What happened?

On April 10, 2019, a user posted a response to a Meta question discussing how SO might take action in response to the gender disparity in the programming industry. The post essentially objected to the premise of the question, and it was heavily downvoted.

A few hostile comments were posted on the answer, and Tim Post deleted the whole answer.

The author reposted the answer, with an additional note accusing the moderator of improper behavior for the deletion. This duplicate answer was (rightly) deleted, and Tim left this comment explaining why the first one was deleted:

Tim Post comment: "This isn't an argument we wish to give you a platform to make, and we have no obligation to do so. If you repost this, your main account will be suspended as well."

All links in this section will be visible only to 10k users on Stack Overflow, since the posts are deleted.

Not the Problem

I want to be clear about what I see as a problem here. So first, these are some things that are not problems, in my opinion:

  • Heavy downvoting. This is fine. Especially on a Meta post, the community is free to express their disagreement or disapproval of an opinion through voting.
  • Deleting the second answer. Deleting a duplicate answer after it has already been deleted is fine. This is standard procedure at SO.
  • Temporary suspension. I am giving whoever suspended this user the benefit of the doubt and assuming the suspension was for posting duplicate answers or for some other reason, not for posting the first answer.

The Problem

The problem is this: deleting an answer explicitly for the ideas it contains, and not for the manner in which those ideas were presented.

Why the Post Didn't Qualify for Deletion

I have ruled out other reasons for deletion. This is my analysis demonstrating this.

What does the post contain?

I need to provide some background about the post itself to demonstrate the other points here.

To begin, the post's poor grammar and word choice in the post suggests that the author's first language is not English. The less than stellar formulation of argument, lack of supporting evidence, and lack of... subtly or finesse also suggests that they may not be familiar with debating these sorts of issues.

I gather that their main claims were:

  • SO should not take any action to address the disparity.
  • Women's feelings of isolation in the industry are typically not due to how women are treated by men.
  • The industry is not fundamentally set up in a way that discourages women from participating (even though some sexist incidents do occur).
  • The disparity is due primarily to innate sex differences that lead women to prefer other fields or to be (on average) less suited for the work.
  • It's more important for SO to focus on sharing high quality programming advice.
  • It's more important to focus on fair treatment than on narrowing the disparity.
  • Women are capable of being excellent developers (Ada Lovelace is mentioned as a famous example from the field.), but most are not interested.

Edit note: I previously included "Some" at the beginning of the last point, but I've removed it as I've reviewed the post and determined I could not support the limitation based on the answer's text or the comments. That said, even if it were correct, the good faith assumption would be that it applied equally to men and women, not women alone.

I'd like to emphasize that this particular question is the wrong place to debate these claims. However, noting the content of the post is necessary for arguments I will present shortly.

I'm paraphrasing significantly, but that is because (as I said) the original language was poor. This is my interpretation, and while it is a fairly charitable one, I believe it is essentially the correct one. Furthermore, charitable readings of posts are encouraged by our Code of Conduct and Expected Behavior policies.

The answer was on topic for the question

Even though the answer did not give ways to encourage women to enter the programming field, the answer is a frame challenge. Answers are always free to challenge the underlying assumptions of a question.

Code of Conduct and Expected Behavior

The claims made by this post are, essentially, saying that there are underlying, practical realities stemming from our biology that influence the programming industry's disparities. Many users strongly disagree with this claim (which is fine), and some may even be personally offended by the suggestion. However, claiming that our biology influences our society does not, by itself, violate the Code of Conduct:

  • Claiming that biological influences drive the structure of our society is not insulting or belittling. These are not claims that any group is superior or inferior, merely different.
  • There is no name calling or personal attack. There is no attack on a group, either, as again, there's no claim of superiority or inferiority.
  • Claiming that biology influences society is not bigotry, either. Bigotry is disdain toward and rejection of someone. The idea that this represents some kind of disdain or rejection towards women is betrayed by the author's repeated emphasis that some women are very capable developers and expressing the desire to see more women in the field.
  • There is clearly no harassment in this answer. The author is responding to the question.

