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EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: This is not personal. I'm sure @Leigh's points of view are as good or better than mine. I just wanted to (re?)open a discussion on the general topic of FGITW, maybe from a slightly different point of view (namely, not votes).

If I understand correctly, SOf's philosophy is to promote quick answers. You can't blame posters for trying to provide an initial quick pointer that can be further ellaborated into a complete answer either by the poster, another editor, or the OP him/herself.

That's what I recently did, just to find my answer blocked when I came back to complete it. How can this be so?

My answer was also downvoted, probably by the same person, but this is not an issue at all. Please let's avoid directing any answer through this path.

EDIT - Links:

A very important point to note almost 2 hours after the question was posted is that there are 2 others answers by different persons referring to psutil. One slightly more ellaborated than the other. Mine is a completely different line of thought.

However, what is really surprising is that my answer (nothing else!) was upvoted and not any of the other 2!!! What's going on here? I didn't really expect this. My answer was supposed to be the minority/alternative/dissident point of view. Did I read OP's intentions from a not-so-well formulated question through some ESP power I didn't know I have? Was my answer more powerful (in the sense of solving a broader category of problems) as a matter of accident and someone liked this very much? Or perhaps someone around with a big heart has been perceiving my little frustration during the past few days and wants to motivate me? (Thanks to him/her if this is the case :-) )


I've been an active member for just 5 days or so and am trying to find my way. My answers are relatively long and well explained. But it has been very frustrating to find out after 10, 20, or even 30 minutes of hard work that another person has produced a similar answer. This is not about votes, but about inefficient use of our collective time (aka I could have used my time better in something else). After researching about the topic and even making some failed meta-propositions, I came across the FGITW problem, and the general philosophy of promoting quick answers. My conclusion was what I tried to implement today:

  • Quick pointer allowing dilligent OPs to answer the question by themselves (or at least have a line for further individual research).
  • Notify potential respondents that certain line of thought is already being ellaborated. They would obviously proceed immediately if they had a different line of answer, or come back to the question a few hours later to review and complement answers (or just out of curiosity).

I did fail in adding a note indicating that the answer was partial and requesting patience.

My opinion is that it's the application what should be making our lifes easier, but my propositions were rejected on the "quick response" basis. I'm trying to adapt to this, humbly.

share|improve this question
Can you link the answer? – Mysticial Aug 13 '13 at 21:22
@Mysticial: – Robert Harvey Aug 13 '13 at 21:23
@Mario: Did you actually answer the question, or did you post a comment disguised as an answer? The comment posted below your answer seems to suggest that your answer doesn't address the question that was asked. – Robert Harvey Aug 13 '13 at 21:24
It was flagged and deleted. I agree it shouldn't be deleted, but only a moderator can undelete it. – Shadow Wizard Aug 13 '13 at 21:26
Thanks @Robert! That's somewhat borderline. I had to read the question and the answer 3 times before I could see how the answer actually answers the question. I'd say a good start is to give an explanation of those two lines of code. – Mysticial Aug 13 '13 at 21:26
@Robert Harvey That's correct. But as I mention in my edit, IMHO it did suggest a line of answer. It did not do any more than that on purpose. – Mario Rossi Aug 13 '13 at 23:24
Who is "Leigh"? – Wesley Murch Aug 13 '13 at 23:27
Leigh is a user who left a template "not an answer" comment, since deleted by a moderator. – mmyers Aug 13 '13 at 23:35
As a meta-meta comment, this topic seems to be extremely controversial. So far the balance of votes is 0, but that's 6 up and 6 down. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:50
@Mario I'd suspect the balance is (a) people who feel your answer shouldn't have been deleted and (b) people who feel your answer shouldn't have been posted in the first place. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:00
@AaronBertrand Right. And with a net balance of 0, what am I supposed do next time? :-) Me: the one looking for guidelines... (and community approval???) – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:15
@Mario well, if you hadn't posted a minimal, arguably not useful answer and posted it as a comment instead, we wouldn't be having this conversation, so... – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:17
@AaronBertrand That's a good idea, Aaron. Thanks. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:19
@AaronBertrand And if, by the way, my original answer (obviously not a complete answer after just a few nanosends of inspection) had not been deleted in just 5 seconds, we wouldn't be having this conversation either. So... back to square one. As a cyclic problem as the votes (and downvotes) to the original post. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:28
@Mario no, that's easy to fix. The original answer in its original state should have been a comment. If you wanted to post a more expanded version as an answer, fight the urge to hit the Post Your Answer button until you have a real answer. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:29

Your original answer was simply:

Or, in Windows, wmic .........

...which is a very poor answer, and it was deleted literally 5 seconds after your first revision, so the mod probably didn't even see your edit.

