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I am making this post in regards to the ongoing delete/undelete skirmish (let's at least change the monotonicity of the use of "war"). The old version of the question is here, the current version (after edits today) here, and the answer here

There are two facts:

  1. The original post is of poor quality: it is a problem statement of various simultaneous problems, which shows no effort from the OP.
  2. Nonetheless, the post has received a very good answer, which is worth keeping (in my personal opinion) for the sake of future users.

As a consequence, the moderator team decided to undelete the question some days ago. The question was again deleted by two of the three users that had deleted it before. Since the question is already closed, I find no reason to delete it, given it signifies the deletion of a useful answer.

The mod team (more precisely, Pedro and Jyrki) have undeleted, locked, edited, unlocked and reopened the question today.

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    $\begingroup$ You should make a single thread to explain this kind action so that you can explain every actions in the answer. I (I think everyone else too) don't wanna see new threads to explain every actions like this. $\endgroup$ – Venus Dec 29 '14 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Venus I have thought of that too. I will decide eventually. At any rate, this won't be happening on a daily basis, or at least I hope it won't. I find it a bit unfortunate you don't want your mod team to be clear about their actions, however. Of course, I don't want to explain every single thing I do to users either, but some sitations (like the still unresolved PSQ dilemma) seem to call for explanations. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 29 '14 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ Even if there will be a single thread, occasionally some of the entries will spark a discussion which will be extensive enough to grant a separate thread. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 29 '14 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think a brief comment on the question itself would suffice. "Question is locked to break the delete/undelete loop". $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Behaviour Eventually, that will. I think the community needs to get know us new mods better, so they can later on trust our actions with us giving less explanations. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 29 '14 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ That makes sense. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ As a general remark it would be helpful to have more pertinent links in such posts. The only link you give is to an answer not even the general page; actually, I think in such case the version in question ought to be linked also, if not even the original. It happened repeatedly already that users were talking sideways as they overlooked on which version of a post an action was taken. This risk can be minimized by judiciously linking the relevant versions. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 29 '14 at 16:07
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For my part I will add the following hopefully clarifying comments:

  • The question showed no effort, and was a wrapper for five separate although closely related questions. I believe that the community at large disproves of questions of this type.
  • IMO the question was sufficiently non-trivial that many future readers will benefit from studying an answer.
  • I just edited the question in a way that hopefully makes it meet our quality standards by removing all but a single part, and adding details to that last part. I hope that the answerers will edit their posts to reflect this change.
  • The users who are worried about questions getting deleted CANNOT refer to this case as a precedent, and expect a moderator to step in on their behalf in the future. My personal advice (not speaking for the entire mod team in this bullet) is that the said users should act pre-emptively, and edit the contentious questions themselves.
  • The second bullet swayed me into action on this occasion. I also want to test, how the two factions receive this. Also I want to set a model example of what kind of edits will make a question palatable (assuming that this passes the test).

Unless we get other tools to stop delete/undelete wars (bar on repeat votes or some such), the mods will act by locking posts. But you should not expect all the contentious questions to all be locked in either deleted or undeleted state.

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  • $\begingroup$ "The users who are worried about questions getting deleted CANNOT refer to this case as a precedent, and expect a moderator to step in for their behalf." Why not? Is this not what happened? I don't understand. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 29 '14 at 9:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Najib: I meant that nobody should count on the same thing happening in the future. When called upon to end a deletion/undeletion war I use my own judgement. The next time a post may end up locked in the deleted state. I don't believe in precedents. I judge case-by-case. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, users can refer to whatever they want, and expect whatever they wish. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ I see, thanks. Another thing: at this point, wouldn't opening a new question and merging the answer have been better? The question is radically different from what it used to be, the question asker is long gone, and it has plenty of downvotes. (Also, I would have added in the question what a lattice point is, it confused a few people in the (removed) comments as far as I remember) $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 29 '14 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Behaviour: You're, of course, correct. Me not speak legalese. I'm all ears to better ways of phrasing this. Hopefully my intention is clear? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi: I added the definition of a lattice point. I'm not particularly worried about the downvotes on this one. Merger? Possibly, but that sounds like more work :-) $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: I had once suggested a wizard as the correct solution to resolve these matters as new users today live in a society of instant gratification. Of course, this went nowhere: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9640/… . $\endgroup$ – Amzoti Dec 29 '14 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ An interesting idea, @Amzoti. I will bring this up with the mod team. Educating new users is the best way to prevent these problems. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ Users have been conditioned that if they ask questions at the right time of day and get lucky, they will get detailed answers they can copy-paste right into their problem set solutions. As long as these incentives are in place nobody will pay heed to any wizards. $\endgroup$ – user7530 Dec 29 '14 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ Unless going through the wizard is mandatory until your questions on the site are totalling +5 or some other suitable number? Alternatively that you have earned 100 rep on the site (not counting an association bonus). Or ... Needs work! And assistance from the developers. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yes that would be a good experiment. $\endgroup$ – user7530 Dec 29 '14 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ If.............. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Some sites make it mandatory to scroll to the bottom of Terms and Conditions before one can click "Accept". And scrolling is all that they achieve with that. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 21:48
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Now that it has been edited to be reasonable, I would prefer for it to be unlocked and reopened.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, that was fast. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 29 '14 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ Ask and ye shall receive. At the risk of running contrary to Pedro's intentions I unlocked it. In the interest of testing how it is received it is, after all, necessary that users can continue to give their input. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is fast good or bad? =) $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 29 '14 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ Good for me. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 29 '14 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: I would prefer to receive a bottle of Glenlivet 16 (Nadurra). I can guarantee that it will be very well received. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 29 '14 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ Out of stock @Asaf, I'm afraid. I did get a 1 liter bottle of special edition of Talisker for Xmas. One aged in a charred cask. That is one serious flavor. Drop me a note if you ever visit Finland. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ Hey look, everybody, closure led to the rapid improvement and reopening of a question. Who'da thunk it. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Dec 29 '14 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: Pedro undeleted it and locked it. I edited and unlocked it. Pedro reopened it. Meanwhile, the question has climbed from -6 to +1, and André's answer has also picked up another upvote IIRC. Powered by my usual dose of naïve optimism I view this as evidence supporting the claim that EDITing contentious questions resolves problems. I also dream that this "proven" remedy will be adopted by those unhappy with deletions as well as those wanting to improve the content. Don't wake me up. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb I wouldn't say it was rapid, but it did improve. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 29 '14 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @PedroTamaroff Sorry, the "that was fast" fooled me. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Dec 29 '14 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: That was in reference to the speed of unlocking and reopening after I posted this answer. I answered at 9:46:31, the question was unlocked by Jyrki at 9:47:50, then opened by Pedro at 9:48:00. My first comment was at 9:48:45. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 29 '14 at 17:26
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I might take a controversial stand on this one. This is just my opinion.