Nor does it violate the Expected Behavior:

  • Despite the problems with the author's presentation of their ideas, it is abundantly clear that they attempted to write them in a way that was as unlikely to offend anyone as possible. There is no disparaging of women, either explicit or implied, and attempting to explain their position (via the answer) is an expression of patience in the form of trying to educate. (This post does not do a good job of educating anyway, but again, that is not a violation that warrants deletion.)
  • The post is the author's honest opinion. They are attempting to provide a "better answer." That it did not succeed very well does not mean it violates the policy.
  • Signature and self-promotion are irrelevant here.

Whether the claims are true or false, merely stating them does not fundamentally constitute any kind of rudeness. Arriving at the truth of a matter requires stating controversial opinions at times. When the author demonstrates that they are attempting not to offend others, we should be inclined to assume good faith. We can then perform edits and offer suggestions, but there's nothing here justifying deletion.

Tim Post explicitly gave the ideas as the reason

Tim Post's comment explicitly tells us that the reason for deletion is for the ideas it contains and not wishing for them to be presented on SO.

What about the OP's behavior in comments on the posts?

From what I can see, there are three statements in the comments that may be policy violations:

  1. The first is a comment that notes "I just wanted to show that in these times when woman rights are excessively protected...":

    screenshot of Author's comment about "woman rights are excessively protected"

    In the spirit of CoC's requirement for patience, I interpreted this to be a language issue; as I said, the post's language suggests that English is not the author's native tongue. In context (of that comment and some others), I think this is trying to say that policy that attacks the disparity without regard to whether there are valid, practical reasons behind it are harmful, but it's possible I'm projecting some of my own opinions into that.

    If my understanding is correct, though, this would not be a CoC violation.

  2. Second is a self-deprecating sarcastic reply:

    Probably because my mother made a logical fallacy when gave birth to me.

    This might be a CoC violation for being snarky, but it's an extremely minor one that doesn't attack anyone.

  3. The other examples are on the deleted repost. One is a snarky remark about the deletion indicating that women are promoted by SO, and the other is asserting that SO's deletion is like "a dictatorship."

I wouldn't have a problem removing these remarks, as the last two are arguably CoC violations and comments are transitory anyway. But for the post itself, I don't see how they matter. In the worst case, comments might warrant a comment wipe and a temporary lock on the post. I don't know of any instance in which they would justify a full deletion of the post itself.

But the post is really bad

As I said, the post has some fairly major problems. However, those problems aren't a justification for deletion anyway under normal policy standards; they warranted downvoting. More importantly, none of these were cited as the reason for deletion.

This Treatment is Unwelcoming

The author experienced several Code of Conduct violations

A moderator called the author "narrow minded" for expressing these ideas. This is clearly dismissive and belittling language, rather than an attempt to engage in discussion.

Another user asserted that their claims are "borderline fascist", again clearly insulting language.

These kinds of responses are clearly neither welcoming nor patient, but none of this was addressed by Tim or anyone else.

Deleting an answer on ideological basis violates the Code of Conduct

Oxford dictionary defines bigotry as:

Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.

Deleting a post because it contradicts the dominant beliefs of SO's employees is clearly an example of intolerance of someone holding different opinions. Ideological prejudice is the worst kind of prejudice. It not only fosters a sense of disdain; it immunizes the prejudiced person against new ideas themselves.

Actively shutting down opposing opinions because you don't like them is anathema to making others feel welcome. It's also in direct opposition to diversity of ideas. Furthermore, no consideration for the author's obvious English difficulty was given, and no requests or suggestions to improve were made. This is not how the Code of Conduct instructs us to treat users who are unfamiliar with SO's norms.

