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There has been a recent attempt at subverting a highly active question question What is the pacifist position on Ukraine? (+36 and nearly 9000 views at the moment of writing.) Specifically: they renamed the question into Pacifist position in support of genocide of Ukraine and added material in the text of the question in the same strain (i.e., arguing for qualifying Russian actions in Ukraine as genocide, while the question was about positions by specific western groups.)

This constitutes a violation of the SE policy on edits, as the meaning of the question was clearly changed. What was a legitimate question became an explicit attempt at channeling the extreme views on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, stating positions that go far beyond the positions stated by western governments (the acts of genocide have been committed in Ukraine, on a massive scale, and possibly state-sanctioned - this is under international investigation, and constitutes an important part of the conflict, but does not fully summarize it.) Moreover, such heated rhetoric is routinely exploited by the Russian propaganda, serving as the basis of the claims about denazification, russophobia, etc.

That such an action could be taken against a highly active question creates a potential for using Politics SE as a propaganda tool, e.g., by extremist right-wing groups or even security services of some states (in fact, we are possibly already dealing with such an event.) This could be extremely damaging for the community and its reputation.

I therefore suggest that the moderators do not limit their actions to restoring question to its original state, but also:

  • Clearly restate the community policy on editing questions - how much editing is allowed, the obligation to collaborate with the question author, the caution when editing highly active questions.
  • Take exemplary measures against the offending user - e.g., by revoking their editing privilege or expelling them from the community.
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    "Clearly restate the community policy on editing questions - how much editing is allowed, the obligation to collaborate with the question author, the caution when editing highly active questions." - As far as I can tell, CDJB has already done just that in the comments of the question. What more would you have her do?
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 2, 2022 at 10:25
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    @F1Krazy comments are transient. I would expect them restating it here or posting here a reference to a post where this policy is clearly outlined, so that it could be used in future by all users who think that their content is over-edited. Nov 2, 2022 at 10:36

3 Answers 3

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The question we are talking about here indeed had a slight "Ukraine should give up" slant by assuming as fact that it would not be possible for Ukraine to return control of its territory (during the past months it looks as if they make slow but solid progress in doing exactly that). I myself considered to make edits to the question to fix that. But the whole purpose of the question is to find politicians who share this sentiment, which is difficult to do without acknowledging that it exists. So I refrained from doing so.

However, the edits made by wrod went much too far and turned the question into an outright anti-Russia propaganda question.

No, this is not a clean war. Yes, the Russians committed warcrimes (and so did a couple Ukrainians, by the way). But that's what sadly happens in pretty much every war. Entering polemic exaggerations into the question, like "Russia's war of genocidal aggression" or "Russian Federation's attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible", is uncalled for.

