One of the moderators has decided to delete two answers to the question on the popularity of boys names in the UK (this one Is Muhammad one of the most popular names for boys in England and Wales?) on the grounds they constitute "original research".
It seems to me that this ruling is both unprecedented and ridiculous and runs the rim of turning everything on this site into original research.
Both the deleted answers (one of which is mine) were highly upvoted (which sometimes happens for answers that violate the site principles but can also indicate that there is an issue that needs to be clarified in the site rules).
What is particularly bizarre in this case is that the two deleted answers are the only ones that actually answer the question or refer to the definitive source of evidence for an answer. Both refer to the ONS data which is the definitive source for children's names in the UK (or names used more than twice to be precise). Both answers simply describe the content of that definitive source in ways that actually address the question. My answer does involve some data visualisation of the data over several years (maybe drawing charts or redrawing charts now counts as original research) but this is simply a way of making the content of the definitive source easier to grasp and absolutely no new analysis has been done (unless ranking some numbers counts as original research). Everything is directly checkable by any user of the site simply by downloading and looking at the data themselves.
As far as I can tell neither answer violates this, previously stated, rule that creating a figure based on referenced research is OK. The example used by the moderator there is significantly more complex than the relevant examples in the disputed question. The rule in the standard "original research" FAQ states:
It is up to the answerer to provide valid, verifiable and potentially replicable evidence, and to show convincingly that it is relevant to the question. Every answer should be suitable for review and voting by our community of experts in evaluating evidence. Answers which require non-trivial specialist expertise or are anecdotal in nature are not acceptable due to the nature of this community.
My answer violated none of the rules and the other deleted answer uses nothing more complex than a search rule for similar words.
No explanation has been provided as to which aspect of the rules on original research have been violated and this attempt to discuss them has been flagged as a duplicate before any discussion of the rationale for the decision.
Consider how this ruling would affect any other answer here. The writer of the answer finds some scientific reference that addresses a question. But, rather than merely quoting its text, the writer paraphrases the content, perhaps in simpler, more accessible, language. They have now done what both the deleted answers did for this question and nothing more. Is that, therefore, original research? This ruling seems to imply that it is, which is ludicrous.
Again, the only thing the two deleted answers did was to explain in simple terms the content of a significant source (and, in this case the definitive source relevant to the question).
If this is now what counts as "original research" I think the site has a serious problem. We need a clearer ruling on what original research means and, hopefully, one that does not bring everything here into disrepute.