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A low reputation user posted a very short answer. The answer had a net 13 upvotes. A moderator deleted the answer giving the reason that "It adds nothing whatsoever to the earlier answers and has no lasting value. Moreover it mocks the asker."

Votes indicate the first reason is wrong - it was a high quality answer. The accusation of mocking was completely baseless. I would like the moderator to apologize to the answerer for the personal attack of calling the answer "mocking."

Matters of answer quality should be decided by vote.

(question edited, I was reading the wrong policy)

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  • Can you post a link to the deleted question? – eykanal Mar 24 at 22:38
  • @eykanal I didn't think a call out was needed. It was an answer. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 24 at 23:41
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    I guess then I'm not quite sure what the goal of the discussion is. If you're just asking for an anonymous injustice to correct non-anonymously, I'm not sure what that would accomplish. To me, at least, asking for an apology publicly necessarily requires a bit of consensus that the apology is warranted. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, though. – eykanal Mar 25 at 1:23
  • @eykanal I would think you would be able to see the flag, so it's not anonymous to you? I raised the flag before seeing all the details. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 4:50
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    Once the flag is cleared by anyone - mod or 10k+ user - they're pretty much gone. There are ways to go back and review old cleared flags but its pretty tedious and rather uncommon. – eykanal Mar 25 at 13:10
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    I should add that at some point a moderator replied to my flag, but I only saw the reply (which was not signed) after Wrzlprmft sent me a link to it. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 23:53
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Background

The answer in question was posted on this question, which is a hot network question with 2k views as of now. The answer’s full content was:

Am I putting undue weight on this [...]?

Yes.

At the time it was posted, there were two other answers in the same direction (but with explanation). At the time it was deleted, it had +17|−4 votes. In the comments on the answer, there was some discussion going on whether this should be a comment or not, etc., with the highest voted comment saying that this should not be a comment.

My Decision

I deleted this answer for two reasons:

  • It is rude for the reasons I elaborated in general here. Specifically, the answer mocks the asker and nothing else by implying that they are too stupid to find out the answer themselves (or similar). Just consider how you would feel if somebody replied to this question of yours only with “not at all” and that answer got a highly positive score. There is a small chance that this was not intended as rude, but even then we have to assume that it will be perceived as such and should be deleted for that reason (mind that I only deleted this and did not nuke this with a rude or abusive flag coming with further repercussions such as a −100 reputation penalty).

  • It adds nothing whatsoever to the existing answers (at the time of its posting). It is common SE policy to delete such answers, even though they rarely happen on our site, where different answers along the same lines usually offer different approaches of explanation or similar.

I stand by my decision.

Further Thoughts

  • Votes indicate the first reason is wrong - it was a high quality answer.

    Do you honestly believe that this answer has a high quality? (If yes, what features make it high quality?) Votes rather indicate that some users, presumably HNQ visitors, like to pile up on mocking the asker. In fact, given that most HNQ visitors cannot downvote, that answer has a rather bad vote ratio (+17|−4).

  • Matters of answer quality should be decided by vote.

    This is not a matter of quality. Quality is not really a deletion reason and not the reason why I deleted that answer. (Yes, there is a very low quality flag, but all posts that could be flagged with it can also be deleted for other reasons.)

  • We usually implicitly assume for all questions that they are asking for an explanation. Going by this, the answer in question can additionally be deleted for not being an answer to the question.

  • Whatever that answer is, it is clearly not a comment as it does none of the things comments are for. You called this answer a comment, indicating that you do not think it should be an answer. As it should neither be an answer nor a comment, only deletion remains.

  • If we accept such answers, somebody could go around and post one yes and one no answer each to a huge portion of our questions. They could then delete the least popular answer after a while. Do you want that?

  • I do consider shorter answers to be better in many cases.

    I agree that a more concise explanation can be better than a long one: It may be easier to grasp or simply convey the same content in shorter time. But here we are talking about no explanation whatsoever. There is nothing to grasp. I can skim almost any answer in the same answer in the same time to get its tendency (if not, it should be arguably edited to add a summary or similar). In this specific case, the first line of the current top answer (which was there first) already contains as much as the answer in question.

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  • "You called this answer a comment" False. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 8:58
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    I still hold that your earlier deletion comment violates the "assume good intentions" policy. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:01
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    I don't agree with many of your remarks, and I do consider shorter answers to be better in many cases. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:01
  • "You called this answer a comment" False. – You did so here (link only visible to you). I went by memory here and did not check that this was not public. (Should that concern you, I am sorry and I can delete all references to this, including yours.) – Wrzlprmft Mar 25 at 10:11
  • For everything else, see my edits. – Wrzlprmft Mar 25 at 10:11
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    Might be better to cite instead this answer on meta: meta.stackexchange.com/a/110170/401068 Questions that could be interpreted as "yes/no" questions still carry an implied "and why". This was a poor answer because it missed any of the "and why". It likely received positive attention simply because of the HNQ, as pointed out here. – Bryan Krause Mar 25 at 15:55
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    Quoting from that answer: "showing the reason for a yes/no answer makes the answer useful to more than just the single asker, which is the whole point of Stack Exchange." – Bryan Krause Mar 25 at 15:56
  • "But here we are talking about no explanation whatsoever." This is also false; the explanation was present in the question and didn't need to be restated in the answer. But that is not relevant to my request, which is that you apologize for calling the answer "mocking." – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 23:52
  • "You did so here (link only visible to you)." So I did. But that is blatantly a typo. You will notice I called the answer a question as well. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 23:56
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As much as I love short answers—and I really do love short answers both here and in real life—, I think that the deleted answer was way too laconic in that it failed to explain the reason for which the below highlighted part of the question is presumably wrong:

Am I putting undue weight on this, or am I right to think that, if I'm going to devote an entire day (sometimes two days) to peer-reviewing an unknown colleague's paper, and since I anyway cannot say yes to all the requests I get, I might as well do it for authors who don't appear to take this effort for granted?

Note also that before the deletion, the author had been invited in a comment by David Z to expand their answer:

it'd be better to expand this answer with another paragraph that gives some reasoning behind the statement.

But to this invitation, there was no follow up, not even an explanation of why such a short answer would suffice.

Overall, I therefore think that the deletion was warranted, even though I don't think that yes/no answers should be considered rude—I definitely don't think that this was the intention of the answer's author—and I'd advise against flagging as such.

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    This meta post is more about the inappropriateness of the moderator's comment than it is about the deletion. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 23:46

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