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This answer asserts that a soap dispenser that does not work properly for a black person was designed by white people who design products for white people without concern for other races. There is no evidence that this assertion of race is correct, much less that the designers have this view of race. Alternative explanations for the dispenser's dysfunction and other likely make ups of the team's race can be found in the chat linked in the comments.

This content is nothing more than the application of a racial stereotype of white people. As such, it is clearly a violation of the "No bigotry" clause of Code of Conduct:

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.

Moderators have already intervened in this post's comment chain. They have already seen that the claim generated controversy, offense, and alienation. They moved the controversy to chat once. (That I understand; it's standard policy when debates ensue.) Comments were deleted again later as people continued to debate the content.

What I don't understand is this: why did moderators do nothing about this inappropriate content in the post? I was about to flag it, but to be quite frank, I'm a little angry that this kind of content has been sitting here so long when it's clearly against policy and moderators clearly knew it was a problem. I would like some explanation of why they didn't intervene.

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  • the question you refer to looks like primary source of the problem here, trolling for answers like that. The right thing to do is would be to delete the question, taking this answer along with it to where it belongs (nowhere at Stack Exchange)
    – gnat
    Mar 2, 2019 at 14:53
  • @gnat It's possible. I don't know. For better or worse, diversity is a huge concern to quite a few employers. Some of the other answers bring up studies (even though some users have questioned the veracity of at least some of them). Given that it's a topic that is widely discussed, it's not quite as clear cut to me that the question has no place here. Either way, though, SO has claimed to be strongly opposed to racial prejudices and has instituted policies designed to forbid them. I don't understand why moderators weren't proactive here given that they had to handle trouble stemming from it.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 2, 2019 at 15:43
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    "I was about to flag it" - you should have flagged it. Mar 2, 2019 at 21:32
  • @JoeStrazzere Why does it need to be flagged? Mods were clearly aware of it. How do I know it hasn't already been flagged, anyway?
    – jpmc26
    Mar 2, 2019 at 21:33
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    @jpmc26 - flags are designed as the way to express concern such as yours for a question or answer. Mar 2, 2019 at 21:34
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    @jpmc26 As Monica alluded to in her answer, just because a comment chain is flagged that doesn't mean that moderators will always read the question. Certainly if the comments are full of vitriol or abuse, we may check the post that's generating them, but comment clean-ups are usually a routine operation. You should always flag a post that you consider problematic enough to justify a flag, regardless of whether you might think a moderator has already seen it or that someone might have already flagged it.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2019 at 9:56
  • @Lilienthal The problem I have with that statement is that comments were selectively deleted, specifically ones that referenced this issue. Others were left. That means someone took the time to figure out what they were saying to identify which ones to delete. How could that be done without looking at the answer in question? Or maybe the better question is why would a moderator read the comments talking about a problem in the answer and not realize the answer itself had a problem?
    – jpmc26
    Mar 4, 2019 at 14:21
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    @jpmc26 The biggest reason why we set-up chat rooms is to avoid this situation where valid and valuable comments are removed as part of overall cleanup. I cannot comment on the rationale behind every single comment deletion beyond saying that we typically make a best-effort attempt to preserve useful comments while deleting others. And sometimes we do blanket deletions of everything, even valid comments. For reference: we often delete hundreds of comments a day so the 40 deleted from this particular post aren't as noteworthy as you might imagine.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2019 at 14:46
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    But perhaps the better question is whether you are trying to get moderators to act on an answer that you personally disagree with? We are not arbitrators of correctness. If you disagree with an answer you are able to downvote it. You can indeed leave a comments to point out the problem but those are by nature ephemeral and while it's far from ideal that valid criticism is removed in comment clean-up, that sometimes happens. If you take issue with referring to an article as a study, you can edit to correct that. That seems like it would have preempted about half of the comments already.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2019 at 14:46
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    I'm sorry, but I've read through both versions of that statement, and I don't see why you're suggesting there even is an "assertion of race" or that it was trying to suggest anything about the designers "view of race". The fact that the designers were white and didn't think to test it on anyone who wasn't white doesn't seem like it's trying to prescribe any racist motives to the designers. To me, it was just suggesting that they designed and tested the product with a non-diverse group, and therefore didn't encounter and recognize a technical issue with dark skin.
    – JMac
    Mar 4, 2019 at 15:05
  • @Lilienthal "But perhaps the better question is whether you are trying to get moderators to act on an answer that you personally disagree with?" No. I am trying to figure out why clear prejudice against white people is not treated the same as any other kind of prejudice.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 4, 2019 at 15:20
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    @jpmc26 I did not get the same impression from the answer as you did, especially after Monica's edit -- and that is perfectly ok. Rest assured that if the consensus among the Moderator's was that this was a racially charged answer, it would have been removed versus edited.
    – Neo
    Mar 4, 2019 at 15:46
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    @jpmc26 I believe the general consensus among the moderator team is that your claim was unfounded and all appropriate action from our part on this question was taken. If you feel like we mishandled this, please reach out to the Community Team via the contact page.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2019 at 20:00
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    @Lilienthal You know this wouldn't have been handled the same way if it had been something about the black thug stereotype; the white racist stereotype is just as offensive. I can handle stereotypes; I can't handle rules being applied preferentially. Appealing to SO is useless because SO believes that its users are racists and doesn't care about racism against the "dominant" race. Seeing moderators adopt the same attitude as well just means we're going to continue to see more preferential treatment. That makes me sad and kind of angry.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 4, 2019 at 20:58
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    @jpmc26 If racism was involved here we would have absolutely taken action, regardless of which stereotype is in play. We will simply have to agree to disagree that this answer was racially prejudiced. But please avoid using this as a platform for soapboxing.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2019 at 21:31

1 Answer 1

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The post wasn't flagged (except once to request comment cleanup). I'm guessing that the moderator who handled the comments focused on the many comments (there are currently 47 deleted ones), in response to the flags.

Now that you have brought this answer to moderator attention, I've edited that answer to describe the outcome without ascribing motives. That edit didn't need a moderator; it just needed somebody to think of it. If you see a problem that you think you can solve in an edit, please edit. If you don't think you can solve it -- either you don't know what to do or you anticipate resistance -- then please flag. Thanks.

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  • The answer still makes assumptions that are not supported by the evidence given. Namely that the machine was not tested other skin colors. All we have is a video of it not working for one person; we don't know why that is or what the manufacturers did or didn't do. The most this answer could say to make it's point is that it's bad PR and that many people will assume what its author did. As such, the answer is still a prejudiced assertion of systemic racism. Should I flag for further edits? I don't want to submit suggested edits; they would most likely be rejected as changing the intent.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 4, 2019 at 15:41
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    @jpmc26 so maybe that part of the answer is wrong. If so, you can downvote, comment to request an improvement, or edit. People make incorrect assumptions on this site all the time (see, for example, all the US-centric responses to worldwide posts). That doesn't make it racist. My edit isn't perfect; maybe the sentence wants an "apparently" in there. If you think so, use your site privileges to fix it. Mar 4, 2019 at 15:58
  • "If so, you can downvote, comment to request an improvement, or edit." I did, except for edit because I'm sure it would be rejected. I ensured my comment was polite and extremely neutral (much more neutral than anything on this post), stating only that an edit removing the assumptions would improve it. It was deleted outright, while the comment asking for including reference content was left alone. Meaning that someone at least skimmed the comment and decided it was inappropriate despite the neutrality. I'll suggest an edit, but I have no confidence it will be approved.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 4, 2019 at 22:14

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