I would have deleted it too. I guess the extra dots are to get around the post length minimum. That should have been a tip to you that your answer wasn't sufficient, but instead you worked around it.

If you want to play FGITW that's fine, but downvotes and having your post deleted when it is far from complete is the risk you take.

I would prefer if no one posted "placeholder" answers to be edited into shape later. I know getting a quick reply is important when you need one, but most people don't mind waiting an extra 30 seconds for you to type out a "real" answer.

share|improve this answer
+1. I would like to add that, in my opinion, FGITW is not a good choice. Fast answers may get more attention by being first, but if they aren't good that won't help. I have found that a great answer posted even 30 minutes after an okay one will usually do much better. – ughoavgfhw Aug 13 '13 at 23:35
@Wesley Murch So, we don't only have fast answerers, but also fast deleters... Nice!!! :-) More seriously, yes: I pushed the limits. But I think we need better conventions to be collectively more efficient. One of them could be "allow non-answers for 1 hour (or 1 day, or even 1 week)" I'm sure anybody would be able to tell that, right? Otherwise, I will probably find a different way. Perhaps a standard text indicating that the one-liner is just a pointer, that I'm ellaborating, and be patient. Now, for many OPs the one-liner will be more than enough. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:35
Overall good answer and +1. But I disagree - I would prefer the quick answer. Among other things it tells me not to go do something else while while hoping for an SO answer. – djechlin Aug 14 '13 at 0:36
@ughoavgfhw One more time, the point is not votes. It is providing very quick answers (not said by me, but by senior SE members). To this, I'm adding a second, personal requirement: not wasting my time. We'll see how I do :-) – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:38
@MarioRossi Don't get too ruffled by this, just move on and do your best to provide good answers. Your post got flagged, it looked really bad at the time and it got zapped, and now you know why. End of story. – Wesley Murch Aug 14 '13 at 0:41
@WesleyMurch Fully aggree. I'm much better at that. :-) – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:52

Here is your original answer in its full glory:

Or, in Windows, wmic .........

That's not much of an answer. You even abused the minimum character length limitation.

Such a post is bound to have received an automatic “very low quality” flag “due to its length and content”, which makes it enter the low quality review queue.

In the low quality review queue, Leigh saw this pretty nonsensical post and added one of the canned comments that go with “recommend deletion”. There's no need to know anything about the subject to see that it doesn't even attempt to answer the question, at least not in any reasonably comprehensible form.

Such recommendations go to a moderator. animuson saw your answer (presumably still in its original state) in the flag list, and correctly deleted it.

It so happened that you'd edited that answer to something decent 11 seconds later. (Your edit doesn't make it a great answer, but it does bring it above the no-brainer immediate deletion threshold.) However that edit wouldn't have shown up in real time in the flag list.

You posted a bad answer, it got deleted. The system is working well.

Now a bit about the more general issue.

If I understand correctly, SOf's philosophy is to promote quick answers. You can't blame posters for trying to provide an initial quick pointer that can be further ellaborated into a complete answer either by the poster, another editor, or the OP him/herself.

You're presumably refering to the Fastest Gun in the West Problem thread. You'll note that while the top answer reads “I do NOT want to, in any way, discourage the quick and dirty answer”, it doesn't reflect any consensus — the second answer, which proposes a method that somewhat discourages such behavior, is not far score-wise.

When you post a quick, bad answer, you're wasting every reader's time. Every reader has to fill in the blanks: find out what you mean, reconstruct the missing bits.

This is not about votes, but about inefficient use of our collective time (aka I could have used my time better in something else).

Exactly: FGITW answers are all about getting the votes before someone else. They foster horribly inefficient use of our collective time.

So instead of getting onto the crap bandwagon, I encourage you to take your time and write good answers. See your second answer in this thread we were talking about? Nobody else posted it, and it's clear and usable. (Maybe not usable by the asker since he didn't say he was on Windows, but at least your answer is relevant for many people who'll see this question and are on Windows.)

A core philosophy of Stack Exchange is that answers are not just for the asker, they're forever. They're for everybody who has the same question and finds that thread in a search. Unfortunately, the FGITW phenomenon tends to optimize for sand, not for diamonds. Still, in the long run, good answers tend to gather more votes than crappy one-liners.

