Banning "Original Research"
My impression is the community has (or should) scale back on the ban on "non-trivial" original research—it doesn't seem to be mentioned in the Help section, though there are previous questions that reference some guidelines (e.g. 1, 2).
If such a prohibition is going to be enforced, there's really no excuse not to include it in the official Help section. In fact, burying community standards in a loose conglomeration of FAQs no-where referenced in the Help section, let alone featured, is not particularly sensible. Stack Exchange already has a bad rap for being unwelcoming to new members, but it's crazy that even complying with every stipulation in the official help section is insufficient to prevent a thoughtful, verifiable, and highly-upvoted answer (that was still improving based on feedback) from being swiftly deleted.
Presumably, the intent of any such restriction would be to limit answers that cannot be reasonably evaluated by non-expert members of the community—a good general guideline, but one that can easily be abused or unevenly applied, and lead to the suppression of potentially important information germane to the question. When in doubt, the community should be presented with more information, not less.
Problems with banning code
More generally, I would think there is something very wrong with a community of skeptics that explicitly prohibits referencing primary source data to find answers—a consequence that is almost inescapable by repressing answers that use code to communicate. This is particularly true when a question:
- Has several external secondary sources that apparently contradict each other
- No sources directly address the question that could be found in the data with some amount of processing or calculation
- Is a question an expert would not bother addressing, let alone publishing
- Expertise in the question domain is limited, if it exists
Providing code perfectly states what assumptions are being made, is reproducible, and is peer reviewable, besides empowering users to find their own answer, features that every answer should exhibit if applicable. I consider it a very dangerous precedent to repress answers that meet these criteria.
Why the referenced answer should not be banned, even under current rules
In the case of the answer you referenced, I would say that tabulation is trivial enough that it would not require a "community of experts" to verify or understand—the only calculation is addition and could be easily be performed manually. We can even break down the relevant sections of the applicable (if potentially apocryphal) rule:
It is up to the answerer to provide valid, verifiable and potentially
replicable evidence, and to show convincingly that it is relevant to
Nothing does this better than code.
Every answer should be suitable for review and voting by our community
of experts in evaluating evidence.
The results of the code, including the assumptions made, were clearly communicated in both the code and the results table. There was no black-box that non-programmers could not understand. The results even mirrored those published by the GfdS, the official German state-sponsored association for language.
Answers which require non-trivial specialist expertise or are
anecdotal in nature are not acceptable due to the nature of this
Plenty of commentators had very strong opinions about the assumptions themselves (and importantly, not strictly because there were assumptions), despite the fact these largely common-sense assumptions incidentally mirrored those used by the GfdS (i.e. both methods yielded the same results; notably, the GfdS does not publish their assumptions, while mine were perfectly transparent and reproducible). It's unclear to me whether all of these commentators had "non-trivial specialist expertise" in this field (again, expertise that conflicts with the GfdS), or simply they did not think the question at-hand actually required "non-trivial specialist expertise" to evaluate if the assumptions were valid. But if "non-trivial" should be understood as "high-school knowledge or less" (Sklivvz's comment), it's not abundantly clear to me that "non-expert" members of this community of "experts in evaluating evidence" should be deemed incapable of deciding whether "Mohammed" and "Mohamed", or any other spelling, constitute equivalent names in some sense—that's more than a little insulting.
Even more telling, the accepted answer even advocated their own assumptions regarding what should be included (which incidentally, do not mirror those by the GfdS, nor were there any references to other similar organizations that espouse the proposed approach, nor did the results reflect any published results). The validity of this doubtless "original research" (in the view of these commentators anyway), was never questioned, disputed, or requested to be removed by any moderators.
Moderator intervention should be reserved for the most extreme and dire circumstances. Collectively, answers to questions should consider every angle, even unpopular ones, and trust the skeptics in the community to find the answer that appears to be the most valid. True skeptics should consider all answers, and not stop at the top-voted one (as may be more appropriate in other communities). There really should not be any hard-and-fast rules regarding something like "original research" or providing code, as everything depends on context. There is doubtless a time to ban answers promoting original research (see Daubert standard), but if the answer in the grey area at all, the policy should be to give the power to the community and let the "experts in evaluating evidence" evaluate the answer on merits.
I consider it very dangerous and arrogant for moderators to assume they ought to suppress verifiable information that the community finds helpful—especially in cases when they might personally take issue with the conclusion of the answer presented. Again, in the referenced question, the accepted (and moderator approved) answer performed effectively the same analysis as the answer in dispute, albeit more opaquely and without underlying code; this analysis (which constitutes a non-trivial portion of that answer), has been permitted to stand, without question, while the answer in dispute was deleted. How can we take ourselves seriously with this kind of uneven enforcement?
Without more restraint, we're little better than the dubious sources we claim to refute. We can do better.
Full disclosure: I wrote the answer referenced in the question. Unfortunately, it has been deleted, eliminating much of the context of this answer. I've reposted a (presumably) acceptable answer, that emphasizes the conclusion over the process, the latter of which I errantly assumed skeptics would be more interested in.