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    +1 Your criticism of my question is apparently based on sentence it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to liberate all of its territory - to this one could object that a) the question was written on July 13th, i.e., a couple of months before the Ukrainian counter-offensive, when Russia, after initial setbacks, was making steady gains in Donbass; b) as of now Russia still controls more territory than before the beginning of the hostilities, so the Ukrainian ability to regain its territory (in a short run) is still quite hypothetical. Nov 2, 2022 at 16:45
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    The last paragraph is reckless. What are you even thinking enabling this type of rhetoric on this site? You are usually known for advocating whatever the community sentiment happens to be, and this is a highly upvoted question, but you are opening a floodgate there. If this site becomes frequented by the Russian trolls and you are wondering how it will have happened a year from now, the answer will be "this paragraph."
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 17:13
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    @wrod I don't really get your reasoning here. Just because I would edit out some referring to a politician as 'incompetent' doesn't mean I am endorsing their competency. Instead, I would edit it out because it's needlessly inflammatory. I think that applies here too, the post in its original form is able to ask the question in a more neutral way. I don't see the benefit of taking an activist position in the wording of a question despite agreeing with the sentiment behind your reasoning.
    – JJJ Mod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:25
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    @JJJ try the "shoe on the foot" test. Assume the question is about WWII and the wants to avoid the "inflammatory" issue of Holocaust. And then a moderator endorses that by calling bringing up of Holocaust a "polemic exaggeration." How would that make the site look? Things are moving fast and it hasn't quite sank in that it is an attempt at genocide. But it will with time. And the people who are looking for venues to escape the shame of it will consider the last paragraph of this answer to be an invitation. Once enough of them make their home here, they'll be a voting block here.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:43
  • @JJJ I guess I would encourage you to listen to Snyder's lecture, too. He does a pretty good job explaining how this hiding of a genocide happens in plain site.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:47
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    @wrod so are you saying we should edit all WWII questions to emphasize that it was genocidal? Your reasoning here seems similar to objecting to the use of the term WWII because it does not sufficiently convey that it was a Nazi German war of aggression. The term used in the current question is 'conflict', that's a neutral term just like 'war' (as in WWII) is a neutral term.
    – JJJ Mod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:47
  • @JJJ c'mon... I said what I said. Don't exaggerate towards the absurd. That's not fair.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:48
  • @JJJ btw, using the term "conflict" is and calling it "Ukraine conflict" is part of the process of hiding the guilt. It's Russia's war against Ukraine. But that's besides the point. My comment to this answer was only about this answer. Calling it "polemic" to use harsh language when describing a harsh situation provides fertile ground for whitewashing of atrocities.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:53
  • @JJJ it is, in fact, a common method of denying Holocaust to claim that the Jewish death camp inmates were no different from other camp inmates. The key component of the crime of Genocide is intent. Not calling it a Genocide amounts to denying intent.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:59
  • @CDJB You've taken down my answer with "I also don't think it's helpful to call out specific users for not doing more to prevent genocide" I agree. But note that the accusations of being complicit in genocide is at issue here both in the original and in this meta question. Even this very comment thread directed at a mod. You could consider removing these comments as well. eg. Otherwise your level headed unbiased dealings here is commendable!
    – Raveesh
    Nov 10, 2022 at 9:51
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    "the Russians committed warcrimes (and so did a couple Ukrainians, by the way)" is very much in the vein of "mistakes were made on both sides", which would be quite objectionable to someone who views Russia's invasion of Ukraine as unprompted and unjust, and Ukraine's position as defending themselves and fighting for their right to live freely. Not to mention the despicable war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, that are far beyond anything I'm aware of Ukrainians doing.
    – NotThatGuy
    Nov 11, 2022 at 10:13
  • "...that's what sadly happens in pretty much every war...." That might be a strong oversimplification. It might not happen in every war and on every side equally. There might still be tremendous differences.
    – Trilarion
    Nov 19, 2022 at 12:55
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I'm not going to discuss the edit in this answer (though I do disagree with the edit, if anyone cares), but I'd like to address the comment that wrod should have his editing privileges revoked or be banned. First of all, editing privileges cannot be revoked without a suspension, which prevents the user from doing anything on the site, which is the second thing you are suggesting. Let's assume (though I'm not saying this is true) that the edit is as bad as you say. That doesn't deserve a suspension, as the editor didn't know the rules (assuming you were correct about the rules). If the user continues doing such things to the point it can no longer be considered them honestly knowing the rules and actual malice, only then would it be worthy of a suspension (again, this is assuming the edit was as bad as you say).

