11

I wrote an answer to the following question.

Did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or her office write and publish this draft version of a resolution?

It was deleted as "Original Research". However, the only thing I did was to download the document and check its properties. It is a very simple process that anyone can do, and I've even listed the single step needed to do so if someone was interested in checking it out by him or herself.

The close reason says that "It is up to the answerer to provide valid, verifiable and potentially replicable evidence.", and I clearly did so. From my answer:

You can check this by yourself by downloading the original PDF in the page linked from the question and checking its metadata (or properties, in some readers) using your non-sucky PDF reader of choice. For Adobe Reader on Windows, you just need to press Control+D while the document is open.

I don't understand the reasoning behind it. I'm aware that answers that require some expertise to check are not ok, but to check this one no specific knowledge is needed.

  • 2
    Can you just say what you did/found. I'm guessing a name or something in the PDF's data. Which should've been a comment; what someone writes over something they wrote doesn't make them an expert witness, it actually disqualifies them due to prejudice. – Mazura Feb 16 at 16:35
  • @Mazura It was a comment. Then I was asked to write an answer based on it. – T. Sar Feb 16 at 21:01
  • @T.Sar I think Fredsbend gave you bad advice, you already knew it was not strong enough, and he should have known better. – Sklivvz Feb 19 at 12:11
  • @Sklivvz Honestly, I think that is what sours me the most with all of this situation. I followed someone's advice to post an answer and had it nuked from orbit a few minutes later... – T. Sar Feb 19 at 16:47
  • I had no idea this was the case by the way, otherwise I would have been more gentle ;-) – Sklivvz Feb 19 at 17:07
  • @Sklivvz I may have missed some joke or sarcasm there. – T. Sar Feb 19 at 19:15
  • @T.Sar err. no irony or sarcasm intended. – Sklivvz Feb 19 at 20:05
13

It appears the bulk of the confusion here is because the deleting moderator actually deleted the answer as un/undersourced—under the (reasonable) justification that metadata alone doesn't count as "enough" of a source, but for some unclear reason insists on labeling it with the inapplicable "original research" regardless of how much confusion that causes.

This brings up some questions.

  • Does looking at metadata count as a poor source or no source?
    • Should an answer consisting solely of metadata be deleted?
  • Should it be described as "original research" when it's clearly not?

First, I can't find a source here on meta that establishes metadata as not an acceptable source, as the mods claim. If anyone finds one please link to it. Lacking that community decision, I believe metadata should be considered a poor source rather than none at all. Poor because it's not particularly reliable—it's easy enough to alter—but it is at least some (minor/circumstantial) evidence. Whether a metadata-only answer should be deleted depends largely on the answer to the above, whether it counts as a source at all; it should be treated as any other source of comparable quality.

As for calling metadata "original research" rather than "unsourced," I think that if the mods are going to give a reason for their actions, they must be clear about it; insisting that an un/undersourced comment with no original research was deleted as "original research" does nothing more than sow confusion, as demonstrated here. I guess there's not much the community can do about this directly beyond encouraging the moderators to be more clear, accurate, and precise when communicating the reason for their actions, especially when directly asked for clarification.

