Excellent Answer to the question

Can someone explain why this answer with 80 votes was Deleted? I was planning on awarding a bounty on this! There may be one phrase which some might find offensive, but I think its a huge stretch and seems like an over reaction.

In my opinion, this needs to be unlocked, and restored.

If we really need to, we change the word Zealot to Fan.

UPDATE: I mod flagged this.

  • 1
    Related workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5276/73791 ... seems that the post was even flagged as "offensive/spam"
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:34
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    Ridiculous. Change Z to F and move on. Someone is into their feelings a bit I think.
    – Neo
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:38
  • I don't know about the answer, but I thought we had a close reason (I mean 2 close reasons, or actually 3, maybe 4) for questions like that. Y'all confuse me. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 19:39
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    It takes at least three rude/abusive flags to delete an answer. This is exactly what you told another user to do.
    – David K
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 20:03
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    I don't even see what is wrong with the word zealot, voted to undelete
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 0:10
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    Final vote to un delete cast.
    – Neo
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 3:26
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    @DavidK actually 6.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 13:30
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    there is nothing wrong with the word "zealot", nobody should or could be offended by it.
    – bharal
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 8:19

5 Answers 5


Why on earth was this excelent answer deleted?

Seems that it was flagged as offensive/spam and locked by Community.

IMHO, I agree that this is a valuable answer although it may feel like a splash of cold water.

I also think that changing that "controversial" word would solve the problem.

What worries me more is that users are giving more weight to a single word than the content and suggestions of the answer... sometimes the truth may be hard to swallow, and yes some users may sometimes use words to give emphasis to their answers, but deleting a post just because it has a single word I don't like is putting my wellbeing above the Community's

Update The post is now unlocked and open for votes to Undelete. I edited the Z word for "Fan" as the author said that was fine with him. Also did some further smoothing of the post to be more agreeable to a more sensitive audience.

  • 4
    how is zealot a controversial word??? i'm pretty left wing, but I'm not sure that the community should be bowing to random internet strangers claiming offense over a normal word.
    – bharal
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 8:20

This should be undeleted. One word, which isn't even a curse or particularly harsh does not justify deletion.

This is utter nonsense.


The answer was deleted by Community from flags, which of course also locks the post. A moderator in no way locked or deleted the post, this was done by the system here due to flags.

I have removed the lock, but as a moderator, I won't cast the undelete vote unilaterally. The community chose to flag it as offensive and caused a delete, so the community needs to vote to undelete it if they so choose. It's not up to the mods to determine if something should be undeleted once the community has deleted it through whatever means.

All we have done is remove the lock so that you each have the option to undelete assuming high enough rep.

If you feel that the answer could retain the valuable aspects but mitigate what was causing the offensive flags, then also consider editing. Otherwise we may go through a cycle of delete/undelete. Ad infinitum.

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    Understandable, thanks for removing the lock. I believe the answer has potential given the mentioned word is edited. Voted to Undelete, and edited to remove such word :)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:18
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    @DarkCygnus do you think the other parts that come across as condescending/insulting can be improved? Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:22
  • @MonicaCellio I'll try to give them some love, without interfering with the intention of the author to give a strong but valid answer... The Z word is now gone, perhaps what could be changed is the "Your entire post at the moment...". The rest I would leave it be
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:23
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    @MonicaCellio and Jane, took another edit to the post and softened that part... mind checking it? I think it's ok now for when the Community decides to undelete it.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:38
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    @DarkCygnus I think your edits are good, they retain the intent but reduce the intensity. I guess from here it's a case of wait and see if it gets flag deleted again.
    – Jane S
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:41
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    @DarkCygnus those edits address the problems I see. Thanks. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 23:43

Only someone who just hatched and had their first peek into the world would find anything offensive in that post. Frankly they probably never visited a forum or discussion on the internet...or the schoolyard for that matter.

I'm not saying, I condone foul language or (actual) harassment / offensive speech. I do say however that it can't be that basically censorship happens automatically (!) if a few people flag something. Anyone can spam the flag button...

It is good to know that there is a procedure to remedy something like what happened to the poster. Since I'm new to this site I am kind of surprised and concerned though...

oh, and just some food for thought: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/zealot


‚Äč a person who has very strong opinions about something, and tries to make other people have them too

This is NOT an offensive word nor does it cause offense.

