Note: This question does not aim to devalue the hard work and time moderators are devoting for this site. Moderators will always have my respect (and this community's); however this question aim to criticize their actions imposed on wrong (or flawed) answers.
The point of presenting each case is to point out the new reasons moderators are coming up with to delete an answer (i.e. original research issue, wrong reference, flawed answer, a lot of downvotes).
In each case, it seems like moderators have gone far more reasons for deletion of an answer, where only those exist so far:
- commentary on the question or other answers
- asking another, different question
- “th anks!” 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
Below are cases of flawed answers deleted by moderators:
One single moderator has deleted THREE answers to a question. According to the question asker:
At least one of those answers was imperfect but shouldn't/needn't have been deleted.
The moderator's response was:
I wrote that I would tend to remove all the answer because they're original research, and later another moderator recommended to go through with the deletion.
The answerer said:
I believe what I wrote was on-topic and an answer. What I wrote was intended to be an answer, not a comment. It did answer the question as asked. Since I have a pretty good idea of what usually distinguishes a comment from an answer, I'm still wondering why was this converted to a comment?
I don't believe that this was an appropriate use of the moderator power. If there are any issues with this answer, they could have been resolved either by a comment or by making an edit.
The moderator replied:
The purpose of this post is to explain the decision, so that people don't think it's some evil attempt at censorship. It isn't. We just want those questions to look good as they will be heavily linked to.
Another member replied:
I don't understand how questions look good if minority opinions get deleted. They just look undisputed, not good - good is a very subjective category for a skeptics place. As they will be heavily linked to, isn't a real argument too; the 'as' is just a conjunction. For the people who come later, it looks as if there hasn't been a discussion, so they might ask the questions/repeat the opionions, which got deleted, again and again. And why is this announced so shortly before performing the action without discussion? You're very right in your sorrow, this might look like "some evil attempt at censorship". Of course it does, and of course it is always announced as a cleaning process.
Another answerer got his answer deleted a theoretical answer:
I feel like this is a very opinionated removal of my answer. If you don't think it is helpful and speculative, downvote it. I'm stating that one of the claims in the original citation is wrong. I'm surprised that the only answer supported by actual science is removed as "not based on facts". I'm a physicist by the way...
Skeptics' public though are experts in examining evidence, not physics and can't really judge -- we answer questions on any physical science, plus history, social sciences, etc... They might look at the link in the latter answer and ponder whether the "National Lightning Safety Institute" is a reputable source, not whether Maxwell laws allow for it.
I believe wrong answers should not be deleted. For that, there is voting system. Moderators are there to clean up spam & misuse of the site, not to judge the answers' clarity and relevance.I do understand your reasoning, I just do not agree with the action.
I find this comment very accurate and true.
A moderator deleted an answer and said:
An answer like yours is a model of how the system works. That means: if the model is applicable, then the answer is correct. What is missing is proof that the model is applicable with any generality.
In order to prove that one could... go and measure the emitted radiation -- which is all that is needed to answer the question, coincidentally.
The answerer replied:
I can understand the remark, I'm just still very surprised that answer was just purely deleted. Two days ago an unsourced answer was provided. It's still available and voted minus 1. For what reasons should an unreferenced answer be kept on the website and one such as mine be deleted within 27 minutes? Sounds very illogical to me. (Also haven't had the time to edit my answer again yet.)
A moderator deleted one answer (the other was too similar) and his answer:
The answer wasn't acceptable:
It used the "I could just post a blog article" line. That is covered here.
It used the "But what about the other answer?" line. That is covered here.
Most importantly, I interpreted the comments as declining to provide references, which, according to policy is a trigger for deletion:
In conclusion, your answer seems to justify the deletion based on 'Original research' by slyly diverting the attention to a claim I presented which I referenced poorly. If you wish to justify your actions than you should point out why this original research (for that's what it is) is more worthy of deletion than all the other original research out there. In it's current form it's of poorer quality, sure, but suddenly deletion worthy level of different?
My case: look here.
The list goes on.
By massively deleting flawed, downvoted or wrong answers, you're taking away the opportunity for the answerer to improve their answer if there is a dissenting viewpoint that someone may not have initially addressed in their question, or in the community voted answer.
You are also removing answers which follow the rules. Just because an answer is wrong or has a low score doesn't mean that it is a violation of policies.
Down-voting exists here for a reason here.
Answers should be allowed to stand for judgement by the process of voting. You are preventing this to happen.
If an answer is poor, it will be down-voted. It will not top the list of answers. Its flaws might be explained in the comments. It will get thrown in the bottom. After many downvotes, it will be greyed out. Visitors will surely know it is an untrusted answer.
But, as long as it is an answer which follow the rules, why prevent it to exist?
The answer may provide a source of another skeptical claim that someone can ask and answer, letting more people participate in the reputation process to reach this supposed state of nobility.
Skeptics should allow us to learn as well as be exposed to new information.
Trying to fix the most glaring problems, either through edits or comments, should be the preferred response. If the source is untrustworthy, add a comment pointing out that, or downvote. Edit the answer if you find some flaws, remove the reference entirely if it is truly not relevant to the question.
But deleting a quality on-topic answer related to the question directly without notifying the answerer? This is plain rude and inappropriate.
Your actions are putting SKEPTICS censorship at worst.