In the words of one of the founders, every question in Stack Overflow is like the Wikipedia article for some extremely narrow, specific programming question. If everybody stops at the one-liner, that goal isn't achieved. If everybody wastes their time posting a one-liner, the goal is achieved, but time is wasted. Write good answers: it's good for everybody.

share|improve this answer
My intention was never to leave that as a final answer. As a matter of personal honor, if nothing else. I'm using my real name, and I take very good care of it. I've been a Wikipedia Editor for a while, but I find SE much more fun. Probably the perception of immediacy as opposed to a distant and abstract audience. Now, if I'm only going to answer to questions in the way you say, I think I'm back to Wikipedia. As I said before, we'll see... :-) – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:01
@Mario so why bother posting an incomplete answer? Hold off on clicking the button until it's complete. You can always come back and edit it later but your original answer in this case is really inexcusable IMHO. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:22
@Aaron As I have explained a few times before, I did that to avoid spending 30 minutes in a relatively good answer only to find out someone else had given the same answer. In this paticular case I'm not speaking figuratively, as I did spend 30 minutes (or more) re-installing a library to properly test my answer. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:38
@Aaron And no, please don't tell me that, if correct, my answer could/would/should have been upvoted because that's not the point. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:41
@Mario If someone beats you to the answer, tough. Happens to me every day. If you write a better answer it doesn't really matter whose was first - think long term and not the few up-votes that might happen in the first few minutes. I think you've already found out what happens when you slam a stick into the sand and say "this isn't really an answer, but I'll come back and update it later." – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:43
@Aaron Let me put it in another way: my original answer was to give another person the chance of deciding if to spend time on a potentially duplicate answer or if to move on and answer another question. For this purpose, a one-liner is enough. I still need to experiment with the good idea of making these initial one-liners comments. If I still find others producing duplicates of my answers (before me, after me, with more upvotes, less upvotes, I don't care; this is not the issue) then it doesn't work for me either. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 1:54
@Mario I disagree, and I feel this practice will land you right back in this situation again. But do what you want. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 14 '13 at 1:56
@AaronBertrand "it doesn't work for me either" != "keep posting non-answers" ; "it doesn't work for me either" == "go back to Wikipedia (or Wikipedia-like) work". – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 2:03
@MarioRossi Writing that original answer would have done nothing to discourage someone else from posting a similar answer. If someone else had wanted to propose calling wmic, they could and would have done so even after you'd posted that stub. – Gilles Aug 14 '13 at 7:25
@Gilles Maybe. We'll see. I've answered some 20 questions since yesterday using slightly better stubs and I have not had this problem again (or duplicate answers making me feel I'm not using my time as well as I could). Hopefully, I'm finally "getting it" :-) . – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 7:49

I undeleted the answer, and made an edit to make it sound less like you're riding on the coattails of an answer posted by someone else.

share|improve this answer
Also worth to mention this Leigh guy has no knowledge of Python, at least according to his tags list. Not a single answer or question on that tag. – Shadow Wizard Aug 13 '13 at 21:33
That could explain things. Perhaps he thought we were discussing something in a completely different context (tag), and of course my response didn't make any sense. – Mario Rossi Aug 13 '13 at 23:20
Er... it duplicates his other answer? – AndrewC Aug 13 '13 at 23:26
@ShaWizDowArd Why is it worth mentioning? I can spot a non-answer in many languages I don't participate in. Hell, the review queue throws them at me all the time. – Wesley Murch Aug 13 '13 at 23:43
@Robert Harvey Riding on the coattails of an answer posted by whom? If you read in detail the other 2 answers, it was them who could have been riding on each other's coattails. And, paradoxically, both those answers are still there... – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:20
@AndrewC Yes, it does. And both have been upvoted!!! ROFL – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:39
@WesleyMurch because the answer mentions something that might be specific to Python. I don't know myself, hence I'll skip such review items and surely won't flag to delete such answers. – Shadow Wizard Aug 14 '13 at 7:08

For a while, the title of this post was changed (by another person) to something like "Should FGITW answers be deleted?", and the downvotes skyrocketed. Once the title was brought back to "Why @Leigh or another user blocked my answer?", response has been way more neutral. Should we interpret those downvotes as "No, FGITW answers should not be deleted?"? If this is the case, there is a marked preference for quick (and at least initially incomplete) answers.

share|improve this answer

To answer the question in the title, animuson♦ (a community moderator) probably deleted your answer because someone flagged it as not-an-answer.

Presumably this is because it doesn't use Python as the OP asked. You didn't explain this in the first answer, but you do in the newer one.

Normally moderators aren't expected to read deeply to decide whether something is an answer or not - it normally has to be very clearly not an answer for them to act, otherwise they rely on downvotes from the community to de-prioritise suchlike.

share|improve this answer
Probably they also base their decisions on reputation. I fully agree with this. – Mario Rossi Aug 14 '13 at 0:42
@MarioRossi: Not generally, no. <50 is a bit of a red flag when it comes to not-an-answer (no commenting privilege), but apart from that, reputation doesn’t and shouldn’t dictate much. – Ryan O'Hara Aug 14 '13 at 2:19

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