7
$\begingroup$

Kaestur Hakarl has closed a meta question about his conduct that should remain open because there is substantive discussion that is taking place. Meta is for users to discuss issues, and his proposed solution of complaining to the main SE staff is not good enough, since it does not allow the community to discuss the issue at hand.

I think he should recuse himself from closing or locking that question, since it appears that he is doing it merely to stifle debate. I think this should be a general policy.

Discuss

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If I were doing so to stifle debate, I would have done so much earlier, and/or deleted comments. Once again, to protest moderator actions, the appropriate channel is to email the stack exchange team, not to start a discussion on meta. Please contact team@stackoverflow.com or rcartaino@stackoverflow.com. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 9 '10 at 21:54
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is not protesting your actions. It is a discussion about them (and policy in general). I see nowhere in the FAQ that such discussions should not take place on meta, so I dispute your claim. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 9 '10 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @97832123: If you would like a citation, see this $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 9 '10 at 22:04
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Now, discussing copyright-policy or what quality should have permanent-moderators-to-be is fine, but let's not go into full-scale flame war. $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Aug 9 '10 at 22:11
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ A modest amount of flame-war is good if it clarifies substantive issues beyond the flamewar itself and avoids excessive discussion of particular individuals. This was happening in the (now closed) other topic. $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 9 '10 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaestur: Please note that the link you just gave does not contain any sort of official policy decision.Also, if we can't discuss this sort of thing on meta, should we create a meta-meta where free discussion is allowed? $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 9 '10 at 22:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There's no official, one-way-only policy of addressing your complaints, but the "conversations" have already gone way beyond anything productive and turned into a bunch of handwaving. I can see it from the flagging end of things: it's toxic to the community. Unless that is what you want, don't you think it would be more productive to click on the 'contact us' link at the bottom of the page? $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Aug 9 '10 at 23:42
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @Robert: The only people who seem to think that the discussion over at the other thread is unproductive or toxic are you and Kaestur. It was inappropriate for him to close the question in the first place, and it's clear that the community is against his decision. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 10 '10 at 0:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @97832123 Apparently there have been some flags placed on it also. So other people may have felt that way, but decided not to be vocal about it. $\endgroup$ – Noctrine Aug 11 '10 at 13:12
12
$\begingroup$

I posted this as a comment on the closed question.

I have cast a vote to reopen. This is admittedly a heated discussion, but it is also a productive one about the policy about this site, which has not been fully resolved. By nature it is subjective and argumentative; discussions on meta should be of this form. I have already had a chance to state my own views on this matter (namely, that I would prefer that the offer made in the post not have been removed), and have nothing further to add. However, I would like to hear what others think, so have cast my vote.

I would have voted to re-open regardless of whether I agreed or disagreed with Kaestur's actions on the original post. To elaborate, meta threads can be contentious; this is not a bad thing. I view the official solution of complaining to the SE team as sub-optimal. The SE team does not represent the users of this website (in fact, they may not be experienced in mathematics). If you look at meta.MO, there are certainly contentious arguments there. The ones that closed are those that degenerate into personal attacks. While 97832123 has been somewhat excitable in his wording, he is not attacking Kaestur (or anyone else) personally, as far as I can tell, but questioning his actions, which I strongly think should be acceptable.

Since moderators will be setting policy, there needs to be a way for the community to give them feedback.

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ +1, my point exactly! $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 9 '10 at 23:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Moderators will not, as a general rule, be setting policy. I believe that was the whole point of this discussion. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 9 '10 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ In addition, you are correct that the Stackexchange team does not have math expertise. However, I don't see how any could have helped in this particular case. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 10 '10 at 19:36
11
$\begingroup$

Kaestur, I actually think that if you thought the thread should have been closed, then you should have told the other moderators that and left them to do it if they felt it appropriate. Recusing yourself is generally good practice.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I actually agree with you. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 10 '10 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Although I agree with the initial deleting of the offer to give copy written materials, and I believe that topic should have been closed. I am with @Casebash on this, it is very difficult to objectively look at personal criticism. $\endgroup$ – Noctrine Aug 10 '10 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Agree. In retrospect, I should have waited for one of the other mods to put their name on the closure. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 10 '10 at 19:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @97832123: No, what is surprising is that I actually agree with you $\endgroup$ – Casebash Aug 11 '10 at 12:59
4
$\begingroup$

Recusal is generally in order, but this and other general questions can be asked abstractly without overt reference to specific individuals. ("Should moderators do X, Y or Z,", rather than a request to evaluate one moderator's decisions in cases A,B and C.)

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. The reason, or a large part it, why we expect recusal is that we are less confident in people's abilities to fairly judge situations involving themselves than those that don't. This applies also to their ability to fairly characterise these situations. $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Aug 11 '10 at 12:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Which of my two statements do you disagree with? (1) That moderators should generally recuse themselves, or (2) that the present general question about recusal was needlessly focused on a specific moderator? $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 11 '10 at 12:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I apologise. I misunderstood the question can be asked abstractly as suggesting that moderators can raise the issue of whether recusal is demanded without referring to the specific intervention being considered. $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Aug 11 '10 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ Disambiguation added. Glad to agree! $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 11 '10 at 19:27
2
$\begingroup$

In general, yes, absolutely, always. The broad, community-based decisions on Meta might determine our policy, but in enforcing policy, the moderators, and to a lesser extent our empty set of 10k+ users, are judge, jury, and executioner. It's important that moderator actions are subjected to the oversight of a second opinion and freed from this particular source of myopia.

In this specific case, the decision should have been referred to the SX team: it was ultimately an issue of potential legal risk, and SX, not us, owns the site from a legal point of view, and so they bear that risk. It is wrong for us to conceal this risk from the site owners.

Onto an argument made about not overreacting to these issues: I agree, the legal threat is both very slight and non-urgent, certainly not requiring actions within hours. But sending an email to the SX team saying that a situation has arisen that doesn't seem to be of very direct, but does involve the possibility of copyright violation, is not overreacting.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Conceal the risk" is a straw-man. The argument was not that the moderator's obligation is to not act in the event of perceived, hypothetical, very slight and non-urgent legal risks, but that (1) he should not act unilaterally and (2) should first exhaust the routine and open channels such as posting a comment or opening a meta-thread to solicit opinion of the entire community before improvising a policy of Prior Restraint. $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 11 '10 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @T..: Whose decision should it be, whether to have a relaxed or paranoid attitude to such questions? Is there some reason why the first such issue arising at the site should not be discussed with the SX team? $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Aug 11 '10 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ There is certainly reason to not immediately discuss these pseudo-risks with site management, because their incentive is not to come up with a principled, legally correct or workable resolution, but to (1) save time for themselves and moderator (stare decisis) (2) uphold moderator actions unless clearly destructive (3) not be seen as condoning violations once the issue is phrased in such terms, even if they (as moderators) would have done nothing in the original instance. Also, in this case the moderator acted prior to input from the SE team, so was seeking imprimatur, not guidance. $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 11 '10 at 19:39

You must log in to answer this question.