I asked a question on Skeptics which was edited by two moderators to remove content that I added on purpose for several reasons. Let me first break down my reasons and explain why I did what I did.

  1. I purposely used the phrase "red giant" in the title because that is a more specific way of referring to the future of our Sun. "collapse of the Sun" can mean many things (example supernova). So that is more misleading in my opinion. Also, whenever any modern astronomer thinks of the future of our Sun, they always use one of two phrases to describe it - "red giant" or "white dwarf". But this latter point is subjective of course.
  2. My title also did not specifically include the term "predict the future collapse" because I wanted a slightly more general take on what Hinduism's stance was on the Sun becoming a red giant.
  3. The (har har) at the beginning may be a bit questionable due to it probably being a bit too snarky. I put that there because blogs are usually full of conspiracy theories and usually provide no form of rational analysis. Since the article I was referencing was a blog article, this implied some irony in the situation. But I completely understand why anyone would remove this.
  4. I purposely extracted the specific sentence of interest to me. If anybody edits this, they are altering reality since, for the scope of the question at hand, my interest lies solely in that sentence I excerpted. Quoting the specific sentence of interest also has the added benefit of being more concise. I was careful to quote the sentence to imply that this was in the middle of another larger sentence. If anyone wants to read the entire thing, the source was right there anyway.
  5. "Hollow claim" and "false claim" are two different things. I used "hollow claim" to imply that the claim may not have any substance to it in the context used. "False claim" simply means that the claim may not true in the context used.
  6. The "Why?" at the end was asking for reasons why whoever was reading thought that this is coincidence. While this is more nitpicky, I purposely included this because I do not want people to just call this coincidence without explaining why. Removing this, removes that constraint. But considering that this is Skeptics, this is more or less implied I guess. But I still want it there for the previously mentioned reason.

What really irks me about this whole situation is that the edits included several things that I do not agree with. When I roll it back, I do so for a reason. If further edits are necessary, why not just leave a comment with the intended corrections explaining why?! This goes even further when a mod rolls back my rollback and then locks it. This just seemed like an abuse of power to me. If a comment was left, it would only promote civil discussion on the matter. (But maybe a discussion on meta is more appropriate.)

You may argue that the comments left behind by the editors are a form of these comments. Well, no.

  1. "Followed obvious link to source." - This is the only one that makes sense to me. This was a pretty stupid oversight on my part.
  2. "Cited a bit more context to have it make sense." - No. This just adds text that, for the scope of the question, is not of interest to me. For context, the reader can always refer to the article. The context is actually irrelevant to the question since the section is actually referring to the Hiranyagarbha's coalescence due to the Sun expanding to swallow life on Earth. The emphasized part means that the context used the said statement as a priori knowledge to make another point.
  3. "Made title match claim." - No. The title does not match my claim due to the formerly stated reasons.

Even if you still argue that all/most of this is wrong, why not just leave a comment explaining why and give me a chance to decide whether that is actually the case or not? How can you with 100% certainty predict that your corrected question is actually the question I intended to ask? There is so much subtlety involved that this is impossible. However, I am not claiming that my question is 100% correct. I had many oversights and unclear sections. I welcome comments on what edits to make in the question as long as the reasons are convincing.

2 Answers 2


I was the moderator who did the "major" edit. I am sorry to hear you were unhappy with it. Let me explain some of the edits, in more detail than would fit in a comment, so you can see they were made in good faith.

  • The title was "Hinduism and the Sun becoming a red giant" which had three separate issues. Each was minor, but together they triggered me to edit it.

    • The Hindu text didn't say "the Sun will become a Red Giant", nor did the site that you quoted from, nor did your text. There was no other mention of it in the question. The jump from "Sun expanding" to "red giant" was presumed knowledge, and it didn't seem that level of knowledge of astronomy was safe to assume from the reader. I considered adding more context to explain it, but it seemed simpler just to focus on the claim made.

    • "Hinduism" didn't make the prediction. One text did. There is no evidence provided that every single person who identifies/identified as Hindu (or a vast majority) considers the text to be correct. In this meta-question, you repeat this blurring between what one text says and "Hinduism". One billion Hindus are very unlikely to have a single position on any topic.

    • Stylistically, it is nice if the titles are in the form of a question, and has just enough information to allow people to decide if they are interested in reading further.

  • Note: the "collapse" versus "expansion" issue - that was a big mistake on my part. Sorry about that. While the core of the Sun will collapse first, the question is about the resulting expansion afterwards.

  • When I changed the source from a random blog to what appears to be the original essay, the "har har" comment about blogs lost its context.

  • The extracted sentence, in isolation, made no sense. I read it and couldn't understand what the claim was. Someone on a blog said the Sun would expand? So what? It wasn't until I went back to the original that I found that the person was quoting an ancient text which made it remarkable - no, that's not right, someone was paraphrasing an ancient text, which was unremarkable. I added more context to the quote to allow people to understand the question before deciding to follow up and read the link. While I encourage people to check the sources on the questions, we should give enough context that they can decide if they are interested enough to do so.

