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While I believe the original revision of the question below provides sufficient details to distinguish itself from the duplicates, I'd like to tldr it:


I implied in a meta post that a specific moderator abused his privileges, due to a vendetta against a specific user and that if that weren't the case, the moderator or anyone else should explain the questionable facts surrounding the case.

I received communications from CMs stating it is a violation of "Abusive behavior policy", specifically

Conduct that falls under this category includes, but is not limited to, the below definitions:

Bullying and Harassment - severe, repeated, or persistent unsolicited conduct, misuse of power or tools, or attacks that target specific users or groups of people in a manner that causes harm. Content that contributes to a hostile or threatening environment, denies a person's expressed gender identity, or invalidates a person's individual experiences in a manner that causes harm.

Hostile comments – malicious, unkind, cruel, or mocking comments that provoke or insult another person, including (but not limited to) the usage of gendered cursing terms in a derogatory way.

(Bold mine)

Reading the policy, my post does violate rules related to targeting and unkindness. I believe my posts do "target" a specific moderator, as they imply possible misconduct of a "specific" moderator because of a "very specific" action they took and it is "unkind", because kindness requires overlooking one's faults, which I agree I didn't do.

I ask because I see such targeted unkind violations across MSE and SO and other sites. For example, a few examples off the top of my head

Should all the above be deleted? Now the actual circumstances of my case is not relevant and out of scope of discussion. My specific question is "Is implying a specific moderator misconduct/vendetta/abuse of privileges in meta posts, then a violation of Code of conduct, because it is targeted or unkind or be construed as abusive?" I'm not asking what to do in case of moderator misconduct either. Also, I'm not defending myself here, but I just want to know if there's a specific demarcation line I'm missing, so that future users of the community may have a specific rule to follow in such cases.


Notes on Answer provided:

  • If someone with more info about this case, wants to answer in the context of this specific case, please don't use phrases like "specific to the circumstances at hand" or "specific language [that I used]" - this gives the impression that I used foul/vulgar language, which was abusive and that I'm masquerading here. I didn't use any such language. I did portray my bad faith assumption in the most polite way possible - with plenty of room to assume good faith, in case I was mistaken. Anyone is free to quote any part of my communications or the alleged "abusive language I used" to make your point, if they want to answer with reference to this specific case.

  • I do not want this to be about this specific case. I provided more details and specific circumstances of this case, to avoid allegation of "hidden agenda/ulterior motives". I want to be as open as possible with you guys, regarding what started this question, while I don't want to discuss what started it or want this question be about a specific case, but a general clarification of code of conduct - exactly as written in the title.

  • I already added parts of the specific quote in question, in the comments of the answer and the question. If it is absolutely needed and if it is confirmed by mods that it isn't against policies here or elsewhere, I can provide original deleted/archive links to the full post here or elsewhere - just to prove I don't have a hidden agenda here and defend against the allegation that I was - abusive - as the answer portays.

