# Confusing rolling back of edits by the moderator

This recent question: Show that the $l_p$ norm of $x$ as $p\to 0$ is the support of $x$ was nominated to be reopened in meta after edits. It was then reopened by several other users.

Here is version 4 of the post before being nominated to be reopened:

This post has some trivial typos, and the context is clear to those who know the background of the topic. The asker was questioned by a user in a comment for context, and the asker did post a comment containing a link to the book, which clearly writes the needed relevant definitions. I edited the post using the asker's link twice, which led to version 6 of the post:

I have seen in many compressed sensing books (e.g. An Introduction to Compressed Sensing by Mathukumalli Vidyasagar) the following statement: $$\lim_{p\rightarrow 0+} \|x\|_p = \lim_{p\rightarrow 0+}\left(\sum^n_{i=1}|x_i|^p\right)^{1/p}=|\text{supp}\left(x\right)|$$ where $$\textrm{supp}(x):=\{i:x_i\ne 0\}$$ and $$x\in\mathbb{C}^n$$. (See, e.g., page 4 of the linked book.)

I have no idea how to prove it. I have seen various other questions and their corresponding answers but none clearly states a process to obtain the proof. Is there any book where a proof is given? How should one start this proof?

The mentioned comment containing the book link was then deleted. I do not know whether it is the asker or mod who did it, but it is now gone.

Moderator Xander Henderson, who closed the post together with another user previously, rolled back my edit to version 5, which had not contained the essential edit of correcting typos and adding the book link.

The moderator insists on the old version of the post and left a comment:

Please do not edit a question to introduce context or sources which were not originally given by the original asker. It would be reasonable to leave a comment to suggest a citation, but the content of the question needs to come from the original asker.

He insisted that "It is the job of the asker to make those kinds of edits. "

I do not at all understand such rollback.

I do not want to have an editing war with the mod regarding this particular post. But I do want to ask for the community's opinions if the current version of the post is preferable.

• Have you considered dropping by the Mod's Office chatroom to discuss things like this? It is common for users to drop by there to talk with mods about things like these, and it is easy to reply there. The explanation of the rollback is quite clear to me, what is unclear about not adding things to the post that the OP did not include themselves? The point is that we expect users to learn how to write good posts by themselves. If you add "artificial questions/context" yourself, you are ruining this process.
– Pedro Mod
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 13:52
• @Pedro: please read my post carefully. OP did clearly mention the context (book with the link) in a deleted comment. Mod should have tools to see the entire comment history. It is not uncommon in the site that OP's comment is lifted as necessary context into the post. In this particular case, I do not see any merit at all in insisting pedantically on a typoed version.
– user1046533
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 13:59
• If it was the mod who deleted the comment that contains necessary context, and the mod now says me inserting my own words/context to OP, this is really unacceptable.
– user1046533
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:01
• If I remember correctly, I flagged those two comments as no longer needed, since it is already in the post. If the mods insist on not putting the information in the post, please undelete those two comments. Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:09
• @user1046533 There is no deleted comment in that post which explicitly mentions a book (there is a link to a book to exemplify a point, which hardly qualifies as clearly mentioning the context...). A lot of comments were deleted because two users began bickering, with things like "Facts don't care about your feelings or what you think". At any rate, it is the onus of the OP to include the relevant information in the post, not put it in the comments, which are by design ephemeral.
– Pedro Mod
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:45
• Also, this is a new user whose post we are talking about. So, is it alright that we force these users to not only mention, like here, their context in the comment but also make them add it the question too?! Taking example as this case itself, I think that when a existing user adds their mentioned context in their question, it is then that the new users will be motivated to add context this way when they ask their question next time as they now have an exemplary/modal answer. [contd] Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 15:25
• If instead we force the new users to do it that way themselves when they have just arrived on a new turf, it is very rude (imo) on community/mods' part. We should atleast allow this much space to just the new users that if some other user is helping them, then it's allowed and not undone. It really is super confusing for the new user when such rollbacks happen and ends up demotivating them. In my own personal experience I learnt a lot form the users who edited my posts. Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 15:28
• @InanimateBeing An alternative thought: a new user to the site should be instructed on how to formulate a good question. Adding citations to a question is an important aspect of such a formulation. If someone else edits the question for a user, then they don't learn how to use those tools themselves. Hence a comment suggesting an edit is more valuable than performing the edit oneself (this is teaching a person to fish, rather than just giving them a fish).
– Xander Henderson Mod
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 20:52
• @ArcticChar I can see your flags in the timeline. I did not see them at the time that comments were deleted, as they were overwhelmed by a fair number of "unfriendly / unkind" flags pertaining to other comments in the thread. Honestly, the biggest problem with this question is not the editing, but the acrimonious comment thread. The lack of civility on the part of several users has created a great deal of confusion. :/
– Xander Henderson Mod
Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 20:55
• @XanderHenderson I agree "teaching a person to fish, rather than just giving them a fish", it's just that I assumed there's consensus now among almost everybody against corporal punishments and instead preferring teachers who set an example. As said before, I myself learned from users who edited my posts which I later referred to while writing my next post(s). (Also learnt by visiting other questions). New users aren't specifically asked to mention context, but only told by us, which even after mentioning in comments, we don't accept is very rash & inconsiderate this side & demotivating other. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 4:58
• @XanderHenderson also, I think when a mod makes an edit, other users refrain from changing it outright themselves and as required of them, come to meta (or go to Mod's Office as in 1st comment) to ask why mod(s) did that. If you see ArcticChar's comments and didn't choose to restore the link comment then the question should have been rollbacked to revision 4 or the comment restored. None happened. Why? (Also, it's not clear yet if you deleted the comment as that hasn't been stated but since flags have mentioned so likely that). Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 5:11
• @JyrkiLahtonen The way I like to think of that policy is that , provided the question has novelty (i.e. not closable for other reasons, with a slightly stronger guidelines enforcement if needed) and the edit isn't a Ship Of Theseus situation, any such edit should go through without debate. Anybody who seeks to argue against the edit can only use "teach a person to fish" (associated to "broken window" in some sense) as their strongest argument : something for which counterarguments can be come up with, but are orthogonal to this post. Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 8:52
• @JyrkiLahtonen I generally see myself doing such edits when I don't have answer myself. My thoughts are all over the place when it comes to "too contrived to serve the site well" so I'm skipping that part. What will I do when I have the answer? I don't know yet. Posting another question is the only option available but I don't see it as a good alternative when an edit can do it (and telling OP I have rewritten/added my own working so they are aware and may make edit if they feel so). Last 2 sentences I don't get. Your linked posts are dated 2020. Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 17:37
• Yes I don't like this policy of prohibiting people from improving questions. It seems like the goal is not to have the best possible questions but to teach individual users a lesson. I think the whole site is better served if we all work together to improve questions and it should be up to the user, not a moderator, to decide if an edit is welcome or not. I myself posted a question which was edited by another user, and it quite improved the question and I was grateful. Soon thereafter a moderator rolled it back, against my wishes. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 3:36
• One of the purposes of math stackexchange is to be a repository of knowledge. If other users can improve a question, then that serves this purpose. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 3:38

