I recently posted a pithy answer to this question Does the "gradual brain replacement" thought experiment prove consciousness is independent of substrate?

The answer was entirely apropos the question, and was evidently appreciated by other members of the site, as it quickly gather more than 30 upvotes. I was surprised, then, that the answer was converted to a comment. See Does the "gradual brain replacement" thought experiment prove consciousness is independent of substrate?

On what grounds was that justified? There is nothing in the guidelines that says an answer cannot be short. Conversely, there are guidelines that say comments should not be used to answer a question, so by converting my answer to a comment the site's own guidelines have been breached! It seems to me that the conversion was motivated by some kind of petty spite. I don't mind the loss of the reputation, but I would appreciate an explanation.

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    Please put the question (if not the comment as well) as a link. (You can get the comment link by right-clicking on the time-stamp next to the comment)
    – Rushi
    Apr 6 at 6:29
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    @Rushi many thanks for the advice. Links now inserted as you suggested. Apr 6 at 6:59
  • @MarcoOcram From the "Moderator philoophy page" comes this: Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you've taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies... and this... Your goal is to guide the community with gentle -- but firm -- intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions... I think it is good they have goals. Apr 7 at 10:41

5 Answers 5


I'd like to add:

This answer was converted to this comment

The conversion truncates the comment not just mid-sentence but mid-word!!

While these conversions are ultimately up to the mods, may I request that they not totally garble the answer?

  • I agree that this should not have been converted to a comment due to the reasons you mention. It did not answer the question either, though, so it should have simply been deleted. The conversion happened due to the flag saying this should be a comment, with which I do not agree.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 6 at 7:28
  • @PhilipKlöcking Ive added an endnote that makes clear why this is an answer to the question
    – Rushi
    Apr 6 at 9:04
  • Comment has a limit of 600 characters. More than that, it will automatically be truncated.
    – Andrew T.
    Apr 10 at 4:11
  • @AndrewT. I know. But I didnt write a comment. I wrote an answer [If you're addressing that ot me] If to Phillip then I guess he should know given he's a mod 😇
    – Rushi
    Apr 10 at 4:12
  • I meant, both Philip and I referred to the original answer that got converted to a comment, not your answer on meta. My comment was intended as an additional information to those who don't know how the conversion works.
    – Andrew T.
    Apr 10 at 4:15
  • @AndrewT. You make it sound as though its an automatic/bot process. But its clear that the answer has some 7-8 paragraphs one with a number of bullets. Its obviously not going to convert. I guess you cant see the answer so the point is not clear??
    – Rushi
    Apr 10 at 4:26

I remember reading the answer of @MarcoOcram Does the "gradual brain replacement" thought experiment prove consciousness is independent of substrate? to causative's question. It took me a few seconds to understand Marco’s answer. The answer is succint. I think it is correct and helpful. It shows once again: Concerning a philosophical question one does not necessarily have to take the questioner's point of view. I think it is an error that a moderator downgraded Marco's answer to a comment.

  • Yet, the system asks that "correct" answers are not merely stated but also explained, at least a bit. This does not exclude brevity.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 7 at 7:55

I think we could agree that this hardly is how answers should be written:

State any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

It is a mere statement, a fleeting thought, without any explanation or justification. I suspect that, without the upvotes, the system would have rightfully flagged it automatically as low-quality.

Thus, it fits more being a comment than an answer. The upvotes do not change that. It is bad enough people vote following their bias instead of according to quality.

Thus, even if it was not me who handled the flag, I completely agree with how it was handled.

I should, maybe, point out that in 99.9% of the cases where answers are converted to comments, it is due to the flag saying this should be a comment. If a mod agrees with the flag, the conversion happens automatically. It can happen that, not paying full attention, a moderator thinks it should (only) be deleted due to its quality and does not realise the "should be a comment" part of the flag. Then, these conversions happen without intent of the mod.

