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A few months back, I posted what I know to be a very insightful question. It was labeled as "off topic" for "reasons" which remain incomprehensible to me. The question has a short answer, which is "Yes."

The long answer is "Yes $\dots$, but physics isn't mathematics."

Someone posted an answer which addressed the mathematics, but not the physics.
I wanted to give the answer due consideration, so I merely commented that I would return to it when I had time to give it due consideration. Not only that; but, I live on the road. I don't always have internet connectivity.

When I did return to it, I found it was deleted. I can't say that I am disappointed by that action. Indeed, I am pleased to see that other people will not be induced to consider the matter by stumbling upon my question.

Now, I ask, if, in the future, I demonstrate that my original question is as significant as I am indicating. Do I have the right to gloat?

Since my question derived from the Exercises for the Feynman Lectures on Physics, I will add this as a teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZZPF9rXzes

The physics answer to my question lies at the intersection of Newtonian mechanics, special and general relativity, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Do I have the right to gloat..." Why would you want to? A textbook answer to your question: "No, because you don't have the right to do anything here." $\endgroup$ – Robert Harvey May 16 '18 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to be confusing rights with freedoms. $\endgroup$ – Steven Thomas Hatton May 16 '18 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ What makes you say that? This isn't a "human rights" issue; it's a privately-owned website, not a utility or governmental agency. There is no notion of free speech here. $\endgroup$ – Robert Harvey May 16 '18 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ This really isn't a question about the site workings, which is the point of the meta site. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 16 '18 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Are you referring to this question? $\endgroup$ – rob May 16 '18 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ You may gloat. Obviously a “question” containing only gloating will be quickly downvoted, closed, and deleted. $\endgroup$ – knzhou May 17 '18 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @knzhou Simply asking this question is already gloating. The net score on the question clearly indicates what the answer should be. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero May 17 '18 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero Good point, he's already done it once. $\endgroup$ – knzhou May 17 '18 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ Good grief Steven. If you believe your question is as significant as you claim, why on Earth would 'gloating' be a value to you? Why would what anyone here thinks of your question, or you for that matter, be of any significance at all to you? $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri May 18 '18 at 2:53
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I would say gloating in general is impolite. Here's the definition of gloat:

To look at or think about with great or excessive, often smug or malicious, satisfaction.

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Yes, you absolutely may gloat. Any time you feel like you deserve the chance to gloat, you may gloat. However, before gloating, there are a few things to consider first.

1) We, and indeed even you, refer to ourselves as a "community"; a collective of people that work together with the intention of benefiting everyone. Gloating is more of a retaliatory action done in response to a perceived injury and does not benefit anyone except the gloating party. In fact, it often harms the rest, which makes it decidedly against the spirit of a "community". Given that, don't be surprised if you alienate a significant portion of the community when you gloat. This can be bad for even yourself. As John Donne said, "No man is an island, entire of itself"; you benefit more when aided by others. Others aid you when they feel you are deserving of it. Alienating them makes them less willing to help you. So what good comes from gloating?

2) As I said at the beginning, you may gloat whenever you want. However, consider that others may ignore you, delete your comments, shun you, or pay close attention to your every deed and start calling you out whenever you are wrong about something. And since practically all people on Earth are wrong more often than right, this may not be a good thing.

3) Some people claim they gloat as a way of teaching others not to repeat a failure. There are far better ways to do this than gloating. Gloating breeds resentment. A more sound strategy would be to thank the community for correcting the mistake. For example:

Yeah, thanks everyone for correcting the mistake. This whole time I couldn't see how I was wrong about it and I was starting to think I'm crazy. Good to know it wasn't me. I guess from now on we'll have to keep our eyes open so we don't make this kind of mistake again.

That shows gratitude, you equalize everyone by implying you could have as easily been mistaken (so nobody feels like they're less than anyone else), then you end by including yourself in the community ("we'll") and expressing hope for collective improvement. This kind of response is more likely to result in learning from mistakes than a gloat. Gloats make people resistant to adopt the gloater's point of view.

4) If you do decide to gloat, NEVER gloat before winning (e.g. being shown to be right, or having a question re-opened). This is a bad idea. All you will do is make it less likely that whatever you are gloating about will come to pass. If what you're gloating about relies on the decisions of the community, then making the community resentful seems like a bad idea. Counting your chickens before they hatch might also be shooting yourself in the foot. This point should be obvious. Plus you don't want to risk what you're gloating about not coming to pass.


In short, we will never say that you are forbidden from gloating; however, gloating is a short-sighted action. It provides immediate gratification at the expense of others and, in the long run, it almost invariably is worse for the person who gloats. It is a sign of being what some might call a "sore winner" and shows that a person acts more on immediate feelings than a rational assessment of their situation and future. So, like I've said, you can gloat and I won't stop you (nor will the rest of the community, if they don't mind my speaking for them), but why would you want to gloat?

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Everybody can make a mistake. Maybe the moderators made a mistake here (difficult to know since the question has been deleted); maybe you did. Or maybe it is something else altogether.

Whatever happened, why take offense and believe you get some right to any revengeful behavior? Contributors and visitors do not care about ego matters anyway; they only come here for physics. Nobody would even try and understand what you are gloating about.

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