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Ethical issue with moderating

@mayer @pollytintop @jayeff @danj @amber @oscarsp @aactech @nick

I have a bit on an ethical issue here. Is it acceptable for a moderator to accept his/her own answer at any time? Regardless of if it is the only answer, or one of few/many? It is my opinion that by doing so, it shows extremely poor judgment and a lack of integrity. I can understand upvotes, downvotes and the acceptance of answers (if they meet the criteria for being appropriate) from others, but I do see particular events (not isolated) as a misuse of privileges granted to us as moderators. I cannot understand why any moderator would accept his/her own answer for any reason other than potentially gaining additional rep points (those are important to some), or being really egocentric.

If this is okay and accepted practice, should then not every user have the same privilege to accept their own answer, even if they are not the OP?  Again, this is my opinion and my own character. I may be totally out in La La Land but I want to hear what you all think about this.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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This is a really really good question, @oldturkey03. Let me think on how I'd like to answer this and I'll get back to you no later than this upcoming Monday.


@amber take your time and enjoy your weekend :-)


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Hi @oldturkey03 ,

I very rarely moderate someone else’s answer as the Chosen Solution, especially when I’m not familiar enough with the device to do so. The same with upvoting as I feel that it gives credence to an answer, where for all I know it may not be correct and it may cause more harm than good.

I stick mainly to dealing with the more obvious spam and off topic questions/answers/comments and redirecting comments as new questions etc.

I do upvote answers where I am familiar with the device and the answer is a lot more than just plausible and has supporting documentation etc.

My working life taught me that with electronic/electrical devices there can be more than one cause for the same devices having faults exhibiting the same symptoms. It would be nice if it was the same cause every time ;-)

Even if the OP verified that my answer was correct and solved the problem for them, but hasn’t accepted it (maybe doesn’t know how to or just didn’t for whatever reason?), accepting my own answer would seem arrogant.

I’ve had plenty of comments by other users to my answers that haven’t been accepted by the OP where it has helped them and that‘s enough for me, especially if they’ve read through any follow up comments I made to the answer in trying to solve the problem. To me it means that they’re prepared to do some work towards fixing their problem by reading the entire post and not just expect it to be handed to them on a plate or dismiss the initial answer as “tried that, didn’t work”.

Being judge, jury and executioner doesn’t sit to well with me so I tend to be a bit cautious in my approach.


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There is a point I'd rather moderate the question, even if I'm not fully qualified to. Especially if it's been abandoned for years, just to get it done. Like for example, the CMOS battery trick on the Dells. I know it works, because I got my now infamous high end E7440 that way (replaced a LVDS E6440 with a suspect motherboard), and a no POST 7490 (intended to be a nice daily, so didn't need to be the top spec version) with a better then listed CPU and the LG IPS FHD LCD for $150 (albeit no RAM/SSD). In this example, would it not seem fair to at least consider such a fix has potential knowing if I mentioned it, I scored two nice machines for almost nothing*, even if it's on an HP and not a Dell?

*Yes, this is a gamble - it can easily be a bad motherboard.

Even if you didn't buy it but you seen it on a site like Answers if the person who mentioned it has grabbed 2 really nice ones for peanuts is mentioning it as a fix (and the "wins" are well equipped units, like an i5-8350U**/LG IPS FHD LCD***/needed RAM and SSD, and a i7-4600U/768p TN mic only setup, but iDP so you can dump it for a Samsung LTN or LG IPS LCD and have FHD no cam, again needed RAM and an SSD) not hold some credibility, even if they got it needing help like needing RAM and an SSD****?

**The unit was listed with an 8250U.

***These displays are just downright... excellent.

****There are instances where I will volunteer the SSD to the owner - primarily HIPAA and PCI (or the country specific version in your case outside of the US). Yes, on the newer Dells I can Data Wipe in firmware but the issue is it's a "black box" erase method I cannot trust to survive in a HIPAA situation. In addition, it's stored in CMOS RAM so if I need a new battery guess what? There is a good chance I lost my audit trail! It works on IT managers, but not in a compliance situation like HIPAA and PCI.


@jayeff - To clarify the reason was the answer got pushed below others which didn't address the question only workarounds. As I stated I rarely do it and not when there are no other options than removing still valid information.

There's still a bit more involved than that here though!

"Chastising and/or embarrassing someone within the main site when you have a different option is not the way to deal with the matter. More so when other answers in the question or other questions for what ever reasons are biased as retribution because they are angry. Both actions show lack of professionalism."