I feel unwelcome

I'm a political conservative, and so my opinions will often conflict with the dominant worldview of SO's staff. I've been walking on egg-shells any time I express a political opinion ever since the "Time to Take a Stand" event. Even though this post is not great, seeing this reason given for deletion of the post makes me even more uncomfortable on SO. When on topic and I feel I can actually add something to the discussion, I try to make excellent content expressing my views, but I don't know when SO might decide my view isn't something SO wants to allow their platform to be presented for. I have constantly felt pressured to leave for years now.

When I first saw the deleted post, I was concerned. I wondered if it was deleted for ideological reasons; I've been expecting it to happen sooner or later since the Code of Conduct release, as I've read about it happening in other communities following the same. I was thinking of posting a question asking about why it was deleted, and then I saw Tim's comment. At first, I was angry, but when I started writing this, I actually got nervous. What if this post itself gets deleted because I repeat some of the post's claims? What if I get suspended over it? I don't know how SO is going to respond to me airing this. The CoC was supposed to be designed to shield people from feeling like that, not used to instill it in people for having different beliefs and wanting to present them for on-topic consideration.

Aren't you making a mountain out of a mole hill?

I don't know, but if it's still a mole hill, I think it's better to have this discussion now before it becomes a mountain. I don't want to see this expanded.

What Do I Hope to Accomplish with This Post?

First and foremost, sunlight. Awareness is important. Major issues like this should be discussed in the open.

Secondly, I want to prevent it from happening again. I hope discussing this event in the open will help dissuade it.

Third, I hope the original post will be undeleted. A comment wipe might be appropriate.

Beyond that, I hope to convince anyone reading to be a little more open minded to ideas they would normally be inclined to malign. Ideas like this are not the enemy. If they're wrong, they can be defeated with the truth if allowed to compete openly. The biggest enemy is tribalism, which is worsened by this kind of ideological filtering.

Isn't Tim Right, Though?

Yes, SO has a legal right to control their platform. However:

  • Their policies don't forbid expressing controversial ideas. On the contrary, they have a history of promoting them and encouraging users to discuss them.
  • SO brought the social debate to their platform, not users. They have become increasingly active on issues of disparities, and they have brought those discussions to Meta.
  • SO is an open forum where its community can discuss topics of SO's choice. Since SO has chosen to bring the diversity debate here, it is unethical to use their power to suppress the diverse ideas its community's members hold.
  • SO has a long history of promoting civil disagreement. This example is in stark contrast to that.

Final Thoughts

To SO:

The real test of your beliefs is not how you treat people you like and agree with. The real test of your beliefs is in how you respond to people who oppose you. In the past year, you have drastically increased your efforts and demands for courtesy from the users to other users. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your faith in welcomingness. I sincerely hope you'll take it.


Close Votes

It has been asserted that this post is a duplicate of Should we update the "Theory of moderation" blog post?, but it doesn't seem to address content based deletions at all. It is just a discussion about numeric quantity of moderation and whether phrasing in an old blog post should be updated as a result. It does not address the issue at hand at all.

should moderators delete bad answers? was also mentioned, but its answers appear to indicate that content quality or correctness should not be a consideration, which is the opposite of what happened here. So it doesn't appear to contain an answer, either.

Points in comments

If the answer had instead said "blacks rarely have the aptitude for programming", would you be ok with that? I can't see deleted posts on SO, but if it were merely a frame challenge arguing that biology isn't relevant, I expect it would have stayed. Saying that women's feelings of being marginalized aren't because of biology, and then using biology to placate or dismiss, is where I see the problem.

There are lots of things I find objectionable said on Stack Overflow. I try to respond to them on the merits of their point when I can, rather than demand they must not be uttered in any form on this platform. How you feel about something is less important than obtaining an accurate understanding.

"Some women are capable of being excellent developers (Ada Lovelace is mentioned as a famous example from the field.), but most are not interested." This statement alone is so wrong and hurtful it stings. Please don't believe it could be grounds for a meaningsful discussion. It's exactly the thing I as a woman in software development have to fight against again and again. Some women are capable means that most aren't.

