Deletion of posts and topics

Recently, I saw a new topic that suddenly disappeared, and apparently, that happened against the will of its author. I personally consider silencing someone else to be a quite aggressive act, and I wonder if such measurements are really appropriate (unless it's obvious spam).
Because posts got deleted, I don't know the full story, but I realized that such things might happen on a regular basis without even being noticed. That thought is concerning, especially as I don't remember a single incident from the time when Evolution still was a mailing list.
Is there a way for regular users to see hidden topics, or at least some stats?

Also, I think it would be more in line with the goals of the project to communicate more openly about any sort of moderation:

As contributors and maintainers of this project, and in the interest of fostering an open and welcoming community, we pledge to respect all people who contribute through reporting issues, posting feature requests, updating documentation, submitting pull requests or patches, and other activities.

Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behavior may be reported by contacting a member of the Swift Core Team. All complaints will be reviewed and investigated and will result in a response that is deemed necessary and appropriate to the circumstances.

Apparently, if someone feels treated in an unacceptable way by the Core Team, the judge is identical with the defendant, so requests for justice become somewhat pointless. Ideally, such situations never happen, but if it does, at least it should be possible for the accuser to have their case discussed openly in front of the whole community: Even if it doesn't change the outcome, it wouldn't leave anyone in the role of a victim that's totally helpless.

To be honest, I hesitated to write about this incident (and I didn't include any direct references) — but self censorship is a terrible thing, and I'm pretty convinced I'm not breaking any rules here (at least not in a way that is significant; things are getting tough with so many words that rather belong into a courtroom ;-).

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Assuming I'm thinking of the correct post, it hasn't been deleted, but rather delisted, such that it can only be accessed via a direct link.

Note: I flagged your post for moderation to request that the moderators give an authoritative response to what I think is a good-faith question.

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I think it's completely reasonable to ask for an authoritative answer to what's going on here. That response will have to come from the core team, and to be an authoritative response, we'll have to make sure that everyone's on board with it. So I want to let you know that it's coming, but it'll take a bit.

For now, I'll just say that these have always been actively moderated forums, and that has always included rejecting, hiding, editing, and deleting posts that we feel are off-topic, undermine the quality of discussion, or are dismissive or hostile to members of the community. When a post crosses a line in some small way but otherwise provides a lot of value, we try to have a light touch; when a post doesn't seem to contribute much, we're a lot more heavy-handed. You can "appeal" a decision by bringing it to the attention of other moderators and asking them to change their minds, but that's it. And to be clear, these remedies are always localized to a few posts; we only escalate to suspending or banning posters for bad-faith behavior or clear code of conduct violations.

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Take your time — actually, an authoritative answer wasn't my goal, but I'll be thankful for whatever I get ;-).
My personal preference is an open discussion right here in the forum, but I acknowledge that talking directly can be less tedious (especially when it's about non-technical topics).
Still, I'd appreciate further contributions, from members of the team and the rest of the community. The way people deal with problems tells a lot about a group, and I hope we'll end up with conclusions which everyone can agree to.

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I'm still not pushing for an answer ;-), but it looks like Announcing Diversity in Swift! suddenly made the issue more contemporary than before — and some controversies which are quite off-topic for that announcement could still fit in here… (I would still recommend to get some hours rest to calm down before writing, though ;-)

2 of my comments got flagged. They're civil, on-topic, level-headed disagreement of the subject. @system messaged me about them, apparently:

Your post was flagged as inappropriate : the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.

Which guideline? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Gotta ask the flagger ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

In all seriousness, the flag system in this forum is a little too trigger-happy to discuss sensitive topics. Even when the flag was removed (i.e. turns back to normal comment) by the moderators, someone else could easily re-flag them as they deem it "inappropriate".

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Who is anonymous :confused:

I generally love the anonymity of the internet. It's the ultimate equalizer. I happened to put myself out there with my real name/photo, but I don't expect others to do the same.

The feeling of "no recourse" this causes however, is most unwelcoming, ironic as that is.

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if someone flagged your comment as inappropriate, there was probably a reason they felt that was the case. it may or may not seem reasonable to you, but the flagger probably didn’t do it just to cause trouble. i don’t think anyone is going around flagging on-topic, technical posts about the swift language.

the swift forums are not a public square. the purpose of the forums is to host productive discussions about the swift language. as far as i’ve observed, the only posts that have gotten flagged on here were abstract complaints about “political correctness” that had nothing to do with swift and did not belong on the swift forums in the first place.

to repurpose a common refrain from that announcing diversity thread, i have yet to see any examples of anyone abusing the flag action to suppress constructive, on-topic discussions.

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Maybe the lack of recourse is an issue. But I think the deeper issue is being flagged offers no explanation of why. Left to yourself it's easy to imagine the worse, most ridiculous, and unfair reasons. The true reason — which might require a longer than reasonable explanation — then eludes you.

I don't think anyone flagged things maliciously in that discussion. As far as I can tell everyone got a bit defensive as it unrolled, which does play into how people interpret things and makes it more likely we misread each other. But a significant part of if was borderline too, IMO.

I'd venture to say the reverse: it's almost impossible to participate in something public while staying anonymous on the internet anymore. Being anonymous is more complicated than not having a name and photo when the threat model is someone who knows you from elsewhere sparing some time to follow the clues.

