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Yesterday I have seen one of my posts deleted by one moderator with one comment to justify deletion.

I don't deny the justification for deletion (my post was little more than a link to a very good reference URL).

HOWEVER, there was no prior notification or warning, hence I was given no chance to improve my post before deletion.

Since I could still access it, I did perform edits on this answer, but it looks definately deleted, is that correct?

Hence my question: should we accept that our moderators exercize censorship so easily, and without any prior warning?

Shouldn't there be rules of conduct for moderators regarding censorship?

For example, I have seen a few answers with rather rude language being there for long before being edited, and I did not understand why moderators took so long to edit it (I had myself commented to the poster that he should edit his post, which he clearly did not care about).

A problem I see with such beahvior is that, if moderators start getting too keen on easy-going censorship, then I doubt the site will be able to keep its participants for long.

Indeed, it is important to keep in mind that Stack Exchange sites are here for people to help each other, and this is "best effort", some people just don't have enough time to write lengthy answers with all details but feel they can still help with their "simple" answers.

  • If you're ever unhappy with a mod's actions, feel free to ping us from the chatroom to ask that it's reconsidered. – Peter Bloomfield Mar 16 '14 at 14:43
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    I considered that, but I never go to the chatroom (question of personal preference, I'm always afraid to get addicted and spend my life in there...) But I will force myself to do it if this happens again. – jfpoilpret Mar 16 '14 at 14:47
  • The mods just delete the competing answers to get more rep. – TheDoctor Mar 22 '14 at 3:32
  • Particularly with the kind of new site that this is, it's going to be necessary to accept that a lot of questions will best be answered with a link to offsite resources which are far more established as parts of the arduino world that this site is - specifically, resources that people should probably be reading before posting questions. – Chris Stratton May 5 '14 at 20:59
  • @ChrisStratton - One of the reasons why the main StackOverflow site is successful is because it is the best reference; because lots of users invested the time to write useful, informative, questions and answers that were substantively better than Google's top result. The best answers here would include (if license allows) or summarize the key parts of the off-site information. – KatieK May 6 '14 at 18:01
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    If you're ever unhappy with a mod's actions, feel free to ping us from the chatroom @PeterR.Bloomfield - how do you even do that? I can see the chatroom, but I don't see how to address a question to moderators in that way. – Nick Gammon Aug 27 '15 at 5:39
  • Is this how? You go into chat, choose your favourite moderator (heh) and then try to start a new chat room with that moderator? – Nick Gammon Aug 27 '15 at 5:44
  • @NickGammon See the chat FAQ section on Notifications. It's worth noting that the pings don't always work when someone hasn't been in the chatroom for quite some time (which unfortunately is often the case for me these days as I don't have as much time for moderator duties as I used to). – Peter Bloomfield Aug 27 '15 at 6:46
  • There was nothing there about ping in particular (except typing) but don't worry. Hopefully I won't have to use it. :) – Nick Gammon Aug 27 '15 at 8:57
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This whole situation from a moderator's perspective:

(I wasn't the one to delete this answer.)

Yes, it does seem like it might have been handled differently (i.e. turned into a comment). However, here are some basic reasons to justify that:

  • You can get the answer undeleted by either flagging (you have enough rep) or by creating a new answer.
  • You seem to be an active user across the network, with 6K rep on SO. It would seem like you should know that link-only answers aren't acceptable here.

Code of condut: It might also been an accident. I'll be the first to admit that moderators aren't perfect. Do we need a code of conduct? No. We have superiors that if we need to be removed, we can be removed. If you don't like one specific action, you can bring it up here (Why did this answer get deleted) or ask us on chat. A code seems too much work, and it can't be enforced. It'll have to be a "honesty policy" type of thing, because the mods can't legally release all of the data to enforce something like this.

Your edit did greatly improve the quality, so I undeleted it and removed the comment.


For example, I have seen a few answers with rather rude language being there for long before being edited, and I did not understand why moderators took so long to edit it (I had myself commented to the poster that he should edit his post, which he clearly did not care about).

Why didn't you flag it? It seems like we take care of 99% of flags in the first hour and a half after they are flagged. We can't reread every post every time someone adds a comment. Also note: one of the incidents with swearing were when we didn't have mod yet and couldn't do anything about it. There were several cases of this.

  • Before flagging the "rather rude language answer", I just recommended its author (through a comment) to moderate his statement, comment which he just turned down with a "no, why?" that I found quite disrespectful, hence I decided to stop there as I did not want to pour oil on the fire. – jfpoilpret Mar 16 '14 at 13:19
  • @jfpoilpret In most cases it's best just to flag it in the first place. If you want to flag and add a comment, go ahead, but with most cases like that so far they required moderator attention. – Anonymous Penguin Mar 16 '14 at 14:00
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First off, let's look at your answer:

enter image description here

I think you should really read Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?, written by Shog, one of the Community Managers for Stack Exchange. In this, he says:

Strip the markup, and this is what you're left with:

i think you should take The tutorial HERE! This will help you a lot

Is there even one tiny speck of information there? No. Even the title of the page being linked to would have provided something to go on, but that was entirely too much work.

So let me be clear: this sort of response is not an answer. If you see this, flag it. Moderators, if you see it flagged, delete it.

Yes, your answer was a bit more than just a link, but not much more. The mod who saw this "answer" realized that, and deleted it and left you a comment. Sure, it could have been left undeleted and just had that comment... but is there really a difference? You just flag for undeletion whenever you've improved it. You see, we really can't have bad answers on the site, and might just be left around for days upon days, making the site look bad.

Hence my question: should we accept that our moderators exercize censorship so easily, and without any prior warning?

Shouldn't there be rules of conduct for moderators regarding censorship?

You have something fundamentally wrong in what you're thinking. Censorship and deletion are two different things. Censorship is when it's material that you think the world should know, but the people in charge think it's bad for the world to know that. Deletion on Stack Exchange is simply saying Oh, this is a bad answer or a bad question. If it gets improved, it can be undeleted. However, it's not a good enough post as of now.

Regarding rules for moderators - there are some rules that a mod has to follow. However, the main thing is just use your own judgment. If a mod mistakenly does something, either another mod will bring it up to them or you can flag it as other to bring it to their attention.

For example, I have seen a few answers with rather rude language being there for long before being edited, and I did not understand why moderators took so long to edit it (I had myself commented to the poster that he should edit his post, which he clearly did not care about).

Again, there's something different you could have done. You could have edited the offensive content out of the post. That's why there's an edit button at the bottom of every post. There's some things that the community can handle themselves, and editing is one of them. Moderators are supposed to be human exception handlers, not the person who does everything for their site. So, if you see something you can fix, fix it! If you can't fix it, and you need a moderator to do something, flag it for their attention.

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    I never denied the fact could have had some more content, but I felt this specific article was useful for everyone to know, and I could not just copy its content as that would be called plagiarism. I just complained about the "no prior warning". Regarding the second point, I am against censorship myself so I would not edit that specific part of the answer; I use edit only to improve answer contents (review typos, grammar, or add some more details). For me the best way as to let the poster know about it and let him fix his post himself, which seemed a better way, although it did not work. – jfpoilpret Mar 16 '14 at 16:22
  • @jfp It isn't concidered plageism if you cite your source and you rephrase it. – Anonymous Penguin Mar 17 '14 at 2:15
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In the interest of openness, I would like to say that I had flagged the answer as NAA based on an accepted policy for link only answers that holds across the network. I completely agree with the moderator action taken in this case and I do not think there was any overreach here. The problems on letting poor content stay up are far more severe, than the effort that may go into an early deletion and undeletion after improvement.

I flagged it after giving it 12-18 hours, which would have been sufficient time in my opinion to go back and write a proper post. In any case, you are a 6k user on Stack Overflow, so I expect that you would be aware that such answers are considered very low quality and are in general not-acceptable. A recent post by Shog on MSO, reiterates the same.

Moreover, there is an answer draft feature available. Any answers that you are working get automatically saved by the SE editor every 45 seconds. If you intend to improve on an answer later, type a draft, work on it, and then post it when it has sufficient content to qualify as an answer.

I don't mean to be harsh, but there is no excuse for posting poor content, especially if it doesn't even live up to very basic quality standards. If you were extremely pressed for time, and yet wanted to help (as all of us do), then you could have posted your "answer" as a comment, and later come back and formed a proper answer, or let someone else develop an answer based on your findings. After all, the intention is to generate and share knowledge, and that would easily be served this way as well.

  • Duly noted. Thanks. – jfpoilpret Mar 16 '14 at 17:48

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