# Abuse of our Meta by people from other SE sites

Im just noting that since about yesterday, a number of people from other SE sites (philosophy, ect) who are not in the slightest interested in physics, abuse the meta part of physics.SE to persecute Ron Maimon, see for example this answer and the comments below. They abuse the possibility to register here and having 101 points of reputation from the start try to potronize OUR community and screw up the picture of how WE would like to deal with certain issues. Answers, votes, comments, etc represent no longer the opinion and preferences of our physics community since these intruders started to meddle with things which are not their business.

So my question is: What can we do about this? How can we prevent the physics community ressponse to certain questions being screwed up like this? How can we avoid that powerful people at superior positions in the overall SE network get a wrong picture about the needs of OUR community and in the worst case take wrong actions against users who do great contributions to physics SE?

• As a side note there was at least one member of the team poking around our meta yesterday on a completely unrelated matter and the team looks in on the individual site metas regularly. – dmckee May 13 '12 at 17:32

Ron has brought up topics which are SE-wide (David's possible abuse of his mod powers and the mechanics of comment management), thus he got a feedback from SE-wide moderator community.

Anyway, one of the basis of this network is that everybody can post both on sites and metae, thus your request cannot be realized.

• Thanks mbq, I somehow suspected that it is as you say :-/... But still, even though I rather dont agree with Ron about David, I still dont like it to see this "extended" feedback flooding our meta and wanted to say it. – Dilaton May 13 '12 at 11:28
• @mbq: David DID NOT abuse his mod powers! He never did, I don't agree that he did. I did not say that, I would never say that! If you want to see "abusing mod powers" look at the other sites. He just used his mod powers in a rules-enforcing legalistic way which I didn't like. He is still a saint compared to the other folks at the other sites. I just wanted someone to ask him politely to be kinder regarding my comments, since they obviously bug him. I don't think he is acting outside the range of appropriateness (unlike his counterparts elsewhere). – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 14:09

What can we do about this? How can we prevent the physics community ressponse to certain questions being screwed up like this? How can we avoid that powerful people at superior positions in the overall SE network get a wrong picture about the needs of OUR community and in the worst case take wrong actions against users who do great contributions to physics SE?

Nothing. If you don't want the visibility and exposure, don't post on Meta. This is a public Q&A site, not an exclusive country club.

As I mentioned in a comment to the post you're citing specifically, this is not a physics-specific issue. It requires absolutely no knowledge of the subject domain. Rather, this is something that concerns the Stack Exchange engine that runs all of these sites:

These aren't physics-specific issues we're talking about. They're first and foremost social issues, and secondly, issues regarding the operation and ideology of the Stack Exchange network, on which this site operates. The fact its topic is physics is quite irrelevant to any discussion of its policies and procedures. As someone who is a diamond moderator on 2 sites, and holds upwards of 10k reputation on 2 sites, not the least of which being Meta Stack Overflow, the Q&A site for the Stack Exchange engine itself, I'd say that yoda is perfectly qualified to be answering this question.

Your position appears to be that only the "expert" users who participate on the main site should be eligible for commenting on the meta site. In fact, I'd argue that you have that backwards. The "experts" on a meta site are those people who are experts on the Stack Exchange engine and the policies, procedures, and norms that apply across the entire network. I'm not sure where else you'd look for those people except for SE staff members and community moderators on other sites in the network. Objectively speaking, we're precisely the people whom you should want to weigh in on these types of discussions.

It's also worth pointing out that the fact that experienced Stack Exchange moderators and members of the community team weighed in on this discussion does not in any way prevent regular members of the physics site from expressing their own opinions. The engine allows you to post multiple answers to a question for a reason.

Moreover, the concern that someone is going to "take wrong actions against users" on the physics site is misplaced. The only people who have power to take these actions across the entire network are community team members, and they'll have a diamond after their user names even here. These, of course, are "powerful people at superior positions in the overall SE network", although they try not to interfere with individual communities by taking direct action except in cases where it is overtly warranted or where the elected community moderators ask them to step in. However, it is worth noting that moderators on various sites talk to one another. If a user is creating problems on one site in the network, then they are very likely to show up on our radar. There's nothing sinister about that; it's quite clear from all aspects of this site down to the URL itself that it is a member of the Stack Exchange network, and therefore subject to its policies, practices, and community norms.

