I was very surprised to have a popular answer unilaterally deleted by a moderator.
This is an answer based purely on a theoretical model. We expect answers to be based on empirical evidence rather than speculative predictions. The answer has been marked as deleted. Please edit it to add references to empirical data and flag it for moderator attention in order to get it reinstated
I've read the FAQ on theoretical answers and mine doesn't fit any of those categories (it's not a "back-of-the-envelope calculation", "research level", "pure logic/maths" or an appeal to "common sense").
I'd like to improve the answer, but I just can't see how the given reason applies to my answer. It looks like a generic standard comment, so I'd appreciate a more detailed explanation.
I also really can't see how there is anything "theoretical", "speculative" or "predictive" about, for example, the fact that the Boeing 777-200 (like all airliners) has parallel engines but the photograph in the question shows one engine tilted at an angle.
I've already spent a lot of time and effort on this, and at the time it was deleted the community consensus seemed to be that my answer was a good one (+24, no downvotes, no constructive criticism or suggested improvements, no delete votes).
I'd appreciate more than just a throwaway standard comment.
The question was about whether a photo could be genuine or not, and my answer pointed out specific features of the photograph that couldn't possibly be genuine - for example, that the engines of the airliner in the photo weren't parallel, that one wing overlapped the plane's fuselage in an impossible way, that there was a marking on the fin that could not be part of that airliner's livery and could not be a shadow at the time of day the photo was allegedly taken, etc.
So there was empirical evidence: specific details in the original image that contradict firm facts about the Boeing 777-200's design, the airliner's livery, and the position of the sun in that country and that hour.
Is the issue that these facts need references?
I did also discuss how these details support a published speculative theory that was mentioned in the other (undeleted) answer. I can see how this element of the answer could be described as speculative, and I'm happy to edit it if there's a specific problem - but this discussion was alongside hard evidence.
As a side note, I understand that the moderator is probably feeling somewhat exasperated with that question - which appears to have gone viral and which I noticed attracted a number of extremely poor answers along the lines of "I don't think that's how rockets work" around the same time as mine.
This comment they left on the question seems to express exasperation:
Reminder: Answers consisting solely of your opinions about how planes/missiles/satellites/lenses/photoshop work are NOT WELCOME HERE, even if (especially if) you invoke "common sense" or "obviously". You may post those answers on conspiracy theory forums. Here, you need to link to empirical evidence. Don't post your own analysis. Post (preferably peer-reviewed) analysis by people with relevant expertise.
I understand the exasperation, and I've tried to think if any of this applies to my answer, but my answer really was driven by replicable, demonstrable observations, not opinions (except for the semi-speculative elements which could be edited out if they're a problem - but no-one has commented asking me to do so).
The only part that seems applicable to my answer is the line "link to empirical evidence", which confuses me a little. Is the problem that I included the evidence in an answer instead of linking to it? I am someone who works in digital image editing professionally - does this mean that if I had posted my answer as an article on a 3rd party professional site and quoted from it with a link, that'd be okay, but posting identical evidence directly onto this site isn't okay? This also doesn't match the comment left on the deleted answer.
I've also read FAQ: What constitutes original research?, and that seems to not apply either:
- "It is up to the answerer to provide valid, verifiable and potentially replicable evidence". No problem - my answer included evidence from the original source, with a replicable demonstration of how the impossible features were confirmed.
- "Answers are original research [not allowed] when they perform non-trivial analysis of available data and present a novel result which requires specialist expertise to review". No problem - nothing in my answer required expertise to review.