NASA is quite a transparent organization with extensive public outreach and is therefore exposed to all kinds of things. To our great advantage as a Stack Exchange community we have many users (and some moderators) associated with the spaceflight industry, as well as some associated with/connected to government space agencies including NASA. I understand there can be an element of protectiveness and caution as SE is also open to the entire internet.
I feel a certain sense of protectiveness as well. Out of my currently 2,345 question posts here, 221 are tagged nasa. Except for some gentle ribbing about a certain Rocket Racing League team, I think they demonstrate a consistently high level of appropriateness, pride in and respect for this amazing organization.
I've asked or answered several questions relating to the potential, unintended transport of life from one solar system body to another with one of them being Earth. The two generally accepted concerns are that
- an inadvertent contamination of a body with life from Earth could lead to propagation, which could a) impact existing life there, b) inadvertently seed a previously lifeless body, or c) foul or confound scientific searches for novel forms of life either from the past or present.
- an inadvertent contamination of Earth with life from another solar system body could lead to serious problems here.
These topics are serious and require careful and serious exploration by both government and private organizations capable of spaceflight (primarily) beyond cis-lunar space.
In Space Exploration SE they also require careful and serious treatment in questions and in answers.
Recently, under a few of my posts I have been accused of making a "doxing request" and of harboring certain thoughts and motives that have not been expressed explicitly. They have become repetitive and are getting personal. I have flagged two such personally directed accusations as harassment and the flags were denied and I think that was done hastily and should be reviewed, reconsidered and perhaps clarified, otherwise those flag dismissals may inadvertently set precedent and going after users for suspected thoughts could be seen by some users to be tacitly endorsed by the moderation team.
- We don't go after Stack Exchange users because we suspect they might be thinking something, right?
- We DO express what we see as potential problems with posts and recommend changes that could address them in a positive and productive way, right?
Question: How extensively should we interrogate/pursue post authors about suspected ulterior motives or suspected thoughts or beliefs?
I won't quote individual comments but instead point to chains of them below the following posts:
- Is there any demonstrated or even proposed technology that can sterilize a spacecraft with 100% certainty and yet leave it electronically functional? The answer is no and the question provides a space for excellent answer posts to establish this.
- Who decided that a <1 in 10,000 probability of contaminating the europan ocean by a viable Earth microorganism was legally and ethically sufficient? The answer seems to be "nobody" and the value is from the early 1960's. "Legally and ethically" comes from a block quote from a 2016 document. They are not my words.
- This answer to Why are we trying to prevent life from spreading via landers rather than actively encouraging it? where I'm being accused of "apparently having an opinion" while the post only expresses facts as established by cited sources.
- This answer to Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus? where item #5 is cited as evidence that I hold some unexpressed belief or opinion
Currently I think that my efforts to write as objectively as possible, ask simple point-blank questions and write fact-based answers is what's triggering suspicions in some readers, especially those that cherry pick isolated phrases as "evidence". I think this should stop. In a fact-based site like Space Exploration SE what we suspect others of thinking should be off-limits and when folks focus too much of this on a single user moderators should take action and not rapidly dismiss flags on it.
In my opinion "I suspect that you think that..."-class comments should be quickly removed when flagged.
What do others think?
When it comes to bringing Martian samples back to Earth I did begin a question with my only ever "bias disclaimer" statement and cited examples why felt that way. A NASA sample return mission did crash and open up, potentially exposing its contents to the environment. So far that question has received 600+ views, +8/-1 votes and no pushback in comments.
- What precautions are planned to prevent samples returned from Mars crashing and releasing organisms on Earth?
The "update #1" in that question links to the August 2020 NASA page NASA Establishes Board to Initially Review Mars Sample Return Plans
Apparently NASA has boards and is above-board about their boards, asking about "...a specific panel of experts or group of ethicists and legal scholars..." is not a "doxing request" and calling it that then going on to answer the question anyway seems to be 1) wrong, the comment should be removed, and 2) wanting to have it both ways.
Serious topics need and deserve serious SE discussions unencumbered by personal attacks on individual SE users.
Source: Wikimedia's Genesis crash site scenery
- What skipped test on Genesis would have detected the backwards-inserted accelerometer which didn't deploy the parachute?
NASA's transparency is laudable!