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I wish to voice my concern over the treatment of Scott and discuss whether the community feels this was a correct way to handle the situation.

Some background on Scott for newer users:

  • Scott is the Jon Skeet of GDSE
  • He has reached roughly as many people as our 2nd, 3rd and 4th highest rep members combined. (12,400,000 people reached)

So there was an altercation involving Scott and a new users months ago. Scott then voluntarily took a sabbatical from GDSE, and has only just started coming back more frequently. In his time off, he was still contributing to other sites on the network, and I feel safe in assuming he has had no incidents during that time.

So he left a few comments, some of which raised flags. The mods have highlighted what is in my opinion, a questionable example of a sarcastic comment made by Scott in a meta post.

This is where I believe the mistake was made. Scott was called out publicly on the incident, and not in a friendly tone either, but in a zero-tolerance tone. That forced him to respond, and its obviously going to be an argumentative response as it would be from anyone who thinks they haven't done anything wrong.

Everything I have seen about this (meta and transcripts) reads to me as the mods have no time for Scott, and that he's a bit of a nuisance.

But I personally know different. Scott is not irrational or unreasonable, he occasionally came across as a bit stern with a few early comments to me but I soon learned it wasn't malicious in the slightest.

I've rewritten many comments when I realised they came across in a tone I didn't intend, and have posted others that I simply didn't realise had a problem. There's always a chance it's plain human error, but in this case Scott was immediately painted a villain, and indirectly threatened with suspension via the meta post.

What I find quite incredulous, is that someone who has given so much time and effort to GDSE, is given no patience or effort from the mods.

Even if Scott re acted badly to being called out - I actually think he gave a clearly frustrated but reasonable response - when he came to chat to discuss it (clearly frustrated, maybe a little hurt, but not rude) he was immediately met with an abrasive response from someone who definitely used to have an internet-based friendship with him, further degrading the relationship between mods and Scott.

I personally feel that the mods have not been particularly friendly lately (from the limited stuff I see) and are much more matter-of-fact, rules-and-regulations now.

I think it's plain wrong that there was less time and patience for Scott than any new user is given, considering the size of his contributions and his very long track record of using the site without a problem.

Serving a suspension to our #1 user is a potential flag in itself. It's definitely worth considering that maybe the problem isn't Scott after all, or isn't all Scott, and maybe it's also a bit closer to home instead.

Do you think Scott was treated with the fairness and respect he deserves?

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    For more discussion of why we only reveal a tiny bit of information on suspension reason, please see: Avoid the Streisand Effect - be clear about the reason when suspending an account. Moderators quite rightly are reluctant to go into details that might needlessly embarrass a user and make it difficult to return from the penalty box. – Jon Ericson Mar 5 '16 at 0:31
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    @JonEricson thanks, I know it may draw further attention but I'm concerned that he won't come back again when he thinks he's not wanted or liked here. I'm also concerned because I think that could have all been avoided with different tact and would not like to see it repeated with others. I'm hoping there's something to be learned from the incident. I also think this post could be deleted sometime after to purge it from record and leave it in the past. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 1:00
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    I must sat that I have same sentiment. Second saying that theres things we dont know to do this decision does not make it better it makes it worse. Its like a star chamber decision, how am i supposed to know its the right one! As for @JonEricson It seems to me scott is being kept in the penalty box regardless. – joojaa Mar 5 '16 at 9:58
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    After reading all the answers and comments here... Urrggghhhhhhh... May I suggest that some moderators appear to be better at de-escalating conflicts than others, and that those whose strengths lie in areas other than conflict de-escalation might be best off delegating such issues to other moderators, and focussing on areas like quality standards enforcement etc that play better to their strengths? – user568458 Mar 9 '16 at 9:30
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    @user568458 Excellent suggestion. In practice, though, it often happens that whoever is in the right time zone and has time to spare takes on urgent matters like these. There's only four of us. – Vincent Mar 9 '16 at 13:00
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    @user568458 I think that's a good suggestion. We should bear in mind that this post put them all in a difficult situation and they must show solidarity above all else so they didn't have many ways to respond. However the first response was quite quick and I assume a bit rushed, so at the very least maybe spending a bit more time discussing how to respond would also be helpful. – Dom Mar 9 '16 at 13:11
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Well there's more to the story you can't see and the decision to suspend Scott was based on actions that occurred in the meta post that he has been warned about and they were removed by Scott himself. The initial meta post you're referring to was not the deciding factor in his suspension.