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    But you are missing my point. Regardless of whether you think it was a good or bad answer, it was an answer, and answers do not belong in comments. If your criterion for converting an answer to a comment is that the answer is bad, then half of the answers on this site ought to be comments. As for the mere fleeting thought, I assure you that I considered the question carefully before answering it. Others who commented on my answer made the point that a terse response was all the question deserved. My making the answer terse was the result of a deliberate judgement. Apr 6 at 7:54
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    The history of philosophy is full of points made well because they were made pithily. Consider 'I refute it thus'. Apr 6 at 7:56
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    @MarcoOcram According to the idea of the site, the right way to go would be voting to close these questions instead of littering the site with this kind of content. No matter how much I agree with the content of your post, it still should never have been posted as an answer. The fact that this is true for about 95% of the daily posts does not change this.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 6 at 11:10
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    @PhilipKlöcking Since his answer had 30+ upvotes... perhaps BEFORE deleting it, converting it to comment, possibly truncating it in the process making it a garbage comment anyways... Wouldn't it be "nice" and "respectful" and "helpful" and "community and product oriented and beneficial"... to communicate with the user, point out flaws or weaknesses, offer suggested improvements, what it might take to make it "not disagreeable to the point of deletion". Maybe whoever did the deleting should reread the tour, and intro, and code of conduct, and other material Philosophy.SE says to the public. Apr 6 at 21:07

EDIT: Without other prompting, the situation has been rectified. And graciously so. My shatter trust in authority figures has been somewhat restored.

Thank you SE.Philosophy moderation team.

ORIGINAL -----------------

I too had an answer with 30+ upvoted get deleted, converted to commented (which truncated it).

No communication that it may happen. No message of comment indicating a flaw that might result in deletion, but could get fixed.

No helpful suggestions.

No notification of why it was deleted and converted to comment.

And as far as I can tell, by an individual mod, not a group or vote or collaborative choice.

If the words that Philosophy.SE publishes are true, then something is wrong with the way curation is occuring.

From Philsophy.SE

Have fun. Be polilte. Be civil. Always a real human being on the other end.

Is FAR-removed from deleting answers without reason or notification or warning or suggestion for improvement.

Current curation process fails simple "be civil" watermark.

And is way below...

enter image description here

And if these published words are truly a goal...


Then it seems to me, there is something wrong with the system.

enter image description here

Not to claim that the answer is great...

But in a world where we are being "nice, kind, welcoming, understanding of various levels of experience and expertise/=, encouraging feedback, and edit, and improve, and helpful"...

... deletion/ conversion to truncated comment...

Oy vey.