Any idea can be "grounds for meaningful discussion," especially controversial or unpleasant ideas. The way they turn into meaningful discussions is someone responds with meaningful discussion. Presenting counterarguments is one way to do so. Meaningful discussion doesn't happen when a party decides not to participate in it, not when a particular claim is made. If you assert that someone else's claims "cannot be grounds for meaningful discussion," that is because you are choosing not to engage in it. While there is nothing wrong with choosing not to engage in it for your personal reasons in any given situation, there is something very wrong with asserting that your choice not to do so implies that the idea is not worth discussing at all.

Edit note: I removed the "some" from my post above that this post came from. However, the "some" that was previously there was not limited to women specifically. It was meant in the sense of "some people" in general, not women only. This is great example of how attempting to clarify someone else's position rather than attack them based on what you thought they meant would have been a productive approach.

  • 9
    "SO has a long history of promoting civil disagreement." It does? Since when? I seem to recall the discussions about deleting or not deleting old, useful, now-off-topic questions which was anything but "civil". Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:42
  • 6
    "SO brought the social debate to their platform, not users." That's interesting, because it was not a member of SO's staff who actually asked the question the answer was posted on. The user wasn't even a moderator at the time. So I would say that the social debate was happening regardless. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:45
  • 5
    There is missing context. Specifically, Tim Post's response on MSO. His original comment, by itself, yes, can be seen as bad. But give it the context provided, and it's far more reasonable.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:46
  • 25
    "Some women are capable of being excellent developers (Ada Lovelace is mentioned as a famous example from the field.), but most are not interested." This statement alone is so wrong and hurtful it stings. Please don't believe it could be grounds for a meaningsful discussion. It's exactly the thing I as a woman in software development have to fight against again and again. Some women are capable means that most aren't.
    – user204841
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 17:22
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Should we update the "Theory of moderation" blog post? and Should Moderators delete bad answers? which lead to Acceptable use policy, specifically the "Hate Content, Defamation, and Libel" paragraph (along with not being obligated to be a platform for the opinion). Those speak to what the OP defined as "the problem".
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 5:46
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA meta.stackoverflow.com/a/382762/50049 the edit history of the question this is an answer to contains a link to a screenshot of the answer.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 12:38
  • 5
    So, We'll be rather agressively pruning the comments here. Its not social commentary, just housekeeping - but feel free to post any substancial information that's of interest on this topic as a post. Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 7:23
  • 2
    No idea why it was reopened, but it's off topic here. It's about a single question on a single (meta) site and a single SE employee, it should be discussed there. Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 13:48
  • 10
    This post does not really pertain to one SE site. Sure, the problematic question was on just one site (how could it be otherwise), but this question is about SE policies and the behaviour of SE staff.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 9:16
  • 1
    right. We're bringing in unrelated events, and apparently bickering in comments. We've folks pulling in seemingly unrelated issues from other sites and We're having opening and reclosing wars. I've literally seen this question opened and closed about 3 times already. We might lift the lock early but a little time to decompress and chill feels like a good idea now. Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 4:03
  • 10
    (Bumped by an edit, I just saw this comment: ) @ModusTollens "Some women are capable means that most aren't." That's correct. Some men are capable of being excellent, and most aren't. That's basically the definition of the word "excellent" (as far as I can tell, as a non-native English speaker). If "most" people would be "excellent", then "excellent" would be "normal" (and the others would be "lousy", or whatever). This may seem like nitpicking, but I simply cannot understand how (and why) to take offense in such a statement.
    – Marco13
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 16:03
  • 6
    @Marco13 and ModusTollens I think my edit covers the issue well enough. Please don't let this turn into another comment debate like happened originally. (FYI: The only reason I edited is because I've revisited this question as a result of possibly linking to it in another post.)
    – jpmc26
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 16:11
  • 4
    I am a female programmer, and I would have upvoted the ideas in the deleted answer as described in this question. However, as we have seen recently, SE appears to place its political ideals above other considerations like freedom of opinion or even excellence in technical matters. This is a limitation of the site. And we all know what happens to sites whose users feel unwelcome and uncomfortable. Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 11:42
  • 3
    @Renan You allow this "oh we are better at it because biology" discourse that's not a reasonable portrayal of the argument in question, though (as crudely and extremely it is expressed in the deleted post). It seemed a lot closer to the "when given the choice, fewer women than men opt for a career in STEM and (none || only a fraction || not all) of this is due to discrimination" view. Of course the bigoted argument you mention exists, too, but it's pretty unfair to lump all these together.
    – Pekka
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 17:16
  • 1
    Same thing happened to me. I am a physician who while discussing statistical issues was attacked with nasty text authored by an abusive activist who found fault with the male/female division of data in the OP's Q. The moderator deleted those inappropriate comments, when flagged as such. The new policy does not seem to offer me or anyone else the same protection against impolite behavior as it once did. My post to that effect was deleted without comment. That is censorship.
    – Carl
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


