I just noticed that my answer here was deleted by moderator Robert Harvey ♦. It has vote count of +11/-5, which means at least 11 people thought is was actually good. It was posted the same second as one that stands on top with approaching 100 upvotes, and has the same amount of relevant information without the fluff.

As deleted by mod, it can't even be voted for undeletion.

Please restore it.

If the site just removes answers that match the question this way, I see no point to waste time on contribution, as it might be just vaporized the other day.

I hope this was just an honest mistake or a fat finger problem.


I originally thought to wait 48 hours to see the results, but the numbers are pretty clear and two moderators weighed in. It's clear that my idea about answers and a due process differs significantly from those who run this show.

So, thanks Benjamin for the support and everyone else for all the fish. I'm finished here.

  • 11
    "I consider this pretty rude, ad-hoc and act of vandalism" This is where you lost me...
    – yannis
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:01
  • 2
    IMO, it essentially is a link only answer pointing to wikipedia. If you expanded on it, then you might have more to stand on for why it should be undeleted.
    – Taryn
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:03
  • Could you post a screenshot here for our evaluation?
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:04
  • 10
    @Undo: No screenshot needed - the answer is short enough to post in a comment: "Read up on the halting problem and then think of its proof applied to the mutability decision."
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:05
  • @animuson Ahh, than...
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:05
  • @bluefeet: the answer would be as good without having a link just the term. I just added the link for convenience to people who actually want to read some more details. The meat of the answer is just that the stated problem is an equivalent one to the halting problem.
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:09
  • C++ questions really get that much attention within just 24 hours? I'm speechless.
    – Felix
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:15
  • 5
    Side Note @BalogPal I've added an answer, I have to say that you're making your position really hard to argue, by calling the community's effort to moderate itself "ad-hoc act of vandalism", there is no reason we can not discuss this in a constructive manner. We're all trying to help. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:28
  • @BenjaminGruenbaum: I redacted that part.
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:43
  • @BalogPal - Edit revisions are archived.
    – user164207
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:45
  • 5
    "I see no point to waste time on contribution" At least you didn't waste a lot of time on that answer.
    – AndrewC
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:58
  • @JackManey: I'm well aware of that. And the point is?
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:59
  • @BalogPal - The point is that since the edit history is visible, you performed an edit, not a redaction.
    – user164207
    Jul 3, 2013 at 0:00
  • 2
    @BalogPal - FYI, and in response to your latest edit, you can find instructions for deleting your account here.
    – user164207
    Jul 3, 2013 at 1:28
  • 1
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8231/…
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 3, 2013 at 20:04

3 Answers 3


I'm actually with Balog Pal here.

I think that while his answer wasn't great, deleting it was probably not the correct course of action to do.

Without the link, his answer sums up as:

Read up on the halting problem and then think of its proof applied to the mutability decision.

It's clearly an attempt to answer the question, I wouldn't say it's a particularly elaborate one but it does hit the problem.

I don't think this falls either under 'not an answer' (It's clearly an attempt to answer) or 'very low quality' (it's about the problem and it's pretty correct) and I think that it stands on its own without a link meaning it's not a link only answer.

As such, I think usefulness of it should be determined by upvotes/downvotes and not deletion by the moderation staff.

  • 21
    It's a comment at best. You can't answer a question tagged algorithms by telling someone to go read Knuth and think about it. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:33
  • 1
    @BilltheLizard And I completely agree with that statement, however I don't really agree with the analogy. The OP in the question asked why a certain algorithm isn't possible. OP suggested that this problem is equivalent to the halting problem, and suggested how to apply the proof of its incomputability to this problem. While I agree it's not a very good or elaborate answer, I think it's an answer nonetheless. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:35
  • Thanks, some ray of hope
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:35
  • @BalogPal When you got that comment by Stephan it indicated that either he thought it was not an answer on its own (this was probably the case here) , or he got to that answer through the flag queue 10K+ users are exposed to. This should have been the first indicator you should probably improve the answer. While I don't think deleting it was the correct course of action, this does not mean I think it's a very good answer on its own. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:40
  • 6
    I think expanding it, explaining what the halting problem is shortly, why it applies here and more (which, you could do since understanding the problem is evident from your answer anyway) is what got it deleted by Robert instead of getting a lot more up-votes. We appreciate well written quality independent content. The frustrating part is that you had the ability to put those extra 10 minutes in to make it a great answer, but didn't. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:41
  • @BenjaminGruenbaum: I read the comment, disagreed, even answered to it (and my counter-comment was even upped twice). I did re-read the other answers, and still see them as originally, the one referring the external input is the best, and I still not see any value in the "elaborate" parts. I understand that some automation hunts short answers, but I expect humans to actually read and analyze the content. If my answer was downvoted to hell, I'd call it fair game. Not just deleting it, especially being in the positive.
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:50
  • @BalogPal Again, you're preaching to the guy who agrees with you that it shouldn't be deleted, and yes, I've read your comment :) You clearly understand the issue at hand since you provided a correct answer. Not everyone in SO has a CS degree or studied computability at all. The entire notion of 'non computable' is not trivial for a lot of such developers. I think explaining concisely what the halting problem means, how it relates to the terms of this question and how it's equivalent would have gone a long way. Even citing Wikipedia is completely fair game if it fits the answer. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:57

From what animuson is informing me, your answer is

Read up on the halting problem and then think of its proof applied to the mutability decision.

