I just had an exchange with a moderator and now I am confused.

Said moderator had edited my post in the past. I claimed they used mod powers. They said they didn't, it could have been anybody, editing is a 2k privilege.

Technically, that is correct. Joe Random from the internet could edit my post, at 2k even without review.

But if Joe Random edited my post and I did not like it, I would just revert it. If a moderator edited my post, I had assumed that was somewhat binding. That technically I could roll it back, but it would get me into trouble, basically repeating my offense, which is never a good thing.

So to get into a real example, if a named moderator with a diamond edited my post, left the edit comment that says "Removed sentence implying [...]. This is offensive and alienating.", how am I supposed to treat that?

Is that a binding moderator edit that I should not roll back, or am I supposed to treat that like any Joe Random from the internet that I can just ignore, because editing is not a moderator-only privilege?

Sorry to ask this, because up to now it had seemed simple, but just now a moderator told me they are not to be taken more serious than Joe Random when they edit my posts, since it's a 2k privilege, not a mod power.

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    Well, was it potentially offensive or alienating? Did it materially impact your post? – Jon Custer Mar 19 at 15:41
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    Binding might have different meanings here. Generally we tend to talk about stuff like closure or deletions being binding since we can do that in a single vote. Our editing powers are the same as a high rep user. – Journeyman Geek Mar 19 at 15:43
  • @JonCuster Personally, I don't think so, but what I personally think does not really matter, does it? And yes, I found it an important point of my post, but since this topic has since been declared unspeakable, I will not be able to get into more detail on SE. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 15:43
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    @JourneymanGeek Feel free to suggest a better title. What I wonder is: could I have just rolled that back without any repercussions? I was under the impression I should not. Well, until a few minutes ago. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 15:45
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    Some of the background is found here: workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6875/… although I have the feeling some has already been deleted. – Luuklag Mar 19 at 19:08
  • This seems like it should be asked on the meta of whatever site this edit happened on. Where everyone can see proper context rather than only one side of the story. – Wrigglenite Mar 19 at 19:23
  • @Wrigglenite It happened on this site. Please note that I am okay with the fact that a moderator found me in violation of the rules. It is what it is. What I am perplexed about is a moderator finding me in violation of the rules, then turning around and saying "oh, but that was just a user edit, that could have been anybody, that wasn't me using mod powers". Uh, what? So was I in violation of the rules or not? – nvoigt Mar 19 at 19:30
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    @nvoigt pretty simply: yes. What was removed from your post was in violation of the rules and it was nowhere near phrased as rosy as in your TWP post. You're conflating two unrelated things though: Anyone could've edited out the original rudeness, that's encouraged over straight flagging the post as r/a. It's your insistence on keeping the rudeness that got you a suspension, and you'd have gotten it no matter who made the first, second, third or umpteenth edit removing the original crud or what you added after. – Tinkeringbell Mar 19 at 19:42

We will tell you. Many moderator tools are pretty much the same as a sufficiently high reputation user - and sometimes we might choose 'gentler' tools like edits or comments to try to encourage people to go a certain way.

If you see litter on the street, you could pick it up yourself or wait for someone to. The former is more civic, and sometimes our users may help deal with issues they see on the site by editing. (Naturally, if you see a dead body, call the cops. Likewise, if you see a major issue, flag!)

I feel we're not talking about a spelling error or grammar error being fixed (some folks are a little precious about those - but I don't think this is the case).

So to get into a real example, if a named moderator with a diamond edited my post, left the edit comment that says "Removed sentence implying [...]. This is offensive and alienating.", how am I supposed to treat that?

I think the reasoning is clear and that that's done with the goal of moving to post towards something acceptable towards community standards. The 'binding' nature isn't in the edit - it's in that we've told you what's wrong with it, and have attempted to resolve the issue in question. Practically you would have been told - and someone already made the attempt to resolve the issue in the gentlest way possible, considering the alternatives are flags (which you wouldn't see), deletion (which can come from flags) or suspension.

If Joe Random disagrees and you don't want to get into a rollback war, you could flag, and if a moderator feels it's valid we'll roll back, and deal with the inevitable mess. That said - we trust active, long standing members of the community to do so appropriately and will have a word with them if they abuse that trust. We're happy to take a look if so.

