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I'd like to delete this question that I asked yesterday. Not only did it receive a response that I'm genuinely unhappy with, but I don't want others to respond. I just want it gone. It seriously bothers me that I'm unable to control the content I put on the site. I should be allowed to delete this question, and I'm not, and now whether this question will be deleted or not will determine my use of the site from here on out. I really don't want to keep contributing to a site where practically nothing I post is my own, and all of it suddenly becomes the property of the site.


EDIT

Dear all,

Please check out how Daniel Fischer handled this situation and take notes. It's not so much that he fixed the problem as that he wanted to help. His posts were never condescending, and always helpful. I hope that a) he doesn't leave the position as moderator any time soon, and b) that I can be more like him in using this site.

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    $\begingroup$ When you signed up, you agreed to this: "You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. You grant Stack Exchange the perpetual and irrevocable right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content [...], even if such Subscriber Content has been contributed and subsequently removed by You." $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Apr 12 '15 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ I see why you're unhappy with the posted answer, but why don't you want others to respond? Regarding the control of the content you post, apart from the legal matters (your contributions remain yours, but you granted SE a license by posting), deleting the question would also delete the answer, which is content somebody else put on the site. It should be understandable that your control over the contributions of others is limited. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Apr 12 '15 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Thanks for copy and pasting the terms of service. Problem solved! .... $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ @user46944 I think the point of Daniel Fischer is much more relevant. If you want a control on your contribution, then other should have the same privilege. This is why you are not able to delete the answer of someone else and an answer without question is not very optimal... $\endgroup$ – Surb Apr 12 '15 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @timbob Ok, but that means when you ask questions and they receive answers, you have no recourse to control your contribution. So basically, when you ask a question and it gets answered, there's absolutely no hope of removing it. This lack of flexibility/control is what bothers me. $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @user46944: You largely forfeited control over how (and whether) your question appears on this site as soon as you posted it. Even if there are no answers and you delete the question it is possible for other users to undelete it. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Apr 12 '15 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer Great, that's all I needed to hear. Now that that's cleared up, I'm going to heavily reduce my contributions to the site. Will it make a difference to the site? Probably not. But on principle, I'm not going to use a site that exercises this much control over a user's content. (Also, but irrelevant, there are plenty of unsavory people active on this site.) $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @user46944 You can request the question be disassociated from your account. That wouldn't give you control over whether it appears on the site, but it would at least no longer be linked to you, you could pretend somebody else asked it. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Apr 12 '15 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ To expand on @Daniel's last comment: disassociating posts is something that site moderators cannot do; it must be done by SE employees. (Follow the contact us link at the bottom of every page.) I don't really know under what circumstances they oblige such requests. (EDIT: They should always oblige such requests. This appears to be part of CC BY-SA.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Apr 12 '15 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ This ought to be a dupe anyway. In any case this is discussed in detail at matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/4165/… Let us just delete it. (OP of answer being a kind person they will not object, I assume.) I voted to close. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @user46944: Without trying to offend, I think that most users on this meta are not new to the internet and (essentially) saying "Oh, let me delete my questions or I quit!" does not encourage people to try and accommodate your request. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 12 '15 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Like I said in my post about quitting, I don't think me quitting would impact the site. And I said it to let others know that I'm not dumb enough to think somehow me quitting will make them scramble to accommodate me. I'm just putting it out there that I'm unhappy with this issue to the degree that I don't want to use the site anymore because of it. $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't matter. In this sort of situation, when people give out ultimatum my go-to response is "Fine. Go.", of course, being a moderately reasonable person from time to time, I know that this is a stupid go-to response and I should examine the situation thoroughly, which is why I didn't make that response, and I am sure that others on this thread gave it some thought as well. But ultimatums cause people to lock up. They say "This is my final offer, and screw it all to hell if you don't accept it". An ultimatum is final, it means the discussion is over. And it's bad. Don't give ultimatums. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 12 '15 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Fortunately, there was a duplicate which we could merge with, so your question could be deleted without losing the answers. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Apr 12 '15 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer Wow, you're really awesome. After the public flogging I received for this question, I wasn't going to come back. But you never posted anything condescending. You tried to work with me in the constraints of the system. I genuinely appreciate you. I hope your time as moderator doesn't end anytime soon. +100 for Daniel Fischer. $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 22:12
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"I really don't want to keep contributing to a site where practically nothing I post is my own, and all of it suddenly becomes the property of the site."

