Recently I've been approached by a moderator, telling me

you have no right to tell people to delete their questions, comments or answers.

Most of time I tell to delete the answer, here are some recent examples:

I am also telling people to delete the question as well, if it turns out to be off topic, as the OP could do it single-handed, while you scarcely can get the question closed/deleted the regular way. Here is a recent example as well

PDO call MySQL stored procedure

Honestly, I had no idea I have no right to tell people so. I have a honest impression that bad answers, as well as off topic questions are better to be deleted. Why can't I tell someone to delete their question, comment or answer?

  • 9
    Advising other users of how they can constructively improve their posts is more than welcome. Courteously and professionally advising others of why their solution may be wrong and even unsalvageable is also fine. That's not what you did. What you did was order people to delete their content, using rude and belittling language, in many now deleted comments. If you can't contribute constructively, we cannot accept your contributions.
    – user229044
    Apr 4, 2018 at 18:20
  • 1
    One cannot improve an essentially wrong answer. All they can do is to duplicate an existing answer, which itself is a reason to delete Apr 5, 2018 at 4:59

3 Answers 3


As you insist on dragging this out into public, and people have already put time into talking about it (I was just going to delete this rant) ...

No, it's not okay to bully people. Telling someone to delete their contribution is just being rude. Nicely pointing out what's wrong with it can be constructive if you consider the person's feelings.

And as inconvenient as it might be to you, people have feelings, and you need to be more careful with them.

I'm, at this point, sick of explaining to you why your behavior isn't welcome here, as are the moderators. If you think the site is so riddled with problems, or so irredeemable, or so annoying or offensive to the general sensibilities that shape your daily experience ...


If one, and I mean one more moderator has to waste time dealing with you again, leaving will no longer be a choice you can opt to not take.

I can't put it any more clearly. We're no longer having a conversation because we're tired of listening to you. Only your actions will be considered going forward.

  • 4
    I see. Stack Overflow is about feelings, not knowledge. You made it essentially hypocritical site, claiming it is "not a forum" by your empty declarations, but having it a forum de facto, with thousands OT and dupe posts a day, each an easy prey for rep-whores looking for typos and coming up with wild guesses. That makes a mayhem of a site with no way to put it in order knowledge-wise, so all your poor moderators are left to do is to keep politesse. There are other sites on the network where moderators don't have any complaints. Think of it. Isn't there your part in this situation as well. Apr 5, 2018 at 8:18
  • To make it clear: I do not deny the fact I misbehave. Too much incompetence is driving me nuts, that's true. It's a cumulative effect. I can explain a folly or two all right, and can do it much better than most people and you know it. But when I get surrounded by incompetence from every direction and get no help the authorities but only "none of your business" suggestions, it goes out of control. So I do agree that it's not ok to bully people. Make SO less attractive for the answers out of nowhere and quality control better than current ochlocracy and there will be less problems with politesse Apr 5, 2018 at 9:11
  • I would vote this up until about 3 years ago when I figured that all these talks about feelings and niceness are accompanied by permanently ignoring embarrassment of core group users. "Yeah we make it easier for low quality content flood the site and you just have to learn to live with it and keep being nice" (that said @Your advising deletion is too tedious to do right because too many categories of users simply can't do that, starting from those on mobile. I for one don't do this because I don't want to waste time on checking and tracking)
    – gnat
    Apr 5, 2018 at 13:16
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    I've upvoted your answer here @Tim, because I've seen @YCS failing that many times at MSO with publishing their opinions at MSO. But TBH, leaving them with the statement LEAVE., isn't very much better than what you're claiming now is annoying about them. I'm well aware, that there might have been a number of discussions between (SO) site moderators, before taking the decision to ban YCS for a year (not to mention that the user name is a provocation at all). Hypocrisy in terms of just serving "Joel Spolsky" 's business needs, might be a serious point, which needs discussion. Apr 5, 2018 at 21:55
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    @πάνταῥεῖ keep in mind that's not the first time YCS is suspended. I think he got that at least twice before, and always came back just to repeat the same rude behavior. At some point, even the most patient people lose their patience. Apr 5, 2018 at 23:06
  • @Shadow I do not "come to repeat the rude behavior". Saying that would be a blatant slander and dishonesty. You have a biased view, which could be understood as you only meet me in certain circumstances, but in reality it's not what I am coming for. What I am coming for is to help people, and I can assure you, there are a hundredfold more satisfied people than ones who felt insulted or pretended so. Whatever rudeness is a slipping, not a purpose. Please keep that in mind. Apr 6, 2018 at 3:50
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    @YourCommonSense that’s part of the problem though - helping 100 people doesn’t excuse insulting or being rude to the 101st. There are plenty of similarly passionate people frequenting the network, equally frustrated with the perceived state of things, also helping hundreds of people, that aren’t semi-regularly brought to task for their treatment of other users. Your knowledge, experience and what seems to be dedication mean you’re potentially one of the top assets SO could have. Why can’t you just play nice too? Then you’d be the full package
    – Clive
    Apr 6, 2018 at 6:44
  • @Clive, nowhere did I say it does excuse. I just pointed out that saying I am coming for being rude is not a correct statement. As to whether I can be nice boils down to "we will keep the site this way and you either live thith it or leave". I would have think of cooperation if there was a hint from the site management they will too. Apr 6, 2018 at 7:52
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    Nope, not buying it. The choice to be nice lies entirely with you, just like everybody else here. You can dislike policies, you can dislike individuals, but you can’t respond to that by lashing out at strangers. Your actions are your responsibility. Not the staff, not the moderators, not the people who post bad content. Just yours. The attitude of I’ll be nice if you do what I want, but I won’t otherwise, is not one that belongs in civilised society, and frankly you only have yourself to blame for how this has ended up
    – Clive
    Apr 6, 2018 at 8:36
  • @Clive I agree with you on that. I should have said "As to whether I plan to participate on this site...". And may be add that making the rules less ambiguous and less mutual exclusive would soften the tensions as well. Apr 6, 2018 at 13:11

