Sorry for this question, but I still need to understand the different dynamics of this site (site which I find very interesting and helpful).

I'd like to understand if I can trust users who are currently suspended.

I am referring in this specific case to a user who is very active both on ELU and ELL (probably a bit too much) in giving advice especially to new users like me.

I've seen that this user is currently suspended from ELL, I have no idea why but I guess that being suspended is not a good thing.

Does this imply that this user should not be trusted or is it just a temporary problem that has no impact on the reputation of the user?


I want to clarify that I am not referring to their (the suspended user) linguist competence, but to their advice on the rules and their application on these sites. If they have been suspended, I may reasonably suspect that their behaviour was not "compliant" to the sites rules, so "should I trust them in this respect"?

  • @Dan Bron - Without the username it is not clear that I am referring to a user who is active also on ELU, should I add that information?
    – user 66974
    Mar 6, 2016 at 15:01
  • 3
    Yes, it's always best to add any details you think pertinent or will help people form better answers. The problem with naming names is it tends to attract argument rather than discussion. This way, the question can stand as a useful reference for similar situations in the future, involving completely different users.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 6, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    If you mean 'Can I trust the accuracy of their English analyses / suggestions?', there has recently been a case of Professor A disagreeing with an analysis given by Professor B. This is typical of higher-end syntactical analyses (hence the reason for all the different grammars). Always read all the answers, and realise that some questions still need better treatments. Mar 6, 2016 at 15:40
  • 1
    You can raise any particular issue here (provided that it hasn't been addressed before by others than the suspended person/s). Mar 6, 2016 at 16:03
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    Suspension is usually for not following procedural recommendations and being a jerk about it, or just being a jerk in general. So if someone who tells you about a rule and somes across as a jerk, you can't be sure if they're just a jerk or if they also don't know the rules well.
    – Mitch
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:14
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    loosely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/274114/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:40
  • I forgot to mention that if one posts a number of questions or answers which are negatively downvoted, a sign of poor quality but also possibly a sign of emotional/communication problems not having to do with language skills (being a jerk), then they may be automatically suspended. But you can check this case by looking at their profile. (I don't know the details on the numbers of downvotes, etc)
    – Mitch
    Mar 6, 2016 at 22:12
  • 1
    There are always rules governing the site, and people you can ask especially meta stuff from. It's not like people are making stuff up. I suspect I know the user you're talking about. Note that 1. Activity on one site is rather loosely connected to activity on another. And 2. I appreciate that user's efforts to moderate this site. Some of their comments are blunter than they should be, but they sure care for the site's quality. This post may have a subtle intention which is counterproductive.
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:09
  • @IͶΔ - the intention of this post is to understand who is who here. As a new user I've been receiving a lot of inputs (probably too many) from more experienced user. My impression, but I may be wrong, is that they are not all aimed at helping me. The user in question has already attracted criticism here and has been suspended on ELL. Nothing personal but I think it is fair to ask some clarification.
    – user 66974
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:22
  • @Saturana the thing is that you can do pretty well without trying to know who's who. SE's philosophy is for voting on the content, not the person. People are important, and this whole system is for people, but to be a useful resource of knowledge, we focus on the content, not who wrote it. You can pick this stuff up from reading some of [meta.so]. Anyone who chimes in the moderation of SE should ideally be building a library and maintaining quality, rather than "helping" the OP for the reason I mentioned. This would explain most of that user's actions.
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:28
  • @IͶΔ - I am new and I may be missing something, but I agree that content is important. So what about this content? english.stackexchange.com/questions/311494/…, would the long trail of comments be helpful to me of to any serious user?
    – user 66974
    Mar 8, 2016 at 18:54
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    Comment threads shouldn't be long. In an ideal world, they should only be used for clarification regarding the question. In all fairness, I see someone who wanted to explain why they close-voted to you. You asked for elaboration, they did. Meta discussion ensues. Just like always, he should've disengaged, but he didn't. He guided you to ELL, which is productive. NNS questions are more welcome on ELL. If you believe that thread is counterproductive, then all the participants are at fault. Please come to chat for a discussion
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 8, 2016 at 19:12
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    should I trust suspenders?! Boooo!
    – user58319
    Mar 10, 2016 at 16:39
  • You shouldn't arbitrarily trust anything that you read on the internet. Period. That being said, I might trust a suspended user even more, as they're likely to have taken the 'kid gloves' off: SE can be quite one-sided at times and about as far as you can get from reality. But there's a 50/50 chance they are full of it, as always. ... OK, yeah, it's prob more like 70/30 (or worse) but you get the point. Just be careful if you're going to try and 'tell it like it is.'
    – Mazura
    Jul 16, 2016 at 9:59
  • @Mazura - thanks, as a junior user I just wanted a feedback on what being suspended may imply, especially if a user is suspended multiple times...that should means something, I think.
    – user 66974
    Jul 16, 2016 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


It doesn't really matter.

