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Regarding https://money.stackexchange.com/a/142559/34078

Having reviewed the edit history, answer author DJClayworth start off his answer by making a rather highly charged statement. His very next line is, "I'm sorry I had to write that sentence."

We can be sympathetic to the question asker who apparently acted out of ignorance. I accept DJClayworth's claim that he felt compelled that he "had to" make that uncomfortable statement.

A mod removed the first two lines of the answer. Not only did the mod do so, but the mod also edited some disagreeing text from another answer https://money.stackexchange.com/posts/142579/revisions (The author of that answer, blankip, also didn't like that any, as indicated by Moderators are the number 1 reason I quit using SE - tell me different )

Furthermore, the original author has twice re-asserted the importance of these lines in his answer, and the mod has removed such content a total of three times (as of this writing), and even wrote "please discuss it on meta." As I reviewed this and support DJClayworth's position, but realize the pressure against going too far in taking on a mod for one's own personal cause, I am hereby trying to support DJClayworth's position when I went ahead and started this conversation on Meta (as the mod directly indicated).

It seems this mod just wants to sanitize the question by censoring any mention of a clear concept. By watering down DJClayworth's answer, a vital message is removed. It would be good if the original poster saw the cold, hard truth of this important concept that the mod's actions effectively hide.

Is it a widespread consensus for this site to keep this site so sterile that applicable judgments are unwelcomed, presumably in an effort to not say something that can be taken as offensive to a guilty party when talking about a topic where a clear offense has allegedly taken place? With respect to the advantages of a general "be nice" policy, is the most appropriate action really to want to take the course of trying so hard, to be so so so so so safe, that we risk effectively preventing this forum from being able to tackle such a hard truth as what DJClayworth's answer conveyed?

(I see that in addition to blankip creating a topic while I was writing this, as noted above, DJClayworth did start up a meta topic himself while I was writing this. Edit Conflict on my answer locked with a version I don't want )

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    Note that we seem to have no problem with writing "Your online girlfriend is a scammer" which crops up all over the place, and we don't feel the need to euphemize. Jul 19 at 15:31
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica - you changed two answers to be your own, you gave no reason to the users, and you set a precedent on answers that has never been maintained. There are 1000s of answers like DJ's on this site. But you "didn't like it" and reprimanded him like he was a 1st grader by marking through with red ink and rewriting everything. If you have that much time to spend doing that and fighting about it, I expect you to now go edit the other 10000 answers that have similar statements. Go!
    – blankip
    Jul 19 at 17:21
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    I posted this on the other meta, but this is where everyone else is..in the interest of compromise: While we can write that saying "Your mom screwed you over" is not nice, it's also not nice to disregard that the OP's mom has caused harm, and is probably a person that will do so in the future. That is, by deleting the statement instead of rewording it. Maybe "Your mom has harmed you financially and you'll want to be careful in the future." That doesn't carry the same punch (and the original is what I'd really want to say), but it at least warns the OP they'll need to be wary from now on. Jul 19 at 21:03
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    Can I draw your attention to this, which although it's on a different site attracts 345 upvotes and no censure for an answer leading with the phrase "Your manager is a prat." workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/117252/… Jul 20 at 1:40
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica Was this more a matter of exact wording than anything else? To some "screwed you over" is mild enough to say in polite company about the barista who put too little milk in your coffee, and to others it is asterisk-worthy swearing. If the issue is language, then would it have been better to just adjust the wording to be "your mother is taking advantage of you" or similar? Might that have been more acceptable to the original answerer? Jul 20 at 2:26
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    That mod needs to be removed.
    – towe
    Jul 20 at 8:26
  • And in other news: money.stackexchange.com/questions/47289/… Jul 20 at 21:55
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    @towe removing mods for making a mistake or the wrong call would result in there being zero mods on the entire network.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 14:51
  • @DJClayworth different sites have wayyy different moderation policies (so long as they stay above board re: the Code of Conduct) FWIW. A guaranteed edit or helpful flag on one site could well be a guaranteed rejection/reversion or declined flag on another.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 14:53
  • From my point of view I believe we can consider this question resolved. Jul 23 at 13:39
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I found the moderator edits of the two questions to be surprising and uncomfortable to see. I'm not used to seeing edits that materially change the content of answers on SE. (In particular, in the second case, it even forced an answer with 4 bullet-points to only have 3, and wind up renumbering everything.)