Either way, his suspension is between SE moderators, SE Staff and Scott. I am not going to go into further detail at this time but I will say for the record the meta post was not the reason for the suspension. Also, we're not going to talk about Scott when Scott can't be involved in this discussion himself. If he wants to talk about it when he returns, that's another matter - but while he can't and until he wants to, it would be unacceptably rude for us to discuss this.

Answering your question:

Do you think Scott was treated with the fairness and respect he deserves?

To answer your initial question, yes. The member was warned and consulted about events and was told if it happened again a suspension would be instituted.

Scott is one of our best members but his contribution shouldn't be justified or tolerated outside of the norm or be an excuse to act in an un-civilized manner. All site members are treated equally and will be expected to do the same to one another. Meta posts were created because issues presented themselves or were brought to our attention by fellow community members, Sarcastic Comments will not be tolerated & GD.SE site behavior and the future.

That said, any member is encouraged to talk to a moderator and can request a private chat if they feel they have an issue, are uncomfortable or want to raise a concern. GD.SE should be and is a fun place for people and people shouldn't feel uncomfortable when they visit our site or any SE site. They are encouraged to bring it to our attention by pinging us in chat and asking if they can talk to any mod and we will take care of the rest or you can create a chat and ask a moderator to make it private. All issues that are flagged will stay private unless the user would like to come forward and talk about it with the community.

  • Now it seems like there is no place for the community to discuss anything. This shouldn't be locked. This is the place to discuss this. I have asked particularly about the way Scott was treated, and the suspension is just one part of that. The reaction to him in chat, and calling out his comments on meta, is what I want to discuss with everyone. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 0:03
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    The community can discuss whatever they choose but you should understand that what you see is not the full details furthermore you are subjectively criticizing the moderators when there are more issues that you are unaware of. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 0:06
  • My main concern is how it escalated. I don't think any of you mods made any effort to diffuse it or talk to Scott on a friend-to-friend level. It was all business-like and harsh, him vs the mods, and I've seen what that's like myself. I guess Yisela must have been the one who kept a friendly tone going in the past because it's pretty much disappeared now. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 0:22
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    Again, there's more to what you can see. Private chats have been created, emails as I recall you have received before, etc. etc. So what you're saying and seeing is not fully there. We aren't targeting a user and I dont see why you're bringing Yisela into this. So I encourage you to give the mods the benefit of the doubt because your view of how the mods are treating someone is incorrect. I do think it is incorrect to discuss a member while they are away but if he would like to go into full detail I think we can lay it all out. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 0:27
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    As stated, I recall by Ryan, Scott took the initial conversation into the chatroom which then made it public record. Just because he is an older chap doesn't give someone the right to act in a unfitting manner. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 0:39
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    "There's more to what you can see." has never been a sufficient reason for trust or good reasoning, I don't understand why this is pulled out as the #1 defense. I have to agree with Dom here that the discussion is being silenced. – KMSTR Mar 5 '16 at 7:27
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    Then if you feel that way why not request full disclosure and see if you can get dom to let his past experience be brought into light. It was private communication and counseling that was done between moderators and dom himself. By what you and Dom are saying its ok to release private details about someone similar to this instance without letting the person that received approve if we do it. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 7:45
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    Then im confused by your comment and ask for clarity. I read it as you have an issue because we arent discusing the private matters with you – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 8:03
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    I was actually talking about the condescending tone of "undisclosed reasons" and the general tone of talking down to everyone to not question or debate decisions. Just like your tone is condescending to me now. – KMSTR Mar 5 '16 at 8:04
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    Im not talking to you down one bit. This whole q&a reads to me as you guys do not know every detail of what took place you guys have a problem with that and think we are randomly just picking on him. In no is that condescending one bit and we simply stated the issue is a private matter and unless scott says ok werent disclosing anything else. I dont understand why that is an issue here? Unless im missing something but to me it appears you two are not happy because we dont tell you flat out why the user was suspended. Without disclosing issues to what the suspension we did mention the meta – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 8:08
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    But you reject ANY feedback. Just like saying "I am not condescending" is simply rejecting feedback. And you are holding up your one point about it being private to bash of any feedback, be it about exactly what you want it to be or not. Reducing your talking partner to YOUR only point, which is condescending! Just like starting sentences with "Did you or did not" comes across as condescending. And I am telling you how you come across, and you simply swat it away with "No, I am not". Which is the original problem, you come across like "silence! we are right for good, undisclosed reasons". – KMSTR Mar 5 '16 at 8:14
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    We dont reject any feedback whatsoever. We are simply stating there is more to the story then was seen by the community. If you want to base your perceptions on unclear reasoning then as stated leave your answer. If you feel that is how I am coming across i respect your opionion but its not my entition. I asked did you or did you not for clarity because as already stated i am confused in both your points. I am also confused on how you can perceive an opinion when other issues are at hand BUT if you would like to disclose that by all means go ahead. In no way am I saying silence. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 8:18
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    All the things I said, again. "I don't reject feedback" as an answer to "you are rejecting feedback" is now meta-rejecting feedback. To infinity... – KMSTR Mar 5 '16 at 8:22
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    Then im confused in why you keep saying that when this makes the third time Ive stated if you have an answer or opionion leave it below.. im sorry i dont understand but maybe someone else can explain it. Again meta isnt rejecting feedback but your current feedback wont be taking into consideration all events and we cant go into detail all those events without scotts approval. You want to leave an answer with your feedback roght now we arent stopping you. – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 8:26
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    Howdy, let's all remember the good old days when I said " Reducing your talking partner to YOUR only point, which is condescending!" – KMSTR Mar 5 '16 at 8:29
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I, and we, the mods, understand that the recent suspension if Scott has you guys and girls on edge. We really don't want you to feel as if we're hanging the suspension-hammer over your heads just for making a few funny remarks. On the contrary, we want this to be an accessible and amiable community like it has always been.

We also understand that you'd like to know more about the why of Scott's suspension. We want to be transparent and accessible to you guys. The thing is... We can't tell, and that's not just general SE site policy. Some of the reasons we chose to suspend Scott from the site for a week are private and/or have been deleted by either us or Scott himself. That is us trying to clean up garbage where we find it, and not trying to remove proof. A site with heavy and less civil discussion visible to any new user is very uninviting and gives us all a bad name. So we clean that up quickly.

Moreover, if we want an honest discussion about the suspension, we need Scott here. At the moment he isn't, for obvious reasons, so he can't defend his point. He is also the one to decide if certain things that got removed can be made public in that discussion—that is and never will be up to the mods. Therefore, this discussion will have to wait for his return.

Once again, we understand the unrest that has been caused and, frankly, we hate having had to cause it. Please be patient with us, we are also just people who also have day jobs and who are fallible. If you want to know more, feel free to ask, just be aware that we are not allowed to reveal any and all youll want to know.

If you have suggestions for how we can improve, by all means, hit us. But, please, be friendly and constructive. We are all volunteers here.

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    Hi Vincent, It's going a bit off course because I don't want to discuss the reasons for suspension, I want to discuss the public events before it -that are still on record in meta and transcripts - and whether that was the right way to treat Scott in a difficult situation. It was wrong to call him out as a naughty user in the meta post; that escalated the situation unnecessarily. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 13:41
  • @Dom All my above points are valid for the build-up to the suspension, as well. Find and replace terms as you see fit :) – Vincent Mar 8 '16 at 9:36
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I can understand why you might be shocked by this, but you truly don't have all the information. This is unavoidable, we clean up the bad stuff as part of the response procedure. The mods discussed this at length; the decision was unanimous without any hint of uncertainty. Please do not make the mistake of assuming that we did not take any of those more diplomatic options just because they were not visible to you.

Scott was not suspended because of his very vocal disapproval with the recent meta post. Nor was it because of a sarcastic comment. I mentioned in in chat when it was brought up, but I'll post it here too:

We don't discuss moderation actions related to individual users, however, due to the recent show of concern we can say that this was not because of a sarcastic comment but rather an ongoing issue for which multiple warnings were issued. If he wants to discuss why after the cooldown is up, he's welcome to

(emphasis added since your post unathoritavely asserts that we did not "give him the benefit of the doubt")

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    Hi John, I know how it looks like we're piling on over a suspension, but that is not my main focus here. My focus is the calling Scott out on meta, I think it was the wrong move and escalated the situation for no point. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 13:44
  • I think my end goal here is that you guys realise you made certain mistakes that contributed to the outcome, and ideally admit to Scott in private that you guys do agree you share some of the fault here so that there's a chance he may return someday and maybe even help to repair the friendship that you used to have. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 16:10
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    I get what you're saying, @Dom. Could the situation have been approached more delicately? Absolutely. But having been a few days removed from the exchange, I don't regret my approach. I would really prefer not to go in depth as to why I felt the bluntness necessary; it does not feel right without Scott able to defend himself. This is out of respect for him, not my attempt to sweep the issue under the rug. – JohnB Mar 7 '16 at 22:13
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    Re:call outs on Meta: some names were censored, some weren't. Was it wrong that Scott's name wasn't? I don't think so, he did choose to voice his resentment in pubic chat. We're all open to criticism with everything we publicly post and for our actions, just as you're criticizing how we handled this. And that's okay by me. Were we targeting him to incite a reaction? No. Ryan's intention was to highlight exchanges that happened recently. With enough digging, I bet you could find an instance where I made a sarcastic comments towards a new user. It's a plea to all, not just Scott. – JohnB Mar 7 '16 at 22:18
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    All that aside, the message has been received loud and clear that we came off more abrasive than necessary. Big shout-out to user568458 for speaking up with a well thought out and reasonable compromise. – JohnB Mar 7 '16 at 22:21
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Oh the Irony of it all. Hey Dom, did you come into chat today or any time recently to discuss your feelings with us either about Scott or about our unfriendliness? Or did you make a meta post calling us out? Frankly this is hypocritical of you, when are you going to give us mods, "he was not given the benefit of the doubt." But I digress..

It is inappropriate to detail issues between specific users on meta this way. It taints the community and is unfounded. This is more so true when comments have been edited or removed and the community can not see things first hand. (additional redacted) – Scott Nov 19 '15 at 21:04

That's a deleted comment Scott left me last time when I tried to at least somewhat share with the community what was going on. (The bold was his original styling).

Now could actions on both Scott's side and the Mod's side have gone differently? Of course. Do I wish things had? Absolutely. And I hope in a week from now he'll be back and everyone will be a bit calmer and maybe feeling more resolved so we can have a more calm private chat and then move on for good.

  • I didn't come into chat because I wanted to say it in a long chunk like this rather than debate it point by point and risk forgetting most of the points I wanted to make. Maybe I could have given you guys the benefit of the doubt but I'm biased because of previous debates we've had. I still think using Scott as an example of bad behaviour in a meta post was entirely the wrong move for peaceful resolution. That's putting him permanently on record as a "naughty" user. For me, that's disrespectful towards Scott's rep. He should be shown as our example to follow, not the opposite. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 1:23
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    @Dom.. to show transparency why not edit your question to show why you feel that way or why you're biased? Are you ok if we bring up how issues were handled with you and what steps we took? – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 1:27
  • @Darth I'd have to somehow explain that and dredge up the past. I left out detailed explanations of a lot of stuff to keep it as lean as possible. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 1:46
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    I dont mind one bit pulling all the records and showing the process we took to handle your past issues. You can create another meta post on the process if youd like and we can produce everything to see if others deemed the process was fair and proper. Isnt that what your initial question is about no?? – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 1:53
  • No @Darth you've missed the main point. I keep saying it. You guys shouldn't have publicly called out Scott in the meta post. I don't know what that has to do with our past issues. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 2:08
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    @dom i see the points and your question reflects differently to your comment. You stated the mods didn't give Scott time which is incorrect and if you would like to illustrate or keep mentioning full disclosure we can explain to others your experience. Either way your question reads the mods are attacking Scott and that is not the case. So Ill ask again. Would you like to enduldge the community in the process you experienced in a suspension to see if it was fair even though no one else knows why? – Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ Mar 5 '16 at 3:35
  • @Darth indeed, that is a strong word but is kind of what I'm saying. Calling Scott out on meta was an attack on his reputation and forced him to publicly defend his actions. – Dom Mar 5 '16 at 13:53
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    I realize I'm late to the drama and truthfully I'd rather avoid it all together and not get involved but I find that this answer and subsequent comments on this answer are not very professional and a bit telling. I understand the mods are still human and susceptible to attacks on character but I feel like the other answers provided by other mods were handled with more tact. I liked @Darth_Vader's answer but think these comments are quite childish and inappropriate. – Hanna Mar 17 '16 at 23:04
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I must say that I haven't liked the way we as a community have handled many things. Now it seems like the community is actually breaking down, period. And to be honest the mods aren't helping here. I was considering stepping out of this game already before this: For example I stepped out of of moderation for a while because I didn't understand the central moderation policy anymore.

It important to be nice to beginners, but understand that most beginners will not further us at all. Currently we are being a bit too inclusive for our own good. Like I said I'm a bit confused the policy is now totally bonkers.

And I agree with @Dom there is something bad going on from the standard users point of view. Saying I do not know the details is, well just doing more harm. Like I said I dont know what the goals are anymore. This makes it worse, not better. You can say all day long that its something I dont know, fine, that does not help me one bit.

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    Thanks for the feedback Joojaa. I don't really understand your second paragraph though and why you say we've been "too inclusive" – Ryan Mar 5 '16 at 12:12
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    @ryan we spend way too much time wondering wether new users find it easy, and nice to enter. We should instead spend time concentrating make those people that really could be good members better off. World is full of hit and run askers. – joojaa Mar 5 '16 at 12:21
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    any hit and runner could be the next DA, Scott or joojaa :P – Vincent Mar 5 '16 at 18:54
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    @Vincent no i dont think so its pretty evident that asking is not the way to go in that case. – joojaa Mar 5 '16 at 19:00
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Thank you @Dom,

Did you know that Staff doesn't know who is flagging comments? It's entirely possible for one user to go around and flag every comment another user leaves and the moderators never know this is happening. It's kind of a hole in the SE model. It allows someone with a grudge to be vindictive with comment flags. If the staff then has some unfounded policy that X number of comment flags merits suspension (not an SE policy I can find), it allows any one user to target another user and get the staff to unwittingly do their dirty work for them. Now, staff is supposed to have a critical thinking nature and judge the comments on their own merits, but well.. you can't force people to be critical thinkers. They either are or they aren't.

My time is not worth dealing with the juvenile mind games being played around here. I won't "argue" with anyone just so I have the opportunity to spend my time sharing my knowledge and experience with others for free. There are places where my contributions are appreciated. I won't waste my time with some stupid internet drama. Looking at the situation logically, clearly common sense has taken a back seat to some fabricated drama being perpetuated by users other than myself. I mean, I see the edit war that took place on this question... that's certainly not my drama.

If you are unhappy with staff, there are things you can do.

Best of luck to you, @Dom! And to all users who have a level head and realize I'm just some guy that was donating my time to helping others, whoever they may be.


For the record, I've read nothing here other than the question. If staff is unwilling to speak with me and tell me what's going on, it is doubtful anything publicly posted is accurate. It's very easy to blame me for anything and everything when I'm not permitted to speak for myself without being suspended.

If this post has been edited, I encourage you to review the edits... only the original post is my sentiment

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    Just for clarity: I think when you're talking about "staff" you mean to say "♦ moderators". "Staff" is usually used to refer to those employed by SE. It's true that the user who flags a comment is not shown, but we can (and often do for context) still investigate and find out who it was. – JohnB Mar 11 '16 at 20:05
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    We are not unwilling to speak with you. I can understand why frustration or discontent would prevent you from taking me up on the offer, but the door is always open to anyone to reach out to us for a private chat. – JohnB Mar 11 '16 at 20:10
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    I will not respond in comments. They get flagged and I get suspended. I attempted to speak with staff several times only to be met with undeserving rude behavior. Specifically from you John. I will post nothing further on this matter. – Scott Mar 11 '16 at 20:10

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