Suspension is mainly a tool for moderators and Stack Exchange employees, which allows them to control the ability of a user to make posts and take other actions on a site. Suspensions are temporary, but that doesn't mean they aren't serious. However, suspension isn't designed to be a public sign of how "trustworthy" a user is, so I would say you should not interpret it this way.

As I mentioned in a comment on your previous question, new users should generally take all "advice on the rules and their application on these sites" seriously, because it is generally backed up by actions. Rules provide general guidelines, but high-reputation users have a fairly large degree of freedom within these guidelines to take various actions on posts (editing, closing, deleting). For example, if you receive a comment from a user with more than 3000 reputation saying that your question is off-topic, that user has probably already put in a close vote for your question. If four other users agree, the question will be closed. So you should think about how you can convince this user, or other high-rep users, that your post is not off-topic after all.

Here is what I mean by "take it seriously":

  • If the comment asks for more information, edit your question to add it
  • if the comment says that the question is too broad, think about how you can edit your question to make it more narrow
  • if you feel that you absolutely cannot follow the advice in the comment, respond with a new comment explaining the reason why you disagree

You generally aren't obligated to follow any user's advice, but it would probably be wise to do so.


As regards being told how you should act on the site...

If a moderator (with a diamond after their username) instructs you to do or not do something you should comply - but if you seriously disagree, you can obviously raise the issue on meta and try to garner support from the entire user base. If a mod gives you advice you should trust that advice. But again, you're free to argue the toss here.

For any other user (including me, for example), I suggest you take any advice with a fairly large pinch of salt - especially if what they're saying doesn't seem to be explicitly supported by the FAQ. I'm sure we all have our off days, and sometimes say things we wouldn't necessarily endorse later.

When it comes to statements about English (grammaticality, terminology, etc.) posted as answers or comments, you can't necessarily "trust" anyone. As @Edwin comments, even professors can disagree. But as a rule of thumb, if two different users give you conflicting information and you've nothing else to go on, it's probably better to assume the higher-rep user is "correct" (unless/until further information comes to light). In general, high rep on ELU reflects the fact that other users have repeatedly endorsed pronouncements by the high-rep user.

I don't think there's any good reason to assume a user who's been suspended is any less qualified to advise on correct use of English than any other user. People can be suspended for many reasons, few of which have any implications for whether their advice on the use of English is "trustworthy".

  • I would say that regarding the site itself (i.e. here on meta) reputation is a good guide to trustworthiness; otherwise, as you say, it is only a guide if you have nothing else to go on. Mar 6, 2016 at 18:51
  • @TimLymington: Of course, "nothing else to go on" makes all the difference. Suppose I were to tell OP that he should never "use" (as opposed to "mention") the word berk on ELU, because it's even more offensive than the n-word. That one kinda span both situations above. Should he trust me? Probably not, given Wikipedia says it's a mild pejorative widely used across the UK and not usually considered particularly offensive. But if a mod told him that, he should comply (Wikipedia notwithstanding, but of course he could raise the point here). Mar 6, 2016 at 19:08
  • I edited my question to specify that my concern is not on their (suspended users) linguistic competence.
    – user 66974
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:45
  • @FF: That's a very interesting example: there's a closely parallel question being thrashed out at meta.RPG.SE at the moment. I did wonder whether to raise it here, but on the whole thought sleeping dogs best undisturbed. Mar 6, 2016 at 21:20
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    @Saturana: I appreciate that, but I answered the question as originally posed. And although the second part of my answer can now be seen to be irrelevant to you, it does no harm to leave it there, since it may be useful to others. Mar 6, 2016 at 21:23
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    @TimLymington: Haha! Use of that specific word was actually raised on ELU meta, and looking at that page again now I can't be sure how many (if any) others contributing to the discussion where aware of what I still consider to be the "primary" sense of the word. In general I use it quite freely (in both senses), but I definitely wouldn't use it in front of my mother (or grandmother when she was around). And whereas I might (but didn't) mention it here, I probably wouldn't dare use it! :) Mar 6, 2016 at 21:40
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    @FumbleFingers - no sorry, the edit was present before you wrote your answer, you can check. You probably didn't notice it. No problem.
    – user 66974
    Mar 6, 2016 at 21:41
  • @Saturana: You're quite right, and in fact I did realise half of my answer was irrelevant to you as soon as I posted it. I started composing the answer, then wandered off to make a cup of tea. When came back I scrolled up to copy the address of Edwin's comment, but although I could see there had been an edit, I didn't bother refreshing the page until I'd finished (at which point I decided to ignore the clarification as per previous comment). But I still might have added the second section even if I hadn't started until after I'd equipped myself with refreshments. Mar 6, 2016 at 21:56

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