Since this user continues to exist, and I know other users have noticed the nonsensical answers they are spouting... how do we intend to handle this kind of abuse?

  • The biggest issue I see with this is retaliatory down-votes, and I can't imagine a way to ensure that this doesn't happen.
    – Ryan Foley
    Jun 4, 2015 at 16:30
  • 1
    i think SE has a way to heuristically spot retal. down-votes. I know they can spot serial up-voting... I had someone go around once and up vote everything I've ever done. (It was not me in a ghost account! :) ...and SE spotted it fast and rolled it all back. Jun 5, 2015 at 20:05
  • I found the troll; up until this point, it was just a sneaky suspicion. Great...
    – Ryan Foley
    Jun 6, 2015 at 3:07
  • @RyanFoley, the site will flag (and remove?) "serial down voting" (and up) The biggest problem is with people seeing X's post and immediately down voting without ever reading it.
    – Ricky
    Jun 23, 2015 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


In the particular case you are referencing, the person actually could contribute to the community (and has a couple of times, even if they aren't "model" posts). Being optimistic, I was hoping they would respond more positively to some of the feedback they have received and we might see more content that helps to improve the community.

But things seem to be getting worse.

This puts me personally in a bit of a position as things stand for two reasons.

  1. I see moderation here as working to provide support to the community as they decide it should be run. I am not here to set policy or make decisions about the community. While I have no hesitation at all with unilaterally making decisions when it is clearly of benefit to the community (i.e. removing an account created simply for spam, dealing with plagiarism, etc), I am hesitant to take action with an account that could provide value to the community. This is where being able to balancing my views against those of the other moderators can provide a check against possible abuse. Unfortunately, Craig is not as active and hasn't had time to respond to me in chat.
  2. As the only active moderator, I took it upon myself to make sure to comment when answers were down voted in hopes this user could learn how the community operates and improve their contributions. Having been involved (and frustrated on several occasions), this is where I would normally ask another moderator to look at the situation and take the necessary actions, again to avoid the possibility of abuse (or at least the appearance of such abuse).

So, I have adopted a "don't feed the troll" stance, although I wish it could be otherwise. If I don't think the contributions are of quality, I will quietly down vote them, but I will no longer provide any comment.

Hopefully, Craig will be able to visit again soon and we can discuss in chat how to handle this situation. Worst case, hopefully we will have three active moderators once more once the elections are over.

Speaking of the moderator elections, I held off a couple days while making my decision to nominate myself. I had hoped that several more people would have stepped forward by now, but so far I am still the only one only one person has done so (thank you Ryan - who was probably typing his nomination as I typed this).

If you enjoy being part of this community, have the spare time and enough reputation, strongly consider helping the community by nominating yourself. It isn't a huge commitment and if you are stopping in nearly every day (and multiple times when possible), then you can help. There are only five days left till the nominations close.

  • 1
    I saw your comments, and the guidance for the user is appreciated (I have needed this kind of guidance before). I also debated the nomination like you suggest, but I don't think i would be a good fit for that role. Thanks for the work that you do!
    – cpt_fink
    Jun 4, 2015 at 4:50
  • 1
    @cpt_fink, don't make your final decision yet. Simply by posting on meta puts you above the average user; multiple times, even more so. Flagging posts (which I know you have done), also above average. You clearly have an interest in strengthening the community, so you may be a better fit than you realize.
    – YLearn
    Jun 4, 2015 at 5:16
  • 1
    @ylearn If you have questions about how to handle misbehavior, you can always ask in TL. Jun 4, 2015 at 6:01
  • @MikePennington, yes, thank you. However it isn't really a question about how to handle the situation, iit's more about knowing myself. I know I can have a tendancy to over-react when someone irritatees me (#1 above). While TL can help with that, that still leaves me with #2. Since I have been so directly involved, my personal instinct is to recuse myself...probably heavily influenced by my years married to an attorney. However, it is not a situationI can or will let linger foreve either.
    – YLearn
    Jun 4, 2015 at 12:58
  • TL can help with #2, although I never cared whether someone could trump up abuse complaints. You should worry about participating in real abuse; as a mod you may have to take it on the chin if someone trolls about just punishment. Just be sure you can make a good case (advice from a SE community mod or other elected mods on any site is adequate) Jun 4, 2015 at 13:21
  • 2
    I'm around. ( clarification: I'm around now -- I was overseas for the month of May, so I've not been around. ) I think I can guess what problem user we're talking about. I'll be at my comp for the next few hours. Also, +1 for Mike's comment about "taking it on the chin" as a moderator; never feed the trolls. Jun 4, 2015 at 14:05
  • 3
    The hard part here is that for me he isn't the typical obvious troll. His answers sometimes have some truth in them (though sometimes biased by personal opinions) and it's hard to start a discussion about these answers. I tried a couple of times, didn't really work, so I've taken Mike's strategy of silent downvoting as well. Even cost me my "access 'trusted user' tools" privileges ;-)
    – Teun Vink Mod
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:40
  • Quick question: what does TL stand for?
    – Teun Vink Mod
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:40
  • Recusing oneself is not about not being able to handle criticism, nor the willingingness or justification for making a decision. It is about avoiding the perception that the system isn't fair or biased against the indiviidual. @TeunVink, Teachers' Lounge (TL) is the chat room in which all members of the SE moderator community can take part.
    – YLearn
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:57
  • @ylearn, it's precisely this concern about perceptions that I think you should disregard. You were selected for your judgment; if in your judgment the suspension is justified, then you empower the troll by rationalizing status quo. BTW, you can also send a mod letter as a more official request to improve his contributions; this avoids having to suspend Jun 4, 2015 at 16:58
  • @MikePennington, and this is one of those few points where we will have to agree to disagree. By your reasoning, judges are selected for their judgement as well, so they should never have to recuse themselves. It is not an indication that their (or my) judgement is wrong. Like I indicated above, this is my view primarily from my years of marriage to an attorney, but also life has provided negative experiences where someone should have recused themselves and chose not to do so.
    – YLearn
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:40
  • @ylearn, This is a false dilemma. Stack Exchange doesn't require you to recuse yourself for user discipline issues. They ask you to check with other mods when you are not sure. Also see the last part of Mad Scientist's answer Jun 4, 2015 at 17:56
  • @MikePennington, I agree that SE does not have any such policy. However, and I may have not made this clear enough, this is my personal view on this type of situation. As for your link, I don't disagree with the bulk of that answer...but a few clarifications. Has this user "insulted a moderator to the extent that a suspension is warranted"? I don't see it, and to be fair, I believe you called him out as a troll and I called his behavior childish before he called me a troll. The last line mentions "suspensions being discussed internally before" which I haven't had the opportunity to do yet.
    – YLearn
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .