Is there an unwritten rule that prevents a mod from advising an OP that they had better edit their question/answer because their post risks being permanently deleted? Is there some rule of conduct that says a mod cannot explain to an OP why a post risks deletion before it is deleted?

Yes, there was a link attached to the now-deleted answer on this question. And the reasons for the deletion by one mod is the following:

Why was my answer deleted?

  • commentary on the question or other answers

  • asking another, different question

  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses

  • exact duplicates of other answers
  • barely more than a link to an external site
  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

If you wish to improve an existing answer, click the edit link beneath it

But the irony is that I cannot do anything to improve it, because it was deleted by a mod. It's gone. I have the 10k rep to see the phantasmagoric post, but I cannot do anything about it. For example, I cannot vote to un-delete it. I cannot ask fellow members on the site to reopen it either.

I am the OP who flagged several "obsolete" comments for deletion because her gut feeling told her that the train of comments was getting too long. I am the OP (read sod) who posted the question, but was not forewarned that all the comments (80% on-topic with the rest being either cheeky or funny) were going to be wiped out. And indeed they were, shifted to a nursing home by a different mod.

I am the OP who pleaded with two users to post their comments as answers, because

  1. although amusing and "nerdy", they were relevant.
  2. they were said in plain English, which I'm partial to
  3. they were both heavily upvoted by visitors.

Those comments have gone to a chat room. Who visits those abandoned chambers? The comments might as well be in limbo.

I retain myself to be a reasonable person, the fifty-year-milestone is fast approaching and yet, I'm treated as a child. Things have to be done behind my back.

Talk to me. Leave a comment, give me the opportunity to improve the post AND to undelete it. If three users downvoted a post because they thought it "didn't answer the question" it meant they didn't understand my aim, and that was my fault; however, the CW post contains excellent links, dictionary entries, and present-day e-magazine articles.


This question also touches on the role, the authority and responsibility a mod has; it also hints at the unilateral decisions they sometimes make.

Quite often a single mod will decide to put on hold a question that is off-topic, as defined in the Help pages, or unanswerable for any reason; this temporary closure may occur in as little as twenty minutes.

Obviously, if the post is spam, deemed offensive and blatantly off-topic; e.g. a proofreading request, it's a relief to see a "bad" question being dealt with swiftly. However, in the majority of cases, all is not lost. The OP, it is argued, has the opportunity to rectify, and improve his or her question. Users will often post suggestions, and help the OP to finalize that aim. In order to reopen a question put on hold, five users have to cast re-open votes. In the end, it is the community, or the users who frequent the site most often, who approve or disapprove of a question.

But what happens when it is an answer that is deleted by a single mod? I know full well that in my case the community-wiki post earned three downvotes, I can live with that. I can see it as an indication that users disagree with it, or that they disapprove of it. A comment is useful, and one user left such a comment, and probably downvoted the c-w post too. Fair dues. So give me the chance to fix it (I know how to fix bad posts) otherwise, leave me to decide to delete it myself, leave as is, or improve the post. But before it is deleted summarily by a mod.

The answer, two mods have pointed out, is off topic, I disagree. I have K34+ that stands for something. It represents experience, it represents a member who knows the "rules" and has abided by them. I don't want to post a new answer, it was never meant to be a "proper" answer, it was meant as a tribute to all those users who contributed to making a question fun and informative.

EDIT November 20 2015

I quit. I'll still upvote and downvote answers and questions from time to time, but as of yesterday, for a variety of reasons; e.g., users (plural term used deliberately here) pretending not to know that an awarded answer is a duplicate; I will no longer post answers or questions.

EDIT 20 December

I've started posting answers again, I like contributing and sharing.
Kill me.

On 18th December I finished editing the CW post, I sincerely believe that it now complies with EL&U standards, and I ask that the post be undeleted by a mod.