  • Oh please. To cite our help center: "Answer posts that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed." You cannot expect to have anything been kept here just because it won a popular vote in a Hot Network Question, where any reasonable post will get loads of upvotes, even if it does not answer the question. This is not a forum, answers are supposed to be based on expert knowledge in the field of philosophy here and should reflect exactly that.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 7 at 5:51
  • It's also a difference whether we speak about new members or someone who should know better. I, for one, take that into account when deleting, ie. I usually leave an explanatory comment under at least one of their posts (they typically post several low quality answers in a row).
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 7 at 5:53
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    @PhilipKlöcking I did not say, and do not claim it is a great answer, or correct answer. I question why it was considered delete-worthy. And why so with zero effort to communicate or suggest improvement. And why so, compared to a vast number of other answers. And why so when it violates zero of the "grounds for deletion of answers" that the deletion-notification pointed me to. The question directly states... "A relevant related discussion: Was mathematics invented or discovered?" and using a quote from SEP I directly addressed that aspect. Apr 7 at 6:42
  • @PhilipKlöcking This is the text where I got sent... 1. commentary on the question or other answers = nope. 2. asking another, different question = nope. 3. "thanks!" or "me too!"-type responses = nope. 4. exact duplicates of other answers = nope. 5. barely more than a link to an external site (i.e. the actual answer is not included in the post) = nope. 6. not even a partial answer to the actual question = nope. So what was the reason for deletion? Though "It was a Hot Network Question" is news to me. It does explain the higher number of votes... and perhaps "over-eager" deletion., Apr 7 at 6:48
  • Look, 1) we get almost 100 flags a day, which we mostly handle between two people who are just regular users with a regular life, which means we heavily rely on proper flags by the community and mostly only make a cursory glance whether it makes sense without being able to fully read through all the content, 2) deleted answers can be edited and flagged by the author for review. It's nothing final, as the linked site states, 3) looking at it, I pretty much agree with your answer and will revise the decision made by my fellow moderator in a second.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 7 at 7:52
  • @PhilipKlöcking Thank you. And... by including "I pretty much agree with your answer"... I would commend your response as "gracious" even. Per "Look, 1) we get almost 100 flags a day"... did my answer get flagged? Per "two people who are just regular users with a regular life". Yes, I can imagine the burden., And how some of it must be a waste of time. (Kind of like writing answers that get deleted would be). We might think twice about that when we delete in haste. Per "Proper flags from the community"... I don't hink of flagging. Didn't realize so much went on. Apr 7 at 8:38
  • @PhilipKlöcking Perhaps a remedy to help mods out with the burden of escessive and innappropriate flagging would be to remind flag-abusers who send in objectionable flags, "What constitutes a question or answer worthy of flagging". It might reduce time responding to objections from users illegitimately flagged. (I have written some stuff that from some perspectives would deserve flagging. Have caught myself sometimes, and reworded or deleted. I am trying to learn the rules, and follow the rules. BUT here is another remedy oriented thing... honesty. Apr 7 at 8:40
  • @PhilipKlöcking Cause look, 1) You don't preach what you want to practice. If you browse your own personal questions, answers, and comments in the Philosophy Meta oage, and compare what you (personally), want and wish Philosophy.SE to be... and compare that to the words that the tour and help and guidlines and obligations etc say... there is a disconnect. You (this is NOT judgement), want questions and answers between people wanting to discuss Phi 501 stuff and handling questions professionally, from Phi101 and up. With no "chatty" answers, or answers that are not backed up by citations, et Apr 7 at 8:44
  • @PhilipKlöcking but that is NOT the message that your public facing text sends. If the public facing text was more a reflection of the sentiments of the mods, in the Meta room... I think you would have less yahoos and ametuers unknowingly stressing your system... because they believed the preaching "Welcome all"... and haven't read the "Wouldn't it be nice if only seasoned, eductaed, experienced, professional, academic philsophers would be here and not the others" that is said in Meta. Like I said... a "disconnect between wishes and what you advertise overtly". You may already agree. Apr 7 at 8:47
  • @PhilipKlöcking Sorry... when people express problems, I often get into "sovle the problem" mode.. and that makes my brain fire, and I get over chatty. Desisting. Excuse the excess. Trying to help you. Sorry, I am sure you didn't mean to express a need for assistance. P.S. am going to self delete 10 unworthy answers of mine own, since I do now know better and am trying harder... to pay penance for taking your time up. Cheers. Apr 7 at 8:49
  • Did 13 deletions of "Nope, the moderators wouldnt wish for this to exsit" answers. Apr 7 at 9:16
  • @PhilipKlöcking a week later, having seen what comes through the pipes from the perspective of "we get 100 notifications a day to process"... and understanding better now than before what the hope is for the overall SE.Philosophy site... I would say a couple of things... I greatly empathize with you. But also... I can't see how it will significantly change, seems like trying to light a match in a rainstorm. Apr 14 at 2:28

I am conflicted on this:

On the one hand I am with Phil Klöcking's conversion-to-comment for this answer.

On the other, there are some really exceptional answers strewn all over phil-SE, hiding in comments.

This latter itself happens because of a conflict:

  • Rule: Comments are for clarifications, not for answers or general chatting
  • Directive: Answers should have at least some minimum substance

Unfortunately, the directive wins over the rule!

And on the third hand(!): For answers too large for such conversion, some other option needs be found

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