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I am a moderator on another Stack Exchange site (than where what I am describing here happened). I like the succinct, information intensive, Q&A-centered doctrine of the SE model, so in my own moderation I hew to the basic principle of keeping posts on point and trimming comments. I have recently started contributing to a different site (than the site I moderate), suggesting edits and flagging chatty, distracting, or otherwise unnecessary fluff.

An edit I proposed a few days back on a question aimed to remove purely phatic expressions was approved by a reviewer, but then rejected by the questioner. Although the SE model encourages community participation and respects individual contribution, I always do my best and respect the will of the post owner. So instead of repeating the edit proposal, I left a comment pointing them to this Meta SE post and another meta post from that particular community, both pointing to the same principle that discourages chatty and phatic expressions and urges exclusion of greetings and salutations. My comment goes:

I see you rejected my edit. Please understand it was a necessary and universally practiced edit across the SE network. It seems you always include a "Thank you" or "よろしくお願いします" in your question. While it is a nice gesture, you should keep in mind that the Stack Exchange consensus is leave out fluff, and this site practices the same idea. Please read this and this. Phatic expressions should be removed.

Later, I got a response in the comments to the effect of something like this (I would have quoted it in full, but it seems as I am typing up this post a mod has responded to my flag and removed that unfriendly comment): "Yes, I rejected your edit. You are free to propose new edits on my posts, and I have the freedom to reject them all as they come."

Well, to be honest, it didn't bother me that their every post had one or two extra lines. I could totally live with that. I will continue practicing the SE post philosophy and helping edit posts from other users, and will probably stay clear of that user's posts. But what really bothers me is the kind of hostile attitude towards other people's contributions. We often talk about SE and SE sites being a community. On the site I moderate I have also repeatedly pushed very hard for greater community acceptance of contributions from low-rep users. On that site where this happened, I am just an elementary level user. I am sure I won't be the last person to try to improve that user's posts by suggesting phatic expressions be removed from their posts. How many low-rep users does it take to change this kind of attitude?

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    In this particular case, the suggested edits FAQ says that if a suggested edit that addresses a legitimate policy concern is rejected, you should flag the post for moderator attention explaining the policy. (Since this wasn't an initial rejection, but an approval overridden into a rejection, they can't re-override it, but they can do things like comment about the policy themselves - with a diamond next to their name - and lock the post if the author insists.) Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 5:41
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    Related discussion on Meta Stack Overflow, with an answer by me: New SO user not agreeing with the guidelines (Although that wasn't about a suggested edit, I see your case as similar: let a diamond moderator intervene when a user is expressing disagreement about fundamental site policies/procedures.) Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 6:19
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    So instead of repeating the edit proposal, ... ... ... and I have the freedom to reject them all as they come. - rollback, twice if necessary; problem solved. --- Two wrongs don't make it right, and two rights don't make it wrong. --- Without a link to the post or screenshots of deleted content we can only guess; as a moderator you should know to rollback (twice) incorrect edits or rejections. --- Also, knowing the Community would permit us (here) to know if there's a high tolerance for chatty and friendly posts; and as a new user this was something for you to know - essential edits only .
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 14:26
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    Not saying their actual comment was or wasn't unfriendly, but your paraphrase isn't unfriendly. Similarly "hostile attitude towards other people's contributions" is a bit much since contributions are not emotionally suffering & it seems an exaggerated way to report merely that they prefer (not that it reflects site protocols) what they prefer. You don't say anything that justifies saying they have a bad attitude or actions towards users; they just seem to be neutrally stating what they're doing, although they don't address that it is contracted by your references.
    – philipxy
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 21:20
  • Operating what seems to be a sockpuppet account perhaps need an explanation? Non-associated accounts? Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 9:29
  • @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q Sorry, I am not sure I understand your comment. Are you referring to me or the multi-downvoted answer which seems to be an aggressive jab from a sockpuppet? In case it is me, I just have most of my accounts set to "hidden", as a lot of other users do, a trick I recently learned from other people. But the pretty hostile answerer who is ordering me to "move on" seems curiously new. Seems to be an account created specifically for the purpose of posting that "answer".
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 23:08

2 Answers 2

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How should we handle passive aggressive responses to constructive suggestions?

You flag them. Either for moderator intervention, or straight up as 'unfriendly/unkind'. There's an example of unfriendly comments in the current Code of Conduct that seems directly relevant to the attitude of this user:

“I came to get help, not to get my question edited.”

A moderator (or any user that doesn't have to propose an edit) can edit out the phatic communication and keep an eye on the post to make sure there aren't any rollback wars. A moderator or enough flags can also delete the unkind comments.

In the end, even though you're a low-rep user, that shouldn't matter. You have the tools (flags) to change this. You can go to meta if your flags are declined, to ask on meta and learn about the community and why they seem to have different standards than the general, networkwide, ones. Sometimes there's a good reason, sometimes there's not and you're left with the choice to either adapt or leave the community.

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  • Other than on SO - I think the custom mod flag would be a better option, since it gives you some opportunity to provide context. (SO... uhhh... I hear their flag queue is something like the queue for hello kitty plushes at McDonalds in singapore, in pre covid times :D ) Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 11:59
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    Our long mod queue doesn't discriminate based on flag types. They're all equally long. :-) Use the correct type of flag for the problem. If you merely want the comment removed, then "unfriendly/unkind" is appropriate. If you want a moderator to step in and take some other type of action (including but not limited to editing the post or messaging the user involved), then a custom flag (on a post, not a comment) is required. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 12:25
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The gist of what I’m getting out of this is of your issue with this user's distribution of fluff and having a further issue with their rejection to your edit. Though as your description implies, you could totally deal With their one or two extra lines.

That being said, was it really necessary to point out to them what’s unnecessary to include into their post? If there are those who feel more strongly about it then word of the topic will most likely arise, correct?

Perhaps your desire for that greater community acceptance, combined with other probable flack this user has received on behalf of their lack of concisely expressed posts, is what brought you to experience such a “hostile attitude”. In such I would say letting go and moving on is your best avenue.

You have given your two cents, got rejected trying to be SE police and now it seems from being bothered by it, you’re fluffing with this entire discussion. Someone’s ignoring principals to an interface, you tried to call them out and they got snappy. That’s where dealing with it ends. It doesn’t have to be your job to sway them nor do you have to have an emotional reaction to their shitty attitude.

In addition, I don’t know what it is to be a moderator, but I’d say you did just fine. A passive aggressive attitude tend to stick to their guns, so the only further approach would be to suspend privilege when deemed necessary thus if desire so grants, bringing an acknowledgment to fault and need of correction.

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    "was it really necessary to point out to them what’s unnecessary to include into their post?" No, it wasn't. The simpler and more appropriate option is merely to remove it, as a help to both them and to the site at large. However, that strategy was tried, but thwarted. When pressed to explain/defend their edit, the asker did so by pointing out what sorts of things are unnecessary in posts. "Moving on" is not really the way Stack Exchange approaches problems: these sites are moderated largely by the community, so we want people to stay engaged and watch out for potential issues. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 10:52
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    What do you mean by 1) "word of the topic will most likely arise" 2) "Someone’s ignoring principals to an interface" 3) "thus if desire so grants" 4) "bringing an acknowledgment to fault and need of correction"? It seems incomprehensible. Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 9:18

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