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Yesterday I posted a comment on an answer to this question questioning moderator ff524's behavior of selectively moving comments to chat. My comment was in no way impolite and I think it raised a good point. Now it is entirely gone (not just moved to chat).

It has often been said that comments are 'ephemeral' by nature. But a moderator deleting criticism against herself (that's what I have to assume) is a different matter. Is this acceptable behavior for a moderator of this site?

For me, this is the clearest possible abuse of moderator powers, although I don't quite understand the motivation behind it.

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In general, as moderators, we try and not moderate discussion on our moderator actions for exactly the reasons you alluded to. In this case, I deleted your comment not because it was critical of another moderator's behavior, but because it was additional discussion that was not appropriate to be left as a comment. It would have been fine in meta or chat.

The ability of moderators to move comments to chat are limited (we can only do it under certain circumstances and only once per answer). The only options I had were to either leave or delete the comment. There was a "warning" prior to your comment that the discussion had been moved to chat. You also should have received a ping from a comment that ff524 left as a response (which I also deleted). I decided that if the response was insufficient, that you wanted to follow it up in meta or chat.

For completeness your comment was:

@ff524: Why did you single out two comments and not move them to chat? These weren't the only ones directly responding to the answer. Are you not thereby narrowing down the (published) range of opinions, and hence inadvertently abusing your moderator powers?

and her response was:

@Stefan I undeleted the two that seemed were correct use of comments and also highly upvoted. People interested in the range of opinions are strongly encouraged to visit that chat room.

The comments she left were one by me:

Do you have any evidence to backup your claims?

and one by a high rep user

-1: When you base your answer (even partially) on sarcasm, you lose (your) credibility and (my) respect. Your argument is that imposing some instances of "X only" inherently works against "equality (or some acceptable bounds on the proportions of) X and Y". That is clearly wrong: if things are highly skewed away from the proportions you want, you don't correct with equal proportions, you correct by skewing in the other direction. Let me ask you this: what do you think is the percentage of female speakers at the most recent International Congress of Mathematicians?

Both of these are attempting to enable the answer to be improved and not discussion. Looking at the chat transcript with the other comments, I don't see any that obviously are trying to improve the answer.

  • "You also should have received a ping from a comment that ff524 left as a response (which I also deleted). " AFAIK that would depend on the timeline. It is not clear if you believe this to be a general feature of the site (it is not AFAIK) or mean this for the particular situation (where it might be true, e.g., if you knew OP was online in between posting and deletion). – quid Sep 21 '16 at 18:51
  • @quid comments by mods are different then regular comments: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/231668/… The details are confusing to me and I am not sure if the ping makes it through and stays around in this case. – StrongBad Sep 21 '16 at 19:04
  • I was aware that moderator comments on deleted posts behave differently. However, this is not the current scenario. – quid Sep 21 '16 at 19:08
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    I definitely did not receive a ping. Even if I had, I would have been surprised not to find the comments. – user38662 Sep 21 '16 at 19:10
  • @Stefan I just checked and you should have gotten a notification in your inbox with at least a portion of ff524's comment. I could have pinged you in chat to let you know what was happening, but that seemed overkill for deleting a comment after a previous comment that said "move this to chat". I am sorry you were confused. – StrongBad Sep 21 '16 at 19:26
  • It probably was there but got deleted with the comments before I went back online. I haven't activated e-mail notifications. But, ok, if I had been notified, I'd have been more or less ok with the deletion of the comments. – user38662 Sep 21 '16 at 19:47
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To expand on StrongBad's answer, here are some reasons why questions or complaints about moderator actions belong here on meta, not in comments on the main site:

  • As meta posts, they have visibility to people who are interested in participating in the governance of this site (i.e. meta users), who can then chime in with their own answers and votes. As comments buried on an answer on the main site, they do not. If you have a problem with moderator actions, you should want to bring that to the attention of people who care about such things, not bury the discussion where hardly anybody will see it.
  • As comments on a main site question, they are distracting to future readers ("I came here via Google search to find an answer to this question, why am I reading about moderator policies?"). This is contrary to the Stack Exchange philosophy, which is all about a focus on Q&A, no distractions. (Note that the instructions in the help center say not to use comments for "Discussion of community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead.")

Criticism of moderator actions is 100% acceptable on Academia.SE, but please put it on meta, where it belongs.

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    Sorry for wrongly suspecting you, but it did look bad from my point of view. I understand the role of meta, but sometimes you see something you want to comment on without spending hours to formulate a self-contained question. – user38662 Sep 21 '16 at 20:17

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