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    It may not be clear now because the comments were erased, but there was no mistake on my part. The only mistake was on the part of the user calling a moderator's attention to the edit. (1) I made an edit suggestion. (2) I left a comment about it. (3) The author DID NOT attempt to revert the edit and instead called on moderators to do it for them and to take some unspecified punitive actions. This was nothing short of wasting moderator's time.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 18:12
  • @wrod ah, I didn't know that. Thank you. I'll edit my answer Nov 2, 2022 at 18:22
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    The point here, as I have already explained in the OP above, is not the possible future actions by this particular user (who has a history of inflammatory posts), but that the same strategy would be used systematically by extremist groups or government services (aka "Russian trolls"). Moderators on this site have taken rather strong actions to prevent its subversion for propaganda purposes - occasionally erring on the side of deleting posts made in good faith, removing them from popular question sections, editing questionable language, etc. The case in hand warrants similar action. Nov 2, 2022 at 19:47
  • " That doesn't deserve a suspension, as the editor didn't know the rule" Being a moderator is a role of responsibility, the minimum responsibility is "read the rules". If I got a speed fine from my garage located in an urban setting, I cannot claim I did not know the rules becuase there were no speed-limit signal. Same here, not knowing the rule is not a justification to not abide to them.
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 3, 2022 at 10:28
  • @RogerVadim in all of those cases, the moderators acted on the content in question. Only in extreme cases have moderators actually acted on the user. Nov 3, 2022 at 15:48
  • @EarlGrey and I'm not saying it's ok for the user to not have followed the rules, I'm saying that suspending the user is far too harsh a punishment. In your example of speeding, you get a minor penalty, you don't get locked up. The user in this situation got a minor penalty of having his edit rolled back, but they shouldn't get suspended. Nov 3, 2022 at 15:50
  • @EkadhSingh-ReinstateMonica you have a curious interpretation of the law. If you get caught speeding in an urban area, you get the full penalty for speeding, claiming you did not see a sign because you just exited from the garage and that you did not know the rules is not making your penalty smaller, on the contrary, it may provide grounds that you are unfit to have a driving license...
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 3, 2022 at 16:19
  • @EarlGrey sure, but the punishment for making a bad edit is having the edit reverted, the punishment for making a bad edit is not getting suspended. Just like speeding, if you do a bad thing many many times, only then is there a more severe punishment. Nov 3, 2022 at 16:40
  • @EkadhSingh-ReinstateMonica This is way beyond being a bad edit. It completely changed (whatever) meaning had the question before. The same with speeding, if you speed way above the limit, it is right to take away the driving license on the spot (in Switzerland they do like that, at least in this aspect they are very good at catching criminals and avoiding idiots roaming on the street and being a danger to the others)
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 3, 2022 at 17:20
  • @EarlGrey the edit is not that bad, because it was done with the intent to improve the question, even if it didn't. There is no way to drive at 100 mph with good intent however. Anyways, it doesn't really matter what either of us think should happen, because the rules say it won't (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this). Nov 3, 2022 at 17:32
  • Curiously I am in agreement with Ekadh Singh and with @EarlGrey. With EarlGrey that this is a really bad edit. It is ill-intentioned, malfeasant. With Ekadh: No, no expulsions unless absolutely unavoidable. [I believe that Elon Musk Jordan Peterson etc are on the right track in not supporting the cutting off of even the most foul-mouthed players]
    – Raveesh
    Nov 4, 2022 at 11:35
  • @Raveesh infact the punishment is a suspension. How long? I don't know, but it is not an expulsion. IMO, even 6 months suspension would be fair (and it still would not be an expulsion)
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 4, 2022 at 12:23
  • @EarlGrey a 6 month suspension for misinterpreting what unbiased is a singular time hardly sounds fair. Nov 4, 2022 at 16:11
  • "First of all, editing privileges cannot be revoked without a suspension" Why? Review privileges can, so see no reason why editing privileges can´t.
    – convert
    Nov 13, 2022 at 14:12
  • @convert there's just no way for it to happen. There is no way the moderators can remove somebodies editing privileges. Nov 15, 2022 at 18:47
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Well, this meta question is engaging in an interesting strategy. It's not novel. But it's interesting.

This meta question is attempting to argue that the main site should allow extremist content because not allowing it would galvanize extremists. The kindest way to describe such an argument is "interesting." But I am not sure we have to force ourselves to be quite so detached. The argument can actually be classified as "sinister."

The user appears to challenge moderators to join them in their effort by saying that their expectation for a moderator are such that they

expect them restating it here or posting here a reference to a post where this policy is clearly outlined

Of course, there is no such policy on edits. There is only a recommendation to have a good-faith effort to not make edits be out of step with OP intents. As this meta answer, by a former moderator, states there is no way to suggest edits once a reputation is too high. But the original author has the ability to revert the question to a previous state. So this particular issue with this main-site question didn't even have to involve moderators.

Of course, there are other problems with this main-site question's setting. Namely, it's a cleverly worded push question which both makes a legitimate inquiry and pushes a genocide-enabling position at the same time.

But the site's users appear to have elevated (with their votes) the inquiry component of the question over the pernicious effect of the push premise. It's a balance, of course.



I see that there is, in fact, some interest in this question. So, as promised, I will elaborate.

First of all, I am the user who made the edit. And as per this meta answer, no one else should be calling out a user by name. Naming yourself is acceptable however.

Second of all, also as per the directions in the same meta answer, the OP meta question is out of line.

Your goal in asking a Meta question should be to find out what the correct behavior is, not to correct the behavior yourself. If your question happens to achieve correcting the behavior, great, but that shouldn't be the focus. We are not here to shame users until they feel they have no option but to leave completely.

The author has also made some hostile comments in my directions, which (probably due to a heavy moderation load and other obligations) have not been addressed by the moderators.

