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I recently got an automated message that "we're looking for long answers..." It seems weird to insist on a lot of words if a few words gets the point across, and who is the "we" who decided what kind of answers "we want?"


Edited because people on here like lots of words :)

One of the tenets of good writing is not to use more words than are necessary to convey an idea, so it seems to me that insisting on extra words does not increase the quality of the answers, though it may increase the time spent on each page. Perhaps that statistic is important to getting out of beta, but it just seems a poor way to achieve the goal.

I think Yannis' answer is a fantastic example of an answer with a whole lot of words in it that doesn't say very much. Obviously, I read the notice when it came up, but it seemed kind of arrogant and more of an opinion than anything else.

To me, it's self-evident that if you're offering an answer to a question that you're recommending it as a solution because you think that's what the person should do. So insisting that that be included in the answer is just silly.

In addition, people are taking their time out to try to help someone, in a forum where the subject matter could impact the poster's career. Obviously, some people choose to be more anonymous than others, but it seems to me that if you're one of those who cares whether you're upvoted or downvoted, you're not going to be user123456789. So, sometimes the brevity may stem from not wanting to say something that could potentially cause an issue in the poster's current or potential future position. Would you really prefer such people offer no help at all?

I've only asked one question (due to the fact that most questions I might ask are about dealing with a team that doesn't want to move as technologically fast as I do and I'm afraid my frustration might result in a pattern of questions that might make me appear really negative should I decide to move on or should someone on my team see it), but the best answer I got was in a comment. I couldn't mark it as correct, obviously. It's possible that the person posting the comment might have put that as an answer had this rule not been in place. Now, I have a 0% acceptance rate and she didn't get the rep she deserves (if she cares).

The links Yannis posted were somewhat useful, in that they provided the context that not everyone was in agreement about whether short answers were even a problem. They did not answer the underlying question about why those (IMO reasonable) voices were overridden and who decided to send out the automated messages, despite the conflicting opinions.

It also seems that the discussions he posted were as much a "moment in time" of a specific self-selected group of workplace users. If the question were to be posted on the regular Workplace site, would the active Workplace users today agree that short answers are bad?

Finally, it seems to me that preventing short answers and insisting people put them in comments can result in really long comment threads, which can be much harder to follow (you're not sure if it's actually an answer that someone was afraid to post because it was short and they didn't want their rep nuked, or if it's just a random person weighing in for some other reason).

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    I downvote nearly all "answers" which are not answers, oftentimes they should be comments - this was no exception :-) – enderland Oct 29 '12 at 20:55
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    This isn't an answer, it's a question. Just sayin' – Amy Blankenship Oct 29 '12 at 21:51
  • @AmyBlankenship And how is the community going to show disagreement with the premise of your question, if not by downvoting it? – yannis Oct 29 '12 at 22:57
  • The same way that you want people to answer questions when their answer is short ;) – Amy Blankenship Oct 29 '12 at 22:58
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    Your edit transformed a good question (it was good, people just disagreed with it) into a pointless rant. If you disagree with my answer, downvote it, and if you have a better answer, well just post it. Also, none of the discussions I linked to are "fixed in time", if you have opinions on them, just post them as answers and re-start the conversations. – yannis Oct 30 '12 at 4:26
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    Lastly, I find it quite sad that you are so quickly dismissing what the community has reached consensus on, you are free to disagree, but you are not free to belittle. If you want to rant, and post your opinions without feeling any burden to back them up, might I suggest you do it on your blog and not here? – yannis Oct 30 '12 at 4:35
  • Reading the links you posted, I don't see consensus. I see that multiple views, not all in agreement, and also a very small slice of the entire community. Nobody has addressed why some of those views were acted upon and the others were not. I expanded my answer because my recollection is that there was a comment inviting me to do so, which doesn't seem to be here anymore. – Amy Blankenship Nov 1 '12 at 1:35
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    @AmyBlankenship Consensus isn't a majority vote. – yannis Nov 2 '12 at 4:48
  • You have yet to divulge the procedure used here for determining that consenses has occurred. I hadn't previously downvoted your answer (I actually feel downvoting is really rude unless the problem is completely egregious). However, I think that your continued comments in response to my questions about consensus without adding anything to your answer that addresses them pushes it into that category. – Amy Blankenship Nov 2 '12 at 22:34
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    @AmyBlankenship Hm, look at the vote count in your question. Then look at the vote count in the answers. That's consensus. Out of 181 people who visited this thread, those who cared enough to vote, did, and apparently are extremely against the premise of your question. This, coincidentally, is the most downvoted question on Meta Workplace ever. If that's not consensus, I don't know what is... In any case, I never tried to convince you of anything, only to explain, I couldn't care less if you are convinced or not. – yannis Nov 3 '12 at 5:53
  • You said yourself, consensus is not a majority vote ;). My thought is that most people tend not to examine a premise very hard once they've accepted it, and IMO this premise wasn't examined closely enough on the front end (and most still aren't considering it critically, but instead using confirmation bias). – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 13:23
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I do not "like lots of words." I like answers which provide meaningful information and context so that someone in the future finding this site can get value from it.


