Removal of off-topic comments in "OSM’s 20th Birthday" thread



I agree 100X. This depressed me twice: once on behalf of people who get
directly attacked in forums while the mods do nothing,

Comment on lack of moderator action in other threads is off-topic in
this thread.


End emoji suppression! Give us the cake emoji! :birthday: :cake: #cakeemoji


Comparison of moderation actions to other moderation non-actions in the context of discussing a moderation action is explicitly on-topic. Just like a tagging discussion about how a feature is tagged can and should include comparisons to how other features are tagged.

I can’t believe I’m having to explain what “on-topic” means.

:cake: :popcorn: :birthday:


I agree with that. Even though I don’t like this repetitive mention of the :popcorn:emoji request at many topics around the forum, for sure it wasn’t off topic. A funny proposal imo, which I may have had to flag as spam :stuck_out_tongue: (I didn’t flag it at all, don’t worry), but not as off topic.


Only in the technical sense that everyone’s pet suggestion for OSM – let’s say “replace landuse=grass with landcover=grass” or “move the OSMF to the EU” or “fix iD breaking bus routes” – can be inserted into that thread by prefixing it with “On OSM’s 20th birthday, we should finally …”

From my point of view, a major part of the issue is that you bring up your request for the popcorn emoji again and again in various unrelated topics in a manner that feels very repetitive. No matter whether the thread is about microgrants, landcover, NorthCrab’s survey or anniversary preparations.


All topics where a :popcorn: reaction is entirely called for in my opinion.

You don’t have to share my opinion but as a moderator you should respect the diversity of opinion that exists. If people feel I’m out of line, there’s a (limited) range of reactions they can employ, particularly the :-1: option. In fact, the reactions on my now removed posts were overwhelmingly on the positive side (which we can’t see since they’ve been deleted). So it seems that you’ve chosen to override that community opinion, as expressed in emoji reaction, and substitute your own judgement that you don’t like it.

In the future, I’d prefer that you just hit the :-1: and express your personal opinion rather than abuse the moderator function for that purpose.


Please can we have more :popcorn: and fewer. lectures?

There are so many more instances of mean spirited or snarky or disingenuous comments that go unmoderated. Brian is making a lighthearted but really important point. How about we focus on improving moderation where it’s needed and leave the playful jokes alone? :pray:t2::heart::dizzy:

:popcorn::birthday: #emojiforeveryone


IMHO, as someone who tries to (but often can’t) stay up to date and participate in OSM discussions, lengthy forum threads are a hindrance to that. I for one appreciate the moderators’ efforts to keep threads in the forum with a high signal-to-noise ratio, for the benefit of those who are more time-constrained, or who come into the thread later and would otherwise need to read a lot of messages to catch up.

This type of maintenance is not even a common occurrence AFAICT, but I can see how it is considered especially important in topics as significant as the 20th anniversary, which should involve input from a large fraction of the community, and produce suggestions that gather broad consensus. What is otherwise just lighthearted fun can generate conversational tangents and get in the way of allowing a engaged and rich discussion.

So count me among those who welcome more (self-)moderation in contributions to potentially (or actually) busy threads — not in the spirit of stifling fun, but as a mindful act to keep the community discussions accessible to more people.


This is about the same as the tiresome discussion about the minimum character length.
(I have now saved myself the trouble of linking the topic.)
:wink: :popcorn:

If any community member sees a comment that should receive attention from the moderators, please flag it so that Discourse pings the moderators for that channel. The sheer volume of commentary is so high at this point that the moderators cannot read everything, and we rely on the community to flag items needing attention.


I feel that @dieterdreist is addressing a generic moderation attitude, wisely demanded with: “could we please be much more careful with these superpowers”. Moderators can make “missteps”, by extension “mistakes”**, nobody is perfect. The removal of your comments were excessive indeed. It’s too strict, kills the joy! Subjective opinion? Some might find such comments irrelevant, too idealist vs pragmatic. Gentle reminder: many admins and moderators have their profession directly tied with OSM.