I think we can sometimes help new users understand how things work here, and explain to them it is better to delete an obvious wrong or 'NAA' answer.

I don't think it is necessary to do so on a large scale. A heavily down-voted question could count as a reason to advise deletion.

In one of the answers you linked, the user thinks the answer is okay, and with a score of +7/-6 it seems that the community is divided, but in favor of the answer. I think advising to delete is wrong here. It is unnecessary and not your responsibility to do so.

If you technically disagree, just downvote and move on. The voting itself should be a strong enough message you think the answer should go. There is no need for a comment telling so.

  • 1
    The problem with some answers there, they are heavily upvoted... Apr 4, 2018 at 9:49
  • 4
    Then you disagree with the majority (maybe you are right, maybe not). Then still you should not advise to delete. Apr 4, 2018 at 9:49
  • There is no "may be". When I have no idea on the matter, I just keep my mouth shut. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:01
  • 4
    Then just downvote, comment the answer is wrong and why and move on. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:01
  • 1
    Now please delete your comment because it is wrong (pun intended) Apr 4, 2018 at 10:02
  • Ok I see. The usual I don't care attitude. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:08
  • 9
    It seems you have the "I am always right" attitude. Sometimes you're wrong. There is no point in arguing, so please let's don't do that. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:09
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    @YourCommonSense it has everything to do with the question asked. Since you're not always right, and since you ask about posts having upvotes which means other users think in a different way than you, it is not OK to tell the author of that post to delete it just because you think it is wrong. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:15
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    @YourCommonSense and yet again, you assume you're the only one who has sense, and all others are stupid. You have full right to think this way, but when it slips through to comments and come (naturally) as offensive, flags rise and moderators are involved. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:27
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    @YourCommonSense I leave an explanation as well. A sensible person would read and comprehend. you mean the ones where you call answers a hoax or useless (sometimes in all capitals), tell people to grow up or otherwise belittle the poster? Pretty sure they have been read and comprehended as rude - as they are. You can advise people removing a post might be a good idea but you don't get to demand it along with snide insults. Apr 4, 2018 at 11:37
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    @JonClements rudeness is one thing and asking people to delete their post with an explanation is another. I didn't ask whether rude comments are good or not, thank you for trying to help. Apr 4, 2018 at 11:41
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    @YourCommonSense I'm pleased you've suddenly become aware there's a difference between those two now. It's a shame so many comments have had to be cleared up where apparently you didn't. Apr 4, 2018 at 11:49
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    @JonClements that's the only job moderators have, so they shouldn't complain. Were they more focused on the content than on the politesse, thee would have been less rudeness as well. You are making SO a garbage pile and take a pride in keeping garbage in proper lines. Apr 4, 2018 at 12:19
  • 13
    @YourCommonSense "asking people to delete their post with an explanation" is misrepresenting what you were doing, and I think you know it. You were abusive and rude to numerous people, often telling people they "must" delete their answer, while calling their answer "fraud" and "a hoax" and accusing people of posting only for reputation, and offering no explanation as to why you were ordering people to delete their content.
    – user229044
    Apr 4, 2018 at 17:34
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    @YourCommonSense - You do understand that community moderators are volunteers, right?
    – Ramhound
    Apr 4, 2018 at 20:17

