I recently had a comment exchange with a user that my conversation partner as well as the moderators found violated the code of conduct. The details are irrelevant here. I received a private message from the moderators kindly asking me to "please refrain from this behavior in the future". Unfortunately, they didn't specify the behavior, which is not conducive to an "amicable resolution of the issue".

The message was very unspecific:

  • "Some of your recent interactions with other community members have violated our Code of Conduct." I interact quite a lot, and the code of conduct has two or three screen pages full of text.
  • "In particular, we would like to call out a number of comments made in the last 24 hours." But then they don't.
  • "Please refrain from this behavior in the future." I'd love to, but I don't know the specific behavior that was perceived as a violation.

This is quite a Kafkaesque situation. I have a strong suspicion that the violation is a comment about which the conversation partner complained in the comments; but I'm still left to guess which one of my comments and which specific part of any possible comment violated exactly which code of conduct rule. Therefore, my response to the moderators contains a lot of "I assume" and "if that is correct, then..." wording which is awkward.

What I would expect is something like this:

In your comment under question xy on Dex 21, hh.mm, directed at user xy, you said in a response to user xy: "[Some text]". This violates the rule in the code of conduct, paragraph 1 because it is not kind or respectful. The user was hurt by the allegation that [some thing I said]. We agree with them. The smiley does not change the fact that it is a personal jab which has no place in the Law SE.

Such a specific information would make it clear which specific part of the interaction was, for the user and the moderators, unacceptable, and for which specific reasons. I could adjust my behavior accordingly. Any further discussion about it would be specific and unmistakable. This would be important. As you know, there is a history of unfortunate, unpleasant and in my view entirely avoidable events surrounding alleged, unspecific code of conduct violations. Being clear and specific instead of vague and nebulous would, in my opinion, be an important part of better processes concerning moderator and staff interactions with users.

Is the vagueness of the moderator warning intentional? If yes, what is the purpose?

2 Answers 2


Given that the reply I got in the private communication did not point out specific comments, and consequently no specific violations, I must conclude that yes, the warnings are intentionally unspecific. Since that private reply must have been intentional and was (again) unspecific, Dale's answer "No" to my question is wrong.

I am not sure why the comment I made stating the same facts and coming to the same logically unavoidable conclusion was deleted. In any case, it is indeed an answer and now formally given as one.

  • Completely with you on this mate, last month I got suspended for a week because apparently I lost my cool even when I wasn’t bothered at all and was actually just asking another user not to be racist in their assumptions and perceptions. Kafkaesque, and non specific, indeed. Commented Jan 4 at 23:14


But they are sometimes unintentionally unspecific.

  • Well, this is your opportunity to follow your intention ;-). No rush, obviously, and happy holiday. Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 20:41
  • You or another moderator continues to delete my responses pointing out the contradiction between saying "it is only unintentional unspecific" and the unspecific second private message. Presumably you or the other moderator(s) find them offensive or inappropriate. I'm not sure how to communicate with you moderators now. Perhaps you can answer this question which is not offensive: How do you align the lack of specificity in the second private message with your answer that this lack of specificty is not intentional? What am I missing? Commented Jan 3 at 18:09

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