As some of you may know, there was some confusion earlier this week about the rumored banning of two members of the forum. I was asked to look into the issue, which I have done.
Over the weekend, one of the members of the forum made a post in which the comments got a bit aggressive. A moderator reached out to a mutual friend of the OP on that thread with the intention of asking them to speak to the OP about the tone of the responses. The mutual friend forwarded the emails between themselves and the moderator to the OP in question, which the OP revealed in comments on their post. The moderator lashed out at the mutual friend in their continued email exchange after this was revealed. The OP also emailed the moderator. I am neither condoning or explaining this series of email exchanges between any of the three of them, and largely would not comment on private emails between any members of this forum, except that one of the parties involved requested that I expand on this portion of my post. * The conversation was not a mutually friendly one.
I am declining to go into details about the emails that ended up going between the OP, the mutual friend, and the moderator, as I believe that the conversations are really of a personal nature and under other circumstances, largely something I would not get involved in except where the conversation and behavior impacted the forum. Suffice to say, there was contention between the parties.
Due to the language and tone of some of the emails, the moderator removed the posting privileges of the two commenters. They were not banned as previously reported, nor where they unfollowed by the forum (or "greyed"). Allow to be clear here: authors on this forum can and will have their privileges removed for abusive behavior towards the moderators. I have repeated this ruling in a number of places and the moderator was acting under this policy.
As one of the members also contributed the in-use forum banner at the time, the banner was replaced. The moderator felt it was inappropriate to continue using it after removing the account's author privileges.
It is customary for the moderators to reach out to one another after banning or removing author rights from commenters so that the other mods may review their decision. The moderator in question posted on the GT forum an email for the moderating team that included the real name and commenter handle of the OP. I have reviewed the screenshot of this post and the cache image of it. Given that the post had my email address as the subject line and content that was asking for review of their actions, and that as far as I can determine was removed almost immediately after posting and was seen by the cache record by one individual, I have accepted the moderators explanation that this was a mistake and not a post that was meant to be malicious or vindictive.
Ultimately, because that post was meant to be emailed to my attention and was not, I was largely unaware of the specifics of the incident. When I first heard about it in bits and pieces, I chose to reinstate the author privileges of the two commenter accounts while I looked into the situation and asked that the commenters refrain from getting into any heated arguments about what happened while I did so.
Given the confusion around the timeline, my general understanding and knowledge of all parties involved, and my understanding of the facts as I have been able to determine, I have left the commenters authorship privileges intact. I have also chosen not to take any action against the moderator for the post he made. As I have said, it is my belief that his post was a mistake. Lest there is some confusion about my doxxing rule – there has to be some room in any rules for mistakes made by all parties that are no meant to injure. I have in the recent past not banned commenters who have accidentally linked to Etsy sites and FB pages that have contained commenters RL information if those posts were removed and not based in maliciousness; I am extending the moderator in question the same courtesy here.
The parties involved have been aware of my decision regarding the investigation for about two days now. Due to New Years and some time zone issues, I have held off making an official post. I thank the parties involved for their patience and understanding, as well as their cooperation in this matter. I thank the community for its patience while I looked into it.
Unfortunately, a personal matter has arisen in the last few hours that will require me to be largely offline for the next day. I will answer whatever questions may be raised to the best of my ability before that, and will respond to the remainder of them after I return. As always, anyone who wishes to reach me privately can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am the only moderator who has access to that email.
* Edited on 1/5/14 at 3:41 pm. Additional comments are in italics.