I've been following this question (Coworker made unsolicited comments about appearance, how should I handle it?) for the last few days and have noticed that it's been edited. While this improved the clarity, it also seems to fundamentally alter part of the OPs description of the event; from

This doesn't feel like direct harassment but it was also pretty uncomfortable and awkward.


I'm unsure what to do in this situation because I don't know how to interpret it

To me the fact that the OP felt "uncomfortable and awkward" is fundamental and they didn't say "they didn't know to interpret it"

Is proposing another edit the correct thing to do or is there a better course of action?

  • I was the one who made the edit. The post had been closed, and I deliberately changed the tone to make it on topic. How someone feels isn't the best way to address the topic, and in this case was a strong reason why it was closed, and at one point, it had been deleted. – Old_Lamplighter Feb 17 at 15:56
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    I, along with others, asked the mods to remove the deleted status, and one of the mods un-deleted it, but left it closed and suggested I edited it, as I've managed to resurrect more than one post by doing so over the years. I have provided a formal answer below, on what actions to take, but am commenting here to let you know a bit of background to this particualr post. – Old_Lamplighter Feb 17 at 15:58
  • related at MSE: How can I flag an edit? – gnat Feb 17 at 16:32
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    @Old_Lamplighter I think you could take the question in two directions. One is the more general and neutral tone of your edit, the other is to keep the "I felt uncomfortable" as that cannot (well, should not) be contested and can also be addressed. Though that was already present in the original question and we saw that it lead to issues with the answers where some felt the need to contest how the OP should feel... You may wish to check the other meta threads about this questions on meta for this context @ matt. – Lilienthal Feb 17 at 21:01
  • @Lilienthal that was exactly why I removed that phrase as I felt it a distraction, and likely the reason it was closed in the first place. I tried to keep with the original intent, which I think was the uncertainty on how to proceed from there. As feelings are legitimate, they also distract. If someone were to call me "Rainman" or ask me if I can count cards, my feelings would not change the course of action required. Personally, I don't get offended but I would still warn the coworker that his actions reflect poor judgement, and then proceed from there. Same if I was angry. – Old_Lamplighter Feb 17 at 21:36
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    I would argue the fact that the op felt uncomfortable and awkward is really the heart of the question, not whether or not the coworker's comments meet some legal criteria for harassment. Answers that focus on the appropriateness of op's feelings should be downvoted as invalidating someone's feelings is rarely a helpful solution. – AffableAmbler Feb 19 at 19:11
  • @AffableAmbler So, say someone decides to call me "Rainman", joking about my autism. What should my actions be if I'm angry vs what they should be if I am not? – Old_Lamplighter Feb 22 at 4:55
  • r but isn't that at least partly guided by the fact that term does make at least some autistic people angry or prompts some feelings? If they called you "Jim" or "Pal" or "Mate" or something else that doesn't prompt any feeling in any autistic people, the way to deal with it (if at all) would be different? – matt freake Feb 22 at 9:07
  • @mattfreake I'm not sure I understand your point. To make the analogy more clear, if someone steals 50 dollars from you, does it matter if you're angry or not, or is it theft, regardless? – Old_Lamplighter Feb 22 at 13:23
  • @Old_Lamplighter my point is, why do we care about some words and not others? Ultimately it is because they have an effect on someone's feelings surely. – matt freake Feb 22 at 13:30
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    @mattfreake The answer to that is out of scope of the workplace. Now, in this case, I was faced with taking the part about the OP's feelings out, and getting the post reopened, or leaving it in, and leaving it closed and deleted. Which is of more use to the OP? – Old_Lamplighter Feb 22 at 14:58
  • @AffableAmbler should I undo my edit, and have the mods close and delete the post, as it was before I took any action? – Old_Lamplighter Feb 22 at 14:59
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    Don't misunderstand me, i agree you did the right and helpful thing given the current rules on Workplace. I just think there's an inconsistency there that in Workplace's rules about feelings. But that's a bigger discussion than can fit in the comments 🙂 – matt freake Feb 22 at 15:22
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    @mattfreake no argument there. Personally, I'm very pragmatic in my approach. I understand that others are of differing opinions. That's fine. That's why Meta exists, and why we can edit. – Old_Lamplighter Feb 22 at 15:50

You can always propose another edit, but keep two things in mind:

  1. If a question was previously closed, the existing edit may have been put in place to make it more on-topic so that it could be reopened.
  2. You run the risk of starting an edit war, which can get messy.

The absolute best course of action is to bring it to the attention of META, where it can be discussed, and you can make your case as to why the edit should be undone or modified.

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    Thanks that makes sense. – matt freake Feb 17 at 18:19
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    One can also roll-back an edit if you consider it's not good or the previous version was best... that requires I believe 2k rep privileges – DarkCygnus Mar 1 at 17:18

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