I the following thread in the field "algebraic geometry"

Why isn't every finite locally free morphism etale?

an answer to a question was deleted by two people that are not doing algebraic geometry. Should members of the forum be able to delete answers in a topic that is outside of their field?

  • $\begingroup$ The user admits in a post that he has no knowledge about the field. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 23 '20 at 12:21
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Alright i am talking in general, how do you think the rules can be changed, i mean there is no definite way to know whether someone is well versed in a field or not ,is there?(of course other than looking at their top tags which may not always be helpful) $\endgroup$ – Albus Dumbledore Dec 23 '20 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ This forum will become a big joke if a person posting answers and questions in one field is able to delete questions and answers in another field. In order to be alowed to delete a question or answer in a field you need to have posted accepted answers in that field. I suggest the owners of this forum change the rules for this reason - in the above thread one of the persons voting to delete the post has not posted any answers in the field and it is quite clear this person has limited knowledge in algebraic geometry. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 23 '20 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ The company that own and runs this site has the following "vision": Empower people to deliver outstanding results. Give people space to get their job done, support them when they need it, and practice blameless accountability. Be flexible and inclusive. We do our best work when a diverse group of people collaborate in an environment of respect and trust. Create space for different voices to be heard, and allow flexibility in how people work. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 23 '20 at 12:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is the point; The person that was involved in deleting the answer does not know either - it is not his field and he does not have the knowledge to decide if the answer is "distinct enough". $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 23 '20 at 12:52
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Actually, your answer doesn't seem to stand alone, precisely because you claim upfront that it is a continuation of the other answer. If it was an e.g. alternative proof, then there could be merit to a second answer $\endgroup$ – Calvin Khor Dec 23 '20 at 12:55
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Since you asked if that user is a moderator, I am a moderator. This is not a forum. It's a Q&A website. If you want to have a continuation of an answer, edit that answer. Do not post a new one. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 23 '20 at 14:58
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You seem very confused. This site is not just for PhD students; it's for anyone who wants to ask a mathematical question (and is willing to read the guidelines on how to ask a good question and follow them), and for people who can provide good answers to those questions. The "owner" of the site is ostensibly Stack Overflow, but practically the community here. You seem intent on ignoring responses from the "owner" (the community) though and pushing your own agenda only. $\endgroup$ – postmortes Dec 23 '20 at 15:53
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "the site is about answering questions posed by PhD students". You've been a member 18 days. $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Dec 23 '20 at 15:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not to touch the main discussion here, but when I want to draft an especially long answer, I sometimes write it in a TeX editor locally on my computer (or any text editor, really) and then copy it into the site, which usually avoids any trouble with the site running slow. There's also the sandbox for long posts on meta, which can be useful - although I'm not sure whether this is a solution to your particular problem, but it's something to be aware of - some users find it helpful. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 23 '20 at 16:23
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Asaf would give (and has given) that response to anyone misunderstanding math.se a profoundly as you, regardless of level or achievement -- which you seem to be massively hung up on. $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Dec 23 '20 at 17:30
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I am one of the users who voted to delete your answer. You are right: the topic of this post is outside my fields of expertise. But my reason for voting this way had nothing to do with its mathematical content. It was because your post was the continuation of your previous post. If you have an answer, you should give it in a single post. $\endgroup$ – José Carlos Santos Dec 23 '20 at 18:13
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I joined this site in the months between my B.Sc. and my M.Sc., so I did not have any CV to begin with. I'm glad that you think my work in this decade is impressive. But it wasn't always like that. I spent the first couple of weeks on this site mostly observing the site before posting anything substantial; I spent the first few months mostly observing on meta, and only formed actual opinions after that. I did not start by presuming that I understand the site, its culture, and jumped to defend my opinions. And back then the site was a week old. So yes, I'd give that response to anyone. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 23 '20 at 19:49
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Just as a side note (since you wrote "To Karagila"), you are displaying another lack of understanding how this site work. Read about comment replies with the link in the help centre. This community can be a great tool for improving your maths, your teaching skills, and yourself. But you need to understand how it works before passing judgement on how it works. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 23 '20 at 19:53
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I felt that it would be more natural that it would be the OP to do that. $\endgroup$ – José Carlos Santos Dec 23 '20 at 22:29

Yes, and your example shows why.

Most deletions of answers are not motivated by the mathematical content of the post, yet instead by formal reasons, e.g., the answer-post is asks a new question, and thus should be a new question-post or maybe a comment; the answer-post tries to engage with other users, and should be a comment, instead; the answer-post continues an earlier post and should be an edit to the earlier post.

The last one is your case.

To decide this, no in-depth mathematical knowledge is needed. It is a formal check and can be carried out by a much broader group of users. To insist that it must only by done by experts in the field misses the point.

