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This post pertains to this question: Does convergence of measures, with respect to the KL-divergence, imply almost sure convergence of the RN-derivatives?

using down-votes by a member or moderator to punish other members who answered a question they wanted to be closed

which is the main reason and trigger of the dispute described below.

I think close votes are designed for expressing close\open opinions on questions, and regular votes are designed for scientific/on-topic evaluation of questions and answers.


Dispute

I answered a question some days ago, which was upvoted 5 times without any answer.

Then, after some days, I got the following comment

Please don't answer poorly asked questions

and then immediately I got a downvote, clearly given by the voter as I checked it next with him. It is interesting that he did not leave any comment for the person who asked the question! The voter was also among the members who voted to close the question.

Then, in a few hours five other members voted to re-open the question.

We had a long discussion with the voter on that it was not correct to dictate his personal non-scientific opinion by using down-votes, and I asked a moderator to help. Then, after some hours I realized that all of the comments (even those that are not related to our conversation) were removed by the moderator, and only the comment of the commentator was left there, and again the moderator down-voted my answer.

Then, the moderator started removing any other comments of mine or any other members, and only kept that person's comment below of my answer.

I flagged the comment to be removed as it is no longer needed as the question has been re-opened, but it was ignored again by the moderator. I also flagged a comment of the moderator that showed he was supporting the voter, but he removed his comment. I posted my answer as a new one to end the dispute, while losing my 3 upvotes, but again it was removed by the same moderator. The moderator (who should be neutral on close or open votes) not only down-voted my answer to support the commentator's opinion but also took sides by only allowing the above comment be there (he also removed all scientific comments from some days ago and new ones).

During last months, I constantly see that a good question (which has a novelty and good scientific level and statement, but may lack context or effort), often gets down-votes from those vote to close the question. In my case, the close voter of the question went beyond and down-voted my answer, left a comment for me and not for the new contributor who asked the question. After that the moderator and another member down voted my answer. I got three down votes because of this.

Update 1

As you may see in the answer, the moderator disclosed the post, while after deleting my post in meta I thought disclosing it may be problematic. Anyway, I need to thank the moderator for this and his services to the MSE.

Before

enter image description here

After

enter image description here

Here are details now we can discuss (before I was limited to share more information):

1- Deleting All Comments Compare the above two images to see how the moderator removed all comments in favor of the commentator, even those made some days ago. I believed it was intentionally to make the left comment more visible to negatively impact my answer.

2- Unfair Moderation If the moderator really wanted to end the dispute, all the comments of both sides should have been cleared, not keeping only one side's first comment and dynamically removing everything else after and before from any other members (replying to a comment left under my answer is my right). This means the moderator was not neutral in this dispute, even after re-opening the question.

Update 2

Sorry if I could not update the question since my account was suspended as I had a converastion with the moderator.

Meanwhile, the question was edited by the moderator, and some comments were removed.

During this period, the comment given earlier above was also removed from the post, so I added an image of the old situation so that readers can follow the discussion.


PS: I do not know who finally removed the comment (Jose, Xander, or another moderator), but I would appreciate it.

Update 3

I am still looking for an answer to the question:

using down-votes by a member or moderator to punish other members who answered a question they wanted to be closed

The process of closing and opening questions is a democratic process. As you can see, the mentioned question was again closed after re-opening, and the last voter is a high school student, and we all respect that.

My question is not about the above process or about which questions should be closed, while I believe there is no common agreement favored by majority even on the so-called PSQs (see for example this question), and I think it is why a democratic procedure is considered for closing and opening questions.

My question is about whether people who are interested in closing a question for whatever reason can use their tools like downvotes to force others to follow them.

Unfortunately, my question got sidetracked after it became clear which question it was referring to (in fact, that's why I didn't mention it in the first version of the question so it wouldn't become controversial, until later revealed in the answer).

