Yesterday a user submitted a question regarding his draft of a contract. I was able to post an answer before the post could accumulate five VTC. There was only one VTC and the post was closed by a moderator. This is not the first time this happens and I think this question falls under feetwet's presumption of mods being scrupulously open and objective to scrutiny.

Not only was the post closed, but my answer was also deleted. For those who cannot read the contents, the answer at issue is:

This post is hidden. It was deleted 12 hours ago by Dale M.

I added this section to our contract, do you think it is okay?

The section altogether is too repetitive. Although not necessarily wrong, being so repetitive is pointless and renders the whole contract harder or tiresome to assess.

The semantics of the first paragraph is odd. The expression "even though" is misapplied. The purpose of that expression is to avert a conclusion or understanding that typically would follow from the premise that "even though" encompasses. Since the premise "the contractor [...] does not [materially] contribute to the creation of the work" already is consistent with the notion that he would not be entitled to IP rights, there is no need for a rectifying element such as "even though".

If anything, keeping "even though" in that paragraph might enable the counterparty to devise some convoluted argument that defeats your intent. Instead, consider stating that the contractor agrees that neither he is materially contributing to the creation of the work nor would he in any event be entitled to the IP rights.

Which court should be responsible and have jurisdiction over any possible case?

Since the parties are located in different jurisdictions, you might want to specify in the contract which country's/state's laws are to be applied in the event of a dispute as well as the forum & venue where the disputes (if any) would be litigated.

Why was this answer deleted? Where in that answer is the insult, the obscenity, the mockery, or even the lack of substance? The answer clearly addresses the OP's inquiry and contains no elements that would justify deletion. The answer ought to be reinstated.

One can attest from Economy SE, Philosophy SE, Hermeneutics SE, Money SE, Music SE, and many other SE sites, that when a post is closed as "off-topic" the answers that were posted are not deleted. That was the case also on Law SE and this changed.

These answers from posts closed as off-topic or otherwise were not deleted. Please respect the fact that many of us spend thoughtful effort in our contributions.

(The following renders my prior remark of "worse than vandalism" a moot issue and will be of interest to users: I figured out that by typing deleted:yes in the Search field, a user can get the list of that user's contributions which have been deleted, and accordingly ascertain when these were deleted and by whom.)

Arbitrariness and moderation are incompatible.

