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In the past few weeks we’ve had a lot of discussion from the community about the necessity for community manager and moderator intervention.

Whilst we value input from our community, we are also concerned that this can be detrimental if it’s about someone who has been suspended, and they cannot defend themselves. As Ana (CM) put it:

PSA: Please refrain from mentioning the names of or talking about the conduct of users who were suspended from chat after they've been suspended. Having people discuss your actions while you have no way to defend yourself rarely brings out the best in people.

We all understand your concern over the suspensions of some members of this site, but the best outcome is when we take action before the community notices a problem. That way no-one suffers too badly from the newly-suspended member’s behaviour.

On the flip side, people coming back from suspension need to be aware that bringing up old issues directly with people who made those comments will open up old wounds on both sides, and make things even more difficult for everyone.

To counter this behaviour, we will be keeping a much closer eye on people causing trouble by either talking behind suspended people backs, or bringing up old issues. In either case, you should contact the moderators and the community managers by flagging whatever behaviour you have issue with.

And don’t forget to be nice.

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    Agreed. I have been guilty of this in the past, and it is now clear that it can only cause more problems. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Nov 1 '15 at 19:26
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    Given the generic interest in my answer (below), I've undeleted it, at least for the duration of the election. – Valorum Jan 27 '16 at 20:40
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    It would of course appear that the rule on posting offensive comments about suspended users only applies to mere mortals, not moderators – Valorum Jan 27 '16 at 21:29
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    The "rule" - such as it is - states that talking about others' suspensions while they're suspended is rude and a bad idea, @Richard. And at this point, you have extensive experience as to why it's a bad idea. However there's certainly no rule against talking about other users' activities on the site while they're active on the site, and if you find it offensive that others would take issue with your commentary then it's on you to resolve those issues. – Shog9 Jan 28 '16 at 2:58
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    @Shog9 - Ah, so bad-mouthing someone is fine as long as you don't mention their suspension. Great. Cheers. – Valorum Jan 28 '16 at 7:47
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    You wanna stand by your words and call Gilles on his, create a post here and do it right. They strike me as accurate... Oh, and you aren't suspended, @Richard. Being suspended in chat doesn't make all of your words and actions on the main site and meta magically immune from criticism. – Shog9 Jan 28 '16 at 14:21
  • @Richard I'm curious: why did you delete that answer in the first place? – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 19:31
  • @randal'thor - I felt that it (wrongly) gave the impression that we had any say in the subject. It's been made abundantly clear that this is a network-wide decision that the CM's feel is not open for discussion. – Valorum Jan 28 '16 at 19:32
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    @Shog9 - Pfft. This sounds like the sort of thing I'd raise with a CM. Since I'm evidently persona non grata with the CM team, I really don't see the point in raising it formally. – Valorum Jan 28 '16 at 19:34
  • @Richard IMO, it's worth leaving undeleted. The large number of upvotes indicates community agreement, and surely it's worth expressing an opinion even if it won't be acted on? – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 19:36
  • @randal'thor - The community (on SFF:SE) can agree all it likes. It won't change anything. Our opinion counts for nothing in this discussion since it's a site-wide issue and one on which a decision has already been made. – Valorum Jan 28 '16 at 19:37
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    You appear to feel that passive-aggressive commentary scattered around the network is the proper avenue, @richard. I... Disagree. You dished it out with abandon when you could, blamed others for the inevitable blowback, and now you're feeling sorry for yourself? Until you can take responsibility for the actions that led to this post, you've really no place chiding anyone else. – Shog9 Jan 28 '16 at 19:46
64

While I agree with the general sentiment of what you've said (e.g. not having protracted discussions about users who aren't present) the main issue is that there is a total lack of information emanating from the Community Managers and Community Moderators when major events occur.

It is often down to the users themselves to work out what the hell is happening, usually after having discovered a substantive change in reputation or a sizeable alteration in the number of votes recorded. Natural curiosity leads people to try to determine what is going on and how/why/whether it affects them on a personal level.