Let me first get some trivialities out of the way : this question isn't a duplicate (as far as my research has gone, ref. my comment on the main thread) , it isn't broad, opinion-based or outside the scope of the site. The only criterion for closure is the lack-of-context one.

The general problem associated with context rewrites is either adding too little context, or creating a "Ship Of Theseus" situation (whereby the question doesn't belong to the original poster anymore, but is primarily the contribution of other users), or attempting to salvage a question that is closable for reasons apart from a lack-of-context. I have addressed the first one in my first paragraph.

I do not believe this edit, in any way, is a Ship Of Theseus situation. The now-deleted comment contained enough information to identify the source of the question (i.e. book and page number), and the edit computed this information and integrated this into the post, along with improving the MathJax. In no way can this be described as "hijacking" the post : the only judgement made by the editor is how to integrate the information and what "style" of MathJax should be used, all of which are fairly non-controversially performed, in my opinion.

The given question is salvageable because it isn't closable for any reason apart from lack-of-context and contains a fairly novel question, linked with a part of mathematics (Compressed sensing) which isn't explored much on Stack Exchange. Answerers may be tempted to add how the result is relevant in the given field, for the benefit of future visitors with the same context : something that isn't as common as , say, elementary number theory for example. In fact, if the moderator's edit is rolled back (I will do it if this answer is received well), I will attempt an answer.

All said and done, I believe I have provided enough justification for this question to fall within the jurisdiction of the Guidelines for Context Edit and Rewrites : the question is salvageable and novel, the edit is not a "Ship of Theseus" situation and is sufficient for reopening the question because it isn't closable for other reasons.

I wanted to address the "teach a person to fish" argument and the OP-comments-to-context behaviors here as well , but that's got a small enough inner product with the main question, so I will prefer to discuss this in the comments below this answer.

• I think one angle for this issue which should be discussed in more detail is "Is SE to make Individual better or to make Site better?" . For instance, should editing be abstained so "OP can learn their lesson " and later edit their own questions Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 9:53
• @Beautifullyirrational The trouble is that "content is the priority" is often used to justify closure/downvoting without necessarily educating the OP via comments etc. However, under the same logic (not extrapolated very much), if content is the priority then one should be able to justify the edit here because we're putting the content above making the OP a good contributor etc. To me , it seems like "teach a person to fish" is applied selectively , and we need to talk about when it's appropriate. Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 10:00
• This maybe of interest to you Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 6:41
• @Beautifullyirrational I took a look and it makes sense. It seems to take two "extreme" groups who definitely want two different purposes of Chem SE, and then tries to find the best way to align their ideals, hoping that those with middling views will also be satisfied (by the squeeze theorem?) However, the tone is somewhat off, in the sense that it seems to bash newbies too much for me. Perhaps that was required at Chem SE, but the same answer over here would maybe read : "there are two groups whose idea of MSE is apparently completely orthogonal. Let's try and match them up with actions" Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 10:35
• @Beautifullyirrational very nicely written. More should read it Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 13:14
• Thanks for the feedback @CalvinKhor and Sarvesh Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 13:32
• @Beautifullyirrational Welcome, looking back it seems like a nice post. Now, the question is : are the current rules (as they stand) good enough to allow this to occur fairly often, or is it too rigid/lax? Personally, I'm of two opinions (1) My idea of what posts are salvageable seem to be more stringent than the average opinion. On the other hand, (2) My idea of what one can do, assuming that a post is salvageable, is that one can do much more than what I see generally. That is, I think people don't stretch the rule enough, but also pick the wrong question too often. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 14:52
• I had a lot to say on this. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 17:28
• chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5219/… Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 17:07