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I find that my opinions are being unfairly targeted by high ranking members.

How can we keep the quality of the answers if diverse or taboo opinions are targeted?

Two examples:

  1. How can I help our ranger feel special about her beast companion?: Player asks for help about what to do, his wife is playing a Ranger Beast Master and is jealous about the DM making the adventure objective to return a lost flying cat (when she’s the Beast Master and has a Panther). Most of the answers were a variety of meta game discussions / concessions with the DM. Whereas I suggest the players tie up the flying cat. My answer is downvoted and I receive a passive aggressive comment that my answer is unsupported.

  2. What should I do about a religious player who refuses to accept the existence of multiple gods in D&D? (10k+ rep users only): I answered a question where I expressed a view to a question requiring subjective answers that a religious players personal views about monotheism are not relevant to D&D. I provided a creative allegory to support my answer. The answer was deleted, I presume by a moderator or from high ranking members flagging it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it'd be fair to expand your last sentence a bit: "the answer was deleted" could become something like "the answer was deleted by high-rep members flagging it." I mention this because most readers probably haven't come across that feature of the Stack and would reasonably assume that when you say it "was deleted" that you mean an elected moderator decided to delete it. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 17 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have proof that your answers are downvoted because your ideas are different vs other possible reasons? \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jul 17 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting--I'm not sure I see the same thing you do when you look at the post; I'm not completely sure what a user with <10K rep sees when they look at a deleted post. If you don't mind could you tell me: under the text of your answer do you see "deleted [reason] [timestamp] [userlist]"? Or just a notation that it was deleted, not with an indication of how/why/by whom? (This is just to satisfy my curiosity about a newer-user experience. Thanks.) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 17 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the record, the second linked answer was deleted by "rude or abusive" flags from multiple senior site members. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Jul 17 at 21:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 It doesn’t say anything, the post just vanishes. Those that are claiming my post was bigoted is quite an exaggeration or at least connotes a sensitivity bias. I do submit to the code of conduct no subtle put downs might be appropriate but it was not rude or abusive. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 17 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard whether other people are "sensitive" or not doesnt change the fact that your answer was flagged as abusive. If you genuinely think it was mis-flagged, open a new meta post about that specific issue. But otherwise, the answer isn't "toughen up, ya sensitive wussies" or "it was only a joke." Meta is for exactly this kind of thing and it's a useful tool. Use it! \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jul 18 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I want to know how this community can keep quality answers when high ranking members use their power to flag and downvote adequate answers they disagree with. So far answers here seem to attack the premise but mostly avoid the core of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 18 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Every answer so far is nearly identical in identifying why you were downvoted and why the religious answer was deleted. They all agree that the answers haven't been adequate. What "core" do you think isn't being addressed? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 18 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't have to have particularly high reputation to upvote (15) or downvote (125). \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jul 18 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Moreover, there is no objective "quality" property or Platonic ideal recognized universally. All measures are subjective, and there are many approaches to defining high quality and sorting out low quality. The approach of this group, and stack in general, is community voting guided by policies developed here in meta, with mods stepping in as exception handlers. Asserting that your answers are quality when the community-- as expressed by actions such as voting-- disagrees, is at best an uphill climb. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jul 18 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ And mods can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any moderator exception handling happened in these cases. Everything was community action, yes? \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jul 18 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch do you mean SevenSidedDie or Community? If the later, I saw that but don't actually understand it. Does that just mean that one of the mods cast the final vote and it was recorded as Community? \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jul 18 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak Oh weird. I could have sworn that third vote was a mod. Yeah, the community closed it. Two votes by users and then a community confirmation to make the third. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 18 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ downvote adequate answers they disagree with Actually, that happens to all of us over time. We can't control how people vote, either up or down. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 18 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't use this post as a continuously updating list of answers you have an issue with — that is not the way Q&As work here (even on Meta). And from a practical standpoint, answerers are extremely unlikely to come back and update their answers to talk about added examples to an older question anyways. You asked a question about specific answers of yours and you got answers. If you have serious concerns or questions about how you can improve other posts, please start a new Meta for it. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 29 at 12:32
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Your answers were not being downvoted because they were taboo or too diverse. Answers are going to be downvoted (and in extreme cases, removed) whether they are diverse or not, when they are poor quality, as they were here.

First: Beast Companions

The first was downvoted, with near certainty, because it failed the "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective" test. Those links point to the overall Stack policy on subjective questions, and the RPG Meta which hashes out our approach with it.

The gist of the policy is that some questions are subjective in nature, but this does not open them up for just free-form brainstorming of untested ideas. This policy is currently getting a lot of attention and policing from users, for reasons beyond the scope of this answer.

