In https://stackoverflow.com/q/15650351/ my answer read:

I really really really hate libpng.

As you are using C++, I would recommend a "C++ enabled" version of it: png++.

It was the top-scoring answer with +3/-0 upvotes. Gordon♦ deleted the answer.

Maybe the question is "non-constructive", but my answer is no less constructive than the other two.

Could a mod be so kind and tell me how my answer was worse than the other, or undelete it?


To put a proper end to the question: My answer was posted out of an illogical mood, because the very first answer was "use libpng", and because I already have wasted hours getting trying to along with the lib. I should have posted a comment about my experiences with libpng to that answer, instead of posting my own (link-only) answer. In my suggestion to use png++, I should have posted some LOC how to use it, true. And probably I should have voted to close as "not constructive".

And, well, if you use libpng, you'll get to hate it, too. ;-)

  • The excessive hate may have been unwarranted, but you did get a +1 for it. I don't otherwise see any reason to delete that post. – nneonneo Mar 31 '13 at 11:33
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    Avoid the word "hate" in any answer. It attracts moderator flags. Next thing that happens is that your answer will be scrutinized and found light-weight when all that's left without "hate" is a link. – Uphill Luge Mar 31 '13 at 11:34
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    The mod could easily have changed the first sentence to "I don't like libpng" or something. Leaving a comment would have been reasonable, too. Right now it deleting strikes me as utterly random. – kay - SE is evil Mar 31 '13 at 11:40
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    It's an answer that contains only highly subjective opinion and a single link. Is it really something that you are so proud of? And, if in your opinion, the question can be answered by single link, why did you not mark the question for closing to begin with? – teresko Mar 31 '13 at 11:46
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    "if the question can be answered by single link, why did you not mark the question for closing to begin with?" Seriously? Do you really suggest that any question that can be answered by giving a single link is worthless and deserves to be deleted? – hlovdal Mar 31 '13 at 12:29
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    @UphillLuge I don't agree that the word "hate" shouldn't be in answers. An answer that's just an expression of opinion without explanation based in facts or reported experience is equally unsuitable, with or without strong words like "hate" in it. And if that word does help people to find that an answer is low quality, that's a good thing. There are many situations where "hate" in an answer doesn't indicate the answer is low quality; for example, an answer might contain the sentence, "My colleagues have reported finding, albeit unscientifically, that users tend to hate designs that..." – Eliah Kagan Mar 31 '13 at 15:58
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    The whole question is gone, so the point is moot. – Rosinante Mar 31 '13 at 16:04

A moderator does not usually act on his own. Especially in a tag outside his normal zone (Gordon is a PHP guy). Meaning, someone flagged your answer, and the moderator acted on it.

How to keep up

  1. Edit to improve the answer (I'm imagining remove the "hate" part, add some more meat, possibly an example)
  2. Flag the answer for undeletion, explain that you've edited and improved it and would like it to be undeleted.

It's really simple.

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    It was probably flagged as "low quality" due to its length and content. Well, it's what I would have flagged it as. – cryptic ツ Mar 31 '13 at 11:45

Maybe the question is "non-constructive", but my answer is no less constructive than the other two.

Yes, you are right: Your answer is not constructive. The other answers are on the edge. And the hate part of your answer put it off the edge I guess.

But actually the complete question should be closed as not a real question anyway.

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    Ever tried using libpng? The two comments read "+1, png++ is amazing. It takes 7 or fewer lines of code to load an image into a container of whatever type you want." and "+1 for libpng hate :)" – kay - SE is evil Mar 31 '13 at 11:36
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    Other people sharing your opinion doesn't make it any more constructive. – JJJ Mar 31 '13 at 11:50
  • Definitely was a question that needed closing. The questioner gave no indication of what they were using… – Donal Fellows Mar 31 '13 at 11:53

A better version of your answer would have listed three or four things about libpng that are generally accepted to be a pain. It would have clearly stated that png++ solves those issues and perhaps listed some extra goodness it provides. In addition to the link, it would have a sentence or so about the licensing terms for the library and whether it's under active development or support at the moment.

