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I found the deletion of https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/68602/1570 to be dictatorial in a manner that discourages me from wanting to post here. Odds are, like any other addict, I'll be back tomorrow anyway, but just sharing the emotions as they arose.

Here's what I commented there:

@ModNameDeleted: The criterion for deletion is "not even a partial answer to the actual question" (emp added) I think my answer addresses two points in the question: 1- "The most lenient shita for a reshus horabim" and I brought two opinions that limit which roads. And 2- I gave a whole discussion of Ulla about how rare it really is. Although actually, I was trying to render the question moot, which is a way of answering it. – Micha Berger 6 mins ago

And due to length, I continued in a second comment:

Deleting that much work, which is still useful information (actual Torah), rather than just voting it down, was overkill and a bit of judge-jury-executioner. What's wrong? I put on deodorant today! (IOW, I see your heavy handed response as not only overkill, but I took it personally.) – Micha Berger 6 mins ago

The response was:

@MichaBerger Even if it's a rare phenomenon, one can ask about it. Even if it's not technically the most lenient opinion, one can ask about it. There is certainly plenty of info in your answer. I think you should go find a post to put it on where it fits. – ModNameStillDeleted 6 mins ago

I thought MY was more democratic than this. There were (at the time) no downvotes, no negative comments. MY is littered with off-topic replies, even un-Jewish ones, with votes of -1 or -2. Here I invested the time to write what came to an essay of Torah, and in under a minute it was deleted by one's person's say-so?

Why exactly would I invest the time answering questions here, if any one of a pool of moderators could have a different interpretation of the rules than I do and simply delete my work?

Would it pay to make meta-rules about how the rules are applied?

A suggestion: A moderator can only delete someone's work if they judge that response is appropriate AND any of the following apply:

  • the material is offensive, missionary work, includes words the FCC doesn't allow on broadcast TV;
  • the post is shorter than some cut-off length;
  • another mod was consulted and concurred;
  • there are similar complaints on the post; or
  • the post has a score of -3 or lower.

But something needs to be done to take the guesswork out of posting.

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    I think "answers the question" is a pretty clear standard, no? Related info to a topic, even if extensive, interesting, and well-sources, is not an answer. Answers are answers. – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 16:21
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    FWIW I take responsibility as the mod in question. I don't regret my actions. If the community disagrees with me we can always undelete. Part of being a mod is making decisions about gray areas and part of Meta is a check on that process. – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 16:23
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    The author asked if situation X exists today, I answered that situation X is actually far narrower than he assumed. I wrote thinking that's a partial answer. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 16:36
  • (BTW you wouldn't know if another mod was consulted on this or not. We don't [have to] consult each other in public.) – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 16:43
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    I don't think you could type that fast. The post disappeared within minutes of completion. But let's stick to the meta-issue, rather than the one example that annoyed me. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 16:45
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I'm going to add my perspective as a moderator who disagrees with how this was handled. I want to acknowledge up front that in matters of torah my fellow moderators are way more learned than I; I think of them as "learned" and myself as "not unlearned". They will see nuances that I will miss, for sure.

Now, while fluency in a site's subject matter is important for effective moderation, moderators are not supposed to be arbiters of correctness. We can't just remove answers because we think they're wrong; we, like anybody else, should downvote, comment, and/or edit in such cases. Moderators can act unilaterally if something posted as an answer is not an answer, or if a question meets one of the criteria for being put on hold, or in the case of offensive or spam posts or problematic comments.

@DoubleAA sees this post as being not an answer, one of the valid reasons for moderator action, and so acted. R' @Micha sees it as a partial answer and questions its removal. I, less learned than either of you, see a substantial body of work that seems to be related to but not exactly an answer to the question, that was mod-deleted within two minutes of being posted.

I think we missed an opportunity to resolve this difference cooperatively.

Our moderators clearly have different styles. Because of the substantial body of work here, I would have preferred that the first response be a comment challenging its answer-ness, with an NAA flag to send the post to the review queue. (The flag also helps moderators keep track of it; it says "there's a pending action here".) This would have allowed the community, including the author, to respond. With the post deleted, the author and 10k users can see and edit, but that's a small set of people. 20k users would normally be able to vote to undelete, but can't override a moderator deletion.

As it turns out, there's another question where this post might fit better as an answer. Allowing the post to remain in place for community review might have allowed somebody to notice and suggest that, and maybe the author would have then moved the post -- problem solved, no intervention needed.

I'm not saying that moderators should refuse to act and make the community handle everything; if that were the case there'd be little need for moderators. I'm saying that this moderator prefers a more restrained style, at least in the opening minutes or even hours of an answer's existence. I don't know how to resolve this difference. As I said, DoubleAA saw what he felt was a clear case and acted accordingly; I see it differently.

