A few hours ago an answer of mine was deleted by a mod: https://stackoverflow.com/a/11926373/1451820

For non-mods, its content was:

This is not an answer (the other ones are correct already), more like a suggestion about the issues you point out in your second question.

When you have a class constructor with a single object, like your Object(SomeOtherObject o), style-wise is better to mark that constructor with the word explicit, so the compiler will not try to make implicit conversions. E.g. given the definitions:

class A {
  A(int x);

class B {
  explicit B(A a);

trying to create an object like B b(100) would be a compile error.

See also the Google C++ Style Guide section on this topic.

I had specified in the answer itself that the response was only partial, because the other answers had already addressed the main topic. I felt urged to leave that answer, however, because of the reasons that were behind the question itself. I thought that the OP asked for help about overload resolution because he had a problem in real code; so I tried to explain to him (and to all other viewers) how the overload resolution can be forced to behave in an expected manner. The OP then commented with a "This is good idea, I'll probably do it. Thanks.", proving that his issue was not just a theoretical exercise.

Reading the FAQ, it is clear that answers that are "commentary on the question or other answers" or "not even a partial answer to the actual question" should be deleted . So, was my answer not even a partial one?

  • 35
    Starting with "This is not an answer" is never a good idea
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 5:23
  • 2
    Just to explain what @Bart is getting at: If you put yourself in the position of a moderator who works through the large queue of flags, now what would you do if you saw the excerpt of a post starting with "This is not an answer"? Click on it to read through it, or just click Delete?
    – slhck
    May 22 '13 at 5:56
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    And in addition to that, I know of several users who go through SO with a search for "This is not an answer" to be able to use flags.
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 6:07
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    @slhck An unfortunate incipit is not an excuse for not reading the full answer text. The job of a moderator is to, well, moderate, not summarily click buttons. (and I say this without knowing anything about the process, and not referring specifically to my case, or the mod that handled it) May 22 '13 at 7:11
  • @Bart Users are free to flag answers and questions at their heart's content, and the method that they use for looking for potential issues is not under discussion. Whether the flagging is helpful or not is another matter, and that should be based on the answer usefulness criteria listed in the FAQ. The latter is the point of this meta question: please help me understand why my answer was deleted. May 22 '13 at 7:15
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    @MarcoLeogrande You are setting yourself up for failure however. If you would have said something along the lines of "With regards to your second question..." or "To expand on the answers already given..." I can't see your answer falling victim to deletion. In this case you explicitly state that it's "not an answer", which makes the decision for moderators (who have to handle tons of flags) so much easier. Even when it might turn out not the be the right decision.
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 7:18
  • 1
    Actually, the question aside (I agree it does injury to itself, yes), Marco has a good point in his first comment. Moderators can't expect to live free of context, that's negligence. Of course mistakes and misjudgments can happen, but this can't be the canned response. May 22 '13 at 7:46
  • 2
    @Mr.Disappointment I would be surprised if this is not undone with a "oops, sorry about that". On a site as large as this one, ship happens.
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 7:48
  • P.s. can't you edit it and flag it for moderator attention?
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 7:59
  • @Bart I did not notice the re-flag button. Thanks for the heads-up. May 22 '13 at 8:09
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn Pay me for it and I'll happily let users know each time they ask. No need to implement anything. ;)
    – Bart
    May 22 '13 at 9:05
  • @Mr. Disappointment: Of course we don't expect to live free of context, but in this case, the user took that context away from us. What do you want me to do, seize it back from him somehow? May 22 '13 at 9:30
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn This particular example is a bad one, as I happen to agree with the deletion; my concern is in with the practice moderation even being remotely seen as autonomous, much complacency be reinfored with a catch-all canned response that is sounding too old already. Lastly, an addition just after reading your answer, you don't seem to do the process justice: if one doesn't have the time "to read each and every single post all the way through" then don't even touch those posts that can't be decidedly acted upon. Just acting anyway is not an excuse. May 22 '13 at 10:07
  • @Mr. Disappointment: Yes, I try not to act on a post when in significant doubt (I don't know about the other mods). That's why we still have 200 pending flags as we speak. May 22 '13 at 10:32

An unfortunate incipit is not an excuse for not reading the full answer text.

Sorry, but that seems more deliberately misleading than simply "unfortunate". Even more so given your attitude in your comment.

The job of a moderator is to, well, moderate, not summarily click buttons. (and I say this without knowing anything about the process, and not referring specifically to my case, or the mod that handled it)

We don't "summarily click buttons", but neither do we have all the time in the world to read each and every single post all the way through, especially when we have anywhere from 100 to 1000 flags in the queue at any given time. You can't expect us to spend any more time trying to figure out whether or not your post is a legitimate answer when you've stated plainly yourself that it's not an answer. And no, this isn't specific to your case; it applies to most any other post that shows up in our flag queue.

Or to put it another way: as already mentioned in the comments, by opening your post with that sort of statement you're just setting yourself up for failure. It's not my fault you're telling me that your post isn't an answer. Why should users not flag it, and why should I not delete it (I'm not the moderator who deleted your post, but I would have done the same had I come across it first)? If you believe your post in its entirety constitutes an answer, even a partial one, why do you say that it's not an answer? For that matter, why even post an answer at all? I honestly don't get it.

Furthermore, seeing as you've flagged your answer without having actually changed anything about it, despite having been told in the comments to edit it first, I have no incentive to approve it. If you believe your post is an answer, please remove that unnecessarily confusing statement or clarify it somehow, then let us know. Otherwise, please don't waste our time; we have 200 250 other flags to look at as I write this.

  • 6
    THIS. If you say, "This post isn't an answer", you shouldn't get upset when it's deleted for not being an answer. May 22 '13 at 13:49
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    Sorry, but I generally not agree with the answer. I would expect the moderator attitude to be oriented towards quality, not quantity. As a SO user, I would be upset if a decision is taken summarily, but I do not feel the same about the length of the decision process. If a mod (any mod) takes days to review my flag because of the long line of pending flags, that's ok. If you assume that my answer was deleted only because of the misleading start, and not for other significant issues (that's what I am asking! :) ), you are indirectly proving my point. May 22 '13 at 16:33
  • On an unrelated note, I have edited my original answer. It was unfortunately not clear to me what had to be done, and in which order: ask for clarification here, edit the post, flag for moderation, etc. Thanks. May 22 '13 at 16:35
  • 2
    @Marco Leogrande: So you wrote that sort of thing in your answer just to instigate this sort of reaction? Well, congratulations, you got what you want, but my advice to you remains: don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Jun 21 '13 at 8:30
  • @MarcoLeogrande - mistakes aren't final. They can be reversed. If you fix your post to be less confusing it likely will be reversed. 99% of the time, when someone says "This isn't an answer", then it isn't an answer. Is it better to work quickly and mostly accurately and deal with problems quickly or is it better to painstakingly deal with every issue to guarantee 100% accuracy, but at the cost of having an infinitely growing queue with run away low quality content? Almost nothing is ever deleted and generally when a mistake occurs, if you flag it as such, it can be quickly fixed. Jun 17 '14 at 15:27

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