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What was the rationale for reopening this question this question? (The initial comments refer to the link that is struck out. But the subject of my query is the other link)

My understanding was that this question was:

  • voted closed,
  • voted deleted,
  • undeleted at the request of the OP
  • voted closed in reaction to the apparent disregard for the previous votes,
  • reopened, with no visible reason given.

A recent meta discussion leads me to believe the final action was not done in good faith. But before I form opinions on the incident, I would like to get my facts straight.

Has there been a vote to re-open? Has there somehow been a (subsequently deleted) discussion on the topic of re-opening it during the fairly brief course of events?

Or has action truly been taken with utter disregard for the previous votes? Do I have the wrong post and this was never actually voted closed / deleted? (was it this then? Or another one entirely?) Is there some other case I haven't thought of?

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    $\begingroup$ The (first struck-out) post was closed as "nonconstructive", presumably for the many nonconstructive comments discussing downvotes. These were purged, so there no longer remains anything nonconstructive. What remains is an interesting number-theoretical question, which, if answered, would add great value to the site. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: That is a flat out lie. The original voter cited the discussion at meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/6354/… as rationale and I concurred. (Unless I have somehow thoroughly mixed up two posts) (P.S. sorry for accidentally deleting my first draft after you commented) $\endgroup$ – user14972 Oct 16 '12 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ Which conveniently excludes the comment history you deleted. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Oct 16 '12 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Hurkyl, since I don't have enough reputation, I can't see deleted comments, so I don't know what could have been said in the deleted comments, but to be honest, I don't see anything wrong with the question at all. In fact, I'm quite shocked that all this fuss has being raised about Bill reopening the question. To me it seems like a well posed question and actually, I would instead ask, what was the rationale for closing the question and downvoting it in the first place? $\endgroup$ – Adrián Barquero Oct 16 '12 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl Please get the facts straight. There were no votes to delete. The post was deleted automatically by the SE software because it met some criteria devised by the SE designers to automatically attempt to infer which posts are so worthless that they should be automatically deleted without any human intervention. That failed quite badly here. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque, while many such questions «haven't even been closed, let alone deleted», the one you undeleted was. This post is about that, precisely: your overriding other users votes to close and to delete. The contrast to your «Let the community make decisions vs. use superpowers» at math.stackexchange.com/election/3 is probably part of the discussion, too, btw. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ Are you kidding me? You wrote in a comment above « I undeleted a few posts that I thought were automatically deleted by the SE software. I had missed the fact that one of them was actually deleted by 20k users» Honestly, I find this absolutely pointless. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 6:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: You undeleted a question that was deleted by three users; and you did reopened a post that was closed by five users. You alone. If you think something done by a jury of members is incorrect, you should post a meta thread calling for a reconsideration. Matt E could have voiced his opinion, and the posts were likely to be undeleted, reopened, etc. I guess that all users are equally important here, but some users are more equal than others. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 6:02
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    $\begingroup$ Oh well. Do as you see fit, Bill, as apparently you are right, as usual. For the record, your unilateral use of your superpowers to override other users' votes on various instances has my fervent opposition. I walk out of this discussion, and let other users figure out if they are happy with this situation. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila You can always write to team@stackexchange.com, the SE community team is the correct address if you have a complaint about moderator actions. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Oct 16 '12 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ I cannot do anything about it, except make it clear that I oppose certain actions. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: I certainly agree with you, but I think it's unfortunate that we're in a situation where one moderator's opinion over-rules all the other moderators. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Oct 16 '12 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder, well, i was implicitly saying that there is nothing I can sensibly do. I am not going to start doing stupid things to cope with Bill's actions. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ And also the three votes to delete; and then another five votes to close a question so its re-deletion could be re-considered. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ Your new mantra about confusion is not helping... :-/ $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 20 '12 at 4:01
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Let me give a few points in the history of this meta thread:

  1. MK asks three questions; two had a negative sum of votes and automatically deleted, another was closed by five non-moderator users, and then deleted by another three.