I often search google and find StackOverflow questions. This causes me to really appreciate the difference between short, "here's the answer" questions, and "here's the answer, here's why" questions. If I have a similar issue, one which is not exactly the same - but perhaps super close - I absolutely love having the additional context or explanation a longer, comprehensive answer provides. It bothers me when I find threads on StackOverflow and then realize I have a closely related question but can get no additional insight from the answers listed because they are too short.

This is why I do not like short answers. They do not provide a future reader the context necessary to gain significant value or insight unless the situation is nearly exactly the same as what is asked in the question.

I said it in my comment above: I consistently downvote "answers" which should be comments, because I do not like polluting the site with spam types of answers. I realize downvoting is not necessarily public information by principle but you are asking about this - I am giving you my exact voting philosophy. I downvote answers/questions (as well as upvote) based on the question, "will this be useful in the future to someone coming to this site?"


Ok, now a practical example. Note the two blocks of text above and separated by the -------- break. The first, before the separation, could have been my answer. It "answers" your question! However, the second provides the necessary context and reasoning such that someone coming here, either yourself or Yannis Rizos or John Galt, will understand my answer and make it valuable.

This distinction, hopefully shown simply by this answer, is why short answers are bad, and longer answers are, in general, better.

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    Also: Long answers we can easily rewrite and make sorter, if they are just too long to read (some of us have a tendency of writing too much, and adding lots of irrelevant info). Short answers we can't expand, only the original poster can. – yannis Oct 30 '12 at 15:28
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    +1 - Another way to approach this is this: There is only one original poster, but there are hundreds or thousands of future visitors, and as enderland suggests, those hundreds and thousands may not be able to ask the answers "Excuse me, what did you mean by X?". – jmort253 Oct 30 '12 at 15:29
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    Who is John Galt? (couldn't resist ;) – yannis Oct 30 '12 at 15:38
  • Do you have anything to say to the part of my question that asked who "we" really counts as? I think that's actually the more important part of the question. – Amy Blankenship Nov 2 '12 at 22:35
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    @AmyBlankenship the "we" is whoever votes for questions and answers, both here and on the main site. I gave you my voting methodology - it seems others have similar thoughts based on their voting. – enderland Nov 2 '12 at 22:53
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The full text of the post notice is:

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer: please explain why you're recommending it as a solution. Answers that don't explain anything will be deleted. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective for more information.

The notice itself answers your question, at least partially, answers should provide some explanation and context. The Workplace strives to be a high quality and low noise Q&A site, I think the expectation for answers that explain their premise (and ideally back it up with references) isn't unreasonable.

Furthermore the post notice points you to a blog post, have you read it? The more relevant quote from it is:

Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers. The best subjective questions inspire your peers to share their actual experiences, not just post a mindless one-liner or cartoon in hopes of being rewarded with upvotes for being merely “first.” Sharing an experience takes at least one paragraph; ideally several paragraphs. If I’m asking about how to bake cookies, don’t give me a list of grocery items: milk. butter. vanilla. eggs. There is virtually nothing I can learn from a short, static list of grocery items that make up a recipe. Instead, tell me what happened the last time you made cookies from that recipe! Share your detailed experiences, so that we all might learn from them.

Please read all of it, if you haven't already. Short answers are not inherently bad, but a more thorough answer is almost always preferable.

