Well that “idea” was actually what the “community” said they wanted – i.e. the people who created the site off Area51 and were then active on Meta. Even quite early they asked meta-questions about (and proposed solutions to) several kinds of problem, including sectarianism. Like they were concerned about that – I guess that was from their experience of previous sites. And now, those are my marching orders (the policies which guide me and which I try to implement for them).
One of the original moderators told me that questions have a “slope” – that some questions incline towards being easy to answer … and some have an incline towards flame-wars (including questions which ask for a naive comparison between schools), and so it’s better not to ask those.
So anyway, selecting a topic is a “first line of defence” IMO – if it’s a Q&A site like SE and not a chat site. A lot of the personal views or differences which people might get heated or defensive about are simply off-topic – I don’t even see it as bad behaviour, just off-topic content to excise or wipe.
As a site+community, we also – which is unusual/unorthodox for SE – chose to discourage users’ posting questions to self-answer them: in case self-answering might be used for preaching or like spamming (so if you want to self-answer you can post elsewhere, on a blog or on YouTube etc., we stick more strictly to the “Q&A” format and user-scenario).
But even respectfully that’s still only within limits.
Because some (or many) personal opinions are about off-topic topics, IMO.
Buddhist doctrine (forgive me again) about “Right Speech” implies that a statement’s being “true” (or even just arguable) isn’t a sufficient justification – that it must also be, “said at the proper time”, etc.
And users – people – are kind of off-topic, IMO, as I’ve mentioned.
There’s an English joke, an anecdote – apparently Oscar Wilde said he could, “talk about any subject”. Someone asked him to talk about “the Queen”: and he replied, “the Queen isn’t a subject”.
So as moderator I can tolerate conversation while it’s friendly, but there’s no requirement to permit it.
I do see it as unskilful to participate in outrage, and ditto to “weaponize” anything – be it words or moderators’ tools.
The cessation of negative emotions (like anger) is a core topic of Buddhist doctrine, which has and is a lot of analysis about what might “condition” them.