As you can observe now, you’ve been a mild victim but there can be far more prejudicial moderations like what I’ve experienced. My situation which I demonstrated (2 moderators that mishandled a 3 years long conflict against someone deleting existing features and is being confirmed here) also needs to be addressed since it is a far more serious issue. In my little OSM bubble, we are also to each others “respected community members” until my reputation got shattered unjustifiably by the moderation in question thanks to superpowers and that other contributor making sock-puppet accounts.

Maybe we need an :roll_eyes: for people to respond to your :popcorn: pleas.


Why are the people who didn’t create the thread allowed to report something as “off-topic”, this should be entirely at the discretion of the thread creator and only then have moderator mediation if appropriate.

Of coure I will repeat other people’s priorly expressed statements that the enforcement of “topic” flies right in the face of actually abusive action approaching harassment being un- or undermoderated.


And I will reiterate what I wrote before:

1 Like

@apm-wa , the issue is that what some people experience as abusive or bullying can be re-interpreted as not that. When others object to tone or phrasing, the person doing it says they are just asking questions or making an observation, and keeps on going.

The gray area lies in when one person is getting “taken to task”, repeatedly about something.
Sometimes a tough question is answered very appropriately, but the person who asked doesn’t like the answer, so they keep asking it again and again in different ways, with opinions mixed in to the querying. To me, that is bullying.

What I wish is that if a person is asked to modulate their tone or desist questioning, the mods could comment and say that they agree. It doesn’t have to be removed, but it might help the person take a step back. It doesn’t work when other people in the thread ask for this, but it might work if a mod said it.

Speaking for myself, I generally am inclined that the community tolerate some level of stuff that feels uncomfortable if it is not directly hostile or inappropriate, because I’m not a person who wants us to overcorrect on the moderation. But, in the case of this thread, I think what happened was several of us have seen a couple of forums where one person was taking a lot of heat, possibly unfairly, and the mods didn’t step in. This, in turn made it really annoying when Brian’s completely harmless post about emoji was immediately removed, possibly because the moderator personally found it annoying. The juxtaposition of these two things, was tough to watch.

I know it’s a tough job to moderate, so I don’t want to pretend that it’s easy.


@coutiney: I agree with Allen on this point: mods can’t read every post themselves. Mods can only comment and intervene if they know that moderator action may be necessary. For mods to know this, a user who notices it has to send a flag to the mods.
Waiting and hoping that mods will stumble across it on their own and proactively intervene can be a futile wait.

If you have reported an inappropriate post and still no mod responds, then your criticism would be justified.

Addendum: in addition to flagging, please send a short message to the moderators explaining what you find disturbing about the reported post. Sometimes even mods have a different view and do not immediately understand the actual problem.


This is helpful - I didn’t know I could do this!


yes, but mods should also weigh in positive reactions, in the case of Brian’s post, there were a lot of approving reactions (“likes”), I think it was a 2 digit number, so even if 2 people (or a few more) objected to it being offtopic, it was not a must-moderate situation, rather one where the mods (presumably) were with the people who thought it was offtopic. You can also see it from the aftermath, some people commented that a little fun should be “allowed” (to paraphrase), others said they think it was offtopic and should have been removed. Personally I agree with Brian that it was on topic, because the question was what should be done for the anniversary and he replied to it.


The Etiquette Guidelines are slightly ambiguous on that score, placing repetition of a point or question under Tips for Effective Communication (" Avoid repeating yourself when making your point on a thread.") rather than outright including such behavior in the list of prohibited behaviors. That said, if you see what you think is bullying, then please by all means flag it for the moderators, which you can do in a private message nobody but you and the moderators will see.

By the same token, going off-topic is covered as well under Tips for Effective Communication (“Start a new thread if you want to introduce a new topic.”) When the moderators see a request from someone to split a thread, we tend to do it if it makes sense to do so. Also, if a member of the forums governance team asks us to delete one or more posts, we will tend to do that since the forums governance team bears overall responsibility for maintaining order on the forum.