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Fundamentally any punishment is intended to remedy undesirable behavior

Yet when there is no definition of what is desirable or undesirable, punishment crosses the line into abuse as, it is not possible to prevent a repeat of the behavior without an understanding of that behavior.

One possible suspension reason is, Don't Be A Jerk, which is as objective as a dump cake, but at least it is comprehensible from a democratic perspective.

Then there appears to be another category of magical "rules" of a purely arbitrary nature. These leave you with the message,

This account is temporarily suspended for rule violations.

But a paradox arises when moderators are bound not to discuss what causes suspensions. The penalty as a tool is made moot.

Consider a user who wishes to pursue the Strunk and White badge by bringing updates and improvements to 80 posts. In so doing, I have apparently hit some "speed limit" which suspends your account without warning upon making multiple edits in a short period of time.

Strunk-and-White Go Get It!

If I were to click this very tempting "go get it" button in pursuing this badge on that account (I am not, this screen capture is from another community), what then? Well, here is the how the efficient good housekeeper is dealt with:

I suffered a moderator message with the following language attempting to define the "rule" which was violated:

We have noticed a large amount of edits in a short period of time over a large amount of question (we have counted 15 edits in the span of 1 hour). While editing posts has nothing wrong per se, doing it in such large numbers heavily skews the post queue and gives the edited posts an unfair exposition with respect to other posts.

To be fair, my "crime" was not in pursuit of the badge, but in learning that I had ommitted one relevant tag (extreme-environment) from several questions I had posted in constructing my literal "Hell" planet. Yes, I am now in Hell for tagging Hell with the extreme-environment tag... too quickly.

I shall call this the Unfair Exposition Rule (UFE). I do not feel this qualifies under the "Don't Be a Jerk" suspension, because it is clearly a plain mathematical calculation that any computer can measure. It is a “speed limit” of sorts, which has nothing whatsoever to do with a member’s behavior, if the word “fair” is to be taken seriously. Editing in “large numbers” (a measure of arbitrary undefined personal opinion) may be 15 edits on an off day, or may be 30 edits on a very busy exchange. “Fair” seems to suggest giving members equitable time on the front “activity” page. Edits don’t do anything detrimental to the front “newest” page or “score” pages, but by trial and error we learn those pages don’t matter. SE has decided that the “active” page counts edits and votes equally, and so good community service by fixing posts creates inequity. The SE response, if this moderation action is sanctioned, is to have arbitrary human exception handling instead of an inescapably fair mathematical handler.

This amazingly and curiously unpopular quest for objectivity could serve as a posted speed limit. The definition of such an offense appearing on Meta would greatly enlighten both the community members and moderators who attempt to enforce the UFE rule. Posted speed limits do create work, but they are not as horribly evil as you may think?

Is there a resource community members can refer to to avoid violating unwritten rules?

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I think part of the theory of moderation might be enlightening here

Even with active community self-regulation, moderators occasionally need to intervene. Moderators are human exception handlers, there to deal with those (hopefully rare) exceptional conditions that should not normally happen, but when they do, they can bring your entire community to a screaming halt — if you don’t have human exception handling in place.

Basically - when something is disruptive to a site, it behooves us to take the appropriate actions with the tools at hand.

Then there appears to be another category of magical "rules" of a purely arbitrary nature.

These are exceptions, that do not fit within the "default" suspension reasons, but may require a user to, well, take a break.

We have noticed a large amount of edits in a short period of time over a large amount of question (we have counted 15 edits in the span of 1 hour). While editing posts has nothing wrong per se, doing it in such large numbers heavily skews the post queue and gives the edited posts an unfair exposition with respect to other posts.

Lots of users use the front page as their main entry into the site, and these sort of edits make it difficult for them to see the front page - It is something that normally should not happen, has, and well, apparently requires some negative reinforcement to sort out

An edit every 4 minutes is impressive but also... fairly anomalous. Even if all you're doing is machine assisted spellchecks

Consider a user who wishes to pursue the Strunk and White badge by bringing updates and improvements to 80 posts.

It's a marathon not a race - It's a badge earned over time organically, fixing things you come across, not speedrunning your way through it.

So basically, even if your intentions were good, and there's no explicit rule against it, your actions were deemed disruptive and it was necessary from the point of view of the moderators to both give you a time out, and explain what was wrong. Fundamentally - the unwritten rule is common sense, and treating the site as a common good, with the awareness of what the impact of your actions are.

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    Doesn't it seem to be a very objective thing to define, even for an automated exception handler? Number of edits=*x*, Amount of time=*y*, IF: x/y* > n then {issue warning}. Modern computers can even handle complex calculations counting the number of edited characters, which and how many members' posts were edited, etc. A meta FAQ can plainly define the metrics of "good behavior" as well. Human exception handlers make sense for "jerks," but become counterproductive (and time wasting) for a simple math problem.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 29 at 18:20
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    But there is no magic boundary number for this situation, and there is no way to cover all the exceptional situations which might cause disruption. Therefore we rely on human moderators who can exercise good judgement and take in context.
    – bobble
    Mar 29 at 18:23
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    Not to mention that the amount of time it takes for new content to surface depends heavily on the site and how busy it is during a given period, making defining an explicit "speed limit" rather challenging, even per-site. I think the takeaway here isn't necessarily that a rule was formally broken per say, but that the edits had the unintended effect of being disruptive in a way which has been deemed hurtful to the well-being of the community as a whole.
    – zcoop98
    Mar 29 at 19:16
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    Also worth noting that the help center mentions the bumping effect that edits have, under "What happens when I edit a post?": "Editing a post also bumps the question to the top of the homepage. Please be mindful of this and make your edits count, so that the new attention is brought to something substantial."
    – zcoop98
    Mar 29 at 19:17
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    You could argue one case here: the badge tracker in one's profile formerly featured a "Go get it" link, which encouraged badge-running (the button has now been removed for regular badges, it only exists for tag badges now). Also, while the help center does state that edited posts are bumped, there's no such indication in the editing window itself, so a user could have been genuinely unaware that editing posts bumps them. Mar 29 at 19:41
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    There's also an issue of the public "reason" for the suspension showing as "rule violations", which changes the focus from trying to stop exceptional disruptive behavior to specific (written or unwritten) rules that were violated. Suspensions for exceptional reasons that don't have to do with written or unwritten rules shouldn't publicly assert that such a rule was violated. Mar 29 at 19:44

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