You can avoid linking to anything related to you (projects, jobs, posts on other sites, etc.), but this can make productive conversation difficult. You can either keep it a secret from your friends or trust them not to mention your activity on social media or elsewhere. You must use a different username everywhere otherwise you're easy to search. This requires constant complicated gymnastics which will have an impact on your relation with others and your mental well-being.

And I'll add: if most people reveal their name and photo, you kind of stand out if you don't.


I might be off topic ranting about lack of public anonymity in a thread about deletion of posts. If it gets flagged that could be deserved. I just though it was worth saying.

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For what's it's worth, I was flagged once here.

I was explained, in private messages, what was deemed undesirable, with a clear rationale. I had an opportunity to change my wording if I wanted. Fact is, I had not enough time to change my post and make it better express my thoughts, so the message remained flagged eventually. So be it.

I want to congratulate the moderators for the way they handled this (tiny) event in my life on Swift evolution. They clearly wanted to help, and certainly not to mute.

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Amen.

We can’t just have off-topic threads like that, where the understanding is that any possible response is potentially off-topic (of course it is, by definition), and target for flagging.

i don’t think anyone is going around flagging on-topic, technical posts about the swift language

Be that as it may (I don’t know if this is the case or not, but let’s assume), it’s kind of irreverent. “The problem isn’t everywhere” isn’t a valid justification for “the problem exists somewhere.” If there’s to be a borderline-off-topic thread (and there was), which naturally attracts non technical discussions, then I don’t think it’s valid to say “flagging was appropriate because you’re comment was off topic”, because yeah, obviously, it is.

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if you are talking about the announcing diversity thread, the original thread was on-topic because it was about expanding and improving the swift community. for the same reason, complaining about "political correctness" is not. there is an important difference there.

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I don't think lumping all flagged posts into the same kind is particularly useful when others are actively claiming otherwise.

People have all kinds of reasons for flagging, usually with good intentions. Still, it's not always easy to distinguish toxic behaviours from simply tactless ones, especially in the heat of an argument on sensitive topics. That's how most conversations escalate anyway. There is indeed a distinction between "Heh, what a bunch of ***" and "Hey, I'm trying to understand/help here", but that's usually lost during the knee-jerk reaction, and I don't think we give credits to the latter group enough.

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I disagree. I think it’s improper to hide behind the definition of “on topic” as a way to shape what kinds of feedback a post gets. If you do that, what you’ll end up with is a thread of self-congratulating Jerries, and what looks like unanimous support. I don’t think that’s useful for anyone.

N.b., I didn’t say anything about “political correctness”

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The power of the internet is a free flow of information in any direction.

Looking at flagged posts I can clearly see that they are written reasonably and I consider them to be silenced by the moderators because they don’t want to confront the facts stated in the posts.

If any forum starts enforcing their agenda onto users, it is no longer a forum and not a place for a discussion.

Moderators must make an official statement regarding the situation and stop silencing the different opinions.

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I would rather not have any further response from the moderators as I think there is no reason to prolong this discussion. I have seen and read some discussions where I was generaly unhappy with arrogance, presumption of bad will and so on all sides.

The Swift Forum is affected not only by personal attitudes of people involved, but also by outside forces. It is futile to have non-Swift related discussions here. I might be unhappy with some things said and done but I do not expect that I will feel comfortable with personal beliefs of participants, therefore I disconnect. If someone asks a question I do not checkt their background, for example, whether my nation was occupied by theirs and what is their opinion about it. I simply reply and hope for the best. It is the job of the moderators to moderate and if the atmosphere becomes too toxic or preachy, I will simply leave with some remorse, because I genuinely value (and am inspired by) the work done by the Core Team and others.

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I don't think there are such examples — at least when "on-topic" only means strictly technical posts.
Still: How would I even know what has been hidden or deleted?

There are some thoughts left I might write down later, but I'm still interested in other perspectives and wonder why there is so little activity in this topic. Obviously, it may be that most people don't care... however, we have already seen how easy you can be pigeonholed for expressing an opinion, so fear could be a reason as well.

So if anyone doesn't post just to avoid exposition, please consider writing a private message to someone you trust — after all, we now even have a whole work group committed to ensure that you feel supported and valued :woman_superhero:

I think people do care, deeply. I was rather contemplating the holiday season, as well as the maturity of the audience. Threads are more or less inspiring, and this also often explains their relative "success".

Still: How would I even know what has been hidden or deleted?

I'm not sure you'll get much help scratching that itch. Write a Swift bot that scrapes the forum, and compute statistics, maybe? Maybe you'll find something interesting. In the doing, enjoy the conversations here, as you have been doing for a long time now.

As somebody who has had somewhat heavy moderation on some of the threads I've posted, I feel that moderation is done for the safety of everyone involved in the discussion. On top of that, you're better off not knowing what has been deleted - I wish I hadn't seen some of the comments that have been deleted on some of my threads.

If one of your comments is flagged or removed, it's important to fight the urge to get defensive. We're all here because we love Swift, and we share the same goal of understanding and improving the language! I know that we all want to get along here, and the best way to do that is to listen to feedback about why your comment was flagged to try to understand where the other person is coming from. If something you said offended another person, the shortest path to get back on track of discussing cool and interesting technology is to simply try to correct whatever you said that offended them, even if it's the case that your words were misinterpreted (which is common when the people involved in the discussion are all from different cultures/backgrounds/etc). If I say something that offends somebody else, I want to know how I can take steps in the future to make sure everybody feels included and safe participating in the discussion.

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