  2. MK asks "Why was my question deleted?" and Mariano points out that it was an automatic process.

  3. Bill takes upon himself to undo the software's action, he undeleted the originally discussed question.

  4. MK thanks Bill, and asks for another automatically deleted question to be restored as well.

  5. Bill complies. Bill also restores, without being asked to, the third question.

  6. When asked whether or not he believes that overriding five closure votes and another three is an act reasonable by a moderator who gives the impression that the community should manage itself, Bill insists that automatic deletion is wrong to begin with.

  7. Bill refuses to continue the discussion, Hurkyl gives what I believe a good reason for the restored questions to be closed, and pend their deletion.

  8. The first question reopened by Bill, again to the contrary of five members.

What is unclear to me is why a moderator who repeatedly claim that moderators should not act based on their personal opinion, acts on his personal opinion, and repeatedly denies users of their vote. I will not get into a discussion why the question was reopened or undeleted, and whether or not it is right. I just wanted to point out the irony of these actions.

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    $\begingroup$ As you are well aware, there is a long history of wrongful downvoting and closure of MK's questions. The matters prompting such behavior have only recently been solved. These questions were on the tail end of such resolution. It is better to let these matters rest. I have nothing more to say on the matter other than what I've already said here and in the parallel meta thread. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 5:45
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    $\begingroup$ Let us please avoid drama-charged terms like «wrongful»... This is not an Austen novel. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Mariano Truth $\ne$ drama. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill: If that had been given as a rationale, the discussion would have gone quite differently (and possibly more quietly)! $\endgroup$ – user14972 Oct 16 '12 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: You only provided one reason for these actions, you find them right. Not the community, not three or fives members. One member. I don't recall this community being ran by you. You are only a moderator. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: One man's truth is another's propaganda. While there may be some kernel of truth in what you assert, there is still some dramatic, even accusatory connotations with the word "wrongful". But you've long demonstrated your firm belief that anyone whose value judgment is not the same as your own is conveniently "wrong", so I wouldn't expect any better of you. So what would you say to a younger and wiser Bill Dubuque who disavowed any and all unilateral moderator action overriding community decisions? $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Oct 16 '12 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie To set the record straight, I never "disavowed any and all unilateral actions". Rather, I argued against a longstanding pattern of unilateral closures and deletions that were frequently made by certain moderators (both past and current), often without community input and often disregarding the charter of MSE. Thankfully we are past most of that. And we are almost past all of the problems that sparked this thread. Hopefully we can move on and forgive those who made mistakes, since I don't believe anyone had bad intentions. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: You ran on a platform of Let the community make decisions vs. use superpowers., that is a fairly clear message to me. I'm not a native speaker though, so maybe I'm not qualified to read this sentence... If you want to be forgiven for your actions, you can set things right: Delete the question again and ask on meta for it to be reopened by the community. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Oct 16 '12 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Asaf, One thing I am confused by: do you think that the number theory questions of MK should stay deleted, because an automatic software process deleted them? (I can appreciate that this might be a reasonable person's position, although I don't share it; but I'm not sure if it's actually your position or not. One point of confusion for me is that the question this post was discussing seemed to change over time, and so it's not always obvious what people are actually objecting to.) Regards, $\endgroup$ – Matt E Oct 16 '12 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Matt: No. I think that not every question should be automatically undeleted. There are enough 10k users now that Bill should have posted a link in an answer, and asking members to actively undelete the post[s]. I think that Hurkyl's reasons given in the MK thread comments were excellent. The question was deleted, which is enough not to initiate automatic undeletion upon request. When Bill did that, and especially his unwillingness to admit a mistake [when I pointed out the third undeletion was unfair] made things far far worse. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf It may be worth discussing a general policy on undeletion of automatically deleted posts. It is conceivable that this could happen again, and having a policy in place would help to avoid a repeat of what happened here. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Yes, a general policy would be helpful. But for someone who wishes to let the community govern itself you seem awfully bureaucratic with all these policies. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with policies is that they enshrine what the current community thinks (well, I say current community - what I mean is the 10-20 members who will read the policy and vote on it) without regard to the future community. Is there also going to be a policy of regularly reviewing old policies to ensure that the current set of policies are up to date? (I am being ironic, but only about 50% ironic). $\endgroup$ – Chris Taylor Oct 17 '12 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris: There is actually a policy about being ironic, and it states that you clearly have to be at least 57% ironic. (I am being ironic, or rather ridiculous, 100% :-)) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 17 '12 at 23:05
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I don't know the particular open/close history of the question, but I can't see any reason why it should be closed (and it is strange that it should have a negative vote total). It is a perfectly good question in number theory (in fact a rather famous one!), and I would certainly vote to reopen it if it were closed.

