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I quit posting on this board months ago. Here's an excellent example of why.

Look at this question: Did Adam and Eve's Progeny Commit Incest? The poster asked if the children of Adam and Eve must have committed incest to get the human race started, and gives several reasons why he thinks they couldn't have, biological and moral.

I gave a reply stating why I thought those reasons were not applicable.

This answer was deleted by a moderator with an explanation beginning "That's not what the question was?"

It seems to me that that's exactly what the question was. The poster asked if X was true, and gave some reasons why he thought it must be false. I attempted to rebut those reasons, i.e. refute arguments why X could not be true. That of course would not prove it is true, but it seems to me to be highly relevant.

You may think that my arguments are weak or invalid. That's fair. A rebuttal would be highly relevant.

But when one spends considerable time composing an answer, and then a moderator comes along and deletes it for highly debatable reasons, one quickly concludes that it's not worth the trouble to post here. You could do a lot of work and then someone else comes along and just throws your work away.

Maybe you think most or all my posts on this board are unproductive, and you're happy to see me go. If so, fine. Obviously I don't fit here. Maybe there are enough people who accept this style of moderation and this board can flourish. I wish you the best, but I've lost interest in participating. It's too frustrating.


For those who can't see the answer:

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    @user27239 what you're suggesting is a denomination specific SE. For example, Catholicism.SE, LDS.SE, etc. Unfortunately there isn't enough membership from each group to support it at this time – The Freemason Dec 16 '15 at 20:31
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Your question is a fair one, and I'm glad you asked. Lee Woofenden pretty much covers what I'd have said about the site guidelines being different than they were back when you posted your answer.

As the mod who deleted it, I can tell you that I saw where you were going with the question, but the question wasn't "why wasn't incest bad in the beginning" (which your question answers succinctly). It was "did they commit incest".

When it comes to how we should handle good answers that answer something other than the actual question asked, we have a guideline defined here.

For the record, there are times when I really don't want to delete answers. When I ran for the moderator position, one of the questions that was asked was:

As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have. Sometimes the policies that the community has agreed upon in meta are at odds with our own personal standards. If that's the case for you, which policies do you disagree with and how would you go about changing them? If you agree with all of the policies, what would you do if another moderator set out to change one of the site's accepted standards?

My answer was:

Honestly, if I thought for a moment the site standards were going to be at odds with my own personal standards, I wouldn't have thrown my name in the hat. Should some standard come around that I have a hard time with, I'd most likely make my best possible argument, backed with post after post for precedent, to try to make my case. Such a standard would have to be one that I honestly think would be harmful to the site, not one in conflict with my religious views.

If site standards changed enough that I really had a hard time with them, I'd probably keep my mouth shut while letting the other mods handle those questions, and eventually step down. I simply don't want the diamond bad enough to compromise what I think is right.

In this case, it's not a situation where site policy is conflicting with my own religious beliefs/convictions. It's just that I don't like deleting posts that have earned people significant reputation points, particularly when the question and answer were on-topic at the time, but are off-topic/not within guidelines today. I just don't like it. But since I took the position as a moderator, my job is to adhere to site guidelines. All of them. Not just the ones I like.

With that knowledge, if you feel it's worth the effort, can I suggest you create another Meta post to address the question of what we should do about posts that were fine at one time, but are off/topic/not within current standards? You can use this as an example of such a situation.

In the meantime, I took the liberty of making a very slight change to your answer, to make it an actual answer to the question asked, and un-deleted it.


Added based on comments and new answers:

I think some of you are operating under the false assumption that I acted unilaterally. In both cases, the answers were flagged as "not an answer" by other members of the community. That alone means that I didn't act alone. I didn't seek out these answers, decide I didn't like them. Someone else, possibly several others, flagged them because they also recognized that these fall afoul of the site guidelines.

One of my assigned duties as a moderator is to evaluate flags and take the appropriate actions, not based on my personal beliefs. Rather, my only allowable criteria is to determine whether or not the flags are valid according to site guidelines. Those guidelines, again, were set by the community.

If someone flags as NAA, and it falls within the definition of NAA defined by the community, then I have to act. To not take action would be to show bias.

Granted, I'm far from perfect. I've made mistakes. Clearly the community felt I had done so here. Feel free to call me out when I do.