  • 6
    Separately from whether your answer should or should not have been deleted, I don't think a clearly off-topic question being closed quickly is "premature." That question ("I added this section to our contract, do you think it is okay?") could hardly be more clearly a request for legal advice.
    – Ryan M
    Jun 10 at 1:39
  • 3
    I have noticed this also and it is very blatant and affects the character of the site overall. Also, deleting questions as asking for advice seems extremely inconsistent. In particular, a borderline case with a reasonable answer should not be expunged. Jun 10 at 1:39
  • 1
    @RyanM - I didn't like that particular question very much but off topic questions can be fixed but not if they are deleted so quickly. Jun 10 at 1:41
  • 4
    @GeorgeWhite I'm certainly not suggesting that the question be deleted quickly (this one has not been deleted), just closed. Closing a question allows the author to fix issues if they desire to, and they're automatically submitted for reopen review after editing.
    – Ryan M
    Jun 10 at 1:42
  • Thanks - I stand corrected. Jun 10 at 2:09
  • 3
    @RyanM "I don't think a clearly off-topic question being closed quickly is "premature."" It is premature because it is short of the five VTC. Mod privileges are for addressing issues that are urgent or beyond reach of the self-regulation mechanisms which SE professes (such as five users for closing a post as off-topic). Neither is the case here. The post could be closed by means of the self-regulation mechanism. Every time this mod steps over it, he is giving the message that his voice is worth that of four or more users. That in itself is a signal of "moderation" deficiency. Jun 10 at 11:31
  • 4
    Why is it important that an off-topic question be closed by five votes? We as users collectively elected our moderators to grant them the power to, among other things, unilaterally close and reopen questions. In that sense, their voice is worth more, because they were put into that position by an election where many users chose them. If they are doing so incorrectly, that should absolutely be stopped and is absolutely worth raising on Meta. But I don't see any problem with doing so quickly, as long as they are also doing so correctly.
    – Ryan M
    Jun 10 at 16:14
  • 2
    @RyanM "Why is it important that an off-topic question be closed by five votes?" The exact number is less important than the mod's act of overstepping the principle of self-regulation which, again, SE professes. Also it is less important than the central issue of this post: The deletion of a thoughtful answer under mod's baseless pretext that it is "potentially harmful". Jun 10 at 17:34
  • 4
    @IñakiViggers unfortunately the number of votes required to close is important – there is an ongoing experiment to reduce the number of votes on some sites with less review activity. Here it often takes a while for 5 close votes to accumulate. In more obvious cases moderators (who are part of the "self-regulation" of the site) should step in: one benefit of effecting a faster close for some reasons is that it avoids exactly the sort of problem raised here (someone spending the time to answer a question that should be closed).
    – feetwet Mod
    Jun 10 at 19:47
  • 2
    @feetwet "it avoids exactly the sort of problem raised here (someone spending the time to answer a question that should be closed)". Point taken, in part because I acknowledge instances where other moderator intervenes to reopen posts of which closing was unwarranted. But deletion of the existing answer(s) is just wrong. The answer addresses construction (semantics) of a clause and points out that a contract may specify which laws & forum will apply in the event of disputes. Thus, the pretexts that on Law SE that is "extremely off-topic" and "potentially harmful" are mistaken. Jun 10 at 20:44
  • 5
    I've edited this meta post to remove a lot of what was personally targeting a particular moderator. Moderators should be accountable and explain their decisions, but they do not need to be singled out like this. A lot of the removed language is unfriendly and not needed. I'd also like to clarify that meta is not for discussing people, but rather site norms - so if there is a question about what should be closed or deleted, then discuss it in terms of site policy. However, if the issue is with a moderator, please us the contact us form instead.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Jun 15 at 20:07
  • 2
    @CesarM The problem with your edit is that it hides the key issue & its underlying pattern, and the edit contradicts the aforementioned open scrutiny. Example:Now only the keenest readers will notice --on their own-- the mod's double standard when it comes to his own answers to closed questions. Most of your edit I am leaving unchanged, but I am removing the question you added at the end because it excessively alters the sense of my post. I know the deletion was inappropriate, and therefore I am not asking why or whether it should have been deleted. My request is quite different from that. Jun 16 at 13:47

I have been critical of some uses of the "specific legal advice" closure reason, as can be seen in this meta question and its responses. But if there was ever a question clearly falling under this rule, the question referred to in this post is it. I gave the initial VTC, and I think the prompt closure was appropriate and indeed anything else would have been unjustified. While the poster (or anyone else) is free to attempt to edit the question to make it on-topic, I don't see how that could be done without essentially rewriting the question totally, and any such rewrite would make the answer that was deleted not responsive.

One of the reasons for this rule is specifically to prevent posters from relying upon unqualified advice on matters where they really need proper legal advice. Another is to prevent accusations of Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL). When a response (answer or comment) is well over into the UPL zone, as this answer was, promptly deleting it is appropriate, and indeed I think it is required by the site rules. I would have done the same if I were a moderator. I would have flagged the answer for moderator attention had I noticed it.

IMO the rant in the question is not justified. Deleting inappropriate posts is part of what moderators do. In some cases this tool may be used excessively, but this is not one of those cases. Protecting a poster from probable reliance on this sort of post is a proper concern, and protecting the site from becoming a venue for UPL is another proper concern, and answers to such questions encourages them.

I understand how frustrating it may be to have a post deleted, or even to have a question closed after responding to it, but that is part of the way this site works.

  • 1
    "When a response (answer or comment) is well over into the UPL zone, as this answer was, promptly deleting it is appropriate". In another Law Meta answer I provided sources dismantling the misconception that answers on Law SE constitute UPL. "that is part of the way this site works". From the title and throughout the description of this post it is clear that the central issue is the deletion of answers. The links to various other SE sites reflect that deletion of answers to closed posts is just this mod's novel(?) occurrence. Jun 10 at 17:37

The question

This question asked directly for a review of proposed contract clauses the OP had drafted themselves. It was also apparent that the OP was likely to act on any responses they got.

