A moderator recently engaged in what I perceive as threatening behaviour (a threat about how he'd close the question, the comment in question which he has now deleted), and then after push back on the threatening behaviour deleted their comment and closed that question on weak reasons ("too much work to answer!" even though I'd already answered it myself, and it took me 10 minutes, "doesn't show research!" even though, again, I had already done all the research and posted the answer myself), while all the while refusing to delete an obvious non-answer.

What's the proper response when dealing with mods who are sending out threats? Is there a mechanism to report that behaviour? What if they just delete the comment in question - is there a way to retrieve those comment(s)?

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    The mod Code of Conduct is here hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/conduct Under 'Unacceptable behavior' it lists "No subtle put-downs or unfriendly language," "No name-calling or personal attacks," "No bigotry" (including discrimination based on religion), and "No harassment" which specifically includes "bullying, intimidation, [...] direct or indirect threats" It sounds to me like the Moderator violated all of these in the exchange. Aug 16, 2022 at 20:50
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    @NigelJ I didn't want to be the one to point out that it lacked links, thank you. This is the question it is probably about, a question we both voted to have closed: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/77992
    – Jesse Mod
    Aug 17, 2022 at 11:33
  • I have deleted a few unnecessary comments here - let's draw this back to focus on the incident in question and the answer to this Meta question.
    – Steve can help Mod
    Aug 17, 2022 at 11:55
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    FWIW, as a matter course, I upvoted this merely because I answered it. Any question worth answering is worth upvoting. This Meta question has brought up many good things that the whole community needs to consider. Thank you for this.
    – Jesse Mod
    Aug 17, 2022 at 17:13
  • No surprise it was NigelJ who deleted his comments. He deleted ALL his comments on my question which led to its closing. Its reopened now as if nothing happened.... It very shady the way this website obfuscates the truth. And the mods are totally cool with it because its them who have the authority in babylon. @NigelJ Oct 16, 2022 at 17:01
  • @ReadLessPrayMore NigelJ frequently deletes his comments. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but my 2 c. is don't take it too personally. It's just how he operates. The incident for this thread is about someone else (a mod), though. Things have been cleared up now, and I think in the end the mods handled this particular situation quite well! Oct 16, 2022 at 21:17
  • @OneGodtheFather This platform is beyond repentance. I'm almost out of here. There are far better ways to share Truth. These "academics" don't value the rational method or the words of my Master and once I'm gone I bet the down vote my answers and questions out of existence. This forum is a terrible trap for babes in the word. Oct 17, 2022 at 2:37
  • @ReadLessPrayMore The site has rules that anyone has to learn, and although there are biases, I think you'll find most of the users are pretty fair. There are a few who reflexively downvote questions or answers they don't 'like', but the level of intellectual honesty is actually pretty high, as far as these things go. I think of it as training - rough seas make for better sailors than calm ones, so some pushback can be used for the good. :) Oct 17, 2022 at 3:32
  • @OneGodtheFather Thats fine if there are rules. But rules need to be enforced without bias. Oct 17, 2022 at 3:41
  • @ReadLessPrayMore I agree, and like I said, there's bias. You'll be swimming against the current. But if you stick around, you'll be a light. Enough lights stick around, the whole site can change. But the back-and-forth format of this site suits me and to an extent I enjoy the adversity - it's not everyone's cup of tea. Oct 17, 2022 at 4:06
  • @onegodthefather I'm currently being told my question here is wrong because it can be answered from different viewpoints by people who believe differently. Huh? Come again? Oct 17, 2022 at 4:10
  • @ReadLessPrayMore Are you talking about Christianity.SE? That's how the site operates - more or less has to be scoped to a specific viewpoint, to avoid flamewars. Hermeneutics.SE is a bit different, although sometimes that applies. Oct 17, 2022 at 4:22
  • @ReadLessPrayMore If you don't want it scoped to a specific viewpoint on Christianity.SE, you can ask for an overview of different views re the question. Oct 17, 2022 at 4:23
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Oct 17, 2022 at 4:24

2 Answers 2


The correct way to report concerns regarding Moderators is the below form, which can be used at any time to formally contact the Community team:


It is not uncommon for Questions which hinge on doctrinal viewpoints to stir disagreement among the community. Each Question should remain focused on the text they are based on, and welcome a range of answers from diverse perspectives.

Some of the Answers to this Question clearly stirred hostility among several users, which led to an excess of Comments and then necessary Comment deletions which followed. It can be difficult for Moderators on any site to fairly intervene in such situations impartially.

There was a misunderstanding that only three votes were required to close a Question, which I think caused this incident to escalate faster than it should have. Questions which generate excessive numbers of Comments are always more likely to have issues embedded within them, and so it is not unusual for intervention to be required to help askers focus their questions to increase their clarity.

Closing a question is not permanent, and is usually an opportunity for improvement, and so it would be good to explore any options there, as there is certainly a hermeneutical inquiry at the centre of it somewhere, although there has been disagreement between the OP and answerers as to what that inquiry really is and how to address it adequately.

Though I understand your frustration, please do show kindness and generosity to all site users, including Moderators. Disagreements are always challenging, and BH.SE is a great place to practice them. Hopefully the above link is sufficient for this specific concern, and moving forward the best route would be to start a new Meta question focused on your BH.SE Question, asking whether it is on-topic, and therefore whether it has been Closed incorrectly.


The question referred to is here: To which beginning is the word 'beginning' (arche) referring in the Gospel of John, outside of the prologue?

It has a history of edits, answers, dissents, agreements, and most of all change of both direction and clarity. Currently, it is a viable question and I posted an answer on it.

Steve Taylor's answer address some of the original concerns.