I find it to be a compelling observation that it's common to see "Your online girlfriend is a scammer", et. al., as part of many answers. The fact that the identity of the person being criticized was a certain family member doesn't seem to make it worthy of this outlier treatment.

If the criticism is considered not relevant to the question, then I would prefer to see the community downvote it (or suggest improvement in comments), and not arbitrarily have the substance of the answer changed by moderator fiat.

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    I was thinking a bit more about the "this person is a scammer" point and actually one major difference is that typically that fact is crucial to the answer. The person asking typically wants to know whether they should do something and the answer is that they shouldn't because it's a scammer asking for it. In this case the OP didn't even ask if their mother had treated them reasonably. They just want to know what to do about the situation they find themselves in now. Jul 19 at 21:26
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    @GS-ApologisetoMonica Part of being able to grapple with what to do now is accepting what caused the problem in the first place. If the OP doesn't realize that their mother was the source of the problem then they very well may fall into the same issue again. As I'm sure you know, many times a good answer includes things that the asker didn't directly ask.
    – Kevin
    Jul 19 at 21:42
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    @Kevin I agree there are cases where it's probably be fine to have some peripheral commentary. You'll probably find some in my own answers if you go looking :-) In the end my decision to delete stemmed from the combination of factors in my answer - not directly relevant, in a gray area of "not nice", and being part of a back and forth in other answers/comments. Jul 19 at 21:46
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From English Language and Usage -

Is “I'm screwed” a rude expression? -

The first answer is

It's something you wouldn't say to your grandmother, perhaps, but it is a very common euphemism people use to avoid saying something stronger. It's used in everything from pop songs to commentaries by TV talk show hosts.

Seriously, in most walks of society screwed is considered merely informal these days, not rude.

I personally might have ignored this as informal. As a member. As a mod, had I seen this first, I'd have seen it as potentially offensive and easily edited out. I think the sentiment offered could easily have been communicated with language a bit kinder.

To answer the OP now - I think it best that judgements be avoided. The original question really didn't contain enough detail to pass such a judgement. And as is often the case, that OP didn't return to clarify any of the comments asking for more details. Details that might have made any remarks seem a rush to judgement.

[disclaimer - I probably have a number of answers accusing financial professionals including lawyers, of some type of malpractice. And might be accused of being hypocritical in my approach here. I accept that criticism.]

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    +1 for the whole answer, but especially for acknowledging that you have used language this strong in your own answers. Jul 20 at 13:35
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    I disagree very strongly with this answer. The answer to a question isn't just for the OP and overly tuning it to specifics of the OP's situation not in the question produces a less useful answer for everyone but the OP. It is perfectly reasonable (and often essential) to assume that things not stated by the OP are as they are most likely to be. The OP can comment on the answer if they disagree. Jul 22 at 20:42
  • @DavidSchwartz - I respect your opinion. In general, I'd lean towards "too nice" vs "anything goes". As far as the OP adding anything - OP (of target question, not here) never replied to a comment asking for details, and hasn't visited in 4 days. I'd really like to see a full response on this from you. If members, in general, want mods to back off on the line of 'being nice' I'd like to know where y'all would draw that line. Jul 22 at 20:50
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Can we all be satisfied enough with getting a little bit our way and not being totally satisfied?

I upvoted the answer by "GS - Apologise to Monica", despite that I disagree with the actions taken, and might not even like the answer. But, the answer is useful (which is supposed to be the criteria for upvoting, according to the tooltips), as the mod explained why sections were taken.

It seems there are some strong feelings from multiple sides. Personally, I'm not terribly offended by the phrase "Your mom screwed you over." I suppose that may be partially because I got familiar with the concept of being "screwed over" as a young child (simply to mean being mistreated), even before I knew of any other slang term of the word "screw". But I admit that in today's culture, some people might be more sensitive to that.

Grade 'Eh' Bacon's comment to the original post (of this Meta question) notes people may take this phrasing very differently. I posted this question (on Meta) because I didn't see the language as being out of line, and I thought the problem was more about saying we shouldn't point out the problem of what the mother did. But based on feedback I learned from the response here, I see that the specific language used may have been the largest trigger (which may effectively be the clear answer to my core question).

I think the best suggestion I've seen is from Don Branson's comment:

"Your mom has harmed you financially and you'll want to be careful in the future." That doesn't carry the same punch (and the original is what I'd really want to say), but it at least warns the OP they'll need to be wary from now on.

While Don's proposed phrasing is less succinct and perhaps less powerful, it does also sidestep the offensiveness that apparently triggered a flag and which the mod ("GS - Apologise to Monica") acted on (probably in agreement). Joe's answer here also suggests this.

I disagree with the mod's assertion that this text is not relevant. While the OP may be realizing that mom's behavior is causing some inconvenience, it might be helpful to point out that this behavior was really totally bad to its core. Therefore, the removed text might not be phrased as nice-sounding as some may prefer, but the presence of the text was quite relevant (and, therefore, I disagree with it being removed completely on the basis of irrelevance).

I suspect going with Don Branson's sample text wouldn't fully satisfy DJClayworth's position of wanting original wording. However, I believe Stack Exchange is not fully about free speech when the speech seems to violate the "Be Nice" policy. Some aspects of Stack Exchange's culture is entrenched, which is that there are some expectations of speech, and some controls including Mods having power and expectations that people don't resist or fight too hard against the mods (commenting on Meta is okay, but constantly reverting is getting a bit too aggressive).

I know my score on this Stack Exchange site may be lower, but I do have some Stack Exchange experience (namely over 10,000 on Super User). I've encounted feelings of being dissatisfied with some of Stack Exchange's behaviors/culture before, including concerns about words being inserted by someone else's name. I suspect that DJClayworth is going to end up being dissatisfied about not being fully free to express as desired. Similarly, I suspect blankip may be dissatisfied with how heavy-handed mod behavior can be. However, as much as I agree or disagree with some of these aspects, I've come to expect such behavior can happen on the Stack Exchange sites, and I think eventually the consensus will lie on supporting having text which is not deemed too offensive to multiple people.

So if DJClayworth showed accepting cooperation by updating the text to Don Branson's sample, then the moderator ("GS - Apologise to Monica") would be not completely satisfied because there would still be some text about a topic that the moderator deems to be irrelevant. But it wouldn't be using language that i too objectionable. DJClayworth would be dissatisfied for not being able to have the same punch (to use Don Branson's phrasing), but could still communicate an important concept to whomever read his answer. Neither side getting fully what is hoped for, but a compromise that allows key information to be spread without stomping too hard on the oppositions most important concerns.

Except blankip and DJClayworth might still be unhappy about being moderated this way and not having more freedom, but I think that's rather entrenched in Stack Exchange culture so I predict there isn't going to be much wiggle room given on that front.

I realize I haven't commented as much about main concerns blankip brought up about how downvotes ended up getting applied. I commented less on that so far namely since I feel less significant strong insight or recommendations about that. I suspect some of the downvoting might be sensible for some of the same reason that DJClayworth was being upvoted, since the first sentence of blankip's comment was basically saying the opposite of a key statement from DJClayworth's popular answer. Some people probably ignore the guidelines on how upvoting/downvoting should occur, and may upvote/downvote based on disagreeing with text (not necessarily considering whether it might be useful, like I did with the answer by "GS - Apologise to Monica").

