I would like to start with the comment box a moderator added:

This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this post by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Then I will address that personal comment from the moderator:

Whilst this is certainly a well-researched answer, it is not really an answer to the question at all. It is based on your personal theory, "two possible scenarios". I need to remove it as not-an-answer (or theoretical if you prefer). Sorry, because I know it must have taken long :-/

Starting with,

This post does not cite any references or sources.

I would like to point out that my answer cites 8 sources:

  • The first source indicates the original report by Spiegel, which has a good reputation.
  • The next four sources mention the history of Spiegel.
  • The sixth source talks about the troubled relations between Kerry and Netanyahu.
  • The seventh and eight source mention the history of Israel in spying.

Please help improve this post by adding citations to reliable sources.

This post can't be improved anymore since it has been deleted by moderator. While there might be a slight chance to find documented evidence about the spying, it can't be added to my answer anymore.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence for the spying made by Israel against Kerry. Nothing in has been unsourced in my answer. I dare anyone to find one unsourced statement or fact in my answer.

Whilst this is certainly a well-researched answer, it is not really an answer to the question at all.

I would like to argue about it being an answer. Not all the answers on skeptics.stackexchange.com end by "yes" or "no". If the moderator recall my answer, it began with, Summary: There is no public evidence to answer this definitively. We need to judge how much we trust anonymous sources.

So, my answer was we don't know. A similar answer to this was my answer on How did Yasser Arafat die?. I said that, "the answer to your question is UNKNOWN." Did it really answer the question? No, it didn't; but it is the only rational explanation and answer you can give to such question, 'we don't know' or 'no answer'.

Sometimes no answer is an answer.

It is based on your personal theory, "two possible scenarios". I need to remove it as not-an-answer (or theoretical if you prefer).

It is NOT based on a personal theory. The two possible scenarios are:

  • SPIEGEL's sources are true.
  • SPIEGEL's sources are false.

Do moderators find this subjective? If so, I challenge them to find a third possible scenario?

Eacnh point was followed by objective, rational questions. For example, "Why did the US State Department and Israel both decline Der Spiegel's request for comment (1) on the matter? Why would they allow a hoax ruin relations between the United States and Israel?" The moderator could have challenged those statements instead of utterly deleting my answer.

A personal theory would be something like: the Illuminati who were based in Israel sent Hillary Clinton to sleep with John Kerry, and she had wired him in order to get some details from him.

Or, Spiegel is run by aliens who live on our planet and they want to create a third-world war, so they started creating conflict between two powerful governments.

Another personal theory can be also, Hitler is still alive and he has taken over Spiegel's German news magazine. He's creating conflict between the Unites States and Israeli government, in order to make the United States weak so that he'd also seek revenge on it.

Sorry, because I know it must have taken long :-/

While this deletion will obviously discourage me from posting and/or contributing on this website, it would be better if moderators demonstrated fairness and impartiality in their actions. The Stack Exchange's Theory of Moderation says:

Your goal is to guide the community with gentle — but firm — intervention.

Maybe, it would better if moderators vote on deletion of answers or maybe they would try to improve answers themselves like moderator @Oddthinking did to my answer which got later deleted by another moderator.

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  • FYI: It's acknowledged that the "does not cite any references..." banner is poorly worded, and Sklivvz has even asked for it to be made more general: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/16744842#16744842
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 17:15
  • Please do not repost deleted answers here, it's considered to be a bad practice.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


The text of the "This post does not cite any references or sources." notice is fixed and can't be edited by us moderators. We use it not only for answers without any references, but also for answers with insufficient or unreliable references.

Deleting doesn't prevent you from improving an answer, you can still edit it and a moderator can undelete it.

The problem with your answer is not the lack of references, but that you're trying to answer the wrong question. You are answering whether "Der Spiegel" is a reputable publication, not whether Israel eavesdropped on Kerry. We sometimes accept indirect evidence like this if we have no other choice, but this the last resort in cases where no better evidence is available. This kind of indirect evidence is also mostly used for the really far-fetched claims that no peer-reviewed publication would ever bother with.

I'm far more comfortable with negative indirect answers than positive indirect answers. If you can plausibly show that there is no evidence for a specific claim, this can be a useful answer.

What your answer says is "Der Spiegel is a trustworthy publication and the whole thing sounds like something the Mossad would do", the whole thing plastered with citations. Now this is my very own personal issue with this answer, but it simply looks far more impressive and authorative than it actually is. In the end it is simply an appeal to authority. And I actually share your opinion on this specific subject, I had a subscription to "Der Spiegel" for a while and regard this claim as plausible. But that's it, I don't actually know, and in the absence of any specific evidence I think leaving this question unanswered is the better choice.

I know that having an answer deleted that you put a lot of effort into is very frustrating. But the kind of question you answered here is one that we just have a lot of trouble with. If there is no reliable evidence for us to base our answers on, we can't actually do anything useful. While it is tempting to still try and answer the question, this is something we should consiously avoid. The further we stray from hard facts, the more likely it becomes that we mislead our readers. And in that case we fail the purpose of our site.


I'm unsure if the mod who deleted it used that as a reason, but as I noted in the now-deleted comments to the answer, it had at least one major flaw.

Your answer gave 2 possible scenarios, but in reality there were 3. You compressed the first 2 into the same scenario under "Spiegel's sources are wrong or do not exist".

Your answer analyzed the reliability of Der Spiegel, which - (albeit, with some of appeal to authority and/or ecological fallacy) - addresses the possibility that Der Spiegel made the information up with no sources.

It did NOT in any way analyze a likely case of Der Spiegel's sources either being mistaken, OR deliberately misleading Der Spiegel. Given that no source was named by them, that'd be impossible to analyze on Skeptics.SE answer, of course. Given that - even if this is true - there'd only be one classified source claiming that - it means Der Spiegel couldn't likely do any independent verification even if they had evidence (which they didn't present, nor even claimed to have).

As such, your answer gave the impression that logically, the situational facts support the conclusion that the information is true, whereas it only covered 1 of 2 "first" situations, even if you accept on trust your logic about the second scenario you gave (which suffers from its own problems, but they are minor by comparison).


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