I've answered this on MSO:

There was no discernable good-faith attempt at contributing to the discussion. Multiple users, staff members and moderators felt that the 'answer' was barely more than an incendiary rant, and I fully agreed. There was just so much wrong with it that it wasn't worth saving, and comments strongly indicated that any additional criticism of the views expressed wouldn't be met favorably. So, I deleted it, hoping that the strong evidence of contention, along with the down votes, along with the fact that it was removed would be sufficient.

I've been doing this for quite a while (8+ years), it's not a stretch to think that should have done it.

But it didn't. The answer was re-posted, exactly as before, and it was again quickly obvious that the person who wrote it wasn't interested in having a discussion about what was wrong with it. At this point it's becoming clear that they're more interested in the effect their 'point' is having rather than the point itself, so I left a very strong comment.

I completely stand behind all actions I took.

I'm more than willing to have the conversation you're seeking if it's necessary, but the example you cite isn't really passing as what I'd consider a good faith attempt at civil discourse, nor was the pattern of behavior surrounding it.

I don't delete things because they don't agree with my ideals, but I do delete things that fail to pass any reasonable test of being anything except an incendiary rant. Was the sarcasm just an unfortunate byproduct of not knowing quite how to express an opinion? Maybe, but the clear lack of trying anything different in multiple postings of the same stuff says that wasn't sinking in if that's the case.

No administrative action was taken against the user. They could go write another answer if they wanted to, but it has to be clear to more than just me that it's a good-faith attempt at doing something other than creating shock.

The post was removed for moderation purposes, and that's it. If you're reading anything else into it then the discussion needs to turn to how I might be inadvertently alienating you, and that's a discussion I'm willing to have, but .. this is not the hill we need to be standing on in order to have it :)

