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There is another user who frequently responds to me with passive-aggressive snotty answers. I sometimes reply to him with all of the respect he deserves, and then, mysteriously, my answers get removed while his comments remain. See the discussion on my answer to this question for an example: Does it matter if certain professions have a lower rate of theism, and if so, why does it matter?. Thanks to my side of the argument being deleted, presumably by the moderators, we are left with a completely one-sided argument.

Is this appropriate? I would understand if the moderators felt the tone of the discussion was not appropriate for the site and deleted the whole thing, but deleting only one side seems improper and even rather dishonest.

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  • My second answer below is about unhelpful and careless partial comment removal. Not so much about taking sides. If you prefer I can move that "answer" to another question. Given this recent comment there's another reason to start that — some of these removed threads actually have good answers
    – Rushi
    Apr 22 at 11:43
  • This should probably be asked on SE's Meta, as you're pointing out a flaw in the moderation system of the site itself. Which makes me think that there's probably already a question about it there. Apr 27 at 14:49
  • Adding reference from a quick search: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/233610/…. Not exactly the same issue, but it touches the same problem and suggests a "fix" for mods (albeit not the best one). This is an old one so there might be something newer. Apr 27 at 15:04

3 Answers 3

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This happens when comments get flagged as rude/abusive or not needed anymore without the other comments being marked accordingly.

That is not necessarily taking sides: the moderation site only shows the flagged comment itself and not the whole conversation. Since we more often than not lack the time to go to the post and read the whole conversation but judge the flagged comment as it stands instead, the outcome may easily look like what you linked.

Thus, no bad feelings, please. If you feel comments are inappropriate, flag them so that they get reviewed and possibly deleted (as well).

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    That's hardly a useful answer though when the argument is between one person who values free speech and another person who likes to run to the authorities to defend him. It would never occur to me to flag a comment, and since there is no notification when my comment gets deleted, I have no idea what is even occurring. Apr 17 at 17:29
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    I feel you but what do you expect us moderators to do? As I wrote elsewhere, we easily get 40+ comment flags alone each day, many of which apparently by bored individuals going through comment threads and flagging for not needed anymore. We can hardly keep up with the work load and it is just not possible to read through every comment thread. Yes, it leads to bad outcomes at times. Can't help it much in the current situation, though.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 17 at 18:35
  • OK, fair enough. One partial solution would be to notify people when their comments are removed by a moderator. Apr 18 at 1:05
  • @DavidGudeman Flagging just one side of a discussion as a means of suppressing that side arguably constitutes an abuse of flagging. But for rude comments, you can disagree about the merits of allowing those, but they simply aren't acceptable on this site. People flagging rude comments (whether addressed to them or not) are merely doing what they're supposed to do, according to the guidelines of this site, with the shared purpose of trying to foster a generally polite and respectful community. If you dislike the policies of this site, you're welcome to relocate to a site you agree with more.
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 18 at 1:25
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    @DavidGudeman Well, "people like you" seem to interpret it as rudeness when someone points out that you're misrepresenting the facts or what someone else has said, and you seem to not see it as rude to continue to misrepresent those things despite being corrected multiple times, and you seem to have difficulty differentiating levels of rudeness between someone pointing out that you're just factually incorrect, someone being mildly facetious and someone saying outright degrading things, and you seem to consider it appropriate to respond with the last one if met with one or both of the first two
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 18 at 3:17
  • Although I use "people like you" lightly, because I honestly can't remember many specifics about any of our interactions. Those just tend to be the types of people I commonly have problems with. Also, this answer prominently mentions rudeness (among other things), and your response implies you "value free speech" and the other person "likes to run to the authorities". That can certainly quite easily be mistaken for someone advocating for allowing rude comments. Responding with rudeness to rudeness is also not appropriate on this site, and an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
    – NotThatGuy
    Apr 18 at 3:29
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I'd like to see an escalation path of this sort:

  1. Move entire thread to chat
  2. Delete a "much-heat-little-light" thread in toto
  3. Delete a specific offensive/pointless/irrelevant comment

But before all

  1. Do nothing!
    Just because a comment is marked offensive/unnecessary, doesn't mean it is!
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    We do read the comment and judge for ourselves before we push any buttons, you know...
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 17 at 13:24
  • @PhilipKlöcking Evidently not. Note your own answer below disagrees with you 😎
    – Rushi
    Apr 22 at 11:32
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    That's plainly false. The answer states that the comment itself is displayed while the whole comment thread is not. Thus, we do read what is flagged. And if it does, standing for itself, justify deletion, we will do that. That does not exclude other, comments not flagged warranting deletion as well. Yet, what is flagged is read before judged. And that's exactly what I wrote if you care to reread carefully.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 22 at 13:57
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Another egregious case of partial (in both senses) selective comment removal.

There was a pertinent exchange between myself and "Peter-reinstate Monica". There was no rudeness on any side and it was directly addressing why that answer was (and is!) wrong.

Peter made the astute observation that when mathematicians follow their intuition (language of intuitionists) they divide their mind into two as it were, an observing mind and a math-ing mind. In response to a comment of mine acknowledging his insight, he drew attention to the fact that we regularly do this divide when we plan — one mind functioning now, one projecting into the future. I then pointed out that this is the essence of programming — one time when the programmer writes their program, one when the program executes as a process.

All this I would argue is more on point than the answer which is relatively clueless as to the actuality of the mathematician's thought processes.

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