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    $\begingroup$ Downvoting on meta indicates disagreement with the premise of the question; upvoting indicates agreement. This is made very clear here: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/718/… and you could certainly have made the effort to find that yourself. $\endgroup$
    – postmortes
    May 8 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @postmotres Thanks for your comment, while I cannot see how to apply it to my question. Does it mean that members down-voted my question agree with using down-votes in MSE to stop other members from answering questions that they want to close? or Does it mean that they did not want such a question to be asked here? What is considered as the premise of my question? $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 8 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ You would have to ask the downvoters -- your question is long, and comes across slightly as a rant so it is hard to identify any single reason to downvote. Only the downvoters (and mindreaders I suppose, if there are any on the site) can answer this question for you. $\endgroup$
    – postmortes
    May 8 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ There is no way to judge what is going on, when you choose not to identify the ppost where all this alleged activity took place. Voting down an answer to a question by those who feel the question doesn't meet site standards and shouldn't be answered, is a somewhat controversial tactic which has been discussed here at meta before, you might find it useful to go over the earlier discussions of the topic. For instance, math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15126/… $\endgroup$ May 8 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I first posted it in meta with details but I deleted the question from there after its members advising to ask the question here. Today, I decided to post my concern anonymously here to make it less controversial. $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 8 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Amir In general, I think you make very high quality contributions to the site. I think answering what was, in my opinion, a PSQ, was a rare exception to the good contributions you've made. It is possible you weren't aware of the EoQS, which is why I linked to the page. I think it's fine to disagree with my assessment of the question: several people voted both to close and later reopen the question. Please don't take my position personally; in the past I've upvoted your questions and answers, but I did not give an upvote here because I didn't think it merited it. $\endgroup$ May 8 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @JoseAvilez Thanks for your kind words. If you put yourself in my place, you will understand a little the bad feeling that came to me. I just answered one question that was not easy and I thought it was valuable because it was related to my field of expertise, so that I could help. After posting your comment, several down votes were given to my answer and these bad things happened to me. $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 8 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Some questions are beautiful and important and should be kept intelligently, even though they are not exactly in line with the site's standards, instead of having many standard low-quality repeated questions. $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 8 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ Beware that some of the meta questions linked above by @GerryMyerson are so old that they no longer apply. Not only have site policies (and user opinions) evolved considerably since then, but also the platform has evolved (e.g. now deletions by the Community bot can be reversed by users). It will be difficult if not impossible for new meta users to figure out what is still relevant. $\endgroup$ May 8 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ From this statement given in your answer: There is no requirement on this site that downvotes be given for "scientific" reasons. Anyone can downvote (or upvote) any post for any reason. The only restriction is that votes cannot give the appearance of targeting a specific user—votes need to be about content, not people. I interpret that your answer to my question: Is it correct that down-votes are used by a member or moderator to punish other members who answer a question they want to be closed? is YES. Is my interpretation correct? $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 14 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ "My question is about whether people who are interested in closing a question for whatever reason can use their tools like downvotes to force others to follow them." Downvotes can't force anyone to do anything. What are you talking about? $\endgroup$ May 14 at 7:52
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson You mentioned a subtle point. By "force" I mean social pressure (the direct influence of other people on your thoughts, desires, and actions). When you volunteer to write an answer to help another member, and some other members downvotes your answer based on non-scientific reasons to steer you in the direction they think is correct, they are actually putting heavy social pressure on you to indirectly force you to stop and only answer questions that they define as good questions (while the process of decding a good from a bad question is a democratic process in MSE). $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 14 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand, when a reader who is not aware of the story comes across that answer after seeing the negative votes, he think the answer is scientifically wrong, while the story is different. This is scientifically very misleading to the readers. It also means that you as answerer did not care about your duty to write the correct answer, which damages your academic reputation. $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 14 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson as you asked to reflect the key changes in comments, I just realized the post Does convergence of measures, with respect to the KL-divergence, imply almost sure convergence of the RN-derivatives? was deleted by three members one hour ago, after it was closed for the second time whereas it already has 4 votes to re-open for the second time. Could you help to undelete the post, which is also a case study here in meta, so that all readers are able to freely follow the discussion? $\endgroup$
    – Amir
    May 15 at 2:17

