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A question about a controversial policy was posted and self-answered by a staff member. After the fact, the ownership of the original question was changed to another staff member, using the tool that is also used for dissociating ownership, to allow the accepted answer to stay on top regardless of community votes.

When is it appropriate to use this tool?

  • 9
    I would say never under normal circumstances but when it comes to a staff post, that is the company position not the individuals, I guess it doesn't matter who it says posted it. – Mark Kirby Nov 14 at 18:47
  • 3
    The policies around using tools are irrelevant when it comes to staff using them. – user400654 Nov 14 at 18:57
  • @KevinB is that sarcastic, or do you believe that staff shouldn't be bound by policy? – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Nov 14 at 18:58
  • 4
    No, i'm simply presenting the facts. What I believe isn't relevant. – user400654 Nov 14 at 18:58
  • 5
    For reference, here is the comment where Juan explains why it was done in this case. And here is a comment explaining more how it works. And, IMO, it seems very reasonable or, at least, nothing to get outraged about. – Rubiksmoose Nov 14 at 19:01
19

If the original post was simply deleted and re-posted by a different user, the net results would be the same, and would be well within the purview of existing tools. However, all the existing votes, answers and comments, critical and supportive, would also end up being removed entirely. So while disassociating and later reassociating the post in this case may look odd, and may not be what those tools were designed for, their use here seems appropriate.

As for a general "When should these tools be used" guideline?

  • Post disassociation should primarily be used when a post owner no longer wants to be associated with their post. This has always been the case, and I see nothing in this situation that changes that.
  • Post reassociation is trickier. If there's a good reason and it's done with the full consent of both the original and new post owners, I see no problem with it. "Good reason" is highly subjective though, and would need to be judged on a case-by-case basis.
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    As far as I know, we've never re-associated a regular non-employee Q&A post with someone who wasn't its original author. – Adam Lear Nov 14 at 20:53
  • 1
    @AdamLear Yeah, I have difficulty conceiving of any situations beyond this one where reassociating to another author would be a reasonable course of action. But before this, I would've had difficulty conceiving of any situations where reassociating to another author would be a reasonable course of action at all. So, yeah, case-by-case. – goldPseudo Nov 14 at 21:28
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    We've done employee-to-employee and employee-to-Community on metas at various points over the years. It's possible I'm missing something, but I can't see a scenario where that's creating any problems. – Adam Lear Nov 14 at 21:30
  • FWIW: I've done this on occasion to convert comments to answers, @adam. Moreso in the past while handling support requests; it's the sort of thing that comes up regularly but infrequently. – Shog9 Nov 15 at 14:45
9

I'll repeat what I commented under that post: since that wasn't actually a question (in the sense that asker would not know the answer), but an announcement, it makes sense to pin the "answer" to the top, since it's basically part of the announcement.

They could also have posted that announcement in the blog instead, and I'm not sure if that would have made users any happier.

Really, in all of this sh**storm, this is probably the least thing you should worry about.

5

There were a couple other ways the post in question could have been handled.

  • The question could have been deleted and posted again using the format that would accomplish the intended goal (i.e. different users).
  • The post could have contained post the question and answer as is common with many "announcement" style posts from the CMs.
  • The post could have been locked immediately after the posting. (I wouldn't do this as then all voting and comments would have been locked but is technically possible).

Now they chose to doing something behind-the-scenes which is shady, but overall does not affect the outcome of the post. The two users involved were employees of the company and i'm sure there was explicit permission to do what was done.

Now, for us "regular" users, a post author should only be changed when the original poster asks for it to be disassociated with their account.

5

This tool should be used:

  • When requested by the user who owns the post; and
  • When the request isn't frivolous (like "I would like to assign my post to Jon Skeet without asking first").

I do not know of an instance of any employees using this tool outside these conditions.


Regarding this specific instance, I don't think transferring ownership from one account-that-represents-the-company to another account-that-represents-the-company in order to sticky the official company position is a frivolous use-case. (I know that moderators have done much "worse" in order to get stuff done, (ab)using genuine bugs in the system to achieve things within their job description but outside their technical ability, and that was always fine.)

1

Another solution:

  • JNat posts a new version of the question.

  • The version posted by Juan M is merged into the new version.

    All of the merged question's answers, including their votes and comments, become answers to the target question. Non-deleted comments on the merged question are moved to the target question.

  • The Merge Post Notice can then be removed.

  • That's functionally equivalent, though, and still using mod tools, while also causing extra cache misses, redirects and general annoyance that would otherwise be avoided. – wizzwizz4 Nov 14 at 21:05

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