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I answered this question: Is it possible to free local allocated memory with VirtualFreeEx? but my answer was deleted. The answer is demonstrably correct. Why was it deleted?

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    Could you recreate the answer here for those of us with <10k on SO? Nov 28, 2012 at 16:21
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    @jadarnel27: The answer given was: "The answer to this question is yes." Nov 28, 2012 at 16:27
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    Correctness isn't sufficient. Questions can be correctly answered with a bare link or advertisement, but we don't allow that either.
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:33
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    If it is "demonstrably correct" why not expand the answer to demonstrate it so we don't just have your assertion. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:34
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    A little more explanation can be found here
    – user50049
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:37
  • @Tim So, if I extend the answer, it can be undeleted? Nov 28, 2012 at 16:49
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    That's always the case. Edit, and then flag requesting undeletion. Or simply post a new, better answer (there's no telling when we will get to your flag; sometimes there are hundreds of them in the queue).
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:50
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    To the Meta community: It's kinda pointless downvoting clearly asked questions requesting information or clarification. This is not a polling device. See here for more clarification.
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:53
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    @RobertHarvey Hooray! But the meta faq says otherwise We would be so much friendlier if we nuked this. Why not auto-provide two community wiki answers "I disagree because..." and "I agree because..." to every meta question as a way of diverting this habit somewhere less upsetting to users still low enough in rep to be upset about downvotes (often the people who most need help). I'd post that as a feature request if I didn't think I'd be massively downvoted, and I'm sure I would. Once I've got enough rep to risk it I may have stopped caring.
    – AndrewC
    Nov 28, 2012 at 17:13
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    Consider yourself lucky. I merely got a comment on one of my terse answers and had to go through the trouble of deleting it myself. Someone saved you some work.
    – John
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:03
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    @AaronBertrand: That's not what I said. What I said is that it is pointless downvoting questions that are clearly asked, which are merely asking "why something." That David specifies that his answer is "demonstrably correct" adds clarification to his question; it's not the question proper. So you're not actually voting on the question, you're only voting on one aspect of it. Your intent would be clearer if you expressed your disagreement in an answer, and allowed other people to vote on that.
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:16
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    @AaronBertrand Demonstrably correct does not mean "has been demonstrated to be correct". It means that it can be demonstrated to be so. Nov 28, 2012 at 18:19
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    @AaronBertrand: You are, of course, free to use votes as you wish. Shog9 merely points out in his comments that it is disingenuous to downvote "because Meta."
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:19
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    I just think that such downvotes should be reserved for things like feature requests and policy discussions, that's all. Downvoting questions about how the site works discourages people from asking for clarifications, and strengthens the idea that our sites are an unfriendly place.
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:21
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    @AaronBertrand: Ah, well that's not how I interpreted his question. I don't think he actually asked for a reversal, he merely asked why. If he'd asked for a reversal, I think your downvote would have been entirely justified.
    – user102937
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:24

6 Answers 6

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Brevity, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a problem for some kinds of answers, but it almost always is when the answer is "yes" or "no", because those answers aren't very helpful to the OP.

When something is known to be in question, which one can definitionally assume to be the case with almost any question posted on the site, a simple "yes" or "no" will almost never be sufficient to provide a trustworthy resolution to the inquiry.

Even in those fairly rare cases where you don't need additional details to implement, use, or understand the answer, the problem is still that you haven't been given enough information to believe it.

When you're saying, "yes", even if you can't link to source material, in order to help the OP know that you're right, you generally need to provide an explanation of what makes it possible to do a thing, or what's incorrect in the assumptions that made you think it wasn't possible.

A simple yes or no doesn't provide the OP with enough information to trust the response - they don't even have any indicators to support the likelihood that you fully understood their question. You probably did, but...

Imagine asking this question in the real world, on the street, say, and someone walking by interjected with a simple, "Yes". You wouldn't buy it unless they explained enough of their reasoning to be compelling.

In my opinion, you could argue that it should have gotten comments requesting more explanation, rather than being deleted, which is a valid discussion, but not that it was useful in its original form.

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You could well have phrased this question "Is there any justifiable reason for deleting my demonstrably correct answer?" and we could have answered "yes" to that.

You've given a pedantic but extremely unhelpful answer. If I ask "Is it possible to do X?" it's very clear that I (a) would like to do X (b) can't see how to do X and (c) would like help in doing X or an explanation why it's impossible. To interpret this as a simple yes/no question is to misinterpret the OP.

Feel free to edit the question to ask "Is it possiible to do X? If so, how? If not, why not?".

Answering like you did could be intepreted as sarcastic, and can definitely be interpreted as unhelpful, which is probably why it was deleted.