(I've discussed this with DoubleAA before answering here.)

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    My answer provides a counterpoint to some of the points in this one. I think the concerns in this answer are valid, though, FTR. – Isaac Moses Feb 24 '16 at 18:48
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    Note even if there wasn't another such question, you can always ask it yourself and doing so to share your research Q&A style is highly encouraged (there's even a user interface for it). No need for anything valuable to go to waste; it just has to be presented in our framework. – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 18:58
  • @IsaacMoses thanks; your answer provides a valuable perspective too. – Monica Cellio Feb 24 '16 at 19:36
  • The actual decision was a misunderstanding. I took it for granted that a question on site would be on-topic. I therefore assumed that despite protestations, it would at least partially answer the question to say that one needs to specify what kind of street before asking. Double AA (AAAA?) understood the rule differently. He could well be right. That wasn't my point. It just seemed abrupt to lose a post of that much work within about a minute of posting it. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 20:44
  • I don't think Double AA took it down because he disagreed with my understanding of the CI. FWIW, I am pretty sure he's mistaken on that point -- the idea that a wall cannot have a 10 ammah break is uncontensted since Chazal. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 20:46
  • But this is why I tried to close with a proposal that would slow the squeezing of the trigger. And hopefully without making the moderator burden unmanageable. After all, y'all are volunteers who make this free forum possible. I am basically a guest; even if one whose feelings were bruised. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 20:48
  • @MichaBerger thank you for raising the issue on meta. (And I see this was your first meta post -- welcome to this side of the site.) People are talking about it now; it'll take a while to see if the community supports any specific changes. Every contributing user is an important part of the site. – Monica Cellio Feb 24 '16 at 20:50
  • As Isaac Moses wrote, I would need to present both sides of the case to answer that question. It's a huge topic; as I said recently in a comment on a question about panentheism -- any good answer would need a binding, not placement on a MY page. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 20:51
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    Questions that require a book to answer are too broad, which is one of the close reasons. Please feel free to flag as such. (When you reach 3k reputation you'll be able to vote directly; in the meantime a flag sends a question to the review queue for closing.) If you can suggest to the author a way to break up or restrict a too-broad question, even better. – Monica Cellio Feb 24 '16 at 20:53
  • @MichaBerger A 10 Ammah break is certainly problematic at least Miderabanan but many hold it's not a problem Deorayta (see eruvonline.blogspot.com/2005/11/… for the sources on his side of the issue). – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 21:38
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  • @DoubleAA If you feel that the answer provided is valuable but misplaced, perhaps directly suggesting in-thread that it be moved to a new/different question (that they may ask themselves) to avoid deletion would prevent further issues? – Isaac Kotlicky Feb 26 '16 at 18:33
  • @IsaacKotlicky I did suggest moving it (albeit, in my second comment). Moving it wouldn't avoid deletion. Deletion is warranted whether or not it is moved. (I don't know if you realize but posters can see their own deleted posts still, so even after deletion he can copy/paste it to a different post.) – Double AA Feb 26 '16 at 18:39
  • @DoubleAA What about the deletion of comments that contain substantive material (albeit mixed)? – Isaac Kotlicky Feb 26 '16 at 18:41
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    @IsaacKotlicky How are our rules for answers different from anywhere else? – Double AA Feb 28 '16 at 0:31
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We entrust moderators with the ability to act swiftly and unilaterally to save the rest of us a great deal of trouble. Off-topic or unclear question-posts and non-answer answer-posts can serve as attractive nuisances that generate a great deal of activity that doesn't ultimately lead to high-quality Q&A about Judaism, which is what Mi Yodeya hosts.

In particular, a long, carefully-written answer-post that doesn't answer the question can attract a great deal of comment-discussion about ideas in the answer, unrelated to its mission of answering the question. In addition, the longer the post is, the longer it takes any individual community member to read it and carefully evaluate whether it deserves to be voted up, voted down, or delete-voted. Consequently, the very process of deleting it, via community action, sucks up a great deal of community energy. If a moderator has taken the time to read the whole post carefully and make a considered decision to delete it, that is therefore a significant service to the community.

Quick deletion is also, potentially, a service to the author, for, setting aside the sunk cost of time already invested in writing the post, the ensuing discussion and/or meta-discussion could require significant additional investment of the author's time, the product of which could ultimately get deleted, anyway.

Crucially, unlike on, e.g., email lists, most moderator-actions, including deletion of an answer post, are reviewable by the community and reversible:

  • Users with at least 10000 reputation points see the deleted answer any time they visit the question, can see it listed in a deleted-posts review queue, and can go see it if it's linked to in Meta or Chat. The post's author can also see it.

  • The author or anyone else who can see the post can appeal the deletion in Meta or Chat.

  • Moderators can undelete the post.

So, there's more need for rapid action than on other kinds of forum, due to our structure, and less need for early consultation, due to actions being reviewable and reversible.


I started writing this answer before Monica posted hers and am posting it, mostly unchanged, afterward. I think that how swiftly moderators should act depends on the situation and their judgement. Maybe someone else will write some clear rules in another answer, which the community will approve. Until then, it remains a judgement call for moderators, with some of the factors tugging in each direction expressed in Monica's answer on one hand and Daniel's and mine on the other.

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After reading your answer, it really does not address the question that was asked, which was,

Do any roads have 600,000 people pass everyday?

The OP even clarified in the question,

To clarify my question, I am not asking about any other one of the requierments for a reshus horabim, just for roads that have the capacity/travel of 600,000 people.

Your post simply did not answer the question. A lot of the stuff that happens on Mi Yodeya is democratic, but this is not a purely democratic system. The reason we have moderators at all is so that they can exercise unilateral action when necessary. In my experience, the moderators tend to act extremely conservatively when it comes to taking unilateral action.

It can be frustrating when a post that you spent a lot of time working on is deleted, but if we could simply post any Torah-based essay on any question even if the essay is only tangentially related to the question, the site would quickly become a mess.

There is a reason why you can still see your own posts that are deleted, though. If you think that your work aught to be recorded somewhere, find a question where your answer does apply and copy it to there. If such a question doesn't exist, you can ask it yourself.

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  • Here in meta I raised the meta question -- should it be that much easier to delete a post than what was spent writing it? Now that two people agree, this answer would have been killed by my own proposed rules anyway. But to illustrate why this system can seem unfathomable to a member: If the question as asked really was about roads rather than the halakhos of roads, wasn't it off topic? Why wasn't it deleted? I hope this shows how the application of the rules often boils down to judgment calls that a contributor may not be able to predict. (Even if you thought he should have been.) – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 16:44
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    @MichaBerger Questions about "general knowledge (science, etc.) as it relates directly to Judaism" are on topic. See the faq post: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1474/759 That's why I think the question about roads is on topic. – Double AA Feb 24 '16 at 16:49
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    @MichaBerger Such a question is not off-topic as DoubleAA said above; if you think a question is off-topic, though, vote to close it rather than answering what you think the question should have been. – Daniel Feb 24 '16 at 16:52
  • I dont see a survey of which streets qualify relating directly to Judaism. Knowing enough astronomy to explain tzeis hakokhavim is needed for that explanation. This doesn't match the example. Thank you for defending yourselves by simply not hearing me. I will try again: I do not care about the specifics of this case. I care about there being some system in place that makes it easier for contributors to guess what will be a waste of their time. Like making suggestions about rule changes that take an edge off mod power. Clearly was a waste of my time Reply all you like. I'm done arguing. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 16:54
  • BTW, in an email list, it typically takes one mod to reject an email, and that mod is typically forced to explain why and give edit advice (where possible). Here, anything could disappear any time. There are n mods, the voting is never closed, and it only takes one black ball to destroy the post. – Micha Berger Feb 24 '16 at 16:56
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    @MichaBerger How would limiting mod power make the rules easier to understand? If you don't understand a policy, ask on meta. I don't have a lot of experience with email lists, but the powers that moderators have here are certainly no greater than is typical for online discussion sites. It's not really true that one black ball destroys the post. If a different moderator believes that a post shouldn't be deleted he/she can undelete it. In any case, as I said in my answers, the MY moderators tend to be extremely judicious in their use of unilateral action. – Daniel Feb 24 '16 at 17:01
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    @MichaBerger plus, in this case DoubleAA did explain why he deleted it. Because it doesn't answer the question. – Daniel Feb 24 '16 at 17:11
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R Micha, I totally share the frustration because the same happened to me ... yesterday. I was in the middle of composing an answer to a question when the question was closed by a mod. I didn't understand (or agree) with the closure of the question and was thoroughly unhappy that my answer went to the MY-trash never to be seen again.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to challenge the closure in chat.

The advice I received then was to ask a new question, avoid the issues that led the first to be closed, and post my answer there. I did exactly this and my new question got downvoted because, no matter how I tried, I couldn't make it interesting (since I was biased from having an answer in my head).

I want to acknowledge that @DoubleAA jumped in to my help, heavily edited the question, rescuing it from the shame of downvoting and gave me a great tutorial in question-writing in the process. See his result here.

Only sharing this as (1) a possible way to channel your understandable frustration and (2) acknowledge a maase tov from DoubleAA.

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    +1 for the nice story. Ironically, if this wasn't Meta, I'd downvote and vote to delete. :) – Isaac Moses Feb 24 '16 at 18:49
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    @IsaacMoses luckily for me I'm learning that "meta is different" :-> – mbloch Feb 24 '16 at 18:56

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