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My account has been suspended for a week because "we've observed some rudeness in your latest activity". I received a message from "moderators" about this and was given an opportunity to reply. I replied with:

"I would be grateful if you could explain to me which part of my comment was rude."

I did not receive an answer to that, so I am asking again here.


As far as I remember, in a comment I made before I got suspended I wrote that "I am angry at some trans people", but I no longer remember what I was angry about and how I expressed this. My comment was a direct (i.e. @user) reply to a user whose comment began with the exact same words ("I am angry at ..."). I can no longer find that user's comment and no longer know what it was about. In any way I don't understand how that part of my comment could have been a cause for suspension. When two people chat amicably and quietly about what each of them is angered by, how is that rude?

If another part of my comment was the cause for the suspension, I would truly like to know what it was that was so offensive that I had to be suspended, because I would like to learn and understand what I did wrong. It was not my intention to be rude (but it was my intention to express my extreme irritation).

If I was suspended for something unrelated to that comment, I am even more desperate to learn what it was that I did that was considered rude. I am aware that my tone was often not-full-of-joy, but I am not aware of being outright rude.

I am especially confused, because I found an old blog post by Joel Spolsky that includes a list of comments which are considered "unfriendly" by "95% of the reviewers". Among them are these:

  • This is not correct, for many reasons, many of which were pointed out by plinth below. I d…
  • This isn’t a programming question, it is a psychology question. It doesn’t ask for an expl…

I don't understand what is "unfriendly" about these comments, and this adds to my confusion about what exactly is expected of me on this site and what I must avoid.

As the suspension stands, without explanation, I am unable to learn from it and change my behavior.


I wasn't given the warning that appears to be recommended before a suspension, nor have I received any other feedback from mods or users for my behavior on this site.

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    "some rudeness" rather than "something rude" suggests several instances. However, I believe that is the text of the default (canned) message, so perhaps not so significant. – Raedwald Dec 1 '19 at 10:04
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    "When two people chat amicably and quietly ..." If they do it in a public forum/chat it's always just the two of them and potentially a couple of millions of other people too. This is just a detail but I just wanted to point out that the communication isn't really private or restricted to two people here. – Trilarion Dec 2 '19 at 20:09
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    In a recent incident a user saying "all X are responsible for slavery" was not banned even for a day. Mods consider your phrase: "I am angry at some Y people" much worse I guess. – Orwell was right Dec 4 '19 at 6:55
  • That's just BS. This is not "inclusion", I could say "I'm angry at some people" or "I'm angry at some white people" and I wouldn't get banned. – user651518 Dec 30 '19 at 23:49
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It seems like you've identified something that may have been the problem. It seems it may have been a reasonable cause for suspension, but we don't know exactly what the issue was, so we have to speculate.

You should absolutely be told exactly what caused the suspension. Your complaint (not being told exactly what behavior caused the suspension) seems to be relatively common, which is unfortunate.

For moderators, if you can't identify the behavior that led to a suspension, don't suspend them. If you don't want to argue with someone about it, fine, don't argue with them. It isn't any harder to ignore someone after a suspension message with a clear reason than after a suspension message without a clear reason.

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    I understand the irritation with boilerplate suspension messages. They do not mean the mod hasn't a very good idea why a suspension was merited. I don't know the story here, but there are several reasons not to give an example: the site is very busy and the mod doesn't have the time, the offense is grave enough that no explanation is actually necessary, the user as been warned already (e.g. in comments to be nice), the user is known to commit such offenses, the mod is having an off day, the user is known to be argumentative, etc. Not perfect, but it happens. Understandably, imo. – anongoodnurse Dec 3 '19 at 6:58
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    @anongoodnurse by "identify" I mean to the person being suspended. I doubt any moderator would suspend someone without knowing themselves what the behavior is. I do firmly believe, though, every single suspension should have a mod message clearly citing the specific behavior, and that there are no reasons that make using the boilerplate alone sufficient. Not "they were warned in the comments", not "I'm too busy", and certainly not, "they know what they did." If the UI is so onerous and it is so hard to clearly reference the problem behavior, we need a feature request. – De Novo Dec 3 '19 at 16:33
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    @anongoodnurse a culture that allows suspensions without clearly reference a behavior is the same culture that allows de-modding without clearly referencing the behavior. We need to walk the walk. – De Novo Dec 3 '19 at 16:37
  • De Novo - "I do firmly believe, though, every single suspension should have a mod message clearly citing the specific behavior..." I think it should be done, too, and, iirc, a former mod got a boilerplate suspension and felt the full force of such an impersonal action. But equating a one-week suspension for someone who was "extremely irritated" when making an offensive comment with the de-modding of an incredibly dedicated user and a shining model of behavior for all of us is, I think, overstepping the mark. Read @Journeyman Geek's comments. As a mod, I've seen the same behavior all too often. – anongoodnurse Dec 3 '19 at 20:37
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    @anongoodnurse I'm not equating the two, I just personally believe transparency and accountability should apply to everyone. There is no sliding scale based on how dedicated or thoughtful a user is. If you reduce or suspend a user's privileges, you give them a clear, specific reason. Period. It's a lot easier to say it isn't fair or appropriate to treat, e.g , Monica that way, if you don't treat anyone that way. – De Novo Dec 3 '19 at 21:04
  • @anongoodnurse and FWIW, I've read JGs answer and comments. It's good and useful advice. I agree with them (as best I can remember the comments) except for the use of the boilerplate by itself. – De Novo Dec 3 '19 at 21:15
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I'd recommend reading through the comment and asking - what could be seen as rude about it. This is something you need to consider before, not after you post. At this point of time we're dealing with a mountain of flags and drama, with no sign of abating, and the mods quite literally do not have the time to individually explain to every person who claims innocence. (And yes, that pretty much happens every time we suspend people).

As far as I remember, in a comment I made before I got suspended I wrote that "I am angry at some trans people", but I no longer remember what I was angry about and how I expressed this

Fundamentally it is for you to be a check on yourself. If you're mainly on meta to be angry, well, it seriously hurts meta's ability to be a useful resource, and feeds into the narrative we are toxic. We cannot win without being better than we are now, or at least smarter.

So right now, an unintended (or maybe intended) consequence of recent events is that meta's basically drama central. Folks at each others' throats, and so much anger.

Words have implications. You could hurt someone, or even drive them to self hurt. While comments are "disposable" they're still something we see and need to decide on.

So, if you need to be angry at a group of people, do it elsewhere. If your critique is not constructive, and helpful, it doesn't belong.

Spolsky's post is programming-centric. It's designed for SO. The mods here, and the CMs if they assist, are not thinking about code, we're thinking about the actual community here, consisting of people with feelings. Yes, even folks you are angry at. At the end of the day, as mods, we're going to have to watch out for all our users. Meta is not a place for dumping your anger at specific groups of people.

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    Your first sentence is good advice, but the rest doesn't answer my question. Since my question is not about what goes on on the site currently, I'll not comment on that part of your answer. – I am not the way you speak Nov 30 '19 at 15:13
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    @Iam I've read your (now deleted) comment and I think this answer (in its entirety) is extremely pertinent. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss everything but the first sentence. – scohe001 Nov 30 '19 at 15:18
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    @scohe001 I don't dismiss anything. There is just so much to be said about it, and I feel that that would not be helpful to the question at hand. –– If you have read the comment and remember it, can you cite it or – if you feel that would be unwise – explain the rudeness? – I am not the way you speak Nov 30 '19 at 15:27
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    Long term suspensions are dealt so users do not disrupt the site. Short term suspensions are mostly so users can reflect and cool down. @iam, you were angry before the suspension and seem to remain angry. Maybe you should let it go and cool down a bit more? Keeping on this path seems counterproductive for everyone. Focus on different issues for a while. – yivi Nov 30 '19 at 15:34
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    @Iam Journeyman certainly has access to it, since they're a mod. If they've chosen not to post the comment verbatim, it's probably for good reason. So I'll avoid quoting it as well. Suffice to say that this paragraph from the above answer sums up the problem "So, if you need to be angry at a group of people, do it elsewhere. If your critique is not constructive, and helpful, it dosen't belong." – scohe001 Nov 30 '19 at 15:36
  • Some mods got peculiar ways of banning users. How come can someone say "all X are responsible for slavery" and not get even a 1-day ban? – Orwell was right Dec 4 '19 at 6:59
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+50