Added: It seems that the question of MK that my answer responds to (and which was the one originally linked in this post) is in fact not the one that the post intended to refer to. This is just one reflection of the confusion that seems to be surrounding this issue.

Since I am adding to this answer, let me add a further remark: as far as I can tell, there are three MK questions involved in this discussion, of which two were substantial number theory questions and of which the third (which this post was intended to refer to) was about notation. The third was closed as non-constructive, quite possibly with solid justification. It seems to have been undeleted by error. On the other hand, I agree with Bill that the two number theory questions are reasonable, and should not have been deleted. I understand that they were deleted for reasons related to the automatic functioning of the software, but this seems to me to be akin to a case when an OP's question or answer becomes CW because of multiple edits. Certainly there have been cases when that CW status has been removed by a moderator because they deem it to be inappropriate, despite the software's automatic process; similarly, in this case it would seem to be silly to have solid number theory questions deleted just because of an automatic process.

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    $\begingroup$ I not really concerned about the actual status of the question, whether deleted or opened, but about the process by which it got there. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Oct 16 '12 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ The two SE-automatic deletions that I reversed at the OP's request are this one and this one. I would be quite surprised if anyone thinks that these questions deserve to be automatically deleted by the SE heuristics on worthless questions, without any human intervention whatsoever. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 7:05
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Bill: there was human intervention. The software only deletes questions which have negative vote count (and which have not been answered) $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ No, there was no human intervention on the two questions that I linked to. They were deleted automatically by the SE software. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ ...because they had negative vote totals, which was the 'human intervention' that Mariano was referring to. $\endgroup$ – Chris Taylor Oct 16 '12 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris But those votes were downvotes, not votes to delete. None of our users made an explicit decision to delete either of those questions. That decision was made by heuristics in some algorithm devised by SE. I agree wholeheartedly with Matt E. that there is no reason that either of those questions should have been closed (let alone deleted), and that it is strange that they had negative vote totals. I'm happy to see that the first post has since received some upvotes. The second post still needs an upvote to protect it from the SE grim reaper. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 17 '12 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill I realize that they were downvotes, not votes to delete. I was explaining a comment of Mariano's that you seem to have misunderstood. $\endgroup$ – Chris Taylor Oct 17 '12 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris I understood Mariano's comment. But, as I explained, I don't think it is pertinent. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 18 '12 at 0:55
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Since Bill hasn't seen fit to answer this question, I will.

Two of Makoto Kato's questions were automatically deleted by the system. MK requested undeletion, and Bill complied. While doing so, he also undeleted this question, incorrectly believing that it had also been automatically deleted. While Bill feels personally that such questions should not be deleted, this particular undeletion was clearly an oversight, and not an attempt to override the wishes of the community.

Given that it was closed (correctly) as Not Constructive, and deleted after a sufficient time for improvement had passed without any edits or efforts to re-open it being made, I've re-deleted it.

Moderators are human. They make mistakes. Fortunately, those mistakes can be corrected without ridiculous amounts of drama.