By analogy, if I, as instructor of a course, insist that the students hand in sheets with assigned homework only in an envelope that indicates their name and the course, and that they deposit it in the office of an administrative assistant, then it is reasonable for that administrative assistant to refuse loose sheets. To explain to them that they must not refuse the homework because it is perfectly correct and they are not qualified to judge this, simply misses the point.

Arguably it is overly rigid or even pointless to insist on the sheets being in an envelope, but that's neither here nor there, and in particular it is completely inappropriate to target the administrative assistant about it because they did not make that rule either.

To come back to the present situation, if you want to discuss the merits of insisting on an edit rather than a second post, then you should ask about that, not question the qualifications of those that correctly enforced an established rule.

  • $\begingroup$ The "rules" you refer to are not written down anywhere, and are decided by a group of "trusted" users. If you want this site to be a site where eveybody - amateurs, high school students and Phd/Msc students ask questions, you should at least inform new users about these "unwritten rules", and try to do this in a way that does not "scare" students. In this case it seems that to use several posts.... $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ ...to formulate an answer is "generally discouraged" - it is not a "strict rule". This was one of the reasons I chose to write this question. It was not clear to me if this "deletion" was about "intimidation" or if it was an explicit rule of this Q&A site. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ "I am one of the users who voted to delete your answer. You are right: the topic of this post is outside my fields of expertise. But my reason for voting this way had nothing to do with its mathematical content. It was because your post was the continuation of your previous post. If you have an answer, you should give it in a single post." Reply: It was my impression that it was "generally discouraged" to write several posts on one answer. When you deleted the post you did not give any reason for this deletion and this was why I wrote this question. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ "If this is a continuation of your other post, it should be a part of that other post. Multiple answers are generally discouraged outside of some special cases, none of which apply here. Note that you aren't even close to the character limit for a single post (these two posts combined are ~6500 characters, the limit is 30,000)" Here a "trusted user" is referring to "some special cases" - what are these "special cases"? $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 10:49
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @hm2020: A lot of your arguments can be very simply countered by "take a few days to learn the territory before you charge into battle". Nobody here is attacking you, but it seems like you're taking a lot of it personally. We've been there before, each and every one of us. But you're a new user in a website that is a decade old. If you think that we're doing it wrong, go ahead and start you own site. But otherwise, it might be worth moving on from this, you made a mistake, that happens, you were called out, learn from it, move on. That's how we grow in life. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '20 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf Karaglia: This is where you misunderstand - I did not "charge into battle". It was an honest question - I therefore pose this question to you since you are a "moderator": "What are these "special cases"" referred to in my previous post? $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 11:47
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @hm2020 it is an explicit rule that that answer posts and question posts should be expanded by edits rather then be completed by a new post in the thread. It is so ingrained that it is even built-in the software. When you added the second answer didn't the site ask you "Are you sure you want to add another answer? You could use the edit link to refine and improve your existing answer, instead." Further, as a moderator I even have a dedicated feature to deal with non-compliance, it is called "convert to edit." $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 24 '20 at 12:13
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @hm2020 a common "special case" is when completely independent answers are given. For example, a user could give an answer that avoids certain tools because they are not sure everybody is familiar with them and then also give an answer that uses these tools. We also have some questions that asks for examples of things, or for recommendations of books, etc. In such cases it can make sense to have one item per answer. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 24 '20 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ I truly believe the site would improve if the voting system was open and transparent, and where downvotes/upvotes was done in a transparent way. My argument is the same: A downvote of a question in one field A from someone that has no knowledge on A is worthless. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @hm2020: I am not a "moderator", I am a moderator. Special cases are, as quid suggested, when the answers are completely independent of each other, but even then if the answers are short enough, one might put them into a single answer and not two.See, for example, math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10205/multiple-answers $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '20 at 12:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @hm2020: Votes are not just about content. They are also about presentation and context. Next time when you have a lecture, try asking a very good question (better yet, about a different subject) while taking off your shirt, see what happens. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '20 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ This thread was about the "unwritten rules" on this site, and again I believe the downvote/upvote system could be improved if the vote was open: What is the downvote about: Is it about content or is it about the "presentation"? If the voter has no knowledge on the field - make this clear and explain why you downvote. In this particular situation it was a downvote for other reasons: It was because of some "unwritten rules". $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 24 '20 at 12:36
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ There are probably dozens of posts from previous years about whether or not downvotes should be (or must be) linked to the user, or have reasons given. Have you acquainted yourself with them, and do you know the current state of the arguments? $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Dec 24 '20 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I did not find any such discussion during my search. $\endgroup$ – hm2020 Dec 26 '20 at 15:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .