I just got told by "Community" and "Anonymous users" that "Your fascination with a porn star's penis is not relevant nor necessary for the answer".

I usually don't mind having my answers edited, and I certainly don't mind being asked to edit my answers, but self-righteous remarks like this one are way out of line. Who told these bluenoses that I am fascinated by Long Dong Silver's penis? That is slimy, slanderous, libelous, and uncalled for. Just because you (whatever cowardly anonymous user that made the change) have no sense of humor doesn't give you the right to cast aspersions on my character by making unsubstantiated moralistic judgments. All you had to say was "This doesn't seem appropriate for this site". But, no, you had to play God and tell me what you think of my sense of humor. Well, reverend, save your moral judgments for your private pulpit. If you want to do that, then identify yourself instead of hiding behind a burning bush.

And "Community" ought to be equally ashamed for being such an uncritical reader of English.

I'm perfectly happy to edit the remark out of the answer (I did it after rolling back your edit with the insulting comment), but no one here should have to put up with such self-righteousness. And the article I linked to was on Wikipedia, not Violet Blue's blog.

If you PC Language Police want to do this kind of thing, then at least be consistent about it and do it for everyone else's posts. This is what I complained about to Kit Fox last week when I said something like "in EL&U, we're a community of equals, but because of the hierarchical structure, some users are more equal than others".

Can we get rid of this zero-tolerance "Let's protect the little children who read this site" attitude? This is ELL and EL&U, not Captain Kangaroo.

  • 3
    I'm perfectly willing to cede them the moral high ground as long as they don't mess with my punctuation. May 7, 2013 at 13:01
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    @StoneyB: If they had a legitimate claim to it, I would be too. If someone asks to me to remove something that they consider offensive, I probably will, but for them to herald their bowdlerization of my prose as obnoxiously as was done in this case is unacceptable to me. I don't litter my posts with obscenities or profanities or other vulgarities, & LD Silver & SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas's fascination with LDS's protracted penis was on the news every day in the Anita Hill scandal, so I fail to see anything extraordinary about my analogy: [NEXT COMMENT]
    – user264
    May 7, 2013 at 13:20
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    "The only way (okay, it's only one way, but the sentence is too long for its content, kinda like Long Dong Silver's claim to fame) to lose the conjunction is to lose the first verb".
    – user264
    May 7, 2013 at 13:21
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    For clarification, then, would you have been fine with "this reference is not relevant. . . " etc? I have to agree with Carlo that I see less moral judgement here than simple childishness. This is the Internet, after all. There's no question that the use of the word "fascination" was uncalled-for, but it's not a moral judgement in the same way as "You're a Bad Person for including a scatological reference, GO WAI!" May 7, 2013 at 16:00
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    @Jonathan Garber: Yes, I would've been fine with that. As I said in my comment to StoneyB: "If someone asks to me to remove something that they consider offensive, I probably will, but for them to herald their bowdlerization of my prose as obnoxiously as was done in this case is unacceptable to me." Although I'm committed to freedom of speech, I understand quite well that that freedom's not as unlimited as many Americans in particular think it is & should be. I've no general desire to offend anyone (but sometimes I want to), so I'll moderate my expression if asked nicely, as most of us would.
    – user264
    May 7, 2013 at 16:22
  • @BillFranke I think it is better to not take it seriously. It doesn't deserve more attention. These kinds of people behave like trolls. Do not feed them and let they feel they are powerful. It seems more silly than judgmental. Ignore it! May 7, 2013 at 18:10
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    @PersianCat Actually these are not trolls. If it had been a troll, I doubt we would have had this much discussion, This is a guy who is actually serious about his comments, and thinks he pass highly rude and offensive judgement without knowing a bit about the person, his comments are aimed at
    – Max
    May 7, 2013 at 18:44
  • @Thor Maybe! But anyway it sounds silly to me! May 7, 2013 at 19:18
  • @BillFranke: Fair enough. Again, I want to be clear that while I do feel removing the reference was the correct thing to do (and kudos for voluntarily doing so,) I'm in full agreement with you that the obnoxious edit reason was out of line. That being said, is this the only example of anonymous offensive edits directed at you (or anyone else, for that matter)? Another instance or two would very definitely change it from a (possible/probable) childish troll to a deliberate attack. May 7, 2013 at 21:13
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    @Persian: In one way, I don't care at all. My self-image isn't predicated upon what the self-righteous think of me. OTOH, I don't go out of my way to offend those who love to take offense where none was intended: their pampered sense of outrage is amusing. I just draw the line at the lies & slanderous & libelous remarks of ideological dogmats. I'm not worried, just a little POed.
    – user264
    May 8, 2013 at 0:21
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    To everyone else: Thank you all for your time, your interest, and your comments.
    – user264
    May 8, 2013 at 1:05
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    Hmm, you complain that this person made unwarranted assumptions and judgements about you, but than you go on a tirade making all sorts of assumptions and judgements about him. You say he is "cowardly", "inconsistent", "self-righteous", making "moral judgements", has "zero tolerance", is motivated by a desire to "protect the children", etc. You get all this from one sentence? For all you know, he was motivated solely by a desire to reduce irrelevant content in answers that waste the reader's time. If he leaped to conclusions about subjects that "fascinate" you from one comment, you leaped ...
    – Jay
    Jan 12, 2016 at 19:03
  • ... to conclusions about his opinions on morality, etc, from one comment of his. My point being, please, let's all just calm down. People have edited some of my posts in ways I don't like, too.
    – Jay
    Jan 12, 2016 at 19:05
  • @Jay: perhaps revisiting your interpretation would be helpful. Claiming that someone has a "fascination with a porn star's penis" is, unless said as a joke which apparently it wasn't, suggests that the individual's motive was quite far from a simple "desire to reduce irrelevant content". It's a gratuitous personal judgement, and most people including those who feel entitled to make gratuitous personal judgements would be upset if they were the target of such a presumptuous libel .
    – MMacD
    Dec 31, 2016 at 11:35