The original question was a statement only question and should have been closed and deleted despite the existence of a good answer. As a principle I think it is wrong for anyone (even a moderator) to radically change the question without the approval of the OP. The only exception is if the OP included further detail in comments.

I think the better way to have dealt with this one would have been for a moderator to have posted the new question and to have strongly encouraged André Nicolas to post his answer on the new question. If not this, then I would at least seek approval from André Nicolas to move his answer to the new question (if this is even possible).

I don't believe it is up to the moderators to improve questions as was done in this case.

Granted, I don't think that the OP has been around for some time, and it might be unlikely that they would see communication from a moderator seeking approval to change the question. But, as a principle, I do think that it is important not to radically change someone's post without approval. Now the OP's name is attached to a post that he didn't make.

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    $\begingroup$ Upvoting this for bringing up a point I had forgotten. I do want to remind you about the principle that we do not "own" the questions and answers on the site. After all, anyone can edit them. Nevertheless, the interests of the original asker carry some extra weight. In the present case the OP was well served, but this was sheer luck rather than careful consideration. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Upon further reflection, I guess you (and many others) would have turned the thumb down on my edit as "too radical", if they had encountered it in the review queue. This is something to keep in mind. I did read André's answer, which was a big hint for me to leave the hyperbola part in particular. Not all contentious questions are equally easy to edit. That is a concern for future editors. Some questions may prove to be unsalvageable, but that should not stop us from trying. Also we should increase our efforts to educate the new users. Prevention is better than cure. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen "if they had encountered it in the review queue" may be correct, but if is the key here. Users with 2000 are trusted with the edit privilege and should use it for the benefit of the site. I see far too many edits on really lousy questions where the editor painstakingly typeset the formulas in a nicest way possible, ignoring all other flaws of the question. I'd rather see more edits like yours than that. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas: "I don't believe it is up to the moderators..." I think it is sometimes worthwhile to improve questions, and if a question is to be improved, it is up to whoever is willing to do it. It shouldn't typically be moderators (there aren't a huge number and they have other business), but may be in cases when they are willing and no other users beat them to it. I know that we disagree on whether it is worthwhile to do it in a case like this (I think it is), but I also wanted to point out that the ability to edit like this isn't special to moderators. I guess they want to "lead by example." $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 29 '14 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ As for approval: (1) the author already granted such approval for edits by posting the content under Creative Commons license; (2) they can rollback any edits they don't like. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 29 '14 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Behaviour: Certainly. I am not taking about there being a legal problem or a violation of any license. My point (that is, my opinion) is that explicit approval should be given. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Dec 29 '14 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer: I also think that moderators should have the power to improve questions. In this case, however, I believe that the changes were to radical. We are not taking about just correcting wording or reformatting. Extra material was inserted. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Dec 29 '14 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ All: I don't understand why it wouldn't have been preferable to just post a new question with the new wording. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Dec 29 '14 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas: An argument against posting a new question is that we would need all the answerers to comply, and agree to move their answers. Here there was only one answer, and contacting the author would have been easy. But that will not always be the case. I agree that merging would solve many such problems, but that requires moderator tools. Editing OTOH is a route open to all 2000+ members. I'm not saying that this is a compelling argument - just something to consider. Contributions from regular users are needed for this approach to work in a larger scale. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ Still. I agree with the sentiment that we should not normally make as radical edits as this one. Including the Pell equation was admittedly overkill. I like to think it would have sufficed to include a couple examples with the exact number of points calculated. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 29 '14 at 18:18

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