I thought Stack Exchange was a place where the users have input into how things work and are well respected as equals and peers. I am asking this question so that we can know unequivocally if that is true or false, because many of us are getting tired of trying to figure this out.
On the meta IPS question How do you tell an answerer that you think their answer needs work? a moderator moved all the comments to an archive and left the comment "write an answer if you have something to say".
The comment thread archived was useful in helping that meta question's poster to fix up their question, so the comments had the intended effect that Stack Exchange comments are supposed to have. The comments did get chatty, but it was a meta discussion after all - it is, I think, well known that the comment-discussion guidelines are more relaxed for a meta-discussion. Those comments were making headway and coming together nicely.
I left a comment in response to that, partially asking for clarification on that moderator's intent and partially hinting that that is not how Stack Exchange works, that, under normal situations (the mod action was not some necessary action in response to an extreme situation), moderators should not unilaterally say "Don't leave comments on this question". I even asked in that comment if we need to have yet another meta question to start a discussion about meta discussion comments... I think that's asinine personally, but if others disagree then another meta discussion would be the way to go.
Even that comment to the moderator was deleted! And this is in a meta discussion which is trying to hash out how tolerant we should be about comments.
I feel somewhat disrespected, and I believe that question was not given a fair chance for the above reason and other reasons as well (some answers made unsupported accusations against the question-asker, and I even politely asked if they could get the evidence dredged up since it should be available). If the meta OP falls flat on its face because of provided facts, then so be it, but that has not happened in this case.
Since our attempts at working together as adults resulted in big brother coming in and deciding anything that crosses what they say gets moderator action, I believe the question I am asking here is both valid and necessary.
The actions that are intended for moderators and high-rep users to make in order to keep the website on track and civil are understood and necessary. I am not challenging that ability at all, so please do not make this discussion about that. What I am asking about is situations where moderators bend the rules (ie: Don't leave comments on this question at all), where they abuse their power ("You dare to question my authority? And you dare to ask if you should ask a meta question about whether I should be ban-hammer-happy? comment deleted), or where they even outright deny discussion (someone linked to a spot where that same moderator had the gall to post a rant and end it with "None of this is up for discussion."; the fact that I agree with that moderator's rant there is irrelevant to my question here).
Some related questions as food for thought...
Is everything always up for discussion, or can discussion be axed?
Whose will comes first, users trying to hash things out on their own (especially when they are doing so successfully), or moderator fiat?
Is my opinion just as important as some moderator's opinion, and the only thing that sets us apart is that someone trusted the moderator to act on theirs, or is the moderator's opinion more important than mine?
The root question, in the context of the above, is this: Is Stack Exchange a site for adults to respectfully and civilly work together as adults and peers to answer questions?