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    You 'received communications from CMs' stating that it is against the CoC, quote two relevant parts of it, and then you even write that your 'post does violate rules related to targeting and unkindness'. I don't see what other answer you need...
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Feb 16 at 12:12
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    @ColleenV Recourse to moderator misconduct is out of scope for this discussion. I only want to know is it possible to imply moderator misconduct in a meta post or meta comments without violating CoC or Does all such comments violate CoC and therefore all the linked posts above are worthy of deletion? The question is about CoC. Also, does this only apply to moderators or all users. Does any targeting done by any user violate CoC, like the first example?
    – TheMaster
    Feb 16 at 12:32
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    @TheMaster Yes, specifically calling out any user (regardless of whether they're a moderator) in public to impugn their character is a violation of the CoC regardless of who does it. Issues can be discussed without attacking people. If you see a violation of the CoC that was missed, you should flag it for the mod team to look at. If you're unhappy with the way they handle it, you can always escalate to the CM team. Your first example doesn't target a specific user by name, so it's not a violation.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 12:35
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    I would definitely flag the comment if it were on a site I participated on. It was probably let stand because it was around an election, but calling someone "toxic" is not nice.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 12:43
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    Possible duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/q/289909/369802 . The answer there does a great job of outlining what you can/can't do. Even though it predates the CoC, the rule remains the same: focus on the behavior, not the user. So, it goes even further than Colleen's example above, as you focus on 'not agreeing with this action/behavior', and outlining your reasons for that. You don't focus on the 'this moderator took'. That last part you leave out, according to the answer there.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Feb 16 at 12:48
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    Because you are making assertions about the person's character and motivations. You can point out that a moderator's actions look shady without accusing them of being a bad person. If your goal in posting is to get everyone to agree with your opinion that they are a bad person, you're violating the CoC.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 12:56
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    @TheMaster Yes, the CoC does require you to keep some opinions to yourself to participate here.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 13:50
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    @ColleenV Ok, it seems we're dealing with levels of evidence. What if it isn't a opinion, but a fact? Say, a mod openly threatened a user "I'm going to ban you because I don't like you" in a comment, deleted it and then proceeds to ban a user. Now, would this statement "The moderator abused his privileges to threaten and ban an user" still be a violation of CoC?
    – TheMaster
    Feb 16 at 14:08
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    @TheMaster That should be reported via the "Contact Us" page. What purpose would posting that information publicly serve other than to point out that someone is a bad person? That sort of content, regardless of the truthfulness of it, is prohibited. There is a process to handle bad actors without disrupting the site for people who can't do anything but be upset about the problem.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 14:23
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    I don't think that going over a potentially infinite number of hypotheticals is constructive. Feb 16 at 14:23
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    @TheMaster But you just stated there is no good faith explanation because it is a fact they abused their mod powers. Likewise, I can't post about users I know who have been involved in voting fraud. The SE way to handle rules violations is to keep them as private as possible, to give all users the option of continuing to participate in the community after they've corrected their bad behavior. We don't put people on trial.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 16 at 14:48
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    @TheMaster Facts are facts. State the fact - the specific behavior, in context - and that's fine. Even the statement "abused their mod powers" describes them or their behavior in a way that is non-specific and thus, doesn't convey facts - it's your opinion - your biased view of the situation and doesn't give anyone enough information to judge for themselves. It could mean hundreds of things and different people have various ideas of what qualifies as abuse and what is actionable.
    – Catija
    Feb 16 at 14:57
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    The issue with raising this on Meta:SE is that many of the respondents are moderators, many of whom have had to deal with allegations of moderator abuse. You're not going to get an unbiased response here.
    – Richard
    Feb 17 at 10:43
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    @Richard Bias would be fine, as long as they can state the biased policies publicly with clear cut clarity. I mean these moderators are unpaid volunteers doing sludge work day in and day out-I think favoritism or a little bend to establishing these rules- in their favor - is the least payment that can expect to receive from the company. I just want there to be consistency, clear cut policy and transparency of such policy, even if it is with a bent in their favor. But, the answer(+closure) just feels like a pre written template to divert conversation away from policy as well as shut it down.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 17 at 11:23
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    Indeed, at least one of the respondents here was a moderator alleged to have abused their privileges, and was found to have breached policies and the code of conduct, and was removed from their post.
    – Nij
    Feb 18 at 9:04

1 Answer 1

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As previously mentioned in our correspondence, which you've cited, the correct procedure for addressing concerns about moderator behavior is to use the "Contact Us" link located at the bottom of the page. This was also suggested in the email I sent you. Please follow this official channel for escalation. Making public posts with unsubstantiated claims is not a suitable approach.

As far as your question:

"Is implying a specific moderator misconduct/vendetta/abuse of privileges in meta posts abusive?"

The answer is yes. When you target a specific moderator and imply misconduct using abusive language, such as calling it a vendetta, that is considered a CoC violation per the Abusive behavior policy.

As previously stated you’re, of course, welcome to raise concerns or ask about current site practices, including actions taken by moderators. What isn’t allowed is being abusive while doing it. I outlined the specific language that was considered Code of Conduct violations. Please refer back to our correspondence, as I believe it has all the information that you require.

