15

If an elected moderator participates as a principal in a given thread by either asking a question or providing an answer... And then subsequently uses mod powers in the same thread to either delete, modify, or otherwise obstruct valid information contributed by others...

Is it a conflict-of-interests? Or is it OK? Should they ask another moderator to perform the intervention?

I'm not talking about incidents of Chinese spam or transparently obscene material where intervention would be unquestioned. These types of things are outside the scope of this question.

Question: what can a moderator do to avoid the perception that they have engaged in a way that raises the ugly spectre that they have intervened to their own benefit or to the benefit of their buddies?

Of course a TSE member can flag, but the flag can be anonymously declined by the same moderator who benefited. Dilemma... Hence META to gauge community response.

10

I think the conflict-of-interest situation is undeniable and it would be best for the moderators to let others deal with comments, etc. on their own questions/answers or discussions/comment threads in which they took part.

Note that if you are referring to Jonathan's moving your comment under one of his question to a chat, I do not think there was anything abusive or problematic about that. But the whole idea behind conflicts of interest is to avoid putting yourself in a situation where that distinction is even relevant and let others make that determination.

So the first thing moderators can do to deal with this is simply decline to use moderation functionality (deleting comments, moving them to a chat, etc.) if they have contributed to a Q&A. Beyond that, if there were concerns that a moderator is posting inappropriate comments and killing flags about them, there is always the possibility of bringing the issue to the attention of other moderators through the chat. But I don't think this is something we need to worry about on this site.

13

Generally moderators are trusted as experienced members of the community to clear up arguments / comments when appropriate.

IF they feel they have concerns, or are under attack, they could opt to pull in another moderator (I've done this in the past) or SE staff member.

The third option is a moderator abusing their power. If you ever believe this to have happened, you have several options available to you.

4

It would seem to me that it would depend on what the moderator's contribution to the Q/A was and what moderating actions in question are.

For example, the following situations seem fine to me:

  • A moderator posts a question which ends up having a long comment chain straying off-topic and the mod moves the comments to chat or deletes the off-topic ones.

  • A moderator posts a question and deletes an answer that doesn't actually address the question that was asked or converts an answer that should be a comment to a comment.

On the other hand, the following situations would seem more like a conflict-of-interest problem to me:

  • A moderator posts a question and then deletes a comment on it that was suggesting a change to the question or suggesting that the question was off-topic/too-broad/otherwise-closeable (assuming that the comment doesn't obviously violate the Be Nice policy.)

  • A moderator posts an answer to a question and uses mod powers on a competing answer of that same question.

  • A moderator treats questions or answers of similar quality differently depending on whether they align with the moderator's personal viewpoints or not. I don't recall having seen any obvious instances of that on this SE, though I have seen it a few times on other SEs that tend to discuss more controversial topics.

  • A moderator posts a question which gets closed by the community and the moderator unilaterally reopens it.

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