I read the FAQ regarding deletion here: https://stackoverflow.com/faq#deletion

Nothing in that could explain why my answer (which was originally accepted by the OP) was deleted by a moderator.

Here is a link to the answer (10k only). Here is the answer's content, for those who cannot see it:

You can keep a run-count, and use normal_duration + 30000 as the setTimeout delay for the X+ 1st time.

var runCount = 0, runsBeforeDelay = 20;
function myslidefunction(){

    // .. stuff

    var delay = 0;
    if(runCount > runsBeforeDelay) {
        runCount = 0;
        delay = 30000;
    setTimeout(myslidefunction, 400 + delay);

// start it off
setTimeout(myslidefunction, 1000);

Can anyone shed some light into the "why" part of this as I really cannot see why my successful attempt at helping the OP was deleted as if it was some kind of spam.

Also, what kind of rights do moderators have? Are there any steps if someone decides to be mischievous?

  • 3
    The answer itself looks technically viable and certainly attempts to answer the question. Unless there were deleted comments or other extenuating circumstances, it's hard to say why it was deleted. – Tim Medora Jun 5 '13 at 3:29
  • My only guess is that the mod wasn't paying any attention. It makes no sense otherwise. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the answer, and it has 4 upvotes. – user159834 Jun 5 '13 at 3:31
  • @TimMedora - The only comments are the ones you see there. I'm sure there must be some high previleged users (or maybe mods) who'll be able to confirm that as well (as they might be able to see deleted comments as well). – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 3:33
  • @techfoobar only mods can see deleted comments – Kevin Jun 5 '13 at 15:09

I can't shed light on the deletion of the specific post in question, as I wasn't involved. I'm not sure I would have deleted it. It's possible it will be undeleted due to the attention you've brought and argument you've made about it. I've undeleted it for now, as I think it was probably a goof to delete it.

As for 'rights'; we do have the ability to unilaterally delete content. Generally, we only do so when content is flagged, or we happen across something that seems obvious to us as needing deletion.

If a moderator should choose to become 'mischievous' - or even malicious - that is not likely to last long at all. As Undo notes, moderators can not permanently delete things, and there are always community members who can review these things. Members can re-flag deleted posts, and if any pattern were to emerge, the offending moderator would be 'corrected' with measurable dispatch.

  • Thank you for the explanation. If there is reason enough to delete an answer, it ought to be deleted - no question about that. But in this particular case, i could find none. Hence i raised the question here. – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 3:44
  • Also, good to know that there isn't an actual reason for the deletion in this case (nothing obvious atleast) other than a possibly random error. – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 3:45
  • 1
    @techfoobar After considering it a bit, I've undeleted the answer. My guess is there was a mistake here, and I think I can imagine where that might have come from, but I won't speculate on that. – Andrew Barber Jun 5 '13 at 3:55
  • I thought a lot of times about whether to raise this on meta or not - before posting this question. Glad i did. Its not really about the particular answer I gave, but that deletion was a hit on my addiction to SO. (yes, I take home a major feel-good when an answer of mine positively helps the person who asked) You've got me re-addicted. Thank you. :-) – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 4:01
  • @techfoobar In the future, you can also flag your question for undeletion. There are lots of moderators; even if the same moderator sees your flag, they may take a different action. – George Stocker Jun 5 '13 at 12:40

I was the moderator that deleted your post.

I goofed.

Technical answer: Your post was flagged as 'not an answer'. I did not 'expand' the post, so I didn't see the actual code you posted (in the default view, we only see the first two lines of your answer -- we also don't see whether or not the post was accepted. All we see is the post and the first two lines of the response). Based on what I saw, it appeared to be a comment masquerading as an answer.

I was wrong.

It's been undeleted.

In the future, if you think your post was wrongly deleted, your most immediate step would be to flag the post for undeletion with your reasoning. If you don't get an acceptable answer (or you think we've gone out of our minds), then bring it to meta.

The reason I advocate flagging first is that if everyone who had a post deleted brought their issue to meta, we'd be overrun with posts. I've deleted 134 posts just today. Can you imagine 134 questions if (God forbid) people thought their post shouldn't be deleted?

On Handling Flags

There are a lot of factors that go into handling flags, and hopefully this will explain why there are mistakes (in a perfect world, we wouldn't make mistakes):

Yesterday, there were around 2500 flags in the queue total (over 24 hours).

When I was handling this particular flag, there were around 300 flags in the queue when I started handling flags:

If we assume a moderator spends 10 seconds average looking at a flag, then we can conclude that it would take 50 minutes to handle 300 flags in the queue, if no more flags came in.

300 flags * 10 seconds per flag / 60 seconds in a minute = 50 minutes

That means we'd be spending over 7 hours looking at flags if there were 2500 flags in the queue!

2500 flags * 10 seconds per flag / 60 / 60 = 6.9 hours

If there are 10 active moderators, that's 40 minutes per moderator, per day. That's do-able.

