The user Arash has made some rather strange edits as of this afternoon.

Three questions that had been asked before and answered were edited:

  1. A question about a characterization of local rings that had been answered was changed to a question about left and right invertible elements in regular rings.

  2. A question about semi-artinian rings was first changed to read simply "$2\times 2= 4 = 2+2$?"; I rolled back, and then it was replaced with a question asking for a relation in regular rings between the Jacobson radical and projective covers of modules.

  3. Another question was changed, not so radically but enough to render an existence answer unintelligible.

What to do? Should the questions be rolled back? Get a moderator to ask him to stop, or suspend editing from the user until we find out what is going on?

There have been comments asking him why he has made the changes, but no response so far. I flagged one of the posts for moderator attention, but I don't know if it has been taken up.

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    $\begingroup$ If it were not for the unfortunate side-effect of bumping, I'd go with rolling back. I would say a moderator should be the one e-mailing the user to ask about this peculiar behavior. If there is no reply within n (maybe other people can suggest actual values) days, the moderator(s) should roll back, and if the user persists even after moderator attention, a suspension is probably in order... $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ I agree. One of the more sinister explanations I can think of is that he doesn't want his questions to be searchable (by peers? by his supervisor?). I would even say they should be rolled back straight away until he explains his behaviour. $\endgroup$
    – Alex B.
    Dec 15, 2010 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex, that's what I think is the most probable explanation. Alas :( $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Mariano and Alex: I know that a similar thing has happened before on MO, but I am unwilling to assume the same for these questions. After all, the first and third questions at least are about stuff you can find in textbooks, and seeing that the user gives hardly any identifying information, I frankly don't think his peers or advisor would find out, or care if they do. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Alex mentioned a pretty strong motivation for the user doing what s/he's doing; though as Willie said, repetition does not necessarily imply maliciousness. Maybe we should agree on how many "repeat offenses" we should tolerate before a mod steps in? I would like to see an "escalation" plan here... $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ ...another thing: I am hoping that the people with rollback capabilities are also people who read meta as well. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. Well, I can roll back (as I implicitly indicated when I said I had done so to one of those questions before it got edited again). Consensus seems to be to roll them back, and I'm willing to do that if that is indeed the case, though it will bump them up. And I don't have the ability to lock them in any case. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ It's warranted here I think, Arturo (and I at least have great trust in your judgment); I was just speculating on how we'd handle such a thing in the future. The locking is certainly mod-only territory. But it I were in your shoes, I'd like to see the OP say something first; it's been nine hours since his last visit (as I'm typing this). If he logs in and still doesn't reply, or he doesn't log in within 24 hours or so, a rollback is definitely in order. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. Sounds reasonable. I'll put a note in the question that changed the most to that effect. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo: thanks for doing that. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2010 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie Wong, all: Seems like he recently logged on (says "7 minutes ago" when I checked just now). $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2010 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ I have now requested moderator attention with the request to rollback and lock the questions. $\endgroup$
    – Alex B.
    Dec 16, 2010 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


My opinion:

We should have a moderator ask him to stop doing that, as it is making previous answers non-sensical and negatively impacting the website. In the mean time, the questions under discussion should be rolled-back and locked, and unlocked again once the user addresses the problem.

Repeat offence should lead to suspension. But I believe that the user should not be suspended until it is clear that the behaviour is malicious: that is, I'm willing to assume, until it is pointed out to the user by a moderator or by comments to his questions that this behaviour is unacceptable, that this is technical incompetence rather than intended sabotage.


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