On moderation and edits

:warning: Warning: about to get something off my chest, this isn’t a technical post! :blush:

Ok, so first off all I totally agree that the community should strive to avoid some of the, shall we say, less sociable interactions that we’ve seen. And I’m glad to see longstanding community members including some who are specifically designated as such (@logankilpatrick) participating and to some extent intervening. I really appreciate their efforts in the Julia Discourse and I’m sure it’s overall such an unusually high-quality corner of the Internet in no small part because of this!

But at the risk of (ironically) fanning the flames I’m posting this nevertheless to offer a perspective, in all respect to everyone, including the OP, that I don’t think has been expressed, at least not in this thread:

I think that ‘changing history’ to sanitize threads is overall not the best way to go. Edits can be viewed to see what has been changed but IMHO that only makes it potentially confusing for someone encountering the thread only after such edits have been made (especially if there are then more subsequent edits that they don’t end up seeing).

AFAICT posts can be removed ‘permanently’ (after the 24 hours) by their authors which actually I think is even more problematic. Post whatever you want, no matter how inflammatory! As long as nobody of consequence notices within a short amount of time, you can ‘take it back’ without ever having to say you’re sorry. I don’t think this is how (small ‘d’) discourse in a community of grown-ups should work. We should all take responsibility for what we say.

Certainly there can be cases (though in this community I expect only very rarely) where messages really should be deleted forever–hate speech, obscenity and the like–but I think those cases should be handled by moderators and probably, if it’s that bad, the offender should be banned anyway. I’m not talking about such extreme cases (to be clear this thread is far, far away from being one).

To try to be constructive now: I don’t know if it’s possible with Discourse, but it seems to me that having the ability to only append to a post (ideally with a timestamp and a way to refer by link to such edits) and not change it, would allow one to make clarifications/corrections without resorting to sanitization. And I think the social pressure of knowing that it’s not possible to fully censor oneself after the fact might help people to think twice about what they post in the first place.

If only appending edits were possible then there could still be recourse from the author’s side in a case of remorse but I think that this should require a moderator to intervene; that way moderators would over time be able to gain some indication if someone is demonstrating a pattern and might need to be sanctioned in some way. In a case like that the moderator should have the ability to remove the original message but with a community norm that such is always done conspicuously in some way (“This message has been removed by a Community Manager at the request of the author”) so that others aren’t left scratching their heads and wondering if they are imagining things about what they’re sure they saw earlier on a thread.

Finally I’ll just mention that I don’t do a lot of forum participation online generally, and only selectively read threads here, so I may be retreading somewhat perennial internet-forum arguments over how to maintain civility without censorship (hmm, maybe this is on my mind in part because of current events…). Apologies if so, though I will say that if there are expected norms documented somewhere they aren’t easy to find (unlike, for example, the excellent PSA post). So another hopefully-constructive suggestion would be to make it super easy to link to something like the PSA but geared more towards community norms. Upon encountering a post/thread that starts to be problematic then a more gentle nudge, in the form of a link to such a ‘social PSA’ similar to the above mentioned PSA that’s geared more towards the mechanics of getting help here, could be issued, in exactly the same way that I’ve seen the ‘technical PSA’ be used many times here.

</soul dump>

P.S. I actually originally came to offer some additions to some of the technical thoughts to the thread–which have generally been quite interesting and productive IMO–but I’ll do that in another post. This one is long enough already!

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I’ve split this into a new thread as it’s no longer about Neptune.jl.

For community guidelines, they’re available here:



We moderators here tend to take a “light” approach and indeed favor thread organization tools (like this very thread split) over deletion. While I tend to agree about limiting edits and deletions, a very valid and warranted exception is self-edits in pursuit of a more civil and productive discourse.

Flagging and personal messages to moderators can be great ways to diffuse situations while keeping the original thread on track.


[wrong thread]

Cool. A suggestion then: pin a post pointing to these that appears very conspicuously.

Hi. Not sure I understand, but anyway, I think it is time to close this thread.

