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The "Controlling an erection while teaching" question was summarily deleted by a moderator. I understand that this question is controversial and that a lot of people have a juvenile response to it, but I think it has value and would advocate for keeping it.

Summary deletion without even a comment, however, is a very strong action that should generally be reserved for trolls and spammers.

Was this positively identified as trolling? If not, I believe that summary deletion without debate is not appropriate, and the community should be allowed to determine this question's fate by the more usual process.


Edit 6/16: Unfortunately, it appears that those who assumed this question was the beginning of another trolling series appear to have been correct: https://academia.stackexchange.com/q/71417/22733

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    As I commented in chat, if the problem is real (which I really doubt) and not just trolling, the guy needs the advice of a therapist, not of strangers on the internet. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 15 '16 at 8:16
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    To give my honest impression of the situation: some users just want to get rid of the question as it makes them feel uncomfortable (for varied yet not clearly articulated reasons). – quid Jun 15 '16 at 8:27
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    @quid - As former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, "I know it when I see it." Not everything needs to have a written policy, sometimes the acid test is just whether the post feels wrong. – eykanal Jun 15 '16 at 13:43
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    @eykanal it is not quite clear to me what you mean. If you are sufficiently convinced that the post was made in bad faith, that's one thing and easily covered by standard policy. If you are not, then however I would consider the relatively rapid deletion as exaggerated. (For example, I'd assume editing out 'erection' from the title, could have gone some way to address some users problems.) – quid Jun 15 '16 at 14:27
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    @quid - I'm trying to say that this post looked and smelled like trolling to a lot of people. – eykanal Jun 15 '16 at 14:56
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The "Controlling an erection while teaching" question was summarily deleted by a moderator.

To be more accurate, it

  • was closed by vote of five community members
  • went through the reopen queue where it attracted one "reopen" vote (yours) and three "leave closed" votes from other community members who hadn't originally voted to close
  • received several comments from users who explained why they thought it should be closed/remain closed
  • received three flags from other community members (not the ones who voted to close or to leave closed)

and then it was deleted by a moderator in response to those flags.

So, I don't think "summary deletion without debate" is a fair portrayal of what happened. "the community should be allowed to determine this question's fate by the more usual process" seems closer to what actually happened. The community voted to close the question, the community voted to leave it closed, the community posted comments and raised flags indicating that they do not want the question hanging around, and a moderator obliged.

  • But Jake Beal's answer was so good :( Also, his answer had like 15 net up-votes, which shows the community welcomed both the question and the answer. And of course, Jake loses reputation points that he earned. Why not keep the question and his answer, while moderating for troll-ish comments and answers? It's a pretty simple and quick deletion process on the moderators' end, so this would be a good compromise, @ff524 :) – User001 Jun 15 '16 at 7:10
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    @User001 Posts that end up on the "hot network questions" list get a large number of votes from casual visitors who aren't necessarily familiar with the norms of this community. They're not an indication of what the "regular" community members want or approve of. See e.g. this meta.SE post and this one. – ff524 Jun 15 '16 at 7:19
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    As the mod who deleted the question, this is exactly what went through my mind. I think this was far from "summarily deleted without debate"; it had numerous downvotes, more "spam" flags than I've seen in a long time, and a many comments suggesting this was (obvious?) trolling. We do read your comments, folks :) – eykanal Jun 15 '16 at 13:40
  • Thank you both for the responses; that clarifies quite well for me. – jakebeal Jun 15 '16 at 13:49
  • @eykanal if it was truly flagged as spam you should seize the opportunity to educate users what spam-flags are for rather than just recount it as a matter of fact. There was nothing advertised there, right? So it is not spam. (An offensive flag, maybe, but spam is just a misuse of the flag.) – quid Jun 15 '16 at 13:59
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    @quid - I use the term "spam" in a catch-all sense. In this context, I mean "trolling", not "advertising". Trolls are well-known for not responding to education. That said, there was already a highly-upvoted comment on the question stating that the question smelled of spam. I didn't think another comment was necessary. – eykanal Jun 15 '16 at 14:57
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    @eykanal I think it is not good practice to use the word spam in this sense in the SE network, as it contributes to the existing problem of misuse of spam flags, precisely to mark content perceived as falling in this broader category of "spam." – quid Jun 15 '16 at 15:09
  • @quid you are technically correct. The SE network has spam and abusive flags which feed spam and troll detection algorithms. These flags are pretty nuanced and "improper" use is a SE wide issue. As mods, it is pretty obvious what people mean when they raise these flags. – StrongBad Jun 15 '16 at 15:13
  • @StrongBad I am not sure what the purpose of your "technically" is. Indeed, it is an SE wide issue, and I think a moderator should not contribute to this issue by using imprecise language. – quid Jun 15 '16 at 15:21
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    @quid the technically is that the SE backend treats spam and offensive flags differently from the other flags and from each other (cf. this meta question. Practically speaking, mods tend to treat them pretty similarly (read the post and see what is wrong with it). I really don't care how we use the spam and offensive flags and if SE has a problem with how they are used they can fix the UI. – StrongBad Jun 15 '16 at 15:38
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    @quid At the time of the "farts" series, there was a bit of discussion, mostly in chat but also in comments in meta, on which should have been the most appropriate flag for a trollish post. It appeared, if I recall it correctly, that the flag that guarantees the quickest action against a troll is the spam flag. That's why I flagged this last post as spam. I didn't flag it as offensive because I don't think it is offensive, nor it makes me uncomfortable: as anyone who talked with me for more than five minutes knows, there's no word, topic, gesture or behaviour that can make me uncomfortable. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 15 '16 at 16:20
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    @MassimoOrtolano for what it's worth: the current recommendation is to flag obvious trolls as "rude or abusive" because that feeds the anti-troll filters, while spam flags feed the anti-spammer filters. (Both automatically delete the post after six flags are raised, and penalize the poster.) See this main site meta FAQ. (This is an instance where the names/descriptions of the flags aren't very helpful.) – ff524 Jun 15 '16 at 16:28
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    @quid there is disagreement about what the spam, offensive, and low quality flags mean, even among mods. The argument about which to use comes down to the fact that the backend does different things then what people expect. A troll post is not really offensive, nor spam, but is low quality. Yet low quality doesn't feed the troll detector or allow community deletion. To me this is a UI issue. – StrongBad Jun 15 '16 at 19:19
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    @MassimoOrtolano it is confusing, the ost important thing is to flag junk so that it can get deleted. Offensive and spam do that. – StrongBad Jun 15 '16 at 19:21
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    @StrongBad I do not think there is much disagreement about spam (maybe ignorance or obliviousness, as witnessed by comments above); the description and official instructions seem very clear, and, there is no good reason I could think of not to use "abusive and rude" (aka "offensive") instead, which has a pretty broad official scope too. (It certainly directly violates "Be nice." to try to troll, which is how that flag is explained.) Anyway, I find that entire discussion a bit odd. M.O. said they flagged spam, ff524 said they should better flag 'rude and abusive.' My point all along. – quid Jun 15 '16 at 19:42

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