I plead ignorance of the specifics in the situation(s?) that led to this thread.
Well let's just talk about hypotheticals. Let's say you have an original poster who engages with a responding poster with something claimed to be "off topic" by a third poster... then that third poster clicks the red exclamation complaint button. Lets ad one more thing to the hypothetical. Let's assume that the "off topic" messages are in large part the poster attempting to moderate his own thread.
In your opinion, what would represent best practice moderation in such a hypothetical situation?
1. Placing an off topic message in the thread, warning the participants that the thread might be arbitrarily and capriciously locked or deleted, and doing it in red just to make sure that the participants know that the moderator may be in a foul mood? And making it clear that the moderator believes (a) all the participants are equally at fault, (b) the moderator is a better and superior person to them, and (c) that regardless of what the participants think, that they are unimportant and inconsequential... especially the original poster who was trying to moderate his own thread.
2. Placing an off topic message in the thread, warning about others placing off topic messages in the thread (do what I say, not what I do).
3. Sending a private message to each of the transgressors implying to each recipient that he is at fault, but that the others may or may not be at fault... letting each recipient use his imagination to assume that the recipient is unfairly being held to a higher standard than the other participants and that others are being shown some kind of favoritism. And of course making sure that each of the participants gets that very same negative message so they all feel the others are being treated better than they are.
4. Sending an individual private message to each participant, telling that person that
(a) the moderator understands that the recipient is well meaning,
(b) that the others are more at fault than that recipient, (is that not always the case?
(c) that the recipient is a valued member of the SPCR community, and
(d) gently encouraging each such recipient to start a new thread on the subject they would like to discuss. ("Lions don't need to roar")
Which of these approaches would you consider best practice moderation?