  • I very briefly considered that it was increasing the length of the "sentence" you said you were interested in and that it was "altering reality", but it seemed so minor and I let it pass. I apologise to anyone was was mislead by this, and hope they also consider it minor.

  • While the source is currently there for anyone checking, we need to protect against link-rot, so it is worth quoting enough of the source.

  • I pondered whether "hollow claim" and "false claim" are two different things. I would have had a hard time defining the difference, but they did feel different - hollow claim feels stronger, which meant you had introduced a false dichotomy. What if the claim is not true, but also not hollow? I avoided the issue by changing it to "false".

  • It seemed to me the "Why?" part of the question was asking for one of two possible responses. Either it was asking for evidence ("why do you think this?") to support the position that it is a coincidence, which is implied by every question on Skeptics.SE and therefore unnecessary... or it was asking for an opinion ("why do you feel this?") which is off-topic. Either way, it didn't need to be there.

  • The lock was temporary; it was set to expire after a single hour. I expected it very likely that you wouldn't even return in that time and so you wouldn't even notice. I was just trying to prevent anyone from rolling back my changes again before I had finished typing in the comment, which would have degenerated us into an edit war which I wanted to avoid. I could have unlocked it again after posting the comment, but I didn't think to. Thanks, Sklivvz, for taking care of this after seeing the complaint.

  • The culture here for edits is "be bold". (I wish I could find a reference to this in the Help Centre right now, but it is eluding me.) Simply commenting and waiting for the author to edit the question is fraught with delays (the author may not return to the site for days - or at all - right during the peak period for the question being read by regulars) and with many (very welcome!) contributors having poor English skills, simply commenting on the problems isn't enough to get them fixed. We encourage people to get in and fix the question. Yes, this introduces the risk that the original author is unhappy with the changes, and I regret that that is the case here.

  • 4
    Thank you for taking the time to actually respond to everything! I appreciate it. I now understand and agree with all your edits and I'm very sorry for causing such a ruckus. Commented May 5, 2014 at 1:24

This is my take on your comments.

  1. There is no claim about a red giant, and we will not address a user's interpretation of a claim (that's not what we do).

  2. The title should be rephrased, because your proposed title is too generic and not even a question - besides being about a red giant.

  3. The har-har is a no-no here. We are not dicks. Please try more neutral language.

  4. While you are free to highlight the specific sentence you are interested in, adding text makes sure that we are not quoting it out of context. I agree with Oddthinking that more context is necessary in this case. Please leave the rest and highlight what you are interested in.

  5. To me either "hollow claim" or "false claim" are almost interchangeable, so I don't have strong feelings. Hollow is an imprecise term though, because there actually is a claim here.

  6. Asking why something is coincidence is a loaded question. Coincidences, by definition, have no reason. Everything is a coincidence unless there's proof otherwise.

I find all edits were quite fair and I also add that probably point 1 and 4, if left as you intended, would make the question unsuitable for the site. Whilst I would not have locked the question but simply closed it, I do think that repeatedly rolling back a question or resisting change is not appropriate behavior here:

  • we are all in this to learn something, assume good faith and ask others to help you
  • while you remain the author, keep in mind that once your content is published it becomes curated by the community who is encouraged to edit it to make it better. In particular we'd rather do a radical edit instead of simply closing as a matter of policy if possible.

The post is now unlocked, feel free to edit it, but keep in mind that unless the above points are addressed adequately, either me or the community will close it.

  • My entire point is that I put those there for a reason. Instead of editing the post drastically, why not comment on the question and explain to me what edits to make? This seems to me a more appropriate form of discussion rather than an edit war. I reiterate, I am not resisting change. I am simply not convinced by the edits. Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:29
  • Also, nowhere do the links mention anything about the Sun collapsing. They talk of it expanding. Whenever astronomers think of our Sun, they think of a red giant. Whether this is my interpretation or not is irrelevant. I never asked anybody to validate my interpretation. I'm asking for validation for the claim. The only purpose this title would serve is to make the thread more discoverable. Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:37
  • A title is not meant to be an all-encompassing summary. Vagueness is sometimes a good thing in a title, IMHO. The body of the question should narrow down the title. Since this is subjective, I will not try and convince you in this, since you obviously do not agree. Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:38
  • @AnishRamaswamy On this site, editing is fine and questions work best. I suggest that you lurk around for a bit to better understand our style instead of challenging community and moderators at the first chance. I don't think it is a constructive strategy.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:48
  • Finally, A hollow claim is still a claim. Oh and thank you for that link by the way. I realize that that snarky comment was pretty condescending to many people. I apologize for that. Commented May 4, 2014 at 20:51
  • Thank you for your insights. I'm sorry if I came off as aggressive/obnoxious. Commented May 4, 2014 at 21:05
  • @Sklivvz I would argue that it is unreasonable to expect people to not challenge what they have problems with. The way to prevent this is to make preemptive explanations. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Askers to ever even lurk on the site, since not everyone is here for the community. I also think it's strange that something as fundamental as "how and when to edit questions" differs so much on different Stack Exchanges. I was recently chastised for editing a closed question on XianSE, as I was told that any substantial changes should be left as comments so the Asker could make them.
    – trlkly
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 8:33

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