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In short: I found one of Pro Webmasters' moderators too eager to remove comments and I feel, that he has misused his moderator rights. Can someone spare 3-5 minutes to review this case?

Im my opinion, what was made by that moderator is 100% pure censorship, hidden behind mistaken understanding of FAQ and rules. Since we failed to settle together and since moderator failed to provide explanation, I've been asking him for, I need to seek some else help. Thank you in advance.

Introduction

The entire case is described in details in this Pro Webmasters meta question. One of PW moderators had removed all three of my comments claiming, that they're off-topic, not constructive, too chatty and invite other users to open-discussion.

IMHO his opinion is incorrect. I claim, that non of my comments falls to above description. I'm convinced, that I provided an alternative answer or straightforwardly expressed that above comment or answer is incorrect, and moderator simply used his powers to remove claim, he doesn't agree with.

Mentioned moderator failed to provide reasonable explanation, keeps repeating his (taken out of FAQ and known to me) arguments and is not willing to battle my counterarguments. So I'm seeking for a person, that spare some time, to review this case and explain me, what is really going on here?

Case one

An example is this answer. The question was generally asking, whether it is good to keep Javascript code inline (inside HTML pages) or in an external files. Someone provided an answer, where at the end, he used an argument that inline Javascript code is better for debugging.

My comment directly expressed, that we're talking about production code. Nobody is doing debugging on production code, so this argument is pointless. That's all. Now, can someone enlighten me, what can be off-topic, too chatty or not constructive in such comment? For me, it is just a standard opinion.

Case two

Next, is this answer. A guy named lesto gave an comment, that connection times are 10-100x longer than actual downloading times, so having inlined code is faster, because browser downloads both HTML and Javascript code at once.

I commented, that this comment is also kind of pointless, because in most cases browsers gets both files from cache, so there is no connection at all and no connection lag. Comment was removed for the very same reasons (inviting others to discussion, not constructive, off-topic). Can someone tell me, what is so not constructive and off-topic in a comment like that?

Summary

I understand, that there are different points of view and I understand that moderator's key job is to remove "noisy" content. But, when he or she is doing this too eagerly, this is wrong. And when, in addition, he or she, rejects to explain (in more details than FAQ covers) his/her decisions or is unable to battle a quality counterarguments, then I find this situation really bad.

I've been over a year on Stack Exchange, contributing (more or less successfully) to many sites. It was a really good year. I've seen a lot, but never something like in Pro Webmasters. I'm active on PW for just one day and I feel like I've been treated like a intruder and a useless person. That was a really bad day. I don't think I find enthusiasm to contribute any more to this site.

migrated from meta.stackexchange.com May 15 '14 at 10:49

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for meta-discussion of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites.

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Comments are designed to contain ephemeral, short-lived discussions surrounding the parent post, and it's expected that anything meaningful resulting from the conversations be moved into the post itself. Comments that add no intrinsic value to the parent are subject for removal, often because they become obsolete, chatty or just totally lacking context after other comments have been removed.

Do not put anything of lasting value in comments - they're second-class citizens when it comes to the content that we provide. We deliberately make them as minimal as possible, because they distract from the very high signal to noise ratio that we strive to maintain.

Pruning comments when they've been flagged as obsolete, not-constructive and otherwise is an arduous chore. It's difficult to explain how prickly this can be to someone that hasn't had to clean up a long thread, but sometimes the removal of other comments just leaves this horribly fragmented conversation that isn't going to help anyone. You can also flag the post and ask that specific comments that you made be restored, because they're still relevant and have not been acted upon in the post itself.

You didn't do anything wrong, neither did Dan - it's just important to remember, if it's important enough to persist, it needs to find a home in an answer instead of a comment. Please don't feel put-off or unwelcome, that's not the case at all. Some sites are a bit more stringent when it comes to various things - certain sites like using a sort of uniform way of formatting. Other sites are quite particular about what remains in comments. You've stumbled upon one of these subtle differences, but that's all it is, please don't take it personally.

As for this specific incident, it's perfectly fine to come here as you have to say the mod might have made a mistake. He'll review his call, as will other mods, and if something of value was lost that needs to come back - it's easily fixed.

But, he's not abusing his powers, it's not censorship or some kind of cover up, it's just a subjective call that the mod made and you disagree. That's fine - you have a right to disagree and to raise the issue constructively. Just please, don't read anything more into it - it's honestly as simple as it sounds.