I personally don't look at the points, I look at what serves the question first. And just like you I only know what I know and I don't try to play expert on subjects that I just don't have any experience. Thats answering, voting as well as accepting.

We have someone who is also leveraging their Moderation tools as retribution taking place here as well. Which I will leave for Amber to deal with.

Sadly, your answers and questions you answered where also dickered with as well as part of that.


@danj I've been keeping my head low on all of this and not actively seeking out posts to delete. Now if I see something we aught to dump or accept I will but I'm not going to look actively. Again, falls back on how I look at it - die on the hill you want, but whatever happens is on you. I do not want to die on a hill that's bad, even if it means I'm not going in 24/7 to look.


@jayeff thank you for your answer.


@nick - Gaming the system was not my intent, Others have been more involved on doing that.

I'm more angry on how it was handled as well as the followup actions. If the person really looked (and understood the question and answers) it would have been clear as day the reason. They could have undone the action and then made sure the correct answer was on top using their ability to score the answer, instead they did the reverse!

Just look at the top score counts of the top six - once you achieve such a huge margin what's the point? All I see here is someone who for what ever reason wants to put their thumb on someone as they fear the loss of points.

I've never looked at the points other than to make sure the best answer/s are on top (mine or anyone else's!)

I'm sure more than 2/3rd's of my answers don't have a score or accepted, I'm not overly worried. As long as the answer is of top quality and is correct that's all I can do. Its when other answers are pushed up that are off subject or skirt the core of the question then thats when I act.

I'm not perfect and I do make mistakes I own up to them.


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Most Helpful Answer

Looks like we had a busy weekend! We always love hearing from all of you, and seeing conversations on how to better our community unfold. I think we can all agree that we want what’s best for the community, and importantly, what gets more things fixed! So I’m hoping to lay out some guidelines for the “fixing more things” part, and hopefully we can help the community part feel a bit better, too—this is a huge undertaking and we can only do it when we work together. As always, please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything further than what I go into here.

“Is it acceptable for a moderator to accept his/her own answer at any time? Regardless of if it is the only answer, or one of few/many?”

We’ve played a bit fast and loose with Accepted Answers in the past, but I think a formal definition and policy is a good idea.

Accepted Answers do two things:

  1. They let the Original Poster decide and share which post helped them.
  2. They let subsequent readers know which post helped the OP.

For everything else, there’s upvotes. Upvotes tell readers which posts are the most useful to the overall community, and if answers change over time, so can the votes.

In this case, accepting your own posts—unless OP specifically comments “this worked” and fails to mark the post—is not the intended purpose of the Accepted Answer. Obviously, in a perfect world, every poster would come back, report their outcome, and thank the person who solved their problem, that’s unfortunately not something we can control. If there’s an outlying case that really needs attention, feel free to post the question to Meta and our Community team can decide if we force accept that answer.

But! We would like to do something about posts that never get marked as Solved. We’ll be working on making “Most Helpful Answer” posts trigger the “Accepted” status of solved posts. In that case, the community has collectively agreed that it is, indeed, the best solution for that specific issue.

There was a lot going on in this discussion, so please let me know if I’ve missed anything you specifically want addressed.

Thank you all for all you do!

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@amber thank you Ma'am for the guidance provided.


I love that we're getting answers to these kinds of questions! Thanks to everyone for being thoughtful and understanding, and thanks to Amber for being a great community advocate! It can be a pickle, but we've got a great community here, and you've been doing a great job!


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@amber - This issue is the validity of the answer and its age - If the question older and is clean, and the answer is supported with hard facts then I don’t see any issue in accepting it. I don’t do it very often I think I’ve done it maybe twice this year, and its only after someone had posted something new to the question or answer so it came across my list.

For the moderators the important issue is not the points it’s making sure the correct answer is the top most.

There was a point when I arrived on the scene there was a bit of racing the clock for points which I thought was odd as there really nothing gained once you hit a certain level.

The achievement is the quality of the answer what is offered for that persons benefit. Not sending them down a rabbit hole of misinformation.

Chastising and/or embarrassing someone within the main site when you have a different option is not the way to deal with the matter. More so when other answers in the question or other questions for what ever reasons are biased as retribution because they are angry. Both actions show lack of professionalism.

A direct email to the person or post in Meta asking the why to that person would have been the correct way.

