This reply to Is zero odd or even? was deleted (several years ago) by the Community user, which replaced the content with the remark:

This answer was marked as spam or offensive and is therefore not shown - you can see the revision history for details.

I looked at the revision history, and while it was clearly a very bad answer, it was certainly not spam, and I saw nothing that appeared to be offensive.

(For the benefit of non-10k users, the content was:

The concept of odd and even numbers was first used for natural numbers, 0 is not a natural number. Now anyone can cook up a scheme and extend the even oddness concept to non natural numbers, but we will be no longer dealing with the range that even and odd numbers were considered for. Now in that doctor math's explanation 0 is even because 2 times 0 is 0. But 0 was not in the original domain of definition, i.e. 0 is not a natural number. The result of extending even/odd concept by alternative means does not make a number that previously was not even/odd to be even or odd within the original framework. It is now only even or odd by the new (re)definition of the concept

What happened here that the post content was replaced with “This answer was marked as spam or offensive”? Does the Community user apply the “spam or offensive” rubric to all posts that are autodeleted for having too many downvotes? Or did someone actually flag this post as “spam or offensive”? Or is there some other reason?

  • $\begingroup$ This must have been deleted by a valid spam flag, there are no other mechanisms that mark posts as spam/offensive and hide the content. A moderator could check what exactly happened by looking at the timeline of that post. $\endgroup$ – user9733 Jan 21 '15 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1479/… $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 21 '15 at 20:48

The answer was flagged by several users as spam, and that caused the answer to be deleted as spam by Community♦.

These flags were of course incorrectly used, since the post is not spam according to the definition used here on Stack Exchange.

Since the spam flags were incorrectly cast, I have cleared them from the post. (It has been re-deleted by the votes of three 20k users after clearing the flags undeleted it.)

If you (any 10k user) come across further posts that were inappropriately deleted as spam/offensive, please flag it or drop a note in the office, so the situation can be rectified.

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    $\begingroup$ But... but... this is a special site where everything means something different from what SE says! $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jan 21 '15 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ I will vote to delete in part because the same user already has two other answers in the same thread, and never requested undeletion (in spite of having made a meta post about this answer way back then). $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 21 '15 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ The "spam" answer is historically accurate for the world of early Greek mathematics. Indeed, since $1$ also was not considered to be a number by the Pythagoreans, so $3$ was the smallest odd number. $\endgroup$ – André Nicolas Jan 24 '15 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ The Treviso arithmetic of 1478 states that "2 is the smallest number". $\endgroup$ – MJD Jan 25 '15 at 2:16

The content was replaced automatically:

Deleted answers that have had any spam or offensive flags raised against them, will not show the answer body but the following text: "This answer was marked as spam or offensive and is therefore not shown - you can see the revision history for details"

Note that this does not require the answer to be deleted by spam/offensive flags exclusively (which was the case for the linked post). If there is any such flag, and the post gets deleted (without mod explicitly invalidating the flag), then the flag is marked helpful and the above applies.

Some users apply spam/offensive flags to posts that are neither.

  • $\begingroup$ Strange that the post you cited was from 2013, and said that that would be the behavior “going forward”, but that the post I am asking about was deleted in 2010. $\endgroup$ – MJD Jan 21 '15 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ I understand Oded's answer as "in the future, these will not be shown" -- where the implementation time is in the future, not the deletion time. Another possibility is that they later extended this behaviour retroactively. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jan 21 '15 at 18:56

I've seen a couple of other instances of this, and MJD's post is starting to connect some dots.

In going through review queues I see occasionally a message that "the system has detected" that a post is possibly spam or offensive, and that I should review the item carefully (as if other posts should not be reviewed carefully?). In most cases the item is not actually spam, but some may be very low quality questions or non-answers, and I wind up recommending deletion for another reason.

So my suspicion now is that the system is confounding an errant spam flag with the review queue recommendation for deletion, as if that were a confirmation.

Since the penalty for a spam or offensive deletion is significantly more than for "routine" deletions, we should articulate if it is a policy to flag errant deletions for moderator action.

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    $\begingroup$ I have cleared the spam flag from the post you linked. I'm not sure what you subsume under "errant deletions", but if something is deleted as "spam or offensive" that shouldn't have been deleted as such, flagging for moderator attention is the right thing, as only moderators can rectify that. If something was 20k deleted that you think shouldn't have been, the "Requests for Reopen & Undeletion Votes etc." thread would probably be more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Jan 24 '15 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: Thanks for doing that; just knowing what is possible for the moderators is a big help. By "errant deletions" I meant to connect with "errant spam flag" as used above it, so only in the narrower sense. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jan 24 '15 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, flag those when you find them. I hope there aren't too many such cases, but those that are should be rectified. Since you wrote you saw "a couple of other instances", do you remember where? Links would be awesome. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Jan 24 '15 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ My impression is that "very low quality" flags often get declined, so I think some (not me) have started to misuse the spam flag for that purpose, presumably because it's easier to have it get through and perhaps trigger bans on the target poster quicker. It might be a case of gaming the system although perhaps not for horribly wrong reasons. In the weird world of SE/SO "quality" refers only to formatting apparently: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/266368/… $\endgroup$ – Fizz Feb 3 '15 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @RespawnedFluff: The VLQ flag is not for answers that are seriously wrong, as a matter of SE/SO policy, but for posts that lack coherence to such an extent that a heroic edit is required to make sense of them. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Feb 3 '15 at 18:30

My guess: someone flagged it, probably because of the less than pleasant exchanges in the comments.

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    $\begingroup$ What is that unpleasant about the exchange in the comments? (Except for the @Moron perhaps, however, this might has been that user's display at the time.) $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 21 '15 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: Yes, Moron was the username. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 21 '15 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ (Discussion of that occurred before: meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/2276) $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 21 '15 at 21:26

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