For years now, shabunc has been a disruptive, trigger-happy moderator coming up with the pettiest of excuses to put questions on hold or straight-up delete them.

The examples are too many to list, but so far, for each of them, one could at least theoretically give him the benefit of the doubt. The rules of Russian SE itself are written in such a way that one could quite liberally wield the ban hammer and always find some rule to quote. Then it would become about the question of whether it's beneficial to apply the rules this rigorously, which I've always maintained it isn't, but I realise it is a matter of opinion.

Not this time.

Here is shabunc either showing a basic lack of competence with regard to this SE's subject matter, or else taking his petty fault-finding to an absurd level. It's obvious that a "Russian IPA letter" means an IPA letter for a sound in the Russian phonetic inventory. One could maybe argue there was no prior research shown, but that was not shabunc's stated reason for putting the question on hold. Nor is the question too broad; all it takes to exhaust all possible senses in which it was asked is, describing the sound represented by the IPA letter in question (ɵ), and adding that it's an allophone of /о/ between two soft consonants. The latter is not something the asker would necessarily be told at Linguistics SE, where shabunc proposes to ask it instead.

This is not a one-off; this is not even "the usual"; this is a clear and frankly embarrassing abuse of moderatorial powers by someone whose quite apparent enjoyment of restrictive moderating has been tolerated here for years.

I would kindly ask not to be tone-policed — I've tried being nice — and I would really hope that, for once, Meta will not be this barely visible place where issues peter out quietly.

As a moderator, shabunc is a liability on this SE. I don't know him personally at all; I appreciate his legitimate and useful contributions both as replier and moderator (albeit in the latter capacity, his legitimate and useful contributions have been somewhat few and far between). I ask others to speak up, and I'll be completely fine if you speak up along the lines of "Nikolay is strangely and obnoxiously overreacting but he kind of has a point". The important thing is, we can and ought to do better than this.

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I'm not trying to have any conversation with Nikolay since my experience of communicating with him lead nowhere. I see a strong antipathy and don't believe in any rational arguments that can convince him. In fact, in my opinion comments like "it's very clear what the question is about, and you messed up once too many times now, my friend" are beyond the boundaries of possible rational discussion. Well, Nikolay does not like me. I get it (see also - An open letter to shabunc: Please stop).

That said I feel obliged to say something to the community. The author of the question linked has four questions posted - none of the with positive votes. All this questions are of quite a low quality - but still when they are on-topic, they are on topic:

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And when they are not - they are not.

In this particular case the question was very poorly stated - no effort was put at all. The terminology was messed up, it was not obvious at all what the question is about. And when it became obvious what is the question about it was also obvious that it's not about Russian language.

Compare two hypothetical questions:

Мне кажется, что в слове ветер первая е произносится не так, как вторая - так ли это на самом деле?


What's the difference between [ɛ] and [ə]?

First one is on-topic, while the second one is not.

Also, Nikolay, keep in mind - the calmer and more polite you are the higher is the probability you'll be heard. It's a basic rule of human communication.

  • Civility and level-headedness are great things, in and of themselves, but they're also one of the things that abuse of power likes to shield itself with. Yes, I'm more than a little riled by online communities turning into their mods' fiefdoms. As far as showing what is considered a good question and what isn't, the downvote and vote-to-close functionality does the job just fine. We're not exactly mired in low-effort posts. What we very much are mired in, though, is internet clique culture in its most cliché and obstructive form — thanks near-exclusively to you. Jul 3, 2019 at 20:04
  • I can obviously see that I'm not getting any traction so far, but — I, too, have my concerns about the impression we're making and the community we're building, and responding to disruption with counter-disruption is not necessarily a knee-jerk reaction of mine that supersedes all rationality. I do believe — perhaps wrongly — that it takes more than small murmurs of dissatisfaction to show all the newcomers getting shut down in nit-picky ways, and likely not feeling confident enough to object, that they're not necessarily the problem here. Jul 3, 2019 at 20:23

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