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On the Academia SE, there is a rule banning questions that allege misconduct by named individuals or organisations, including posts that allege that the poster has performed misconduct when the user has a username that resembles the name of a real person.

https://academia.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4762/policy-against-questions-making-allegations-against-named-individuals-or-organis

Should we adopt the same rule on this SE site, since many (if not all) of the same reasons for it apply here as well?

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    Given the specifics of their policy (it allows for discussing minor infractions and events that are already news/public), I'm unable to think of a serious reason why we shouldn't. However, since we haven't seen a ton of this problem here, I'd like to defer to what the moderators want. Would they see this as a burden (having to delete questions that normally don't cause a problem here) or a useful tool (being able to delete these questions before they cause a problem)? – BSMP Sep 22 '20 at 23:58
  • @BSMP posted my thoughts about this one. Lets see what my fellow Mods have to say here as well – DarkCygnus Sep 23 '20 at 0:24
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    So to summarise you propose banning "naming and shaming"? This is rare and I think it comes up maybe a few times a year at most and every time either the community or the moderators will simply edit out the identifiers as they detract from attempts to answer the question. So we basically already operate this way. What's the point in creating a "policy"? If the question is "should we edit this out" then I guess the answer would be yes. – Lilienthal Sep 24 '20 at 13:19
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    Totally agree with @Lilienthal this seldom happens here. If it does we operate the way we already do by editing and handling. Thus, why I said what I said in my answer and why I think this doesn't exactly fit into TWP as it is. – DarkCygnus Sep 29 '20 at 15:30
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    It might even make sense to edit out proper names regardless of whether or not the poster is easily identifiable. Questions about a specific individual or company would be harder to find in a search and would attract answers that are less generalizable. Why have "how to fight misogyny at Acme Corp" when "how to deal with misogynistic culture at a major corporation" would work just as well? – AffableAmbler Oct 2 '20 at 1:35
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Should we adopt the same rule on this SE site, since many (if not all) of the same reasons for it apply here as well?

Definitely. There's nothing to be gained by naming names.

Glassdoor is for accusations (well-founded or baseless).

Here, folks should be asking questions without naming individuals. They can easily get an answer without risking defamation. Most of our members are already doing this. We shouldn't tolerate exceptions.

That said, I'd prefer that the question be edited to remove the named company/individuals, rather than having the question deleted without notice.

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    Yes, just edit it out, not a huge chore – Kilisi Sep 25 '20 at 5:30
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    "That said, I'd prefer that the question be edited to remove the named company/individuals, rather than having the question deleted without notice" - Indeed, this seems better to me as well – DarkCygnus Sep 25 '20 at 14:50
  • Big +1 for editing them out. Besides some of the "frames" there is also army of people who post sensitive questions from their real account by mistake, with all the details needed to track the question subject down to real person, and there is no gain from keeping their names in the view. – Tymoteusz Paul Sep 28 '20 at 7:30
  • @DarkCygnus should the question be flagged for a mod to burn the offending revisions afterwards? – Haem Sep 29 '20 at 10:55
  • @Haem Here in TWP we never (99.9% of the time) see things like the ones that the Academia post says happen over there. That is, we "never" see something like "Haem just screwed up the code commit badly, how...". So it's not a matter of editing the post to anonymize the targets (as that's not the case on this site). However, this single incident that prompted this post was of a user probably exposing themselves with identifiable info. In those cases the situation has to be handled by the mod Team to rename the user, change PP, etc. So if you see this modflag if it's something you can't edit. – DarkCygnus Sep 29 '20 at 15:25
  • @Haem shorter answer: Edit the post if possible, suggest and edit if you can't edit, mod flag if it's something like the username or profile picture that needs addressing. Currently, that's the way thing are handled here – DarkCygnus Sep 29 '20 at 15:26
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Should we adopt the same rule on this SE site, since many (if not all) of the same reasons for it apply here as well?

My opinion is no. (Short answer version).


Longer answer version:

Reasons why I don't think it applies here exactly as it is in Academia (disclaimer: I'm not active on Academia, but I do know TWP and based on that I list the following points):

  • On TWP many of the users that come here is because they screwed up or someone on their company screwed up and they seek for professional advise on how to handle such events. You can see many posts of the nature "I did X thing...", or "Coworker/boss did X thing...", so banning those questions would be shutting down many users that come here for help.

  • When such users come to this site, the vast majority never use their real name, or the coworker/boss that screwed up name, or even post from their regular SE account. Several post as anon, or create a new account only to post the sensible question, or eventually ask us to disassociate the post from their account. The standard that we follow here and that I'm glad that the vast majority follows is to give an alias to such coworker/boss, as to avoid using their actual names. So, in practice and in our day by day we "never" see a post that includes a specific Name and Last name.

  • We also never see real posts that are directed to a member of the Community (real == not troll). Like "I work with @DarkCygnus and he screwed up his latest commit to the repo. How to handle this?". This is mostly due to the fact that names and actors are unidentifiable in the vast majority of the posts, as mentioned in the previous point. Besides, by doing that the OP would be also disclosing their identity to the person mentioned by simple deduction (if I ever see such a posting I'll immediately know which of my coworkers could have posted that).

Thus, why I think that such rule does not apply here as it is on Academia SE.


Besides, this single incident that prompted this Meta Post actually had a much more simple solution that didn't involved censorship or banning a user from seeking help: we simply changed the OP's username to the default name given by SE and removed their PP for the generic avatar SE generates. In other words, leave the post but make the user or target unidentifiable.

If you think of it, this even makes sense in an Academic perspective regarding the ethical use of Human subjects in research, according to the Belmont Report and the related principles ;) (specially the Respect for Persons principle).

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    “When such users come to this site, the vast majority never use their real name, or the coworker/boss that screwed up name, or even post from their regular SE account.” The Academia SE policy is only about the users that don’t do that, though? It’s only about making allegations against named individuals or organisations. “Most of our users already follow this policy” isn’t necessarily an argument against implementing a policy. – nick012000 Sep 23 '20 at 1:15
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    'this single incident that prompted this Meta Post actually had a much more simple solution that didn't involved censorship or banning a user from seeking help: we simply changed the OP's username to the default name given by SE' This was indeed a good way to deal with the issue; unfortunately, it didn't happen until after Google had crawled the page, which may somewhat compromise its effectiveness. – Daniel Hatton Sep 23 '20 at 14:25
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    Incidentally, in the recent spate of questions about age discrimination in the software industry, I saw three users whose names appeared to be real names confess unambiguously to unlawful actions, one of which reached the threshold of criminality (at least in my jurisdiction) - although I note that two of the three accounts in question have been suspended for voting irregularities, and the other one has had its name changed to something anonymous and been closed, so perhaps there's something deeper there. – Daniel Hatton Sep 23 '20 at 14:46
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    @DanielHatton Please check this meta post for more on that situation. – Lilienthal Sep 24 '20 at 13:21
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    Thanks, @Lilienthal . I had a look at the question discussed in that meta post (it's still in Google's cache). That's a different case, because the perpetrators of the unlawful alleged actions were not named, and the user who got suspended for voting irregularities was the alleged victim of the unlawful actions, not the alleged perpetrator. So the mods' view is that some users claiming to be victims of unlawful age discrimination, and other users claiming to be perpetrators of such discrimination, are all colluding to attack the voting system, right? Any thoughts on the attackers' motive? – Daniel Hatton Sep 24 '20 at 14:05

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