That this is the reason for the downvotes may or may not be obvious, since I think you're a recently joined user: There are currently no mentions in the comments to the question, or to your answer, so if you are not familiar with that policy I'm sure it was quite baffling. But that is almost certainly what it is.

Please note, after you review the policy, whether you agree with it or disagree with it, this question is not the place or method to challenge it.

Please note also that this answer is of sufficiently low quality just by vote counts that it may ended up removed anyway.

Second: Religiously Inflexible Players

This (I'm linking to the question, not the answer, since the answer is deleted) was not removed for Good Subjective, Bad Subjective reasons-- I can see the revision history and it started out describing an actual example of your answer in play.

Then, when asked to follow up on that with details on how it worked, you updated with what I assume was a sarcastic satire of the player's beliefs, which I will not describe here, but was at the least disrespectful to your player and anyone with adjacent beliefs, and arguably abusive. (And since the answer ended up deleted as abusive by more than just mod action, the argument is strong.)

If you really, honestly need a written down rule that you broke, see this site-wide code of conduct, specifically, "No subtle put downs." (Although the put down wasn't that subtle.) I would also consider this, from the same page, alienation based on religion.

I do not consider "Don't engage in put downs, and don't be abusive" to be a matter of taboo. It is a matter of site policy reinforcing civil behavior amongst (ironically) diverse populations of users.

I note in passing that this question spawned quite a few answers that were later deleted: Four of them were deleted by their owners after being challenged for additional evidence, one by votes after being challenged for additional evidence, one as spam, and one (yours) by vote for being abusive.

Objectively speaking, you are not being singled out, here, at all. Certainly not on the basis of your diversity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In this case a “good subjective” answer regarding the beast question would require elucidation on the nature of the human emotion of jealously - to which none of the answers are adequate and might be more appropriate to the psychology stack exchange. In reference to the rules of D&D I provided an answer, one would think is adequately objective and to the point considering the nature of the question. Brevity is the soul of wit. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 18 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard Or, you know, you can just describe a time you've had or seen your technique work (either for you or someone else). We don't require people to have psychology degrees to answer questions, we do require them to have experience or to be able to back it up some other way. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 18 at 2:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard Brevity is the soul of wit, sure, as the quote goes. But the point here isn't to be smart or witty. The point of this site is to be helpful, and we have guidelines here for what constitutes helpful vs unhelpful. \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jul 18 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’ve updated my answer to address the commentators concerns and in honesty I feel that it was more helpful to the questioner and public at 50 words than it is now at 1000 words. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 19 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s also received more downvotes not less after providing the subjective support which leads me to the conclusion that good subjective / bad subjective is not the reason for the downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 19 at 0:17
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Other answers do a good job of addressing what the user was trying to convey with their comment on your answer #1 and what you can do to improve that answer to address that critique and to meet the current community standards of this site.

Let me then comment about your answer #2 and why it was removed.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear up front: it was not because you said something that was "taboo" or "diverse". The reason your answer got removed was because it was insulting and rude towards religious people. Our site has rules and standards one of which is that we require community members to Be Nice. The specific parts that apply specifically to your answer are:

No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language. Even if you don’t intend it, this can have a negative impact on others.

and

No bigotry.

We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t.

The reason we have this policy is that this site aims to be a place where people of many backgrounds and viewpoints can come to share their expertise in a reasonable and polite way. Insults and rudeness have no place on our site and do not count as a "diverse" viewpoint that is valued here.

What you refer to as a "creative allegory" was read by many in the community as a direct mockery of religious belief likely to insult and alienate people that hold those beliefs. I read it the same way. When this critique was brought up in the comments you not only declined to change it, but doubled down on being rude. It is worth noting that you could have easily made your point in another, less insulting way.1 You chose not to. Repeatedly. Thus, we (being multiple members of this community) removed it.

tl; dr This community does not tolerate rude, unwelcoming, and bigoted behavior. Answers displaying this have no place here and will be removed.


1 - You can, in fact, still change it. If you edit the answer to follow site policy and flag it for mod attention, we can take a look and see if it warrants undeletion and we'd be happy to see you make such a change.

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I cannot see the second, however judging from the response I believe it is probably along the same lines as the first. The comment you refer to is not passive aggressive, it is a statement of policy, nothing more.

Subjective answers are intended to be backed up by experience, as in "I had this situation, this is how I handled it or it was handled in our group, and this is how it turned out." You can see the policy in multiple answers on meta, such as:

How do we appropriately back up a subjective answer?

What are the citation expectations of answers on RPG Stack Exchange?