I hope this does not mark a period of a beginning of unrestricted exchange of hostilities on the site. Time will tell. Some of the other hostile comments have been removed. And I am thankful for that.

Finally, (and this is in response to the actual inquiry in this meta question), my behavior was not only OK. It was the expected form of behavior under the circumstances.

  1. I identified a question which I believed merited closing.
  2. I voted to close.
  3. I left a comment explaining my reason for voting to close the question.
  4. I edited the question to correct the offending parts while preserving the actual inquiry in the original question. I did it in a way which did not invalidate any of the (numerous) existing answers.
  5. I left a comment mentioning that I did make the changes in order to make the question more palatable.

The fact is that, on this site, once the rep is high enough, there is no way to propose extensive changes without making them. That's just a part of how the site is setup.

If the author disagrees with the changes, they can revert them back or request that someone with a high-enough level of reputation changes them back.

The author did not attempt to revert the changes.

Rollback is a fairly straight forward task and it's certainly available to a user with as much experience on the site as the question's author.

While rollbacks do sometimes lead to a rollback tag of war, this was not what happened here. No attempt was made by author to undo the unwanted edit.

Instead, the author engaged in a hyperbolic and hostile rhetoric on the meta site. This should not have been their initial reaction.

After a moderator did undo the edit (on the author's request), the answer did attract further close votes, indicating that I was not alone in my thinking that the question needed some fixing.

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    The strategy?? (a) A question that is near 6 months old (b) Has cumulative upvotes in 100s (c) became a HNQ, is suddenly unilaterally morphed into a very different question. The reasonable view is that for maintaining reasoned discourse the mods restore status quo. If however you insist on your inflammatory response as true then how come you are not culpable for normalizing the "genocide whitewash" for all these months when you kept mum?
    – Raveesh
    Nov 2, 2022 at 14:36
  • @Raveesh oh, you though I was refereing to the mods actions when I said "strategy"? I can see how one can read this answer in that way. I'll rephrase. Thanks for your comment. In that sentence, I was actually referring to the strategy of this meta question. I'll try to make that more clear. Thanks.
    – wrod
    Nov 2, 2022 at 14:41
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    You edited a question to fix the issues after you voted to close it? If you had fixed the issues shouldn't you have retracted your close vote?
    – Joe W
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:24
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    @JoeW I thought about it. But the edit is just a suggestion because it could be easily rolled back. While a vote to close cannot be cast again if retracted. So I figured I'd wait until the issue got resolved in comments before retracting. Turns out my hunch was right.
    – wrod
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:26
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    It shouldn't matter if it can be rolled back as an edit can change a question at any time, either you vote to close a question because you think it has issues or you edit the question and fix those issues. You should not do both which results in you closing a good question with no issues. If you are really worried about an edit getting rolled back you should just use the save feature on the question and vote to close it if the edit gets rolled back.
    – Joe W
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:34
  • @JoeW my vote was the 1st one. If the question attracted 4 more VTC even after my edit, but before the rollback, that would have meant that even the edit, the edited version had problems.
    – wrod
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:38
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    You are missing my point, if you edit a question to fix what you see are issues you should not be voting to close the same question because you think it has issues. Either you fixed the issues or you vote to close it. It doesn't matter if it needs to attract more votes to close or not.
    – Joe W
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:40
  • @JoeW I am not missing the point. I am disagreeing with it.
    – wrod
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:41
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    You think that people should be closing questions and then going to fix the issues that they voted to close the question for?
    – Joe W
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:43
  • @JoeW if I thought that, I would have said that. The edit came after the VTC. I thought of how to fix it sometime after I voted. It's a judgement call. I made mine on the balance of events. You think the judgement should been different under these circumstances. I understand your opinion. I trust mine more.
    – wrod
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:45
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    Which is why I suggested that you should have retracted your close vote as you now had a close vote on a question that you thought had no issues because your edit fixed the ones you had with the question. The site should not be closing questions that have no issues and once you removed the issues you had you should have also retracted your close vote.
    – Joe W
    Nov 4, 2022 at 22:55
  • @JoeW Strewn across your comments here is a worthwhile answer. [No I dont believe in the punishment requested by OP. But thats little to do with this case and more that I believe that Elon Musk/Jordan Peterson etc -- also Hanlons razor --are more on the right track re restricting speech. It invariably backfires]
    – Raveesh
    Nov 5, 2022 at 3:09

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