Today, I was looking at my rep history, and I noticed a -20 on it. Since I'm only an occasional user of stackoverflow, this is a noticable fraction of my total rep. So I thought I'd look into it to see what my mistake was.

Looking closer, I had an answer addressing a question informally, with a few illustrative details. And this question had an answer that someone later on posted which was much longer and more detailed and more turgid than my post. And a diamond moderator deleted my post. So, perhaps my post was deleted because it's a duplicate of the later answer. Or perhaps someone decided that my post was too chatty? Or perhaps they decided that it did not even partially answering the question?

And, if this kind of ambiguity is a part of the way that stackoverflow is supposed to work, I do not currently have any basis for objecting to it. (It's not like stackoverflow rep has any real-life consequences for me. For me, rep is only a guideline for suggesting how I contribute in the future.)

Still, I literally do not understand what happened here, so I can only make assumptions which could easily be invalid.

So.. perhaps deletions of upvoted posts should include some kind of declaration about why the post was deleted? This could be as simple as a set of checkboxes which correspond to line items in https://stackoverflow.com/faq#deletion where at least one checkbox has to be checked before a post can be deleted.

Possibly related topics include

Revise how comment deletions are judged? -- which suggests a different set of valid reasons for content deletion from https://stackoverflow.com/faq#deletion

and How can I audit deletions that affect me? which highlights a different issue (deletion of questions) where deletions might be losing information (information which might be beneficial for some people that contribute useful content).

  • Do you mean like this? stackoverflow.com/questions/210835/… Looking closer the top voted answer used exactly the same examples as I had originally made up for my post, and so I am currently believing my post was deleted as a duplicate for that reason. Except, of course, since my post was a week before the other one, I had no way of avoiding this duplication. – rdm Aug 23 '12 at 16:30
  • Note if you're not looking for a reasoning around your specific answer, then I'll delete my answer, but if you want to talk about this specific answer, then that's fine, but we should clean up the tags on this question to reflect that. – casperOne Aug 23 '12 at 16:35
  • If @casperOne's correction and apology solve the issue for you we should probably change the title. If you are still interested in discussing deletion procedure in the abstract we might want to change the focus a little off of this particular instance. – dmckee Aug 23 '12 at 16:45
  • I'm not sure how to answer you here. But it looks like this has gone from a question about "how should stackoverflow work" to a question about that specific case. In other words, I was thinking about workflow while I believe that you are thinking about my specific example. Since I started from the assumption that the original deletion was valid, and since you have declared that that that assumption was invalid, it might be valid to delete this meta question. But my meta problem was that I was having to make assumptions that made me uncomfortable. Anyways, your call here: I've said my bit. – rdm Aug 23 '12 at 16:47
  • p.s. if editing this question would make it more appropriate, please do so. I am drawing a blank on what those kinds of edits would look like. – rdm Aug 23 '12 at 16:48
  • Looking at the flag that was on it, I fat-fingered it. Sorry about that, I've undeleted it. – casperOne Aug 23 '12 at 17:21
  • Thank you for the correction. This does help me understand better what happened. That said, I am still wondering if perhaps the system itself could encourage better handling of these cases? – rdm Aug 24 '12 at 18:42

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