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A moderator seems to have taken my question a bit too personally

https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6487/did-steve-jobs-really-innovate-anything

He may have strong opinion about what skeptics is and is not but how is it acceptable for him to remove the following statement from my question?:

Just to clarify this is not a troll. I have utmost respect for him as a business man and his passion for excellence. I'm just curious about innovation part.

Here is the revision history: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/posts/6487/revisions

May I know what is wrong with this being part of the question since it helps clarify that the question's intention is not in fact provocative as it may seem?

Following is his comment on the question.

This is trollage, burn with fire...

First he is accusing me of something without knowing my intent, secondly he is removing any clarification that I have given in question.

Is this kind of behavior acceptable?

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  • I've edited your question to make it less personal and more generic. Revert if this is unacceptable. – Sklivvz Oct 9 '11 at 14:57
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You ask:

Is this kind of behavior acceptable?

Well, let's see.

Editing that comment from your question is perfectly acceptable. While I wouldn't have bothered with it, it's an improvement to the question. It was just an artifact polluting the question; it didn't add anything to it. If your question is being misinterpreted, the solution is to improve it so it is not misinterpreted.

When Sklivvz removed it, he said just that:

It's still trollage because it's a question about the meaning of innovation, not Steve Jobs. ... You seem to disagree on the usage of the word "innovative" or "innovator", instead. This kind of open questions, where there is no clear answer, etc., are not allowed on any StackExchange site.

The removal of that passage was one of two steps in the process of making you understand that you didn't fix the problem within your question: your question is about the definition of innovation.

As for the comment "This is trollage, burn with fire", well the language is certainly a bit too strong and the delivery could use more tact, but in the essence he is right. Your question, posted the day of Job's death and of a subjective nature, is highly likely to generate a lot of flame wars and bad content. He is right that it could be closed early. I would have picked different terms, but the point being made is spot on.

So, to answer your question, it is acceptable. It is not perfect, certainly a little too blunt, but still perfectly acceptable. He's doing his job by moderating bad content.

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    Considering the inappropriateness of the question itself, I find the OP's complaint about my tone unacceptable. – Sklivvz Oct 9 '11 at 17:50
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The essential question being asked here is whether it is acceptable for a moderator to edit your question.

The short answer to that is: Yes, it is acceptable for anyone to edit your question. Following the Wikipedia collaborative editing model, we recommend that people "be bold" in making edits.

The FAQ states:

If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

Obviously, we also expect edits to be made in a good faith attempt to improve it and with respect to the original meaning of the question, or they will be quickly reverted. You can rollback the changes the others have made too (although getting into an "edit war" with mindless reverts back and forth will be stomped on quickly; it doesn't help anyone.)

(It is also worth noting that it requires a "trusted user" to be involved in the editing process. Low ranked users need to have their changes approved by higher ranked users. However, that is much broader than merely moderators.)


As Sklivvz and the commenters have pointed out, the original question itself wasn't great in terms of being objectively answerable.

The timing of the question was offensive too. That, in itself, should not be considered sufficient to close a question. (After all, a lot of people find their beliefs being challenged by evidence upsetting.)

Combining the two together, however, it isn't too surprising that some readers drew the conclusion that you were being deliberately provocative, rather than seeking a real answer to a question.

Under such a conclusion, the disclaimer wasn't helping, but just forming part of the troll. I think the mental reaction was similar to the common reaction to the phrase "I'm not a racist, but..." - it causes many people to roll their eyes.

To be honest, this meta-question isn't really helping your claim of not being deliberately provocative. A better plan of action to convince people that your question is worthy of a response is to edit the question so that it is answerable (or to delete the question entirely).

[As your implied definition of "innovator" currently stands, virtually nobody can be called an innovator as most inventions are merely built upon other inventions. That definition is not how the term is commonly understood.]

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  • this meta-question isn't about helping my claim of the question 'not' being deliberately provocative but specifically about inflammatory remarks and removing an explanation and not about whether in general is it acceptable to edit a question. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Oct 9 '11 at 15:45
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    @Hasan, I've tried to point where you could spend your energy to improve the site. This current direction doesn't seem to have any hope of that. I don't propose to spent much more of my time on this. – Oddthinking Oct 10 '11 at 1:16

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