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    You don't look fifty. How do you do it? – Mitch Nov 17 '15 at 12:42
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    Link to the deleted post and chat? – Mitch Nov 17 '15 at 12:42
  • @Mitch I must admit the creek in the neck is playing up a bit. The post is easy enough to find. It won't take you long. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 13:07
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    ". . . the creek in the neck"? I don't think that word means what you think it means. – Robusto Nov 17 '15 at 13:43
  • @Robusto isn't it "creek", I thought it was. Oh, it's a crick. Yes, not quite a homophone. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 13:46
  • @Mari-LouA Easy? I have no content keywords to look it up. If it is deleted, it shouldn't show in any list. So you really need to give the link here. Otherwise we have no content to go on. And if you don't want us to look at the particulars (for reasons of anonymity?), then this question is boring. No one should ever have to ask if someone minds being edited, especially a mod. Is that the question here? – Mitch Nov 17 '15 at 13:54
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    got it. It's toast. – Mitch Nov 17 '15 at 13:59
  • What was the question topic? – michael_timofeev Nov 17 '15 at 14:12
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    @Mari-LouA: A crick can be a creek, but not if it's in the neck. – Robusto Nov 17 '15 at 14:30
  • @Mitch I am referring to the opportunity of editing the post myself so as to improve its quality, so as to illustrate that it has merit, and that it is a rich source of ideas and references. I do not object to my posts being edited when there are typos, or broken links, or poor grammar. That's all fine, I wish someone would proofread my stuff more often. I object to the silent deletion of a post. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 16:07
  • It does seem like a bit rash to delete so quickly. And I don't think 3 downvotes makes it so quickly deletable. But quality-wise you should have cut out that long verbatim chat sequence and just picked those one or two chat comments that you thought were 'answers' and present them. (and for provenance say 'thanks to X and Y for their ideas). That would have made it an more understandable answer. (I too make community wiki when I answer my own questions, just seems right) – Mitch Nov 17 '15 at 16:36
  • @Mitch the list of comments was long, the wiki-community post I submitted contained a selection of comments which all had something relevant to say, even the seemingly frivolous ones, actually demonstrated how the noun, toast, could be countable. If the first mod had only deleted the last ten, or fifteen comments from the original post, I would have been less perplexed. Getting the wiki community post also deleted was unfair. I have posted "answers" to my own questions stating specifically that they are not answers but contributions. Not one of them has been arbitrarily deleted by a mod. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 3:58
  • re: your Addendum (final paragraph specifically): the Answer box is not a place for tributes. You clearly declare that your answer was not intended to be a "proper" answer. I have to agree that the removal was proper. – Hellion Nov 19 '15 at 19:01
  • @Mari-LouA Don't rage quit. A number of people think that that style of answer is not appropriate and so maybe you should rethink the lengthy comment trail as an answer. Also see this recent blog post, which came very recently before your post and so was in the mind of people. – Mitch Nov 20 '15 at 13:45
  • Mari Lo, you sei arrivata at Nov 20 2015 to understand what I understood two years ago, congratulations. Come dite gli italioti 'meglio tardi che mai'. – Elberich Schneider Nov 21 '15 at 22:59

Sorry for the delay to my answer. I wanted to give myself time to forget your post so I could take a fresh look at it.

Having reread it I have to agree with Andrew.

As to why I didn't inform you that the answer wasn't an answer. Is that something that needed to happen? I've never done it before, when someone posts and answer that doesn't attempt to answer the question.

We've both been members here for a while, so we know how the site works. If something is posted via the "Your Answer" box and it isn't answering the question, it will be deleted. Bearing in mind that "not answering the question" isn't the same as someone who tried to answer the question and got it wrong.

I honestly can't see how a collection of comments, some of which were just jokes, and the rest being a confusing melange of attempts at answering and counter points, could be thought to be an answer.

Now I've read this question, I get what you were trying to do, but we need a sculpture, not a slab of granite.

  • Can you undelete the post, so I can work on it? I removed two deliberately "funny" comments, the others are relevant and on topic. You make it sound like a mish mash, instead the post is very clear, and well-organised; I named each and every author for each citation/comment. Not one of the comments are mine, and I did not include any of my rebukes. Can you undelete the post? – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 13:26
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    It is a mish mash. The post has no main point or conclusion. If someone comes to the question and reads the answer (as it is) they will come away more confused than they arrived. It would seem more sensible to use any useful information in the comments to form a new answer. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Nov 18 '15 at 14:07
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    Is that a "no" you cannot undelete, or "no" you won't? – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 15:44
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    At the moment I'm at "won't" as I can't understand why it's better to undelete it rather than craft a new answer. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Nov 18 '15 at 19:10
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    @Mari-LouA Don't worry, the bounties will deal with themselves. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Dec 16 '15 at 23:52
  • @Mari-LouA I have reopened it, although I'm still not sure what your conclusion is. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Dec 20 '15 at 19:01
  • Thank you, I do appreciate what you have done. Thank you, again. – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '15 at 22:01
  • "As to why I didn't inform you that the answer wasn't an answer. Is that something that needed to happen? I've never done it before" - it doesn't need to happen, but according to A Theory of Moderation, ideally it should: "Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you've taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies." – Rand al'Thor Nov 27 '16 at 17:17
  • (I haven't looked at the post in question and don't know the context here, but I thought this was worth mentioning.) – Rand al'Thor Nov 27 '16 at 17:17

It wasn't me who deleted it (for those who can see deleted posts, it's here) but it's not an answer to the question. It's a collection of comments in the answer box, and you have found the justification in the Help: "commentary on the question or other answers".

As if to make that point, it attracted three downvotes before you were saved from any more; and a user actually posted a comment,

This is not an answer and "Community wiki" does not mean "This wouldn't be acceptable as an answer but it's OK to post it this way so I don't get rep for it."

You attempted to justify the post with a response to that comment,

You know, I think these comments are actually helpful, and provide essential background information. A few of the links are very on-topic, and could have easily been posted as answers. I think the downvoters have misinterpreted the objective behind this, admittedly, unorthodox way of using the community wiki. But you see, the reason why this is a CW answer, is NOT because I don't think it is an answer, but because of the word community. It is a joint effort. And why shouldn't other users contribute, improve, or edit their own comments?

...in which you appear to acknowledge that it is not an answer, that the use of a CW post was not obviously what it was intended for, and that the comments could easily have been posted as answers in their own right. However, they weren't; the authors didn't consider them worthy of being an answer, or couldn't be bothered, or didn't have the time.

Comments are comments. They might contain the answer; they might even be a complete answer. But they need to be posted as an answer which answers the question if they are to be retained.

The post was correctly deleted, in my opinion.

The comments are preserved in chat, as far as chat is preserved. Comments are ephemeral and can be deleted at any time. They are designed to allow clarification of a post. They are not permanent, and no-one should have any expectation of permanance at all. Upvotes on comments do not bring immortality. The system does users a favour by allowing comment threads to be removed but still available; that system should not be subverted.

Now, if you would like to create an answer, that's a different thing altogether. You can still see your post, and the chatroom is available too if that makes collecting links easier.

  • What about warning me before it got deleted? That is the real focus of my question. Why do I have to find out by pure chance/causality? First, the deletion of all the comments, then the post which contained a selection of those comments. Why couldn't the mods (two) have informed me? – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 15:41
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    There's no reason to warn you because it shouldn't have been there in the first place. I added the link because it's relevant to the answer: it allows the answer to be evaluated in context, and the context is important. Posts aren't simply deleted for no reason; but posts which break the rules or are blatantly wrong or are of egregiously bad quality may be summarily removed. – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 17 '15 at 15:50
  • So that post was all three, was it? And what about the comments? There were largely on topic, none were offensive, none were bickerings between users. Everyone was interested in the question, there was a true exchange of ideas and links, opinions. What about those comments? If immortality os not granted to comments, then they should always be deleted once a question has been satisfactorily answered, several times. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 15:51
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    No, it was a post which broke the rules (as you found in the Help). But as an answer it may have tipped the quality scales as well. Comments are ephemeral and can be deleted at any time. – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 17 '15 at 15:54
  • Why don't you also post my reply to the user who left his comment? This is a one sided, biased view of the situation. But I'll stop for now, but before I do, one last observation. I really think it wouldn't do anybody any harm to leave a comment and say "Be careful" this will be deleted if nothing changes. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 15:57
  • @Mari-LouA OK; I've done that. I'm not sure you will find my view any less biased though. – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 17 '15 at 16:07
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    :) Argghh, killed by own dagger and pen. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '15 at 16:08
  • I think I was the first one to downvote that "non-answer". Nothing personal, @Mari-Lou, but I assumed the point made by Andrew here would apply (i.e. - those comments would remain in a chat thread, and presumably only be deleted if and when they'd remained "unaccessed" for some considerable time). I fully expected the answer to attract further downvotes and eventually be deleted, but I didn't comment myself at the time because I took it for granted someone else would do so soon enough. – FumbleFingers Nov 17 '15 at 21:57
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    @Mari-LouA - "I really think it wouldn't do anybody any harm to leave a comment and say "Be careful" this will be deleted if nothing changes." Oh, oh, oh, this is so wrong on so many levels. – anongoodnurse Nov 17 '15 at 23:24
  • @medica please expand on your comment. Posts which are offensive, totally off-topic, and spammy, are normally submitted by unregistered users. A mod is perfectly justified in removing them from the system as swiftly as possible. On this I'm sure everyone would agree on. . – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 4:10
  • But in cases similar to mine, where the posts are not offensive in nature, spammy or off-topic, what is wrong with nudging an OP and saying: "Please be aware that this post does not comply with the EL&U standard bla bla, either improve and edit the post, or delete it."? Given the choice I might have deleted the post myself, and then had pondered on how to make it less objectionable. On which level is this wrong? – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 4:11
  • @medica please see the revision I have made english.stackexchange.com/posts/287102/revisions I think this is a great collection of reflections, ideas, and comments, and (now) all on-topic from a rich variety of people. Why is collecting the best from the crop and preserving them in a post, so frowned upon? Because it is not "an answer"? No, it's not "one" answer, it's several little answers put together. I'm the OP who decides which answer to accept. And I still haven't decided. Posting the wc was my way of saying "there isn't a clear-cut explanation" to my question, but several. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 4:28
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    @Mari-LouA In that case, make a real answer out of it. – Andrew Leach Mod Nov 18 '15 at 7:05