When a moderator does it - very often when it comes to matters like this, we've already discussed the issue internally, both in general and specificity. In some cases we do pull in staff if they are free for particularly messy cases. This isn't 'unique' to main meta, though we sometimes do need to deal with thornier issues.

  • See, this is exactly what I would have thought. I absolutely agree with your post. The mod saying "yes, that was me, I edited out your CoC violation, if you had rolled it back, I would have had to escalate it to the next level of mod powers". Perfectly fine. that's what a mod is there for, that is what mod powers are made for. And my confusion stems from the fact that said mod told me something else. That they just acted as a normal user with no strings attached... "could have been anybody". – nvoigt Mar 20 at 7:07
  • Don't think we need to add an 'or else' – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 at 7:10
  • No, you don't. To me, the nature of the edit, the comment and the diamond attached to the name is a clear sign of "or else". Again, I agree with you. I just cannot get your post in line what the other moderator told me, that it was not and "or else" and it could have been anybody who made that edit. That is all I'm asking here. I don't dispute the violation, I did comply and not edit it back in, only to hear from said mod later that their action was actually just a casual flyby and anybody could have made that edit, it was not a mod action. – nvoigt Mar 20 at 7:15
  • To me, "not a mod action" includes being able to roll back edits I don't think help without repercussions. Advancing to the next level of mod powers clearly is a repercussion. Again, I do not even dispute that a moderator stepping in there was the correct action, but I would have expected them to stand up to that action and say "yes, that was me the moderator correcting your violation", not to flip 180 and be like "nope, not me, could have been anybody, never moderated you". – nvoigt Mar 20 at 7:17
  • Well if someone who didn't have a diamond made that edit I would have fully supported it too and expected it not to be rolled back. – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 at 7:17
  • To borrow a metaphor, I don't expect someone to pull trash I cleaned up from the ground cause I wasn't the janitor – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 at 7:19
  • Where I live, it works this way: the authorities determine if there was a violation. They fine you. If they have to fine you multiple times, you become a repeat offender. A random neighbor saying "See, I told him at least 5 times" does not make you a repeat offender. And no cop would ever say "That wasn't a parking ticket, I just used the official paper I had in my hand anyway to write you a private note about not parking there. You could have ignored it you know." – nvoigt Mar 20 at 7:26
  • I mean isn't being told it's offensive an alienating once... Enough? You are basically complaining that we took the gentler route that time. – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 at 7:29
  • No, I'm complaining that the moderator does not own up to the actions they took. Which I don't even dispute were the correct actions to take. Why not just say "Yes, that was a violation and I stepped in as a mod"? How hard can it be to stand up to your own actions? – nvoigt Mar 20 at 7:34
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    Precisely cause people do this and worse. I mean we agree the text there was wrong. It was edited and explained. Yet here we are arguing over a minor point of semantics that was not clear in the original question. Yes, mods can act as regular users, and choose gentler options as we see fit. – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 at 7:40
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    @nvoigt you seem to be looking for a hard rule to follow. There isn’t one. We are all humans, not machines, and we expect you to apply some common sense here. As a user and as a moderator I make loads and loads of edits to posts, and most of those are just normal run-of-the-mill edits. I make mistakes like any other user and if an edit of mine is rolled back then that is fine. But if the edit was motivated by a Code of Conduct violation I’ll let the author know more explicitly about the issue. – Martijn Pieters Mar 21 at 4:19
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    @nvoigt and that also leaves plenty of room for the OP changing the edit to something they are happier with but not violating the CoC. – Martijn Pieters Mar 21 at 4:21
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    @nvoigt so, take the notification you were crossing the line as binding, not the edit. If you rolled back the edit verbatim and do reinstate the offending text, you can expect the moderators to escalate. Not because the edit was binding but because you ignored the moderator warning and pushed the issue. – Martijn Pieters Mar 21 at 4:24
  • @MartijnPieters That seems to be a pretty good guideline, thanks. – nvoigt Mar 21 at 15:47

How to know when a moderator action is binding?

Quite simple: Binding moderator actions are those that the community can't override. For example, our delete votes are binding. A post deleted by a moderator can't be undeleted by the community.

Close votes, and flags, are also often referred to as binding, because when a moderator uses them, they have an immediate effect.

Following that logic: Edits aren't binding, but locks for content disputes are.

But if Joe Random edited my post and I did not like it, I would just revert it. If a moderator edited my post, I had assumed that was somewhat binding.