It is not uncommon for Questions which hinge on doctrinal viewpoints to stir disagreement among the community.

That is exactly what happened.

Closing a question is not permanent, and is usually an opportunity for improvement

That is also exactly what happened, leading to the question being re-opened.

Reaching out

The OP of this meta question is not off base in having concern. Some foreseeable disagreements slowly built and I was the only moderator addressing things on one particular day. From the OP's perspective, it may seem that the concerns were biased. So, it is understandable.

Moreover, it can be difficult to reach out to other moderators. SE's current software might be able to make some feature suggestions here. I may even bring it up, though I suspect it may already be under discussion by staff. Anyhow, this makes the OP's question on this Meta all the more understandable. It is an attempt to reach out, regardless of manners. Personally, I always appreciate people who seek to reach out for communication, even when it may come across as rude to some people. The action to reach out is more important, with any matter in life, IMHO.

We do have The Library chat room, available to all Hermeneutics users who can chat. Moderators could be tagged in that room. But, few know about this chat room. Perhaps a link in the help "?" menu would be useful for this. However, I understand that the SE chat system is already in need of fundamental overhaul. So, a feature to make site-wide -and-with-moderator chat more accessible may already be in the works.

What happend

Here are the factors I took into consideration, and always take into consideration, with questions:

  1. We don't want questions that are so vague that we can't tell whether they have been answered. We don't want round table, "What does everyone think about this passage" questions.
  2. We don't want "homework" questions for Biblical languages, as the Tour clearly states. We don't want questions like "Can someone do a word search and find the results for me?" That's a can of worms.
  3. We don't want questions that are all of the following: (some are fine, but not all)
  • Vague
  • About Bible passages that are highly controversial in headed disputes about theology
  • Where comments and answers begin to address or complain about systematic theological opinions
  • Where the OP provides an answer to the question
  • Where many comments dissent answers that either disagree or seem favorable to the OP's position
  • And, where elements of theology and especially "theological censorship" comes up in the comments (which is known to happen more than rarely)
  1. We don't want questions that seek non-objective hermeneutics, which seek to inject meaning based on linguistic fallacies, and/or do not have the goal of uncovering and respecting the author's original intent.

All of these four concerns were present here at one point or another, always involving multiple users. I'm not stating which users because it is in the clarity of the question that we find a helpful path forward.

Especially whenever number 3 happens, it starts looking to me like it is a systematic theology question masquerading as a hermeneutical question. That's when my "close" finger gets itchy.

But, when all of the above flags popped up, and there were already two close votes with a third being contemplated in the comments by a user who posted an answer, I decided to close the question as it had devolved into a "do my homework" question without having done much research to speak of.

...It was salvageable as a "homework" question, but only if some homework appeared in the question itself. After it would eventually be re-opened, I edited the question to provide this.

Homework questions are fine as long as some of the homework is already done within the question itself. Even the upvote button itself has a tooltip that reads "This question shows research effort..." This is a long-standing rule on sites throughout the Stack Exchange network—that questions should demonstrate a degree of research on the part of the OP.

A few hours after I closed the question, the earth continued rotating, and the alarm clocks went off in other hemispheres; the other moderators woke up in the morning and saw a closed question with my inquiry. We quickly discussed the matter.

Having a question closed certainly causes everyone to take a second look. Good thing too!

The interesting thing for me was that the moderator, who re-opened the question and added the word-study tag, I thought would oppose the word study. But, because it would involve very few words, that moderator was interested. I am always excited about "Biblical theology studies of words". So, I was delighted and answered the question.

...And, that's the story how I came to answer a word study question for the Gospel of John.

My Takeaway

I have no hard feelings at all toward any users who posted on this question anywhere, including the OP. And, I am thrilled with how the other moderators made this question work and the action they took.

Vague questions about theologically volatile Bible verses are dangerous for this very reason. This is why I go on about my "cloaked theology" concern—which I respectfully acknowledge is an unpopular term among some users I greatly respect. I don't like theological land-mines waiting for us to step on, even when they are presented as: "What does this verse mean? I'm just curious, after all." No, I've seen this movie too many times.

So, to the community I humbly request: Please understand why I may get jumpy about vague questions on hot Bible passages. If you ask a question about a hot Bible passage, make sure it is very clear what you are looking for in an answer so that discussion doesn't devolve as it so often can. If I start nosing around, I'm just trying to avoid another "Questionpocalypse" and "Answermageddon".

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    "Cloaked theology" questions do appear to be a common dilemma on the site; appreciate the mods being mindful of them. I haven't read enough of the back and forth on this particular question to have an informed opinion about it specifically, but I see much in your post here that is valuable for general application. Aug 19, 2022 at 4:32
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    I don't understand why this question is considered OK. It asks to study words not in the verse in question. We are supposed to post questions about verses, not questions about every verse other than the one cited. That is similar to the question about 'beginning' where we were asked to look at every use of beginning other than in the verse in question, which we were asked to not look at. This should be inappropriate here.
    – Robert
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:50
  • @HoldToTheRod Thanks for the attaboy and for understanding; we're all getting tired. In my research, I'm finding that it fits with sealioning vs asking a Q in good faith. Nigel doesn't like my term "cloaked theo", and I appreciate his reason that it feels like a pre-judgment. The issue is about trying to sort out a rubric to remain neutral on the Trinity while not allowing sealion questions. Maybe "sealion" should be the label and "cloaked theo" should be just a "concern". But, all same team.
    – Jesse Mod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 0:26
  • @Robert Strongly agreed! In my answer to that Q I insist on looking at the first occurrence anyway for that very reason. This experience is helping all of us clarify our site topic.
    – Jesse Mod
    Aug 26, 2022 at 0:29

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