If I can make a few suggestions;

1) Users are not mushrooms, nor are they stupid. Keeping them in the dark never, ever helps.

2) After making a major change (such as temp-banning a high rep user) perhaps you could make a brief statement and pin it in the chatroom. Everyone can then refer to it rather than expecting users to find out on their own and then performing damage control once the speculation has reached fever-pitch.

3) After making a major change (such as temp-banning a high rep user), perhaps you could maintain some presence in the chatroom to be on hand to answer questions, even if that answer is "we can't talk about it".

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    No information is the exact amount of information that should be coming from the CMs and moderators if a user is suspended. It has absolutely nothing to do with other users, even if they've had their reputation adjusted as a result. Trust that the SE staff, in particular, know what they're doing. That's really all there is to it. – Anthony Grist Nov 1 '15 at 16:14
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    @AnthonyGrist - And this is the problem in a nutshell. If you treat users as passive, you'll always be staggered to find that they aren't. – Valorum Nov 1 '15 at 16:23
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    @AnthonyGrist we don't necessarily need to know every detail, but if a user's behavior is possibly what caused a suspension, some users want to know what that was so they can avoid similar behaviors. for example, a user was recently suspended after being flagged for making a joke about serial voting. with no other context or information, it appeared as though that was what they were suspended for. this concerned some users. all we needed to know was that there was more to it beyond that. once we learned that, the subject was dropped. – phantom42 Nov 1 '15 at 18:19
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    The issue is about maintaining the community. I agree that some light needs to be shed, which can be done without getting into the details. The other day Tim Post et al showed up in chat, gave a brief message, and it was successful. That was essentially doing points 2) and 3) of this post. – user31178 Nov 2 '15 at 5:06
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    @Wikis In this case, the smaller community of active chatters were the most concerned/affected/aware/vocal, so I'm not sure anything else would have been necessary. For that case, it was enough. For other cases, I don't have an answer. – user31178 Nov 2 '15 at 5:42
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    @Wikis we have the "featured on meta" posts that show up in the sidebar. a brief meta post may work. – phantom42 Nov 2 '15 at 16:48
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    @AnthonyGrist that theory only works if you have no intention of having any sort of a community. And "Trust that the SE staff know what they're doing" is lousy both from a community-building POV and from the fact that all evidence is that no one really knows what they're doing. – hobbs Nov 3 '15 at 23:19
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    Regarding your three suggestions... The discussion of how much information to make public has been going on for over 6 years now - what we have, displayed prominently on the profile page of any suspended user, is a compromise between keeping folks in the dark and airing someone's dirty laundry when they can't easily dispute or explain the charges. – Shog9 Nov 4 '15 at 22:52
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    @Shog9 - This response is largely what I expected. – Valorum Nov 4 '15 at 23:26
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    Bored chat conspiracy theories aside, the vast majority of suspensions are not discussed publicly, and sufficiently well-explained by the terse message on the profile to avoid the need for elaboration if observed, @CandiedMango. Also... I get copied on all mod messages and all responses; the general tone of those responses is not the sort of thing that'd have a calming effect on anyone. – Shog9 Nov 5 '15 at 0:49
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    @Shog9 Yes I understand that certain users will be outraged and in turn lash out towards the Mods. I don't mean to say that we should publish all messages between Users and Mods about a suspension but merely give the user an opportunity to publish a personal message (through you or a mod) this allows the messages to be moderated whilst still providing feedback that the user is comfortable with sharing. A little information would go a long way in the prevention of speculation. – CandiedMango Nov 5 '15 at 1:16
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    Everyone has the opportunity to ask for that, @CandiedMango, and occasionally - though rarely - it makes sense to do so. But this is at the discretion of the moderator team and - most importantly - the person being suspended. It is not the prerogative of random people in chat to demand it. Or, for that matter, to try and bait someone into it when they've already got enough on their plate to deal with. And yet, that's exactly what has occurred here, and occurred repeatedly in recent months - which I suspect is what prompted this discussion. Don't lose sight of that. – Shog9 Nov 5 '15 at 4:40
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    I was in my eyes standing up for my friend, it may have been in the wrong way but I felt that it was highly unlikely the user was guilty of anything. You showed up and added credence and clarity to the entire situation, you may not have actually shed any further light on the events but you help to reassure us that no mistakes were made. As for your edit, I can't speak about recent months. I have only cared about one users suspension and have for that reason only commented on one users suspension. – CandiedMango Nov 5 '15 at 5:36
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    Nothing wrong with offering support to a friend, @CandiedMango. If that'd been the extent of the conversation, this discussion would be unnecessary. But of course, it wasn't - and the situation you speak of was at least the third time this had happened in as many months, during which a couple of other users had to see their names dragged through the mud for weeks during which they couldn't respond. Put aside debates over communication and strategy, and I think we can all agree that such behavior is just plain... rude. So, let's put them aside and do so. – Shog9 Nov 5 '15 at 5:55
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    I don't think the banning of a high rep user is any more important or worthy of discussion than that of a lower rep user. It's natural to want to know what has happened to who -- I understand this. Curiosity is human nature. I agree, though, that discussing matters that involve a user who can neither join in the discussion nor defend him/herself should be discouraged. As @Richard mentioned as well, protracted discussion can frequently be futile. :) – Slytherincess Nov 10 '15 at 22:24
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As recently being suspended I myself was never told anything more than a canned answer, which lead to other users inquiring on my behalf. While in the end I was to blame for my suspension, my initial contact lead me to believe that I was being wrongly suspended, and after responding via the proper methods, I never received an update or personal explanation on my situation.