As for the "we", it refers to the community. Post notices are applied by moderators, typically at the request of regular users (via flags), and The Workplace community has favoured longer and non repetitive answers since the early days of the site. Even if the answer hasn't been flagged, moderators are generally expected to enforce the community's standards, which typically originate from Meta discussions. Some relevant Meta discussions:

And the more important discussion is FAQ proposal: Back It Up and Don't Repeat Others, which ironically has a very short answer (but that's only because the answerer is a known troll). The community decided (~reached consensus) to add the "back it up" rule in the FAQ, and the phrasing strongly hints towards more thorough answers:

How should I answer?

Make sure your answer adds helpful information and is a complete, stand-alone answer. Read other answers first and be sure not to completely restate information that has already been posted.

Please note that answers should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally. You should always include in your answer information about why you think your answer is correct.

Our preference towards more thorough answers is also codified in our "How to Answer" guidelines:

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

Your answer is a comment at best, sorry to be blunt but it doesn't really stand as an actual answer. We are not here only to get the point across, answers should help solve actual, practical problems, and should be valuable to anyone else that's facing a similar problem as the original asker. Answers that don't fundamentally answer the question might be removed at any time.

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    So, here's what bothers me about this. I'd be willing to bet most moderators on here aren't asking questions on here, because if your identity is well-known, you're probably not going to be comfortable asking the kind of question that should go on this forum (I thought long and hard before asking one). So, we have people who probably never will ask a question on here deciding for people who probably have no idea there even is a meta what is going to be useful to them... cont – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:30
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    This forum also seem to close questions more often and more quickly than I've ever seen. Have you noticed that there are not a whole not of new questions anymore? I'd be willing to bet that the attitude of the moderators toward everyone else has something to do with it. – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:31
  • @AmyBlankenship Actually, I'm following the site's stats pretty closely, and we're getting more questions than ever. Now, by moderators do you mean the three moderators (those with diamonds next to their usernames), or high rep users in general? In any case, all high rep users, including the moderators, have asked quite a few questions already. As for Meta, well, you found it, and everyone else will, eventually. – yannis Oct 27 '12 at 19:42
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    (cont...) Lastly, closures. Well, the general approach is "close early, close often", if you stick around you'll soon realize that closed doesn't mean dead. We like closing problematic questions, but we also enjoy fixing them and re-opening them. Closing just prevents the questions getting answers that might be invalidated when the question is improved. Generally speaking The Workplace doesn't differ from any other Stack Exchange when it comes to closures, if anything we close less questions here than on other sites. – yannis Oct 27 '12 at 19:45
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    I'm a long-time SO user, so I know about meta sites from there. I think many users will walk and never come back if their question is closed and they think it is unfair. I'm sure you're right, and there is no problem with # of questions per day meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/499/… – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:48
  • Do you have any stats on how many regular forum users have posted anything on Meta? – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:52
  • @AmyBlankenship We can always use more questions, but 5 q/d is a lot more than 3.5 q/d we were getting three months ago. The rate is steadily increasing, I never said it was perfect, just responding to your Have you noticed that there are not a whole not of new questions anymore? claim. As for Meta participation, you can start here: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/users – yannis Oct 27 '12 at 19:55
  • Hm, since my profile on meta seems to be directly connected to my regular Workplace profile, I have low confidence that this reflects people who have actually posted something on here. It also doesn't seem to be in a format that tells me much about how representative the people listed are of Workplace users in general. Are these people 10%? 50%? – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:57
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    Besides, I was more talking about the fact that it seems like in the past few days, there is something like 1 q/d (or less) – Amy Blankenship Oct 27 '12 at 19:59
  • @AmyBlankenship Weekends are slow on every site, our average q/d is constantly increasing. Also, look again at the list of meta users, it's sorted by Meta participation. As for what percentage of users have posted something on Meta, I have no idea, and I don't know why that would be important or even interesting. – yannis Oct 27 '12 at 20:00
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    Workplace SE Area 51 Stats. The Workplace is doing quite well. Because of the high quality of the Q&A posts, the visits per day is almost excellent! :) Amy, keep in mind the goal is to also help future visitors. I encourage you to edit your post. I'm sure you have more things to add that would make it clear why you think the op shouldn't be worried. Vagueness might be okay for the asker, but the thousands of future visitors who visit the post might not be able to reach you to get more clarification. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Oct 27 '12 at 21:31
  • Thanks for the link to the stats. Interesting. – Amy Blankenship Nov 1 '12 at 1:39
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Who Applies Post Notices:

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer: please explain why you're recommending it as a solution. Answers that don't explain anything will be deleted. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective for more information.

