18

I'm a bit concerned about a recent post (now deleted, link for 10 k users only) which was a pretty aggressive accusation with both the specific supervisor and accuser clearly identified.

I think most of the answers and comments are directed towards helping OP understand why their accusations are likely unfounded, but I wonder if we want things like this to be part of Academia.SE. There is enough background here to pretty much absolve the lab involved in my opinion, but in other situations that may not be the case, especially circumstances where the facts/details are less publicly available.

  • As most of this Q&A is about the specific question in question, I suggest to open a separate question on general policies for accusing individuals, if there is a need. – Wrzlprmft Jan 1 at 16:01
11

However unpleasant they are, I think we should deal with such kind of questions. For two reasons.

  1. It can be challenging to write one, but a balanced or straight answer to a thorny question can be extremely helpful to the asker and to future visitors. And I think that our community has certainly a number of people capable of giving good advice even in such controversial cases.
  2. Once a non-anonymous question of this sort has been posted, all the mechanisms that are available to standard users and moderators to get rid of it or to make it anonymous are too slow or too weak to be effective, and the damage is already done. Better deal with it face up, then.
  • 2
    Regarding your second point: I do not think this is a case which calls for radical anonymisation and de-publishing. The asker has already decided to go public with this information and published a webpage about this, so all the information on our site is already out there anyway and the asker doesn’t mind. However, we want to avoid the impression of being a place for publicly shaming people and thus we should keep the question anonymised and neutral through edits and similar. – Wrzlprmft Dec 28 '18 at 13:15
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    @Wrzlprmft and Massimo: true, the info is already out there, irrespective of academia.SE, but I have some concerns that by allowing such a specific accusation as a question, there may be a perception that academia.SE is legitimizing the complaint – Yemon Choi Dec 28 '18 at 13:58
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    Yes I worry about the same as @YemonChoi and especially if the case were less clearly a ridiculous accusation. – Bryan Krause Dec 28 '18 at 18:16
10

In general, I agree with the Massimo’s and Sascha’s answers that such questions should stay as long as they can be sufficiently anonymised. They can help others in similar situations and as long as the personal links are borrowed in some edit history (and stay civil), we do not leave the impression of being a place for public accusations – which I consider very important.

Now, while the specific question can be sufficiently anonymised (I just did that before reading through the answers), all the upvoted answers depend on information the asker posted in comments or external links. Even without removing any of this, this becomes very confusing and highly individual advice which heavily depends on the one-sided details we are provided (even though even those seem to point against the asker).

This is of little use to future visitors and I do not think it can be made useful without a major editing job to the question and all answers, which would probably be too radical for an edit in some cases, removing major portions of some answers. I would therefore opt to delete this question and (if desired) start from scratch, i.e., post a new question, that is sufficiently generalised and anonymised.

