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Recently, a diamond moderator of this math sub-site of Stack Exchange, added comments (see below) into a meta post that they objects against. (The edit was rolled back by the post maker later though.)

Is such behavior an abuse of power of moderators? Has such a situation happened before on any other site?


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    For what it's worth, the editing privilege is not specific to moderators, so it may not be appropriate to frame this as a moderator abuse. (To be clear, since you seem to be new here, I'm not trying to blame you for anything, I'm just trying to add context.)
    – SOLO
    Apr 16, 2020 at 16:18
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    Not related to mods, any 2k user can edit any post. If the mod then locks the post or suspending someone, then it's about possible abuse of mod power. Apr 16, 2020 at 16:19
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    Although others can do the same thing as (appropriately or not) editing the post, I think users should expect that moderators are supposed to be role models. Such an edit may significantly distort the asker's intention; which should be left in comments if needed at all, I think. (cont.)
    – user172557
    Apr 16, 2020 at 17:00
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    (cont.) And psychologically, since moderators have much more "powers" than normal users, such edits (accusing the asker as "blatantly false") by a diamond moderator may significantly mislead community readers' thoughts: what would a reader think if (s)he sees a post judged by a diamond moderator as "blatantly false" in the body of his/her own post before (s)he looks into the details?
    – user172557
    Apr 16, 2020 at 17:00
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    Why does this HNQ conflict need to be settled here on Meta Stack Exchange. What do you expect? That all mods on Math.se get suspended because a couple of users disagree? Did we had users that had deep disagreements with their mods? Yes, they have. Have mods been suspended over it? Sure, but not for some edits on a post that is about a topic that somehow did heat-up the whole Meta Math community. Just stop assuming bad faith and just try harder to see where the light at the end of that HNQ tunnel is.
    – rene
    Apr 16, 2020 at 17:19
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    (1) "Just stop assuming bad faith" could certainly and equally apply to another side. Otherwise, that's exactly how bullies usually happen. (2) "Why does this HNQ conflict need to be settled here on Meta Stack Exchange. What do you expect?" Well, the link has been given, you could make your own judgment, although that is not quite relevant to the question here.
    – user172557
    Apr 16, 2020 at 17:22
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    (3) "Did we had users that had deep disagreements with their mods? Yes, they have. Have mods been suspended over it? Sure, but not for some edits on a post that is about a topic that somehow did heat-up the whole Meta Math community." Sorry, I find it hard to understand the assertions.
    – user172557
    Apr 16, 2020 at 17:23
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    Shadow is correct in saying that any 2k+ user has access to this tool, but there is also the "powers" mentioned by Tom. Specifically, these refer to the social power that comes with also holding full moderator's tools - I would much more quickly revert an obviously "bad" edit from a 2.1k user than a mod. In fact, I would likely hesitate or even refrain from rolling back the mod's edit at all for fear of a retaliatory Suspension. Apr 16, 2020 at 17:23
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    That meta question on meta.Math is becoming a bit of a mess.
    – Mast
    Apr 16, 2020 at 18:00
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    rene's comment of "Why does this HNQ conflict need to be settled here on Meta Stack Exchange." is blatantly misleading. Who said that this post is for solving the HNQ conflict here? "This question's topic is only applicable to one specific site in the Stack Exchange Network." NO. It is not. While the case happens to be in a specific site, discussion of behavioral norms of moderators is by no means so and thus should not be considered as off-topic. rene's "Just stop assuming bad faith" is very much a malicious personal attack.
    – user172557
    Apr 16, 2020 at 21:04
  • Since the MathSE meta post was made by me, I feel that I need to chime in. Techincally, I think that the edit by that mod is not all that problematic and not really an "abuse" of power in general. What I found disturbing in this whole episode is responses I got from the mod in question.
    – user394678
    Apr 20, 2020 at 5:35
  • For example, see this. "Do not twist reality to push your agenda."? That really doesn't sound like something a mod should say. We are not assuming "bad faith" here, right?
    – user394678
    Apr 20, 2020 at 5:41
  • As for further context regarding the origin of this specific meta post, I personally thought that it is much better to ask from the community what they want directly from them. This is primarily because, in my opinion, when you are in a community, it is not only about you, it is also about others (probably even more for a mod).
    – user394678
    Apr 20, 2020 at 5:46
  • Regarding the specific meta post by the mod, "which is stated to allow the community to decide if it wants a list via voting on words has an interesting feature. It seems to me that here that the above mentioned "decision procedure" has already been decided on behalf of the community, but I may of course be wrong." I posted that meta question just to ask the community directly what they think about the need of such a HNQ block list.
    – user394678
    Apr 20, 2020 at 5:53
  • @user170039 to recall the community had been asked what it wants directly in another poll already. You then justified your poll that it is not about "want" but "need." You might want to decide what your narrative is.
    – quid
    Apr 21, 2020 at 14:47

2 Answers 2

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It seems to me that the information given is a bit incomplete. Here is a comment written at the time of the edit (by the user, also a moderator, that performed the edit, namely me):

Your edit in bold is false and in direct contradiction what is written in that question. I added a note. You can change it as you see fit. But this must be addressed in some way. What you say is demonstrably false from the text of the other question. – quid♦

In the intervening time the edit was indeed undone, which I accepted at least for now, and some further exchange in comments ensued.

In regards to this remark from a comment to OP here:

Such an edit may significantly distort the asker's intention; which should be left in comments if needed at all, I think.

The remark in the question-post is clearly marked up as addition of another user. I do not think that a confusion regarding the intent can arise. In that sense it is equivalent to a comment. Of course, and that was the point, it has more visibility than a comment at the end of an already lengthy exchange. One may consider this as inappropriate, however, the reference is to a question that I wrote and I think that the paraphrase is objectively false, and if not that then at least clearly against my intent.

Do I need to accept that the content of my post is misrepresented in another post?

If the misrepresentation happened without ill intent I do not see how a clarification is a major problem.

In case there is doubt about what is the correct representation, why not quote the original verbatim rather than give only interpretation of it that is known not to be the intended meaning.

Maybe it is worth adding that the "question" is not a usual question, but the question-post that holds a poll-answer. I think that in this context some additional level of objectivity and neutrality can be imposed on the question text and the post owner should not include information whose veracity is at least contested.

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Is such behavior an abuse of power of moderators?

No, it is not. If a question is factually wrong and/or containing mis-information it is free (maybe it is even your duty) for everyone, including mods, to clarify such questions. Those edits should be welcomed and improved on. If you want mod abuse, you are looking at instant closing, locking and/or deletion of post and suspensions for those involved. And then it needs multiple cases.

Has such a situation happened before on any other site?

What has happened? That mods edit post of users against their wishes? Yes, happens all the time. And it is needed, specially when mods deal with a delicate topic that splits their community. That is why we have elected mods and that is why we trust them with that power. If we leave that to regular users the problems only will get bigger, not smaller.

Don't confuse your own dislike of how a situation is handled with mod-abuse. Better review your own contribution to the problem and/or the solution.

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