Why is there censorship?
We've had trouble with sectarianism in the past. The relevant meta posts are No Tolerance for Intolerance and Why Sectarianism is Ruining Your Site, where we were unequivocally warned by StackExchange staff:
...if it is not possible to ask and answer questions on this topic in a polite, peaceful fashion, then it has no place on Stack Exchange.
Thus, we (as a community) either choose to put aside our quibbles, or we needn't bother at all. Consequently, the community nowadays strives to ensure that this does not return. Engaging in sectarianism is swiftly and firmly responded to, either through diamond moderator intervention, or by the community.
Preventing anti-Y posts from someone who belongs to denomination X is sometimes perceived as anti-X bias. This seems to be how we end up with conspiracy accusations from time to time.
(To my knowledge, thus far only one actual conspiracy has been uncovered: a voting ring described in Recent fluctuations in reptuations!)
Sometimes, we're a bit pedantic about being inclusive: Are there any groups of Muslims excluded from Islam.SE?
Comment deletion (/moved to chat)
This is a question and answer site: questions and answers are the primary focus. Instead, comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer, as described on the help page. They exist primarily to improve questions and answers: if they don't do that, they're often deleted.
The help page says what comments are for:
- Request clarification from the author;
- Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
- Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).
Comments don't have the same value as questions and answers.
Comments are second class citizens on the Stack Exchange network, not designed to hold information for all eternity. They may get cleaned up at any time.
Deleting comments is mostly just garbage collection. If you have something valuable to contribute and want to ensure it's not thrown away with the garbage, write questions and answers instead.
Conversations in comments are often deleted or moved to chat. Worse still are arguments in comments, which the StackExchange staff has warned us about. There are many alternatives to arguing in comments.
We were instructed by StackExchange staff:
Plagiarized answers will be deleted without warning ... It is never ok to pass off significant amounts of someone else's writing as your own, not even temporarily.
And that's what we do. We use block quotes (typeset
> hello world) when quoting directly to avoid plagiarism (see also markdown help).
In fact, we go further and delete answers which are mostly just copy/paste from elsewhere:
We don't want to become a repository of quotes from elsewhere.
This was also encouraged by StackExchange staff, who gave direct instructions to immediately delete the offending post.
While not plagiarism, we also delete link-only answers (which have questionable value).
Truth and apologetics
StackExchange staff have instructed us not to allow aggressive forms of apologetics:
If you insist on aggressively promoting your particular theology, we ask that you find some other site on the internet; there are plenty.
Jon Ericson ♦
Questions and answers sometimes attempt to push Truth which we've had significant problems with in the past. These posts are focused on manipulating the reader into a certain viewpoint. The community has largely decided they're unwelcome: we're here to learn about Islam, not to be bullied. Users and/or diamond moderators take action against such posts (typically deletion or editing).
Question and answer bans
Repeatedly writing poorly received posts may trigger a question ban and/or an answer ban. From the StackExchange blog:
We believe asking questions on our site is a privilege, not a right. If, after a few fair attempts, you haven’t been able to prove that your contributions to Stack Overflow make it at least … not-worse … then we reserve the right to refuse your questions. If we don’t do our part to cull the bad questions, then we risk alienating the true experts who provide what really matters: the answers!
Diamond moderators do not have control over these bans. The help pages (and meta.SE) are clear about what to do in these situations: improve your questions and your answers.
Posts which pass judgment (or request passing judgment) are unwelcome. Posts that are primarily criticisms of Islam/Muslims (in question or answer form) are unwelcome. Likewise, confrontational "defend your beliefs" questions tend to be unwelcome. These posts tend to be unproductive, and sometimes even harmful.
Other close reasons are described here: What are the established off-topic reasons? Sometimes additional factors may influence votes to close, such as:
... boring, trivial, mindless, uninteresting, etc. questions. ... I'm convinced that you really need to shut down any question that wastes your top-users time and energy.
Jon Ericson ♦
What do diamond moderators actually do?
This is described in the StackExchange blog post A Theory of Moderation:
The short answer is, as little as possible! ...
Even with active community self-regulation, moderators occasionally need to intervene. Moderators are human exception handlers, there to deal with those (hopefully rare) exceptional conditions that should not normally happen, but when they do, they can bring your entire community to a screaming halt — if you don’t have human exception handling in place.
See also A guide to self moderation -- help moderate Islam.SE
Basically moderators implement policies which are required by StackExchange, or agreed to by the community on meta.
What restrictions are there on diamond moderators?
Diamond moderators are bound by the moderator agreement, and their behavior is supervised by StackExchage staff such as Jon Ericson ♦. For example, the post Illicit behavior and abuse and censorship makes the claim that "moderators are limiting and censoring my question", and Jon Ericson ♦ examined the case and concluded: "On the whole, I don't see any abuse or censorship here. This is just how the community functions".
If you have a complaint about a diamond moderator, it can be posted to meta. It's best to not start from the outset declaring a diamond moderator wrong: they have their reasons for doing what they do (which might not initially be obvious).