  • 1
    Could you please change this answer to not make it about a specific moderator. These rules are supported by the entire moderator team and the community. The question whether this was a correct application of the rules should be viewed by itself, it's not necessary nor useful to make this personal. – Mad Scientist Feb 14 at 9:25
  • @MadScientist I'll reword this, though I think sklivvz's response was poor, especially for a moderator, in that he refused to answer any of my questions or address any of my concerns (and then had the hypocritical gall to accuse me of not listening). But tell me, does the entire mod team agree that metadata not counting as a source must be called "original research" when deleting answers even though it's clearly not, and seemingly mutually exclusive with the term? Can you show me meta support for that position? – Kevin Feb 14 at 17:35
  • Also, is it established on meta that metadata does not count as a source and/or that mods have carte blanche to delete answers because they don't like the reliability of said source? – Kevin Feb 14 at 17:38
  • I posted my own thoughts about this as an answer below, I would use a somewhat different argument than Sklivvz, but they do boil down to the same issue in the end. The removal of uncited posts by mods is well supported on meta in general, and we have done that for years now. There is a somewhat fuzzy area there because while we don't want to have to judge the quality of sources, we can't just consider any post that contains a link to somewhere as well-sourced. – Mad Scientist Feb 14 at 18:46
  • Removal of and as uncited posts is perfectly understandable and I agree it's necessary in general. We may disagree on this post in particular, but I understand and accept that as valid reasoning for deleting the answer. Sklivvz could have short-circuited our entire discussion by stating that as his reason in the first place, or just explaining once confronted that he was just wrapping "metadata is not a source" deletion into the mutually exclusive category of "original research." Or that he just chose the wrong message. – Kevin Feb 14 at 19:28
  • My issue at this point is with Sklivvz claiming to delete the answer for a clearly inapplicable reason, bobbing and weaving to dodge my questions, implying that OP was on the level of anti-vaxx "idiots," refusing to clarify that he was, for some unspecified reason, simply including "uncited because it's metadata only" in the mutually exclusive category of "original research" despite the confusion it clearly caused, and then throwing out a veiled threat and hypocritical accusation. – Kevin Feb 14 at 19:28
  • @Kevin please be kind and stop throwing false accusations at me, it makes me feel uncomfortable and makes you look frankly very unprofessional. Be nice please and assume the best - you are reading your own bias into what I write. – Sklivvz Feb 14 at 22:28
  • 2
    @Sklivvz I'm sorry you feel that way and I apologize if I was unnecessarily harsh at times. But I feel heavily disrespected by you not attempting to answer my questions or so much as acknowledge my points of view. It would be very helpful in the future if you would be more precise about the reasons for your actions and not get hung up insisting on wording that does not match the real underlying reasons. – Kevin Feb 15 at 1:10
  • @Kevin I've tried my best to be precise: I deleted the answer because I think it's original research. The OP looked at a document and attempted to verify its authenticity by themselves. A valid answer requires a matter expert or an official analysis to determine the source of the document. To me the distinction is very clear. – Sklivvz Feb 15 at 8:29
  • 1
    @Sklivvz I think I see. You're saying that because the question is whether a document was written by a specific author(s), no answer may be posted to it until and unless an expert specifically evaluates it and publishes their findings? Except, presumably, direct statements about it by the purported author(s). Which means the fact that it's presenting metadata is largely irrelevant, it's just no one's allowed to present evidence one way or another. – Kevin Feb 15 at 20:03
  • @Kevin indeed, it's specifically about the quality of the examination, the usage of metadata is incidental. In fact, we have a special close reason for questions that can't be answered at all for this kind of reasons. – Sklivvz Feb 15 at 21:02
  • That's why it's on hold now. "whether a document was written by a specific author" ? : Plagiarize it and see who sues you. Whoever they represent, wrote it. – Mazura Feb 16 at 16:31
1

This case doesn't neatly fit any of our established categories for removing answers, but it does have the same underlying issues. I personally would have viewed this more as an uncited answer. The metadata isn't a proper reference to support the claim according to our standards. The important part is not whether a certain piece of metadata is attached to the document, but whether that metadata means anything. That is the part that would require a reference to fulfill our standards.

The answer makes, in my personal opinion, a very large leap by claiming that there is "a strong indication" that it is authentic based on the metadata. The "source" doesn't say that, it doesn't support that conclusion by itself.

Another aspect here is that this type of question is almost certain to hit the Hot Network Questions. This makes voting entirely unreliable for our site, as all the outside visitors don't necessarily vote according to our rules, but will happily upvote uncited answers. Questions with HNQ potential often require much quicker responses, as otherwise we're in a situation with highly upvoted answers that violate our citation rules, which makes fixing this far messier.

  • I added a few references, including from the NSA, about how metadata could be used to identify the author of a document. Don't they count? – T. Sar Feb 14 at 9:45
  • @T.Sar Those don't really address authenticity, it's more about the potential to leak information through metadata. – Mad Scientist Feb 14 at 11:21
  • I see. Thank you for your time. – T. Sar Feb 14 at 20:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .