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I had not been aware of the recent deletion controversies until I noticed a spate of deletions that caught some old answers I had written, prompting me to ask the question below.

I was surprised when a moderator (CasperOne) edited the unhappy context out of my answer, but still left the first person viewpoint -- this materially changed the question in my view, seeming to make it sound as if I were approving of something that I actually disapproved of.

I thanked CasparOne for his effort at editing, but reverted my question to my original wording. It seemed clear enough, having gotten a dozen upvotes and two good answers.

Another user (not a moderator) reverted my revert. I responded to him that I still preferred my version of the question.

A moderator (random) stepped in, and changed the text back to CasparOne's version (still keeping my first person voice), locked the question, and apparently deleted my comment to the user that I still preferred my version of the question.

It seems to be quite heavy-handed for the moderators to group together to perform this kind of editing. It's also odd that I have no recourse once the question has been locked -- I can't revert the edit (which does not represent what I wish to say), leave a comment that this is the case, or even delete the question.

The lock comment refers me to meta, so here I am! Please restore my original wording so that my meaning is as I intended.


Simplest way to copy the content of a deleted question?

Original question as I asked it:

I notice that I've had a spate of answers to recently closed questions. It seems odd that somebody's going to the trouble of deleting questions that have been around a long time and have gotten numerous interesting or helpful responses, but there it is.

I think a few of the answers I've provided are pretty insightful, and I don't want them to disappear from the Internet.

What's the easiest way to grab the original question and my answer, and post it to another blog (e.g. blogspot)? I'm looking for the simplest way to preserve formatting, etc, not wishing to waste time reformatting the posts.

It was a big hassle previously when I had to recover my Knuth postings (and I'm still a bit flabbergasted that people would vote to delete a hand-written note by Knuth answering a Stack Overflow question!). One of the moderators had to send me a pdf of the deleted questions. I sincerely appreciate it (thanks Marc Gravell!) but would like to avoid doing this in the future.

As edited and locked by moderators:

What's the easiest way to grab the original question and my answer, and post it to another blog (e.g. blogspot)? I'm looking for the simplest way to preserve formatting, etc, not wishing to waste time reformatting the posts.

It was a big hassle previously when I had to recover my Knuth postings. One of the moderators had to send me a pdf of the deleted questions. I sincerely appreciate it (thanks Marc Gravell!) but would like to avoid doing this in the future.

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closed as too localized by Anthony Pegram, Lorem Ipsum, Shog9 Mar 5 '12 at 21:43

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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I edited the question title. Hopefully I didn't change the meaning too much :). –  Matt Mar 5 '12 at 18:38
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How is the text that was removed relevant to the actual question? I understand why you want to preserve the original wording, but how is it helpful to others? How would a future visitor benefit from reading your personal opinions on deletion on a question that's actually about finding a simple way to move posts off site? –  Yannis Mar 5 '12 at 18:39
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casper, I don't like the way you removed the content but still left the first person perspective. Editorial changes that affect the meaning of a question should be clearly marked as such in this case. It (rightly or wrongly) gives the impression that one moderator (you) is modifying content which disagrees with his POV, and that another moderator is then blocking the ability for the original poster (me) to clarify. –  Mark Harrison Mar 5 '12 at 19:05
    
Upvoted here to support discussion, but I agree 100% with Yannis's comment –  Josh Caswell Mar 5 '12 at 19:10
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@MarkHarrison All due respect I assume you've read the section of the FAQ titled "What, other people can edit my posts?" If I wasn't a mod I still could have edited it given my rep, so let's take the "mod" aspect out of it. I apologize if you didn't like it, but if your only complaint about my edit was retaining the 1st-person perspective, then a simple edit removing the that perspective would have sufficed. But you chose to rollback three times, indicating that you thought your rant was essential to the how of copying the post. It's not. –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 19:14
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Of course, and many people have edited my posts ever since I joined as user 116 during the pre-beta. You're right, the times I've rolled changes back have been when I felt they materially changed either the meaning or tone of a post. (Besides you, the only other person I recall rolling back is the famous Rich B). FWIW, I rolled back twice, exactly the same number of times as two other people rolled back to your version. It seems you give greater weight to either people who agree with you or who double up on an OP. Anyways, it's a perception issue I feel I should tell you about. –  Mark Harrison Mar 5 '12 at 19:29
    
@MarkHarrison My answer is really a response to all of this –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 19:59
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The answer to this question is, you flag for moderator attention and let them handle it. Which, I see you've done and it has been. FWIW, I think your question was better for the edits. –  Shog9 Mar 5 '12 at 21:46
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4 Answers

While reading your question, I was prepared to support you, but after seeing the side-by-side text, I think the edits are fine. Your actual question is

What's the easiest way to grab the original question and my answer, and post it to another blog?

Your original first two paragraphs introduce the reason you're asking the question, which is somewhat interesting, but ultimately has no impact on the answer to the question.

I know how much it sucks to have people change what you're saying, but since you're not even arguing for the reinstatement of the content on SO proper or anything like that, the explanation really is just fluff. At best, those paragraphs could go at the end of your post; they definitely don't belong at beginning, where they take up valuable "preview space."

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I agree with this, but I think they're more than "fluff". I suspect casper and random's reasoning was that they potentially incite the raging debate again about the deletion of these questions. If it were left alone, the question would be a potential candidate for closing as "not constructive". In order to keep that from happening and prevent the Great Debate from creeping into all of the questions, the risk of editing the context out was undertaken. I disagree with the locking action, though. Seems unnecessarily heavy-handed. We're all rational here, just leave a comment. –  Cody Gray Mar 5 '12 at 18:43
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I would have made exactly the same edits, and I'm not a moderator. –  John Saunders Mar 5 '12 at 18:46
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@CodyGray Doesn't seem heavy handed at all. There were three roll backs before random stepped in. If you look at the lock reason, it says: "This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved." The next step for the OP was to come to meta. Locking prevents the OP from arbitrarily rolling back changes against the wishes of the community. –  Lorem Ipsum Mar 5 '12 at 18:52
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For the record:

  • random is a moderator on meta.SO
  • phwd is a moderator on Web Apps
  • I am a moderator on meta.SO and SO

Addressing your accusation of collusion; there was none. There was no interaction between random, phwd, or myself on this particular question.

I agree that it can seem like you're being ganged up on, but now that you're aware of the current climate of things, you can probably see why it isn't that far-fetched to see why multiple people would independently try to defuse the situation while still addressing the essential parts of your post.

The fact that they're moderators is no accident; meta is currently the meta for the entire network (although that is slated to change) as well as Stack Overflow.

Because of that, moderators of SO, meta, and other Stack Exchange sites frequent this meta and are aware of the climate and will act (as users, or moderators, in the case of a lock) in cases where they see they can improve the quality of a post.

This doesn't even count the regular users of meta who have the ability to edit your posts, some of whom have chimed in and agreed that they don't see the point of your statements when the question is distilled to its essence.

I respect that you feel that a certain perspective was left in the original edit, and that's fine, but even in contentious times (which is really always the case on meta), the standard of quality still applies (yes, even here in meta).

If we didn't feel that the question had any quality, we (random and I, not phwd, although he could have voted to close) would have closed it (and possibly deleted) instead of just editing it.

However, we all saw the quality in the post and we made the changes that we felt were necessary to make it stand out on its own, instead of being tied to what's currently happening on meta.

That said, I want to believe that you really just want to find out a way to easily get at a post so you can host it off site, so why not let us help you to do that?

If you want your voice on deletions and the like heard, then that's fine, but please do it in another post which is focused solely on those aspects. Let us help you in the cases where we don't have to bring personal opinions into the mix.


In the spirit of greater mod-community relations (think of that what you will), I've unlocked the post and reverted it back to its original state.

To go even further, I've placed a lock on the post so that some other people, in the height of passion, get the idea to revert it to the other revisions (or something else).

My only request is that you (and everyone, really) take the points raised here into consideration when posting/editing in the future.

There's also a joke about random, phwd and I colluding about getting the post back into its original state, but for the life of me I can't find it now.

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A good half of this answer reads to me like "we are moderators, hear us roar". I'm not sure what purpose it serves to point out who is and who isn't a moderator and where. I don't think anyone's confused about that, the diamonds are sufficiently shiny. I'm ironically tempted to snip out the top half or so of this to focus on the actual answer to the question. –  Cody Gray Mar 5 '12 at 20:07
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@CodyGray phwd has no diamond, so he was acting as a user, the statement served to make it very clear that this was not just moderators on meta. While being a moderator on another SE site, he has no privileges other than that of a regular user here on meta.SO. Mark's point was about moderator collusion, and I wanted to address that part immediately and directly, as it's a pretty serious accusation. There's no "roaring" as you put it, but if you feel there's certain language that can be removed/changed without removing my addressing of his salient points, I welcome the edits. –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 20:10
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Mark's point is about the appearance of moderator collusion, which is unfortunately the impression being given. One moderator deletes the unhappiness over deletion, another user rolls back, and another moderator rolls back to the other moderator's deletia and then locks out the OP, and the original moderator goes along with that. Surely you can see the bad appearance (rightly or wrongly) that's leaving. –  Mark Harrison Mar 5 '12 at 20:25
    