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    If it had all the information I require, I wouldn't be asking for community clarification on CoC violation. The part you quoted was The moderator due to vendetta against a specific user for a meta post, abused his moderator privileges to suspend a user with forged reason: "low quality questions", which was taken out of context. I specifically said that this was a bad faith interpretation or how it seems to the general users(and myself). And I was requesting any info on the matter/transparency. Is that a CoC violation?
    – TheMaster
    Feb 16 at 14:56
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    @TheMaster You have a chance to respond to every Mod Message you receive (once). Asking for clarification of specific private matters on meta is generally not going to go well. If you haven't used your reply, I recommend you move your comment to the Mod Message rather than expecting Bella to respond here.
    – Catija
    Feb 16 at 14:59
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    @Catija I don't really care about this specific situation as I've said before. I did respond back before I posted. But I wanted consensus from the community on what is considered targeting and whether bad faith allegations on moderators are a CoC violation. While this specific issue started this, I want a specific delineation on what is considered abusive. TBH, I did get a different perspective from TinkeringBell's links. So, it's been productive. As far as this specific issue is concerned, I don't expect much anyway.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 16 at 15:09
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    @TheMaster as I've told you before: "Keep the WebApps drama on WebApps. Contact a CM, and don't try to use this site and its community to complete the drama triangle. At this point, things there have escalated way beyond anything any user here can 'fix'. This needs staff to be 'fixed', not some opinion from MSE regulars on whether something like this is justifiable.". Getting "consensus" from the MSE community is not what you should be doing. As far as I've understood, CMs have also confirmed and explained to you this site is not the place for this.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Feb 16 at 15:18
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    @Tinkeringbell Again, while this specific issue on webapps started this, I'm not going to go to webapps and say, "see- community consensus" and even if I did, I expect nothing to happen, as far as any results are concerned. Why won't you believe me, when I say this isn't about web apps, but whether something is a CoC violation? Sure webapps started it, but if I get some consensus/clarification on policies or help future users with similar webapp situations, wouldn't that be of value?
    – TheMaster
    Feb 16 at 15:23
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    The guidance provided in our email exchange is tailored to the particular details of this case. It's important to follow the instructions given there, as they are specific to the circumstances at hand. For general situations, the Abusive Behavior Policy outlined in the Code of Conduct, as well as the duplicate target for this closed question, is sufficient.
    – Bella_Blue StaffMod
    Feb 16 at 15:51
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    @Bella_Blue My question explicitly stated Now the actual circumstances of my case is not relevant and out of scope of discussion. I really didn't want to discuss this particular case at all here. The only part of your answer that may be construed as answering this question is welcome to raise concerns or ask about current site practices, including actions taken by moderators. What isn’t allowed is being abusive while doing it.. My specific question is "Is implying a specific moderator misconduct/vendetta/abuse of privileges in meta posts abusive?
    – TheMaster
    Feb 17 at 4:26
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    If the actions taken by moderators can be interpreted in bad faith, can't we state that this seems like bad faith on the part of the moderator? At least Collen seems to answer it with a resounding "Yes, we can't" and I appreciate his stance. Catija seems to be of the opinion - we can't state opinions on moderators at all. I would've been happy with any of those answers, but it seems you rushed to close this q as dupe of "What recourse do I have if I believe a moderator...", when my question explicitly stated I'm not asking what to do in case of moderator misconduct either.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 17 at 4:33
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    Also, if you're making it about this specific case, go all the way... I denounce my right to privacy on any facts that's relevant to this case. You're free to quote any part of our communication. Right now, your answer seems to suggest that there's something I failed to mention in this specific case in my question and that that is the reason why I received the CoC violation/abusive behavior warning. I don't believe I failed to mention anything. If you're going to answer with "specifics of this particular case", please do so wholeheartedly instead of alluding I hid something relevant.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 17 at 5:05
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    @TheMaster allow me to clarify, "Is implying a specific moderator misconduct/vendetta/abuse of privileges in meta posts abusive?" the answer is yes. When you target a specific moderator and imply misconduct using abusive language, such as calling it a vendetta, that is considered a CoC violation per the Abusive behavior policy. I hope this fully clears up any misunderstandings.
    – Bella_Blue StaffMod
    Feb 20 at 14:47
  • @Bella_Blue Thanks. If you're willing to edit it in, please do and I'll accept the answer.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 20 at 14:48
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    @TheMaster done
    – Bella_Blue StaffMod
    Feb 20 at 14:52
  • This is only one aspect of our private conversations. In particular, my undeletion+edit/redaction request is still pending. I also made a CoC violation report for this post: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/373199 where user Madara used abusive language like vendetta as fact against user Cerebrus. I believe these are out of scope for discussion here, and I would like to continue these in private(However since you linked meta discussions in private, I'm just pinging you). But once again, I never meant to discuss private matters in public or vice versa. This was a very specific generic question.
    – TheMaster
    Feb 20 at 20:02

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