Recently I've noticed a lot of answers which are correct - in some cases, I believe, even accepted - being deleted by the moderators (which means normal users can't vote to undelete them), simply because they're insufficiently explained.


In both these cases, a moderator posted a comment asking for an explanation of the answer, and deleted the answer less than 26 hours later.

Does the community agree with deleting correct answers simply because they lack explanation?

Obviously allowing unexplained answers could lead to all sorts of spam (e.g. look at all these, and even this!). I'm sure Puzzling has a higher quantity of such spam answers than many other SEs, and the mods have a big job on their hands to clear them all up. But should we make exceptions for answers known to be correct - or at least allow the answerers more than one day to explain their answers?

According to the official help centre guidelines:

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.

(And yes, I've seen this previous meta post on the deletion of unexplained answers, but my question is more specific.)

  • $\begingroup$ Could you include screenshots of your examples, for those of us who can't see deleted posts? $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Mar 10 '15 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JoshCaswell Both my examples have now been undeleted (see comments to Len's answer), and I haven't yet taken the effort to hunt out more examples. Nothing has been done to address the global issue though AFAIK. $\endgroup$ Mar 10 '15 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, oops. I didn't even think to check. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Mar 11 '15 at 8:06

Personally I support the moderators' actions. There was strong support for the policy of deleting answers after the user was given an opportunity to add an explanation. Following this agreement, the policy should then be consistently applied.

As described in the policy, the answering user (or any user with sufficient rep) can easily add an explanation at any time and flag for a moderator to consider undeleting. So I have added an explanation to both examples and the answers are now undeleted.

One of the first steps of a problem analysis is to assess its significance. Quite frankly, two answers (or even 4 or 8) is not "a lot". Out of ~4600 answers on p.se, this is an insignificant issue.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your feedback! Just a couple of things in response to your last paragraph. The two examples I gave are just that: examples. I've noticed this happening several times, but it's a hard thing to search for (deleted answers being, well, deleted). And I didn't respond to the November meta qn for the simple reason that (AFAIR) I hadn't even discovered meta at that time. I could post an answer to it now, but I doubt it'd make any difference. $\endgroup$ Mar 8 '15 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, this isn't quite the point of my question, though of course it's a good thing the second example has been sorted out. We could go on in this way, editing unexplained answers and then flagging them for undeletion, but this is essentially clearing up after the moderators, which doesn't seem like the right way to run the community! I was hoping for a change in the behaviour that caused this problem (or a consensus that it's less of a problem than leaving the answers undeleted would be), rather than a lot of work to clear up the effects. $\endgroup$ Mar 8 '15 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor - No problem ;-) Both examples now have explanations and have been undeleted. $\endgroup$
    – Len
    Mar 8 '15 at 23:14

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