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  • Regardless of how much agreement or disagreement I end up getting from this summary post, I think I did learn some from this question on Meta. Thank you for everyone who has contributed answers and/or comments so far.
    – TOOGAM
    Jul 20 at 2:58
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    One comment I would have about your assessment is the impact extends beyond the three main parties, GS blankip and DJClayworth. I would say this application of the “be nice” policy discourages others from contributing. If we’re all supposed to only contribute very sterilized answers with nothing other than raw facts we should get rid of usernames and avatars, every question should only have a single answer and every answer should be a community wiki. I don’t think editing the personality out of answers because one anonymous user flagged a single sentence is a reasonable policy.
    – quid
    Jul 20 at 4:46
  • @TOOGAM I wasn't really satisfied with the text I offered. DJClayworth's current text is much better. It's attention-getting, but shouldn't offend those with delicate sensitivities. Jul 20 at 20:20
  • The tooltips are lies, at least on meta sites. The general convention on meta sites is, you upvote things you agree with, not things that are useful.
    – Kevin
    Jul 28 at 23:59
3

I'm not a mod here, but I have been a mod at one site or another on SE for several years now.

I absolutely would have made the same edit. Answers should not make personal judgements, and in particular not attack anyone's character. "Be nice" applies not only to the original poster, but to everyone - including the poster's mother. Unless it's actually important to the answer [which it really never should be on Money.SE], leave personal attacks out.

There are ways to word what needed to be said without the salty language, and without impugning anyone's character. And to be clear, I fully agree with the poster's original statement! But, if you want to say it, say it nicely. "I'm sorry that your mom has damaged your credit." or "Here's how to get out of this hole your mom dug for you." is sufficient, no? There's no need to be aggressive. The answer stands on its own, perfectly fine, without the judgement. And frankly, the original poster knows they were done wrong by their mother - it's not like you need to point that out to them!

Secondarily, answers really aren't supposed to refer to one another, and so certainly the other answer needed the edit it got.

Finally, never revert a mod edit because you disagree with it. Come to meta and discuss it, or flag the post and explain, or come to chat and talk about it. Don't just revert it, unless it's clear the mod made a factual mistake that wasn't intended, and even then I would almost always try to reach out and explain first.

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    We write "Your online girlfriend is a scammer" all over the place. What's different about this? Jul 19 at 15:36
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    First - if it's a factual statement that's truly relevant to the answer, then it's probably fine. "Is there something fishy about this" and the answer is "Your online girlfriend is a scammer" - that's a legit answer. Your answer stood fine without any of that. Second - "your online girlfriend is a scammer" is much less of a personal attack than what you wrote, in my book at least. Especially since it's not directed at a family member of the OP.
    – Joe
    Jul 19 at 15:38
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    But mostly, it's about whether it's actually relevant to the answer. It's not - OP knows what's up. OP wants to know how to deal with it. Your answer is great on that front - with the personal attack removed, it's better.
    – Joe
    Jul 19 at 15:39
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    It is relevant to the answer. OP needs to understand what has happened to him. Jul 19 at 15:40
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    "Never revert a mod edit because you disagree with it" Also "Never repeat an edit that was reverted by the author." And in my original revert I had no idea this was a mod. I thought it was a newbie who didn't understand the rules. Jul 19 at 15:42
  • OP pretty clearly understands - at least to me that's quite clear. And if it's so important to you, then add that information in a nicer way?
    – Joe
    Jul 19 at 15:42
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    Not when it's clearly against the author's intent. Which this is. Are we drifting towards the approach of "rules don't apply to mods"? Jul 19 at 15:45
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    Also, let's ask why this was done with an edit and a lock instead of a comment like "maybe this answer could be toned down a bit." Jul 19 at 15:49
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    And I reverted the edit because a person I didn't know was editing my answer without my consent. He/she could have handled it differently, but didn't. And I don't think mods are supposed to use edit locks to handle disputes they are involved in. On Wikipedia an admin doing this would have been reprimanded and told to remove the lock. Like I said, I assumed this person was a newbie who didn't know the rules. Jul 19 at 15:56
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    You only did that after your second edit. So from my point of view I see 1) An edit that goes against my intent which I revert 2) The same edit repeated with a comment that seems so say "I'm a mod so I can do this if I want". Jul 19 at 16:47
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    @Joe - be nice is opinionated. Sometimes nice is the brutal truth. Nice is a lot of grey area... to the point where it is just SE/mods do whatever the hell they feel like. Let's be honest - be nice - is just there so SE can unilaterally do whatever it wants. I have many conversations with SE mods/employees where they certainly weren't nice to me... these weren't expunged. So realize when you use a fairytale rule to make a point, it really doesn't make a point.
    – blankip
    Jul 19 at 17:26
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    @Joe Assuming you are a mod who deems a change to be necessary, if your issue is that the language was too strong, and you would be okay with the statement using toned down language, then wouldn't the correct edit be to simply tone down the statement, rather than delete it altogether? Jul 19 at 19:20
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    @Joe "Never revert a mod edit because you disagree with it." 1. This is the sort of thing that comes across as dictatorial, similar to "Never question a police officer" or things like that. People hate that attitude on principle. 2. If users aren't supposed to revert mod edits then they shouldn't be allowed to do so. The fact that they can means that there are cases where they should
    – Kevin
    Jul 19 at 22:41
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    @Joe "Your mother screwed you over" is also both factually correct, and the same level of personal attack as "your girlfriend is a scammer"
    – user253751
    Jul 21 at 9:40
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    @DJClayworth "I assumed this person was a newbie who didn't know the rules" Sorry, this just doesn't pass the smell test. Someone who is a trusted user on half a dozen network sites (some of the largest network sites, at that) is not going to miss that it was an elected moderator who edited their post. They absolutely know the system better than that. It's not even likely you wouldn't know the editor by name since they're a mod. For starters, a "newbie who didn't know the rules" would have had to submit their edit suggestion for review rather than be able to unilaterally make the change.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 15:04
1