…a number of people from other SE sites (philosophy, ect) who are not in the slightest interested in physics…

Since you specifically call out philosophy in your question, and I'm a moderator there, I can only assume that I'm one of the protagonists in your tale of abuse. Therefore, I'm not sure where and how you get the idea that I'm "not in the slightest interested in physics", or even the impression that I don't know anything about physics. I haven't shared my qualifications or background with you because I don't think that's relevant. Stack Exchange doesn't have a qualification process for users, it has one for answers—voting. If I were answering physics questions and my answers were wrong, you should downvote them. Likewise, If I'm answering meta questions and my answers are wrong, you should also downvote them. But let's not make assumptions about people you don't know, okay?

• @nemo Certainly that's the prerogative of community members, and I don't believe anyone has tried to tell you not to have opinions or tried to forbid anyone from expressing them. As I mentioned, the answer box is available for everyone equally. However, there are network wide standards and minimum expectations—these are set out in the FAQ, which, beyond the first section, cannot even be edited or modified by community moderators on individual sites. – Cody Gray May 13 '12 at 11:45
• Whoops, Ive lost the comment Cody replied to above by putting the wrong button... I said, I too think it is the businiss of the local modarators how they deal with disagreements among the members of their local community. Communities of differrent SE sites can have different priorities, different weights on the content that a member delivers versus its behaviour etc, and that should be respected by the overall SE community. – Dilaton May 13 '12 at 11:58
• @Nemo: People here approve of my behavior. This behavior is required of physicists and keeps the community honest. Where it is absent, scientific fraud flourishes. I am following Wolfgang Pauli on this. – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 14:10
• Yes I know @RonMaimon and I agree. – Dilaton May 13 '12 at 16:40
• "People here approve of my behavior. This behavior is required of physicists" Calling out bad physics is, indeed, a good thing. However, it is possible to do this without coming across as personal attacks and you do not always take the time to do that. That runs against the basic requirement to "Be nice.". – dmckee May 13 '12 at 17:37
• @dmckee: Every time you say someone is wrong it comes across as personal attacks. It can't be helped, people put too much of their egos in their written positions, and want to defend them (one can't help it). I don't make personal attacks, but it sounds like it, because "you said X, X is wrong" sounds like "you are stupid, and I don't like you". You can say "My lord and master, you have said X, but in my humble opinion X is wrong.". But saying it this way makes it seem that you are confused regarding X, or that there is legitimate debate about it. This is no good. So you just say "X is wrong". – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 17:45
• @Ron "X is wrong" is fine. But it is different from "you are being dishonest that you claimed otherwise" and "This answer is a summary of things you obviously don't understand". – dmckee May 13 '12 at 17:51
• dmckee: The dishonesty is when someone responds to "X is wrong" with "I didn't mean X" when they wrote "X" and it's obviously not a misunderstanding. It is important to say "no, you meant X, it is dishonest to claim otherwise", because otherwise you are not sufficiently honest yourself by pretending the answer didn't say X originally. "This answer is a summary of things you obviously don't understand" is also a statement of fact, the things were misinterpreted in the answer. I like Mark Beadles, he just summarized things he misunderstood! Why is pointing this out so terrible? – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 21:42
• @RonMaimon Speaking from experience, it's the word "dishonest". I now understand what you were getting at with its use, after you've explained your point. I'd advise in turn as follows: try to accept that people you're interacting with are likely to go sideways if you choose words that are insulting in normal circumstances. I'm not saying the "Lord and Master" route; but maybe something in between. Why? You'll spend less time on Meta and more on Main, if nothing else! Cheers. – Mark Beadles May 14 '12 at 1:27

There are several misunderstandings in your question, I'd like to answer (without sarcasm) to it.

Abuse of our Meta by people from other SE sites

Abuse? The system explicitly gives me the right to respond there, so where is the abuse? I gained the reputation to have the 101 rep on other sites, I deserve the right to have and use it. Again, I see no abuse, personally.

Im just noting that since about yesterday, a number of people from other SE sites (philosophy, ect) who are not in the slightest interested in physics, abuse the meta part of physics.SE to persecute Ron Maimon, see for example this answer and the comments below.

The "number of people" you talk about are moderators and a SE Team member. Maybe we're not interested in Physics, and that's why I'm not posting on the Main site, for example, but Meta is not at all related to physics the subject, rather it's related to Physics the site. Furthermore, I don't think I'm persecuting Ron; I would have posted regardless of the user fi the conditions were the same.

[...] and screw up the picture of how WE would like to deal with certain issues.

The rules are network-wide... Actually, the Netiquette is Internet-wide and exists since long time, long before the SE I think. But let's talk about the SE sites: the rules about proper behavior are not a site-specific issue, so you don't get your personal rules about behavior. The FAQ concerning that part is common to all SE sites, and for a simple reason: it's common for all sites. (It's a repetition eheh.) The content of Ron's answers is not being judged: I don't think I would have any clue of what he states in his answers that is physics-related, and the same goes for the other users.

Let me explain, again with no sarcasm, some mechanisms. Across the SE network, the system is users -> moderators -> Team members.

Users gain privileges through reputation, even moderation privileges. Then you find moderators, with have more powers in their site but none in other sites, although moderators have mod-privileges across the Chat network. This means that I can mod even in this site chat.

Then you have Team members. They have more powers than anyone. They are moderators everywhere and they also have more powers than common moderators. So it's not that they have to "mind their own business". This is their own business, and if this thing has repercussions in other sites or if it's not a subject-related issue, also mods get to come here. Because this issues unavoidably attract the moderators' attention.

I think the Physics mods are perfectly good at their job and I wouldn't never tell them what to do, but I don't think they consider me as an intruder if I post or if a Team member decides to weigh in.

Hope that helps!

I saw the "DavidZ moved comments" meta post first, and was appalled by the whole drama that's been unfolding. (I'm off the Internet for a day and I come back to see some drama on both meta.physics and meta.chemistry? Wonderful.)

Also, I was slightly disturbed by your comments, telling SE members to basically get lost.

While physics.SE should be run by its community members, everyone has a say--including "outsiders". Now, these "outsiders" usually don't "meddle" in our normal site-building decisions on meta, and it's no biggie if they do. Everyone's opinion is useful. But, when there is a general, non-physics issue--especially a serious one regarding moderator/user conduct. They probably swooped down on us because David must've asked for some guidance in the Teacher's Lounge. Or, it may be due to Ron's post on MSO(saw it a few days back, but it's deleted now). Anyway, these guys have a full right to put forth their opinions on matter of user conduct. Also, they're quite qualified to be taken seriously.

Cody Gray(The Establishment on MSO) is someone I've stumbled across on MSO quite often, and I respect his views (usually agree with him) He deals with a lot of user conduct issues on MSO(all the active users do), and has a nice approach to it. Additionally, he's a mod on Philosophy, so has some experience modding and knows what it's like.

I've stumbled across yoda as well--though not that often--and again, he's(she?) of the same sort. Plus he's a double mod and ought to have enough experience.

Nothing. Neither should we do anything about it.

How can we prevent the physics community ressponse to certain questions being screwed up like this?

It's not being "screwed up". User conduct is a seperate issue from the "needs of the community". While I do agree that some issues are dealt with differently here, we still need to have the same rough rules as an SE site. Long time SE users like Cody and yoda know this and haven't gotten nitpicky--they've stuck to the rules that all SE sites abide to while advising in their posts/comments/whatever.

How can we avoid that powerful people at superior positions in the overall SE network get a wrong picture about the needs of OUR community and in the worst case take wrong actions against users who do great contributions to physics SE?

For one, they can't take any action. Except for Shog9, and he would probably consult our mods first. The others are in a purely advisory capacity, and have zero powers.

Regarding the community thingy, see the above snippet. Our needs aren't too different from the rest of the sites. Also, these posts had nothing to do with the needs of our community, rather they were discussing user conduct.