As user27239 points out, I deleted two answers on the opposite end of the spectrum on the same question. Theologically, I agree with the points made in one of the two answers, and disagree with the points made in the other. Yet I deleted them both. Why?

Because both answers ran afoul of the site guidelines on what the community, not me personally, decided as far as that particular guideline goes.

For the record, here are the meta posts that address this point. Take a look and then look at the question and your answer. maybe if you take the time to read the guidelines, you can at least see where I'm coming from. Maybe not, and maybe even if you do, you still won't like it.

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

In this case,. I go back to my original statement above:

As the mod who deleted it, I can tell you that I saw where you were going with the question, but the question wasn't "why wasn't incest bad in the beginning" (which your question answers succinctly). It was "did they commit incest".

I didn't delete the answer because I'm biased against it. I deleted it for exactly what I said. It did not answer the question. The shame in this is that in order to change it to be an actual answer, all I had to do was add one word. "Yes". That's the answer to "did they commit incest?". Or "no" might be the answer. But the answer to "did they commit incest?" is not several paragraphs explaining why it wasn't bad.

Likewise, for user27239, an explanation of the biology involved is not an answer to a "yes or no" question.

Again, I deleted two answers from the opposite end of the spectrum. If that screams "bias" to you, then I'm not sure I know how to help you.

I've also bent over backward here to explain the rule, to provide links to the meta posts that define the guideline.

If you don't like the guideline, work to eliminate it. Attack the guideline, show why it's bad, provide a better alternative, and garner community support. Don't go around accusing moderators of being biased for following the guidelines that were set by the community.

Nothing would make me happier than to spend less time deleting content that others have worked hard on. It's the one thing I hate most about this gig. But until the community settles on a different guideline, I would be shirking my duties not to enforce the guidelines in place.

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    Rep earned on old posts is locked in even if the posts are deleted. Only very recent po#ts (i.e. in the case of answering something with NAA by current standards and getting promptly flagged) is rep removed for votes received. – Caleb Dec 15 '15 at 6:19
  • It is selectively applied and you should not put yourself above the question generator in deciding what the question is supposed to mean. – user13599 Dec 16 '15 at 1:12
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    @user27239 anyone who answers a question, and anyone who upvotes or downvotes a question, is deciding what the question means. – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '15 at 3:01
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    @user27239 Posts belong to the community, not the poster. The community decides every action via vote processes or elected moderator discretion. – 3961 Dec 16 '15 at 3:04
  • My complaint is not that answers are deleted because of theological bias, in the sense of "this answer is pro-Catholic and I am a Protestant". My complaint is that answers are deleted based on subjective, debatable criteria. In this case, the question specifically said that the poster thought Adam & Eve's children could not have committed incest for moral and biological reasons. A simple "yes they did" might be factually correct but would not have responded to what the person was asking. Again, if you think my answer was factually inaccurate or poorly word, fair enough. ... – Jay Dec 16 '15 at 14:23
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    ... That's what downvotes are for. In my humble opinion, my answer directly addressed the issues that the poster brought up, so I don't see how it could possibly be considered non-responsive. It's not like someone asked "Did they commit incest?" and I replied "I made $50,000 from targeted emails! You can too!" But even granting that it's debatable, that kind of deletion of someone's contribution based on subjective evaluations makes posting here frustrating. You never know when a moderator will just decide that your efforts don't meet his interpretation of the standards. – Jay Dec 16 '15 at 14:27
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    @Jay I think your answer was reasonably worded but incomplete. The question, as I read it, asked essentially "It seems that there's no way for X to have happened without Bad Thing Y happening; am I obliged to believe that Bad Thing Y happened, or must I believe that X did not happen?" Your answer, as I read it, essentially said "Y wasn't necessarily a Bad Thing at the time." While interesting, that's not necessarily applicable to the question. The moderators are human but do their best to interpret the standards well. If that's not how you intended the answer, ... – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '15 at 16:56
  • ... a Meta post would help explain what you meant and allow people to rethink their approach. If your answer had been, "Y wasn't necessarily a Bad Thing at the time; for that reason, it's possible to believe that X happened without Bad Thing Y happening," then that would have been a great answer. – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '15 at 16:57
  • @MattGutting I didn't want to get this discussion off on a debate about that one particular post, that wasn't my point. But I guess to an extent I can't avoid it as I'm using it as an example. I thought that "it's possible to believe" etc was the obvious point of what I said, and so didn't need saying. You clearly understood it. If someone thought it was unclear, a comment noting that would be highly appropriate. But I think it's a little silly to say, "Because you failed to state the obvious, your post is incomplete" and then "because your post is incomplete, it should be deleted." – Jay Dec 16 '15 at 20:53
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    @jay I understand that approach. The problem I see with it is simply that "the obvious" is different to different people; and we should strive for as much clarity as possible in questions and answers. I'm not entirely certain it should have been deleted; but deletion isn't "throwing away work" - work can always be improved and undeleted, and if you disagree over whether something should be deleted, the proper response is to request a discussion of why it was. You haven't, in my mind, shown that this is a pattern on the website. – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '15 at 21:31
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    @MattGutting Sure, what's obvious to me is not obvious to you, etc. So if I saw a post whose logic rests on a step that the poster apparently thought was obvious but that I think is not, I think a good response is to add a comment. I think deleting such a post is inappropriate and discourages participation. It certainly happens here. I don't claim to have done a statistical analysis, because the point isn't "how often does it happen" but "is it the policy, and if so, is it a good policy or not?" – Jay Dec 17 '15 at 5:26
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    @Jay, I see your point there. However... Earlier on, I spent a great deal of time editing other peoples posts, just as I ended up doing with yours, and just as you suggest. I stopped doing that when I realized I was editing the same peoples posts on a regular basis. I was doing nothing to help them learn how to participate and understand the guidelines. When I changed strategies, most learned the ropes quickly. Some quit participating, but most caught on. – David Stratton Dec 17 '15 at 12:19
  • Which is better from a teaching perspective? Doing peoples work for them,or explaining and enforcing the standards so they can learn to do it right themselves? – David Stratton Dec 17 '15 at 12:21
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    Granted, it hasn't worked for everyone. Some users know the rules very well but flat out refuse to comply. Also, editing people's posts also tends to offend them sometimes, just as deleting does. It's sort of a "can't please everyone" situation. In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to do either. – David Stratton Dec 17 '15 at 12:23
  • The real problem here seems to be failure to apply induction on the flags. Too often I see one or more highly voted answers flagged off when doing so consistently would take out half the answers or the question itself. – Joshua Feb 15 '17 at 20:48
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I can't comment on your answer and whether it was rightfully deleted, since it's not visible to me.