1 Answer 1

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I believe that the question being discussed is https://math.stackexchange.com/a/4910804/ . There is a lot to unpack here, and the meta question posted above is, I think, leaving out a lot of details. The timeline, as I understand it, is as follows:

  • A question of controversial quality was asked, and the author of this meta question answered it. The question was then closed, and another member of the community left a polite message indicating that it is generally not best practices to answer questions which are likely to be closed, and left a link to Enforcement of Quality Standards .

  • The answerer engaged in a heated debate with the user who linked to the EoQS thread. Many flags were raised.

  • I noted the flags and, in accordance with site policy, deleted nearly all of the comment thread. First off, as a general rule, comments are not meant to for long debates regarding site policy. Second, the conversation was quite heated, and not going anywhere.

    As an aside: the answerer accused other users of downvoting the answer for "non-scientific reasons". (1) Downvotes are anonymous. One might suspect another user of having downvoted, but it is impossible to be sure. Attacking other people on the grounds that you suspect them of having downvoted your post is not acceptable. (2) There is no requirement on this site that downvotes be given for "scientific" reasons. Anyone can downvote (or upvote) any post for any reason. The only restriction is that votes cannot give the appearance of targeting a specific user—votes need to be about content, not people.

    In any event, I left the link to the EoQS thread, as this is a helpful signpost for all users.

  • The answerer attempted to continue debating, so I replied with the following comment:

    Multiple comments in this thread have been flagged for being argumentative and hostile. I have cleaned up all but the first comment, which is a polite request that you refrain from answering questions like this one. The conversation is over. It is time to stop, now.

  • After being told that the conversation was over, the answerer continued to argue in the comments. As I had, in my capacity as a moderator, indicated that commenting needed to stop, I deleted further attempts to engage in debate.

  • The answerer then deleted their answer and posted a copy of it. As this appears to be an attempt to circumvent moderation and the voting system (i.e. it looks like an attempt to "erase" the downvotes), I deleted the duplicate answer.

  • The answerer then raised more flags, and accused me of downvoting their answer and of behaving unfairly. As I generally do in such situations, I pinged the other moderators to have a look at the answer. Another moderator then declined the flags raised by the answerer.

Downvoting

Regarding the downvotes on the answer, you (a) don't know who cast the votes, and (b) don't know why they were cast. You have made a lot of assumptions about these things, but it is actually impossible to know (even the moderators don't know who cast the downvotes, nor why).

I would suggest that the best course of action in such a case is to not take it personally, and get on with your life. It isn't worth getting worked up over a couple of downvotes.

Comments

Per the Help Center, "Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer." The Help Center also advises that you should not leave comments in order to discuss "community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead".

Note (at the risk of repeating myself) that a user with sufficient reputation is permitted to upvote or downvote any post for any reason. No user is every required to "justify" or "explain" a vote. The only exception to this is that one may not vote in a way which gives the appearance of voting on the basis of who wrote a post, rather than the content of that post.

On the SE network, comments are second-class citizens. They are ephemeral, and you should never leave a comment expecting it to remain on the site forever. This is doubly true when your comments are aggressive and are not related to the content of a question or answer.

EoQS Comments

In the Enforcement of Quality Standards post, we have specifically asked other users to post links to that procedure in the comments, in order to ensure that people are aware that it exists. Only a small fraction of users on the site interact with Meta, so it is very easy to miss site policies and procedures where are discussed here. As such, comments linking to the EoQS post are often a useful signpost for other users. While they don't quite land within the prescribed realm of "what comments are for", I generally decline to delete such comments, as they are useful for users trying to understand site policies and procedures.

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