The last few answers I have posted have been systematically targeted with deletion by a particular moderator, Keelan, after, I presume, his feelings were hurt. Attempting to discern from him the reason for their bulk removal, it seemed that he had a dislike for answers that were short and without references.

Ideally, answers should be concise so as not to be convoluted. References are used when the proof upon which an answer is based is too long to include within the answer. When the proof is contained within the answer, logical reasoning suffices.

Hence, why would it be correct to remove answers which are otherwise valid answers, but which are concise, and do not contain references, by virtue of containing the proof of any claims made, within the answer itself?

3 Answers 3


Thanks for bringing this to Meta.

We had received several low quality flags on three of your posts which brought me to commenting on the first to see if it could be improved, deleting it when it became clear that it wouldn't be, and deleting the others directly because you had made it quite clear that you did not intend to improve your posts on the basis of what would be useful for the OP. As a standard procedure, I had a look on your other recent posts after having received the flags, but fortunately most of them were fine.

However, that - helping the OP - is the core of what Stack Exchange is about. We are here to share our knowledge of a particular field with people currently exploring that field. There may be people who come to this question by searching, later on. Yes, ideally your answer is helpful to them as well. But we don't know where they are coming from and what they need in their learning process. What we do know or at least can try to guess is what the OP needs.

Often, "what the OP needs" is not mentioned explicitly. For example, I recall asking a question about Charles Taylor which was basically asking to explain a certain sentence. While an answerer could probably have sufficed with a two-line answer explaining in as little words as possible (thus making it ambiguous and obscure) what that sentence meant, virmaior wrote an excellent answer in which he didn't only share his knowledge of the subject but also explained how he would approach a question like this, which helped me in further reading this text and others.

Your answers fall in the category of strictly speaking perhaps answering the question that is found in the title of the post. But in all cases I doubted if you had read the body of the question, which provides the context. For example, your answer to Ayn Rand's Objectivism - Can an immoral act become moral? answered "Can an immoral act become moral?" in a strict sense, however, the body is actually asking if a theory of Rand can be applied in some scenario, and your answer did not deal with Ayn Rand or objectivism. An ideal answer would take the theory and use citations to explain that it can(not) be applied in this scenario.

Lastly, I'd like to quote a passage from our How to answer page (emphasis mine):

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

I hope to have made it clear that your posts were not deleted because of some personal grudge that I don't have, and to have given you a direction in which to go to improve your answers. If anything is unclear, let me know, and enjoy the site!

  • This doesn't answer the question. Brevity does not imply ambiguity nor obscurity. Jan 31, 2018 at 0:05

I'd start with reading the comments under the deleted posts. (You can find the deleted answers behind a "deleted recent answers" on your answers page.) I won't quote them directly, but the theme is that your answers are generally too terse for this site.

Philosophy tends to be rather subjective. There might be right and wrong answers, but, for better or worse, we don't usually agree on what they are. As a result, questions here tend to invite long answers. Good answers grapple with the question raised. They anticipate objections and "show their work". Otherwise answers are indistinguishable from mere opinion.

To quote a moderator on another site:

Unless easily verifiable, making a claim without clear authority is never useful, regardless of whether or not it's right. What makes such a claim useful is either:

  • referring to reputable research with verifiable methodology
  • laying out the evidences in full

If the poster is not able to produce proofs for any claims made in the post, those claims should not be made.

  • This doesn't answer the question. The premise of the question was that the answers contained the proofs without resorting to external references. Jan 31, 2018 at 0:06

The basis are the rules and guidelines laid out in the help center

I would like to quote this page of the help center. The articles of the help center are the basis of moderation, it's guidelines.

There, it says:

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

  • commentary on the question or other answers

  • asking another, different question

  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses

  • exact duplicates of other answers

  • barely more than a link to an external site

  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

(Most of) your answers follow a pattern of giving a particular point of view, sometimes explicitly only partially (if at all) answering the question without making that explicit.

The answers mostly read like comments. This is not what answers are for. They are supposed to be exhaustive and ideally - but not necessarily - sourced. That is what "fundamentally answering" is about, IMHO.

Long story short: The theme of StackExchange is "Experts answering your questions", not "Experts making (more or less witty) remarks on your questions". If you have knowledge to share, do so extensively, including where and how the person asking the question may find the key to acquire the knowledge and its context themselves.

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