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    $\begingroup$ As far as I can see, MK did not ask for the questions to be undeleted. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 16 '12 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Mariano: no; he identified two other questions (which were also undeleted, but which had been automatically deleted and had not been closed). So far as I can discern, this particular question was incorrectly identified and incorrectly undeleted. It is regrettable that this mistake was not corrected sooner. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Oct 16 '12 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Shog: As I wrote to Matt in a comment to my answer, what exacerbated the drama was the fact that Bill were adamant that he did not make any mistakes, and that he is correct. Telling users that he is unwilling to discuss anything further, and then deleting the comments and reopening a closed question, seems to me as acts of tyranny. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf (1) I've already mentioned a couple times that the 3rd question was mistakenly believed to also have been automatically deleted. That was simply an oversight. I did not immediately reverse that since then most readers would not have been able to read and discuss it here (and see that it was not reopened). (2) The reason that I did not intend to address it any further here is due to the fact that this thread is so riddled with misinformation that it seems hopeless to try to get it steered back on course. Instead, I had planned on opening a new meta thread to address these matters. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: The facts are that I pointed that out several times on the comments to MK's meta thread. You kept insisting otherwise and declared that you will not discuss your actions unless we have a "reasonable" reason why the question should be deleted again. This is not how a moderator should behave. It reminds me a lot more of the times I would argue with my commander during my army service and he ended up pulling rank and telling me "I just said so, I don't care what you think. Do it my way.", rather than a conversation with a moderator claiming to be open to suggestions from users. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf I did not immediately realize which question you were referring to (nor did the OP here). Originally I thought you were referring to one of the other two automatically deleted questions. Only later did I realize what happened with the 3rd question. Both threads are permeated by misunderstandings throughout. That is why I thought it would be wise to open a new thread. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Yes, there has been some confusion. Undeleting on your own accord, with the only reason "I believe this is a good question" is another problem, which Hurkyl addressed. The fact that you reopened a closed question is yet another. Once the question was closed the community could have decided whether or not it wants it reopened or deleted. Your action makes it impossible to let the community take its course. What is interesting is that you rather declare that you essentially remove yourself from discussion than taking a look at what you have done. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9 Do questions that are automatically deleted behave any differently from questions deleted by 20K users or moderators? In particular, (how) can the community undelete such automatic deletions? Iirc, content deleted by moderators cannot be undeleted by the community, correct? Knowing such is useful when discussing policy on such matters. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: trusted users should be able to undelete automatically-deleted posts. Only moderator-deleted posts are protected from this (this includes spam- or offensive-deleted posts, which are additionally locked to prevent ANY modification). For the record, moderators are able to undelete any deleted post, an ability they are trusted to use judiciously. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Oct 16 '12 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9 Thanks, that's helpful. Readers may recall that trusted users are those users with 20K+ rep, and they have the ability to vote to delete posts with a score of -1 or lower (it takes 3 such votes to delete a post). We currently have 48 trusted users (not all of which are active on meta). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: There are eight [non-moderator] trusted users on the front page of the meta users list ordered by participation. I am certain that there are several others which are avid readers, but don't participate often. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '12 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Shog9: I’ve no problem with the accidental error; it’s Bill’s evasive responses to Mariano and Asaf that I find distressing. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 17 '12 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Bell: I did read all of the comments, here and in this thread as well. I think that you’re being disingenuous. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 17 '12 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: I am not confused. I made no false inferences. And if you’re not being deliberately disingenuous $-$ and I’m quite prepared to believe that you’re not, just as I believe that you actually do have the best interests of MSE at heart $-$ then you have a somewhat distorted view of your own words in these threads. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Oct 17 '12 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, @Bill, let's run a discussion by your rules. When might we see this meta thread you speak of for "address(ing) both the specific and general issues", that is "free of all the misunderstandings here"? $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Oct 18 '12 at 8:02
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It seems quite clear to me that what Bill actually objects to is closing questions, not the means by which they're closed (community, moderator, etc.).

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    $\begingroup$ This could not be further from the truth. Again, please refrain from speaking for others. Moreover, the issue here is not closure but, rather, the much more extreme action of deletion. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill Noah wrote "It seems [...]", so don't worry that he is speaking for you. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Oct 16 '12 at 16:31
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I believe the actual subject of my question is this question which, while undeleted, was not actually reopened.

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  • $\begingroup$ Since that's the question that you intend to refer to, in order to prevent this thread from further spiralling out of control due to further confusion, I struck out the final two bullet items in your question, since they do not apply to this question. The only recent action on that question was that it was undeleted (because I mistakenly thought that it was one of the questions automatically deleted by SE). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 16 '12 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ That's fair. I still haven't decided exactly how I wanted to modify my question since I want to consider both the question I originally linked and the one I intended to refer to, and that's as good as any for now. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Oct 16 '12 at 18:37

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