Yep, totally appreciate that and I think a charitable reading of the thread would see it as such… But still it sounds like there’s definitely some undercurrents of (small ‘d’!) discord there. But my post actually isn’t so much in reference to your Neptune announcement thread and the Pluto/Nepture story, but just elicited by it. In other words not personal or really specific to that thread, and thanks to the moderator for splitting the thread as that better reflects this.

Also just want to say, whether or not I end up using your package I very much appreciate the effort you’re putting into it, as I do generally everyone who creates open source software and content! :smiley:

I just mean that the Discourse PSA post is really conspicuous, often linked to and really easy to find so the suggestion is just to have another one that points to the links @mbauman refers to above that’s just as conspicuous and easy (or easier) to find.

Maybe there should even be a moderated, dedicated PSA category which would be like ‘required reading’.

Again, can’t stress enough @compleat my thoughts are not really related to your thread, it just reminded me that I have them. I probably should have just started a new thread.

Disagreements are fine and expected — especially if someone is intentionally creating an opinionated package/app/framework.

And it’s ok to acknowledge the difference or even create alternates. What’s not ok is to malign, harass, or attack the people behind it.


I agree, and claim to be a victim of that, and would like it to stop.

I disagree.

First, it seems to me a little on bad faith to expect such hit-and-run pattern, and assuming bad faith is against the rules of the forum (nor is beneficial to discourse in general).

Second, if this pattern happens, it will not be a problem. Either nobody is hit (what the heart do not see the heart do not feel), or the “deleted” post will stay for a window of 24 hours in which it can be reported anyway. Only in rare cases someone will be harmed and at same time, lose the window for reaction, even if it happened, you can contact the mods anyway.

Third, people have impulse problems. While they should work on them, I find unnecessarily strict to re-design the system just to better allow us to punish people for things they regret immediately and erase themselves.

Fourth, I would go even further and say that going in the direction you propose is against the right to be forgotten and, therefore, going against a to-be human right. I do not like the idea editing history, but people themselves individually should have the right to be forgotten.


I think we’ll agree to disagree on your other points (and it’s great that we can, civilly!). At least for now–I like to think of myself as open-minded and capable of changing my viewpoints. At any rate don’t get me wrong–the length of my post doesn’t correlate with how much of an issue I think this is here specifically. And I certainly won’t grumble if things go on just as they already are. Like I’ll say just about any time I introduce someone to Julia (already did once today already!), this forum/community is a model that others could benefit from witnessing!

But on the right to be forgotten I’m glad you bring this one up too as I’ll admit I’m aware of the concept, but haven’t really thought on it enough to know where I land. I mean, I think I agree about it being something that at least should be thought of in the same category as a human right, if not quite up there with some others.

But I think there’s a, potentially intractable, problem where you can’t simultaneously have open, accessible forums like this one and enforce (or even implement) the right to be forgotten. Certainly not as long as screenshotting (screenshooting?) exists… Maybe though that’s the point about it becoming a human right, so that hopefully we evolve to behave as such and it becomes sufficiently taboo to work actively against it? Still, call me pessimistic, but in a world where a substantial number of people evidently can’t be convinced that they should treat all human beings as equals regardless of race, gender, etc., I’m not very hopeful that right to be forgotten is something that will be widely adopted any time soon.

In the meantime I think what we (and by ‘we’ I mean humanity in general, not ‘we’ in the Julia community) need more of is just trying to take in other viewpoints with as much charity as possible; if we start to feel personally attacked then try to resist the urge to immediately react, and first try to take the other perspective. And, on the output side of things, spend a bit more time being thoughtful about how what we say and write might be received in different quarters. Clearly around the world right now (and it seems perhaps especially so here in the US) that’s a big problem. But to me it’s pretty clear that the Julia Discourse forum (and the larger Julia community) is a model of how people can come together and agree, or disagree, civilly and towards progress, not unproductive conflict. And I think the high quality of Julia and its package ecosystem are in no small part related to this.

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Hmm, just peeked at the community standards, specifically “be concise”… mea culpa! :slight_smile: