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I flagged as unfriendly/unkind the following comment in this thread:

@desertnaut I don't have the time nor will to continue this useless discussion here.

Moreover, I flagged the following comment in the same thread as "no longer needed":

@desertnaut If you want to post it on meta, please tell me. Else I will do it.

The reason for the 2nd flag should be obvious; I should not be asked beforehand if I intent or not to post anything on Meta. But, in any case, I was the sole recipient of this comment, and, since I had been already informed, the comment arguably does not serve any other purpose, and it can be safely deleted as no longer necessary.

Both flags were declined.

What makes things arguably more complicated for both raised flags is that the commenter is indeed a moderator [EDIT: this is true only for the first (U/U) comment, not for the second "no longer needed" one); so, I would naturally expect that, since these are cases where a mod is involved, the flags should not be handled by the subject mod, due to a clear conflict of interest. At the very least, they should be handled by a different mod.

So, do we have a code of conduct in place, dictating that in cases were a mod is involved, the relevant flags should not be handled by the involved mod?

  • If yes, was this code of conduct followed in the case described above?

  • If no, should we? Does it makes sense that cases were a mod is involved cannot be resolved by decisions of the involved mod?

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    $\begingroup$ I already asked another moderator to handle this situation. I am now curious to see how far this discussion can go to end up with the same conclusion that questions about notation in ML papers are on-topic here, as clearly and explicitly stated in our on-topic page, which has been the same for months. $\endgroup$
    – nbro Mod
    Aug 1 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ @nbro kindly re-read closely the post, which has absolutely nothing to do with what you are saying here. It is quite interesting how both subject flags were processed in lighting speed, while other U/U comment flags are seemingly left to rot $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Aug 1 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ I read this post, but everything started because you wrongly believed that a certain post is off-topic here. $\endgroup$
    – nbro Mod
    Aug 1 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ @nbro I regret to say that this has absolutely nothing to do with the question here. You are a mod, and you should be the example here. You are very welcome to consider the discussion there as "useless" and my opinion wrong, but putting this on a comment in writing is arguably both unproductive and U/U; similar arguments hold for the 2nd flag (explained in-post). Kindly do not try to move the goal posts here; if you wish to discuss the other issue, please do it in a separate thread - this is not what is discussed here. $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Aug 1 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ "Absolutely nothing" is wrong, as you're linking to the post that you wrongly voted to close as off-topic and where you started the discussion that led to this question. Comments on the main site should not be used for long discussions, as you well know, that's also why I said that discussion is useless. I think you're exaggerating a little bit, but this is my perspective. In any case, the question you're asking here are interesting. The suggestion by moderators that have been moderators for a long time would probably be to leave the handling of the discussion/problem/flag to another mod. $\endgroup$
    – nbro Mod
    Aug 1 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ I decided to decline the flags because I don't think my comment is really unkind, although I could have left the "useless" out, and because the question by the OP was very opportune (and you flagged as no longer needed before you posted anything on meta). $\endgroup$
    – nbro Mod
    Aug 1 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ @nbro So, you don't see any issue in "I decided that my comment was not really unkind, so I declined the flag myself", right? $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Aug 1 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's somehow an issue (that's why I say your question(s) are interesting), but, in my opinion (but again this maybe becomes a circular reasoning), we can judge our own actions objectively too (to some extent at least), although there may be some bias. $\endgroup$
    – nbro Mod
    Aug 1 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ I am sorry, but I am not going to open a philosophical discussion here about if we can judge our own actions objectively (!). Neither opinions nor intentions are discussed here, actions are. $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Aug 1 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ We all make mistakes and have bad days, even mods. We are sometimes under pressure and have to move quick. (People have been pissing me off so much at work and in my academic program that I had to stay away until my general rage subsided, such that I could be impeccably kind and friendly in my role as a mod.) But nbro take the lion's share of the responsibility since he came on as a mod, and even before that he spent an enormous amount of time getting this stack focused, and getting us math formatting. So he deserves a lot of consideration, ever where he may be sometimes brusque. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Aug 31 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ I've been moderating this stack since ~AlphaGo, and I can tell you this stack would not exist had nbro not joined and pushed us to our present form. And believe me, we argued for a couple of years before he took on the mod role, such the people thought we were enemies. But we were just working through the problems and issues, and neither of us hold back in debate. (That's why I personally love nbro—he's the guy who will call me on everything, every time. Keeps me honest and continually forces me to up my game. Some of the best insights I've had come via our arguments over years:) $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Aug 31 at 1:51
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Just to quickly comment on that particular situation:

Since that particular discussion went on for way too long anyway, I moved it in its entirety to a chat room. Which kind of resolves all those flags on all those comments automatically. If it had not been moved into a chatroom, personally I would have agreed with the second flag (the "no longer needed flag"), but not agreed with the first flag (the "unfriendly/unkind") flag. Nbro had already rightfully pointed out that meta would be the appropriate place to continue that topic, and it's fine to try to put a stop to that discussion continuing on forever.


To respond to the actual questions:

So, do we have a code of conduct in place, dictating that in cases were a mod is involved, the relevant flags should not be handled by the involved mod?

  • If yes, was this code of conduct followed in the case described above?
  • If no, should we? Does it makes sense that cases were a mod is involved cannot be resolved by decisions of the involved mod?

The only thing I've been able to find on this topic is this meta discussion. There doesn't really seem to be such an official rule, but it is sort of an unofficial rule... with a bunch of exceptions, because sometimes it really is just reasonable and useful for a moderator to immediately handle flags on their own content. Personally, yeah I think it makes sense to try to refrain from resolving flags on your own content, especially at the point in time where it turns out to be a contentious topic... but more so as a rule of thumb than as a hard rule.

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    $\begingroup$ "it's fine to try to put a stop to that discussion continuing on forever" - I couldn't agree more. But the only thing one has to do in this case is to simply stop posting; there is no need to "announce" it like that, even less to include derogatory terms like "useless conversation", which the U/U flag was clearly about. "Nbro had already rightfully pointed out that meta would be the appropriate place to continue that topic" - yes, and that should be all indeed! $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Aug 1 at 14:30

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