I was reading this post by Scott Hanselman where he points to a Stack Overflow question about the best comments in source code.

An individual posted this answer, and it currently has 281 net upvotes.

Three hours ago, the post was deleted by Jonathan Sampson.

My question is, why?

  • If you have access to the question, it might be helpful to list the reason it was closed. (It was closed, right?) – Andrew Grimm Apr 14 '10 at 1:48
  • The question wasn't closed, but it was locked (no new answers can be added). The answer was deleted; independent of the question. – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 1:51
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    Oh good, it's another moderator this time. – random Apr 14 '10 at 1:54
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    If only there was some way to moderate the moderators... – Jeff Atwood Apr 14 '10 at 1:56
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    I generally wouldn't bring this up; but this is a case where there seems to be no logical reason to remove the answer. It's valid, it's popular, and any of the comments could be deleted independently of the question. The only one I could think of would be if the original author wanted his answer deleted; but there's nothing with the answer that would require that, it could just be given over to the Community user. – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 1:57
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    Suggestion for a meta-moderator figure in 3... 2... 1... – juan Apr 14 '10 at 2:07
  • +1 Accountability FTW :) – Sampson Apr 14 '10 at 3:16
  • @George: Strange. I thought I got a "page not found" error. Oh well. – Andrew Grimm Apr 14 '10 at 3:29
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    I nominate George as Jonathan's "accountabilibuddy" southparkstudios.com/clips/155511 – raven Apr 14 '10 at 12:56
  • @raven LOL, that's funny. – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 13:24
  • @JeffAtwood There is, and it is quite simple. Since you say that "you run the site" and all that, let some of the top users and moderators get a share of the site's revenue. I hope I do not need to explain how that would bring in more accountability. Are you willing to give it a try? :) – Masked Man Dec 29 '12 at 18:42
  • @ap. Where did I say "I run the site?" I don't even work at Stack Exchange any more. – Jeff Atwood Dec 29 '12 at 18:45
  • @JeffAtwood I was not aware of the you don't work here anymore part. Regardless, my comment applies to whoever works here. "We don’t run Stack Overflow. The community does." Yes I know, you didn't say that, but you get my point. – Masked Man Dec 30 '12 at 7:01

It is arguably slightly off topic, but personally, I don't think it's off topic enough to warrant deleting.

The question is already problematic because it is a "list of best X!" -- so what difference does it make if one particular answer is slightly off topic? How is the question materially improved by deleting this one answer?

(I thought the comments to the answer were interesting and worth reading, so I'd even argue that deleting this answer makes the question worse.)

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  • +1 An insightful answer; I hadn't thought of the comments. – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 2:08

Undeleted considering the fact the "answer" (a comment, really) was provided prior to the date on which comments were included as a feature (to the best of my knowledge)...the user really had no other option but to comment as an answer.

question: What is the best comment in source code you have ever encountered?

answer: It speaks volumes about our profession that when asked about the "best comment", we all answer with the worst comments we can find...

I deleted it (after it was flagged as a non-answer) because it was a comment about the other users' answers provided to the question, and not an answer to the question itself. Uber-popular comments wrongly posted as answers are still wrongly posted as answers. Notice how practically every other answer contains an actual code-comment, as the question requested.

I wasn't expecting to be called out on this, but I will reverse the close if you guys feel it was in error. Thanks for bringing it to my attention though - I appreciate it when users help keep Moderators (myself specifically) accountable for our actions.

Don't forget, I encourage all questions regarding my conduct in my Accountability Request Post too.

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    Deleting that answer seems a bit like deleting any answer that suggests the OP not to do what he is asking, and instead <del>do something else</del>use jQuery. What draw you to that answer so long after it was posted? Did it sprang a sudden activity of off-topic activity? – perbert Apr 14 '10 at 3:10
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    @json The answer was flagged as a non-answer (which it was). If you look at the question, which requests examples of comments found in source code, you'll see that this post was not an answer. But, as I pointed out, it was posted in '08, before commenting existed, so I withdrew the deletion. – Sampson Apr 14 '10 at 3:12
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    FWIW, commenting most certainly existed by Oct. 8th '08... – Shog9 Apr 14 '10 at 5:33
  • @Shog9 If that's the case, I retract my retraction and stand by my guns that this "answer" should have been posted as a comment :) – Sampson Apr 14 '10 at 5:56
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    FWIW, I completely agree with your action in this case. – Lawrence Dol Apr 14 '10 at 5:56
  • Thanks for the answer. If it weren't for the insightful nature of Jeff Atwood's answer, I'd accept yours. The good news is that you have a chance to get a badge if you can outscore his answer by 2x. :-D – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 16:52
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    +1 for responding to this thread, -1 for "I wasn't expecting to be called out on this". – Ether Apr 14 '10 at 17:47
  • @Ether: so it's a net +.8? – perbert Apr 15 '10 at 21:17
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    @Ether: "I wasn't expecting to be called out" == "I thought it was uncontroversial", which is an important consideration when moderating: uncontroversial, often behind-the-scenes, work is often done quietly and moderators shouldn't hesitate. If they incorrectly judge what is uncontroversial, that's a different problem. – Gnome Jun 2 '10 at 17:17

Because it's off-topic. It's akin to a answer touting that using PHP is the wrong approach and the asker should use ASP.NET. It's an insight, but it's not relevant to the question.

That's my speculation anyway. I don't know why he chose to delete it after so long of a time.

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    I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems like 281 net upvotes disagree with you. The community didn't find it off-topic. – George Stocker Apr 14 '10 at 2:04
  • Depends on how useful the insight is: reminding people not to use regexps for parsing XHTML when possible is ok. – Andrew Grimm Apr 14 '10 at 3:28

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