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I've been on SO for about five months now, and I thought I had a handle on how to write reasonable answers. So I was quite surprised when my recent answer was deleted. I read the FAQ about "why was my answer deleted" but still don't get it. Especially since the OP clearly liked my answer (based on his comment, and then his edit to his question "Following the answer from Floris and Matthew..."

I don't know if this is the right way to ask for clarification - if it's not, please point me to the right place.

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You're setting up yourself for "not an answer" flags by saying you're expanding a comment (i.e. not an answer) and ending your post with a question. It's really not clear that it is an actual answer. I'd suggest you change the formulation to indicate that you're actually fixing the OP's problem. –  Mat Jun 3 '13 at 20:42
    
@Mat Still seems like it should be on the flagger/mod to be more attentive. –  Paul Bellora Jun 3 '13 at 20:44
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It's generally poor form to say anything in an answer that refers to the order of another answer. "My comment above." Above what? If your answer is good and is upvoted, nothing short of the question itself would be above it. Or maybe someone sorts by something other than votes and all bets are off. tl;dr: Don't treat this site like a forum where order is preserved and anything goes. (I'll bow out about your actual answer, since I know nothing about it and for all I know [nothing], it looks passable.) –  Anthony Pegram Jun 3 '13 at 20:45
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@Paul Bellora: I just read that answer, and I have no idea just with that if it actually answers anything at all (it really doesn't look like it does). I don't blame the mod who validated that flag at all (if that's what happened). –  Mat Jun 3 '13 at 20:46
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Thanks for the comments. @Mat: "My comment above" was a comment ("quick answer") below the original post (thus, always "above" the answer); I realized it might be hard to understand the solution I offered in the comment, so I wrote it out in more detail. "Does that help" is my way of saying: "if this answer isn't sufficient for you, tell me what is missing and I will explain in more detail". I will be more careful about how I phrase things. But yes - it is a real solution in the "I sometimes want to execute a line in a script but I don't want to modify the script" sense of the question. –  Floris Jun 3 '13 at 20:53
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@Floris It's assumed that if they have questions, they'll comment on your answer. That's what the comments are for. :-) –  George Stocker Jun 3 '13 at 20:57
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@Floris: your question must not reference a comment. Comments go away. Your answer must stand on its own. If your answer somehow depends on that comment, then the contents of the comment must be included in your answer (and the comment removed while you're at it). –  Mat Jun 3 '13 at 20:58
    
@Mat - that's a valid point about comments being removed. I will try to remember. –  Floris Jun 3 '13 at 21:02
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1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I deleted your answer, for the following reasons (taken together):

  • It was flagged by a member of the community as 'not an answer', this user is an avid MATLAB user, and so would (presumably) know what an answer for a MATLAB question looks like.

  • It references a comment, which means that you felt like you should have commented instead of answered.

  • It asks a question, does this help? Are you expecting the user to engage you in conversation about whether that helped? if so, such engagement begs for a comment, and not an answer. Askers are free to engage in an answerer's post, but if you're actively soliciting such engagement, it's a sign that you're not answering the question so much as discussing possible answers -- the realm of a comment.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your answers aren't deleted:

  • Keep the wishy washy stuff like, "I don't know how to solve your problem, but...<answer> or "This is not an answer, but..." out of your answer. You may not be fully confident in your answer, but make it an answer.

  • If you need to engage the asker in conversation, then leave a comment on the question.

  • Try not to say, "to expand on my comment". Just nix that line altogether. It gives the impression you want to make a comment but can't, because the system won't let you post a long comment.

If you actually wrote an answer, and you feel like your answer was wrongly deleted, then you can always flag your post for moderator attention, and use the 'other' flag to state:

Answer was deleted erroneously, this is an answer to the question asked.

Keep in mind, there are mulitple reasons to delete an answer, and that's just one.

I've undeleted your answer after your most recent edit.

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Thank you for the clarification. I understand and accept the reasons, and hope to learn from them. I have now modified my answer based on various input from this page. May I request that you take a look to see if this addresses the problems you identified? Also - note I have actually earned the Matlab badge myself... I am not a newbie when it comes to Matlab. –  Floris Jun 3 '13 at 21:00
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+1 Great response. –  Paul Bellora Jun 3 '13 at 21:05
    
You actually answered my follow-up question as well: "what is the best way to have a deleted answer reconsidered"? I have not used flags in that way - now I know. Thanks for your help! –  Floris Jun 3 '13 at 21:05
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