If this is too offensive, good, that's the point.

This is why I strongly feel that "your girlfriend is a scammer" is a straw man argument.*

It's common to use Google translate to communicate. I frequently get emails intended for a business in Europe, and to be kind, I reply in French or Spanish to let the writer know they have the wrong guy. To use these 2 languages isn't an outlier. This is what the translator gave me -

enter image description here

Any Spanish speaking reader should see the issue here. But here we go -

enter image description here

The same result occurs when using French as the target language. Had DJ dropped an F bomb in his answer, one would likely not have had an issue with a mod editing that out. What I'd propose here is that to many readers, the chosen phase was equivalent to just that. To some, "screwed over" has a different level of offense than for others.

*In Spanish "scammer" does a roundtrip from English back to the same word, to French, "con artist" is returned.

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    Impressed by the down vote seconds after I posted this.... Jul 23 at 13:43
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    I Google Translated this answer to Russian and back and now it says that editing the moderator is acceptable. If somebody doesn't realize that "your mom fucked you" is a machine translation error, it's not the answer writer's fault. (and I don't understand the sentence "If this is too offensive, good, that's the point." and how it explains why you feel that "your girlfriend is a scammer" is a straw man argument; what does "this" refer to?) Jul 24 at 6:39
  • "If somebody doesn't realize that [quote] is a machine translation error, it's not the answer writer's fault." - strongly disagree. Do you know what straw man argument means? Did I use the phrase incorrectly? The comparison doesn't apply. That's all. The 'this' I refer to is my own answer here, and the in-you-face use of a swear word. Jul 24 at 12:13
0

Timeline/context

I got involved in the question because of a flag. To explain the context of the flag, I need to summarise the different posts and comments:

This first answer contained "Your mom has screwed you over".

This second answer contained contained "Your mom didn't screw you over. She just did what she does. She doesn't pay for things unless forced and you enabled it."

The second answer then got two quite highly upvoted comments:

"Your mom didn't screw you over" No... You're right in the fact that "she just did what she does"... which is screwing people over - that's how you get bad credit. This time it was just that the OP ALSO got screwed over.

"She doesn't pay for things unless forced and you enabled it." What the heck is up with this victim blaming? You make it sound like OP willingly put themselves into the situation without knowing the full details

and then the second answer got a "Rude or Abusive" flag, which I was ultimately responding to when I got involved.

