Why was my question deleted? I did not even get to see it in closed state, so I really do not know why.

(Also, a deletion being a moderation act, "removed from Stack Overflow for reasons of moderation" feels like a tautology.)

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    A couple of comments. First: It says removed for reasons of moderation because the author didn't delete it (obviously). Second: It could have been three 10k or 20k users that deleted it, not necessarily a moderator. – ɥʇǝS Apr 16 '13 at 17:09
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    Well that's interesting... Usually the question gets closed first. I don't often see mods insta-deleting questions unless it's obvious spam. – Mysticial Apr 16 '13 at 17:09
  • @Mysticial A mod deleted it? – ɥʇǝS Apr 16 '13 at 17:09
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    @Seth Yes, a mod unilaterally deleted the whole question without closing it and without leaving any comments. – Mysticial Apr 16 '13 at 17:10
  • @Mysticial Interesting.. I'm sure you don't want to say who and I'm not asking. – ɥʇǝS Apr 16 '13 at 17:11
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    Looks like a shopping question. Two spammers answering probably didn't help either. – Uphill Luge Apr 16 '13 at 17:13
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    @UphillLuge: I wouldn't call the answers spam (they're by high-rep users) but certainly inappropriate self-promotion. – David Robinson Apr 16 '13 at 17:45
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    Ha, if asking whether P=NP is solved leads to a product recommendation, I'd love to know what that product would be. That said, recommending a product (if not spammy) is not really a problem. Asking for such recommendations is. Often it's a matter of simply rephrasing your question. As pedantic as that may sound, it can dramatically increase the overall quality of questions and answers. I don't know what answers you got in your case though. – Bart Apr 16 '13 at 19:35
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    Real questions have answers. – user102937 Apr 16 '13 at 19:47
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    Your new question fails items 1 and 2, and possibly 4 and 5. It failed 3 until I edited it. I'll leave opinions on the first question to the original mod who deleted it. – user102937 Apr 16 '13 at 20:03
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    Here's the original question and answers: pastebin.com/NKq9PY4b – Rob W Apr 16 '13 at 20:13
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    Your new question is constructive enough to be a better fit for programmers.stackexchange.com. If you look at the questions and answers typically asked on Stack Overflow, you will find that the generally-accepted pattern is: How do I do this thing in code? (with certain limitations). – user102937 Apr 16 '13 at 20:13
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    @RobW: He wrote it, so I assume that he's familiar with the overall content. :) – user102937 Apr 16 '13 at 20:15
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    Am I the only one who finds the collateral damage from this meta question funny? – Some Helpful Commenter Apr 16 '13 at 20:52
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    That was back when it was known as "Not Programming Related," and before the Great Scope Change of 2010. – user102937 Apr 16 '13 at 23:37

Short answer? Although well-written, your question fit the pattern of what are commonly called recommendation questions:

So when folks talk about "recommendation questions", they're actually talking about questions where it's difficult or impossible to know - as the answerer or a reader - whether one answer provides a better solution than another.

Answers to the question I link to describe various philosophical and practical problems with these sorts of questions, but to understand why your question was deleted we need to focus on just one of them: they attract promotional answers.

As Stack Overflow has grown over the years, it has become an increasingly tempting target for folks with something to promote. If you're trying to market a tool, library or framework, SO's acres of questions asking for tools, libraries or frameworks are too good to resist. It'd be one thing if such people limited themselves to answering questions where their product actually solved the asker's problem - especially if they also went on to describe how the asker and others like him could make use of the product toward this end.

But in general, they do not.

Cleaning up these posts is a time-consuming task for users and moderators, made all the more difficult when the promoters try to lawyer their way out of the hole they've dug. It's reached the point where, when a question starts attracting these sorts of answers, it is more expedient for a moderator to just delete the question itself rather than trying to preserve yet another honeypot.

And that's what happened to you.

Fortunately, there are ways to ask most of these questions that don't fall into the "recommendation" trap. Not explicitly asking for tool recommendations is a big part of that; being very specific about what you want also helps a good deal, since it's then harder for answerers to argue that they're answering in good faith when their recommendation fails to meet your requirements. Your updated question goes a lot further toward satisfying both of these.

In closing, I apologize for the lousy experience you've had with this question. You asked it in good faith, facing a problem many of us have also faced at one time or another, and didn't deserve what you got in response to it. We're working on tools to make communicating such unexpected nuances a bit more obvious and easier to recover from, but for now just know that this rather severe action wasn't directed at you but at the folks who've made it their business over the years to ruin this particular type of question for everyone else. Sorry.

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  • Apology (and answer) accepted. I have spent enough time in forums to catch glipses of spammy or abusive posts before they got deleted, I have been a forum moderator at some point myself, and combined with the massive scope of SO, I can totally sympathise with the thankless task of SO moderators, and given this context I can get behind closing and relatively quickly deleting the question itself; and if a moderator insta-deleted the question, well, maybe he was busy, I'm not going to hold a grudge, I forgive him too. – Pierre Lebeaupin Apr 17 '13 at 8:15
  • However, while I accept the apology I do have to comment on the experience indeed. The first thing I see is "Your question was removed from Stack Overflow for reasons of moderation". This is as opposed to "I deleted it myself", but I already know that, and in fact SO already knows it's talking to me; some say this is also as opposed to "three 10k or 20k users", but I have not found any evidence of this. The linked "Why are some questions or answers removed?" FAQ is spectacularly unhelpful here, my first thought was "did I do "no significant activity over a very long period after being asked"" – Pierre Lebeaupin Apr 17 '13 at 8:54
  • Then I did consider the reasons for my question being closed. All the usual FAQ/blog content about recommendation questions is framed in the context or hardware or at least explicitly asking for product recommendations; even specifically in meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=[faq]+recommendation there is no sign that, due to rampant attempts at self-promotion, questions should not go anywhere near potentially being interpreted as a product recommendation; it should especially be spelled out since that context is something users are (well) protected from. – Pierre Lebeaupin Apr 17 '13 at 9:13
  • Lastly, all the material that could have made me reframe my question, such as "avoid questions where all answers are equally valid", is framed firmly in the context of subjective questions, and I thought, my question is not subjective, is it? (well, on some level, every question is subjective, like as you wrote every question is a recommendation question). But it is in fact an universal rule, even for objective questions: if there turns out to be more than one such tool, how do I decide which one I accept, for instance? This rule should be put in the FAQ as appying to all questions in fact. – Pierre Lebeaupin Apr 17 '13 at 9:32

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