3 Answers 3


Okay, to go through what happened here step by step:

1) I saw your original post, and clicked the link you included out of curiosity. I thought you'd written a good answer, but wasn't sure the reference was appropriate. I ambled over to the Teacher's Lounge to ask moderators with more experience if this was something I ought to edit out or not.

2) While I waited for a response, an anonymous edit was proposed to the answer. I didn't take note of the edit message, which I agree was out of line. I simply saw that the line & link in question had been removed, and approved the edit. (It seems that anonymous edits are marked as being done by "Community".) I returned to the TL and informed them the matter was resolved, as an edit had been proposed to remove it and I'd decided the reference was unnecessary at best and possibly offensive to some at worst (and therefore it did no harm to remove it, and possibly some good).

3) Had I made note of the edit comment, I would have changed it. I will pay better attention to this in the future. I agree that the comment was out of line.

So, having explained what happened, let's move to the other two points you make in your post. A) That all posts should be held to the same standards, and B) What can be done to prevent rude/unnecessary comments as this one.

A) I agree that all posts should be held to the same standards. This is the first time I've noticed content in a post that made me wonder "should that be edited out?" But if you have examples of other posts in the past that you believe contained similar content and were not edited, I'd be happy for you to either edit them or bring them to meta's attention for review. If there is questionably offensive content that does not contribute to the answer, I'd say go ahead and edit it (but perhaps that issue is also something we ought to discuss on meta. As I mentioned, I was looking to others to decide what to do in this situation until the edit was proposed, at which time I used my best judgement and accepted the edit).

B) As far as the comment being posted in the first place, I agree it was rude and I think the only thing that can be done to prevent it is more careful reading of edit comments. I didn't expect that to be a place where inappropriate comments would be found (I suppose I was of the impression that if an edit was made in good faith, there shouldn't be anything wrong with the edit comment). This was naive on my part and I apologize for letting this go through. I'll be more cautious in the future and I urge others to be as well; anonymous edits can't be displayed without a community member approving it, so if we watch them carefully this shouldn't happen again.

If you have any other questions or concerns about this matter, please let me know and I will do my best to address them. Thanks!

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    I'm not personally offended by either the original joke, or the editor remonstrating against it. But it's worth pointing out that the original joke might have offended many people; the comment would be unlikely to offend anyone other than the OP himself (who arguably should be prepared to be slapped down for the gratuitously risque aside). I sail a bit close to the wind myself sometimes, but I have no problem if someone like you modifies/deletes "dubious" peripheral content. You made a good call there, and I'm particularly heartened to see you consulted other mods before acting. +1 for that! May 7, 2013 at 22:44
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    Wendi, you have done the best demonstrating you are doing an excellent work here, taking seriously the day-by-day problems, +1. I love your way to be moderator, it produces respect and kindness.
    – user114
    May 7, 2013 at 23:48

Probably because I'm not able to understand the nuances of the English language, I don't see, strictly speaking, a "moral judgment" in the cited comment, rather I see that comment as offensive against your intelligence in the part where it is written "You fascination with". How can anybody say that you are fascinated by "porn star's penis" whitout having precise and private informations about you? They surely cannot, I think.

