Related to the A.I. SE meta question What is the policy on one-boxing AI-related links in this site's general chatroom? and a now apparently accidentally deleted comment (immediately below this one) in the chat room there of which I have captured part within the part in quotations:

...The line just before the quoted passage says "I think it's important for me to understand our users, what they have studied and what they are currently doing, so that I can judge more correctly their activity here." I've never seen a moderator demand the credentials of a user, or any personal information at all for that matter. Something is askew here.

I also think that moderators should see users at face value based on posts and other activities in order to "judge more correctly their activity".

I'd flagged the (now deleted) comment in chat, but the flag was promptly rejected in a time so short that I'm not sure that it was given proper review.

Question: Is it unusual for a moderator to ask for credentials or other user specifics related to the topic of an SE site in order to "judge their activity"?

  1. Might such a request send the wrong message about how Stack Exchange works, or perhaps intimidate users who feel either that they lack sufficient credentials to have a standing in discussion, or refrain from discussing with the moderator lest their credentials be called into question as well?
  2. Might it also confuse other users about how personal information is to be treated by all users, and specifically by moderators?
  • 4
    To the extent someone speaking on a highly technical subject had placed themselves as an expert on said subject despite having little or no credential in it, I'd like to know which users really do know what they're talking about, because countering misinformation is multiple times more effort than properly informing people. But as gatekeeping for who can and cannot take part in a site or in a discussion about said site, that seems out of order to me. Some people don't want to publicise their involvement, that isn't a reason to exclude them in absence of actual rules breaches.
    – Nij
    Jan 1, 2021 at 2:24
  • Is the part that includes "I've never seen a moderator demand" actually part of the quote? Jan 1, 2021 at 4:25
  • @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q No. The block quote shown here is a partial quote of my comment. "within the part in quotations" refers to the part in quotation marks, which is a partial quote of the now (presumably accidentally) deleted comment. Moderators can still see the deleted message and there's a screenshot but since it's been moderator-deleted I'm shy about reposting the screen shot. You can always follow the links back to the sources.
    – uhoh
    Jan 1, 2021 at 4:28

2 Answers 2


Writing this answer, as a somewhat old member of AI.SE, I don't know much about rules of SE, but I would like people to consider certain past events before answering (I have tried my best to be unbiased):

  1. AI.SE has had a history of users pretending to know a lot and writing answers very vaguely related to the question asked, and also upvoting each others' answers. This situation was pointed out by a well reputed user (who you can consider unbiased). This resulted in temporary bans being handed out, and when this still did not stop then permanent bans. This involved a lot of back and forth between users and mods about what the decision should be.
  2. Our site is very small and non-rewarding, there have been multiple experts who have came and gone (but hangs out in other SE sites). So this has resulted in a severe lack of community moderation. Only nbro is the one who has been cleaning up the site. Due to the hype of AI, a lot of low quality posts are posted everyday, nbro is the one to rectify it, delete it, etc. He does this without any returns, it is just a labour of love I guess? Is this ideal? NO! But our site literally has no active mods (except nbro). No one wants to do the job either because of time constraints, or because they are not knowledgeable enough to do the job.

My opinion on this matter is: nbro's behaviour was definitely unwarranted and he should apologise. But I feel that one should cut him some slack, he has to deal with low quality posts with the same mistakes everyday. nbro does appear to be rude and blinded by his opinions at times, but it is the best we have. He is the only one who stepped up to the job and is singlehandedly keeping AI.SE going. I think nbro made a poor and impulsive decision (which he might not have made, if he did not have to deal with a deluge of low quality posts every single day) and I hope he apologises so that we all can move on.

  • 1
    FWIW sites suffering from vague messy answers tend to counter it by establishing "back it up" rules (list of such sites is here)
    – gnat
    Jan 6, 2021 at 5:29

I've been moderating chat in some level as a RO and mod for almost the entire time I have been a member of SE, so I have some views

To a really large extent, we expect/allow for 'local' mods and community regulars to self regulate chat - while its easy to go "but I don't like that?" to some extent respecting their requests is pretty much an essential part of a smoothly running site.

If I ask someone not to do something - I'd expect folks to take it into consideration, (and for my regulars to tell me off if I overstep) - not dig up every instance I've done it, with no context.

Least within my community, a significant part of my success factor as a chat mod does come from a certain level of

"I think it's important for me to understand our users, what they have studied and what they are currently doing, so that I can judge more correctly their activity here."

In a positive aspect - I know their interests, and what they hope to gain from being on chat, as well as "issues".

On a negative aspect, its useful to know the quirks of users and whether they might be trouble.

One of the chatrooms I've had have had folks whose entire interaction with us tending to be asking "low effort" questions (which is something we explicitly discourage) or linking posts for attention.

While I don't think the wording is very, well politically correct, I get the sentiment.

On the post that's referred here, while I haven't looked into it- there's a big difference between cross posting stuff from a younger beta for attention, and because that specific post may be of interest to someone. The tone OP takes is a bit... "but you do it too!" which is unhelpful. It might be useful for them to step back, try to get what the moderator is trying to do, and find a compromise that helps both of them meet their goals.

And well, fundamentally - the buck stops with the moderators of record, and if things go horribly wrong, they're the ones picking up the mess. Have a little faith in them ;)


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