The question this relates to: Should we permit undeleting questions against the author’s will?

(Original title) A crime worthy of defrocking? Should we permit adversely reopening questions against the author's will?

This happens more often on meta than on SO, but I've seen it happen on both. Valid questions are being downvoted and buried because the OP is being obstinate, rude, or in some important manner problematic.

In that case the person who was asking the question chose to ask it in a manner which was not constructive and was more accusatory than productive. But the question is still important and worthy of discussion.

Basically, the root question had almost no chance of overcoming the pre-existing perceptions of the OP (which the OP did nothing to change).

What is the course of action here? I attempted to edit the title, but it was already at -8 at that point, and the wording of the question itself was inextricably steeped in the OPs particular oratorical style.

If I ask it again, it would (and should) be closed as a duplicate. Unless the OP votes to delete that question, which, if you're familiar with the topic at hand, would actually be pretty funny.

Related: Perfectly Valid Questions with bad wording and people jumping on them

  • Note: This also happens the other way around, Jon Skeet could give a mistaken answer and receive +10 (he mentioned this happening at least one), or Joel Spolsky's infamous Logo Question. Both cases of people pre-judging based on the celebrity rather than the content.
    – devinb
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 18:08
  • 3
    @devinb: In the case I'm thinking of right now, my answer was at least highly plausible - I suspect anyone else posting it (and doing so first) would have received some votes too... but I agree that it's likely that people are slightly less thorough when reviewing my answer than those of others.
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 19:13
  • That is a known troll @devinb
    – juan
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 21:11
  • I'm voting to undelete that question, just for the irony.
    – Ether
    Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


I down-voted it because I disagreed with the author's assertion that such undeletion was a crime, and further disagreed that an appropriate response was banning (or "defrocking").

I've been a bit preoccupied lately, but last I checked, down-voting stuff you disagreed with was an established Meta Tradition...

As for the author and tone, that's a separate issue. The system does offer tools to users and moderators for dealing with such problems. Whether they're put to good use or not...

  • This is exactly my point. Valid disagreement is key, however, the user cloaked the valid question underneath a lot of ridiculous accusations and "defrocking" suggestions, which I do not agree with. Would you say that the question I am concerned with (strictly "undeletion of self-deleted questions") is different enough to merit it's own question?
    – devinb
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 18:31
  • 3
    @devinb: If you post that question, I'll down-vote it as well, because I still disagree with the premise (that undeleting another user's question is somehow fundamentally wrong). But go ahead... With care and judicious use of the "rollback" feature on the existing question, you should have an easy time differentiating your own.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 18:34
  • 1
    ultimately, the "downvote" has been overloaded to mean two separate things "I disagree with your premise" AND "I don't believe that your manner of expressing yourself is appropriate". If someone had a bunch of good ideas laden with "I can't believe the morons in charge didn't think of this already" I would downvote that question, but I wouldn't necessarily be disagreeing with the idea. But anything else that brought up the same issues would be a "duplicate".
    – devinb
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 18:42
  • 1
    @devinb: well that may be, but there are at least two ways of handling the latter: editing and flagging. If you can edit a post into a form that isn't offensive but still gets the point across, you should do so (I'm not convinced this was possible with the question in question though). Otherwise, you can flag it... Disagreeable users have been known to... disappear...
    – Shog9
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 18:47
  • Are you familiar with Catch-22, lol, that reminds me of Dunbar
    – devinb
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 19:24

I see nothing wrong with questions being judged on their writing style as well as their content, especially on meta where people are a little looser with their votes to begin with.

We want people to get the message that crafting their questions properly is important to getting good answers (or in some cases, just getting a captive audience). Otherwise we only encourage people to be sloppy/rude with the expectation that somebody else will fix it for them.

By all means, help them out with some editing if you're feeling charitable. That's fine too. But the downvoters are just doing what they're supposed to, marking poor questions as poor. And much of the time, it's the low score that seems to trigger the pity instinct for certain people to edit, so in the long run, they may actually be helping the OP.

  • My question here in particular, is what do I do if I want to know the answer, or on meta, I support the feature request but I do not support the manner with which he approached it.
    – devinb
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 21:59

Only two out of the five answers on that question actually take a stab at the author. Both of them only do so after addressing a valid question (the actual question as well as a sub-question of "why was my question undeleted?"). The other three focus entirely on answering valid questions. Five on-topic answers is a very good turn out for a serious question. I'm not really seeing what is the problem here.

If this is a problem with the votes... then it's really the same as repairing any valid question that was just phrased poorly or difficult to understand. You can just edit it and hope for the best, nothing more than that. I don't think a confrontational personality has seriously interfered with the capacity of people to recognize a real question and answer it. At least, no more than lack of information or poor formatting ever has.

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