-1
$\begingroup$

On this question What would the effects of a space based laser weapon system capable of tracking and destroying any projectile posing a threat to human life? there were a series of what I'd consider very dysfunctional moderation actions.

Sequence of events

  • I posted a comment saying that the proposed system could not physically be built. As I understood context cues in the question, the asker intended to talk about a realistic world without magic or unobtainium, and telling them their system could not be made under that premise is helpful and would improve the question.
  • JBH responded arguing that I shouldn't say that because it's not accepting the premise of the question. I told him the context cues suggested a realistic world was the premise: the question asker talks about whether the satellites would "render modern warfare obsolete," suggesting they are talking about an extrapolation from modern 21st century warfare. The asker also describes the components of the system (satellite constellation, sensors, lasers) that we at least nominally have currently, without any hint that these would be magic or sci-fi magic.
  • L.Dutch deleted all the comments.
  • Another user, John, commented again that the system would be physically impossible. I partially agreed with him and then three other users commented, also agreeing the system would be infeasible.
  • Monty Wild moved all the comments to chat, claiming that they didn't improve the question.

It also bears mentioning that Monty Wild posted an answer arguing that the system would be physically infeasible. There's absolutely no problem with frame challenges pointing out things like that, and indeed it is the natural first reaction to the question, based on the comments of Monty Wild, myself, John, Cadence, RonJohn, and Dragongeek.

Edit: the main problem here is that, if it is a rule that frame challenges are allowed in answers but not in comments, this is very not clear to me. I've been a user for 2 years 9 months and this is the first I am hearing of this apparent rule.

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment indicates that you should comment to "Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post." "Your premise could not work as stated" certainly seems like constructive criticism, and can guide the author to revise the premise so it could work. There is no mention on that page of frame challenges being prohibited in comments, nor does it seem to fall under any prohibited category of comments. Where is it written?

A lesser issue is that I mistakenly thought JBH was some type of mod based on how he was acting as an authoritative source for information on the rules. He's done that a lot, and he does it in comments, which actually is one of the prohibited categories of comment at the above link.

$\endgroup$
14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regular users do not have the power to unilaterally remove comments they didn't post. They can flag comments for removal (as you did) but, unless it's very narrow criteria, the flags still need to be confirmed either by more people flagging the same comment or a moderator actioning the flag. Even without knowing what the content of the comments is, I can take a guess that the criteria for automatic removal on flagging does not apply here. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Ah, ok, thank you for the response. I didn't know if JBH was just a regular user. (Guess he doesn't have the mod tag but he often comments on posts about site policy like he's a mod and he has a high reputation so I was wondering if there was some other privilege set he had.) $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I read you comment at the time and was going to write a reply but didn't. It's my option that the Q author doesn't need to specify how the mechanism works, whether by science, magic, God, so on. Unless pertinent to answers, it's extraneous info. Sometimes querents ask about things and desperately need a reality check in the form of "this thing you want is physically impossible, no answers are suitable", but in this case I think it's clear that the querent knows they're invoking something miraculous and are simply interested in the outward ramifications. WB is all about that. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 19:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You should really edit out the references to JBH's actions. Right or wrong, he is not a moderator and thus any "personal attacks" made can not be impugned to moderation. Moving the discussion to chat is regularly done to shift long, or unfocused chat and argumentation between users away from the main forum. Deleting unhelpful comments or bickering between users is also done, though perhaps not regularly enough! Just from reading your question, I'd argue that Monty was engaging in good moderation. What exactly is the problem? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 19:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas You're right about JBH, as I just explained I was under the mistaken impression he was some type of moderator. He's apparently a normal user acting like one. I do feel it provides useful context for the moderator actions that did happen; the incident would make no sense if I removed mention of JBH. The only moderation-relevant problem remaining is the question of whether frame challenges are really officially prohibited in comments, and if not, what kind of "constructive criticism" is allowed in a comment, and how this could be clearly communicated to the public. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 20:08
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the edit! Yeah, all SE Mods have "♦Mod" after their name. As for "acting like a mod", that is actually what SE expects all users to do as a matter of course. Upvoting, downvoting, VTC, VTR, VTD, flagging comments, bringing up issues in Meta: those are all examples of community moderation! I would say that in so far as any bickering went on between you two, official moderation was warranted and thus not problematic. A "frame challenge" is a specific kind of response, and answer to a query, so it's not allowed in comments. Any kind of constructive criticism, with the (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 1:35
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) intent to improve the question and thus elicit better answers, is fine. I think it would not be feasible for SE (or WB.SE) to make a list of every kind of allowable comment. Generally speaking, common sense answers. Given the question, I think it's pretty clear that comments asking to clarify aspects of a technology or the underlying science of a world, comments pointing out likely limitations, comments pointing out potential contradictions, etc, etc are all perfectly valid. Sadly, the comments are now gone, so it's hard for me to tell whether they were constructive or not. I can (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) only rely on the ♦Mod taking the time and care to sift through the roiling stew that seems to have populated that discussion! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ Knowing that our debate had hijacked the OP's comment chain, I flagged the comments for removal. L.Dutch was right to remove them. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Gee how does it happen that comments about site policy hijack the OP's comment chain? Maybe don't post multiple max-length comments in a row about site policy then! THAT'S site policy, not to discuss site policy in comments! $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 17:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @causative You're correct, and that's one of the reasons why I asked the Mods to take action. I had made a mistake and the correction was to remove the comment chain. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH a "mistake" you've often made before and that just so happens to result in the moderation action you wanted in the first place $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ @causative That's your opinion. If you want to start a fight over this, I'm ready to take you on in chat. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 20:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JBH For example, here you are 16 hours ago making 3 paragraph length comments in a row about site policy. Another "mistake"? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/251859/… By doing that you are breaking the rules and hijacking the comment thread. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 23:35

