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I see that this has been marked as a duplicate, I don't think it is a duplicate, the linked question is about deleting down-voted answers for the purpose of removing negative reputation. This question is about deleting the answer to shed the down-vote and then posting higher quality content.

It seems as people are voting their agreement or disagreement here. Let me encourage voters to consider the value of

  • this discussion
  • the transparency of the poster

The drama:

Questioner explained what they were doing, and inquired about an error.

No one else had responded, so I quickly pulled up the help on the function as I saw it used and quickly typed a one-liner to explain the source of the error. I begin furiously editing/elaborating as I see another answer pop up, offering an alternative and I see a downvote on my answer. Spirit undiminished, I continued, explaining how to check for the source of the error, and thus how to avoid it. I edited further, I demonstrated how to recreate the error.

I then see the other answerer has identically adopted my approach to his mishmash, and although I don't have a monopoly on Python's best practices, a bit of attribution/credit would be apropos.

An Underhanded Move:

Feeling now quite frustrated with the effort I have spent, I perceive a way to overturn the single downvote (on what was now substantially an entirely different answer). I copy the source of my answer, delete the old answer, and paste it in as a new one.

The End Result:

I see as I have composed this I have earned an upvote on my full answer, although the other respondent got the best of me with an accepted answer. If the upvote came from the original downvoter, then I am no better for the deletion and replacement. If the upvote came from someone else, I am better for the deletion, for I would otherwise be at zero and down 2 rep points.

The Final Question:

Was I right to act as I did, in principle? If not, do circumstances mitigate the harm? Or is the point infinitesimal, and I would be better off trying to fit angels on the heads of pins, and Stackoverflow is working just as it should? Or perhaps we just don't want to talk transparently about how people abuse the system to their advantage?

A Final Conclusion After Many Responses:

The community has decided that although the Stackoverflow mechanisms allow for this tactic, it is viewed as underhanded and abusive, and a user being found to do so is likely to be punished, if not officially, then by the efforts of those who have discovered him.

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marked as duplicate by Martijn Pieters, Azik, Johnny Bones, РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ, Lucifer Jan 22 '14 at 14:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I hope you were at least entertained! :D –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 5:48
I hope downvoters can explain? –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:04
"quickly typed a one-liner" -- this naturally involves risk of down votes and "fastest gun" answerers should be ready to accept that risk (FWIW I upvoted your question but this reasoning might explain down votes) –  gnat Jan 22 '14 at 6:08
@AaronHall The two downvotes arrived whilst your earlier comment was asking for upvotes - before it was edited to say otherwise. My previous comment (now deleted) was also already there explaining why I had downvoted. Why are you asking for explanation? –  doppelgreener Jan 22 '14 at 6:13
If the comment is not on the record, then why is the vote still on the record? –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:24
@AaronHall Because votes on a post are locked in, and can only be revised when the question gets edited. –  doppelgreener Jan 22 '14 at 6:25
Fresh edit, perhaps we need downvotes for the content of the comments? –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:34

5 Answers 5

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Sorry, I'm not a fan of this move at all.

Here's what it distills to:

  • You answered a question
  • You got a downvote on your answer
  • You edited your answer in hopes of redeeming that downvote
  • You deleted said answer and reposted the same answer, just to get the upvote.

There was no abuse of the system (from other actors. You, however, aren't exempt from blame).

There was no harm.

Stack Overflow is working as intended. Someone saw fit to disagree with the usefulness of your answer, and responded accordingly.

Downvotes happen. Most of us have had their fair share (and a few that were unjustly deserved, in some cases). But, by no means does that make it okay to completely remove an answer that still has a chance of helping someone else out there, just because it was downvoted.

