There is a serious problem with this forum in the shape of abusive moderators who vandalize or delete contributions which do not match their ideological agenda.

How can this community abridge or (hopefully) terminate the influence of abusive moderators?

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    Moderators exist to enforce the rules that allow us to maintain our community where anyone can contribute. In an instance where somebody's answer doesn't follow these rules (and I understand you don't think that's what happened here), do you think moderators should be able to interfere? How do you think moderators should be acting instead? Lastly, rules are largely set by the community. Do you think any rules could use improvement? Meta is a strong platform for discussing improvements you'd like to see. It is not well suited for pointing to an alleged problem and demanding change. Mar 21, 2018 at 13:26
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    @lordfarquaad - "pointing to an alleged problem and demanding change" <- is that not the first step toward "discussing improvements you'd like to see"?
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 21, 2018 at 15:07
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    @AndreiROM there's a difference between demanding and being open to discussion ?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 21, 2018 at 15:12
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    @tinkeringbell - are you asking me? Either way, "demanding" change doesn't necessarily get one anything. It can, however, begin that discussion you mention.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 21, 2018 at 15:14
  • @AndreiROM Fair point, I could have expressed that better. My point was that the questions I asked are more objective and easily debatable topics (in my opinion), so it's easier to discuss ways to improve them. This question does address a problem, but doesn't really provide any means of moving the conversation forward. As a result, we've gotten two heavily upvoted answers saying nothing wrong happened and one heavily downvoted answer saying it did, but not really any discussion. Mar 21, 2018 at 15:41
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    @lordfarquaad - now I grasp your point, and I agree.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 21, 2018 at 15:44
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    what stunned me was : 1. calling names 2. phrasing it rudely. I would have much more understood and appreciated a Q phrased like What would be (if any) a good way to deal with a moderator you think is abusive?
    – OldPadawan
    Mar 21, 2018 at 15:59
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    Only leaving this question in place because several people took the time to answer. But to be clear: previous revisions of this question were straight-up abuse; see here for policy. Don't ever do that again.
    – Shog9
    Mar 21, 2018 at 22:05

4 Answers 4


Alright, this is kinda a two pronged answer.

One - How do you deal with an (allegedy) abusive mod team? Easy. Follow the instructions in this Meta Stack Exchange post.

(Basically, use the contact us link to reach out to the SE Community Managers. They're employees of SE. They'll look into things and take whatever action is merited, if any.)

Two - Dealing with what happened with your answer.

The first thing you have to remember - SE is collaborative. Anyone can edit any post (and either it's live or it gets marked as a suggested edit, depending on rep level and/or if you're a mod or not). So moderators and/or other users might edit your posts to make them clearer, or take out bits that don't fit with the SE model or the site's scope.

If I had to guess, the edits were to take out some of the...less savoury and more accusatory language in your original post. You made a lot of unfounded judgements, calling the girlfriend "sadistic, narcissistic and emotionally unstable", labelling her as emotionally abusive, etc. A bunch of that violates the Be Nice policy, which I know you're aware of because I know you referred to it in one of the many comments that you left.

Also...we're not here to diagnose people. We're not here to be lawyers and give free legal advice, for a variety of really good reasons. One of the bigger ones being that, well, you cannot and will not ever ever ever get the full picture of a situation from a few paragraphs of one single question on an SE site. We don't want to set precedence for this sort of thing - it can have real life harmful repercussions if we open ourselves up to this sort of thing. (Regardless of what you think you might know about how things are legally defined anywhere in the world).

Catija was trying to leave the bulk of your answer intact, the bits that were actually helpful to the OP while removing the parts that were quite rude and/or tried to dispense legal advice.

HDE removed your answer when you reposted it, because, well, you were pretty much gaming the system at that point - you didn't like it was locked, so you posted it again. This isn't how it's supposed to work - if a post is locked, it's for a reason. It gives people time to deal with whatever controversy is going on like calm, rational adults, without the distraction of possible edit wars and other such things. Reposting your answer circumvented that whole system, because you didn't seem interested in any sort of constructive dialogue.

That's it, that's all that happened.

Instead of reacting calmly and rationally, and following the Be Nice rule, and trying to have open dialogue about what happened, you kinda jumped off the other end of things and started attacking people personally. That's not going to win you any sort of favours. There wasn't any sort of censorship, it wasn't a personal attack - the mod team was just doing what they do best - moderation.

