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I have many issues with what happened to Why is the subway in Seoul so cheap?

I see absolutely nothing in the question that is objectionable or in need of moderation. There is a mildly (but only mildly) debatable allusion to the Berlin S-Bahn being dirty but that deserves at most a comment. The site is littered with statements that are more objectionable than this one.

It's not racist, sexist or hateful in any way, does not seem to raise any legal question and it is expressed in a completely civil and nuanced manner. The content is still fully viewable because, unlike truly objectionable content, it is obvious to everybody that there is no need to hide the edit history. So why did it need to be edited out by a moderator?

The following comment

When a moderator edits a question to take out a city name, do not edit it to put it back in!

only adds insult to injury. In my view, moderators should be more careful than others when editing. If you are opinionated and prone to comment on many things (as I know I am), it's best not to become a moderator. It seems to me that moderators certainly should not ever use their moderator hat to enforce their opinions and preferences in a content dispute that they themselves initiated.

In that case, given the utter lack of urgency in censoring the offending comment, the obvious choice is to abstain from editing out again and engage with the OP. Whatever the conclusion of this dispute, it's clear that having that content visible for a few hours or even days is not a serious problem. If the matter was more sensitive and moderator action was genuinely required, it would be best to leave it to another moderator to step in.

Meanwhile, while this silly dispute gets resolved, the question is locked and it doesn't seem possible to post an answer, thus defeating the whole point of the site…

Am I wrong in my understanding of the moderators' role? Is that the new standard for moderation on this site?

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    I unlocked the Q, I had not realized (not thought enough) that locking it would also lock the options to answer it. – Willeke Jan 16 '20 at 20:08
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    @Willeke I must say I'm rather disappointed that you've not seen fit to give Relaxed any response other this comment, which entirely ignores most of the issues they raised. – Chris H Jan 21 '20 at 11:23
  • @ChrisH, I was disappointed that this points was brought up at all and I do not deem it needed to react. – Willeke Jan 21 '20 at 11:25
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    @Willeke when somebody makes a calmly and carefully-explained post questioning whether a moderator's behaviour is appropriate, I think at least a minimal degree of engagement is warranted. Even more so when the voting on the meta post seems to suggest many other users feel the same way. Declaring that you're disappointed the matter was raised and don't deem it worthy of a response sounds an awful lot like "I'm the one with the mod badge so deal with it", frankly. – Chris H Jan 21 '20 at 11:29
  • We are talking about one line deleted from one post. Mods have looked at it. I can write a heated post how unjust this thread is, or I can respond with the amount of attention I think suits it. – Willeke Jan 21 '20 at 13:40
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    @Willeke You could also write a non-heated post engaging with the points which have been made like an adult, or ask another mod to do so on your behalf. I've been a moderator on other sites in the past. I know it can be hard, and have no issue with the way you generally do it. But I really think you're way off the mark here, both in the initial action and in the way you've responded (or, more to the point, refused to respond) when asked for some clarification on what the user actually did wrong. If you still don't feel any explanation is merited I won't pursue one further, I've made my point. – Chris H Jan 21 '20 at 13:59
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    @ChrisH, I have decided not to want to engage in a discussion here, and I stop reacting now. – Willeke Jan 21 '20 at 14:54
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    @ApologizeandreinstateMonica gratuitous comments about users' language skills are not particularly helpful. – phoog Jan 27 '20 at 20:43
  • @ApologizeandreinstateMonica, I have decided not to react to avoid heated discussion leading into fights. I have read what is written and do not ignore that information. And being someone who has learned as second language is not a point in this discussion. – Willeke Jan 27 '20 at 21:45
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    @ApologizeandreinstateMonica I agree with the complaints about moderation and moderation policies, but concluding your (now deleted) comment with a dig about the less-than-perfect English of someone who is not a native English speaker does nothing to improve the moderation, nor does it improve the level of discourse on the site -- it rather detracts from it. Calling Willeke out for her decision not to engage is entirely justified. Criticizing her English is not. – phoog Jan 28 '20 at 17:38
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    @phoog I don't even remember the comment, lol. I think it does matter though - a moderator must be able to present themself in a professional way. Showing a poor grasp of English detracts from that. I have a basic level of German, but I would never try to moderate a German website, for example. We can agree to disagree. – user91988 Jan 28 '20 at 17:40
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I agree fully.

I certainly can't see anything in the content @Willeke removed (and then complained about the return of) that goes against any site rules or guidelines (Willeke/other moderators: I'd certainly welcome a correction if you can point out something I've missed). It's not abusive or otherwise offensive towards anybody, and it's being used to make a direct comparison so it's not out-of-place or irrelevant either.

That being the case, it strikes me as entirely inappropriate for a moderator to remove it at all. But even if there is some site guideline being violated, there was no reference to that anywhere. The edit note saying it was removed not because of any violation, but because "I am sure your examples are not true but unjust insults" (which, for the record, I can't interpret this as anything other than accusing OP of lying, something I'm sure isn't especially compatible with the "be nice" policy right at the very top of the expected behaviour). When there's no obvious problem (i.e. abusive or otherwise offensive language), if there's no reference to any kind of rule being broken, OP can't reasonably be expected to know that it's an act of moderation rather than just a user (who happens to be a moderator) trying to make a normal edit.

If somebody doesn't think the Berlin U-/S-Bahn is dirty, they're perfectly within their rights to say so in a comment or as part of an answer. They (particularly as a moderator) should not be unilaterally removing it from the question, and especially should not treat doing so as an act of site moderation rather than an edit the same as any other user might make. A moderator's job is not to police opinions.

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  • I did rather struggle to see how the cleanliness of the Berlin system helped to answer why Seoul is so cheap but the OP did seem to have a bee in their bonnet about cheap=dirty. – mdewey Jan 17 '20 at 14:04
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    I did feel the 'dirty' and names of city (seemingly chosen at random) as insulting to the cities involved. And it did not make any difference to the question about the price of a system on the other side of the world. – Willeke Jan 17 '20 at 15:52
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    “Chosen at random” seems an unwarranted assumption. I’ve been in subways that were spotless and some that were indeed filthy. Surely the former spent some money to get that way. And mentioning it is not necessarily an insult. OP was trying to find out about the money. I see nothing to indicate the question was a dishonest way to sneak in an insult on Germany. – WGroleau Jan 17 '20 at 16:38
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    The deleted text even stated explicitly that the OP was speaking from personal experience, not choosing those cities at random. – Michael Hampton Jan 20 '20 at 3:50

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