Grey areas

In my view, the deleted material falls into multiple grey areas:

Be nice

Firstly, Stack Exchange does have a "be nice" policy. Certainly personal attacks on identifiable SE users are almost always inappropriate. Personal attacks on unidentifiable individuals like in this case are less clear-cut. The first answer's statement was a bit over the line in my opinion. Then the second answer directly criticised the OP which was significantly further over the line.

Irrelevant material

Secondly, the whole debate about being screwed over or not or being enabled or whatever was pretty much irrelevant to the question. Both answers had much more relevant factual statements about the problems of co-signing and how to get out of them. Readers are perfectly capable of drawing their own conclusions about right and wrong anyway. Yes, sometimes it does make sense to give wider advice than the specific original question, but it's another grey area.

Answers that don't actually address the question are always subject to deletion.

I've always understood that to equally applies to specific bits of irrelevant material in an answer where other parts of it do answer the question, though I don't have a specific reference for that right now. But still, to give an extreme example, I wouldn't expect either "Trump is great" or "down with Trump" to survive long if I included it as a single line in an otherwise perfectly good answer.

In this case of course the statements were at least related to the question but certainly wouldn't have survived as standalone answers in their own right.

This isn't a discussion site

The focus of StackExchange is getting answers:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

If someone had actually asked "Did my mom screw me over" that would have been subject to closure as opinion-based.

As with comments, discussions are more likely to get moderated the longer they continue. One or two chatty comments often survive, but if more and more keep appearing then often the whole lot will get removed.

Summary

Overall for me, given the combination of irrelevance, not niceness, and the general back and forth of discussion leading to a "rude and abusive" flag, the logical conclusion was just to remove all that content rather than somehow taking sides by leaving some of it.

We actually get a fair number of flags about answers containing "not nice" content and I generally apply the same test - if it's not directly relevant to the question then removing it as such is the easiest way to deal with it.

Conversely, flags about material which is actually directly relevant to the actual question asked get treated much more skeptically - the answer will typically not get deleted if it's just a bad answer but not rude/abusive etc.

Why is this other content still here?

The fact that things aren't consistently removed across the site is not evidence that we think they are ok, just that moderator's time is limited and usually focused on actual controversies - such as the one I was faced with here given the flag and the comments.

I also thought a bit more about the "your girlfriend is a scammer" example and in general I'd expect those kinds of answers are much more likely to be actually relevant to the question.

Edit wars

Firstly, let me be clear that I was acting with my mod hat on all the way through my interaction with this question - I was applying my judgement as a mod when I edited the answer in the first place, and I explicitly stated that the second time I applied the edit by leaving a comment. Ideally a second mod will also weigh into this discussion but this wasn't a case of me forming a "normal user" personal opinion and then using my mod powers to make it stick.

As far as any conflict between "clearly conflicts with author's intent" and "edits that improve a post" go, in the end it's the job of a mod to resolve that. Joe's answer explains the general approach to mod edits and edit wars so I won't spend time repeating it. From my side, I could have made it clearer earlier that it was an edit for moderation reasons.

What next?

I can see a few possible outcomes:

  1. The status quo at the time of writing is that the first answer has been re-edited with a much milder statement, and the second answer is as edited by me.

  2. Go back to the original content as written by the posters of both the first and second answer.

  3. Go back to the original content as written by the poster of the first answer, but not the second answer.

  4. Put both answers back to how they were after I edited them.

Overall moderation decisions are a judgement call and I'm sure that another mod, or me on a different day, might have made a different one. I don't actually normally spend hours thinking about each decision :-) But now that I have spent a while thinking about it and writing down my instinctive motivations in more detail, I still feel that what I did was a valid moderation choice amongst a range of reasonable options.

As we stand now, I think outcome 1, i.e. the status quo as I write this, is fine and it might be simplest to just leave it at that.

