Is the death penalty an effective deterrent?

I have two issues with this question:

First, Sklivvz deleted my answer months after the fact. If he had an issue, he could have contacted me and asked me to improve the answer. Since he provided a link which supported my point it would have been rather easy. Cleanup months after the fact of the most upvoted answer of a question is, IMO pretty darned questionable. Especially when it's replaced by the same mod who did the "cleanup" using a link that would have supported the deleted answer. This is not the first question that has ended up with every answer but Sklivvz deleted (and there was that case of him deleting a question and undeleting so he could answer it).

Instead of improving an existing upvoted answer, the mod deleted an answer his link would have supported, to provide his own answer, months after the fact.

Second issue: The original users isn't even here anymore (also deleted), so an answer can never be accepted, so why not just delete the question?

Oh, and since a mod deleted, I can't vote to undelete, even if I edit it.

  • 3
    Actually, since a mod deleted, nobody can vote to undelete it
    – going
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


The answer was deleted as not an answer.

The question: Is the death penalty effective?

Your answer:

There are a LOT of factors that go into crime rates that confound this issue, so if you want to compare something you have to find two places that are almost the same in all other aspects, but only different in the one you want to compare. In this case you'd want two (preferably a lot more than two) places with similar population density, ethnographic breakdown, poverty rates, police force sizes, other laws, etc. where one enacted the death penalty and the other did not.

You can see how places that match in all of those criteria will be hard to find. That's why you have not found a definitive answer. There probably is not a definitive answer at this time, but people who want the answer to be one way or another use poor statistics to back give credence to emotional arguments to sway people for/against.

This just scratches the surface really. There are the other issues of data collection you mentioned, such as the different ways crimes are reported and tried in court. Nor any comparative analysis of the death penalty vs. life in prison. Nor...

While I find it interesting, I don't think it's an answer to the question. It's not a matter of references (which, of course, are also important and were missing at the time). But it's just that it doesn't really address the issue. I don't think that answering "I don't know how this could be addressed therefore there's no answer" would be acceptable in any other SE site.

Now, I did leave this comment:

I think this question should actually be answered with real data. This (old) answer is more of a comment. Dont get hooked up on the wording of the question... It's certainly possible to find valid statistics on the effectiveness of death penalty. I deleted your question as not an answer.

Which says the same thing.

Ultimately, the question was standing out as a really bad example: only one answer, by a high rep user, which was not good and up voted.

By the way, there are five deleted answers on that question. This is why I took it upon myself to provide a good answer, since basically nobody else did it and it was about time someone took care of it. Also, it turns out there are 27 papers addressing the issue, so your answer was also incorrect.

In conclusion, there was a problem and I fixed it.

  • 1
    Your job as a mod is not to judge correctness, something you routinely err on. Whether or not it was right, wrong, or poorly documented, that does not change the fact that you deleted it without commenting or contacting me to ask me to improve it and replaced it with your own. Justify that however you like. Commented May 4, 2012 at 23:23
  • It's certainly my job as a moderator to look at old questions and answers and see what needs to be pruned. Removing your answer actually allowed that question to get back on the unanswered tab and be answered with much better material. Note also that there are 5 deleted answers, by three mods (and one user). There is no single actor here and no intent to act on you or with bias.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 5, 2012 at 1:15
  • 1
    I'm not claiming your bias is against me actually. Your bias is against certain viewpoints. In addition you have a habit of "cleaning things up" just in time for you to answer them. Had you not jumped right on the question to answer it yourself, all of the above would stand out as a good explanation for your actions. But the fact that you have a habit of "cleaning up" just in time to post your own answer/viewpoint is something that I choose not to view as coincidence or innocent mistakes on your part. Commented May 5, 2012 at 22:30
  • "Had you not jumped right on the question to answer it yourself" - I answered 4 days later... "deleted by Sklivvz♦ Aug 19 '11 at 6:44" vs. "answered Aug 23 '11 at 7:40"
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 5, 2012 at 22:31
  • 1
    I see your point on the days. My perspective was that I checked the site and my answer was deleted with yours as the only other answer. All the wonderful traffic and attention you claim to have generated only happened after I posted my complaint here. So in a way I guess you're right. By drawing complaints we got better material. The "Much better material" you cite was not a response to your cleanup, but a month later, about three hours after I posted here. Commented May 5, 2012 at 22:53
  • I'm not going to argue this anymore. The fact is that you deleted my answer and replaced it with your own. That fact stands. The fact that after I complained here, people saw the question and posted better answers doesn't change the fact that you deleted my answer and replaced it with yours. The comments show that you did not attempt to discuss before deleting, but commented and deleted at the same time. So no, you didn't go to much effort to give me opportunity to improve before replacing with your answer. Commented May 5, 2012 at 23:01
  • I did not "replace" your answer. Accept this simple fact. No evil moderator stomped on your answer. Your answer was not appropriate and was pruned together with two other, by me and Oddthinking. Only later was my answer added. It's completely unrelated.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 5, 2012 at 23:38

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