Deleting replies

I would like to know from @moderators why they think deleting replies is helpful. What purpose does this serve? It could be considered a form of censoring which is surprising considering what this forum is about.


I’ve not been terribly active lately as a mod, so I don’t know if you have particular instances you are considering, but here’s my general thoughts:

I think I speak for all the mods on the point of not being interested in “censorship”. On the other hand, the mods have a job of maintaining the arc and focus of the forum, according to the guidelines set out. The guidelines have been debated both amongst the mods and extensively in meta. If posters do not follow them, deletions are appropriate, though usually it’s not done preemptively, except in the case of obvious spam.

That said, mods are pretty circumspect about deletions and don’t do it lightly.

When the SAFE network pervades, I’ll still be most interested in moderated experiences similar to what we have here, though it can be done in a way that others can experience it differently. But we’re here and now and these are the tools we have.

I do know that an incredible lot of backlines discussion amongst mods occurs to ensure the deletions, etc., are handled in as considerate a way as possible, with mods taking care to not act arbitrarily or outside of the general consensus of the others.

If it comes down to forum participants posting stuff that is in obvious violation of the guidelines, they are asked to modify to make them in alignment first, usually. Then deletions may occur.

Sometimes things may appear to be deleted when they are simply recategorized to correct topic headings which are not on the front page. “meta”, for instance, is there to talk about forum administration and is not on the front page. Some people post uncategorized stuff that first appears on the front page, but then doesn’t once it is recategorized by a mod to a correct category. There are a small few who consistently complain about this. Oh well.

Hope this helps, and addresses your question.

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In some cases it is. Of course we delete spam, but we also delete replies when they are personal attacks or just in appropriate. For the rest we’ll always move off topic discussions to #off-topic so that the discussion can go on but not in the topic where it started. Here’s 1 example and here’s another one.

This would mean that certain topics/opinions would be suppressed. This is not the case, people are free to talk whatever in #off-topic and to post any criticism on SAFE all they want.

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What does deleting a personal attack achieve? All it does is hide from other users someones behavior. How is a circle of trust formed in this way?

Would it not be more appropriate to publicly warn the person who publicly made a personal attack? Then users can see the whole picture. It also shows enforcement of the guidelines which in turn makes them more visible. The comments can be hidden due to being off guidelines, but if a user so wishes they should have the ability to view the hidden message. Just like mods can.

Ohw sure it does hide someone’s behavior. Mods get publicly attacked sometimes as it looked that someone didn’t do anything wrong while we deleted quite some severe personal attacks from that person. We could let the replies just there as you suggest, but these things get out of control quite fast. That’s why most of the times we delete both the personal attack and the reply. Even if the latter was a simple reply like: “I will never talk to you again”. We delete them both because A was a personal attack and B was an off-topic chit chat between 2 people. Leaving a personal attack reply triggers a reaction, and that reaction triggers another reaction…

Yes, we’ve done that before, but that always triggers another reply that people agree or don’t agree etc. So we could could say: “This reply is over the line, stop fighting” and then after that we’ll get another reply from that person not agreeing with us. All these replies don’t add anything to the topic. They fill it with personal chat and other users have to filter out the on topic stuff from the off topic stuff.

So true, would be great if people could just see what we’ve deleted with a little tool in the topic. Just like you say. Not for all of them maybe, but for a lot of them indeed. It would make the mods life a bit easier as well, as we could proof that we just did what mods are supposed to do. There’s no tool for that though.

I am pretty sure there is a tool for that. Any mod that goes through the thread should have hidden replies highlighted in yellow, they then have the option to view the deleted reply. @frabrunelle? This was the case when I was a mod.

No longer a mod, but I always hated deleting posts but did it because when it seemed necessary. In some cases because posts were garbage (eg spam), unacceptable language or behaviour, and in others simply to avoid spoiling a discussion.

It’s a tough call, but I don’t accept the argument that because SAFEnetwork prevents censorship, a forum should not censor members. That argument is made time and again here, but usually only when an individual feels personally affected by it.

The rest of the time I think members recognise the value of moderation, which would be pointless if it didn’t allow mods to remove things. I remember though that when you became a mod you already had reservations about this - so I know you already have a different view.

Even on SAFEnetwork I expect most forums for in depth discussion will have either moderators it enable users to self filter (follow, mute, block etc) - horses for courses.

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You mean this, that’s what you have seen as well:

I guess that’s it, the format has changed. That does not show up on my view.[quote=“happybeing, post:7, topic:13376”]
posts were garbage (eg spam)

Deleting spam is pretty obvious. As a user I never see any here :thumbsup:

Why does this need to be deleted? It exposes a users behaviour. Why can’t it be hidden with an option to see it?

As @polpolrene pointed out those can all be moved to off-topic which mods already do a pretty good job of.