If anyone still wants to push for 2 or 3, i.e. restoring one or both of the stronger statements in the original content, I think another mod should make the call on it. They might want to consider any opinions from mods on other sites, and/or the sample of community opinion demonstrated by the discussion here.

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    Watch the flood of SE employees and mods upvote this and downvote my answer. Let the clockwork SE mechanics start.
    – blankip
    Jul 19 at 17:14
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    While I can understand your logic from the standpoint of responding to flags, I'm not sure why both answers needed the commentary edited out. MAYBE the referential comment in the second answer. I don't agree that OPs mom necessarily screwed them over; any number of circumstances could have arisen, there just aren't enough details in the question. But from the standpoint of a user contributing answers; when my answers get edited for content I want to never contribute to this place again. I don't think the comment was additive but I'm not sure both should have been removed.
    – quid
    Jul 19 at 17:33
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    From What is a locked post?: "Permanent locks should almost never be used, with the exception of those imposed by the system itself." What is the reasoning behind using the permanent lock as opposed to a temporary lock with a time limit? Your use of the lock on this HNQ has caused the perhaps unintended side effect of costing the answerer upvotes and rep. Jul 19 at 17:51
  • @BenMiller-RememberMonica thanks, I hadn't read or had forgotten that. I've removed the permanent lock now (and I think the other one wasn't permanent and has expired, or there's some other mechanism for locks to be auto-removed). Anyway, this is not a statement that it's acceptable to reinstate the original content or anything close to it. Jul 19 at 18:10
  • @quid judgement call, I guess - when responding to the flag I took a look at the whole context and dealt with the first answer in the same way as I would have if it had received a flag itself. On your general point about answers being edited, I think it's part of the SE model that everyone's answers are subject to appropriate edits. Jul 19 at 18:17
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    I get that there are rules and things can be edited. But, a lot of people upvoted, and were fine with, DJClayworth's pre-edit answer, only a single person downvoted. If a couple flags can force an edit from a mod, which ultimately locked the answer from the answer-er, what is the point of the downvote button? I think the answer is improved post-edit, but I don't think the comment was egregiously offensive or mean and it seems the community at large didn't either. The community downvoted the second answer without the need for an edit. I think the community should receive a little more trust.
    – quid
    Jul 19 at 18:45
  • @quid the difference between downvoting and removal in general is fairly well summarised here - I routinely decline flags from people asking me to delete bad answers that are still an attempt to answer, telling them to downvote instead. Conversely, the material I deleted is a perfect example of "not an answer". Jul 19 at 18:50
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    Thank you for the explanation in your answer. You have to understand that a quick mod-lock after a mod-edit with little explanation comes across to us as very heavy-handed, and the pushback you are seeing on meta is understandable. Instead of locking, you could have said in a comment after making your second edit: "Please don't revert my edit. Let's discuss on meta." Then in the event that a user reverted your second edit, a temporary lock could then have been placed, and the lock would not have been a surprise. Jul 19 at 19:08
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    It was my understanding that the normal means of dealing with problematic comments is to delete the comments, let the answers stand on their own, and let the votes decide which answers are "relevant" or "not relevant."
    – Kevin
    Jul 19 at 20:30
  • 6
    "That equally applies to specific bits of irrelevant material in an answer where other parts of it do answer the question." - That is a startling and dangerous expansion of moderator powers which, to the best of my understanding, has been discussed exactly nowhere. Your Meta.SE citation is about whole answers that are irrelevant, not about one line in an otherwise good answer.
    – Kevin
    Jul 19 at 21:29
  • 1
    To use the apple analogy from the Meta post you linked, the answer is the apple. DJClayworth posted a whole apple. Some people complained there was also a gummy bear on top of the apple. And that complaint kicked off this whole thing. On that basis, A LOT of apples also have gummy bears on them. Should all of those answers be edited for superfluous content? And to be clear, I'm not being critical of you, I'm being critical of the rules (and maybe this isn't the correct place for that).
    – quid
    Jul 19 at 21:49
  • 1
    @quid I think that comes back to my point about not moderating everything possible under the sun. I think I did actually read the answer while browsing the site randomly and I didn't do anything about it at that point, but then the discussion got more out of hand, the flag appeared, and then I tried to find a consistent way to moderate the whole Q+A. It's like with comments: one or two chatty comments will often survive but if a comment thread gets out of hand the whole lot will probably go. Also, going back to "not nice", it was a bit more like a skull+crossbones than a gummy bear :-) Jul 19 at 21:56
  • 4
    As the author of the first answer, I've read this twice very carefully. As I understand it, my answer attracted no flags, no negative comments, one downvote and fifty upvotes. But because it was mentioned in another answer which was flagged and attracted argumentative comments you decided to edit my answer in a negative way and then lock it when I reverted the edits. Is that a fair summary? Let me ask a straight question. If I put my answer back to the way I wanted, what exactly would be your problem with it? And what would you do? Jul 20 at 1:27
  • 2
    Since we seem to be in a waiting mode, I've edited my answer back to roughly what it was, toning down my language a bit and adding some more useful information. If people think that the new version is inappropriate please leave comments here, and we can discuss. Jul 20 at 14:00
  • 1
    "Firstly, Stack Exchange does have a "be nice" policy." Stack Exchange has not had a "be nice" policy since the current Code of Conduct (CoC) was rolled out in 2018. The CoC might say many of the same things, but it is not named the "Be Nice" policy (like it used to be) nor does the phrase "be nice" appear anywhere in the CoC... just FYI.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 15:10
-2