With an answer like that, anybody who reads it would understand why the library choice is obvious, and you would have written a great answer to a meh question. Instead you wrote a meh answer to a meh question. It's the kind of answer you can recognize as correct if you already know all the background, so you get a few upvotes, but it doesn't actually teach people anything if they don't already know it. So someone flagged it, and a moderator agreed. The good news is you can write a better answer if you want to.

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Your answer is definitely not constructive in that it merely cites an opinion as opposed to citing fact (and nb that the strength of feeling behind your opinion doesn't make your opinion factual.)

The question itself is non constructive, in that it solicits opinions on a "good" way to do something.

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    This answer is definitely not constructive in that it merely cites an opinion as opposed to citing fact. – hlovdal Mar 31 '13 at 12:21
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    (My previous comment is sarcasm, in case anyone did not get it.) I find your answer to be troublesome in that it tries to present your opinion as a fact, e.g. "Your answer is ..." rather than "I think your answer is ...". – hlovdal Mar 31 '13 at 12:25
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    @hlov Meta is a site for meta discussion, unlike SO which deals only with factual answers. So yes, this is an opinion. Voting on meta works differently accordingly, so you are free to up vote or down its depending on whether you agree or not. – razlebe Mar 31 '13 at 12:46
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    What made you think I did not already know this? – hlovdal Mar 31 '13 at 16:00
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    Using opinion is valid on Stack Overflow. – Lance Roberts Apr 1 '13 at 16:37

Could a mod be so kind and tell me how my answer was worse than the other

Your post wasn't worse than the other posts. All of them are link only answers. The only difference was that the other three didn't have any flags. Your post had three flags for "Not An Answer". Consequently, the other posts didn't show up in the flag queue. And thus, they weren't deleted.

Note that it wasn't deleted because you "really really really hate libnpng".

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We need less intolerance.

I think one of the issues here might be the "New Intolerance" that Rowan Atkinson talk about in his speech at Reform Section 5 Parliamentary reception.

When someone writes in an answer or comment that they hate something, there is a risk that a moderator overreacts in a "OMG, there's a dirty word here" way and censors it as a misunderstood removal of "hate speech".

In my opinion there is a huge difference between the statements "I hate libpng" and for instance "libpng is a piece of crap". The former clearly expresses a personal opinion (and somewhat implies that this opinion is build out of experience) and is fine and I see absolutely no problems with this{1}. The latter is an opinion that is presented as a fact and without any support. As such it is not very useful and hinders discussion over the core opinion it expresses.

I am perfectly fine with people expression their opinions of whatever subject no matter how negative when expressed as I-statements. My experience is that people that say "I think you are an idiot" are people that are open for reasonable arguments and discussion. People that say "You are an idiot" on the other hand typically are locked to their opinion and less willing to change.

Speaking using I statements makes a profound difference. From this document:

"I statements" help us disagree with what has been said rather than argue with the person who made the statement. They also help us own and accept responsibility for our ideas and feelings as our own rather than stating them as universal truths.

By all means nag people for only writing "I hate X" and make them complement to "I hate X because ...", but there is nothing wrong with expressing negative opinions.


A statement "I hate libpng" just by it self is not so useful, but if written as "I hate libpng because ... ..." that is extremely valuable information.

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    You're right that expressing negative opinions is fine and often even good, and that flagging based on them is a bad practice too often done. And the expression of hate for particular software was not the problem here. But since this particular answer by the OP did not say "I hate libpng because..." or otherwise provide much substance beyond the link, I'm unsure how to apply your thesis to the situation being discussed here. – Eliah Kagan Mar 31 '13 at 16:01
  • Deleting the question is the problem. I agree that just stating "I hate libpng" is not that valuable, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, and there is also nothing that indicates that this cannot be improved later by expanding it to a "I hate libpng because...". Things are not written in stone and deleting content created by users should only be done as the last resort, when there is no hope of the author or other users to improve the answers/questions into something more useful. There exist zero evidence that this was the case here. – hlovdal Mar 31 '13 at 16:11
  • I'd say it is clearly the other way around. "Hate" is in itself illogical and subjective (and I would have thought my answer would be understood that way). Someone might have seen it hyperbole in my answer ("really really really"). – kay - SE is evil Mar 31 '13 at 21:55

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