This assumes we don't do the following:

  • Expand the post
  • visit the page to see the post in context (even if we expand the post, we still only see that post, we don't see it in context to the page)
  • elect to leave a comment instead of the default responses (Mark flag helpful, mark flag declined, delete the post, convert post to comment)

That means that if you want moderation that is personal, and advocates a personal response instead of just action, you're talking about adding potentially a minute to each flag. Let's see what that would do:

300 flags * 60 seconds per flag / 60 seconds in minute / 60 minutes in hour = 5 hours

Then handling 2500 flags in a day becomes a task that takes:

2500 flags * 60 seconds per flag / 60 seconds in minute / 60 minutes in hour = 41 hours

That means that it'd take 41 hours collective moderator time per day to handle all the flags in the queue. If we assume 10 active moderators per day, that's still 4.1 hours per moderator, per day. We have 16 moderators. If all the moderators were active, every day, then that's still 2.5 hours per moderator, per day.

If we assume an hourly $150 / hour for developer time, that means that it would cost a moderator $375 dollars a day to moderate Stack Overflow, if we assume every moderator should be fully engaged and communicative.

Put simply, that doesn't scale.

This is why we tend to act on flags rather quickly: There's no way to stay ahead of the rush if we don't. That's also why we make mistakes. If I spent a full minute on every flag, I probably wouldn't make any mistakes.

The solution (of course) is to crowdsource as much as possible. Maybe that means reworking the 'not an answer' flags to go through the 10K queue until it's either deleted or disputed x number of times.

  • Happens to the best! I think that we should be able to somehow punish those who flag totally valid answers, or at least make it clear to them they flagged wrongly on such cases even after the flag was approved. – Shadow9 Jun 5 '13 at 13:25
  • That seems like not enough information to be able to make an informed decision... – MikeTheLiar Jun 5 '13 at 13:25
  • 2
    There was an vote-to-undelete button but that did not work since the answer was deleted by a moderator. I was unaware of the flag-for-undeletion option. Anyway, will keep that in mind for the future. Thank you for posting this. Gives me great relief to hear it from the moderator who did it. :) – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 13:45
  • @techfoobar I added some metrics to explain why mistakes happen. – George Stocker Jun 5 '13 at 14:27
  • 3
    +1 for admitting the mistake and helping clarify the process. – Matthew Green Jun 5 '13 at 14:29
  • 2
    @techfoobar there's no explicit "flag-for-undeletion" there's option to choose "other" when flagging and enter free text to explain why you flag. – Shadow9 Jun 5 '13 at 14:37
  • @ShaWizDowArd - Ahh, ok. I was actually looking for that and decided i need to pile up some more rep to see it! :-0 – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 14:45
  • @techfoobar nope, 20K is the upper limit as far as privileges go and in this specific case, 10 and 20K rep users see the same. :) – Shadow9 Jun 5 '13 at 14:46
  • 1
    @GeorgeStocker - Yes. Its amazing you guys are keeping it functional in the first place. Thanks for the hard work keeping the community clean. I totally understand why it is not possible to read and apply thought into each flag. – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 14:49
  • @techfoobar We do apply thought to every flag, just very quick thought. I know that I tend to make snap decisions on flags within seconds of reading the flag and the post. – George Stocker Jun 5 '13 at 14:57
  • Yeah, you have to be careful with NAA flags. It seems there are a lot of people who flag anything that starts off with a phrase that suggests there might be uncertainty or a question somewhere in the post, without actually reading the rest of it. – Kevin Jun 5 '13 at 15:12
  • @Kevin We're seeing that in the moderator queue as well. – George Stocker Jun 5 '13 at 15:13
  • All that time and money you speak of is what it costs. For example your vehicle needs 2 hours of repair work estimated to cost several hundred dollars ... Do you want me to fix it for you for free, it will only take a few minutes, maybe less? -- If you need more Mods or to be paid then that's what you need. I appreciate that you are doing it for free, but it's not appreciated (see the OP's complaint) when you want to give us a little more than we paid for. PS: I've done decades of volunteer work, it's always double checked - thus your computer's compiler release version has few bugs. – Rob Jul 19 '18 at 14:23
  • This is the second time in a week, that someone's real life experience has reminded me of Papers, Please. – Mark Booth Jul 19 '18 at 15:23

It's important to note that moderators make mistakes. Unfortunately, they're all human.

Humans have this nasty tendency to make errors. It's hard to comprehend, and it took a while for me to understand what an 'error' even was.

I expect this... 'mistake' to be rectified shortly. That, or it isn't a mistake, and will be clarified shortly.

  • 1
    Yes, humans do make errors (you must see the downvotes I've managed to accumulate during my stay!). I hope other humans who make less errors step in and do something about it. :) – techfoobar Jun 5 '13 at 3:46
  • 3
    I am tempted to down vote due to the unsubstantiated claim that moderators 'make mistakes' and 'are human'. Sources?? – Andrew Barber Jun 5 '13 at 3:50
  • 6
    "The moderators are human." - source (yes, I know you were kidding). – Tim Medora Jun 5 '13 at 3:53
  • 3
    @TimMedora D'oh!! Busted!!! – Andrew Barber Jun 5 '13 at 3:57

I'm not 10k, so I can't see the affected question, but I will try to explain the potential problem with mods being mischievous:

All 10k users can see deleted posts, including who deleted them. There is no way for a mod to just wipe a questions from the face of the earth - some people will always be able to see it.

If someone notices a pattern of a mod deleting good content, a post will be raised here on Meta about it. The actions of the mod will be discussed, and if a majority vote is reached among the other mods that the mod should be removed, they will be dismissed.

  • 2
    Not entirely true. Meta is NOT the place to call out moderator like this. I would go with emailing the team first. – Shadow9 Jun 5 '13 at 12:30

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