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I posted a review comparing my experiences in physics stack exchange and at physics overflow.

It was clearly an answer the question "how are they different from each other?"

This is written purely from my point of view.

There were suggestions for improvement to Physics stack exchange. Which if ignored may further deteriorate the site. I will post my answer separately on this page. And I want the community to review its appropriateness. Moderators please do not interfere. Seemingly there is insecurity about handling criticism. I find this kind of behaviour completely out of line.

It was deleted by a moderator on the grounds that it does not answer the question.

Users please review my answer and tell me if it was inappropriate for the question asked.

"I sort of eventually drifted into physics overflow. While I enjoyed reading and posting on Stack exchange, there were a few instances which clearly disappointed me.

One is moderation(Especially in the context of banning) being done behind closed doors and details being kept completely confidential, and suggestions of political motives lingering everywhere on the site. A lot of people who I had otherwise normal conversations with were banned on the site, for absolutely unclear reasons.

For one thing this site bans people for really long periods of time, and for seemingly silly reasons.

Second reason I did not like the site but I put up with it was, I had to explain to the moderators what the intent behind my questions, and I had to word them in the manner in which they wanted me to express. There were instances I had to fight to keep my question open even though other users were interested in answering them and had understood my questions.

The moderators used very vague and prelisted reasons. It did not help at all. Eventually I just gave up.

While this was not generally true, There were instances of this kind of abuse in the site, wherein Moderators moods and temperaments played a role in whether a question would be allowed or not. It happened both personally and with other users

It was frustrating to deal with (some)moderators at (some)times and their requests for modification on some questions seemed completely unreasonable.

I have not been in the site for a while, so perhaps things have changed around here, atleast that was my experience with the site at one point.

I do enjoy the freedom of posting freely on Physics Overflow. And bad content is weeded out simply by review and discussion, with little interference from the moderators. It has been established clearly by now that there will be no compromise when it comes to integrity of scientific content."

EDIT1: Please note the following, On this thread I don't want to discuss if my answer is biased and so on. It was On topic to the question "how are they different from each other?", that is all that matters.

However I am interested in talking about why a viewpoint must be deleted if a select members of the community disagree with it. If you want to talk about that then please participate in this discussion. Moderators are requested to delete any off topic comments.

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    $\begingroup$ I deleted some obsolete followup comments. $\endgroup$ – David Z May 24 '15 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ Although the answer was deleted by a moderator, it was not a unilateral decision - it was flagged as Not an Answer by other people. $\endgroup$ – Ward May 24 '15 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Ward I was not notified of it. Is that supposed to happen? Is there supposed to be no discussion with the people flagging my answer? Does this constitute as a severe form of abuse of policy guidelines. Do I atleast get to know who flagged my answer? $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ It's not a form of abuse, that's how flags work - people flag content and in some cases flags are handled automatically if there are enough of them (e.g. spam), in other cases moderators look at the flags and decide how to act on them. Obviously, if there are multiple flags, it's likely that a mod will take the corresponding action. $\endgroup$ – Ward May 24 '15 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Ward You have not answered my question, Do I atleast get to know who flagged my answer and for what reason. Will it not help me to reconstruct my answer if I knew the reasons behind the flagging of my post? $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ You do not get to know who flagged your post. The identity of a flagger is hidden for their protection $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JimtheEnchanter lol protection from what? Was I threatening something? $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ General protection. Not specifically from you. The system keeps the names hidden in order to protect the flagger from possible reprisal from the flagged party $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JimtheEnchanter It also denies an opportunity for communication and understanding. And I value this a lot. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Ideally, a flagger would also leave a comment indicating what is wrong with the post. That way a dialog can be established. However, like when someone downvotes a post, we have to allow the person the freedom to express their objections anonymously. $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @JimtheEnchanter And I was unhappy that was was ideal was not followed in the case of my post. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ I'm unhappy every time life is not ideal. Suffice to say, I'm therefore a very unhappy person $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:46
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Your rant about your personal experiences here and on PhysicsOverflow is in no way an objective answer what the differences and similarities between Physics.SE and PhysicsOverflow are.

