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Procedure for Complaining about Moderator Actions

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Procedure for Complaining about Moderator Actions

Post by Scott » August 28th, 2014, 8:25 pm

The Forum Rules prohibit ad hominem arguments and personal attacks. The following procedures are meant to be followed so that one will still be adhering to that rule while making a complaint about a moderator's action. "Moderator's action" means things like deleting a post, editing a post, or closing a report without deleting the reported post, or permanently locking a topic as rule-breaking.
  • P.1. You must post your complaint by sending a PM to me or by creating a new topic in the "Feedback & Forum Announcements" section. Complaining about moderator actions in the on-topic section is off-topic and strictly prohibited.

    P.2. You must restrict your complaint to specific moderator actions by a moderator, with each action falling into 1 of 3 categories: (1) post deleted by the moderator (and you think the post was not rule-breaking), (2) post edited by the moderator (and you think the post was not rule-breaking), (3) report closed by the moderator without deleting the post (when you think the post is still rule-breaking). Please do not complain about topics that have been temporarily locked for moderation, as that is simply part of the technical process of moderating posts within a topic. You can complain about a topic that was permanently locked as a rule-breaking topic, and those procedures should follow the same as for a post that was deleted.

    P.3. You must post the actual deleted content (in the case of deletes and edits) or link/copy the undeleted post (in the case of closed reports). If you are complaining about multiple moderator actions, you must post the content in question for each complaint. We cannot analyze the moderator action to judge whether the moderator was correct or incorrect in his decision if we do not have the content at hand. When a vague complaint is posted publicly without the actual content, it opens the door for slander, misleading complaints and false accusations (i.e. the moderator is being judged by what the complainer implies rather than, as would be correct, the specific matter of whether the deleted content is rule-breaking or not), and thus it is considered a violation of the rule against personal attacks. Don't just allege that a moderator deleted a post of yours and you think it wasn't rule breaking; you must show us the post. Don't just show us the parts of the post that you think are okay or that you think are the only parts that are relevant; show us the entire deleted post.

    P.4. You must not make sweeping complaints about the moderator's ability or your overall interpretation of how the moderator does his job. Saying things like "Moderator Bob does a bad job" or "Moderator Sally is a loose cannon" or "Moderator John is unfit to be a moderator" is prohibited. Don't say things like "Moderator Greg often deletes posts that are not rule-breaking and misses posts that are".

    P.5. Don't complain that rule-breaking posts are on the forum unless you have reported the posts and the reports have been closed. The report button (the triangle with an exclamation point in it on the upper-right-hand side of every post) is there precisely so you can notify the moderation team when you see a rule-breaking post. If you notice posts that are rule-breaking but don't report them and want to complain that they are still on the forum, complain to the person in the mirror. If you notice rule-breaking posts and reply to them, you are breaking the rules.

    P.6. Don't mix complaints about moderation actions with complaints about the forum rules. It's an entirely different subject to say that you think a deleted post was not rule-breaking or a reported post that wasn't deleted was rule-breaking, which are issues of interpreting and applying the forum rules, as opposed to say you want a forum rule changed, deleted or added. When starting a new topic making a complaint or suggestion, please make sure to be clear whether you are complaining about a moderation action or are proposing a change to the forum rules. Please keep those two different kinds of issues in different topics.

    P.7. Don't hijack other complaint topics; start your own. If one user starts a topic complaining about a certain moderator action, don't think it is acceptable to jump in and post a reply that contains a complaint of your own about a different moderator action taken by the same moderator (or a different moderator or about the forum in general). That only confuses the matter at hand and seems to violate P.4. by implication/obfuscation. Remember: The moderator is not on trial; the particular moderation action or in other words, more specifically, the question of whether the post content at hand is rule-breaking or not is the issue at hand. Treating the topic like it is a trial of the moderator rather than the question of if the post is rule-breaking is considered a violation of the forum rules which prohibit personal attacks or off-topic rudeness.

    P.8. If you are complaining about a reported post that was not deleted even though the report was closed, please specify which rule(s) by letter/number that you believe the post violates and, if applicable, specify the exact portion of the post that you think is in violation of the rule. Please note, as the reporter of a post, you will be sent an email when the report is closed if the reported post was not deleted. (If the post is deleted, the report will also automatically be deleted and you will not be sent an email, but then you have nothing to complain about.)

    P.9. The same way it is prohibited to deride the moderator's overall habits, it is prohibited to deride the member who made the post in question. Saying things like "Poster Bob frequently makes rule-breaking posts" or "I don't think Poster Jane knows how to have a proper philosophical discussion yet her post mentioned above was not deleted" are not allowed. (As an exception to this, a moderator may make a comment regarding a poster's habits to explain the decision to ban a poster or put a poster on probation; however that would be in a separate topic wherein the issue is the action to ban a member or put a member on probation as opposed to the issue being a moderator action of editing/deleting or not editing/deleting a post, and even then is usually kept private unless the banned/probation-ed member himself lodges a public complaint.)
Please understand, even though the above set of procedures may seem like a wordy addition to the forum rules, it is not meant as such. Rather, it is meant as a detailed elaboration of how the forum rules, namely those that prohibit personal attacks, apply to the unique situation of someone complaining about a moderator's action. The scope in which one can offer a complaint about a moderation without falling into the realm of personal attacks or off-topic meanness is very limited, and these procedures explain how it can occur. In other words, complaining about moderator actions in a way that does not adhere to the above policies is considered a violation of Rule A of the forum rules.

With that said, I very strongly encourage you to question moderator actions, even or rather especially those by me, if you feel that the actions are incorrect. Your feedback helps make the forum a better place. Just please follow the procedures above, which will help assure that the complaint itself is the focus of discussion.

Alternatively, if you have any questions or criticisms regarding these procedures, please post your questions by starting a new topic for your questions in the Feedback, Support & Forum Announcements Forum. But keep in mind P.6. from above; don't complain about a moderator action and complain about the procedures or forum rules in the same topic.

Thank you!
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