Github says "You are blocked from the elm organization"

After reporting an issue in elm/core on Github today, I started looking at other issues in the repo to see if I could contribute. Minutes after I started participating, however, I ran into this message:

Which is weird, because participation on that page by the people who I’d think would have the power to instate a block (the designated members of the “elm” github organization) is very few and far between - so it’s unlikely that this was approved by a human, especially in such a short amount of time. Thus, it’s mostly likely that someone clicked “report” on a post, and Github immediately accepted it and turned that into a block.

I know that’s a normal sequence of events, other platforms work similarly – but they always require at least multiple reports (or a moderator confirmation) before it turns into something like a block. In this case it turned into a block right away, which makes no sense because it was too quick for votes or moderator intervention. Other platforms don’t trust a single report enough to turn it into a block, for obvious reasons (e.g. silencing people you disagree with), so I’m surprised that the Elm org seems to be set up this way.

That’s the long-term issue, which should be worked out even after my short-term issue is resolved. The short term issue is that I’m blocked, and can’t contribute issues to elm (which I’ve done quite a bit since I’ve started!), appeal the block, or anything. Thank goodness for the Elm Discourse, or I wouldn’t know where to go about it. Furthermore, the reason I was given for the block was rather dubious: My response to a user’s first elm bug report was marked as “disruptive”. Huh?

On the plus side, Github at least links you to the exact “content” that was flagged. For completeness, here’s the entirety of that bug report:

As some of you may know, this is just about the antithesis of what elm devs consider a quality bug report (the strictness thereof is well-known and has even been criticized). Nonetheless, I tried to decipher what the user was saying. I concluded they were either

  • unaware of the documentation (“explanation”) for the // operator, or
  • criticizing the reason for removing custom operators in 0.19 (which some might paraphrase as “because operators should be self-explanatory”) by pointing out what they perceive as a contradictory example.

Under the principle of “assume good faith”, I started with the first one. So, assuming we agree with their argument that the operator is not self-explanatory (debatable, especially to python users), I said “that’s why it’s in the docs” and quoted the documentation (which explains that it’s the operator for Integer Division) verbatim. I phrased it as a question since I had a feeling there was more to the issue that the user hadn’t specified.

That’s it. That’s the post that got me instabanned from elm. :astonished: I recognize that I could have been less terse, and I certainly would have (like above) for a bug report with more content. But there is nothing “disruptive” here, even by Elm community standards.

Sorry for the verbose post – just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other members of the community - especially because many would have simply left if something like this happened to them.

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This is super weird, no idea how that got you banned but maybe the guy had multiple accounts and decided that your reply was mean (which it wasn’t) and reported you on multiple accounts? I have no idea how else this would work

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Ooo good point, so any other account can vote on other people’s reports? That might explain it. Ugh.

That is so bizarre…

Hey, sorry about this. It looks like GitHub rolled out some automated moderation tool that we’re not aware of. We’re also not sure how to turn it off :sweat_smile:. Obviously we want everyone to strive for high quality interactions in Elm spaces but blocking someone from the org is not how we would moderate this situation if at all. Everything will be fixed soon, just bear with us while we figure out what GitHub is doing. Thanks!

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Phew! Thanks, Luke.
(Definitely interested to hear about what happened, once you do figure it out!)
For now, would it be possible for you to unblock me manually? :sweat_smile:

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Sorry for the confusion caused here.

I saw three notifications where you had added comments on existing issues. In two cases, I felt that (1) they were obviously from beginners and (2) the replies were quite rude. Not responding to the questions is not ideal, but it would have been better than acting like a beginner is an idiot for trying to learn. I wish I had not deleted the one that started “huh? The point of …” so we could have that data point as well.

Point is, this was a manual ban in hopes of preventing future cases of strangers being rude to beginners in GitHub issues. With the subsequent posts on Discourse, I am more confident in the intuition behind this choice.

Is there a better way to handle these kinds of situations though? I do not know. A lot of forums just say “people saying RTFM to beginners is just how the internet is” but that doesn’t seem better. Maybe we can talk it through to a happy conclusion? But somehow work needs to be prioritized on 0.19.1, elm/core, editor plugins, etc. etc. The poster here mentioned elm/parser in the thread about the BETA seemingly in an attempt to be helpful, but the general problem here is that the intent to help can manifest as behavior that produces more work. In the overall ranking of what core team should be spending time on, spending emotional energy on an individual with a track record of being rude to beginners does not seem like a promising investment compared to everything else. Based on past experiences with user names like “WellEducated” and “correct_perspective” with no avatar, I would expect it to be a really long interaction where the person explains why they actually were helpful in great detail and how this is actually about larger governance problems that we now need to talk about instead of that being rude to beginners is not acceptable behavior.

I have so much to say about these kinds of cases, and maybe I need to do a talk on the patterns of online behavior that led me to think this way at some point. Anyway, I hope this explains the situation passably to other folks here.

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