This is what is known as a post notice. Diamond moderators and Stack Exchange employees, anyone with a diamond by their name, have the ability to apply a post notice.

In most cases, these are applied in response to community flags. Your answer likely came up in the review queue's "low quality post" filter, due to its length, and some users may have flagged it as "not an answer". Any user with something like 100 or 200 rep can see posts in the review queue, which means just about any user here could have flagged your post as not an answer. Anyone with 15 reputation can flag a post.

In response to flags, one of the moderators likely applied the post notice instead of just outright deleting your answer. The goal, of course, is to give you an opportunity to improve your post and make it valuable to future visitors.


The rest of this is quite long, but I'm hoping it provides you with an explanation and background, from my perspective, of why the community chose to enforce answer quality:

Stack Exchange Sites are Better than Forums:

Most of the answers on the site, due to this rule, answer the question in their entirety, and they also provide context to help askers and future visitors to know why those answers are right for them. This not only reduces the number of answers, and reduces noise, but also helps people decide what action to take to solve their problem.

If we let everyone post random one-liners everywhere, how useful would 15 to 20 answers on the site be that just didn't explain anything? What it would do is reduce the material to nothing but guesswork for those seeking answers.

Are we discussing Short Answers, or how the community came to this conclusion?

As Yannis said, if you want to rehash the discussion, let's do that. So far, you've just complained about the process of coming to this conclusion months ago and seem to be focusing on that point and trying to call Yannis out for being inconsistent.

What is your argument for allowing these short, one-liner answers? How does this add value to this site? How does this make Workplace SE better than some random snapshot on the Internet where someone posted something vague for future visitors to try and interpret years later? This really isn't what Stack Exchange is about, and quality is why this Q&A platform is so popular.

Short Answers Are Not Bad:

As far as short answers go, I'll take a different approach than the people who say short is bad: Short answers are not bad, and an answer shouldn't, in my opinion, be removed simply because it is short. However, short is a symptom of something possibly being amiss with an answer. Either it doesn't answer the question fully, or the answer doesn't explain why it is the right course of action, in most cases.

In some cases, short answers could indicate a problem with the question. Perhaps someone should leave a comment asking the user to provide more details. Maybe a skilled editor can help clarify the post. Possibly, the question just needs to be closed as not a real question.

In many cases, short answers mean there is a problem somewhere, but not always.

Interpretation Of Your Answer:

As a result of my stance on short answers, I've read your answer and reread it again, trying to find a reason to take your side and argue for it to be undeleted. The conclusion I come to is that I'm not 100% sure you answered the full question, but the part you did answer didn't really need explanation because it was so obvious.

You did addressed the issue with being fired, which is a concern for the applicant, but you didn't address whether or not it would be an issue to an employer if the applicant consciously quit after 1 year.

You didn't answer this:

"what would you prefer to see in a job applicant? Exactly one year at the last job or 13-14 months?"

And you didn't answer this:

On the one hand, if I quit after 'one year' it seems more likely to be a conscious choice and something I would have given consideration and planning before doing.

You said:

If you're applying to new jobs while you still have a job, this shouldn't matter, since you obviously haven't left because you were fired.

So, what I get from this is that employers won't think you've been fired if you still have a job, obviously. This makes sense, and again, I agree no real explanation is required here. However, the asker was also concerned that this might make him/her look like he/she planned to leave the job after 1 year, which might look bad to an employer expecting people to stick around and dedicate themselves to 3 or 4 years.

Again, you didn't address that point or explain why this isn't an issue.

Why Context Matters:

To me, it's self-evident that if you're offering an answer to a question that you're recommending it as a solution because you think that's what the person should do. So insisting that that be included in the answer is just silly.

So who are you? We don't know you. I really just met you online a few days ago. You seem like an intelligent person, and I even watched you answer an interesting ActionScript problem on Stack Overflow a few nights ago. You even said ActionScript wasn't your area of expertise, yet you still solved the problem. ;)

However, user1234 doesn't know you. How does user1234 and the countless future visitors to your Workplace post know that the information you give is useful and correct if you don't provide any context to demonstrate it's correct? To user1234, you and I are both just random people on the Internet, so without explanation, it's difficult to tell why a solution is a good solution.

