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TL;DR I intend to remove answers I don't think are adding value or answers that are suggesting legally or morally dangerous things. Not just because they are downvoted. I'm doing it on a case by case basis

This site as a whole has some absolutely fantastic questions and answers and some of the users we have are able to provide phenomenal support for a wide range of topics, as a whole the tone of the community here is very good and seems to be slowly improving!

However, we are not without our baggage, we do have a number of answers that may be best to remove.

Tell-tale signs

The tell tale signs of our current 'bad' answers are that they are quite old, a month or two at least, highly down voted, and have usually incited discussion in their comments just because they are sowing discontent in the community.

Don't confuse these with good, value adding answers that have been down-voted though. The plan is to remove those that don't add value, not those that are just disagreeable.

Also included in this will be those answers that seem to offer dangerous advice that could land the asker in serious trouble either legally or morally.

For example, if I select by answers, order by votes, and look at the very last page we have a good place to begin investigation.

My Plan

I plan to be working backwards through these, gradually getting towards the more positively scored answers. I will be trying to do something about every single one of these answers in a push to improve the quality of our answers as a whole.

My efforts will either result in flagging, voting to delete, or leaving a comment where I think the answers are salvageable.

How you can help

For those of you with 4k reputation at least you are welcome to join me and help in a few ways.

  1. Hopping on the last pages and working backwards like I am
  2. Going to the review page and checking the delete tool to either agree or disagree with my deletions.

For those of you who do not have the 4k rep you can still help by working forwards rather than backwards. These will be the less down-voted answers that may still be salvageable with an edit, or a polite comment to the original poster.

For answers that I think are on the edge I may bring to meta for discussion, if you wish to help then please do the same and avoid discussions in the comments, either taking them to chat or to meta.

Thankyou in advance,

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    Please... Please consider Jim and enderland's comments before mass deleting things. – Jim G. Oct 7 '13 at 15:19
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Not all downvoted content should be deleted.

A decently well written answer which is downvoted because the content is disagreeable is not one I'll cast a delete vote on.

My personal philosophy is basically to ask, "does this add value to the site?" - sometimes even if a question or answer is downvoted the answer is yes.

  • I should clarify, I intend to remove only the ones I don't think are adding value or ones that are suggesting legally or morally dangerous things. Not just because they are downvoted. I'm doing it on a case by case basis, thanks for pointing that out – Rhys Oct 7 '13 at 12:11
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Not all downvoted answers should be deleted.

Downvoted answers (especially with comments) can add value. They basically say "here is one approach to solving your problem. It's not a good idea; don't do it."

One example is this answer about working for free. The community generally agrees that it's a bad idea (shown through the downvotes), and there is a comment explaining why. Clearly, the idea occurred to at least one person as a solution to the problem, so it's useful to keep around something refuting that idea.


Rather than go for deletion of such answers, I'd recommend the first action be to try to add comments to explain why it's a bad idea. If that's not a viable option, then deletion may be appropriate.

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    for the example used I believe that it would be better to have an (upvoted) answer that lays out the idea in the impartial tone and follows up with a compelling explanation for why it would be bad. If there was such an answer, I wouldn't mind deletion of the one that gives a pretty shaky "proof by comment and downvotes" – gnat Oct 7 '13 at 12:53
  • Added for clarification: "Don't confuse these with good, value adding answers that have been down-voted though. The plan is to remove those that don't add value, not those that are just disagreeable." – Rhys Oct 7 '13 at 13:03
  • +1: Totally agree. Consider this: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/6464/… – Jim G. Oct 7 '13 at 15:17
  • I disagree that becoming an unpaid volunteer is an answer to how do I get a job... Though I agree in principle that some down-voted answers have value. The one you cited really lacks the basic "why this is the correct answer" explanation." – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 7 '13 at 15:31
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    In general I don't think any answer that relies on comments is a good answer. If people have problems with an answer that information should be in other answers. Refutation of an answer should be in other answers. – dcaswell Oct 7 '13 at 17:19
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    Fully agreed, comments are like Post-It notes on SE and should not be relied on to provide guidance. If the comments disappeared, would the answer still have value? If not the comment should be rewritten as an answer to address what not to do as one example so that the comment (and the other answer) can be deleted without a loss of quality. – jmac Oct 7 '13 at 23:17
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    Since I don't know whether we want answers just saying, "Don't..." I created a separate question to discuss whether those types of answers are appropriate. – jmac Oct 7 '13 at 23:39
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It might be worth removing answers who blindly assume that the question relates to the US with out looking at the questions locale.

On example is this the top answer for What kind of activities are allowed if your job contract prohibits any other occupation or business?

Which starts quoting Minnesota law and IRS guidelines which have absolutely zero relevance to the Question which is about UK employment contracts

  • I am heavily inclined to disagree, I won't delete an answer that has good, value adding information that is likely to help users just for assuming it was in the US. Though if it can be generalised to not be just the US i will more than happily edit. The auto assumption that every question is US specific is a slightly different issue that should be handled with care rather than mass deletions. A little more reading can be done around meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/25/… – Rhys Oct 15 '13 at 14:17
  • Employment law is very specific a general answer doesn't help anyone and could do real damage to people. – Neuromancer Oct 15 '13 at 18:26
  • Deleting answers that assume US, and deleting answers that offer dangerous legal advice are two very different things however. – Rhys Oct 15 '13 at 18:30
  • Well what would you do if the top answer to a question on what happens during company take overs in the USA makes copious reference to TUPE which is a very complex EU legal frame work? I am fairly experienced in UK employment law and it took me a additional 2.5 day course just to be able to give basic advice on TUPE. – Neuromancer Oct 15 '13 at 18:44
  • We won't have much, if any, content here if we follow this all the time. Almost ALL users fail to consider cultural implications for non-Western cultures. Also, related link – enderland Oct 15 '13 at 19:15
  • so split the Q into two and move the answers appropriately and probably mandating that you have to add a location tag when adding a question. – Neuromancer Oct 15 '13 at 19:18
  • @RhysW I agree I am all for deleting answers that assume US but keeping answers that are dangerous and may help evolution... – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 15 '13 at 20:16

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