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I was reading an answer to a question (https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/160520/15446) when it got edited to remove the religious aspects.

The answer is very poor and does not bring anything new (with or without the edit) so it should be just downvoted to oblivion.

Removing the religious aspect changes the answer considerably, though.

I usually edit when there are typos, the formatting is wrong, to break walls of text. The other case is when I add some links to references (without changing the reference), or add something minor to the answer because it is better (say, an exception to an otherwise good rule (in math for instance)).

I avoid making substantial edits that change what the author had in mind, I ask in comments before.

In the case of that specific answer, I would just have downvoted and flagged it.

Was the edit OK by the rules? (the editor explained clearly the reasons for the edit and the edit made sense - so my question is rather about making such large changes that remove 80% of the content)

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  • I would read it as a sign that this website probably shouldn't be taken too too seriously.
    – TLDR
    Feb 8 at 1:03
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It's true that that edit may be a seen as too invasive and deviating from the original intent of the post (to use the words of an edit reject reason), especially without a specific explanation for the user (a new user might not notice the edit comment in the revision history).

It's also true, though, that that part is really irrelevant to the question. I also think that this does not depend on its religious content, which I wouldn't consider controversial. Reverting the edit is thus possible, but it wouldn't add anything to the answer.

Therefore, I haven't reverted the edit, but I've added a comment hoping to better explain the reason to the author (suggestion for refinements are welcome):

Hi and welcome to Academia SE. Your answer contained a long part which was totally unrelated to the question. Please recall that, unlike forums, Stack Exchange sites are not built for general discussions, but as repositories of answers to well-defined questions. It's thus important to keep the answers focussed, and for this reason the irrelevant part has been removed. I kindly invite you to have a look at the Tour and at the Help center to see how this site works.

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    Massimo, thanks for the comment there and the reply here. As an editor and an involved party, I did not want to force my views with a comment under the post as well. But you are totally right that the edit comment might not be too visible to the post author. Dec 27 '20 at 19:32
  • @AntonMenshov: as I mentioned - your edit makes complete sense for me from the perspective of answering the question. My question was more about proportions of edits (in general)
    – WoJ
    Dec 27 '20 at 21:44
  • @WoJ yep, your question is more than legit and justified. Dec 27 '20 at 22:43
  • In the past, moderators have deleted poor quality answers. Why didn't that happen here? @cag51 deleted an answer on the same page. I think that even if the asker had specifically requested an Islamic viewpoint on the situation, this is still a very poor answer. Dec 29 '20 at 2:52
  • And why has this question not been closed for "individual circumstances?" Dec 29 '20 at 2:55
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    @AnonymousPhysicist You should know how closure works and you should know that moderators close questions unilaterally only when they are clearly off topic. That question is borderline, and there are certainly other similar questions that have been kept open. So we leave to the community to decide. As you can see, someone has now cast the fifth close vote and the question is closed.
    – Massimo Ortolano Mod
    Dec 29 '20 at 9:24
  • I did not ask why the moderators have not closed it unilaterally. Dec 29 '20 at 9:26
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    @AnonymousPhysicist Then, I don't understand what you mean by "And why has this question not been closed for "individual circumstances?"": When you wrote the comment there were 4 votes out of the 5 needed to close it. And it's Christmas break, participation is probably reduced.
    – Massimo Ortolano Mod
    Dec 29 '20 at 11:15
  • A very large number of people voted for my close vote explanation (the first comment). My confusion is about why a similar number of people did not vote to close. Probably there is not a good explanation. If people had voted to close, this whole discussion could have been skipped. Dec 29 '20 at 12:08
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    @AnonymousPhysicist Not all people that can upvote a comment can vote to close. Dec 29 '20 at 13:45
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My preference, actually, is to leave such things in place. The only reason I can see for removing them is that they were attracting such a negative response. But that is the "fault" of those with down votes and negative comments. That part makes me sad.

In some ways, an answer appealing to "higher powers," as it were, might be soothing to someone like the OP of the question who sounds a bit depressed. So the answer was, in some way, a personal response, not a technical one.

But it was sad to see all the down votes there and here.

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I have read your comments and here is my explanation for my answer. BTW I have already posted this in the comments section but just to make it clear. All what I was to do is to actually give the OP a hand both by affirming what other people said and by advising what approach I take to solve the issue myself.