How do we ask and answer subjective questions?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Considering there is no way to back up the veracity of subjective experience an appeal to logic is far superior to a possibly false anecdote to support an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 17 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard if you feel strongly that way the meta posts that JohnP links in their answer are places to make those arguments. For now, though, they're correct in saying that those are practices that folks follow around here, and arguing here about whether those practices are good or not won't change anything. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 17 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The featured answer on the beast question with the most upvotes provides no subjective support, interesting... \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jul 20 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard don't assume that answer has no downvotes just because you cannot (yet) see them. It does. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jul 20 at 20:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard I know it's hard, but I would spend less time worrying about other answers and more about improving yours. I've tried to give you constructive criticism in the comments under yours, but I'm not sure you've read it. if you have and feel like you don't want to make a change, that's your choice - but I have tried to give you specific guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 22 at 12:50
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Please don't view this as a case of "targeting" - because it isn't

One of our long time members with substantial rep (> 11k rep) raised a similar question recently in this meta question. The response there may help you see how we are experiencing an increased activity in community moderation specifically on questions that are classified as "good subjective/bad subjective."

As I noted in my answer there, community norms are changing a little. A good many users (myself included!) have seen the following:

  1. More comments asking them to 'back it up with experience' (or to improve that element of their answer)
  2. More down votes
  3. More closed / deleted answers.

    I've noticed this as I've reviewed questions and answers across the site over the past few months, and as I attract more comments under my answers that ask me to better support the answers.

Where is this coming from?

If you read the links offered in the answers to that meta question, and if you review activity in the meta questions / answers about "good subjective / bad subjective" for the past couple of months, you will find that the community at large - which boils down to the few dozen folks who tend to be active in community moderation since they have the rep and inclination to do so - has reviewed the policy on GS/BS and have become more active in supporting and enforcing that policy. You can also read the links in JohnP's answer in this meta.

Analogy

What's been going on with GS/BS is like the cops finally pulling a few more people over, and writing more tickets, for going 5-10 miles over the speed limit some months. The policy {the speed limit} was already there, it's just getting enforced more frequently than it was a few months back.

Nobody is gunning for you.

I worked with you a little bit on the religious player question. IIRC my last remark was something like "are you pulling our leg?" but my last comment was deleted so I can't say for sure what I typed there. I will say that when you added the narrative about David, etc, it was difficult for me to parse the distinction between real and unreal, between player and character. While so puzzled, Real Life called so I was not able to engage with you further. Others read the same thing I did and noted a tone that (as Rubiksmoose and SevenSidedDie both pointed out) didn't fit SE policy from the Code of Conduct.

I hope you'll take this in stride as a learning opportunity, rather than as something else. You've made a variety of helpful inputs in the past, and I hope you'll make helpful inputs in the future. I've had a variety of badly received answers, but I still keep on trucking.

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Diverse answers are not being targeted

Even though every other answer here covers this as well, as one of the 'high-rep users' who has downvoted those answers and voted to delete the religious one I wanted to respond directly.

I want to clearly state that I am not targeting you or your answers. However, I do downvote answers that I don't think are supported. We do have a policy here on what constitutes support and while I've taken a harder line on policing that policy, it is one that I also agree with.

And I'm not just agreeing with it in theory, but also in my practice when I wrote my own answers. It isn't something I've always done, but it's something that I've learned the importance of over my time here.

I do have answers on this site that would be considered idea generation. But my goal now is to actually try my ideas out and then go back and update the answer. Any future answers I write I now hold myself to the site policy. I support them with what I've seen or done. I think it improves the idea because it takes out of the realm of theoretical and applies a real world example of how it went. It doesn't mean that your table will respond identically (and it probably won't), but it does let me talk about how it actually went and helps me identify potential pitfalls to the idea. This is why it's important.

I want high quality answers

For me, that means answers need to be supported. If it's objective support that is a bit easier, but even then there are interpretations of rules I may not agree with. But that is what the voting system is for. You can downvote/upvote with what you agree based on your own views. Yes, the policies are here to help guide us in our voting, but ultimately we vote as we'd like to.

In the two answers you link above, you present two low quality answers. Neither are supported objective or subjectively. They are purely idea generation. Whether they are good or bad ideas doesn't matter to me. I want to see them supported and I trust that people will be honest in how they support answers. Yes, they could 'make up' subjective support, but it is my hope that people active on the site won't do that and I'm going to trust that they won't.

Not only that, but the community has attempted to engage you in helping add support to your answers and those attempts have been met with snark and accusations. We really want to help you improve your answers so that we can improve the site as a whole. The better the answers are, the better the site is. It's a pretty simple system. But when you reject the help and look at it as attacks and respond accordingly, then it's not going to end up well- and we all lose when that happens.

Even in the currently live answer on the Tressym, users have tried to help guide you in your answer and we're met with a comment where you think we're trying to be nefarious. I understand you are frustrated, but constantly responding on the defensive instead of working on improving your answers isn't going to help.

I very much hope that you are able to get past this frustration and use this as a learning experience to help you in writing higher quality answers.

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