2 Answers 2

7
$\begingroup$

Comments, apart from being extremely volatile in nature, are meant to improve the question or ask for clarification, not to discuss with other users nor to answer the question.

Putting a frame challenge into comments is wrong, because it answers the question in a way than bypasses our quality checks. There many notable offenders who do not seem to care about this.

Discussing with another user in comments fails at improving the question and creates just noise. You and JBH had turned the comments into a bickering between yourselves. I purged the comments initially, but apparently it wasn't enough to make it stop.

Monty Wild did the reasonable thing by posting a frame challenge as an answer.

$\endgroup$
10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your response. Can you link me to a written policy that frame challenges are not allowed in comments, but are allowed in answers? If that is a rule, it was never clear to me. I'd say a frame challenge is not an answer to the question, because it's denying or trying to correct the question rather than answering it. But it is an improvement to the question, because it asks the question author to revise it (in this case, add magic) so that the frame challenge no longer applies. So if anything it should be the reverse; allowed in comments, not in answers. Or allowed in both. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings * "Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;" $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Saying "this would not work according to your premise" falls into that category completely. What other kinds of comment-appropriate criticism of a question are there? $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @causative -- Frame challenges are a valid answer type in Worldbuilding. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Sure, but where's the rule saying that they aren't valid in comments? The rule sphennings linked seems to indicate they explicitly are valid in comments, as they are constructive criticism, and it's unclear what that rule could even refer to other than critiquing the premise of the question. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ If frame challenges are considered valid answers then challenging the frame of a question in a comment, clearly violates the don’t use comments to answer questions policy. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 23:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @causative --- Answers of any kind don't go in comments. That's basic SE policy. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ I hope I am not one of the notable offenders. Sometimes I question premises of a post in a comment not as a mean of frame challenging, but as a way to either ask for clarification or point a flaw in logic. I only comment when I think what I want to say is not answer-worthy anyway. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ L.Dutch's actions were correct. I did engage in an argument and the chain should have been removed or deleted. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 16:42
1
$\begingroup$

Focus: Moderator


Just to focus on the issue of what might seem to be a potentially irregular moderatorial action on Monty's part, I'll dwell on these points:

It also bears mentioning that Monty Wild posted an answer arguing that the system would be physically infeasible.

the main problem here is that, if it is a rule that frame challenges are allowed in answers but not in comments, this is very not clear to me. I've been a user for 2 years 9 months and this is the first I am hearing of this apparent rule.


First, Monty does have moderator privileges. We as a community elected him to the office and gave him that authority. I don't know the full extent of moderator powers, but I do know that they can close questions on their own, they can somehow protect questions, they can delete comments, and they can certainly punish any community miscreant that sufficiently breaks the rules with a variety of sanctions.


Second, Monty is a registered member of WB.SE. As such he has the right to participate in ordinary community activities. These include all the community moderation actions like voting to close a question or upvoting an answer or participating in Meta discussions. He also enjoys the privilege of asking questions and answering them, just like all the rest of us.