I'm really surprised. Instead of talking about the fact, that the member was suspended without receiving any messages from mods, we are talking about irrelevant things ...

As I can see, it was first time. This member didn't have any suspensions/notifications from mods before. His comments were not that offensive to suspend him.

For the 1st violation there should be a warning, not suspension.

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    Depends - If something is serious enough, or there's been a pattern, its needed. Considering the user knows which comment caused him to be suspended, its not much to work out what's wrong about it. – Journeyman Geek Dec 1 '19 at 11:29
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    @JourneymanGeek In what way was my comment "serious enough"? I am guessing it was the last comment I made, as that has been deleted. But I don't remember what exactly I wrote and how I wrote it. I am asking this question because over the past week I have been unable to "work out what's wrong" about it. Again, what you do is similar to punishing a child and telling them to "think about what you did wrong". That's bad parenting, and this is bad moderation. I do admire your levelheadedness in your posts, but I don't understand why you suspended me and I can't work it out by myself. Sorry. – I am not the way you speak Dec 1 '19 at 11:37
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    @JourneymanGeek You could cite my comment to me privately in an answer to my question to your message by mods, if publishing it is a concern. – I am not the way you speak Dec 1 '19 at 11:39
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    So... think about what you write before you write it. Not after you get suspended. I've had too many people try to trap me into giving them a platform for hate speech by claiming poor memory, or its their ideology, or they were angry. I've deleted a significant number of comments over the past week and finding it was non trivial. You're probably more aware than I am over the exact nature of the comment, and what was wrong of it. Essentially - if a post is written in anger, and could hurt, it could be a problem. And well - unlike the welcome wagon, or whatever initiative – Journeyman Geek Dec 1 '19 at 11:42
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    of the week management is dealing with - I've got users in good standing I need to protect. Actual people - not statistics, or some survey tested in production. Meta matters to me - as does this community beyond some feel good political thing. – Journeyman Geek Dec 1 '19 at 11:42
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    @JourneymanGeek Knowing what one may have been banned for doesn't making banning valid. There're many cases of being branded as bigots when expressing valid opinions if one isn't a member of a minority. I know I can be banned for opinions on LGBT issues and that they become acceptable if I state my sexuality. Should I refrain from stating my opinions just because some people consider facts a hate speech? ¶ I don't know the exact contents of the deleted comment, so it's all theoretical, but that theoretical discussion is scaring me. – Athari - Make SE Awesome Again Dec 1 '19 at 12:56
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    So here's the thing. A suspension is a quiet, non dramatic way to deal with stuff. On two levels - that I don't want to brand OP of anything or give a platform, it makes sense not to discuss it. What I've said counts for a good many things, no matter your political or personal persuasion. – Journeyman Geek Dec 1 '19 at 13:01
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    @JourneymanGeek - someone was suspended with no actual reason given. Should that be quiet? It obviously isn't. If people are suspended and not told why, I can see why they might not choose being quiet. Are there other people who have been suspended without being told why who are staying quiet? Is that desirable? – Scott Hannen Dec 1 '19 at 17:10
  • Who said that user didn't have warnings before? It's really easy to "forget" such things, especially when nobody can see it. The amount of times I've seen "Halp! I'm question banned and never posted a bad question", just to see "But you do have deleted questions with negative score" from a mod is countless. People hide their bad activity, or in the best case forget it for real. I don't judge the OP, but I'm also sure they did get warning(s) before. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Dec 3 '19 at 7:39
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    @ShadowThePrincessWizard - I'm amazed by your level of omniscience and certainty. // I have felt the sudden snap of the suspension guillotine coming with no warning, and no possibility of dialoguing with the executioners. When something comes out of left field, it is disconcerting. That makes it harder to learn from the experience. – aparente001 Dec 8 '19 at 7:51
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I would like to learn and understand what I did wrong

