I asked what I thought was a fairly straightforward question on a Meta site and gave an example of the problem. It attracted a single duplicate suggestion, and I edited the question to integrate it in. It was quickly downvote brigaded and locked because of a "dispute".

Locked for 7 days. There are disputes about this question’s content being resolved at this time. It is not currently accepting new answers or interactions.

What is the dispute about the question's content? Who is resolving it "at this time"? Why does a disputed question need to lock comments and answers? (But not comments on answers?)

Maybe this is mistaken? The number of comments and edits? Maybe the activity on the question triggered something? The notice contains one link; but it is to a generic Help Center page that doesn't talk about disputes.

In fact, the entire Help Center doesn't mention disputes at all: https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/search?q=dispute

I've tagged this as a feature request because I've identified multiple features that I think would improve the website:

  • A help page should describe how a dispute is flagged and resolved
  • The locked notification should describe what is in dispute and, probably, who is resolving it.
  • A mechanism to get more information about the dispute, or a way to flag the question as mistakenly locked.

I'm not sure if there should be a separate "discuss" question, please leave a comment with feedback.

  • I think I've gotten the attention of a moderator about the original Meta post; but if there's relevant details I can provide please let me know. – awwright May 6 '20 at 2:56
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    Does this answer your question? What is a "locked" post? – PolyGeo May 6 '20 at 3:12
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    @PolyGeo I understand the concept of locking and unlocking posts, but it's not obvious to me how a "disputed" post fits in there. The confusion is around the notice specifically mentioning the dispute is being resolved. Well... is it really? And also, this is a feature request for better Help Center documentation (among other things). – awwright May 6 '20 at 3:18
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    @Mayken has provided a better duplicate, but I think the one I suggested answers your third, fourth, fifth and sixth questions. Locking is often an early step used by moderators when resolving disputes in order to separate those involved in the dispute, – PolyGeo May 6 '20 at 3:53
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    You are being disingenuous, @awwright. You were completely aware of the nature of the dispute. There were multiple rollbacks and edits removing unnecessary meta-commentary in the question. The "resolution" in this case is simply stopping the dispute altogether (the rollback war), and removing the offending content. – yivi May 6 '20 at 6:24
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    Since this question makes reference to another question asked on a meta site, and it makes claims about what kind of edits were performed; which in turn lead to the question being locked... I believe the comment is entirely pertinent here. – yivi May 6 '20 at 7:44
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    Is the details of what happened relevant to this feature request? I tried to make this as general as possible; with one personal story as an example. I hope the features I'm requesting stand by themselves, even without the example. If you want to discuss the original question, I'm happy to do so in an appropriate forum. But that is not here. – awwright May 6 '20 at 7:47
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    They are relevant, otherwise I imagine you wouldn't have referenced the question nor made the claims. Since reference and claims are already there, they paint your question in a particular light, and users are free to interpret the question in that light. – yivi May 6 '20 at 7:51
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    @yivi, Look, it's off-topic to discuss another question on another Community here; but yes, I came up with this idea because I had a bad experience on another Community. I'll consider your argument, but for now I disagree that the details are relevant. Either my proposal makes the website better, or it doesn't. One person's experience shouldn't decide the answer to that. Again, I'll answer your other questions in an appropriate place, like chat, but this isn't the place. (And actually I'm about to take off, but maybe tomorrow?) – awwright May 6 '20 at 7:57
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    No, these comments are pertinent here and I very rarely use chat. I'm giving you feedback on your question here, which is related to events elsewhere mentioned directly in the question. It's up to you what do you do with that feedback. – yivi May 6 '20 at 8:00
  • @yivi Moving discussions to chat is pretty commonplace, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/95937/… You can also comment in the original question, or create a Meta question in that community. – awwright May 6 '20 at 8:07
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    Can't comment on the original question, it's locked. I never said chatting were not commonplace, nor sure why you made that jump. – yivi May 6 '20 at 8:08
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    It wasn't my intention to imply anything about what you said. I'm saying it's a general expectation to move discussions to chat on this website. Now I'm sorry, but I've really got to go now, but I do hope I can catch you later. I would like to discuss sometime. – awwright May 6 '20 at 8:10

While your main question is most likely a duplicate, I like your feature request suggestion to add a place for a reader to understand the nature of the dispute. Obviously, there may be certain facts that cannot be disclosed, and that's fine. What I think would be helpful (and also help to reduce Meta traffic and wild speculation) would be to let the moderator explain briefly:

  • The nature of the conflict (e.g. alleged rudeness, edit war in progress, DMCA take-down notice received, etc.).
  • What is currently being done to resolve the conflict (e.g. a current discussion on Meta, private moderator discussion, lawsuit in progress, etc.).
  • Whether and how the reader can assist in helping to resolve the dispute.

