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

Very bad style to silently remove content without at least giving a hint that something was removed, plus in this case, it was quite confusing because Courtiney’s (approving) reply now is in response to a removed contribution. Could we please be much more careful with these superpowers, and unless it is completely unproductive spam, require the forum/site mods to leave an explanation / hint that something was removed?

In this particular instance, I believe it was not justified to remove Brian’s comment, at least the second one.


I’ve moved this meta-discussion to a separate thread in the Feedback category because it is off-topic in the original thread. In general, if you want to discuss moderator actions, please do so in a separate topic. (Those using the web forum can use the “reply with linked topic” feature when composing a reply.)

thank you for replying, it was strange to see a reply but not seeing the original post to which it was addressed, IMHO next time rather than removing you should consider replacing it with a link to the moved content. Is it a shortcoming of the forum that clicking on the reply won’t link to the new place where it was moved to, or maybe there is a way to keep this functionality across threads?


Regarding your point on moderation: I was one of the users who flagged @ZeLonewolf’s running gag as off topic, so I obviously agree with the decision by @mods-general to step in.

Yes, the second post was tricky because it contained on-topic ideas as well. So a more elegant solution might have been for a moderator to edit that post and remove only the off-topic section. It’s not as easy to disentangle content that’s mixed in the same post, though – the moderation tools work best when dealing with entire posts at a time.

Such a link is actually created automatically when moving topics to a new thread with the moderation tools. You can see the effect with the link left behind when I moved your post.

In this case, the off-topic posts were removed entirely rather than moved elsewhere. I could see splitting them off into a new thread instead if it’s just harmless levity as in this case (it would certainly provide more transparency), but I guess that’s something for the moderators to discuss in terms of policy.

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Both of my comments were explicitly on-topic. They answered the question of “what could we do to celebrate OSM’s 20th birthday” directly. You may think my ideas are dumb, unfunny, or too repetitive, and that’s an entirely acceptable opinion to have. I was also making a broader point about how OSM is too caustic and abrasive in its communication forums, and this moderation action exactly demonstrates the problem.

I find it hard to believe that

harmless levity

is so problematic that it requires removal, yet posts that directly attack respected community members are allowed to stand.

I would rather you just admit the reality of this moderation action, which is you removed it because you didn’t like it. That’s an awfully slippery slope and I expect the moderation team to do better.


I wish I had the cake emoji to use as a “like” for this comment.

I agree 100X. This depressed me twice: once on behalf of people who get directly attacked in forums while the mods do nothing, and once on behalf of your posts, which were squarely on topic, and fun and in the spirit of the 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.