What's the problem with that? It doesn't answer the question. It points to another place on the interwebs for an answer. Actually, it doesn't even do that - it basically says

Read this and think about this and maybe you can think of an answer.

It's like pointing someone to a class reference without any indication of where the answer is.

Because of this, it can be classified as a link-only answer, which is not accepted by the community. A user probably flagged it as VLQ (or even NAA), and a mod deleted it.

The only negative impact the deletion of the post had was -100 rep for you. That's a little over 1% of your 5.6K of rep.

I know it stings, but it's for the betterment of the site as a whole.

  • please confirm that you do not understand neither the question or the answer. I repeat, the link is NOT necessary at all.
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:12
  • @BalogPal I completely understand both. Please read my answer.
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:12
  • I don;t care about the attached rep at all, it's a matter of honor and principles
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:14
  • 12
    @BalogPal I'm having a hard time seeing how this is a matter of honor. You are telling someone else to read something and think about it. That's like someone asking a physics teacher why a black hole does something and being told, 'Oh, that's in your textbook. Read it and think about it.'
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:15
  • @BalogPal: Someone probably flagged it as "low quality" and the moderator acted accordingly. You have to admit that it really isn't a great answer.
    – Felix
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:16
  • @Felix Personally, I would have.
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:16
  • 5
    That's not a summary of the answer. That is the answer in its entirety. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:31
  • @Bill Are you going to write something up? Might sound better coming from you than from me.
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:32
  • 3
    Nope, your answer looks good to me. :) Jul 2, 2013 at 23:34
  • @BilltheLizard Thanks!
    – Undo
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:34
  • 5
    @BalogPal - A matter of honor? Really? Are you a Klingon?
    – user164207
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:46
  • 6
    @JackManey Really? People put their time and effort to answer stuff here for free just to promote the ideal of good clean code and to promote coding standards to eventually better their work environment and their community. You don't see how deleting a person's effort might offend that person? Now I'm all for a high quality Q&A site, we have disagreements which are resolved here, but I think that comment was uncalled for. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:55
  • 8
    @BenjaminGruenbaum - What effort? The answer consisted of a link to Wikipedia.
    – user164207
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:56

Your 'answer' was flagged as Not an answer by two separate users and was deleted by a moderator.

Let's go over your protestations.

Your answer lacks 'fluff' as you said. In fact, it lacks just about everything that makes it useful. Another user already linked to the Halting problem, and without an example or any explanation on your part, your answer adds no value to the site.

Of course, that's a reason to downvote, not to delete.

It was deleted because it's not an answer. If you ask me, "Why can't pigs fly?" A good answer would go into lift, aviation physics, and ways to achieve flight for pigs (in a plane, perhaps?). A post that wasn't an answer would say something snarkily like "they don't have wings!"

If you add an example, or background, or anything that adds substance to your answer more than a link, I'll be happy to undelete it. Without it, your 'answer' is at best a comment.

Others have linked to a meta post that claims Link Only answers are bad per se. I claim differently. Answers aren't bad if they only have links (if they were, we'd have dozens of answers that should be deleted from just one type of question), they're bad if they don't answer the question and add useful knowledge to the site.

Most link only answers meet that criteria because they leave the task of explaining a solution to another person. If you've ever played a game of Telephone, you know how hard it can be to effectively communicate through third parties.

  • The "already linked" is not true, as it happened after my post, or at the same second.
    – Balog Pal
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:41
  • I'm having a hard time understanding how a good answer about how pigs can't fly would involve avionics. Lift yes, but avionics? ;-)
    – lnafziger
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:42
  • 3
    @lnafziger Sorry, was watching the first season of JAG while composing this answer. It was the episode where the cubans were downloading the avionic software from an F-14 Tomcat. I meant to say, aviation physics. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:47
  • Haha, I just thought that it was amusing is all!
    – lnafziger
    Jul 2, 2013 at 23:49
  • 1
    Your analogy is horrible. The correct analogy is not "they don't have wings", it's a marginally better link to the Wikipedia article on the physics of flight...
    – Wooble
    Jul 3, 2013 at 1:56

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