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While I was waiting for answer to my newly posted question, I noticed one question: A confusion regarding an example in The Feynman Lectures; there [insert-here-the-user-who-shall-not-be-named] posted an excellent answer; I cherished his answer especially for the amazing pics he used. But there it was written:

Answer deleted by [insert-here-the-user-who-shall-not-be-named] in order to comply to the site policy.

I was amazed & asked why he did that but got no response; I wandered what he was actually talking of 'to comply to the site policy'.

But then I noticed that he has actually done this to many of his answers:

Obtain the Lagrangian from the system of coupled equation

Is $\left|\frac{d\vec{r}}{dt}\right| = \frac{d|\vec{r}|}{dt}\;$?

How is quantization related to commutation?

Why the induced field is ignored in Faraday's law?

citing the same reason

[...] in order to comply to the site policy.

Well, I don't know why he did this, what was his reason or so; it is simply his decision to delete his answer. But actually he didn't delete it rather cited the reason 'in order to comply to the site policy'.

Can anyone please explain which site policy did compel him to partially delete many of his answers?


His last words:

Can I know what is going on? – user36790

@user36790 Many thanks for all comments, approvals and support. In 2-3 hours we can't contact each other any more. Good Luck to your personal and scientific life. – [insert-here-the-user-who-shall-not-be-named]

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    $\begingroup$ An an aside, I wonder what the rationale behind concealing the username is, if you are linking to his/her profile :P $\endgroup$ – 299792458 Sep 11 '15 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ It's called "rage-quitting". $\endgroup$ – Harry Johnston Sep 12 '15 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ -1 Not useful. This question is asking people to guess what is in the mind of another user. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Dec 7 '17 at 18:09
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Well, I don't know why he did this, what was his reason or so; it is simply his decision to delete his answer. But actually he didn't delete it rather cited the reason 'in order to comply to the site policy'.

Can anyone please explain which site policy did compel him to partially delete many of his answers?

It is the very difficult policies on homework-like questions.

What is Stack? What is PSE?

The Stack system is a dynamic community FAQ which works by a combination of the psychological "rush" of earning points (even if those points are, so to speak, pointless), community reviews of popular questions, and having an unusually low impedance for both questions and answers. Traditionally a FAQ grows by a community finally getting upset that the same questions get asked so many times of its members, and someone rises to the occasion to create one document which others can link. The biggest curiosity in all of this is that the causality is flipped from "community nuisance → FAQ" to "FAQ → community nuisance," as the community in question does not actually exist for any other reason than to participate in the making of the FAQ.

Physics has three properties, at least, which complicate this mission:

  1. It is deeply technical. Physics tersely summarizes the world in a specialized language which takes years to speak fluently.
  2. It is intrinsically popular, or maybe "popularizable" is a better term. It is popular in the sense that translations of its terse summaries are deeply interesting to people who do not speak the language.
  3. It is required. Everybody in a civilized society is expected to learn some of the basics of the language and some of the most common idioms.

Note that Stack Overflow, which the Stack system was designed for, only has about half of property (1) to deal with, and none of properties (2) or (3).

Due to these, there are generally fewer qualified answerers than askers, and a lot of questions which are fundamentally the same (they depend on the same grammar error in different sentences) appear as very different-sounding questions with no easy way to mark them as "duplicates" of each other. Furthermore, we get a lot of 'pop-sci' questions which cannot easily be answered, as well as a lot of homework questions from a lot of unspecified textbooks.

Stack is not a very suitable match for the latter two, and degenerates essentially into Yahoo! Answers: one-on-one tutoring that may potentially be seen by some other people, but is not long-term in the way that a FAQ is meant to be long-term.

Furthermore, though it is hard to measure, it means that our (qualified answerer)/asker ratio at any given skill-level is much lower than that for Stack Overflow. This makes qualified answerers a rarer commodity, and more precious. Probably it should be a community goal to make people who can answer the tough questions feel like royalty; I would hope at least that people like Emilio Pisanty (just as an example, I could write several paragraphs of names that I respect here!) know that people like me look up to them.

What are the policies and why do they complicate things for answerers?

There are two basic homework policies: first off, we close homework-like questions for not "putting some thought into it"; this is a way of simply setting a floor of minimum competency-with-the-language before allowing a question to be asked, trying to improve the ratio. (We might want to consider a similar policy for pop-science posts!). Usually this doesn't disturb the answerers, though if they've already written out a good answer it may rob them of a +15-point psychological reward.

Second, we sometimes delete answers to homework-like questions for getting too close to the answer. This is unbelievably irritating. Like, even if you know why this policy exists (to further discourage those homework questions, and to get qualified answerers to spend more time on meatier questions), it still takes the form of telling our qualified answerers "you did something wrong!" and it is probably what induced the above rage-quit. It caused me to rage-quit for a while when I was starting out, too. Fundamentally it says "that hour you poured into this question has hereby been wasted by administrative vote."

The first problem with this policy is that it is intrinsically vague, which is probably why the user in question just started deleting everything. He writes (wrote?) lots of very visual, long, comprehensive answers: and if he poured several hours into a post which was then deleted, essentially because he poured too much time into it, it's no wonder that he goes back to everything that he's poured a lot of time into, editing them all to say "Hey, apparently I spent too much time on this which means that rather than editing down the answer, site policy requires us to delete it all."

I think the other big problem for me is that I feel disrespected as a volunteer when this happens. I feel like it is my right to make the choice up-front of "I'm going to pour some time into this," a right that is only taken away by closing the question before I get to it. By deleting my answer after I've already sunk my time into it moderators are effectively saying "your voluntary effort here was garbage." It's very tempting to respond to those feelings of disrespect with a, "that's fine, I'll just volunteer somewhere else where people actually respect my contributions."

So, I have had no involvement in this particular user's case, but that's my first thought of why the user would think that all of their contributions were illegal according to site policy: it's that they were if you judge the vague policy broadly enough, and probably they were upset that it was being judged just broadly enough to delete something that he'd poured several hours of his time into.

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    $\begingroup$ While I can't argue with any of the points about the vagueness and high piss-off factor of the "temporarily delete complete answers" regime, I've gotta say I actually get pretty pissed off when people who should know better provide those answers. It's like telemarketing or spam: it takes a very small success ratio to encourage people in asking those things and everyone who contributes to the ratio undoes a huge amount of work already put into making them unprofitable. So I agree with you, but can't think of a better way if the community is unwilling to nuke homework questions on sight. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Sep 13 '15 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee: "I've gotta say I actually get pretty pissed off when people who should know better provide those answers." -- Apparently this refers to answers given to questions which had been tagged (for better or worse) as "homework-and-excercises". Well, as far as I understand, in the "preferences" of each user it is possible to set this partiular tag (or any other tags, not exclusively) as one of the "Ignored Tags". Hope this helps. $\endgroup$ – user12262 Sep 13 '15 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ Suggestion to the answer (v1): Mention that moderator deletions of homework-like answers are in principle temporary, ideally a couple of weeks. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Sep 13 '15 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic: greater transparency will definitely help, yes. Speaking from experience, the "edit and maybe a moderator will un-screen this answer" thing sounds hopeless, perhaps because there's not enough day-to-day interaction with the moderators that you need a bit more experience before you can easily say "oh, I know them, I'll just touch this up and ping them from the H bar." $\endgroup$ – CR Drost Sep 13 '15 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, no edits or flags are in principle required for the un-deletion to (eventually) take place (although it might speed up the process). $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Sep 14 '15 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ If you take the phrase "your voluntary effort here was garbage" and replace "garbage" with "harmful", then I think it's true. That's kind of general, too: we don't delete posts for being bad, we delete them for being damaging to the site. (It's rare.) That's why we delete complete homework answers: we very much do not want the site to get a reputation as a place for homework help, because then we will be flooded with homework questions. (Compare Physics Forums, for example, which is dominated by the HW help section.) That's my way of rephrasing basically what dmckee said a few comments up. $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 14 '15 at 5:15
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    $\begingroup$ I asked the other moderators, and it seems that none of his answers have ever been moderator-deleted. However, a couple of his answers do sit in closed (but non-deleted) threads. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Sep 16 '15 at 6:29
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Why is @_________ deleting his answers citing 'in order to comply to the site policy'?

Considering that at the moment, the user stands temporarily suspended for a day, "to cool down" it most likely appears that he/she is pissed for some reason (most likely the site's homework policy, which appears controversial to many users), and has taken to self-vandalism of his/her posts, perhaps as a mark of protest/retaliation. He/she could personally divulge the reasons behind this action (i.e. if he/she wants to divulge them), after the suspension period is over, when he/she can again use the site as before. Please note that moderators can not reveal the same information (generically, details of individual suspensions), as they have repeatedly stressed.

However, regarding the issue of self-vandalism of his/her posts, the community had recently observed, in response to my question:

What to do regarding suggested edits that cure self-vandalism by post owners?

that by posting, one is ceding some measure of control over one's posts to the site, and that being the post owner does NOT entitle one to self-vandalize one's posts.

In view of the above, and as was suggested by Emilio Pisanty, in his answer to the above question, the correct course of action for the > 2k rep members of the community, is to edit-back those posts to the last working version. This shall restore all content.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that editing is not restricted to 2k+ users. If you're below 2k you should still roll back the vandalizing edits - your edits will simply go on the review queue instead of being automatically accepted. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Sep 11 '15 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty - Of course! But for those with >2k, it is markedly easier. $\endgroup$ – 299792458 Sep 11 '15 at 11:24
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I'm as confused as you are. Certainly there is no site policy that requires deleting an answer, and I can't even think of any policy that could be misinterpreted to justify this. Of course, in my experience, once people go far enough down the road of misinterpreting policies, there is no logic in their actions.

Actually, what this user did was itself a violation of our policies on vandalism. You're not allowed to completely gut the content of your post with an edit. (If you want to delete a post, do it using the "delete" link below the post.) So these posts will almost certainly be restored very soon, either by 2k+ users or by moderators. The edits have now been reverted.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1; Yes, you are right, sir. I don't know why he did this but atleast his valuable answers should be restored, IMHO. I guess he has quit PSE. Really sad:( $\endgroup$ – user36790 Sep 11 '15 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ "no site policy that requires deleting an answer" I guess if one has infringed copyright then the answer should be deleted or rewritten. And perhaps someone has posted answers then has discovered they're unhappy with the licence used by SE. $\endgroup$ – user3810 Sep 11 '15 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex no, moderators don't handle copyright violations. I guess if a copyright holder makes a complaint to SE it might result in an answer getting deleted, but still, there is no policy that requires a poster to delete their own answers themselves. $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 11 '15 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I wasn't talking about moderators; the question was about users deleting their own answers, and it's possible that a user got cold feet or got caught out on a blatant cut and paste job! $\endgroup$ – user3810 Sep 11 '15 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex ah, gotcha, I misunderstood. But I guess I'd still say the same thing: nothing compels a poster to delete their own answer. Sure, in some of those situations they may want to, but it's always their choice. (Note that sometimes we don't allow people to delete their answers.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 11 '15 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I do think at least a few of us know why diracpaul did this. Don't you? $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 12 '15 at 10:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu: Do you really know the matter at issue? $\endgroup$ – user36790 Sep 13 '15 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ @user36790 Yes, it's because he didn't agree with the policies on homework on our site. $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 13 '15 at 12:37

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