That is the policy of many sites on the internet: Wikipedia, Stack Exchange, and others. It is a key part of the "free content" movement, which relies on the idea that content one person has contributed can be re-used by others. If the original person could later "take back" their content, what would happen to the re-used parts, and to other derivative works? Would they all also need to be deleted?

The solution that these sites use to avoid that problem is mandatory licensing: contributions to the site are licensed automatically under a free license, and do not remain in the sole control of their author. On Stack Exchange, the "legal" link at the bottom of each page takes you to the Terms of Service, which state in part that "You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license." The CCA-SA license is a widely used free content license, which is also used by Wikipedia - this means that content here can be re-used on Wikipedia, for example.

If this sort of mandatory licensing makes you uncomfortable, by all means you should avoid contributing to such sites.

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Usually I don't post on meta. It's existence is useful, but I'm only interested in maths, and not with the kind of social interaction that is customary here. The truth is, I have had a bad experience on Wikipedia, and I decided to never fall into this trap again. Anyway.

The legal question seems to have already been discussed, so I won't argue on this. And I'm almost completely ignorant on this matter.

However, I'm rather surprised by the action taken here to delete a useful question.

This is a good question, indeed. Students may wonder. I once did. So it's by no means an argument to delete the question.

May I recall by the way, that it's a rather accepted use, for a user to post a question because he thinks it's of interest, even if he knows the answer. I have already seen this, and I believe it's explicitly allowed by MSE rules. Even that he answers.

Whatever your reasons to contribute to MSE may be, you are not supposed to only show what you think is worth to be associated to your name, and discreetly hide everything else. Like I commented on the question: this sense of property is alien to usual mathematical thinking, and to the mathematics community in the large. Moreover, MSE is not the place to showcase one's ability. It's not a part of your CV. It feels weird for me to have to write this, but I'm still trying to figure out what this is all about.

But even if you feel like hiding your name, you have already been told it's possible. So I simply don't understand what you want. Maybe you could clarify, instead of being so imperative. If you don't even think it's worth to explain what you want, why would anybody bother to explain why you may possibly be wrong?

Also, your "I don't want others to respond" is by no means acceptable on MSE, unless you give good motivation for this. Questions are closed when they are off-topic, typically when it's not about maths, or when a student asks people to do their homework. It's not the case here.


In short:

  • good question
  • you are free to unlink your name
  • you are free to answer in a better way
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    $\begingroup$ As you seem to try to quote me, without making it explicit, I would appreciate if you did not do so in a misleading way. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Ok, at last I undestood this comment. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ If you understood it why do you still quote in a misleading way? Me, or anybody, giving a "better" answer would not do anything to alter the fact that the discussion did not start out so well (and that it did not start so well is certainly not the fault of the first answerer, IMO; nobody is really at fault). Moreover,, the "you are free to unlink your name" is not as simple as you make it sound. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I may not have understood after all: I thought you were talking about the discussion on meta. Regarding the mathematical question, I see no problem whatsoever. Good question, rather good (1st) answer, even if I don't completely agree. Mathematics community is all about exchanging ideas about maths, whether or not the parties agree on the answers. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if "unlinking" is easy or not, but I read in the comments above that it's a possibility. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ "did not start out so well" is a formulation I used in a comment on main, and you quoted it back at me there (IIRC in a comment now deleted it seems), and I clarified you there that you misrepresent what I meant, and you do it again here. And, either quote properly, or use your on formulation. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Removed two, forgot this one. Thanks for your kind comment. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 16:41
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While it is clear that on a collaboratively created site there need to be quite rigid rules regarding self-deletions, and while legally everything is of course alright, I really do not see why it would be much problem to honor a request for deletion that comes in in such a timely manner and on thread that only minimally (one vote!) was above the automatic self-deletion restrictions at the time it was made.

I think it is fair to say that the request was not presented well by OP, but I still find it unnecessary, to say the least, to insist on doing the opposite what they asked for.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem is (for me, at least), there are good reasons to keep the question, and none has been presented to motivate its deletion. Kind of weird. (I don't regard "I was unhappy with the answer" nor "I don't want others to respond" as a motivation) $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Since other users have stated that they see merit in keeping the question, it is very likely that any deletion will be followed up by community undeletion. What if undeletion were made impossible by a moderator deletion? Would that really be a good way of going about this? I for one wouldn't agree. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Apr 12 '15 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Jean-ClaudeArbaut the main reason is that OP, a frequent user, asked for it. They feel for some reason not comfortable with the question anymore (I do not know why exactly, but I can imagine reasons). So, let us delete it and move on. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ What's the harm? Would you even have noticed the post without the meta-debate and/or my VTC? Anybody who wants to write on the matter is free to do so, as you explained. The specific question is not an optimal start in my opinion, as it presents a strong opinion itself and somewhat invites confrontation. Perhaps OP realized this, perhaps they have other reasons. Anyway, I might have VTC'ed regardless (as the question is presented as one that is opinion-based, as I explained you, and did not get a response.) $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin well, now, it is a bit late in the game and things are more complicated. I stressed the "at the time it was made." The question had no vote, the one answer one vote. All the interest now is a pure meta-effect. // And I continue to think this ought to be a dupe; in any case it is discussed at length on a site close by. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ What's the harm? Removing something that is useful. And what's the harm in keeping it? Do we have to guess? $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ Anyway, even if the question is deleted, even if it's not undeleted by community, I am allowed to post it again. I still fail to see the point in deleting it, and I won't try to guess. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Jean-ClaudeArbaut would you answer my second question, please. One obvious harm in keeping it is that it annoys OP. Another is that the question is presented in a way that "somewhat invites confrontation" as I explained and as happened. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I really don't think it's a good idea to bend MSE rules just because somebody is annoyed, and don't care to give more precision. It could even be interpreted as trolling, without further explanation. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, the only single thing that may be worth removing is the reference to universities, as it may harm their reputation. But even then I would slightly disagree: if there is something arguably wrong on the university site, it's not the OP's fault. However, this can be removed without changing the spirit of the question, so I wouldn't see an objection to that. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Apr 12 '15 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Jean-ClaudeArbaut I am not sure which rule would be bent. Actually there are rather few hard and fast rules on SE. The problem is not with the reference itself but with the tone. Anyway, I did not look at the references, but on the subject itself it is clear that it depends on the context if it is right or wrong or meaningless to say that $1/x$ is discontinuous; it is thus rather doubtful the references are wrong in any direct sense. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ I see no cause for deletion. The question is reasonably good and the answers are reasonably good. StackExchange has put a lot of work into this site and clearly deserves to recoup their investment. The content of their sites and their rights to use it is one of the main assets they've built. While deletion of this one question would be very unlikely to hurt SE in any measurable way, it sets a precedent that they'd be wise to avoid. As such, I think it would be reasonable for SE to reject deletion as a matter of policy. $\endgroup$ – Mark McClure Apr 12 '15 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMcClure it might be reasonable decision, I still do not think it would be a good decision, not even in that purely business-perspective you use. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your support. I completely understand and agree with where you are coming from, and don't understand what all of the craziness was about. Thanks for being so level-headed. $\endgroup$ – layman Apr 12 '15 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ @user46944 you are welcome. I am glad it seems a resolution was found. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 12 '15 at 23:05

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