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    Really nicely put, especially the bit about legal advice. With the exception of Law, legal matters are right out - and even their scope rules out legal advice, and focuses on legal information and analysis. Same thing goes for not giving medical advice. Taking incorrect medical/legal/etc. suggestions based on limited information can be really dangerous.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 21, 2018 at 4:22
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    The main problem in this SE compared to every other one, is that the moderators strictly follow a subjective "be nice" rule. So whether or not your comment survives depends directly on which person is closest to a computer at the time. I find that this severely narrows the scope of viewpoints on this site, to the point that no one is allowed to be incorrect (IE: pointing out false premises and misconceptions is considered mean roughly half the time).
    – Clay07g
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:09
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    @Clay07g 'pointing out false premised and misconceptions' > I agree this site has some trouble with answers being backed up, but until people start doing that, the only way to properly respond to such answers is with a downvote and a request for a back up of the claim they're making (preferably linked to meta) not with a comment saying 'you're wrong'. I don't think the problem you're describing is one of moderators being arbitrary, but of a community that gets more comments like you're describing then it can keep up with flagging as no-longer-needed.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:12
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    @Tinkeringbell This particular SE severely, and I mean extremely severely, underutilizes the Stack Exchange Chat system. On other SE's, a comment has to be pretty malicious, nonsensical, or way out of place to be deleted by a mod. Helping someone sort out their feelings in order to align there objectives and premises is a huge part of IPS, and the Chat feature would really help, but unfortunately such discussion is flat out deleted. Mods seem to expect us to answer questions even if they are built on unrealistic premises, and that can be detrimental.
    – Clay07g
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:16
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    I'm actually pretty impressed with the level headed handling of this by the mods. Nicely done
    – Magisch
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:07

Let's get a couple of things straight about what happened.

As of Revision 3 of your answer, you had called the OP's girlfriend "sadistic, narcissistic and emotionally unstable", and called her behavior "shitty and manipulative". You also referred to her as "abusive", and stated that she "sucks". These are all blatant violations of the Be Nice policy, which requires civility by all users.

Catija reasonably edited that out. You then responded by editing in a claim that the girlfriend's behavior "constitutes abuse" in England and Wales (although the OP is, in fact, in Germany). We don't dispense legal advice. Period. This was then edited out by Catija, and the post was locked, because you were clearly going to keep adding all of this in again, as evidenced by the fact that you reposted your answer. I deleted it because, again, the content has no place here.

It's not abusive to edit a post so that it follows the rules of the site. That's all that happened here. It's not harassment, or censorship, or anything else. We're just making sure that what you're writing fits in with the site's standards.

Let me add one last thing.

Sometimes, it might not be totally clear as to why a certain moderation action was taken. Maybe we didn't do a great job of explaining why we did what we did, or maybe you're just not totally sure about what the site's policies are. In that case . . . please ask us. We're always willing to talk. If you want an informal setting, we're often in The Awkward Silence the site's chat room.

I've tried really hard to be clear and transparent about moderation over the years, but I don't always succeed. Whatever happens, we're going to do our best to make stuff as understandable as possible. So when in doubt . . . just ask. We'll try to answer.