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OK, good discussion, directly addressing the point. To your final sentence, I agree, but in this case I restored the final state of the question, so the content was not lost to users. Extra entry in the site's database. And certainly we don't want everyone doing this. Now I'm hearing my mother say "What if everyone else foo bar baz...?" Thank you for not questioning my integrity, or contrasting me with the ideals of value creation on the site. I think anyone who looks at my content would agree I create value here. Except maybe this questionable query. +1 –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 7:24
@Aaron, value to the community is mitigated by harm to the community. If Jon Skeet were to determine that his contributions to this point allowed him to spam the entirety of the site he would be removed from it despite the value he has created. Why do you find it difficult to accept that if you want to stay here, you have to be honest and play nice? –  jmac Jan 22 '14 at 7:37
I'm not finding your contributions here very useful, @jmac . I do consider myself a nice guy, while you seem to find "play nice" to be beyond your grasp. –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 7:39
@Aaron, the community here determines value (that's kind of the point behind a self-moderating volunteer community). So while you may personally think you are creating value, or that your actions are justified, or that we're all just mean-spirited people (which you are 100% entitled to as a member of the community), be sure you pay attention to what the rest of the community is saying with their votes and comments in this question. If you want to "create value here", I strongly recommend paying close attention to what "here" values as explained by our various posts and comments. –  jmac Jan 22 '14 at 7:54
@jmac at what point do we go from "being right" to "being a bully"? I think you crossed that line at your first post. Did Stackoverflow personally sign you on as their divorce attorney? –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 7:58
@Aaron, if you believe that I've bullied you, or otherwise are not 'playing nice' and should be taken care of, every comment and answer (and question, though not applicable in this case) has a 'flag' button on it. Click that and report to the moderation team who will evaluate it themselves and punish (or not) as necessary. There is no need to be passive aggressive -- if you really feel offended by my behavior (or that of anyone else), the appropriate thing to do is flag it, and it will be taken care of. –  jmac Jan 22 '14 at 8:04
Actually, I am wondering about the results of this action: he got an upvote after he "resetted" the score- that would show that given the same contents we are more inclined to upvote answers that have no downvotes. Basically, do we "follow the pack": +1 calls for more +1, -1 calls for more -1? Not the same question as above but something to reflect on anyway. –  SPArchaeologist Jan 22 '14 at 9:13

In principle, you should not have taken those actions. You care too much about votes, and you may be here for the wrong reasons.

I'll quote the Stack Exchange site itself:

We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on the most important topics in each area of expertise. From our core of Q&A, to community blogs and real-time chat, we provide experts with the tools they need to make The Internet a better place.

We are here to make the internet a better place through building libraries of useful information.

You're engaging in behaviour that is either manipulative or undermining the systems Stack Exchange has in place for achieving its mission:

  • Deleting and reposting your answers to shed downvotes. It's good you asked here about that.
  • Requesting that people upvote this question if they were entertained. That's not the point of upvotes.
  • Requesting explanation of downvotes you know the reason for is dubious.

It would seem you're more concerned about your votes and reputation, and whether or not others are getting the best of you.

Instead, you should be trying to improve this library of information, and you should be doing so with integrity you are not currently demonstrating.

If your answer gets downvoted, you have lost two rep total, and worrying about who cast votes on you is pointless. Accept it, and either wait for further votes or delete your answer if you want to. But if you delete your answer, do so because it improves the quality of information the site offers (or because you want the rep you lost back). Don't do it in order to repost it and entirely evade the votes already cast.

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I'm downvoting because you're referencing things that are completely irrelevant to the question at hand. Please focus on the main point. You said, "Deleting and reposting your answers to shed downvotes. It's good you asked here about that." please talk more about that instead of questioning my motives, and dubiously alleging that the action hurts the quality of the site. –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:39
@AaronHall - Your question was Was I right to act as I did, in principle? and the answer's first line In principle, you should not have taken those actions. perfectly answers it. Downvoting is completely a user's own choice but I'd like to say that please don't simply downvote the answers just because they are not agreeing with you. I can see this as more of a rant than a discussion, to be very honest. –  R.J Jan 22 '14 at 6:49
The first line may be a direct response, but the second sentence immediately questions my integrity. He nearly praises me for my transparency, but mostly rambles about site quality, with absolutely no connection between my action and the quality of the site. It's nicely written, if one cares nothing for logical links between ideas. –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:56
@AaronHall I am not attempting to draw any connection between your action and the quality of the site, nor am I even attempting to discuss site quality. I'm drawing attention to the disconnect between the purpose of your actions and the purpose of this site in order to explain why the behaviour you asked about is, in principle, not good behaviour. –  doppelgreener Jan 22 '14 at 6:59
This is an incredibly competitive site on which people with very valuable skills bid to offer their skills to the site's users. Why are one set of tactics good, and another set bad? Users look at the votes as a heuristic for the quality of the answer. Isn't it good to shed downvotes that were made on the state of an answer that no longer bears any semblance to a newer one? –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 7:04
Users look at the votes as a heuristic for the quality of the answer. ?? Not Really.. –  Roy M J Jan 22 '14 at 7:29

You were wrong.

