Hi @ConfusedCow, thank you for raising your concerns in such a calm and peaceful way. We appreciate and consider all feedback we get, even the ones that are not so positive. We understand that the situation around the “I am disappointed in Brandon's silence” thread can be questionable and it might look like you described to users not involved in the moderation of this topic. I’ll try to provide you with a bit more insight into how our moderation process works and why in this case it didn’t achieve the goal that you also mentioned, to “elevate the discussion instead of abandoning it”.
We recently updated our Code of Conduct to make the expectations of members clearer, to help ensure that conversations are meaningful and don't break down into personal attacks or make members feel so defensive they feel that they need to repetitively defend themselves. Ultimately we want to keep the atmosphere of this community respectful and welcoming. In my opinion this is the ultimate goal behind rules like “no swearing”, “no insulting” and not attacking other users in any way. The tools we have to ensure this are centered around making minor changes or hiding users' posts, contacting members directly and requesting they alter the language of their posts, or as a last resort, preventing users from posting or closing threads. However, we ultimately can’t really tell people what they should write and it is up to them to decide on how they wish to interact with others. If someone wants to write something that we believe would be hurtful for other users, we can only hide it and start a discussion in private messages about rephrasing the message or just not posting it at all.
What can be seen in the mentioned thread - the public messages we send as staff - are only part of the whole picture, maybe not even half of it. It was never our intention to censor people. As you can see, even among staff members our thoughts on the matter of Brandon’s silence are varied. Every moderating action in that thread was aimed to deescalate high tension situations where posts were being aimed at members instead of continuing a discussion that was respectful of others’ opinions and feelings. As a regular user you can’t see how many negative and offending messages have been hidden in this thread. It was closed multiple times for short periods of time to let people cool down and resume the conversation with less emotions. Unfortunately, our public messages, private messages and any other actions we tried didn’t seem to bring us closer to a calm discussion about the subject. Eventually the thread was repeatedly turned into an argument where someone was being attacked for their opinions. Closing the thread permanently is one of the final steps we can take to protect the community from toxic content like this. We didn’t intend to stop people from stating their opinions about Brandon’s inactivity, but we have a duty to care for the members of this site and as a last resort we decided to close this thread to stop it from repeatedly turning into a fighting pit where users were attacking each other.
As Chaos said when the thread was closed, we want people to be able to discuss their thoughts on Brandon, and that includes their disappointment in him. But heated discussions that is no longer respectful will do more harm than good, and in the end it was decided that the thread was more detrimental than beneficial. We tried for several days to keep the thread going because we believe people should be able to express their disappointment in Brandon over his current silence and that those feelings are legitimate. But ultimately, our other forms of moderation weren’t working to keep the thread on track so that people could express their feelings without feeling delegitimised and closing the thread became our last choice option.
I hope this answers your doubts about our actions and reduces your concerns. If there are any questions you might have about this issue, feel free to follow up or move to private messages with any member of the staff.
P.S. I will be moving this thread to the 17th Shard discussion board, as it's strictly related to our community and not Brandon or his works.