That said, he was well within rights to take care of moderation business and then participate in the question itself. There is no rule against headhunting here. If you write a good idea in comments, and someone else takes that and runs with it to write a viable answer, that's perfectly fine! And you are welcome to write your own frame challenge response! Just because Monty snookered you doesn't mean you now have to sit back and make it like you're somehow not allowed to write your own answer.


To me, as a dispassionate reviewer, this seems like a frivolous claim. As if you're taking Monty's action personally in some way. My suggestion is that, since you feel strongly that the question's frame needs challenging, go ahead and write your own answer! It might well be fantastic!

Focus: Frame Challenge Policy


As for the rule being clear to you, each SE community has its own culture. There are clearly written rules, there are traditions, there are fuzzy guidelines, there are arcane principles that only make an appearance once in a great while. In WB.SE, frame challenges are not commonly met with, simply because we prefer to deal with someone's world as described. WB.SE would be a terribly scorched earth sort of place if every single query were met with NO THIS IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE, UNREALISTIC, INFEASIBLE, ETC


I understand that you read this query as asking about a "realistic world", i.e. a world whose science and tech mirror the real world. I did not read it that way. I tend to approach all queries with the mindset that the OP has declared this to be true, therefore, all good answers will flow from that truth. So, I tend not to like frame challenges, but I do accept that the community is currently embracing them.


As for not being aware of this "apparent rule", here are a couple of links to recent Frame Challenge related discussion:

A Primer of Frame Challenges

A potential frame challenge answer deleted.

WB.SE is quite different from other SE communities. We're literally the exception that proves the rule of SE's foundational premise, that a database of high quality responses to fictional questions can indeed be created within the SE framework. If you hadn't heard about frame challenges before, consider this a learning moment and move on!

Focus: JBH


And lastly, simply simply because we can't leave well enough alone:

A lesser issue is that I mistakenly thought JBH was some type of mod based on how he was acting as an authoritative source for information on the rules. He's done that a lot, and he does it in comments, which actually is one of the prohibited categories of comment at the above link.


As I mentioned in comments, SE is a community moderated organisation. This means that ordinary users have considerable authority over content, over the direction of the community, and indeed over policy. JBH is no exception.


What JBH is: an extremely authoritative resource on WB.SE rules, community policies, and the like. He comments on these things frequently. He is one of the few who really keep this place from becoming physics.lite.se You can find his work throughout Meta. We often discuss the applicability of some rule or policy in a questions comments. Is that technically prohibited? Maybe! I'd rather see a discussion of rule application in real time in comments where it could be the difference between closing a valid question or people jumping to answer a question that is in the VTC queue, thus rendering it impossible to edit and improve. If you're a letter of the law type, feel free to flag such comments!


Does he make mistakes? Yes. Did he get personal with you? Could be. Was it handled? Yes. Time to move on please.

$\endgroup$
7
  • $\begingroup$ From the "primer of frame challenges" that you linked: "A frame challenge must be more useful than a comment or it must be posted as a comment." So, far from giving a policy against frame challenges in comments, that post explicitly indicated that frame challenges by default should be posted as comments! $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @causative --- Not exactly. It means if you're challenging the frame in comments, you make it a comment. Something like "This won't work. Have you thought of X?" Nothing more than that! If your comment runs something like "This won't work because of P, R & S (see relevant articles); but you could implement X, Y & Z by doing this, that and the other..." and now you've moved into answer territory. Also, the quote does not in any way indicate that a frame challenge should be placed in comments "by default." $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, if you are packing six different things into a comment, that should be an answer. That's not what was happening with this question. The primer quote indicates that a frame challenge that doesn't meet a certain standard of usefulness positively should be a comment and not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ @causative --- And it doesn't have to be six! It could be one. Keep in mind: I don't know what happened in the question. The comments were either moved into chat (as good as binned) or deleted. All that matters is the aftermath and the substance of the moderator's actions. See my answer to your other Meta question for a fuller discussion! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ No, if it is a single point, that belongs in a comment, not an answer. That's what JBH's "proposal on frame challenges" (that you linked) says. The entire subject of that post is about a frame challenge answer, that was not very in-depth (saying only 3 things or so), being moved more properly to a frame challenge comment. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 6:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @causative --- I think we're at the point of talking past each other. Just to sum up, comments can make a single or multiple points. A comment can challenge the frame. A frame challenge is a particular kind of answer. If you challenge the frame in a comment, it's a relatively useless move. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 16:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm guilty on all counts. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 16:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .