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To be clear, I already know the answer to this question as it would pertain to the higher-trafficked Stack Exchange sites: it's an emphatic no. Answers are expected to be written in an accurate manner, using clear, precise language, and free of editorial and expression of political bias. But I am wondering whether the standards are lower for Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair. Or is this simply a matter of a site moderator abusing his privilege?

This answer was posted in which it includes a discussion of temperature of engine coolant. The author of the post, rather than using correct terminology, has chosen to include the term "Freedomheit". To those familiar with the reference, it's an obvious jab at foreign countries, carrying the same jingoistic attitude conveyed by such other terms as "Freedom Fries". To those unfamiliar with the reference, it's just plain confusing. Either way it detracts in a very real way from the quality of this site.

I first attempted to provide a useful edit to the answer, both to remove this improper language, and to improve clarity in a few other places. But the author of the answer rejected the edit.

As far as the clarity issues go, that's well within their prerogative. If they want their presentation to remain poor, they have that right. But the jingoism is not generally something that's tolerated on Stack Exchange sites, so I flagged the post to ask that that be corrected. Not only was the flag declined, the message left for me was highly unprofessional as well, leading me to believe that the moderator who declined the flag is the author of the post (which itself would be acting under a conflict of interest, not generally tolerated on Stack Exchange sites):

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My questions:

  • Would the moderator who declined that flag (and the others regarding the no longer needed comments) care to identify themselves, to confirm or refute the question of a conflict of interest?
  • Would the other moderators for this site, other than the author of the post, please weigh in on how they feel about inaccurate, confusing, and frankly offensive language being left in posts to the site?


For reference, on the question of conflicts of interest, there are several relevant discussions on meta.stackexchange.com, including these:
Who deals with a flag when you flag a moderator?
Can moderators handle flags cast on their own content?
Should moderators be allowed to decline flags on their own comments?

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  • Since jingoism means "extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy" I think it's a little extreme to characterize this as "jingoistic" language. – zaen Jun 25 at 10:25
  • @zaen: since one can draw a direct line between the "Freedom X" linguistic formation (as in "Freedom Fries") and white supremacism and nationalism, I think that "jingoistic" is exactly the right term. – Peter Duniho Jun 25 at 15:22
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Having looked at the original version of the post, I do see that it's not clear that the OP meant it was joke (and personally I don't find that it adds to the point being made), but I don't really see that it's offensive. I personally find it more offensive when people don't put any units at all, as that leads to confusion.

But then, I'm European, and an engineer, so I'd rather we used SI units throughout!

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Given that the change that you asked for has been made, do you feel that this is still an open question for this specific circumstance?

In the case of content that any user finds troubling, we have a variety of straightforward open discussion methods. If you'd like to get an open conversation about any issue with the site, the meta site (where we are right now) is obviously one choice. The chat is also a place where many of us (including the mods) try to make ourselves available: https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/340/the-pitstop

Honestly, I find that the chat works better because everything is out in the open, on the record and more conversational. It's a good place to say "hey, this might seem like a funny joke but it's definitely not adding to the point and it comes across as politically loaded which, in these trying times, nobody really needs."

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  • "do you feel that this is still an open question" -- that depends on why the change was made. My edit was rejected, and my flag was declined (which carries a negative/harmful connotation to the author of the flag). As far as I know, the change was made only after I pursued the issue further, but the edit leaves open the question as to a) whether it was appropriate for the mod to decline the flag in the first place, especially if that mod was the author of the post, and b) whether language like that is generally considered appropriate for this site. – Peter Duniho Apr 29 at 20:44
  • I appreciate the chat room as an option for raising these sorts of issues. I find the meta subsite often doesn't feel exactly like the right place. Unfortunately, the meta subsite is the one uniform place across all Stack Exchange sites, making it easily discoverable. I had no idea "the-pitstop" chat room existed, never mind was an appropriate forum for these kinds of issues. – Peter Duniho Apr 29 at 20:46
  • Frankly, I was surprised at the interaction. My experience on Stack Exchange has generally been that moderators strive very hard to act professionally at all times. They set a great example that I myself find it hard to live up to at times. But the author of the post in question, a moderator themselves, was IMHO anything but professional in this particular case. I'm trying to understand if this is a cultural difference between the SE sites I'm used to vs. this one, which I'm relatively new to. – Peter Duniho Apr 29 at 20:51
  • @PeterDuniho you are correct that the chat is not particularly discoverable. Do you have some suggestions on how we could make it more so? I have found it to be valid for exactly this sort of circumstance when someone suggests to me that something that I've said might have sounded funny in my head but is going up their nose sideways because of reasons that I didn't think of or something didn't translate well. Then I can say "good point, sorry didn't think of that, changing now to emphasize the technical point that I was trying to make" and remove anything that distracts from the content. – Bob Cross Apr 30 at 13:49
  • "Do you have some suggestions on how we could make it more so?" -- a couple of things you could do: add links on the Help center pages, and include a banner or other notification on the post-question UI for the meta sub-site. Note that most pages on Help refer to meta, and the one page that refers to chat, takes you to the chat.stackexchange.com page, where there's no useful way to discover that "the-pitstop" is the appropriate chat room (frankly, even once you find that room, there's no indication it's a place to engage moderators). – Peter Duniho Apr 30 at 15:29
  • @PeterDuniho if you look on this page in the upper right, you'll see an explicit reference to the chat where the entire community is available. It's a great place to help refine questions, answers and generally stay in touch with each other. – Bob Cross Apr 30 at 16:04
  • Yup, there's a link there. But it's not nearly as prominent as the bold-faced meta link, and frankly "For the motormouth in you!" doesn't really do anything to indicate that's a suitable place to engage moderators on site-admin topics. It strongly suggests instead that the chat room is for broad conversational discussion, and indeed if one looks in the chat room, that's what one sees. Posting there to ask about this topic (for example) would be like crashing a barber shop conversation to try to report an illegally parked car. – Peter Duniho Apr 30 at 17:20

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