Comparing your anecdotal evidence to the other answers to the question (which do a good job of being rather objective and level-headed even if their authors are not "neutral"), it seems that you did not add any actual information at all. Using insults like "abuse" to describe the actions that you observed is also not appropriate, in my opinion, unless you can actually substantiate that claim.

On the main site, such a post would be sent into the Low Quality review queue and the reviewers would decide whether it is to be deleted or not, and in that case the unilateral deletion by a moderator would have been a bit overkill, in my opinion.

On meta, there is no LQ review queue, and all flags go directly for moderator review, as far as I can see.

Under that circumstance, I think deletion of a post that does not actually add something the question and is phrased in a defamatory way is a defensible action.

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    $\begingroup$ I clearly said it was a personal experience. Objectivity constitutes of a sum of personal experiences. And My personal experience counts as being object in that sense. One data point. And you MUST not remove that data point, even if you are uncomfortable with it. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ "Objectivity constitutes of a sum of personal experiences" wat? Let's stay away from philosophy ;) $\endgroup$ – Danu May 24 '15 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu ACuriousMind spoke about objective answer. Then don't mention the word it you don't agree on what it means. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind It constitutes as ABUSE if you interfere with the expression of my viewpoint. That is precisely what you are doing right now by deleting answer. It is not insulting to call it out. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush: Your answer does not, in fact, contain any information about "What are the links between Physics SE and Physics Overflow and how are they different from each other?", which was the actual question you answered. You just describe your personal experience here and then state that you enjoy PhysicsOverflow more. That's fine, but simply not an answer to the question, and it is not abuse to delete a non-answer that is posted as an answer, that's precisely what deletion is for. We are not obliged to give you a platform for your personal thoughts in answers to questions. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind May 24 '15 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind My personal experiences here express what constitutes as differences between physics overflow and Physics stack exchange. I have already made it clear to HDE226868, If you open my question physics.stackexchange.com/q/44647 I would reconsider not pursuing this anyfurther. Other wise I will modify my answer to indicate that there as been atleast one instance of ABUSE and I would be fair in making that call. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 24 '15 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush I believe a sum of personal experiences is, by definition, what constitutes subjectivity. Objectivity means it is independent of personal experiences/beliefs. $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @JimtheEnchanter Take the example of any freedom struggle for instance, The oppressors have one kind of experience, the oppressed have another another kind of experience, put them together and you have a reasonable objective picture of what is happening. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 29 '15 at 15:33
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I agree that this is not an answer. Part of the reason is its appearance - rant-like and one-sided. There are clearly moderation differences between the two sites, which have been discussed before. At this point, its best to avoid them altogether.

You focused solely on Physics Stack Exchange in the answer, aside from one paragraph at the end about Physics Overflow. It reads a lot like a rant. A better answer would contrast the two in depth. As it stands, this is pretty much one-sided.1 And given that most users here know about what Physics Stack Exchange, it's not too productive to describe it in detail.

Also, for a simpler test of "Not an Answer", look at the question title:

What is Physics Overflow and how is it linked to Physics.SE?

Your answer would not tell me anything about Physics Overflow, while the others would.


1This logic would still hold if you wrote an answer that was polarized in the other direction, i.e. ranting against Physics Overflow. Neither one would be productive.

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I think the deletion of this answer was indeed one-sided and was completely mishandled. Deleting content on meta without any indication to the poster of what is wrong with it is as aggressive as it sounds and does nothing to further reasonable discussion on this (meta) forum.

The answer is, indeed, not great. However, it has a very honest account of a user's (negative) experience on this site, which this site and its community should take very seriously, not least because these points have been raised several times before. If people felt that that post was in an inappropriate location, then that should have been the feedback (i.e. "Please post this as a separate discussion"). If people felt that the content was uncomfortable - well, shucks. If people felt that this was not an answer, then the correct course of action was to comment on the post to give the poster a chance to respond.

Normally on the main site flagging as Not An Answer will put the post on the Low Quality Posts review queue. (This will not leave any visible mark for the OP; this is necessary for flags to be anonymous, which is a crucial feature for the flagging system to work.) Beyond this, though, if reviewers further flag the post as Not AN Answer this will post a canned comment which reads

This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

This gives the OP time to respond while the review process is carried out. (Further, since reviews are public this does not jeopardize anonymity.) On main, there is a process in place to let posters know that there are issues with their posts and allow them to respond or edit their posts before they are deleted.

