Why has this user 97832123 been suspended?

Per meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23385/… moderators generally won't comment on the reason(s) for suspension. – Isaac Sep 20 '10 at 20:03
I wouldn't care to common on the specifics, but I don't think I'd be the only one in saying he was displaying a persistent attitude problem! – Noldorin Sep 20 '10 at 20:25
@Isaac, I'm not happy with that policy - can we change it? – anon Sep 20 '10 at 20:37
It's a StackExchange-wide policy, so you'd have to take that up on meta.stackoverflow.com. – Isaac Sep 20 '10 at 21:55
+1 for raising the question. – T.. Sep 20 '10 at 22:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 23 down vote accepted

I was suspended for the reason that T.. noted. I think that this (ab)use of moderator powers (namely to suppress comments critical of the moderation staff) is a massive conflict of interest. I hope that the moderators will refrain from such actions in the future or that the stackexchange overlords will remove their privileges.

There is another important issue here: Moderation on meta should in general be as unobtrusive as possible. People should not be suspended based on meta participation unless there is clear evidence of misconduct (spam, obscenity, insults, etc.). Moderators should only use their powers on meta to keep general order. Posts and comments should not be edited or deleted unless they are in violation of the rules. General meta rules should be the same for all SE2.0 sites.

Edit: I would like the moderators to respond to this and take responsibility for their actions, as well as give an indication of their future behavior. I think that the community is owed an explanation.

I should note that this is less of a problem on MO or SO because a suspension from the main site does not induce a suspension on the meta site in general. – 97832123 Sep 24 '10 at 12:35
Saying "respond to this and take responsibility" is vague. Please give a real email address in your profile (will not be publicly visible) so we can email you the suspension notification that would have been sent, or explicitly give permission for it to be posted in public. – Larry Wang Sep 25 '10 at 17:44
@Kaestur: I hereby give explicit permission from now until the end of time to post this and any possible future suspension notices publicly. – 97832123 Sep 25 '10 at 19:25
See my answer. – Larry Wang Sep 25 '10 at 20:58

Moderators should recuse themselves from patrolling comments about the site moderation:


Nor should moderators attempt to take "revenge" for criticism by suspending the users who post criticism. In this case, a user with a clear understanding of the MO/mathematics/academic culture that is much more relevant to the future of math.SE, than (some) moderators' prior experience with Stackoverflow.


The text of the email that I would have sent, minus his real name:

Because of your post here, combined with your history and past warnings, your accounts on both meta.math.stackexchange.com and math.stackexchange.com are suspended for 5 days.

During this time, your accounts will be locked at 1 reputation, your user pages will have a visual indication that you are in timed suspension, and you will be unable to ask or answer questions. At the end of this period, your reputation will be recalculated, and your accounts will resume as normal.

If you are unable or unwilling to write your posts in a non-inflammatory way, I suggest that you restrict yourself to posting mathematical content only in the future.

Larry Wang
aka Kaestur Hakarl

Since the above doesn't provide much in the way of explanation, I will also say that I agree that this suspension would be overly harsh if the user were anyone else, but there have been many instances of 97832123 disrespecting and antagonizing other users in the past, and in general, his pattern of behavior is more consistent with that of an anonymous troublemaker than someone who has a real interest in bettering the site. He has also been warned and suspended on multiple prior occasions, which contributed to the length of this suspension.

If 97832123 is interested in contributing mathematically to math.stackexchange, then that's great. I'm sure that someone as talented as him can have a lot to add. Weighing in on the way the site is run through meta is welcome too. Just keep the comments about posts or ideas rather than about people, and follow the advice in the faq.

