I was saying is that to be feel offended that a poem is being used in a different context that what it might have been originally written is on you. Art is very much subjective and poetry is a form of art, therefore if someone feels that the poem they quoted is suited for a situation and you don't, why does your right trump theirs which results in their answer being deleted? [1/3] – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 18:07
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    @KateGregory '[...] and then when someone wipes it all for being completely unhelpful you flag, flag again, and then demand details?' - Sorry, completely "unhelpful" how? We were clearly discussing trying to find common ground and when we couldn't, we very clearly agreed to disagree and went on with our days, this happened on two occasions within that post. Just because people disagree it doesn't been people viewing it from the outside have to view it as hostile. Also, they didn't "wipe it all", they wiped a single comment key comment. [2/3] – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 18:09
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    If you want people to learn from their mistakes be willing to guide them through their mistakes. Don't just dismiss them or disregard them. Yes, we don't need more drama, so if a matter is resolved and no one is making issues of a comment, why remove it? Also, why ignore request for clarification when they were done so privately [3/3] – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 18:10
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    Your position is "I said something that hurt you a lot but if you were only smarter and knew how to interpret poems, you would be unhurt, and you should be unhurt, and I can't help it that you're uneducated." That will not miraculously cure anyone's hurt. Comments are not for that, and nor are they for this. I will now demonstrate disengaging. – Kate Gregory Nov 1 '19 at 18:12
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    Generally with comment flags it's not about "rights" so much as thinking "is this comment, that at least one user is bothered by, still inspiring useful and respectful discussion that should be preserved? eh, not really". – Em C Nov 1 '19 at 18:15
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    I've deleted several hundred comments since I came back as a moderator. I will likely have to delete several hundred more by the time the flag queue is back to a reasonable size. I've already had a few folks specifically ask for me to explain why their post was deleted. Private or otherwise - erf. Imagine if everyone did. And most of these are extremely difficult decisions made with a view of broader context. I'd love to explain every decision we make but its just not viable. – Journeyman Geek Nov 1 '19 at 18:15
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    @KateGregory again, I advise you understand the context of it all. The original answer that we were discussing was not posted by me. You can't just build up a strawman and then disengage, that's extremely unhelpful. – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 18:16
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    I asked what it even meant to be hurt by a literary reference, since I'm pretty sure that's impossible, and that comment got deleted too. But I don't care. Over the past few weeks I've been nothing but grateful when entire comment discussions I was part of got purged, so you won't hear me complain. – Scott Hannen Nov 1 '19 at 19:13
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    Looks more like "Fairness is overrated", as is objectivity and truth, clear language. You see that stating a correct fact is "unkind", "an attack". From a simple syllogism to flag to deletion and ban. The CoC gives no useful guideline on this and even completely depersonalised observations are offensive. I feel extremely hurt by this, all of this. All opposing comments anyway. Now I want to flag all MSE, the site, as rude and abusive. Where is that button? I am right, I have feelings, I am hurt. MSE is offensive to me. How could you disagree seeing that CoC forbids you to do that? – LаngLаngС Nov 1 '19 at 21:13
22

I'm just a regular user so this is basically just my opinion. Note that I didn't read this question you link to, its' answers nor the comments under them (so I basically just read your post here).

When I read the comment you left, here is what I noticed (in bold part):

@user So, essentially, 'My way or highway' - Glad to see how you're willing to discuss opposing points of views. The fact that you think using the poem in a different context other than the context of the holocaust is offensive shows that you don't understand poems and their interpretation.

The first bold part made me think:

  • "Wow, sarcasm. That's not nice. This comment seems unfriendly."

The second bold part was worse. In my opinion, telling someone "you don't understand" with this "tone" does imply that the other person is just "too stupid" (at least, that's how some people will understand it). And telling someone that they are stupid is definitively not nice. (Whether it's true or not doesn't really matter here. I do believe that telling someone "you are stupid" is rude in any context).

So, this (probably) answer your question about "why was my comment deleted".