Posts could be left in place but that changes the nature of the forum, and really is just a matter of where you draw a line. You agree spam is across the line and ok to delete, but nothing else at all? Child porn, threats, grossly offensive language, discrimination, baiting etc? At some point you say, no that can stay but just hide it - why? I don’t want to be clicking to unhide posts to see why they’ve been hidden. I trust the mods to judge what’s ok and what’s not.

I think most people are happy for mods to delete things they don’t believe add at least some value. Where there is value they can instead be moved. I understand that you disagree.

The guidelines were written to help members and mods draw that line, and they are what you need to take issue with IMO.

I don’t think it has changed. As far as I can remember, Discourse always showed deleted replies (to mods) just like in @polpolrene’s screenshot.

When regular users are using the forum and there is a personal attack, other users should have the ability to be aware of that behavior. Not just have it disappear from existence. Using the [quote=“happybeing, post:10, topic:13376”]
Child porn, threats, grossly offensive language, discrimination, baiting etc?

is a gross exaggeration of the situation. Is it not through trust of users that we develop relationships and a community? If a user can go around bashing other people, and it quietly gets swept under the rug, there is no transparency, no credibility. There is no longer a true public record. The forum becomes a billboard.

So most people are happy with seeing a curated forum? You don’t see the potential of abuse there?

From the guidelines:

"Repeated Offenders

Repeated offenders of the above rules and guidelines will be warned or immediately banned. "

So there is no public warning given towards a user that publicly broke the guidelines.
The mods know of an incident of deletion but not the general public.
The user repeatedly breaks the guidelines and the mods again delete until a ban is made.
The general public then say, “what happened to Joe, he was cool Joe was”,
And the mods say,“oh, we warned him”,
And the general public says “OK” and move on.

Is this is what we are saying the process is?

I remember it being in yellow, perhaps when it is expanded. Anyway, that is the tool to make replies hidden and not deleted from view.

Are you saying there the feature isn’t available to users?

Yes, not the most ideal case. On the other hand, writing a post in #meta saying: "user x made several physical threats over the last few weeks next to calling us mods a bunch of ^%(%^&%^ isn’t the ideal case either. That means publicly attaching someone’s username to be marked for making physical threats. Maybe that user uses that same name all over the internet and it might even be linking to a real name of that user in a search engine somewhere.

We have a ban topic in #meta and that’s where you can find out who is banned/permabanned or whatever. I don’t know of that much other community forum’s where they have this as well. Most of the times people get banned without a warning somewhere. No room for any discussion.

So your case against using this feature is:

User A makes a physical threat towards B, user C then gets upset and tracks down User A in the physical world?

In this scenario you are protecting the aggressor. Why aren’t you worried about User B doing something? I mean, B knows who User A is, nothing you can do about that. Why aren’t you worried about User A who just doesn’t like User B and tracks them down in the physical world?

And no one said make a post in meta. Hide the posts using the tool, if people want to see them they can.

You’re misreading me.

I gave those examples as a sliding scale from very serious (child porn) downwards (to baiting) in order to illustrate my point that it is the question of where a line is drawn that we disagree on. You agree that it’s ok to remove spam, so the issue is what else if anything should also be deleted. I was showing that are other things that most would probably want deleted, and that the issue is what.

There is always potential for abuse if you have moderation (or any forum ownership, administrator etc) and your change would not alter that I think.

But as you raise abuse by moderators I’ll answer that as well. When considering this I think it’s helpful to consider the factors involved and the potential impact.

What are the motives for a group of moderators to behave badly, and what are the dangers - the potential impacts - of them doing so? I’ll leave that open, but I think the dangers are both limited and very low risk of occurring.

Suppose there were ways of reducing the potential impacts or risks of such abuse - this wouldn’t necessarily make them better. Which is why I think peope are willing to accept moderation and trust it.

Why do I think the risks are limited and tiny? If individuals feel something fishy is going on, or that they are being victimised etc, they are free to voice this and they do .

And if they felt this wasn’t working they can always speak directly to MaidSafe if they think something is serious enough to warrant that intervention. On most forums the main mod would also be the owner, so this forum is better protected from an errant moderator team than almost all others.

I think those options are pretty sound safeguards and that the risk of abuse by moderators here is very low because of this, and the lack of motive for mods (really a whole group would need to act in concert) to abuse their authority.

On the other side of this, there’s the benefit of trusting mods for men’s: less work reading garbage, a well organised forum, with better quality debate, and no need for members to get into ensuring others behave or contribute value.

It’s just an example, could be someone that was mad for a certain period and screamed around on a forum. And even while he calms down afterwards his behavior would be stored forever on some public archive/search engine somewhere. It

So you don’t want to grow a different community. You want just like everyone else.

Yes? And? It is a public record of his/her public behavior.

No, I’m actually saying the opposite. I say that what we do (having meta for discussions) is a pro compared with others.

Yes, when you click on the deleted replies (e.g. “view 3 hidden replies”), it expands to show their content. And each deleted reply has a red background (not yellow).

For example:

Only admin and mods can see deleted replies. There is no option to let regular users view deleted replies.