It was 100% off-topic as asking for legal advice and this was clearly obvious. There is no doubt in my mind that the question should have been closed ASAP and I stand by my decision to do so.

The answer

The answer was not deleted because the question was closed. As of last Sunday, 6 June 2021, when the data dump happens, you have 65 undeleted answers on closed questions - none of these has been deleted.

It was deleted because it clearly provided legal advice by suggesting edits to proposed contract clauses. While many answers here nudge that line, this one was clearly over it. In my opinion, there is a not-insignificant chance, given the naivety of the question, that the OP might act upon it. The basis for deletion of the answer was that it was "extremely off-topic" - the same is true of the question but the question, once closed, is not potentially harmful, the answer is.

"a mod's removal of others' answers is shady and quite lacking in transparency"

I am not responsible for the way Stack Exchange implements its code. I was unaware that authors are not notified of deletions. In future, I will leave a comment to the author.

I will not stop deleting answers (or questions) that I think should be deleted

You see it as an abuse of privilege.

I see it as the discharge of a responsibility.

Stop the personal abuse

Look, I don't care if you want to rant at me - there is a circle of people whose opinions I value: you aren't in it.

You don't agree with the way I moderate: fine. I'm open to an inquiry as to why I did what I did and I'm open to professional criticism and growth. This question was your opportunity for that. Instead, you unloaded a torrent of ill-informed, assumption-ridden invective accusing me of malice, favouritism and arbitrariness.

  • 1
    "the OP was likely to act on any responses they got". Your role as moderator does not include worrying about OPs' ultimate intent. In the upper right of every Law SE post there is a disclaimer taking care of that. "you have 65 undeleted answers on closed questions". That does not justify your abuse in the instant incident. Nor does it say anything about answers you have deleted. I am speaking up in order to prevent this new abuse of mod privileges from becoming trendy on Law SE. Your assertion that my answer is "potentially harmful" requires speculation and has no basis on contract law. Jun 10 at 11:33
  • 4
    “You see it as an abuse. I see it as a responsibility.”
    – Dale M Mod
    Jun 10 at 12:47
  • 5
    Being a moderator means exactly that we have to worry about the intent of posts and comments. Is it intended to offend? Is it intended to be harmful? Is it intended to breach policies or barriers? (whether system- or community-specified). That's actually one of the main reasons for moderators to have powers beyond that available to very-high-rep users: to intervene when the system cannot and the community does not. Judging intent is one of the main actions that moderators perform, it underlies a lot of the mod work done.
    – Nij
    Jun 11 at 6:31
  • 1
    @Nij (not sure why SE does not notify me of your comment) "Being a moderator means exactly that we have to worry about the intent". Feel free to provide your sources for that assertion, since the closest meanings I find in that regard is that moderation has to do with the effect, not the intent, of something. Jun 15 at 15:09
  • 2
    The sources available are not for public consumption.
    – Nij
    Jun 15 at 23:33
  • 1
    @Nij "The sources available are not for public consumption." Then don't expect us to think your assertion is any reliable, especially since it sounds made-up and is at odds with the commonplace meaning of moderation and related terms. Jun 19 at 9:00
  • Why bother asking the question if you're going to reject the answer? It seems pretty clear you're not seeking explanation or a legitimate discussion, just another potshot at authority figures you disagree with.
    – Nij
    Jun 19 at 21:58
  • 1
    @Nij "Why bother asking the question if you're going to reject the answer?" If you mean the post, it is a request (see title), not a question. If you mean your assertion about moderation, then obviously it will be rejected when you cannot premise it on anything and instead say those alleged sources "are not for public consumption". Jun 19 at 23:34
  • For what it's worth, @IñakiViggers, you weren't notified of the comment because you weren't mentioned; only the post author is always notified of comments on their posts. See here, first question.
    – jimsug
    Jun 28 at 11:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .