First off, I asked to have a number of comments deleted on my answer, and I appreciate that they were deleted in an expeditious manner.
I can lay it out for you.
A number of commenters were "responding to tone". I noted that responding to tone is very low on the "hierarchy of disagreement" and that I would not be responding to comments on tone, only comments on the factual accuracy of the answer.
Rather than agreeing with me that commenting on tone is generally unhelpful, a number of commenters then doubled down. In their continued comments on my tone, they accused me of being:
- like a serial harasser of women
- "tone deaf"
- a lying, disingenuous corporate shill
- and so on
This time no one compared me to Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, but I have had people responding to tone compare me to those people as well.
Now, first off, there is never a call for any ad hominem personal attack. You can disagree with what I say, and you can think that I say it in an inelegant or counterproductive way, but suggesting that I am like those guys who serially harass women because I wrote one sentence that someone read as strongly worded is not in the spirit of this site.
Second, suppose someone told you that you were a disingenuous lying corporate shill. Would you trust that person to be a good judge of what the right "tone" is for this site? I wouldn't.
I do confess though that I found all the "You sound too hostile, you lying jerk!" comments hilarious. But as unintentionally funny as they were, I also felt like they should be deleted as they were not in the spirit of the site; I want to discourage that kind of behaviour, even if it does secretly amuse me.
So I asked for the comments to be deleted. Since they were arriving faster than I could ask them to be deleted, I am glad that the moderator went the extra distance to lock the post.
Without access to the comments, there isn't any accountability. How would the community evaluate the merits of locking unless the comments were visible? Are we just supposed to trust moderator judgement?
The moderator made the right call. Now, as for the question of "how do we hold moderators accountable?", that's a great question. Who reviews moderator decisions? I don't know. I'd be interested to learn more.
What harm was brought to the community by these comments? Was it a bar fight, or just simple disagreement? Did someone use one of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television? If there is no harm, are we guarding against potential future harm?
Ad hominem personal attacks are unwelcoming and defeat the purpose of the site.
Locking comments alone (without locking the entire post) is a new capability. Are we using it sensibly?
In this particular case I believe so. As for the broader question, I don't know; that would fall under the earlier point about determining whether moderators are behaving appropriately.
Is there an actual civility problem on Software Engineering that needs to be addressed?
I do not enjoy being accused of being like the Nazi propaganda minister in return for spending my valuable time answering user questions.