As for your others questions (that aren't explicitly stated), here are my thought on it:

If you want a comment to be removed, just flag it (as "NLN" or "unfriendly" whether you think it's just "no longer needed" or "unfriendly).

Right now, the mods seem to be a little overworked with their moderator duty, so using custom flag is given them more work which they probably don't really appreciate.

If you just wanted an explanation as to why your comment was removed, you probably shouldn't have talked about the other comment at all.

Also, your custom mod flag seems a bit accusatory. I know it can be hard sometimes, but I always get "better" results with people when I keep a neutral/friendly tone.


For next time:

  • I think it's good that you write this meta question. It can help you understand what you did wrong (in case you, indeed, did something wrong) without overworking the mods since any member of the community can give you their inputs.

  • If you think a comment should be deleted, use a regular flag. This way, maybe mods won't even need to intervene since enough flags will auto-delete it.

  • If you feel the need to use a custom mod flag and it is declined, maybe don't custom mod flag again. Just go straight to meta to ask your question if you believe it's worth it (otherwise, consider just dropping it).

21

I think that BelovedFool's answer covers the specifics, but I suspect some insight into the processes of this would be useful.

This does feel weird to have basically essay length posts covering what should be a disposable oneliner... but here we are.

Our flag queue is pretty full, but currently being worked on. Apparently this specific post was flagged, and a good chunk of them were comment flags and the simplest way to handle them is to nuke them all. We can't really afford the time individually

I don't like that. So typically I'd read through comments from the bottom and clean them up.

On a good day any comment could get deleted. We've not had good days for a while. Especially on controversial or heated topics, an answer typically has more staying power than a comment. Of course, if it seems inflammatory we (or the community) may choose to review and act appropriately.

So if you have anything important to say

  • Make it an answer or a question
  • If it seems to be targeted at a specific person - well don't.
  • If it seems potentially argumentative and its a comment... it is.

I think you kind of get the individual elements of what happened

Right off the bat I'm going to make it clear that I know full well that comments are ephemeral, transient, and

Yes they are. And are liable to be deleted at the shake of a tail. While its tempting to just purge all the comments, I've mostly refrained. Even then in the past few days I think I've read through and deleted several hundred comments.

Yes, there was initial sarcasm in the comment because I was originally under the impression that user in question was simply unwilling to hear out another opinion and were being dismissive as a result, but, other than that...

And the sarcasm could be an issue, especially in these... touchy times.

Why was my comment to this [removed direct link to comment for the purpose of this post] comment removed? Please either reinstate the comment or delete the comment I was replying. You're are removing context for no reason and it doesn't help anybody. 1

So... this is kinda problematic. We clearly deleted the comment for a reason, and I've been handling comments feet first, and taking a look at comment threads bottom to top for a reason. It is important that context is kept.

This sort of moderation is what gets us into these issues.

And that bit... I have no evidence of. There's a dozen different things that got us into these issues. I've not seen a comment moderation related dumpster fire yet

In hindsight, I shouldn't have added that final line as it was purely out of frustration due to the fact that recently I've been seeing comments disappear and either the context around them were left or there was nothing wrong with the comment in the first place and it was removed.

And you get this.

and it also takes mod attention away from other more pressing matters.

And this.

Because, really, we don't need more drama.

And $deity, I miss the days when the worst I had to worry about was another lost user asking programming questions here.

Fundamentally, if a comment thread is long, unweldy and emotionally charged... its going to be difficult to handle. If you find yourself getting frustrated at people over comments, well it might be worth taking a break.

While I don't have time for advice specific to that single comment - I hope this is useful for getting an idea of the broad processes I use for handling these. This comment could have been handled by another mod or CM, but looking at it, its good enough general advice no matter who it was.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the general sentiments of this answer is "We're overworked so just deal with it" and if so then it's unacceptable. If people are taking their time out to contribute and put forward arguments and discuss then the least that can be done is take into consideration the whole context before deletion is done. – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 18:40
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    Actually - read all through it. The general sentiment is "We can't be going through every single deleted comment" and then actually doing it in your case. You get exactly what was wrong with it, based off your question. – Journeyman Geek Nov 1 '19 at 18:45
17

I am a moderator (on a different site). You are a user who fully understands that comments are ephemeral. I presume, probably correctly, that you also are aware of the old "be nice" policy. In essence it says, "Don't be unkind. Just be nice. Be able to walk away before you start being unkind."