This is not what suspensions are supposed to be used for. If I am criticizing the moderators, there is no way for me to avoid making it at least somewhat personal. The moderators should understand that by taking the position, they open themselves up to criticism from members of the community. This is not personal criticism, but criticism about the job they're doing and whether or not they are qualified. – 97832123 Sep 25 '10 at 21:46
re: "anonymous troublemaker" -- it is well known to the MO users who 978 is, including his name, location, institution, professional status and approximate age. You (moderator K.H.) know this, as you have addressed him by his name in some of the meta threads. 978's extensive participation in meta here and on MO certainly indicates a "real interest in bettering the site" -- including the moderation. – T.. Sep 26 '10 at 5:52
I am all for even-handed moderation. At the same time, users of this (and any other site) need to put aside their sense of entitlement and unassailable rightness and understand that there are other users and other views, and also that moderators are volunteers and users themselves. At some point, a persistent and abrasive insistence on the unacceptability of anything other that the poster's One True Way slips over from "real interest in bettering the site" to "trolling". (As an aside, appeals to what is well-known on MO are misplaced. This is not there.) – walkytalky Sep 26 '10 at 22:59
@walkytalky: If Kaestur wanted to e-mail me, he would not have any trouble finding out my e-mail address, since it is linked on my MO profile, and he knows my real name. Regarding other users with other views: If I do not express my views, then nothing will ever change. The current team of moderators is not qualified, and I want people to keep that in mind. This isn't a matter of "one true way". It's a matter of making sure that people notice every time a moderator makes a mistake that a real mathematician would not. – 97832123 Sep 26 '10 at 23:54
@97832123: I have said this before and I will say it again: you do not know that none of the moderators are mathematicians and in fact by your own definition of mathematician, several of us are. Beyond that, I can guarantee that one or more of us have more mathematical experience than you do, so please stop acting as though you know us and know more than us. – Isaac Sep 27 '10 at 1:21
@Isaac: Kaestur and KennyTM are not mathematicians. You and Katie are, although you have said that you have no interest in research. I feel that research mathematicians are underrepresented on the staff here and that Kaestur and KennyTM have no business moderating here. – 97832123 Sep 27 '10 at 2:06
@9732123: Of course if you see a mistake, you should feel free to point it out. The question is how to do so, and that's not something that has an easy answer. If you can't be nice, as the faq (both here and on mathoverflow) asks you to, at least be polite. – Larry Wang Sep 28 '10 at 7:45
@T.., @978: re: anonymity: For me, at least it depends on context. If it's semi-conversational in the comments of some post, I may write someone's real name if that's how I think of them. If requested to, I am willing to go back and remove any unwanted instances of this. Here, where I am criticising someone in public, I would rather omit the real name, and leave my own. – Larry Wang Sep 28 '10 at 7:52
As for using information not provided by a user (not even indirectly, like those who have contact info listed on their linked websites) to contact him, at best, I can't consider that to be an 'official' email in my role as moderator, and at worst, it's stalking. If a user provides no contact information to this site, I can't contact him as a representative of this site. – Larry Wang Sep 28 '10 at 7:54
@Kaestur: that's all well and good, but it avoids the point, which was that you-know-who is very far from matching the description of an "anonymous troublemaker" who lacks a "real interest in bettering the site". You characterized him as such by way of justifying a suspension, and the characterization is false --- more false for 978 than for almost any user I can think of (if you know of any users who are more self-revealing or with greater manifested interest in site operations, let us know). Given this error, what is the suspension other than retaliation for criticism? – T.. Sep 28 '10 at 14:31
@Kaestur: Could you please respond to T..'s question? I'd like to hear the answer, as would others. – 97832123 Sep 30 '10 at 3:44
@T..: Perhaps it was a poor choice of words. What I meant exactly was that he chose not to provide any formal contact information, direct or indirect, and at the time, he had not been active on the main site for over a month. I did not intend those as justification for the suspension per se, only as reasons that he was treated more harshly than someone else might have been under the same circumstances. – Larry Wang Sep 30 '10 at 10:16

We prefer not to single out an individual user nor discuss private communications. The individual user is informed by email with regard to the nature of the problem. Depending on the situation, users are typically given multiple warnings and given the opportunity to correct the situation. Moderators are able to leave annotations to communicate to each other about past problems.

In general, it is a private matter between the moderators and that particular user. We leave it up to that user to discuss (or not discuss) what happened to them.

It is basically matter of respecting another users' privacy.

Flags associated with a user's postings are public information to any user above 2000 points. I don't recall seeing flags here or in meta lately. – T.. Sep 21 '10 at 1:39
@T..: Not all flags are visible to 2k+ users. At the time of your comment, there were at least two flags on meta and at least one flag on the parent site. – Isaac Sep 21 '10 at 2:55
@Isaac: in that case, what does the "Flagged Posts" list actually contain under the tools/flagged link? i.e., how is the displayed subset selected? – T.. Sep 21 '10 at 3:48
@T..: I'm not entirely sure and didn't find a proper answer in my quick searching on meta.SO, but I think of the three different types of flags available on questions and answers, only mods can see the "Requires Moderator attention" flags, 10k users can see the "Spam" flags, and maybe 10k users can see the "Offensive, Abusive, or Hate Speech" flags, but I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure that 10k users do not see comment flags at all (and I don't think there are different types of comment flags). – Isaac Sep 21 '10 at 4:05
The question of flag visibility rules was posted here. See my answer for the meta.so links. – Larry Wang Sep 21 '10 at 8:21
It is difficult for a banned user to comment though. Also you have already singled out an individual user by suspending them. – anon Sep 21 '10 at 16:31
So to sum up, the public information is that (1) there were no recent "Offensive" or "Spam" flags on 978's postings, (2) he posted a criticism of the moderation in one of his postings, (3) was suspended shortly thereafter. – T.. Sep 21 '10 at 21:38
As I expressed to Robert in a private e-mail, this is a nonsense reason to avoid this conversation. I agree with T.. and muad that this should be discussed by the community. – 97832123 Sep 24 '10 at 2:03

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