• On a physics site, to have the correct answers accepted and upvoted highest, as well as honesty, sincerity, and scientific correctnes (qualities that Ron definitively has) are much much more important than politeness (even though politness does not hurt in any way ;-)...). The weighting factors of these things can change from SE site to SE site and may be different in other communities. So I dont agree with everything in this answers but I removed the too confrontative last sentence in my question. – Dilaton May 13 '12 at 16:53
• You can see how sincere and honest Ron is in the comments below Werner s answer. Hi did not want to show up at TP.SE and contribute there before being able to provide a proof he promised ... – Dilaton May 13 '12 at 17:04
• @Dilaton I am not commenting about Ron. That's a separate issue and already has been addressed(fairly, IMO). On any online community, you must be civil if you want the community to thrive. Rude comments can scare good users off, as well as new users. Rudeness is disallowed here, as on any other SE site. any of our mods will probably tell you this. – Manishearth May 13 '12 at 17:15
• @Manishearth: It is rare that people make actually rude comments, mostly rudeness rules are applied in cases like my answers on philosophy regarding nietzsche, where the blunt opinion expressed is contrary to mainstream thought, and rubs people wrong, or reads like a belligerant hostile rant. This is not rudeness, since it isn't personal, it is much like a position against large-extra-dimensions, or defending cold-fusion. This contrarian stuff is called "rude" by political orders, and I am always afraid that this stuff will start to get censored here, as it has elsewhere. – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 17:52
• @Manishearth: I didn't comment on David on MSO, I was annoyed by something on philosophy (the consistent deletion of any anti-neitzsche sentiment). David is not abusing his power, we just have a disagreement regarding comments, and I am not trying to make waves, just to be clear that moderators have extra responsibility to be careful regarding censorship. I am afraid of this site degenerating into useless politically approved discourse, and that people with new ideas (who always sound indistinguishable from crackpots) will be silenced. – Ron Maimon May 13 '12 at 17:57
• @Ron I know it wasn't really rudeness.. I'm not talking about yoir case, really, I'm talking about the idea that non-phy people shouldn't meddle. I understand that its just a disagreement(not until I'd read all the comments, though). I really stay away from new Physics myself, so I can't comment on the rest :/ – Manishearth May 13 '12 at 18:16
• Let's keep the discussion about the Philosophy site on the Philosophy site, eh? I don't think you want to bring that up here, as it's not going to be in your favor. Judging your actions on Physics through the lens of your actions across the Stack Exchange network makes a very compelling argument to suspend your participation here as well. It's precisely because I respect the difference between sites/communities that I have neither suggested or would support that. @Ron – Cody Gray May 14 '12 at 17:38
• @CodyGray: As I explained to you on philosophy, physicists have evolved their discourse past that of other humans, about to the same extent that other humans have evolved past chimps. They have a more sophisticated way of speaking, and without it, would never make progress. My writing on the philosophy site would reflect very well on me in this place. This is how it should be in philosophy too, but it isn't. I encourage everyone who is interested to see what is going on there. – Ron Maimon May 14 '12 at 18:50
• @Cody please, no sarcasm. That goes to you too, Ron. This thing is already getting out of hand, sarcasm adds fuel to the fire. – Manishearth May 14 '12 at 19:01
• @CodyGray As I said, I agree with Anna v, Ive learned much from Ron s answers and I consider him to be a valuable member of our community. Reading your comments, it seems you are up to enforce him to be banned / suspended or what else from physics.SE and I dont like this, it is not right. I want him to be here to keep learning from his knowledge, ok? – Dilaton May 14 '12 at 19:15
• @Nemo No, I've never said that. I've explicitly said the opposite. – Cody Gray May 14 '12 at 19:16

I have no mod experiance and if you take a peek at most of my post I tend to be wrong but being wrong and intentionally trying to mislead someone are two seperate issues. I can be wrong all day I can even copy and past true information in a way that makes it seem correct but it is actually not again mostly intent if you do it on purpose a mod has to "step in" that is there job. Do determined malice and intentionally misleading information the mod does not "care" who says the information weither it be a mod or someone higher up on the food chain. It is a good policy not to single out individuals except in extreme cases. I often mis-state correct information and the response is not drastic all you need is downvote the answer and make an Answerer of your own. Every step David has taken since I have been a member seems slightly reserved that is he does not jump straight to throwing the book at someone he gives benifit of the doubt and usually gets input from experianced "rule enforcing" SE Members we are part of a larger community this is a team of SE sites working toward a common goal equality in spreading our "opinion" as long as our opinion is not stated as FACT.