  • 1
    wasn’t he suspended for 7 days for reposting it?
    – Kevin B
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 18:25
  • 8
    My apologies. I did not know there was an MSO question about this. "it was again quickly obvious that the person who wrote it wasn't interested in having a discussion about what was wrong with it." This isn't obvious to me. The first actual suggestion for a change to the content I see is at 14:10 from Marco13, 6 minutes before you deleted the second post. Every other comment is disputing the claim, a violation of the CoC, or claiming that saying biology is relevant in any fashion is tantamount to calling women inferior. Is there more context I'm missing?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 19:41
  • 10
    To clarify, I see no good faith effort to help the user improve their post, other than Marco's comment. No requests to add sources or suggestions to reword. But the CoC insists that we do so. The user does debate back against a couple more reasonable disputes against their claim, but those look tame to me. So I really, honestly, actually am not sure what happened. Did the user get maligned and then fly off the handle, or did they fly off the handle and then get maligned? Those are, in my opinion, two very different situations, and I'd appreciate it if you could clarify.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:01
  • 13
    @KevinB - The suspension came from a community moderator after insulting and obscene comments were posted, not due to the re-post. I reviewed the suspension at the time, and I fully agree that it was needed to at least prevent things from escalating further. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:03
  • 11
    @jpmc26 One of the disadvantages here is we don't have the full picture. Some of the comments following the answer were ... even more abjectly disagreeable. We've trusted our elected moderators to make suspension decisions on the site's behalf until now, and I see no evidence why it shouldn't hold in this particular case, as stated here and on MSE by moderators.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:07
  • 1
    Right, so it was the comments, is that not "administrative action" that was taken against the user? I'm not claiming that's censorship, it absolutely isn't, but clearly action was taken and he wasn't able to continue posting there till a day or two ago. It's just not accurate, all I was trying to point out. sorry for not being more clear.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:49
  • 5
    @Magisch Tim's answer asserts that "any additional criticism of the views expressed wouldn't be met favorably." But I don't understand why they came to that conclusion. I see no good faith ideas for improving the post offered before the first deletion, and given some of the comments that remain there, it is highly doubtful any would have been deleted. The more respectful comments on the original post were met with debate, but I don't see any serious violation of the CoC until the reposted answer. So the evidence I see doesn't line up cleanly with making that judgement.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 21:10
  • 3
    @Magisch That by no means excuses the content that led to the ban, but this question is about deleting the answer. I see a problem if the user was judged as unreceptive to suggestions of improvement before any good faith suggestions were made and they committed that behavior. That's why I asked about the timing of the events. If the suspension-justfiying behavior came before the first deletion, then it all makes sense, and my assessment is wrong. If, however, the post was deleted before that, then it would appear the user was not given the benefit of the doubt demanded by the CoC.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 21:11
  • 19
    @Magisch As for why not trust them, SO has demonstrated that in political matters, they're willing to violate their own user treatment policies before and doubled down on defending their actions when it was made an issue.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 21:13
  • 2
    @Magisch (For the record, I'm not asking for specifics. Just confirmation of, "Yes, the user was engaging in the behavior that led to the ban before the first post was deleted," would answer my concerns.)
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 21:34
  • 8
    @jpmc26 - Confirmation already was submitted earlier “insulting and obscene comments were posted“.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 4:13
  • 6
    This discussion is over, even though I still believe what you did was very wrong and in contradiction to the ideals SO has espoused. But one final note on this answer in particular: do not mischaracterize my post as "reading anything else into it" when I literally took your comment at it's word.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 16:13
  • 3
    You should reopen this question. Twice it has been put on hold thanks to the intervention of two different mods, and not by five independent users. Please let the community decide whether the post is on topic or not. This post is important and relevant to users across the SE network. Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 16:37
  • 1
    ( @Mari-LouA FWIW, though, I do think this question is ultimately on-topic here, though its framing can obscure that a bit.)
    – duplode
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 23:18
  • 1
    I have been censored as well. This is not an open discussion format except for politically correct opinion. This constitutes a tort.
    – Carl
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 2:38

To address this part of the question:

  • Temporary suspension. I am giving whoever suspended this user the benefit of the doubt and assuming the suspension was for posting duplicate answers or for some other reason, not for posting the first answer.

I suspended the user. The user was not suspended for posting those answers. They were suspended for another reason, for actions taken after these answers were posted and deleted. This type of disciplinary action is private, so this is all the information being given out publicly.

It's perfectly understandable to try and guess when working out why things have happened. None of us like being in the dark, but it's not a good idea to assume about these things (I'm addressing surmising in the comments), as there's many actions that the wider public may miss.

  • I agree most of the details should be kept private, and I want to emphasize again that I have no objection to the suspension. The only point I am concerned about is the overall order of events, which should not reveal anything sensitive about the situation. Just to make sure I'm reading your post correctly: those actions occurred after the post was deleted, so there's no way they could have influenced the decision that the post was "a rant" or that it didn't represent a "good faith" attempt to contribute to the discussion?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 9:41
  • 15
    @jpmc26 in all honesty, the suspension is the user's private business. It is not your concern. If they were concerned they can either post on meta or use the contact form. I've made a clear answer there's nothing more to tell.
    – user310756
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 10:13
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 15:24

As a fellow community member who hates the whole welcoming debacle, I feel you. I'm right there with you, and I've been extremely vocal about how I dislike SE's current direction; it feels like longtime users are the enemy, not valued members. All that work to maintain quality, and...we're the problem. That sticks sideways in my craw, too.