In short, I think you're misunderstanding what the community means by "provide some explanation and context". The community isn't asking you to say "I recommend this explanation because I think it will help you", because you're right, that is silly. Instead, the goal is to explain why on a deeper level. Share your knowledge. Why do you think what you're recommending is helpful? Because you say it is? How can you explain this so that people reading your answer learn from it, instead of merely thinking "I should do this because Amy says so.".

Remember, there's no compiler here to check to see if a solution is good or not. Sometimes, the outcome of an answer on the Workplace may not be clear for months or years, so there's no immediate way for someone to tell if your solution is the one to go with. Hope this helps!

  • I think it's interesting that people assume I'm complaining about having my answer down voted/removed. I couldn't care less, except as I think there are probably a significant number who downvote solely because of the message that comes up (a la the famous story of monkeys that all attack one that goes for the banana) without giving it the kind of thoughtful consideration you did. At the time I posted this question as a comment on "Let's get critical" the rep on that answer was actually positive, and I had no idea it was removed until you just told me... – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 3:19
  • When I saw that message, it appeared about 1 second after the post, which means that nobody had given the post thoughtful consideration. I was actually more concerned and genuinely curious that this message had been sent down by mysterious aliens based solely on the length of the answer. You're actually the only person who has responded who has convinced me that, if you downvoted, you did it after actual consideration rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to knowing there's a "rule" answers can't be too short. – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 3:22
  • I've been on forums, mailing lists, etc. for long enough (over 10 years on technical topics and almost 20 if you want to count all topics) to know that just because everyone thinks your answer is right that doesn't make it right. So policies that encourage knee-jerk voting skew this even further. – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 3:27
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    As a FYI, Actionscript is my area of expertise, and there are certain areas of it where I consider myself second to none, such as this type of problem (forums.adobe.com/message/4820050#4820050). I am just enough of an expert to know that I don't know everything, and people like Rob Penner and Colin Moock might well know some operators that aren't documented. Operators are particularly hard to research, since often the name of it isn't obvious from looking at it if you're not familiar with it. – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 3:28
  • Hi Amy, I actually did think about this for a few days before posting; I wanted to approach your situation as objectively as I could. I'm glad you found it helpful. As an aside, different communities evaluate answers differently, as the topic can attract different audiences. For instance, I participate on Project Management SE, and that community insists on judging answers only by their merit. I've brought it up before, and people there convinced me to look at the answer as a whole, not simply by length. It's a great community, you should check it out! – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 4:29
  • The difference between the Workplace and some other specialty niche topics is that Workplace has a rather broad audience. We define ourselves as experts merely by working and having a job. This means everyone and anyone can be an expert, so that might be why they felt the need to keep answers in check. It feels like the right choice for this site for that reason. On other sites where the topics are more specialized, you really can't give a good answer unless you're experienced in the subject matter or do a lot of research on the subject yourself. – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 4:34
  • [cont'd] - I can't really quantify that observation or back it up with any evidence, but it is interesting to note that there are major differences between different SE communities and their general vibe. This would make for an interesting discussion on the psychology site or a sociology site. ;) – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 4:36
  • And at the heart of my question is "Do we really want to create such a ruthless/mean-spirited vibe on a forum where people are often at their lowest when they post?" – Amy Blankenship Nov 3 '12 at 13:27
  • @AmyBlankenship - I think a better question is how can we guide people into being a bit nicer to people when they see something happening on the site that doesn't fit the community guidelines? One suggestion is to Write them as if you're writing a note to your boss at a new job. – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 21:55
  • Hi @AmyBlankenship, coincidentally, I just got an inbox notification from a post I made a year and a half ago on a Server Fault career question. The person just came back to let me know the Helpdesk position was indeed a stepping stone to Systems Engineer and wanted to let me know that what I suggested worked. This contrast greatly to the near instantaneous feedback we normally get on Stack Overflow technical questions. Anyway, I thought you'd find it interesting as it relates to our conversation here. :) – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 23:29
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Although I'm probably a pretty famous monologger on The Workplace, I felt compelled to chime in on this one - I don't think word count should be (or is) our big driver here. An answer is good if it is thorough. I tend to flag answers as "too short" if they have so little justification that the only reason I could trust the answer is if I trusted the poster personally.

