Should I tell my 10-year old son, how screwed-up Cinderella is?

  1. Issue #1: A chunk of the answer was edited out.

    • Problem: That edit shouldn't have been made.

      The editor put in a very nice comment stating "Please, please substantiate strong opinions with sources, or stop making them".

      Caveat: I actually agree with the spirit of the editor and disagree with the deleted content to an extent. That doesn't matter.

    • The proper action would be to comment and/or downvote, not to edit.

      To put it bluntly, had I seen that edit in the review queue, I'd have rejected it.

  2. Issue #2: the edit reason in comment seems - sorry to be blunt - incredibly hypocritical and inconsistent with handling of other answers

    • Problem 1: 2 other answers in the same Q are flat out awful. One merely got a polite "please expand it" comment from the moderator with no further action. One got no attention and tons of upvotes despite explicitly violating Meta-established site guidelines

    • Problem 2: the editor posted their own answer that contained "strong opinions" without sources - and unlike the linked answer, the editor's answer wholly hinges on those strong opinions.

      I have explained the meat of why that is on the editor's own answer in my comments. But the short version is that they say: "[A] Fairy tales have benefits to child development. [B] Discussing them with 10 year old ruins that benefit. [C] 10 year old is incapable of understanding the social complexity of that discussion". "A" is documented very well. B and C aren't documented at all, and without B and C, A is irrelevant to the question.

      NOTE: the poster disputed my assertion of lack of backup in an answer, and I'm backing off this specific claim of Problem #2 since I need better documentation to be sure which of us is correct.

  3. Issue #3: After 2 rollbacks, the post in question was locked.

    On one hand, locking as a result of edit war is not unheard of.

    On the other hand, locking by the person who started the edit war - and who, as (IMHO) made an invalid edit in the first place - is not a very good idea -at the very least, as far as optics (I won't go as far as note the problems beyond optics as I'm not privy to the circumstances of what exactly happened. But clearly, the poster felt extremely wronged by the moderation action).

UPDATE: Lest it appear that I'm picking specifically on the answer by the editor - at least 2 other answers in that post are awful (one based on totally unbacked up statements of "fact", one violating site guidelines of not criticizing the OP).

UPDATE2: For comparison, see how a far-far worse and less substantiated answer was handled on the same question: https://parenting.stackexchange.com/a/20132/604. A mere polite comment. That's it. That's how the answer in question should have been handled, too.

  • BTW, my main beef is with #1 - I could deal with #2 rationally via comments if it was contained to comments. I could deal with #3 by politely and privately suggesting to moderators involved that the optics doesn't look good (and in absence of #1, I'd have felt it would be 100% just optics). But the combination of the whole affair and especially #1 seems quite off.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 18:31
  • 2
    I'll note that as a community member, I rolled back the edit to the moderator's edit, since a meta question was pending, then I personally flagged the post for moderator attention to be locked, due to personal experience with edit wars. I believe that the moderator's decision should be kept until/unless there's a consensus that the action was unwarranted.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:08
  • 1
    @CreationEdge - yeah I saw that. However, (a) one rollback is NOT an edit war; (b) in an edit war, unless the content is egregiously bad, the OP's content should be locked, not the disputed edit
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:53
  • 1
    @user3143 As I hint at in my answer, it would have been. If the OP had rolled back again, so would I have, and there's your edit war. I tried to do the Tony Stark thing and end the war before it began, lol. As for B) I'd normally agree, if the edit hadn't been done with the weight of authority behind it. Maybe there's other relevant metas on the subject, but I'm going to take the mod's judgment over a new users.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:54
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    @CreationEdge - the edit did more harm than good to that answer.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:58
  • 1
    @user3143 Prove it.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:58
  • 2
    @CreationEdge - I don't need to prove anything. In case of a dispute, OP's version wins unless it's egregiously bad. In this case, you don't even have the weight of numbers - 2 people likes the original version, 2 people didn't. It's your job to prove that the answer contained egregiously bad content worth locking it for and stomping all over the user who posted it.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:04
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    I disagree. Look at Physic's meta for handling disputing moderator's actions: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/4113/… They agree that you post on meta. There's no mention of undoing the moderator's work. And this meta says that a lock was done to stop the OP from adding useless stuff to the answer, so the OP's content is not put on some pedestal of preservation.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:23
  • 2
    We're encouraged to let the OP have their way if they disagree with the edits, but it's not a rule. What this means to me though, is that if the edit is rejected by the OP then I'm free to downvote and flag the content for whatever other reason it's low-quality content qualifies for.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:24
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    @CreationEdge - Editing is not a "moderator's" action - you're making the same mistake that the OP was criticized for when he posted on meta. Editing was a user action by someone who just happened to be a moderator
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:25
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    @CreationEdge - you can downvote for any reason. Flagging non-low-quality answer for one issue isn't what moderator flags are for. As I can prove by a fairly large list of declined flags for FAR FAR worse content, most of which is simply utterly wrong.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:26
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – user11394
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:27
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    This post seems a very thinly veiled attack on the activities moderators and SE have taken regarding a particular issue. I'm locking this post now, as it is clear from your comments on CreationEdge's, Anongoodnurse's and Erica's answers that you have entered with an agenda that is not conducive to remediation of that issue, which is currently ongoing with the relevant individual.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 8:32