When the next answer on that question came in (from Malco, I think?), with the text of that comment, I was also the one who interpreted it as the start of groupthink. I didn't condone the original answer in any manner; it looked pretty ranty, to me. But the precedent of deleting it with that kind of comment implied some pretty heavy consequences for speaking out against SE's company line. With the actions SE has taken lately and almost complete lack of trust in doing the right thing, it seemed like this was the next step in aligning everything into a more uniform thought process, and everybody who didn't like it could just take a hike. I fully expected the next day afterwards for the answer deletion to blow up, and that it was finally time to delete my SE accounts.

And, well...I was wrong. And I said so on Tim's previous post. With additional explanation, the deletion of that answer seems far more reasonable. I jumped to a bad faith interpretation, and if that comment was all we had gotten, I'd still stand behind it. I don't trust the company to look out for its curators and the last year has provided plenty of evidence to support that stance.

With Tim's explanation, though...I can see I was hasty. I still don't think highly of the company, and time will tell if the actions taken actually value curators, but in this case, I can't see anything wrong with the deletion. There's nothing wrong with discussing opposing viewpoints, as long as it happens respectfully and constructively. I don't think it's unreasonable to delete answers that try to push an agenda and dismiss criticism with more hate and toxicity.

After all, we do it all the time with new users here and on MSO. Maintaining that standard consistently sends a better message for welcoming for everybody, new user and curator alike.

  • 6
    To be fair, the debacle over the infamous blog post and "the tweet heard round the world" was, in my opinion, handled in the most clumsy way possible, and SE has paid a fairly stiff price over that handling. In retrospect, however, I believe that incident is not representative of the conduct of SE generally and its ideals in particular. For the most part, SE is, and always has been, extremely fair about how it handles such things, and I continue to place my (admittedly a bit more guarded nowadays) trust in their principles and actions.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:43
  • 1
    I also believe that it started a conversation that, while it made a lot of people uncomfortable, was a conversation that needed to be had.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 20:48
  • 19
    @RobertHarvey And the clumsiness hasn't stopped there; there's been major dropping of the ball throughout the last year, with very little to show for it from the company perspective. SE can regain my trust, but it's not going to be easy, because I want them to show that long term users are valued, not just keep telling us.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 22:11
  • @fbueckert - I suspect the major problem is that from a corporate perspective, new users are what generate money for the business whereas existing users are a (necessary and tolerated) drain on resources. It's not hard to see where they want to focus their efforts.
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 14:53
  • 2
    @Richard - Without existing users to answer questions there isn't a business
    – Ramhound
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 16:07
  • 3
    @Richard Additionally, without existing users, there's no curation. All you end up with is a dump of low quality questions, and the experts have moved in, and now you're no better than a forum. Like it or not, the network needs long term users. The business model just doesn't work without them.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 16:18
  • @Ramhound - Indeed, and hence why some lip-service is periodically given to try to make existing users feel valued.
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 16:34
  • 1
    @fbueckert Now that it has been confirmed that the user's behavior leading to suspension did not precede the deletion of their original answer, do you still feel this way? If so, I'd appreciate if you could update your answer explaining why. Do you think the original answer was inherently toxic?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 13:14
  • @jpmc26 My response came from the only data points I had: the comment itself, and the reposted answer. I didn't remember the user's name at all, and only vaguely recalled the content. I do recall commenting on their second post, although I don't recall exactly what I said. I was registering disapproval of some sort. I don't think the original answer was toxic, but based on comments there, it didn't seem very constructive at all.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 13:19

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