You say it was demonstrably correct? You should have demonstrated it in your answer. If you don't want to say why, then a comment would be an appropriate place to say "Yes it is, I'll maybe explain later if no-one else does in the meantime."

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    I notice that your new answer is much more helpful, and is attracting upvotes. Thanks.
    – AndrewC
    Nov 28, 2012 at 17:14
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    +1 for noting that such answers "can be interpreted as sarcastic", and that the new version is getting up voted, quite appropriately, IMO. Nov 28, 2012 at 17:36
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Your answer was not helpful at all. You just answered "yes". And since your answer did not bring any value to the site it was removed.

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    -1: Disagree. The answer is "yes", and nothing more. It was a simple yes/no question. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:25
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    @JohnDibling Though admittedly something along the lines of "Yes, and this example demonstrates that ...example..." would have been of more value.
    – Bart
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:28
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    @Bart: Sure, but that isn't expected of all answers given, so why the double-standard? Nov 28, 2012 at 16:28
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    @JohnDibling In this case the formulation of the question doesn't really help. Anything where "yes" is a valid answer is in some sense problematic. So I can't say I fully blame those who answered.
    – Bart
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:30
  • @Bart: Agree again. In fact, I would say that if anything, the question should have been deleted, or at least downvoted/closed. It is simple to find the answer to this question by reading the MSDN docs for the function in question. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:32
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    This answer is a little too terse to bring much value to the site. :)
    – Jaydles
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:40
  • No the question should have been edited. The intent is obvious, but the wording is open to misinterpretation. Responding to that this way was inappropriate.
    – AndrewC
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:42
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    @AndrewC I cannot see how the wording of that Q can be misinterpreted. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:56
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    It was misinterpreted as a yes/no question, when it was meant as a request for help. Humans aren't compilers, and don't always say what they mean. We sometimes call it subtext or implicit meaning (as opposed to explicit). When you spend all day with a compiler, it's easy to take humans too literally, which is what I think you did. (The highest frequency of only using literal interpretation is amongst the autistic; don't assume the OP is autistic.)
    – AndrewC
    Nov 28, 2012 at 17:09
  • @AndrewC Well, I think it was a simple yes/no question. I don't think OP was requesting help. I think he just wanted to know if something was possible. I agree that I should have answered with some justification for the "yes". But I don't see that the question wanted any more than that. Nov 28, 2012 at 17:49
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Despite the fact that the OP asked a "yes or no" question, your reputation and history on SO demonstrate that you were probably perfectly aware of what the OP of that question was really asking (whether they could do X, and if so, how?).

Thus your answer was not an answer to the real question at hand. It was a sarcastic, non-answer. Non-answers get deleted all the time.

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    The question didn't ask how. In fact, the question contained the how. The question was, will it work if I do this? So, that's why I didn't explain how to do it. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:48
  • "The question didn't ask how." - That is...what my answer says. The question didn't explicitly ask how. But it should be apparent that OP wanted more explanation than "yes" (such as how it's done, why it works, etc). Nov 28, 2012 at 17:01
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    "Such as how it is done". The question describes how it is done! Nov 28, 2012 at 17:03
  • @David The question mentions a function name. It doesn't anywhere demonstrate that OP knows how to use it properly (aka "describe how it's done"). Nov 28, 2012 at 17:07
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    OK fine. I assumed that OP knew how to use it. You have to assume something. I also assumed that OP knew how to compile a program. Nov 28, 2012 at 17:09
  • @David What? Where did anyone say the OP couldn't compile a program? Nov 28, 2012 at 17:12
  • I suspect @DavidHeffernan was simply trying to draw a comparison regarding his comment that "you have to assume something". Nov 28, 2012 at 17:37
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    @jadarnel27 We both assumed that OP could compile a program. I assumed that OP also knew how to call VirtualFreeEx. Nov 28, 2012 at 17:39
  • @Andrew Ah, that was my mistake. I didn't read that carefully enough. Nov 28, 2012 at 18:30
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Because it is not really an answer, it could have been a comment. Even for questions where a simple 'yes' might be a correct answer, quality standards on Stack Overflow are higher than that. You could have added why the answer is 'Yes', at the very least.

Most likely it was added to the low quality queue for review, or it was directly flagged as not an answer. A moderator then deleted it based on the flags and the general lack of information your answer provided.