No it isn't.

I'm a moderator on a slightly smaller site than SO, and am familiar with the approaches and problems have.

I've personally been somewhat annoyed at questions that are off topic, or just bad. We get spillover from SO question-banned folks here and on SU, and I've never once told them to delete their question. (Before I was a moderator, I've managed to convince a spammer to self delete but on hindsight that was somewhat mean to someone who was probably just a minimum wage drone).

As a more experienced user - I've always felt there's an obligation to guide users towards the right way. I've never told folk to delete even explicitly off topic questions.

I have this odd theory that most community and human interactions have parallels in dog training. What you're basically saying is about the same that it's perfectly right to shove a puppy's nose in its own poo, for doing toilet in the wrong place. The right way is to show said puppy that there are better places, and ways to do things. Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement.

Back to people.

I've always started any critique of a post with "Welcome to _____", especially if it's a new user. I'd point out the specific places for improvement "this question could do with more details such as". In short point them at the right place and way to do things.

If I'm closing "I'm voting to close/I've closed this but you can improve the post". If I'm deleting I go "You can always fix these issues and flag for reopening".

At no point do I tell people "You must delete this post".

Looking at the other two posts here from Tim and Patrick, I'd probably follow up with another observation - that you need to consider the same standards you're hoping others follow - that there's not much difference between trying to deal with problem questions by asking them to delete and problem behaviour by suggesting the user go away until one can refrain from consistently problematic behaviour.

I do not deny the fact I misbehave. Too much incompetence is driving me nuts, that's true. It's a cumulative effect.

That's a sign you might need to decompress a little.

If you must deal with a tide of low quality posts - why not be constructive about it? Vote and Delete. Raise specific, actionable issues on meta. Work with people rather than wandering around the dark alleys of SO, pouncing on the unweary in an attempt to scare off 'undesirables'?

  • 1
    Actually, the last suggestion contributes A LOT to that desperate feeling. When you see your vote goes for nought, and never gets to delete, and when you see posts on Meta for ages, which everyone agrees with, but NOT A BLOODY THING ever done in practice, it drives you nuts as well. Apr 6, 2018 at 4:08
  • 1
    Constructive. I've had bad days. I've had days where I wanted to metaphorically tear someone a new one. I stepped away from the keyboard, walked my dog, played some games... I'd say that commenting isn't helping you at all, is undermining the mods and others and well,isn't actually creating the change you want to see. What have your comments achieved so far?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 6, 2018 at 7:44
  • 1
    Actually, some time ago I voluntarily banned myself from commenting. Got accusations of sitting a high horse and being contemptuous. Apr 6, 2018 at 7:56
  • If so... how exactly did the events that triggered this post off happen?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 6, 2018 at 7:57
  • Well, it's a long story. I've been suspended and I'd say it was rather justified as of recent I indeed allowed myself some personal attacks and unwelcome tone. I wouldn't expect such a long term though, especially given that some of previous bans weren't justified at all (it was like "OK, you're not guilty but we'll keep it anyway"). Anyway, it was not my concern at all. What caught my eye in the moderators message is a sentence cited in my post, and I was genuinely puzzled as to whether indeed I cannot ask someone to delete their question. Apr 6, 2018 at 11:54
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    Well, clearly this is a specific issue that you're expected to address in terms of "be nice". As a mod, I sometimes find people have problems seeing where there's issues and need guidance of a more pointed source. I do believe you're expected to cease since you're not doing it in a manner that the moderation, and I suppose community management team find is in line with the rules of the community.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 6, 2018 at 11:57
  • An I find the rules of the community a crock of you know what. So we sort of agree on that :) Apr 6, 2018 at 12:32

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