  1. You are complaining about a vote on a post you made
  2. Rather than accepting that you deserved the downvote, you did your best to avoid it
  3. Despite understanding why you got the downvote, you created a question solely to complain about it

Bonus: You even spitefully downvoted two three people who provided answers because they don't agree with you.

You Made the Post

And I quote:

so I quickly pulled up the help on the function as I saw it used and quickly typed a one-liner to explain the source of the error.

You got a downvote because a one-liner pulled from the help doesn't exactly solve the problem, now does it? Hover over the 'downvote' button, what does it say?

Downvote Message

"This answer is not useful"

Why are you complaining that a post you made, that you concede was not useful and required several rounds of editing, received a downvote?

You Didn't Accept It

Despite the rather clear fact that the downvote was entirely merited on the basis of your original answer, you refused to acknowledge that you deserve the hit to your reputation.

A downvote is worth -2 reputation. A single upvote is worth +10.

If your answer would eventually get a single upvote, you'd be at +8. And the person who had made the downvote would have a chance to turn that -2 in to a +10. Instead you delete the original answer based on your sense of justice ignoring that it was merited in the first place based on what you had posted and could be changed in the future.

You Asked Here About It

From your responses to people here it is clear you think your action was justified:

Let's not say, as a community, we're a site based on gamification and then complain that someone breaks rules that are not written down or enforced.

You brought this up. We as a community are telling you that your action is wrong and you shouldn't have done it. We have explained the concept behind why this is wrong, and linked you to resources you can visit to understand them. These rules are both written down, and if you really want to test the waters, I'm quite certain that you can experience them first hand.

You know what you did is wrong too, as you said in your question:

Or perhaps we just don't want to talk transparently about how people abuse the system to their advantage?

We don't want people to abuse the system in the first place. You were wrong to do it. Period.

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+1 Best answer possibly.. –  Roy M J Jan 22 '14 at 7:21
Downvoting. Quite negatively toned. Not very useful either. –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 7:38
So, you're downvoting all these answers (which are entirely, 100% correct), after complaining about a downvote on an answer you admit was incorrect? Yeah, makes sense. /rolls eyes –  Johnny Bones Jan 22 '14 at 12:19

This is not how Stack Exchange network works. Deleting downvoted answers and adding the same answer is not a good way to use Stack Exchange sites.

We even don't encourage to delete wrong/poor answer and add another improved one. Instead you should edit the elder one. Don't take downvotes too serious. Take it serious to improve the answer not deleting it and adding another one. If your downvoted answer is good enough, surely future visitors will upvote it if they find helpful.

Also, deleting downvoted answers may send you to the storm of answer ban.

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I'm downvoting because I think that the answer that was downvoted was not in any way close to the answer that I finally posted. Let's not say, as a community, we're a site based on gamification and then complain that someone breaks rules that are not written down or enforced. –  Aaron Hall Jan 22 '14 at 6:29

Just take the final effect of what you have done:

  1. You've posted some answer that seemed not to much the quality criteria
  2. You've effectively posted new answer, that one correct
  3. You've removed the old answer

In the end effect, the SO has one more valuable answer, and has not one more not valuable answer. You could achieve it either by:

  1. Leaving original, edited answers, with downvotes from previous content. The downvotes would suggest there's something wrong with your answer. That suggestion would be invalid, because the previous content was downvoted, not the current one.
  2. Create new answers. There are no misleading downvotes.

You've chosen the better one, in my opinion. Only the path leading to that effect was not fully corrent, and therefore controversial. It would be better to post new answer and delete the old one, but it's the effect that is the most important. And that effect is positive.

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