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    -1: Disagree. The question was a simple yes/no question, and it was given a (correct) answer of "yes". There's simply nothing more to be said. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:26
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    @JohnDibling: I gave you the reason why it was deleted. What else did you want to hear? Nov 28, 2012 at 16:28
  • I'm simply explaining why I disagree with the deletion. I'm not disagreeing that "not an answer" was the reason for the deletion. I don't agree with the answer deletion in this case, and I'm not sure how else I should express that in the context of this MSO post. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:31
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    @JohnDibling: Isn't that taking out your frustration at the deletion on people trying to help you here? You could have made your question a little more verbose here too; include the original answer text, why you feel it was a sufficient answer, etc. Provide context. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:32
  • It's not my answer that was deleted, I'm not the OP. I'm not taking my frustration out on anybody, as I haven't got any frustration. Now that being said, I'm not sure how much more context I can provide, but I'll try in the next comment. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:36
  • @JohnDibling: ah, my mistake, I got you mixed up indeed. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:37
  • You said, "it is not really an answer," but my assertion is that it was an answer. Since the question was a yes/no question, all that is needed here is a yes/no answer. That's not to say that an answer with more elaboration would not be better -- it would, obviously. However I suggest that an answer without the additional elaboration is not sufficiently lacking to warrant deletion. If you, as a reader, don't like the answer because you think it could be better (or is wrong) you can downvote it. Deletion seems quite harsh to me. More to follow. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:42
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    @JohnDibling: Just like 'Not a real question', 'Not an answer' is a valid reason to recommend deletion; it is too terse to be a suitable answer. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:43
  • Consider that there are many terse answers provided on SO to terse questions. That they are terse does not make them unhelpful to the poster or to future visitors. Consider for example one of my own terse answers, here. The initial edit of my answer provided one line of dialogue and one line of code answering exactly what the poster asked for. This was obviously seen as helpful to many as it was upvoted 50 times and accepted by the OP. Over time I did add elaboration as it gathered traffic, but the point is: terse was OK. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:45
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    Re: " 'Not an answer' is a valid reason to recommend deletion" I don't disagree with that. What I disagree with is the notion that OP's answer was "not an answer." IMO, it was. That's all I'm saying. Nov 28, 2012 at 16:47
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    @JohnDibling: We'll have to agree to disagree here then. Your terse first edit contains a lot more information than the OP's answer though. It feels as if the "The answer to this question is yes." was entered only because "Yes" doesn't satisfy the minimum character requirement. Would you agree that just "Yes" would be too terse? There is no real information in that answer. No why the answer is "Yes". Nov 28, 2012 at 16:52
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    An answer of only "Yes" satisfies the bare minimum because the OP didn't ask for elaboration. Would I have upvoted the "Yes" answer? No, probably not, because elaboration would have been better. Then again I wouldn't have downvoted either, because the answer is correct, if brief and not very enlightening. But that enlightenment is peripheral to the question. Answer deletion seems to me like an extreme reaction to answers that are correct but provide no additional, peripheral insight. The answer wasn't harmful, wasn't spam, wasn't derogatory. Why delete? (rhetorical) Nov 28, 2012 at 16:58
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    @JohnDibling: Questions and answers on SO need to be of a higher standard than that; the OP is not the only user of the answers. In this case, the question itself may well be up for deletion as NARQ, come to think of it. Nov 28, 2012 at 17:02
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I can't see when the upvotes/downvotes occurred here, but:

  • It looks like the OP's answer was undeleted
  • His answer was good (upvoted)
  • The question was not good (downvoted)

So, why did someone choose to pick on a good answer to a bad question?

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    The original answer is still there, deleted. I added a new answer with more body, as advised by the helpful people here. Nov 28, 2012 at 18:20
  • This is what happens when the judgement rests solely in the hands of a single moderator. If the community had been allowed to handle the situation as it is intended to, this wouldn't be an issue.
    – GEOCHET
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:25
  • @GEOCHET: Remember that the community can also flag answers, to which a moderator then responds. Who said this was not handled by the community in the first place? Nov 28, 2012 at 18:52
  • Moderators do not have to (and should not) delete an answer because of a flag.
    – GEOCHET
    Nov 28, 2012 at 19:58
  • @GEOCHET: Then you're making the assertion that answer flags are useless, since the only actionable moderator response is to delete the answer.
    – user102937
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:48
  • That is not the assertion I have made. You have constructed a straw man.
    – GEOCHET
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:28
  • @GEOCHET: I am stating a fact. The purpose of answer flags is to bring answers to the attention of a moderator so that they can be deleted. If mods can't delete answers, then the flags have no purpose.
    – user102937
    Nov 29, 2012 at 20:22
  • You didn't 'state a fact'. You tried to tell me I was arguing something that I was not arguing. Straw man != fact.
    – GEOCHET
    Nov 29, 2012 at 20:28
  • @GEOCHET: Nevertheless, my conclusion inevitably follows from your assertion. I don't think you know what straw man means.
    – user102937
    Nov 29, 2012 at 20:30
  • No, your conclusion is based on a skewed and misinterpreted vision of what I said. I don't think you know what logic means.
    – GEOCHET
    Nov 29, 2012 at 20:52

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