It seems all the more relevant on The Workplace, since very few of these questions have ever been a single faceted issue. Some technical questions have a very clear, short, correct answer, but almost everything here has some level of trust, belief, or wisdom involved in it, and to prove that your answer really is viable, you need to back it up, not unlike proving a hypothesis.

For the record, any answer this long wouldn't bug me.

Addition:

Apparently, this was a good example of why short answers sometimes fail. According to the question asker, I missed a big element of the question - who is the "mythical we" in the response and do "we" really want it?

I'll submit the thought here that:

  1. It's a canned response. All the canned responses on the SE sites tend to adopt the plural to mean the vague sense of the community at any point in time. Looking for much more than that in the intent of canned language is probably futile. It's not a conspiracy theory or anything ... it's just that since there's many mechanisms for user-driven control, they opted for "we" in most of the automated messaging.

  2. The "we" who really chime in are:

    • People who down vote a post - requires 125 reputation - and the guidance is here. I'll point out that one peice of guidance is "no effort posts" - so just posting "yep" is usually seen that way, as are really, really glib one liners that are more funny than useful.

    • People who vote to delete a post - requires 2000 reputation - is described as part of the moderator privilege. At the time of the writing of this post there are 32 users with that privilege, but if you're interested and looking at this later - go here and count (I couldn't find another way).

So... at any given time, the "we" certainly does change, although my experience has been that it mostly accumulates. Rabid users with high reputation are pretty likely to stay involved. In no way is this data driven - but of the 2000+ rep users, I notice about 50% of them online every week, and 25% of them daily. I quickly clicked into a few whose usernames I didn't recognize and found that they, too, were pretty active recently - I just haven't noticed them.

So... my advice would be, don't think that the delete-privilege user pool is changing all that quickly. At this point, it may be growing but not so quickly that I think the opinions have done a 180 degree shift.

Also - at any given time, if a post is deleted - it's the users that recommended the deletion that are making the call. I can't speak for others, but I tend to notice the posts I mark for deletion because they are sitting there with a negative vote and I can't see a way to prod the submitter to improve the post (or I see others have tried and failed)...

If other deleters use the same algorithm, then I'd bet that it's not just the deleter pool, but it's swung by any user that downgrades a post.

Sadly, now I've failed in my terseness... There is definitely something to be said for an executive summary, but realize that the elegant, terse writing of an executive summary is often just the lure to get the executive to read at least a few of the details of the paper. I don't have much respect for people who make big decisions based on a one line slogan, and most of the good executives I know will drill down past the summary in one way or another before they move forward on anything. I see the post of an answer as more than just the executive summary.

  • It bugs me, because it doesn't address the issue of the mythical "we" in the automated message. Perhaps you intended that as an object lesson on how a short answer has a hard time addressing a multifaceted question? – Amy Blankenship Nov 2 '12 at 22:37
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    Amy, if you want to change the rules, let's talk about changing the rules. You keep focusing on this "we" aspect, and the answer to that is "whomever feels like participating in meta". Unfortunately, the large majority of users simply don't care enough to post on meta. Continuing to focus on who was involved in making the decision instead of talking about it constructively isn't helping. Right now, you're on meta, so you're one of the people who count, so make the best of it. ;) – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 1:52
  • Didn't really mean it as a "lesson". Generally I don't try to resort to anything that subtle when answering any SE question. But I'll admit, I skirted the "we"... I'll give it a crack, but it probably means elongating the question. – bethlakshmi Nov 5 '12 at 13:45
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    The "we" would apparently be the 4 people with answers supporting detailed answers, the several people (at least 9) who upvoted those answers, the people who flagged the initial answer in question, the people who downvoted the post in question, the moderator who applied the message (I don't think that was me) and the moderator who eventually deleted it after no improvements were made (me)...There seem to quite clearly be a plurality here, and that's just the people who bothered to participate in Meta or vote/flag the initial post – Rarity Nov 5 '12 at 22:49
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It seems weird to insist on a lot of words if a few words gets the point across...

Yep. You're not alone.

I've emphasized this on Christianity.SE where it's a far bigger problem.

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    Short answer, link with almost no context. What if the link fails or the content on that link changes? (In SO terms, that would be a deleted link or one where the question or answers were substantially edited). Don't just link; add information. – itsbruce Oct 29 '12 at 15:13

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