  • I find your answer enlightening, and thank you for that. However, I can't agree with two of your points (will this comment be deleted as well, doh? :]): (a) comments in case were not flagged by anyone, Dan removed them after about 15-30 seconds since adding them; (b) I can't formulate as an answer comment to someone else answer or to other comment. How would you see that ("In this answer someone commented like that. I disagree, so I write this answer")? – trejder May 15 '14 at 11:43
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    Plus: You answer a lot, how moderation works, what comments are for, how they're short lived, how moderator's live is bad -- everything, that I already know. However, there is nothing in either your answer or any of Dan's comments about what is real case here. He removed comments, that he found off-topic, while they're not off-topic at all. They've just showed an alternative opinion. That's a censorship, whether you agree with that or not. Saying, that some answer or comment is wrong and bringing arguments to support this claim (like I did) can't be off-topic or not constructive in my opinion. – trejder May 15 '14 at 11:46
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    @trejder Censorship is the wrong word to apply here. It implies that Dan didn't want the masses to uncover some truth or concept you were trying to communicate and that's decidedly not the case. He made a subjective judgement call that you don't agree with (and it's fine to disagree). And no, comments here on meta are the reverse, they're supposed to support a sort of prolonged discussion. They do get pruned, but not nearly as aggressively, and generally only when something has degraded into pure noise. – Tim Post May 15 '14 at 12:29
  • @trejder I've updated my answer a bit based on your feedback. Does my answer now (better) address your concerns? I didn't mean to be dismissive, sorry if it came off that way, I just got lost in the point(s) a bit. – Tim Post May 15 '14 at 12:32
  • Thank you once again. I seriously doubt, that Dan is going to review this call, because he had his chance in a question I risen on meta, and all he managed to do, was to repeat that my comments are off-topic. I'm honestly fully satisfied with your answer and the effort, you put to handle this specific incident. Though, I haven't been convinced, that my comments were off-topic, I'm ready to pass on this case. I think we're all going to live on with this. After all, we're wasting our precious time on just a three damn comments, right. Thank you, again, and have a nice day to all of us! :] – trejder May 15 '14 at 13:46
  • there is often very useful additional info in the comments that is often helpful to understand an answer without diluting the answer itself. I have noticed that this site in particular there seems to be too much eagerness to 'clear up' comments which were not noise. I came here after a comment with 6 upvotes dissapeared without explanation, that info was not added to any answer, it was just lost. – JamesRyan Nov 21 '14 at 17:32
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I can imagine that it is a very tough job moderating a site like this one. Indeed, other Stack Exchanges sites are far more active and the job much larger.

Personality, expertise, and experience will always be a part of the human equation. Whenever humans are a part of the process, the effect will change depending upon the individual and the days experience. Anyone will from time to time experience frustration as a moderator makes a decision that the user does not agree with. It will happen everywhere! It has happened to me on this site and other site SE or not and will likely continue.

The fact of the matter is, we do not think alike and those who are charged with moderating any site will step on some toes without intending any harm.

Because this particular site is lower in activity, moderation of questions, answers, and comments are to remain more likely. On a busier site, moderation may not be as tight because of the sheer volume. For this, it may seem that the moderation is draconian here than elsewhere. I am only surmising based on what I have seen. On other SE sites, I have seen far less scrutiny and attention paid.

I do feel your pain. On another SE site (to go unmentioned), I found that the user base was particularly rude and uninformed and prone to rash comments without basis to the facts. I answered exactly one question with facts squarely within my wheelhouse as they had existed for 30 years and found the backlash unreal. As I recall it, this was a legal question that if the OP had followed the wrong advice would see significant fines and possible jail time. It was important to offer a truthful perspective on the issue based upon dealing within the industry as extensively as I have. I quickly left the site and never returned. But before I left, I did a survey and found that this particular site was unwelcoming an clique(ish). It was clear that outsiders were dealt with harshly and that long standing contributors had their contributions unchallenged.

I am not in favor of calling anyone out per se' but sense you have, the moderator in question has been very fair and thorough in their work striving to create a positive environment for everyone. They have been the most active in moderating decency and fruitful discourse. I found the individuals contributions to be the fairest and most thoughtful of all moderators. I remain grateful for their contributions.

Indeed, I found all of the moderators of this site to be outstanding even as mistakes are made and we should try and respect that the best we can.

If there is an issue, perhaps you could have entered into a chat dialog and discussed it there mono a mono, as it were, to either get clarification or to ultimately regain your comments. After all, this is a site where discussion and discourse is the goal and as such may have solved your problem.

I do value your question.

It does happen from time to time that moderators make mistakes. They are human after all! We all make mistakes at every level of what we do here. There is no exception. It is important to; first- try and be understanding and patient, two- be supportive, and three- strive for what is best even if we do not all agree on what that is.

Lastly: Sometimes, you just have to let the chips fall where they will and move on. It is all temporal in the end anyway.

  • @dan I an sure you are aware of this, of course, but I just had to throw my two cents in anyway- here is hoping they are Indian pennies or at least steel! – closetnoc Sep 3 '14 at 17:35
  • Thanks - I was aware of it, and previously tried to answer all these (not so accurate) claims here. Sometimes users are unfortunately more interested in lashing out at others than helping them. You are correct, comments are just temporary "Post-It" notes, and moderators are tasked with removing those that don't benefit the post. – dan Sep 4 '14 at 0:12
  • I pretty much stick to the guidelines on moderation, like here: A guide to moderating comments, and keep myself apprised of them. It's sometimes not possible to keep everyone satisfied however, which is to be expected with the job... Glad to have helpful and positive users like you here to offset that! – dan Sep 4 '14 at 0:19

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