To us Muslims, and I think should be to everyone else, an academic setting, a medical setting, an emotional setting, or whatever setting you can think of is a part of a human's life and counts towards the decisions he makes in his life. Allah says in the Quran, which I really advice myself first and everyone else to take a look at often, in 75:36 " Does man think that he will be left neglected (without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord Allâh on him)?" in other interpretation: left without purpose? in another interpretation "alone, unquestioned?. This means that the everything in the life of the human being revolves around his relationship with Allah, his creator, because he will stand in front of him on the day of judgment. And if you look with an objective eye you can see that what humans believe in, good or bad, true or false, affects every move they make in life whether that is publishing a paper, performing a medical operation, dealing with other people or even using the toilet! FYI the main reason why muslims use water after using the toilet is because Allah commanded us through his messenger Muhammed peace be upon him to do so. Of course such daily actions have an affect on human life in all aspects because we believe they are from the creator and giver of life so who else can give you better advice. ِAllah says in 67:14 How could He not know His Own creation? For He ˹alone˺ is the Most Subtle, All-Aware. So this is actually pretty academic work!

**note: After I wrote the answer below I realized how long it is and hence thank you for reading it in advance. Looking forward to your questions or concerns.

Just a quick question to all participating as admins specially those in such an academic context: why is religion out of question when it comes to science although religion brings forth science based evidence to a matter? Is it because religion, due to the media, immediately raises all the flags to some people? I mean the only reason why science exists is due to the observations of what is out there done by the creator right? If you think no creator exists, well you still do not have a good argument yet to not believe that and base science on it. As far as I understand science is based on observation, so what you see is what you note down right? But hold on, if the creator "out there" decided to hide himself from observation does this mean he is not there? No it means we just can see him or we maybe not using the right tool. A very small example is the invention of the telescope and microscope, people did not know what was out there until we had the right tool at hand. Well we have perhaps the greatest tools to find out. Allah says in 16:78 And Allah brought you out of the wombs of your mothers while you knew nothing, and gave you hearing, sight, and intellect so perhaps you would be thankful. and in 2:164 Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth; the alternation of the day and the night; the ships that sail the sea for the benefit of humanity; the rain sent down by Allah from the skies, reviving the earth after its death; the scattering of all kinds of creatures throughout; the shifting of the winds; and the clouds drifting between the heavens and the earth—˹in all of this˺ are surely signs for people of understanding. But also Allah says in 50:37 Surely in this is a reminder for whoever has a ˹mindful˺ heart and lends an attentive ear.

Thank you for reading this far.

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    People should really be careful when giving advice or stopping it. We sometimes can not help people out due to our weakness as humans. Should'nt we at the least direct them to ask their creator for him? A very profound hadith, or statement, of the prophet Muhammed peace be upon him is this Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day speak good, or keep silent; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest. This hadith is reported in the two most authentic hadith books to muslims. Dec 27 '20 at 21:11
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    As I said in my comment: No, OP's question was My question is how bad is it to present a failed attempt at something like the development of a device, from an academic perspective. I do not think that bringing a deity into the answer will be helpful at all. In other words - this is not an answer to the question.
    – WoJ
    Dec 27 '20 at 21:43
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    As I also said there: this is a fine answer, it's just not an answer that's appropriate for this question in this venue. This is an answer about what to do about failure of any sort, not a question about what to do about a particular kind of academic failure. The resistance to this question is not (IMO) anti-religion; we would react similarly to an answer that told the OP about the options they had for different kinds of counseling and therapy to help them deal with failure.
    – Ben Bolker
    Dec 28 '20 at 2:15
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    @BenBolker second that. Dec 28 '20 at 3:15
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    First of all, thank you very much for your replies and patience to explain. I guess, the rules are more clearer now. And inshAllah ( if Allah wills) next time my answers will be more to the point. Who knows maybe someone will ask about general failure question so I guess the answer will be more appropriate there. Thanks again and hopefully this was some how beneficial. FYI, no offence taken for those concerned. Dec 28 '20 at 6:40
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    Although, I still think the context was appropriate and the comment was not way off track but thanks again though. Dec 28 '20 at 7:07
  • I fail to see how being a Moslem or otherwise should affect the way that people treat you- or that you expect people to treat you. But those like me in a secular culture can find it deeply offensive when somebody attempts to flaunt adherence to their chosen religion, particularly when it's "off topic", and most especially when it's already been pointed out to them that it's not the Done Thing. Having said which, I think it would have been more appropriate if somebody had pointed out to you that you risked upsetting the community, and gave you the opportunity to tone things down yourself. Dec 31 '20 at 19:36
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    When you say "us Muslims", what authority do you have to speak on behalf of all Muslims? Islam is no different from most other religions - there are many different sects, some of which regard other sects as heretics or infidels.
    – alephzero
    Jan 1 at 19:42

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