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I was informed by a moderator that my posts had been flagged more than any other user by a huge margin, both on the main and meta sites. He pointed it out in a private moderator message which says I will be suspended for a month. It seems that he regarded the above fact as one of the reasons for my suspension. Since I have no idea why my posts on the main were flagged so many times, I don't know what to do to avoid the suspension if that is the case.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome back! Is this post intended as a report of the situation (i.e., we're expected to just acknowledge this post), or are you asking the community for an explanation as to why you have been flagged this many times? (I haven't flagged you once that I can recall, so I can't say.) $\endgroup$ – Douglas S. Stones Oct 4 '13 at 0:28
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Note: This answer has undergone a severe edit. Some comments below may now appear to be non sequiturs.


The following is based on my (admittedly limited) experience of being a moderator here on math.SE.

Having many posts flagged would not itself warrant a suspension. Otherwise some rogue group of users could start flagging every post by, say, Brian M. Scott causing him to be suspended. Even having numerous flags on your posts judged to be "helpful" would not itself warrant a suspension. Posts are occasionally flagged to become Community Wiki, for example, which, while helpful, certainly shouldn't cause the owner of the flagged post to be suspended. Sometimes users flag their own questions to have them migrated to other Stack Exchange sites. Again, there are often "helpful" but don't indicate that the user was doing anything untoward.

But a history of helpful flags indicating to the moderators consistent behaviour which is not tolerated does give the moderators cause to look and see if a suspension is warranted. Let me be clear, even if a suspension is handed out,

the behaviour is the reason for the suspension, not the flags.


If you have reason to believe that a suspension has been unfairly given, you have the option of lodging a complaint with Stack Exchange itself. While a suspension whose time has passed cannot be undone, if the folks at Stack Exchange feel that the moderators have been acting inappropriately, they have all the force to reprimand us (at the extreme end by removing our diamonds and then suspending us). They are also independent from the site-level moderators: their commitment is to Stack Exchange as a whole, and moderators behaving badly can in no way be construed as being in Stack Exchange's short- or long-term interest.

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    $\begingroup$ There may be a small group of users who reflexively vote to close (and delete) most of the OP's posts. I do not consider it reasonable to instantly close the question before there is an opportunity for substantial and responsive answers to appear. Repetition of the official policy and its effective implication that the suspensions are never handed out in error does not really answer anything. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 4 '13 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx I agree with your first two sentences. I do, however, think that there's not much more that can be said than Arthur did (for, he is bound by moderator contract to not disclose anything more). Moreover, it addresses the fact that the assumption that the suspension originated in sheer number of flags is wrong. Not sure what more you're be looking for in this thread, to be honest. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 4 '13 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: While I am aware that serial actions against the OP's posts have been a concern in the past, for a while it seemed to have been resolved. A perusal of the OP's most recent posts revealed no such actions, or at least no lasting evidence of such actions. I feel/fear that we have to keep an eye out for this now, however. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 4 '13 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ But you are correct: I should not imply that moderators act without error in all their judgments. Luckily there are eight of us, as well as SE-employed Community Managers, to discus the critical decisions. This certainly lessens the chances of major blunders. In addition, if a user feels that we have acted grossly inappropriately, they are free to contact the SE folks directly: to raise a flag on us, if you will. I cannot find a single decision regarding suspensions which has been overturned by those higher up since I "joined the team," though we know that some users have taken this route. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 4 '13 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer, it's not that there is any specific potential for things to be wrong (or right), but that answers consisting of a repetition of policy and the reminder that "we cannot discuss specifics" belong in email to the OP. It does not tell readers anything they do not know, and it is in the nature of such an answer to pre-empt the discussion at its inception while promoting closure of the question. The possibility to vote on such answers basically invites a public un-popularity vote on the OP's and that is not a good use of meta, either. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 5 '13 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: If the current answer belongs to an email, what sort of answer would you like to see here? Moreover it seems that any post by the OP is an "unpopularity" test, how would you suggest to proceed? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 5 '13 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ Anything that does not refer to the OP or cite unpublished private exchanges with the OP as support for the answer. For example, this answer contradicted the OP on the basis of undisclosed emails and this is part of what ends up trolling for (more) un-popularity votes. Options include not answering, and declining any comment except to state that the matter is the subject of email exchanges between OP and moderators/SE. Or waiting to see if the OP publishes the email and then giving a substantial answer. Silence is a perfectly good answer for actions based on a power difference. @Asaf $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 5 '13 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ In SE2.0 answering interferes with the auto-deletion of unanswered questions with negative score. If the question is not close/delete voted and the moderators do not answer, it might get a more meaningful answer from a user who is not under any communication limitations, and if no such answer appears, there is the automatic deletion in 30 days. This seems better than a close-reopen cycle, plus wasting the moderators' time to write answers, plus the unpopularity contest on the OP. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 5 '13 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: I had posted a four-comments-long reply. I don't want to get into a huge argument with you again. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 5 '13 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, OK! My stack of what-to-reply is full for a few days from the main site, so that is a relief. Not that these things are huge arguments. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 5 '13 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: That's how they start. Four comments; you reply with eight; I reply with sixteen; you reply with 1024; sooner or later we Overflow the Stack. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 5 '13 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx So the OP should be able to freely misrepresent the contents of undisclosed emails, but under no circumstances may those misrepresentations be corrected? $\endgroup$ – Scott H. Oct 5 '13 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @ScottH., we have no reason to suppose misrepresentation exists (on either side), and nothing in my comments was so sweeping as to say "under no circumstances". While I think that questions and answers about suspensions are pointless (and negative as far as they give an appearance of objectivity and legitimacy to the process), when they do appear on meta, there is an obvious asymmetry between suspender and suspended, and I do not see why they should be held to the same standard in every respect. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 5 '13 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato: The above answer explains what I have experienced to be the state of affairs, and is how I have gone about my business here. If you feel that you have been wronged by the moderators, feel free to contact Stack Exchange. Otherwise there is nothing further that I can or will say. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 7 '13 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer I have no intention to contact Stack Exchange right now. To avoid future suspension, I would like to make clear the reasons for my last suspension. So I would like to ask a few questions about them. If it is possible, could you tell me how I can do it? $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Oct 7 '13 at 13:09

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