Okay, I'll try to give a general approach to address this point. I don't know about your particular previous comments, and have no opinion on them. However, judging from the content of your question it's likely related to expressing "extreme irritation" with trans people.

Trans people have an extremely low social position, and as a result...

Transphobia is seen as a valid opinion. We never look at racism, sexism or homophobia and say it’s an opinion, so why is transphobia such a ‘free for all’? -- Munroe Bergdorf, in Exposed: The Scale of Transphobia Online, 2019.

Many people are blind to day-to-day transphobia (particularly online), unlike day-to-day racism, etc. People know to act in advance against homophobia, etc., and not wait for it to get worse.

So let's replace "trangenderism" (which people are unfamiliar with) with "Judaism". E.g.:

I am angry at some trans people Jews

Maybe this doesn't pass some particular individual's antisemitism threshold, but it's surely safe to say that it's at least borderline antisemitic: many reasonable people would feel uncomfortable if someone openly said this about Jews.

People know to act against borderline antisemitism and not wait for Jews to report offense. The only difference here is that unlike transphobia, antisemitism is not seen as a valid opinion.

Rule-of-thumb

As a community, I encourage people to mentally replace the transphobia in any given post with an equal amount of antisemitism. Then re-read the post and ask:

  1. Would I allow this amount of antisemitism, or would I take action against it?
  2. Why is it different for transphobia vs. antisemitism?
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I would like to learn and understand what I did wrong. It was not my intention to be rude (but it was my intention to express my extreme irritation).

You have been told: you were rude. You might not think you were rude, but someone (or more than one person) thought you were rude. Extreme irritation as a way of doing that. So try to understand how someone could have been offended by your comment. If you can't remember your comment, then you'll have to take a moderator's word for it.


A problem you're facing is that mods have templates for the most common reasons for suspensions. Many mods, if they moderate a busy site, don't have the time to customize the message, but iirc, we are encouraged to give an example of the rudeness/other behavior we've observed. Boilerplate suspensions are, well, very impersonal. They sting a bit more. That's unfortunate.

Because I moderate a quiet site, I usually quote the offending comment or outline the offending activity. But on a busy site, this may not be possible. Also, give a mod a couple of days to respond to your request for information.


One thing I've noticed is that people who ask the moderators how what they said can be interpreted as rude usually can't see it or don't want to. They often just want to be right. I'm not saying this is your view, but "How can I learn if I don't understand...?" is often disingenuous. So, on a busy site where a mod sees this all the time, they may not bother to answer you. It's not ideal, but neither was your action.


I was suspended once on my first site with a boilerplate message. I was deleting answers that had a negative score, but I was exceeding the daily limit so a flag went up. (I was such a newbie that I didn't even know I was bumping all my old posts to the top as well!) I didn't know there was a daily limit, and when I found out, I understood my suspension and took it for what it was. I continued to participate on that site, but never exceeded the daily limit again. I was treated as I had been before.

If this is your first suspension, I wouldn't get too worked up about it. Just watch how you express things.

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    " If you can't remember your comment, then you'll have to take a moderator's word for it." - Why can't he contact support and see the actual comment and the rationale behind the ban? I mean, you can contact them for a single deleted post. A ban is more important than a post. – Orwell was right Dec 5 '19 at 8:16
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    @Fermiparadox -iirc, I think the user already tried to contact the moderator without resolution, so I didn't include that in "things to do about it". – anongoodnurse Dec 20 '19 at 23:38

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