Recently, I lost $60$ points of my reputation because a question was removed. The question wasn't a Spam, it was a simple question of fractions but useful for the OP. The question was

Determine if $\frac{k−1}{k}+\frac{1}{k(k+1)}=\frac{k}{k+1}$ holds.

I just want to know why this question has been removed. It seemed to be arbitrary.

Thanks in advance!

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    Your question was not removed by moderators, it was removed by users with more than 10k reputation. It had been closed for almost a month as "off-topic (no context)", and wasn't improved. Deleting is generally the next step. Saying it was "arbitrary" is a bit unfair. – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 8:36
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    Ok. This question was not improved, but the answers was useful. Why delete the reputation points acquired? I think it is not so fair. – Alex Silva Jan 21 '15 at 8:39
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    As suggested in some answers here, one possible way to go would be improving the question, so that id does not get closed and deleted. – Martin Sleziak Jan 21 '15 at 8:58
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    Frankly, I don't know what you can do to stop those bent on deletion. The usual objection to questions is that they show no effort, but this one shows a considerable amount of effort. But I wish you good luck. – Gerry Myerson Jan 21 '15 at 14:58
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    @Gerry and Alex: Hopefully you both noticed the effort was added after the question was deleted, by someone else than the OP, and this led to the question being undeleted and reopened... – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 16:16
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    @Isaac The rules are laid out here. The number of deletion votes required to delete a question is $3 + \lfloor (\text{question score } + \text{ top answer score})/20 \rfloor$ (capped at $10$). Here $3 + \lfloor (0+6)/20 \rfloor = 3$. – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 16:18
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    @Alex Great. In general your answers to closed questions are always at risk of being deleted, so I think it's a good idea to try to improve the questions in this situation -- everybody is winning if you do it. – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 16:20
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    @AndréNicolas It's a good thing the question wasn't improved simply by adding "I don't know how to attack this", then. – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 17:20
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    Another conclusion one could reach is that if there's no way to improve a question so that it becomes suitable for the website, maybe it's a sign that the question should be deleted. This seems like common sense, but then again, who knows... – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 18:30
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    @GerryMyerson "...I don't know what you can do to stop those bent on deletion. ...this one shows a considerable amount of effort." Speaking as one who deletes often: Sure, I delete questions with good answers, but I also try to improve questions if I really like the answer. If someone is upset an answer of theirs was deleted, they can edit the question--those who delete are also fairly quick to undelete. – apnorton Jan 21 '15 at 19:02
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    (Also, the revision history shows that Martin Sleziak contributed the "considerable effort" to the question after this meta discussion was created.) – apnorton Jan 21 '15 at 19:03
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    @GerryMyerson perhaps in the end it'd been better it stayed deleted, then. ;-) – quid Jan 21 '15 at 22:40
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    @Jyrki, my modest proposal: no question from a new user gets put on hold until it has been up for 24 hours. Instead, constructive comments are left, indicating the faults in the question, and suggesting remedies. Once such a comment is posted, no one posts an answer to the question, until such time as the question has been improved. If someone does post an answer to the question before it has been improved, others leave comments explaining why this is A Bad Thing, and are free to vote the answer down mercilessly. – Gerry Myerson Jan 22 '15 at 15:10
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    @GerryMyerson Everyone is already free to downvote answers mercilessly. They don't do it, at least not nearly enough to deter hasty answers. – user147263 Jan 22 '15 at 15:19
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    @Bill, since you and the-user-that-keeps-changing-its-name both criticize my suggestion, I have some confidence that I'm on the right track. I don't see either side winning the war currently being waged, so I'm proposing a ceasefire. It's a compromise. Neither side gets everything it wants; both sides get something of what they want. If it works here, I will offer my services to the UN, to mediate the Arab-Israeli conflict. – Gerry Myerson Jan 22 '15 at 15:26
up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is nothing to worry about. In general, if a question is badly written, has no context or shows no effort then you are taking a risk by answering it. If you are willing to take the risk (of losing reputation) then go ahead and answer it if you must however it is important to keep in mind the communities attitude to such questions.

They will most likely be closed. It is best not to write a really good answer to a terribly written question but to write a really god answer to an at least decently written question.

Don't take these kinds of things personally, the OP of the question is the one the action is being taken against.

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    Thanks Alizter. This is the answer that I need. I will keep that in mind. :) – Alex Silva Jan 21 '15 at 8:40
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    +1 for the last paragraph alone. There are 100k+ members who take this way too personally. Even in the cases when they won't lose any points (I know that they are more interested in "valuable content" than points - you be the judge). The rule is that if the question survived for at least 2 months, then the answerers get to keep the points. @Alex was more than a bit unlucky this time. – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 21 '15 at 12:50
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    What is presented here as "the communities attitude to such questions" is, in fact, the attitude of a part, and only a part, of the community. There are other parts of the community taking very different attitudes. – Gerry Myerson Jan 21 '15 at 14:47
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    @GerryMyerson If such questions are having action taken against them then does that not mean a majority of the community feels this way? So it is not just a part. – Ali Caglayan Jan 21 '15 at 16:22
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    @Alizter: Not exactly, a small number of people can go on a rampage. – André Nicolas Jan 21 '15 at 16:52
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    @AndréNicolas In which case action can be taken on the meta and the community can be made aware of the issue and it can be resolved. – Ali Caglayan Jan 21 '15 at 18:00
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    This has been discussed ad infinitum, Alizter, you can go through the history here on meta if you wish. Suffice it to say that the community is well aware of the issue (well, those who have been following the discussions on meta are well aware of the issue), and resolution is awaiting the coming of the Messiah. – Gerry Myerson Jan 21 '15 at 22:18
  • @Gerry Only a part of the community is aware of this issue, evidently. You cannot complain in one comment that someone used "community" to mean "a majority of the community" and then do the same thing in the next. – Najib Idrissi Jan 22 '15 at 8:36
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    @Najib, I thought I pre-empted your objection with my parenthetical clause limiting the scope of my comment to "those who have been following the discussions on meta". – Gerry Myerson Jan 22 '15 at 14:58
  • @Gerry So your statement is "the people who have been following this issue are aware of this issue". I didn't think you would post something that bland, hence my comment. – Najib Idrissi Jan 22 '15 at 17:59

I was delighted to see that the question causing this discussion was improved (=edited significantly so that it now meets our quality criteria). In response to that the question was then duly undeleted by users with this privilege (in this case Fundamental, MJD and Gerry Myerson), and later reopened! Alex Silva (as well as other answerers) should have their lost points restored.

The message I want to repeat is: Improving the questions is the best way to protect them from deletion. Any user with +2k rep points has the privilege to edit posts. Those with less need to get their edits approved. Use this privilege to protect content that you want to keep.

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    I apologize to the named users for violating their privacy in this way. As these users are not always seen on the same side of un/delete skirmishes, I felt the need to bring this up as evidence showing that we can co-operate in this. If you want your name removed, ping me or flag this answer. – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 21 '15 at 15:36
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    I don't think there's any privacy violated, the names are publicly displayed here (even an unregistered user can see this page as long as the question stays undeleted). You might want to note that the question has also been reopened. – Najib Idrissi Jan 21 '15 at 16:27

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