Instead of saying that you don't take edits from Joe Random seriously but should take those of moderators seriously, I'm going to say you should take all edits seriously, whether they were by Joe Random or a moderator doesn't matter!

Okay, maybe not always. To add an example of when not to take an edit too seriously: I've once had someone edit the numbers I used in a post to words. No matter if that's Joe Random or a moderator, you can probably safely roll that back, smile, and file it away as a good anecdote for a future MSE answer.

But in general, most edits are honest attempts from other users to improve your post, and no matter if that user is Joe Random or a moderator, you should probably at least seriously consider the problem they were trying to fix before rolling back or making further edits.

So to get into a real example, if a named moderator with a diamond edited my post, left the edit comment that says "Removed sentence implying [...]. This is offensive and alienating.", how am I supposed to treat that?

And, from your comment:

could I have just rolled that back without any repercussions?

I personally would encourage people to take these kinds of edits in particular seriously, whether they were made by moderators or Joe Randoms. After all, if you roll back the edit from Joe Random, there's a good chance the same or another Joe Random might flag your post as offensive, or for a moderator to take a look.

Neither edits from moderators or Joe Randoms are binding, but instead of just rolling back, perhaps you can find a way to add the point you need to make back in again, without the implied things that led to it being removed for implying something that's offensive and alienating?

If you keep just rolling back an edit where other users or moderators seem to agree the sentence isn't adding anything to your post but offense and alienation, there may be consequences: your post ends up locked or deleted as rude/abusive. So by not taking the edit at least a tiny bit seriously, you're probably just creating more work.

I would personally say that starting a discussion on the site's meta is a suitable first step when you think an edit damaged your post in any way. No matter if that edit was made by Joe Random or a moderator: Then you know if there will be any possible repercussions to rolling back the edit.

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    I never said the moderator abused their power. I wanted to know if the mod used their mod power in the first place. Something that is impossible to know for me, which is why I was asking how I would know that. And I could not really read any clear cut answer from your text. Was that a mod power, or was that something I can have a different opinion on and roll it back? – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:09
  • "Neither edits from moderators or Joe Randoms are binding" That part directly answers your question, @nvoigt. Doesn't it? – 41686d6564 Mar 19 at 16:12
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    Not really. If I roll back Joe Random, nothing will happen. If I roll back a mod, they might suspend me for repeating my "violation". – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:13
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    @nvoigt This is also answered above: "After all, if you roll back the edit from Joe Random, there's a good chance the same or another Joe Random might flag your post as offensive, or for a moderator to take a look". Either way, you may receive a warning if the moderator (who would be involved in both cases) thought you did something against "the rules". And if you repeat the same "offense", then further action might be taken (e.g., suspension). I don't see any difference between a mod's edit vs a regular user's edit. – 41686d6564 Mar 19 at 16:17
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    @nvoigt Who said nothing will happen if you roll back Joe Random? Random example: If you have a pattern of posting r/a stuff and reverting useful edits until a moderator comes along and makes the exact same edit... moderators aren't stupid and will notice that pattern. And then, eventually, we will no longer be granting you the benefit of the doubt and repeat edits made by others, but just treat your posts like any other unsalvageable rude/abusive post. – Tinkeringbell Mar 19 at 16:20
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    "Who said nothing will happen if you roll back Joe Random?" ... uh... why would it? Do you really edit your posts every time someone on the internet thinks you're wrong? If someone with authority tells me I'm violating the rules, that's one thing, but I don't listen to everybody with a different opinion on the internet. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:30
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    @nvoigt Like I said, if Joe Random edited out something Joe Random thinks is rude enough to warrant editing out, it's quite likely Joe Random will raise a flag when Joe Random sees that Joe Random's edit is rolled back. So there's no guaranteeing nothing will ever happen. Of course, there's the possibility nothing might happen, your chances are 50/50, I'd say. I must admit I'm not particularly fond of the 'I'm not going to listen to Joe Random unless a mod tells me Joe Random was right in the first place' attitude that that last comment seems to imply (of course, I may be misunderstanding). – Tinkeringbell Mar 19 at 16:33
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    I write my posts as I see fit. If Joe Random thinks they can be improved, great. If I think Joe Randoms edits do not improve it, I will roll them back. If a moderator tells me what I wrote violates existing rules, I will not roll that back, even if I think I'm right and they are wrong. Because they are a moderator and their ability to ban me trumps my personal thoughts on the matter. Can you honestly tell me that rolling back a mod edit would be treated exactly like rolling back Joe Randoms edit? Because I find that hard to believe. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:38
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    Here is what you are missing: what matters is the content you roll back, not who edited it out. There may be a higher chance that a mod is right when they edit out something that clearly doesn't belong, something you should not roll back, but there's a nonzero chance that J Random is also right. Before you just roll back because it's your post and you get to decide what it says, you should pause and consider whether the editor is correct. Their identity may be part of that process, but it's only part. – Kate Gregory Mar 19 at 16:47
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    Also please stop treating "rude" as an absolute value that Joe Random can perfectly judge. Look here for example to see that plenty of people are offended by words others consider daily use. By that standard, nobody should write anything here at all. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:51
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    @KateGregory Can you honestly tell me, that when I roll back Joe Random and a mod comes along and thinks it's offensive, too, that that would be the same outcome as if that mod had edited it once and came back to see that I rolled their edit back? – nvoigt Mar 19 at 16:55
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    @VLAZ I never said I could. Joe has their opinion and I have mine. I already said I would accept the authorities ruling on that. All I'm asking is whether a moderator edit of my post in fact is the authorities ruling, or just that moderators personal opinion that can be ignored without repercussions. – nvoigt Mar 19 at 17:30
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    @nvoigt It seems that you keep saying that anybody other than moderators is fallible and any edits they make to your posts are likely wrong. That's the impression I got from your comments. You even complained that other users shouldn't be treated as if they know better. I'm trying to remind you that the same applies to you. You're fallible and you shouldn't treat yourself as if you know better. We're all a Joe Random at heart. – VLAZ Mar 19 at 17:34
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    I can only say that this is among the weirdest hills I've seen someone pick. – VLAZ Mar 19 at 17:44
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    @nvoigt "But in the end, it's my post" - The thing is it is not your post the second you press the post button. Read the license agreement you agreed to when you signed up. – DavidPostill Mar 19 at 23:03

