I do not enjoy particularly reviewing work, and do not find that SE always makes it too easy to do. But I do try to contribute, and I try to do it well, which means in no way that I consider my contribution perfect.

There was a disagreement recently, regarding question Finding the minimum number of calls in a tree

User guest reacted to this question with an answer that was not really an answer, since the question was already answered. But he did not have enough rep to do otherwise.

The fact is that he had himself given the answer in a question a day earlier, and wanted to make it known. The fact is unusual enough to attract attention: I have never seen it before on SE, whatever the topic.

His comment was humorous and in a style strange enough that it attracted my attention. But his comment was founded, and did deserve to be added to the question though he could not do it himself.

I was actually shocked that 2 people had already chosen to vote to delete his answer, without apparently attempting to do anything to deal with the issue. As of now, the answer is deleted, and the issue raised has not been dealt with.

I wanted to deal with the problem and make it apparent that something was amiss. I do not believe much in Meta effectiveness, and it concerned the readers of the technical question anyway.

One other thing did bother me: I wondered what Baader-Meinhof have to do with the issue ... though the rest of the text was fine and rather amusing.

Then I realized that this was not the only coincidence, and I did ask the concerned user what was going on. He did answer, but I am still wondering.

  • $\begingroup$ mountain out of a molehill? handholding newbies? try Computer Science Chat sometime $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 4:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Would you have been able to provide a meaningful edit that would have made the post worthy to stay on as a comment? (Humour is dangerous here -- tastes differ a lot.) Also, please give your post a meaningful title specific to the situation (and readable without Latin or Google skills), thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Raph Latin title was intentional. Because it is more or less what I worry about, and because it is not too likely to appear in a search. Maybe was a wrong choice. I could have just done the comment as asked. But I wondered whether there was more to it ... and also I wondered why it had not been done by those who voted to delete ... which is fine if the comment is first added as requested. I wanted to underscore that I disagreed with the pure deletion policy. I also remember that it took me long to understand the system, and "guest" is a very new user, too new to have an advertising strategy. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @babou My main problem with the title is not the language (it's still a problem) but that it's overly generic. (And the answer of the general question is trivial: nobody, by design.) Note furthermore that there was no policy (that I recall) involved there: it was an individual decision by some users (and a mod) that the post as-is was not an answer to the question. There is not much to understand about SE in order to know that the "answer" box should contain, well, an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ When the system seems to block any action, one way to go is to just bypass the rules, and see what happens. We see that all the time before courts, and sometimes the courts do side with the person who broke the rules. Apparently, no one noticed that the two users involved had registered on SE the same day, and participated in the same questions on SE-CS. Bob Jonas cross-posted on stackoverflow. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:46

3 Answers 3


This looks Baader-Meinhof-ly complementary to the question I just asked yesterday!

I have no idea what “Baader-Meinhof-ly” means, but I think the gist of this sentence is that guest wants to attract attention to this question.

Could someone with a stronger addiction to the stackexchange gamification of crowdsourced content creation please commentize this answer?

As far as I understand, the implication of this sentence is that guest would have liked to post a link to that question, but couldn't because he doesn't have enough reputation, so he posted an answer instead.

So I posted a link to said question in a comment and deleted the answer that didn't attempt to answer but to comment.

It would have been easier if the answer had been the intended text of the comment instead of a long rant (not reproduced here) using strange, incomprehensible vocabulary (partially reproduced here). Moderators have a “convert to comment” button.

What is the issue that you feel has not been dealt with?

And I have no idea what your non-answer about coincidences was supposed to be telling us. It sure wasn't an answer to the question, nor did it convey any useful information that I could find.

  • $\begingroup$ To be fair, it seems as if the rant was added later, presumably after the first comments. (I'm torn whether the employed strategy -- posting a useful comment as an answer for lack of rep with the direct request to transform it into a comment (the flag, ideally) -- is really abuse. We could have rolled back the edit and transformed to a comment.) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ "Baader-Meinhof-ly" did make me uneasy. See comments to cs.stackexchange.com/questions/30555#30559 . Thanks for posting the comment. It could have been posted as an answer, since it had some additional information, but user guest probably did not realize that, which rules out that he was trying to attract attention to his question, imho. My non answer was to be deleted anyway ... but I could never figure out how to communicate with whoever does the reviewing work, whatever the nature of the work. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ @babou The best way to communicate with reviewers is to leave a comment. If there's something which is obviously desirable and an obvious course of action, flagging can be appropriate. If it's something that requires a community discussion, ask on meta. If you want a second opinion or informal discussion, chat. In this instance, you could simply have gone along with the deletion, and posted a comment to reference the other question yourself. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 17:27

I agree with deletion. That was not suitable as an answer in its existing form. I couldn't identify any attempt to answer the question. If it was an attempt to answer the question, it was beyond my ability to understand.