Your comment does not need to be taken in context.

When someone flags a comment as rude or abusive, a mod sees just your comment, and as the users above stated, your comment alone was rude enough to be deleted.

Understandably, just about everyone thinks their comments (or questions, or answers) are valuable, and doesn't think they should be removed. You are one of thousands of users a day who feel confused or offended when their comment is deleted.

On any site, accusing someone who disagrees with you that they are unable to understand something is unkind. You also accused them of being close minded, also unkind.

For these reasons alone, there is ample justification for comment deletion.

But you went further, and wanted an explanation for removal plus the removal of the comment you responded to. Again, comments are not necessarily seen in context when a mod sees a flag.

Also, please note that because you were unkind doesn't automatically mean that the person you responded to was offensive. Flags are for individual comments, not chains (except the 20+ comment flag.)

You received two perfectly good answers, and you are still demanding more (in your comments.)

This sort of moderation is what gets us into these issues.

To what issues are you referring? To me, this is normal moderation. If mods on an active site had to leave an explanation for every comment they delete (and which deserves to be deleted), they would not have any kind of life outside of moderating; no work, no family interactions, nothing.

People doing exactly what moderators are supposed to do are routinely accused of being biased, heavy handed, power hungry, and many more things that are unkind, kind of like the comment that was removed.

When you are unhappy with a moderator's actions, you can always escalate to the CM's. That is one of the duties they have undertaken. Bringing it to Meta is rarely productive of the response you would probably be satisfied with.

This is a community, and it runs better when people are just plain nice.

That is what would lead to far fewer issues.

On Parenting recently, a user who stated that a misbehaving child should be put to death was insistent that they had a right to post that comment on the basis that anyone who took their child to church has to be corrected.

  • 2
    So, I'd really like to now, what other way out you'd propose. With that I mean: Person X is close minded, he did a stupid thing. How to address that? I see a fundamental difference between "You are stupid", "You did stupid". Plus, both can be grounded in fact: One is an essentialist attribution without recourse (AmWhatIAM), the other qualifier about one action. One is potentially insulting, the other thing surely not, as it is easily reversed (Never do stupid again, solved). Instead of recurring to a moral absolute (unkind), how do you suggest to express "you did stupid"(fact). – LаngLаngС Nov 1 '19 at 22:27
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    @LаngLаngС - Tact. With a small amount of thought, you can say almost anything without being unkind, if that is your intent. Also, you can always disengage. Easier said than done, though. – anongoodnurse Nov 1 '19 at 23:21
  • @LаngLаngС "You did stupid" gives the addressee and the mod team an easy motive to flag/remove your comment. If you put it like this: "Have you considered the consequences of your actions .." and your comment still gets removed, then I fully support you calling out the actions of users abusing flags and/or moderators censoring your voice. – dfhwze Nov 2 '19 at 7:57
1

My guess would be that the moderator saw your attempt to accuse the other person of being closed minded and decided the comment was unfriendly or even trolling. Unfortunately that is a common technique used by trolls.

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    The comment that my now deleted comment replied to ended with: 'I can see you don't seem to understand this and I have no interest in explaining it further, so just take our word for it: putting the poem in this context is offensive to many of us. So please don't do it.' - If the user hadn't clarified further as they did, then what else would I be left to think? Contextually, my original comment makes sense. – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 17:31
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    @Script47 I guess they thought you were being obtuse. – user Nov 1 '19 at 17:32
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    @Script47 I would think that comments are evaluated in a vacuum, with no regard to context. – user245382 Nov 1 '19 at 17:33
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    @House-'ReinstateMonica'-man yep, that's what I'm thinking more and more and that's a big problem. Especially when discussing more sensitive topics. – Script47 Nov 1 '19 at 17:33

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