However, the question itself has now been put on hold as being a "truth" question, which is no longer allowed here. It's an older question (from 2011), and was asked before current site guidelines were put into place. For current standards of what's on-topic on Christianity.SE, see: What topics can I ask about here?

Of course, it's entirely up to you whether to post or participate here. But the site has changed a lot since you first joined. If you do want to stick around after all, I'd suggest reading the above-linked help article, and any related articles that may help reorient you to the way Christianity.SE works now. It would save you a lot of frustration and wasted effort in posting answers that may have been fine three or four years ago, but are no longer considered on-topic.

To some people, the newer site guidelines seem overly restrictive. I chafe at them sometimes myself. However, they've helped bring Christianity.SE in line with the general purpose of Stack Exchange, which involves maintaining a Q&A site where people can ask questions and get well-informed, well-referenced, objective answers.

Another benefit of the tighter rules is that Christianity.SE largely avoids the endless debates and flame wars that tend to mar Christian discussion sites. This is explicitly not a discussion site, nor is it a place to air personal beliefs and opinions. (Though some doctrinal discussion and debate does happen in the chatrooms here.) The newer guidelines for what's on-topic help to maintain Christianity.SE as a Q&A site rather than a religious slugfest.

  • I added a screenshot of his answer to the question, and am letting you know in case it changes your response. – David Stratton Dec 14 '15 at 12:58
  • @David Thanks for the screenshot. It doesn't really change anything in my answer, so I'll leave mine as is. What I didn't know is that the deleted answer was originally posted in 2012. But the issue looks to be headed toward resolution now anyway. – Lee Woofenden Dec 14 '15 at 17:02
  • Lee - (perhaps nitpick, but) given that the deleted answer is now visible to you would it be appropriate to remove your first paragraph? (perhaps not necessary though) – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '15 at 18:47
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    @MattGutting I thought about that, but it would require rewriting the answer, and after all, this is Meta. I think people will get the idea. – Lee Woofenden Dec 16 '15 at 19:10

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