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@danj interesting viewpoint which may actually be helpful to resolve my ethical issue. What I hear you say is that it is okay to do so for as long as we know it is an old and valid answer. Does this mean I now become the judge of the validity of my answer as well? Theoretical, does it matter if other answers may be valid as well by my hypothetical answer is more valid?  How can I make an unbiased decision to except my answer? I also hear you say that it is okay, if I only do it once or twice a year, just whenever I come across one of those answers that “I answered better” than anybody else. By this example, would it be okay for me to go back to let’s say 2010 and accept my answers to questions, that do not even have another answer? Obviously, if it is the only answer, it would be a valid and quality answer. Those  questions are now appearing more frequently due to the recent attempt to reorganize Answers.

I find this statement very interesting as well “The achievement is the quality of the answer what is offered for that persons benefit.” Does that mean that if I validate that my answer is better, I have also achieved a higher quality of answer? That in itself, requires a lot of unbiased judgment. It is then my judgment, and my opinion of the validity, that would make my answer superior to anybody else and justifies accepting it.

 “Chastising and/or embarrassing someone within the main site when you have a different option is not the way to deal with the matter” The perception of chastising and/or embarrassing can only be accomplished if there is reason to feel that way. Since certain actions can invoke an ethical issue,I like to call it as I see, where I see it. I am actually okay with doing that, for as long as it has the desired effect. On the flip side of that, comments that are perceived as chastising/embarrassing could simply be addressed and clarified in a quick dialog via comments or just deleted. I always felt that using emails is just way too personal. I consider emails to be a personal space and I do not like to be in people’s personal spaces.

So, if I may recap. It is your opinion, that it is okay for me to accept my own answers. Before I do so, I have to validate that my answer is the only correct answer, and I must decide that it is a quality answer. Do I have this correctly interpreted?

Thank you for your input.


@oldturkey03 - Re-read what I wrote you flew right over it!


@danj I don't think I did. Why don't you correct me on the points I was wrong? Remember this is my ethical issue, so this is all about me and my perception of integrity.


I think @danj suggest a private email was the most appropriate way of dealing with this dilemma.

I'd agree with that.

Or putting the answer to moderators to vote on...


@pollytintop thank you for clarifying that :-)


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What’s you opinion on a question I asked, got no response, then posted an answer to what I did

Since I don’t accept my own answers, who would accept this?

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@mayer just like any of the other answers that never got accepted. It either stays unaccepted or gets accepted by one of the moderators that come across it. Just like you said "Since I don’t accept my own answers" you would leave it. Just like I would and I have.


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I'll accept my own as needed. But only to clear it from unanswered.

That said I wouldn't accept my own on another question even if I was a moderator.

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@nick the latter is what I am referring to. Your answer to somebody else's question. Would you accept your answer?


@oldturkey03 I would be apprehensive at best. If it was to clear it I may look into it but I'd exhaust other options first and consider it a final option.

It's easy to say I'd do it for clearout purposes on my questions because I gain nothing but removing it from the list if I had to figure it out. For others it's suspect.

If it was absolutely unavoidable then I'd look into ways to clear the points so I made nothing, if reasonable. That may include contacting a moderator privately, explaining it and then leaving it up to them if they want to remove the +30, or I'd defer it off to someone else to remove myself outright. Let it win on merit at that point if it's feasible.


@nick thank you and that makes sense.


@oldturkey03 Like say, if it was 100% unavoidable(and appropriate) I would rather have the points removed by someone like @amber out of caution (I'd be asking privately), so someone can't come back and accuse me of rep scamming, or self promotion. If they were okay with it but only X times (anything else gets stripped), then I'd still be selective.

Am I not going to say I wouldn't want the points? NO. Yes, the points would be a nice bonus but is it worth the headache of dealing with being accused of bad intent? Again, NO. The points are a Catch 22, and I don't need to be defending myself. It should win on merit, or the points should be stripped so I can say "Hey, we did this out of necessity and I made NOTHING". If it was done as a cleanup measure, the points should reflect.

I look at it from a libertarian view, up to a point: If you want the points you can keep them, but there's a limit and if someone accuses you of rep farming then you did it to yourself. On the other hand me saying this is only as needed and I will let the points go protects me from that. Pick your own destiny on this within reason, but you have to live with the end result. Why would anyone want to win the fate of Aaron Cooke?


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oldturkey03 will be eternally grateful.
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