However I think the comment is perfectly fine in the part "porn star's penis is not relevant nor necessary for the answer"; in fact that part doesn't add anything to the answer, which remains perfectly comprehensible even if you remove that piece.

Lastly, but it only is a my personal preference, I don't love to read that kind of words on this site, even if I can understand the humor they express.

Sorry for my bad English, but I cannot make better.

  • 1
    I didn't use the word "penis"; the editor did. Instead, I said "claim to fame". Making an accusation of "fascination" with anything without personal knowledge or other convincing evidence of such is inherently a moral judgment when one removes the reference. If it weren't a moral judgment, there'd have been no need to remove the reference. I generally avoid using scatological & vulgar language except when it's a verbatim quote, & even then I'll usually replace some letters with symbols. [I did not downvote your answer & don't know who did.]
    – user264
    May 7, 2013 at 15:33
  • @ Carlo: That "fascination with a porn star's penis" in the comment was intended to belittle the OP (and it obviously worked, since he's sufficiently annoyed by it to raise the issue here on meta! :). But I don't understand exactly what you mean by your last paragraph. Are you saying that you don't like seeing the word "penis" (in an "edit comment" that was never visible in the final text), but that you don't mind the original "jokey aside" (which, whilst funny to many, is undeniably quite crude)? May 7, 2013 at 22:55
  • @FumbleFingers I think it was not a bad idea to raise it here and meta is for these kinds of problems but you can advice the OP to not take it serious specially when you guess it may not change anything. Fortunately, it seems one of mods cares and it can stop trolls to make such silly edits and behaviors again. And at finally I do not think a troll who has access to the moderating tools can be successful in belittling users who do not have the same power to react unless raising it in the meta. It only shows a serious problem in moderating system of SE nothing else. S/he belittles his/herself. May 7, 2013 at 23:28
  • @Fumble, I was referring to the word "penis" and, even more, to the words "long penis" or other similar vulgar words, which I avoid to use in everyday speech because I am unconfortable with. I don't see much difference as to whether they are used in comments or in final text; in fact, as this discussion demonstrates, if the are used people tend, maybe incidentally, to came across them, whatever be the reason. Frankly, I'm shocked of having seen that such "Anonymous" has used so offensive language, and accusations, ...
    – user114
    May 7, 2013 at 23:38
  • ... against one of the most respectable persons I have seen here and on EL&U. Bill is always so nice in posting professional, excellent and beautiful answers, and surely doesn't deserve these things.
    – user114
    May 7, 2013 at 23:39
  • @Persian Cat: As I understand it, anyone can propose edits - Wendikidd simply okayed that one without noticing and removing the associated comment/put-down. And let's not forget the OP here has the 4th highest rep of all ELL users, so this certainly isn't a case of TPTB steamrollering powerless ordinary users. Nor is the edit itself characteristic of "troll" behaviour. Bill himself acknowledges that he'd have been quite happy to remove the irrelevant smutty joke if he'd been asked - he's just objecting to the somewhat supercilious tone of the comment that only he would be likely to see. May 7, 2013 at 23:43
  • @ Carlo: I'm still not with you. Do you mean you think that Bill's original joke was acceptable within an ELL answer, even though to understand it you would have to think about "long penises"? I actually did think the original was funny (to me) - I just don't see how you can approve of the joke, but not be comfortable with having it "explained". May 7, 2013 at 23:47
  • @Fumble, yes, if the joke involves "long penises", that joke doesn't make me happy to think to these "long penises". Nevertheless, the joke, especially when written by a professional writer, can be nice, but the "long penises" never can be nice. This kind of language should avoided in any part of this site. Obviousily this is only a my preference.
    – user114
    May 8, 2013 at 0:06

Since edits that are attributed to the Community user are suggested edits done from anonymous users (users who are not even using a unregistered account), the only thing to do is rejecting the suggested edit, if it is not correct, or improve the edit and deselect the checkbox that marks the suggested edit as helpful.

We surely don't want a comment about the user who wrote the post appears in the post's revision history, especially if that comment is expressing a personal opinion somebody has.
The description for the suggested edit should merely describe what the edit is about. In the specific case, "removing a not necessary link" would have been more acceptable than what was actually used, if the link was really not necessary to answer the question.

If the same user keeps suggesting edits using similar descriptions, rejecting those suggested edits has the effect to block anonymous suggested edits coming from that IP for seven days, which is what happens to any other user who suggests too much reject edits. (The difference is that for users using an account—registered or unregistered—that account cannot suggest further edits, independently from the IP used when suggesting the edit.)

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