Not saying I deserved a response, but it would have alleviated some other issues, as I was only suspended from the main site, and not chat.

14

Please remember that I and @Praxis are room owners of Mos Eisley -- we're both here to help try and keep chat -- no matter the topic -- flowing nicely and without abuse. I am not at my computer 24-7, but if you ping me or @Praxis (by typing @Praxis or @Slytherincess into the chat window and hitting ENTER), and I hear the ping, of course I will jump into the fray and try and be helpful and to help sort out issues. I'm confident @Praxis would do the same. As Murphy's Law would have it, brou-ha-has have happened when @Praxis and I have been away from chat, but I've seen my fair share of chatroom meltdowns, and I'm fine stepping in and trying to restore order.

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    And we shall call it "Room-owner Hammer!". Ok, doesn't have a ring to it, but we'll get there! – Möoz Nov 11 '15 at 21:57
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    @Mooz -- All hammers belong to Richard! ;) – Slytherincess Nov 18 '15 at 21:37
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Thank you all for the points you raised, both Richard in his post, and the comments.

We're working to improve how we handle these unfortunate situations, and this feed back is very helpful in this process.

Thanks!

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    Tempted to flag as a "thank you" answer. – phantom42 Nov 2 '15 at 23:07
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    @phantom42 nice try :-P – AncientSwordRage Nov 3 '15 at 6:27
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    I like this answer, but it needs more tacos. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Nov 5 '15 at 19:17
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    Either this is sarcastic or deserved to be voted to -infinity. Not sure which. – Joshua Nov 16 '15 at 19:32
  • @Joshua if your not happy with how we handle these situations please feel free to raise them in meta. – AncientSwordRage Nov 17 '15 at 6:44
  • The situation has nothing to do with it at all. I don't even read scifi chat. The selection of words in this answer ring hollow. – Joshua Nov 17 '15 at 16:16
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    @Joshua, sorry about that. Was trying to keep it impersonal, which is probably what you're picking up from the answer. I did that because, well personally, this site means a lot to me but as a mod sometimes you've got to put that aside for a moment and think about the community. – AncientSwordRage Nov 17 '15 at 16:25

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