2 Answers 2


The edit was handled appropriately. I don't think it was handled spectacularly, but it wasn't inappropriate.

#1: Removing a chunk of an answer. I've done this fairly often, actually (before I was appointed moderator, too). If a section of an otherwise constructive answer is off-topic, snarky, argues with the premise, etc., then I'll take it out (edit reason being something like "this isn't relevant to the question", "please be nice", "don't argue with the premise", etc.). That is not the only method of improving an answer (commenting/downvoting are excellent first steps), but I typically use it more when I don't expect feedback to result in a significant change.

#2: This was treated differently than other Q&A edits. Qs/As will often be treated differently. A new user is (ideally) welcomed and directed to help/meta when their contribution doesn't meet a particular community standard. A long-term user shouldn't need the same guidance.

As an example, if user1234 who's participated for months posted an answer that argued with the premise, I'd say "don't argue with the premise!" Newbie user5678, I'd say "Your Answer makes some interesting points, but you're not answering the question that was asked. We have a rule about arguing with the premise (link to more reading)."

(The downside to this is that sometimes a post I intend to come back to for deletion/editing slips through the cracks and "only" gets a comment from me.)

Sometimes two post that are bad in similar ways will be treated differently. This may be due to different users (e.g. one new, one experienced), or may be that nobody noticed (or remembered to follow up on) a certain low-quality answer.

#3: Locking. I am not really going to comment on this beyond saying the moderators had a reason. Being locked to prevent an edit war by somebody who's in the war doesn't look great, I can understand that. However, the fact that she's the one who handled the flag is (believe it or not) coincidence.

I agree that the optics of this were not great. I knew it was a necessary but not particularly pleasant sequence of actions, but reading it from the "regular user" perspective emphasizes that. It's a good learning opportunity for me as a relatively new moderator, and also I think for our mod team as a group.

  • 1
    Does #3 mean "there was a non-content-related wider moderation issue, and locking was the only workable response to that wider issue, despite your (DVK's) rights to edit the answer being a collateral damage of the action"? Or was the intention of the lock to prevent anyone else from participating? The former I'd agree, was... unfortunate but perhaps impossible to avoid. The latter would be very troubling
    – user3143
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 17:29
  • Re: #2: for full transparency to those who can't see deleted content, I flagged one of the worst answers after posting this Meta, and it was subsequently deleted. Thanks! That definitely makes the apprearance of lopsided treatment much less appearing.
    – user3143
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 17:33
  • #3 means the former interpretation, not the latter. Honestly, the fact that nobody else (e.g. nobody who'd already edited it) would be able to get involved after locking was not even on my radar at the time.
    – Acire
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 17:36

As the editor, I'm glad you brought this up, because you're right, it has the appearance of impropriety, and the community deserves an explanation. I'll address other issues first. You may already be aware of much of this information.

Issue #1: A chunk of the answer was edited out.