  • 1
    +1 for "we do not leave the impression of being a place for public accusations" - I think this is my biggest problem with the so-called question from the OP. FWIW I actually agree with the responses of people like Sascha and Bryan but I didn't want to pile on in the comments – Yemon Choi Dec 28 '18 at 13:56
  • I think the public accusations of asker of this question is used against himself and clearly showed that his claims are certainly false and the guy himself is a fraud. So, I believe it should not be deleted cause it's a good and unique example of how false claims could be easily identified with the help of internet... – Alone Programmer Dec 30 '18 at 4:00
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    @AloneProgrammer: First, even if we undelete all the answers and comments that we can, this example is barely understandable without spending quite some time digging through all the material and in particular the asker’s personal website (which may be gone down sooner or later). Second, I do not think that this example is deterring anybody from doing anything. Third and most importantly, I do not want our site to be a place where people can shame themselves as much as I do not want it to be a place where people can shame others. – Wrzlprmft Dec 30 '18 at 10:28
  • @Wrzlprmft: How about if we edit the question in a way in which we see it, and then lock it down. Something along the lines like a title like "How can I gain scientific credentials or money by applying public social media pressure and misleading statements" – Sascha Dec 31 '18 at 13:44
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    @Sascha: Something along the lines like a title like "How can I gain scientific credentials or money by applying public social media pressure and misleading statements" – That would be a blatant case of judging and shaming the asker, which is far out of line and violates the code of conduct. In fact, I would even consider your suggestion borderline. The asker still deserves a minimum of respect. – Wrzlprmft Dec 31 '18 at 13:57
  • @Wrzlprmft yes, it's borderline. The respect would be given by not supposing that he had criminal intent, but a misguided character. As for shaming, towards those in science he already did that himself - nobody held a gun against his head when going public. Towards those still on the path to being scientists, they may be misguided by his current question. In the current form the question still does public shaming on people most likely innocent. The question in the original form is an insult to all his supposed co-workers and all researchers working 60h weeks to obtain decent publications and a – Sascha Dec 31 '18 at 14:28
  • @Sascha: In the current form the question still does public shaming on people most likely innocent. – The current question names no specific people at all. — The question in the original form is an insult to […] – I do not see how that would be. (Mind that I am referring to the question only here, not to the tons of comments, external links, etc.) – Wrzlprmft Dec 31 '18 at 15:19
  • @Wrzlprmft: It's good that the question is deleted because even with the original question only + the full name of the person asking, identifying his supervisor takes less than 1 minute with google. I have seen personally the effects of such people on teams and chairs. The mistrust and polarization they seek to create to flip a situation randomly to their advantage is bad - i will put separate question about that topic at some point. – Sascha Jan 2 at 14:29
  • I know my comment here is not directly related to this question but I found something really strange (at least to me it's extraordinary strange!!!) in OP's linkedin page! In his linkedin page, the OP claimed that he hold two faculty! positions in Virginia Tech and University of Virginia at 2013 and 2017 respectively!!!! To show proof of his claim, he put the scan of his employment verification letter!!!! I mean how someone without PhD even for a few months could be hired as a faculty member in these two reputable universities in the US?! Please excuse me that this comment is off-topic here. – Alone Programmer Jan 2 at 20:15
  • @AloneProgrammer: Yes, that’s clearly off-topic here. At best you could ask on the main site what you can do in such a situation (if anything) – without revealing any identifying details. – Wrzlprmft Jan 3 at 10:31
6

I vote to delete this question. I agree with Sascha

In the meantime, it becomes IMHO more and more clear that the guy is a fraud, and not just deluded.

My answer isn't meant to help this guy, but to show his false accusations. I guess he just wants to be famous by public shaming other people.

3

I wondered about the same thing regarding this question. I would leave it open:

  • It could be that the person asking is really severely deluded. While I thing that the answers may or may not be helping him to understand that, there is a chance that they do

  • The question in itself is not a bad one - I had an (much more specific) idea in a research proposal which showed up later in a paper of the group I applied to.

  • Sometimes I also saw people failing in communicating due to their cultural background and research projects being transferred due to nepotism and/or racism

  • Only after looking for some time it seems that this is not just an unplanned rant, but part of some attempt to defraud people - here the answers could also serve to people who have such a case in their team.

So the answers may be do not help the person asking, but others who are at a point in their scientific career where they would go down such a path could profit.

2

The OP is at this point clearly showing that he has a highly distorted and false world view of the effort involved in research leading to a successful publication. He is attacking with a religious zeal to convince others that he is under all manner of professional and personal persecution. No answer will be marked as one that correctly addresses his starting question.

I vote to NOT delete the question. Over time, I believe the content can serve as a worthwhile reference for others who may be starting out as ignorant of the research method and/or as religious in their zeal to prove some measure of personal persecution in the face of a distorted world view.

As desired and/or demanded by the guidelines, and as the effort permits, I agree that sanitizing references to specific details may be needed. I do not believe the general message will be significantly diluted by such an effort.

==> In the meantime, I vote to CLOSE the question IMMEDIATELY to further answers and comments.

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    I believe the content can serve as a worthwhile reference for others who may be starting out as ignorant of the research method and/or as religious in their zeal to prove […] – I started reading the entire question and all related material when this Meta discussion started. I found it very confusing and if this weren’t an issue of moderation, I would have stopped reading. I strongly doubt that the audience you have in mind will get the message – if they find the question in the first place. – Wrzlprmft Dec 31 '18 at 14:03

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