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I believe that trust in this platform and the quality and impartiality of the information it provides is very important. For this question, my assumption is that one of the things we want to do is to continue to build this trust.

In the world outside of Stack Exchange, we are seeing a general increased concern about the prevalence of misinformation, low-quality circular reporting, and threats against freedom of speech. People are also becoming more aware of the term "unconscious bias" (UB), thanks to efforts being made by organizations to include courses on the topic in their mandatory training.

UB training seeks to raise awareness of the mental shortcuts that lead to snap judgments

While Stack Exchange was born out of the needs of coders, it has expanded into many other domains such as medicine and politics. These are fields in which "right" and "wrong" can be less well-defined and where exposure to a more diverse range of perspectives can be helpful.

People unfamiliar with Stack Exchange may ask themselves, "How can I know if I can trust this site?"

Now everyone has the power to vote, and this is democratic. But deleting an answer is another way that an individual can put their hand on the scale. The fact that this power is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of individuals may concern some people.

Of course, what we want is for the "power to delete" to be used as intended - to maintain the standard of having high-quality answers on the site - and not to cause certain points of view to be favored over other points of view.

Let's consider some options:

Option 1: We lower the reputation requirement and increase the number of people who have the ability to see other users' deleted answers, comment on them, and vote to undelete them. This might improve people's trust in both the site and in the people who are empowered to delete low-quality answers.

Option 2: We raise the reputation requirement and decrease the number of people who have the ability to see other users' deleted answers. This might have the effect of increasing the rate at which moderators review posts, since they would feel like fewer people (and only people with high reputation) were overseeing their work.

We should also consider that it currently takes a lot of time and effort to earn the privilege to see other people's deleted answers. But there are many well-educated and well-informed people who simply cannot afford the time it takes to build the high level of reputation required to earn this privilege. But these people may still be qualified to participate constructively in the process of ensuring that moderation is both done well, and done impartially.

So, if we wanted to increase people's trust in the site, what would be the best strategy? Should we raise, lower, or maintain the current level of reputation required to view other people's deleted answers?

Note: I've done my best to ensure that this is an original question. I did some research and came across some related, but different, questions, including...

Ensure that users can access feedback on deleted questions This is about seeing feedback, not deleted answers.

Should under 10k users be allowed to see select deleted answers? This question suggests that a reputation change would be good for educating newer users, which is a different (and perhaps less compelling) argument.

Why should 10k rep users view self-deleted answers? This is about self-deleted answers - the point being that if I delete my own answer for whatever personal reason I may have, it should not be visible to anyone - even moderators.

Can we trust the impartiality of answers on Stack Exchange anymore? This question seemed to be directed at a specific layoff event that occurred in the past.

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    But deleting an answer is another way that an individual can put their hand on the scale. only elected diamond moderators can unilateral delete an answer. Users with delete privilege can only vote for deletion and then it still needs 2 others to agree with deletion.
    – rene
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:24
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    The fact that this power is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of individuals may concern some people. How many are there of that "some people" and where is that sourced from? Is there a site research that I missed? I hope that is not based of a tweet on X.
    – rene
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:26
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    I agree with the general sentiment that the ability to double-check deletions is useful, but the "options" feel rather extreme. "see deleted answers, comment on them, and vote to undelete them" is more than what is possible already (commenting) and goes well beyond the motivation (by extending checking deletions with reversing them). The second option seems to go counter to the suggestion. Dec 30, 2023 at 11:33
  • Feature requests probably shouldn't go this far out of the way to phrase themselves as questions in the title.... Dec 30, 2023 at 11:38
  • @MisterMiyagi My understanding is that at 10000 rep you can see a deleted answer. If you can see it then I presume you can cast an undelete vote. You would need 5 votes to undelete if the post was deleted by 3? trusted users. I'm not sure if you can comment on a deleted post at that level. But my question is meant to be about changing the reputation level not changing the nature of the privilege.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:39
  • @KarlKnechtel The question is tagged as a feature request. I'm happy to learn from you on how to come up with a better title if you have suggestions.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:42
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    This is not a feature request. It is a discussion (request). Charitably it is a feature request request.
    – philipxy
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:44
  • @philipxy It's a request to take a look at an existing feature and update it if necessary.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:46
  • It is not a feature request & should not be tagged as a feature request.
    – philipxy
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:46
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    And it's necessary because... You'd need to show there was a pattern of abuse first. Dec 30, 2023 at 11:47
  • From the deletion FAQ: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5221/… it will require three undelete votes to be undeleted (more if it's a question and it was popular)
    – rene
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:47
  • @RobertLongson This is about the trust that could potentially be earned if more people reviewed lots of deletions to verify that moderators are being impartial, and not using their power to delete certain posts based on what they say.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 11:53
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    One activist's "suppression due to unconscious bias" is another's "necessary action against misinformation". Dec 30, 2023 at 11:59
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    I don't know why viewing other people's deleted questions and answers (other than spam) has been made a privilege requiring a rather high rep. It seems fairly benign to me. The act of voting to delete and undelete should require higher rep. because of the potential for abuse. Jan 1 at 20:02

1 Answer 1

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We determine that you are

qualified to participate constructively in the process of ensuring that moderation is both done well, and done impartially.

By dint of you participating in the site positively and thereby gaining the necessary reputation to do so. If we don't use that measure what should we use instead?

This question seems to assume that only moderators and high reputation users can view deleted questions and answers but that's not true.

You can always see your own deleted questions and answers regardless of reputation so if you believe one has been deleted unfairly you can raise it on the site meta and if that's deleted without discussion you can use contact us to contact staff. This question doesn't really demonstrate that there's an actual problem that needs solving.

I certainly have seen spammers complain on site metas that their spam has been deleted and seen such meta posts deleted too, in such cases I've never seen staff intervene.

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    @phil1008 Your question was to the community and this answer is, I presume, for the benefit of the community. Some people in the community prefer to read questions and answers first and then, maybe, the comments.
    – PeterJames
    Dec 30, 2023 at 13:03
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    @phil1008 Clarifying a question should be done by editing the question itself, not by commenting. For the record, I don't see which comments (either yours or Robert's) you're referring to, so either they were deleted - which is why clarifications go in the question in the first place - or your clarification wasn't as clear as you thought it was.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 30, 2023 at 13:22
  • @F1Krazy It looks like Robert Longson deleted his comment. My answer is still there.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 13:33
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    I assume he deleted the comment in order to convert it into this answer, then. So your concern is about being able to make sure that other people's answers were deleted correctly and not just your own?
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 30, 2023 at 13:35
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    Yes. I just edited the question to make that more clear.
    – phil1008
    Dec 30, 2023 at 13:37
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    @F1Krazy indeed I did. My answer includes the entire text of the deleted comment in its final two paragraphs. Dec 30, 2023 at 13:59

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