The Stack Exchange model encourages succinct and accurate responses to questions, and encourages editing as long as it improves an answer, and doesn't alter the meaning of a post. Editing an answer to improve it, or providing a better answer yourself are acceptable, encouraged responses to a poor answer on SE sites. Help pages explicitly state

Editing is important for keeping questions and answers clear, relevant, and up-to-date. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

Obviously it's preferable for the users who answer to do the editing themselves, which necessitates that new users (many of whom are more accustomed to forums) learn what's expected at SE sites in general and each site in particular. Some users need no help at all, for others, community and moderator guidance - especially on beta sites - is essential to this process.

The deleted content was personal, contributed nothing to the answer, and actually detracted from it (my opinion.) One can simply downvote or one can edit, resulting in a better answer for the community and reducing the chances of the answer being downvoted, or deleted in the future. This seems like a win-win situation.**

Issue #2: the edit reason in comment seems - sorry to be blunt - incredibly hypocritical.

I don't mind blunt, and I don't mind being challenged. I hope you don't mind being challenged, either.

Following the SE model, my answer was actually entirely supported by my link (which is available only in snippets online): The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim, who actually was a famous child psychologist who devoted a lot of time using fairy tales in his treatment of children. He's a respected authority in this field, and his work has been cited by other psychologists and social workers many thousands of times. As I stated in comments, I used other sources as well.

I sincerely try to follow the SE model of supporting my answers. As a mod, I don't want users to see my answers as just opinion; I'm supposed to model behaviors I encourage in others. For that reason, if you can explain why you believe(d?) my answer was wholly my opinion, I would like to know it so I can avoid that in the future.

Issue #3: After 2 rollbacks, the post in question was locked.

Roll back wars are not desirable. For reasons I will not go into, the best decision was to shut it down. The post was only locked for a day, to give the mods time to make a decision.

The Appearance of Impropriety

That's a big one, and I messed up here. Basically, the question was asked on May 13th. I answered it on May 13th. The user posted the edited answer on May 20th. I answer often, and I simply forgot I was involved in this thread. This will serve as a good reminder to check new answers. However, I am being truthful in saying that this had no bearing on my moderating here. As a mod, I check for flags, but I also often check only new answers, especially on controversial threads, as part of my duties.

I apologize for any untoward effects this may have caused the site, and I promise to be more vigilant in the future.

**The question was about whether or not Cinderella should be explained to a child as a broken woman. Most of the edited material was superfluous to the answer, and included unsubstantiated (and irrelevant) claims such as "intellectual tolerance... is the foundation for a society with intellectual freedom", "So many children go into adulthood feeling that they were never really close to one of their parents (and too often it is the father)...(etc.)", "Age 10 is about the right age to be starting to get into these more complex moral issues..." (I would have liked to see a source on this particularly, as it could well be relevant to the discussion), a comment on other answerers, etc. The material edited out can be viewed by clicking on the last edit and scrolling down.

Edited to address OP's edit

Fortunately or unfortunately, all users are not treated equally. Brand new users are given latitude, time to learn the site, reminders, guidance. My comment to this new user was not "a mere polite comment". The comment:

Hi, and welcome to the site. This is a helpful answer; if you could flesh it out, it would be a good answer. The usual Stack Exchange model is to give verifiable answers (or based on experience); if not, the answer is little more than a comment, which can be left after you've earned a small amount of reputation. Please see the site tour and the help sections for more information. Thanks. – anongoodnurse♦ May 13 at 15:03

It was welcoming, friendly, and suggested ways the answer could be improved, informed the new user of site expectations, stated what might happen to such answers, and ended with links to informative information. In other words, it was a comment appropriate for a new user.

  • Just to be clear - the hypiocricy (which I meant not in a personal sense, but in a "everything should follow 100% same standard" sense - sorry if I chose the wrong term) is even bigger here than your own personal answer - I went over other answers and some are FAR worse than the asnwer being discussed. I flagged 2 already.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 23:05
  • As far as your own answer (item #2) - (1) I will review the details, but I'm still unsure (sans cites) that the work supports B and C assertions. (2) I might spin that into separate main site question to get to a definitive answer (and will edit this Meta post based on what I discover); (3) I added a note noting your disagreement to my question above.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 23:13
  • Please address my revamped #2 (Problem #1), alluded to in my first comment below your answer, since I added it after you posted.
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 23:14

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