On meta things are different. For good reasons, flags do not go to a community-manned review queue and are instead handled exclusively by moderators. However, because moderator actions are binding, they are under the obligation to allow users to respond before they take these binding actions - to do otherwise is what ends up being rightly noticed as "unilateral action". It was wrong for a moderator to delete this post without giving the OP a chance to respond. Regardless of the existence of previous flags, this is a unilateral action. Moderators are meant to mediate disputes and bring flag wars down to reasonable discourse. Direct closure without a chance to respond is none of that.

Beyond all of this, I feel the post under discussion does answer the question. It lists a number of things which Physics Overflow is not, which I find to be descriptive enough. If the description of PSE offered fits you, then PO may be for you; if not then maybe not.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, I find this to be a very reasonable response and apt response. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Of course you would. However, I would advise you to temper your tone somewhat. Wild appeals to freedom of expression do little to help your case, I'm afraid (e.g. this, particularly the tooltip). Generally, don't attribute to malice (or brand as abuse) any behaviour where you don't have direct evidence for your interlocutor's frame of mind (in short: you don't have it). In particular, saying a moderator's behaviour is based on their moods is an empty claim, particularly where you don't, by design, have all the information that they have. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 25 '15 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ I agree It was wrong to have made a reference to their moods. To be fair due to lack of communication on their side, I had made that assumption. Especially because I got to hear stories from the other side. Thank you, I prefer this kind of dialogue addressing specific points in my answer, rather than simply calling it a rant. I was very much willing to accommodate other viewpoints into my answer $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, users do have a chance to respond to post deletions: they can edit the post while deleted, and then flag to request that it be undeleted. In light of that, I don't think the argument that people should be given the chance to edit before a post is deleted holds up. $\endgroup$ – David Z May 26 '15 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ Except that in the case of my answer precise reasons were not given, Such as the ones Emilio Pinsanty made in the comments about what I should not have done. If you delete answers next time, Please make it a point that you highlight specific portions of the answer. Giving a vague reply does not help and often is frustrating to the user as he does understand the reasons for deletion. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 26 '15 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ @David That is decidedly not an obvious point for a newcomer, which is reason enough to hold off on the trigger. Beyond that, (i) it deprives them of the chance to respond, and receive feedback, via comments, (ii) their edits are not placed on a public/10k+ undeletion review queue, and (iii) even if a 10k+ user notices the edits, they cannot undo a moderator deletion. Moderator deletions on meta are a nuclear option and should be used with the corresponding sparingness; this is nowhere near qualifying. Moderators are supposed to mediate disputes, not end them unilaterally. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 '15 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty good points, which may call for revisiting how we handle deletions on meta - perhaps in a separate meta question. But: while I do agree that moderators are supposed to mediate disputes, there was no dispute when I deleted the post in question. Part of the moderation job is acting as a janitor, which includes deleting non-answers posted as answers. It wouldn't be practical (or, in most cases, useful) to call for a public review every single time we delete a post. $\endgroup$ – David Z May 26 '15 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I agree with this answer of course (duh), but I just need to step in and say that xkcd 1357 is not relevant here - all it means is that PSE is not legally guilty of restricting free speech (because corporations don't have legal authority); it doesn't have anything to do with on-site open discussion, which was what Prathyush is talking of (personally, I prefer the term "open discussion", when referring to on-site free speech, because complete free speech would mean allowing spam and stuff). $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir May 30 '15 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Dimensio1n0 this was a response to the OP's tone in the comments to HDE's answer. You seem to agree with me and the OP that the answer should not have been deleted, but if you feel that the OP was handling this in an optimal way then we'll simply have to disagree. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 30 '15 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ More abstractly, it's not freedom of expression tag that means that PSE needs to host content like this - it needs to be kept around, but it's for other, subtler reasons, which is what the reference was getting at. I'm not particularly interested at the moment in a detailed discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of a conclusion with which we're in agreement. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 30 '15 at 21:15

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