@MarkHarrison I'm not denying the appearance; if anything that's been said isn't enough to show that's not the case then I'm not sure what we can tell you. That's the problem with appearances, sometimes it's just that, no matter how hard you want to believe otherwise (just remember, there are 200+ SE moderators network-wide). –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 20:34
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Perhaps the, somewhat stubborn, users should have realized that if multiple mods showed they didn't like the original form, that there is a problem with the original form. Common sense goes a long way... –  Ivo Flipse Mar 5 '12 at 20:40
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@MarkHarrison: Have you adequately addressed the concerns of folks here about how the redacted text didn't really add anything to your question? By the way, the rule you're referring to in your comments is "Don't change the meaning of a post." There's nothing about that rule that prevents or otherwise discourages an editor from improving the tone of any post. –  Robert Harvey Mar 5 '12 at 20:44
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Incidentally, the phrase "appearance of moderator collusion" is about as useful as the phrase "appearance of rep whoring." Which is to say, not very useful at all. Would you rather have mods practicing transparency and sound decision making, or spending all their time worrying about appearances? –  Robert Harvey Mar 5 '12 at 20:47
    
lol, how can I address so many moderators at once... I certainly agree that multiple moderators seemed not to like the implied criticism of SO. Stubborn? Sure, and it runs both ways. I'll let you all have the final words on this, but keep in mind that making someone (me!) feel ganged upon (for trying to save Don Knuth's single SO contribution, oh the irony!!) sure makes me feel that something's not right community-wise. casper, I'll leave the final call up to you... my preference is to restore my post to the original text, but do as you will. –  Mark Harrison Mar 5 '12 at 21:04
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Personal opinions do NOT make a question poor quality. –  Lance Roberts Mar 5 '12 at 21:06
    
@MarkHarrison Updated the post. From my perspective, this topic is done. –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 21:10
    
@LanceRoberts No, they do not, but personal opinions (and rants) that obscure or otherwise direct people away from the true topic of a post does. –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 21:11
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@MarkHarrison: You need to be clear on what your goal is. Is it to find a way to save Donald Knuth's contribution, or is it to criticize SO? If you want to criticize SO, then do that unabashedly, without masquerading it as a [support-request]. Just don't expect the community to find that a constructive use of time. –  Robert Harvey Mar 5 '12 at 21:11
    
@LanceRoberts: I love answering peoples' questions when I feel like it, and I also love listening to music in the mean time; and well, I'm on chat too. But what I hate about those personal opinions do make me read unnecessary text. If the majority of the question is not about the question; for me, that is an indication of bad quality. Less is more... (Note how I added crap to my comment just like he did) –  Tom Wijsman Mar 5 '12 at 21:14
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I disagree with the most recent revert of the question. It was a rant, it was justifiably removed, I think the community on whole agrees with the removal, he further copied the entire rant here and ranted some more, just way too much ranting. Like others (including yourself) have said, buried within the rant was a useful question. Allow the question to remain and the rant to be applied elsewhere to the other dozens of recent rants on content deletions. –  Anthony Pegram Mar 5 '12 at 21:37
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@AnthonyPegram Needless to say, there was a whole bunch of collusion, some sacrificing of goats, pleas to higher powers, and other unseemly things that went into this decision. –  casperOne Mar 5 '12 at 21:46
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If I see your question listed somewhere I read:

Simplest way to copy the content of a deleted question?

Let's keep in mind that it is about copying content.


The first paragraph is completely off-topic, how does any of that add details to the question?

I notice that I've had a spate of answers to recently closed questions. It seems odd that somebody's going to the trouble of deleting questions that have been around a long time and have gotten numerous interesting or helpful responses, but there it is.

Unless you are about to actually going to build on that, it's just rant.


Then you mentioned one of your thoughts:

I think a few of the answers I've provided are pretty insightful, and I don't want them to disappear from the Internet.

But, your question is not about that, your question is about copying their content.


Another one:

(and I'm still a bit flabbergasted that people would vote to delete a hand-written note by Knuth answering a Stack Overflow question!)

Yes, the community does that. Rant once again...


Bottom line: Your meaning should've been in its own meta question, but if its just going to be rant it wouldn't survive there either. It all depends on how clean you present it and how much you proof that the posts being deleted are valuable to a big enough portion of visitors, but then it's still you against the community...

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Meta, until the separation of its church and state late in the whenever, still exists to help users understand the mechanics and wondrous nature of all things Stack Exchange. Yes, there is a majority flavour of Stack Overflow from its tuberous roots but let's put that aside for a moment.

There was a useful question and request for help buried in the current rhetoric about the moral and spiritual downfall of Stack Overflow.

Didn't care who did the edits, it doesn't matter but for hangings.

At its heart it was a good one for Stack Exchange at large and that, in the context of a Meta moderator, is the primary concern and reason for the rollback. To help and be helpful to the larger base.

It is just standard operating procedure to evaluate and potentially lock a post undergoing a Mitt Romney.

There are also no deleted comments from that post.

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This is very poetic. –  jadarnel27 Mar 5 '12 at 21:50
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