Whatever the official SE viewpoint here it shows that there is a clear conflict with SE users and the Terms of Service.

If a user hands over their answers to SE and SE is the owner of their answers then there is a subtle contract between the entity (SE) and the user that links the views and the "opinions" of the user to the user and not the entity.

Based on this SE would reserve the right to edit things clearly inappropriate, obscene, or spammish. But clearly this question is not about these basic "moderated" areas and this question is about changing the opinion of someone in their own name.

The fact that SE employees (whether paid or unpaid) are allowed to edit out of context the "opinions" that the user owns now becomes owned by SE.

What this means... if I as a user want my answers squashed (deleted) from all SE sites I should have the right to do so because the oversite can clearly cause my answers to be completely altered by users and/or SE and these new answers could be defamatory towards my person and cause me as a user unjust future harm.

In a nutshell. It is illegal to put someone's words on my name. It doesn't matter if it says it was edited or not. There is no court in the US that would look at this and think a another outside user (employer/school/community) would research answers and edits and figure out who to attribute the words to. They would simply use the person's name on the answer. The moderator here is highlighting an injustice in the SE system where the user who answers a lot of questions could be unjustly harmed by SE and their mods/users. This is a significant issue but even a bigger issue because the user answering questions that has a chance to be harmed is not getting paid while making money for SE.

6
  • 6
    You always have the right to disassociate yourself from all your answers - just delete your account. What you don't have is the right to actually delete the answers, because of the licence you agree to when you post them. But I can't speak for the company on legal issues, you'd need to contact them directly about that. Jul 19 at 17:14
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica - even when an account is deleted the answers still there. And there is history that associates the question and the "answer" which may change to the original user. Just because it may be changed on the SE systems doesn't mean it is deleted from the internet.
    – blankip
    Jul 19 at 17:16
  • 5
    "It's illegal to put someone's words on my name. It doesn't matter if it says it was edited or not." That's literally what happens every time edits an answer on any SE site. "If I as a user want my answers squashed (deleted) from all SE sites I should have the right to do so." You waived your right to do that when you agreed to their terms of service
    – Kevin
    Jul 19 at 22:37
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica You can disassociate your account from a post without deleting your account, via the Contact Us page. There is simply a wait time of 6-8 weeks before it is done.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 15:07
  • @TylerH In theory, yes, but if you want to delete all your answers then you'll be directed to the deletion process I think (there's a meta post about it somewhere) Jul 22 at 16:01
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica Ah, yes, deletion of all posts at once is a totally separate concern.
    – TylerH
    Jul 22 at 16:11

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