For context, I have no diamond by my name, and thus can't offer an official statement regarding policy, so the opinion that follows may be trumped by an actual mod coming along. That said...

First off, I do think that your concern is a valid one. What I read from your post and comments isn't that Joe Random makes bad edits that you can unilaterally always overrule at your whim, but that Joe gets it wrong sometimes, especially when it comes to semantics (what's rude/ insensitive) rather than syntax (factually right or wrong information/ formatting), because semantics are a lot more about what you personally mean/ intend rather than about what's factually correct.

TL;DR - I think the only real answer here is that it depends, and context matters.

It's been established that moderator edits aren't special on a system level; they aren't recorded differently than edits by privileged users, and they can be rolled back just like a standard edit, with the exact same effects on the system level as rolling back any other edit.

But this isn't what you're asking about, because you're wondering whether a mod will penalize you for rolling back their edit, because, well, they're a mod, and as a form of authority, their actions should be considered with a little more reverence (I don't think this is wrong or misguided, as keepers of the site I think their actions and opinions should be taken with a little more reverence).

I really think the type of edit is the key matter here. Factual, syntactical edits are easy to judge-– they're either right, or they're wrong. If a mod makes an edit that adds/ changes/ removes info to be factually incorrect, then roll it back! No worries, nothing more to consider.

But if someone makes a semantic edit, one that softens something you said, or subtly changes the meaning, or removes something considered "rude," then this is a more complex decision. To be clear, if anyone changes the semantics of your post, in any way, you should carefully consider the change made, and whether it makes your post better. This is even more true for edits that remove something considered "rude," because hurting readers of your post will never, ever be a gain to you.

If you feel inclined to rollback an edit of this kind, you should be very, very certain that what was removed is invaluable to your post, and that it's worded in the best way possible, before you click that rollback button, mod editor or no. If a mod made this edit, I think that just means you should be extra, extra sure about this.

Is rolling back a mod edit an insta-ban? An instant warning? No, of course not. Just like any other edit, this is highly context dependent. At the end of the day, with every post you write: be careful, be smart, and be considerate to your readers. Take edits seriously. If your goal in the first place is to convey information rather than to attack or provoke, you'll likely be just fine.

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