Perhaps it should have been a comment. Maybe "guest" was thinking that they didn't have enough reputation to post a comment, so they wrote it in the answer box instead. However, lack of rep to comment does not make it appropriate to post a comment in the answer box.

(There is a reason that we do not allow commenting until people have gained a certain amount of reputation. This is not a discussion forum. If we allowed commenting to all users, regardless of reputation, we'd be at risk of being overwhelmed with discussion and side commentary that doesn't actually answer the question -- in other words, noise would start drowning out the signal. We do expect people to follow the site rules and the community norms, even though, yes, this does mean they might not be able to comment immediately on other people's questions.)

Or, alternatively, if "guest" thought they had a solution to the problem, I think the answer would have fared better if "guest" had posted an answer in a more direct form. As it stands, the point of "guest"'s answer is hard to follow and indirect. It reads more like an attempt to publicize their other question than to help the author of the question in terms that they'd be able to understand.

Finally, keep in mind that there was an earlier answer by FrankW that already gave a direct answer to the question. I'm not sure what value is added by posting a second answer that is worded obscurely and doesn't clearly answer the question, and that doesn't seem to contribute anything in addition to FrankW's prior answer.

I don't think humor (or lack thereof) had anything to do with it, except perhaps that the attempt to inject a little bit of levity may have made "guest"'s point harder to follow. Humor is tough on this kind of site.

As far as "doing anything to deal with the issue", what did you have in mind? What were you thinking should have been done to deal with the issue? I don't see the issues as something that could be fixed by a minor edit. Rewriting the answer entirely is beyond the level of what others should be expected or required to do.

I do hope "guest" will continue to participate and contribute.

  • $\begingroup$ What should have been done is what Gilles ultimately did: write the comment, as it was appropriate. I did not do it, because I wanted to underscore that it should be done, and had not been by the deletion voters. I disagree with the idea that deletion is the answer to all problems. OK with the rest of your answer. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 13:00

As one of the "delete"-voters, let me explain, how these votes came to be:

The "answer" showed up in the "Low Quality Posts" review queue (as I just noticed, you should know this, since you reviewed it yourself). In that queue the reviewer is presented with 2 options: "Looks OK" and "Delete", where "Delete" allows to choose a reason.

When I reviewed it, @David Richerby had already reviewed it and voted to delete (as I could tell from the automatically added comment). Also the answer text explicitly asked for the answer to be converted to a comment. (The snarky comment following that request had also already been added IIRC.) So I voted the same as David, assuming that an according flag for the mods would be raised and the post thus be dealt with accordingly.

A few hours later, I then was completely surprised by your non-answer (which in part should have been a comment on a comment on a post, which itself should have been a comment on another post -- wow). After all, I expected @guest to be getting exactly what he requested.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for explaining. It may surprise you, but I am not yet sure how standard comments are introduced. What happens often to me is that, when I am not comfortable with the reviewing options, I just do something outside the reviewing system ... as I never managed to anticipate how it works. To make my answer honest and complete, I should add I have been often irritated by contributions that are deleted or put on hold, in a way I consider not justified. While some clearly erroneous or misleading answers remain upvoted, or even accepted (this is not just in SE-CS) $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ I should add that what I miss most is a way to undo when I realize I pushed the wrong button, or a way to postpone reviewing. Maybe it is there. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ You can postpone reviewing by not clicking any of the options and instead closing the window or clicking on the link to the homepage (or any other link outside the review frame). If the post is still available for review the next time the queues are updated (happens every 10 minutes or so), it will be added again. $\endgroup$
    – FrankW
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ If the review queue "decides" on deletion, the post is deleted without a flag raised. In this case (or any case that warrants conversion to comment) the prudent way is to ignore the post (or vote "Looks OK" to keep your queue clean) and flag for moderator attention. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @babou The platform have all the tools you need -- use them! At >5k rep yourself, you should be able to a) edit, b) vote for reopening (which puts the post in the reopen queue for others to see) and c) flag for moderator attention if necessary. Silent suffering and meta posts should both be last resorts. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ CC @Raphael - Thanks for the replies. Cannot help it, I always feel like I am in a straight jacket (maybe I am, and dreaming this :), and not always understanding the review system (such as finding the whole question under review). But enough of your time spent on this. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 16:27

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