  • Characterizing the OP with that would not be nice, but talking about the subject of the post, the GF, in rather stark terms is not really within the context of a be nice rule.
    – Jon
    Mar 21, 2018 at 3:30
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    @Jon Historically, Be Nice has a wider range than just an SE user - and even though the answerer is obliged to be honest, "sadistic, narcissistic and emotionally unstable" is perhaps over the line. There's stark honesty, and then there's gratuitous characterization. This seems like a case of the latter.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 21, 2018 at 3:37
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    Although 110% not abuse and also clearly justified... technically it was censorship
    – Jesse
    Mar 21, 2018 at 3:56
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    @Jesse It was indeed, technically - though more in the sense of censoring an obscenity on TV, instead of, as Mark is alleging, the sense of a government censoring a dissident opinion on TV.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 21, 2018 at 4:09
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    I don't see why that edit would be classed as legal advice, and in any case, that rule is more about prohibiting questions which ask for legal advice. There's no rule that says you can't make factual statements about the law in answers. I think it should be rolled back to edit 5. Mar 21, 2018 at 5:31
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    @curiousdannii I wouldn't say it is exactly clear that he has made a factual statement. The Crown Prosecution Service publishes a 'government definition' but is explicit that it is not a legal definition and if it were it isn't clear that the described behaviour meets it, lacking anything 'isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.'.
    – user9837
    Mar 21, 2018 at 11:02
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    The behavior described in the original post does describe abusive behavior. It is fair to moderate based on the profanity and the appearance of providing legal advice. But it would be very hard, if not impossible, to give the OP the best advice without being "not nice" to the girlfriend. Mar 21, 2018 at 12:41
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    @ThomasCarlisle Remember we aren't an advice site. We're a Q&A site. The OP asked how to communicate something with their girlfriend. Calling them "sadistic, narcissistic and emotionally unstable" isn't necessary to answer that question.
    – sphennings
    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:46
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    @ThomasCarlisle As I said before, an answer is absolutely allowed to say that the girlfriend's behavior is wrong and potentially harmful. But this answer sort of went above and beyond the call of duty in that sense.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:28
  • @spagirl An answer making an error about a fact of law is not grounds for it to be deleted or rolled back, at least without the OP agreeing that it is an error. I'm just trying to point out that some of what the OP edited deserved to be rolled back, and some didn't. Mar 23, 2018 at 8:17
  • @curiousdannii I don’t have much view on the best thing to do with the answer, just providing info in case anyone is voting on the basis of his legal take being correct.
    – user9837
    Mar 23, 2018 at 12:33

I'm not going to repeat information already stated in the other two highly upvoted answers (which I do agree with). They've already explained why the mods edited out the things you posted and why you were considered out of line.

However, I do want to emphasize that it's important to remember that IPS is a beta site, and that comes with a few really important (and sometimes stressful) things:

  • Rules are in flux. Posts that were okay one month ago might not fit site giudelines anymore.
  • Moderators are enforcing the latest version of the guidelines, which are determined on meta. I haven't always been fond of everything either, but that's how this works. We discuss things on meta, they get upvoted enough, they become the new guidelines/requirements, mods enforce them.
  • We have a disproportionate amount of people who do not participate in meta, which means that these individuals get caught off guard when mods start enforcing things they haven't in the past

So what I'm trying to say is that the moderators really aren't your enemy. If you don't like the rules they moderate by, you should be frustrated with the people who are voting for them on meta. How do you fix that? You participate in meta discussions so that your voice is heard, and this site becomes something we all (mostly) enjoy.

Be a part of the community at a deeper level if you want to help influence what is acceptable and what is not. By absolutely no means at all are moderators wild cannons operating by their own rules. Everything they do is backed up by something that has been talked about and positively accepted by the meta community.


They are completely out of control. If you don't follow their template for an answer perfectly, you will be down voted into oblivion, locked closed, etc. Their template is ever changing and does not apply to all answers.

There is generally no rhyme or reason, they are especially harsh on new posters, but allow some leniency to users with a few thousand rep.

Sorry for your experience here. I've been trying to stay away myself because of this heavy handed approach to what I thought was a site where we were trying to help each other.

  • 15
    Mods only have one vote like everyone else. If your answer is downvoted to oblivion it means that many individual users don't find it useful. Many moderation activities can also be performed by users with sufficient rep. For many actions like closing and deleting posts who participated in voting is public information.
    – sphennings
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:06
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    Your complaint about moving goalposts is valid, but sadly that's to be expected on a beta site that's only in its first year of existence and is still thrashing out what's expected from answers, what's on-topic, and what isn't. Other stacks, like SciFi and Movies, have been around for six years or more and are still debating whether certain things should be allowed.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:24
  • It should be real simple, if it's a valid attempt at help, it should be allowed. There is nothing difficult here, over moderation, by mods and wanna be mods make this site exceptionally unfriendly. You can say be nice all you want, if a word has a definition in the dictionary and the definition fits the situation, then you can safely say that word can be used to describe a person or situation.
    – rogerdeuce
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:30
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    If you don't understand why we took an action, or we haven't made it clear enough, you're always welcome to ask us about it. We're more than happy to clarify things if it means folks will be able to better use the site. I hope you'll take advantage of that going forward.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:32
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    The standards of what it means to be nice are higher than "If a word is being used correctly it's ok" If you want to read more on this subject this link will give you an overview of what be nice means here.
    – sphennings
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:37
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    Love it or hate it, the main purpose of SE is not to help people, but to build a repository of high-quality Q&A. Helping people is the side-effect.
    – Andrew T.
    Mar 22, 2018 at 11:59

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