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The question Academic dismissal from PhD program. What next? is currently marked as locked. (While it is locked, the rest of us are prevented from voting or editing.) The message says:

This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. For more info visit meta.

So, I'm asking here. What's the expected trajectory of this question? Is it permanently locked, or will access be restored?


I see a disputatious comment thread, and a comment that the question will be locked for 24 hours. Locking it freezes everything in place for the duration, but it also prevents the rest of the community from acting on the question -- for instance, we can't vote on answers or comments.

Do we need a solution for how to handle this once the 24 hours are up? It seems like the situation is pretty clear, and the original author is simply violating site rules and ignoring feedback from the community and from moderators alike. I wonder if there's a way to prevent the problematic edits while still allowing the rest of the community to work on cleaning up the question (rather than locking everyone out, offenders and non-offenders alike).

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As you noticed in the text of the lock notice, the lock will be lifted automatically after 24 hours. This is standard protocol; just because there's a dispute now doesn't mean there will be one later, so the lock isn't permanently applied. After 24 hours everyone can post again and all will be good.

Regarding your "how to handle this" question, there are just a few options:

  • Do nothing and just continually revert bad edits - this takes a lot of work, and history has shown that this is unlikely to solve the problem.
  • Temporarily lock the question - slightly heavy-handed, as you noted, but it enforces a cooling-off period. The locks on all Stack Exchange sites are set up such that you can lock a single answer without affecting other answers on a question, but if you lock the question itself then nothing can happen to that question, including having new answers added.
  • Permanently lock the question - too heavy handed for a first approach, but if the problem resurfaces after the temporary lock this may be the only good course of action
  • Temporarily ban the users making the bad edits - solves the problem of bad edits, but much too heavy-handed for this situation; this is one person causing an issue one time, we would almost never ban for that.

Other than these, we really don't have many other tools. The lock is slighly heavy-handed, I agree, but it's our best option and saves everyone involved a lot of time.

  • Thanks! Sounds reasonable. Hope this works! P.S. My reaction: I agree with you that banning the user for making bad edits seems heavy-handed as a first response. On the other hand, if the problem continues after the lock expires, I think you would be justified in banning the user for a brief cooling-off period, if the user continues to repeatedly ignore repeated feedback from the moderators and the community, in a way that makes it infeasible for the community to handle the situation. Hopefully it won't come to that! – D.W. Dec 23 '13 at 18:25
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    As the locker, I can comment that I was seeing way too many flags about this question. The OP also wanted to contact the site adminstration to remove the personally identifying material put in the question previously. There were also so many edits that the question became a "community wiki"—which really is weird for a question of this type. Given all of this, I felt it was better to let everybody cool off for a day before things got too out of hand. – aeismail Dec 25 '13 at 13:12

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