For example, this could look something like:

Locked for 7 days. There are disputes about this question’s content being resolved at this time. It is not currently accepting new answers or interactions. A DMCA take-down notice was received on May 5, 2020 covering the contents of this post. Stack Exchange's attorneys have been contacted and are preparing a recommendation on the terms under which this question can be unlocked. No assistance from users is expected or desired.


Locked for 7 days. There are disputes about this question’s content being resolved at this time. It is not currently accepting new answers or interactions. The post has been alleged to contain coded dog whistles related to certain banned topics. A discussion thread has been opened [here]. You can help by voting and participating in the thread so that a decision can be made as to which version of the post is the most friendly to others.


There are certain things we don't allow in questions. One of those is "Meta commentry" that is content about what's happening to the question e.g.

Please, if you have a critique, add it in the comments instead of downvoting.

If people want to vote they are entirely free to do so and we don't want posts cluttered with anything that says they should not. Other more experienced users will remove such text if they see it and if you continue to add it back a moderator will step in and stop you.

At some point we'll all get tired of this and likely delete the question altogether.

These points are especially true if you ask the question on Stack Overflow's Meta as that has a very high concentration of high rep users who

  1. have delete question privileges
  2. know how things work and will act in union to ensure posts keep to the rules
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    I'm not sure how this is relevant to the questions I asked – awwright May 6 '20 at 7:32
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    And yet it is entirely relevant to your situation. – Robert Longson May 6 '20 at 7:35
  • Is there a way we can move this into a new question, or into comments or chat? – awwright May 6 '20 at 7:35
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    If you ask a thinly veiled question we're going to look under the veil. – Robert Longson May 6 '20 at 7:37
  • My questions here are genuine and very straightforward, I think. I'd be happy to discuss what you want to discuss in the appropriate forum. – awwright May 6 '20 at 7:40
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    @awwright This answer specifically addresses your question: the content dispute in this case is the edit war caused by the OP (in this case you) consistently reverting edits that are in line with site guidelines. It's also the first item in the "When should a post be locked?" section of the link included in the post notice: meta.stackexchange.com/help/locked-posts – Bryan Krause May 6 '20 at 17:06
  • @BryanKrause My Question here is a feature request; not a question about the other Meta question. If you have comments about that question, I can answer them over there. – awwright May 6 '20 at 21:09
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    @awwright Your other question is locked because you kept reverting edits to improve your question. Locked questions can't be commented on, and if you further want to understand why they exist you can check out meta.stackexchange.com/help/locked-posts - if it's still unclear after you read that then maybe your feature request makes sense, but it seems quite clear to me: it lists the three types of disputes likely to lead to a lock. It does not call them "dispute" using that specific word because it's assuming you know what that word means or can look it up if you don't. – Bryan Krause May 6 '20 at 21:19
  • @BryanKrause You know I'm not able to engage in that topic without turning it into a discussion, and that's not an excuse to bring that here. Here, join this chat.stackoverflow.com/rooms/213280/… – awwright May 6 '20 at 21:24

While the help center does not mention the word "dispute", it does have an entry about locked posts.

That help page is directly linked from the lock notice:

enter image description here

Under the header that says "When should a post be locked?" the first item mentions "edit wars", which would describe very clearly, IMO, what kind of "content dispute" was going on.

Since this kind of situation is usually very obvious to the post owner, I believe is unnecessary to add any additional verbiage to the post notice explaining what a "content dispute" is, or what kind of "content dispute" is going on: the post owner already knows, all the rest can easily find out if they really want to (although in these cases it's generally not relevant for anyone but the post owner).

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    My question already notes this: "The notice contains one link; but it is to a generic Help Center page that doesn't talk about disputes." It does not contain answers to the questions I listed. – awwright May 6 '20 at 21:07

But “disputes” is just a regular English word meaning “disagreements”. The keyword here is “locked” which is already covered in the help center and elsewhere: What is a "locked" post?.

Both of these locations even list examples of disputes that might cause a mod to lock a post (edit wars, excessive comments, etc.).

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    I hope the question text conveys that I understand what a dispute is; but this is a good clarification for other users I think. – awwright May 6 '20 at 3:33

Only a moderator (or SE staff member) can manually lock (or unlock) a question.

I think that the question is probably in the process of being discussed in the moderators only chat room for your site.

The dispute will be what one or more moderators believes they can see happening between those interacting on that Q&A, and they are effectively putting the question into a timeout while they figure how to help calm things down.

If they think it is ready to be unlocked sooner than 7 days time then I am confident that they will do that.

  • I looked around for a relevant room but I couldn't find one. It would be nice if it were linked in the notice. And new users, I believe, cannot even use the chat. Is this an answer that can go in the Help Center? – awwright May 6 '20 at 3:07
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    Although a moderator may create a room for a chat with users, and maybe will make that room private, I think it is most likely to be discussed in the "moderators only" chat room first/only. – PolyGeo May 6 '20 at 3:10

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