To sum up; Andrew Leach♦ says:

The post was correctly deleted, in my opinion.

Matt E. Эллен♦

Who deleted the answer, says

As to why I didn't inform you that the answer wasn't an answer. Is that something that needed to happen? I've never done it before, when someone posts and answer that doesn't attempt to answer the question.

Consequently, the answer to the question, which no one has really affronted, “should a mod warn a user that their post will be permanently deleted” is “no”.

  • Sorry if I asked you if you had a twitter account and if I posted that question under a Matt's answer, but Stackexchange require you a twitter's account name or link when you profile yourself. Don't you? – Elberich Schneider Dec 16 '15 at 1:07

First of all, don't panic. Wait, it gets worse.

I'm on your side here.

I know it's a lousy feeling. You spend time and energy putting something together and someone just pounces on it and starts doing things to it. They sink their filthy claws, or malodorous tentacles, into it, and just go at it, the unnatural bastards. You're bound to feel violated. Oh yeah.

Listen: I really would like to see that answer of yours, after this kind of promotion. But I realize that's just otiose curiosity on my part right now. Maybe not. Doesn't matter. Not right now.

What does matter is there's gotta be a rule of some kind, or something. Maybe one needs to get past a certain number of those precious rep points, or whatever. But posts by certain people should never be touched except by their authors. Don't kill me yet. It gets worse still. Dark and tortuous are the roads we travel, quirky and unreliable the jalopy.

They can suggest whatever edits they deem necessary, or express derisive incredulity in a few elegantly supercilious phrases. They can ridicule my post, and me along with it. They can mock me to their heart's content. They can even be petty and downvote everything I write here. But they shouldn't be allowed to touch my post, or any other post, if it's written in proper English, or even just fluent and coherent English, except their own. Unless they've asked and received the author's permission. Or the author has expressly asked them to do so. Anything else is worse than reading other people's mail. It just ain't decent, is all.

Listen. I think your questions, answers, and comments are well-written, informative, oftentimes captivating, and extremely valuable to this place. It was a lousy thing they did to you, and I hope that answer can still be recovered, along with the comments. I also think you're a good person. As well as an intelligent one. Please calm down, and stay. Shit happens.

  • Much appreciated the sentiment behind the post, but I have no qualms with editing people's posts. I'm talking about deletion. It was deleted by a mod. Poof! A post that is not a "proper" answer, but, the irony is, I am the OP the person who first posed the question. The comments were all "moved" to chat, no warning, and so I wanted to pick the best from the bunch, and place them in a single post, called wiki-community. I get no rep. But, apparently that's a bad idea. I should craft a proper answer. Well, I'm not crafting any more. – Mari-Lou A Nov 22 '15 at 9:41
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    I don't see much of a difference, really. What would be the equivalent of "in for a penny, in for a pound" here? .... Uh ... No, please, I would really like you to continue crafting. I don't often say this to people, but ... uh ... you're very good at it. Seriously. We'll see if we can get all the text and links restored. Being dismissive like that is above that mod's pay grade, I think. A bit of humility on his or her part is most certainly in order here. As d'Artagnan used to say. – Ricky Nov 22 '15 at 9:50
  • There are several related reasons, and this is the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm fine with what I've done, there was nothing wrong in what I chose to do. – Mari-Lou A Nov 22 '15 at 10:00
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    You should be less hyper-sensitive about users editing a post of yours, over time, you will improve the quality of your questions and answers, and users will feel less and less inclined to make certain tweaks. EL&U is not a literary or prose website, it's a Q&A website about the English language. A different kettle of fish (I do so like that expression :)). – Mari-Lou A Nov 22 '15 at 10:06
  • But then again, there are more sensitive, and cool-headed edits than others.... – Mari-Lou A Nov 23 '15 at 19:11
  • @Mari-LouA: People who are eager to do edits and deletions are the publishing industry surplus; they should never be allowed to do either. – Ricky Nov 23 '15 at 20:54

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