They list as synonym: "Enthusiasts" for crying out loud


The approach one takes to "make other people have the same opinions" may be offensive, even violent. That might be perceived as giving the word "zealot" a negative connotation, mirroring the "zealots" obtrusive or violent behavior.

However that means the actions the "zealot" takes are questionable, dare I say offensive, NOT the word "zealot" itself !

Furthermore, the (mis)use of a word to demean in a condescending way for instance does not validate the words "offensiveness".

There is also the nuance of immediate and historical context and intent to consider.

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    You can argue 'til you're blue in the face that something shouldn't be offensive (and I can probably argue that it is, if I felt so inclined), but that wouldn't change the fact that some people use it as an insult and some people are offended by it (which can also be concluded from this whole incident). Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 18:33
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    then they use that to establish censorship.There's no argument.Anyone can claim to be offended by anything.That must not grant the right to dictate people how and what to speak in a free society.Offensive words and speech can be largely quantified and categorized objectively by linguists.It's not up to the individual.Degrees of severity of offense are ignored.Meltdowns and fear of controversy/backlash on critical or challenging words/concepts stifle civilized discourse.This is exactly why it took generations to fight for freedom of speech and why every generation needs to continue to fight. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 20:17
  • The fundamental difference in opinion over whether we should be invalidating the feelings of others, or whether websites are allowed to have rules about what can be said on them, doesn't seem constructive to argue over. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 21:38
  • @Dukeling I'd be inclined to agree.One might argue,that's why freedom of speech has been established in the first place.So that anyone may speak their mind without fear of persecution or bodily harm.Sadly at the same time,if a website(read community,read society,read government) enforces or tolerates biased interpretations of rules or rules violating principles of freedom and equality THAT is exactly what needs to be discussed.Also,it is not about hurting or invalidating feelings.It is about appropriate response to true infractions vs perceived ones and the education on what really offense is. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 22:12
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    @Dukeling I'm offended at your use of the word "some". I found it quite insulting. Should I flag your comment? Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 17:21
  • My first comment may have taken the wrong approach @Crossedtheriverstyx. The answer has an argument that people are expected to have thick skins because the world is cruel, not that there's nothing offensive in the post. There's also a point that it should not be deletable via only a few flags, not that it shouldn't be deleted at all nor that there's no basis for the flags. It's also arguing well for the negative connotation of "zealot", implying the word may have been used in a demeaning and condescending way with an intention to offend, and saying offensiveness isn't black and white. Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 19:01
  • The argument of "the answer is fine because you'll find so much worse in other places" is like saying "assault is fine because there are so many murderers out there". Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 19:07
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    @Dukeling no, that's not what is being said at all. What is being said is that the right of way should not go to the one with the thinnest skin Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 22:37
  • @Crossedtheriverstyx Which part(s) of my comment(s) are you saying is "not what is being said at all"? "The right of way should not go to the one with the thinnest skin" sounds exactly like (depending on what exactly you mean) either (a) people are expected to have thick skins here or (b) we shouldn't just let people delete whatever offends them, both of which are already contained in my earlier comments. My point was that those points don't have much to do with whether or not this answer is fine, and the part that is about that makes a better argument for the other side (IMO). Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 0:18
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    I wholeheartedly approve both stances - that the use of words like "zealot" or other characterizations is both unnecessary AND should be perfectly OK to use without people flagging it. This is not a freedom of speech issue though - that only applies and limits the power of government. SE is not a govt body - and can safely censor whatever SE wants. My argument is; we do not want to censor this - if we trim the people interested in making contributions down to a select group who are masters at not offending people, we are making SE worse..
    – Stian
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 8:53
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    Perhaps we should be offended at the words 'thick skinned'... we shouldn't be judging people based on their skin surely? Or even grouping them by skin? Or even for that matter bringing their skin into the conversation at all?
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 9:19
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    @Kilisi indeed. This shows unfortunately how even the most well meaning intent can become a disruptive slippery slope if not kept in check and within reason."The path to hell is paved with good intentions." comes to mind... Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 9:28

Welcome to the real world.

... is condescending, since it implies the person you're talking to has been living in a fantasy world up to now and is ignorant to how the (real) world works (and it's entirely non-constructive, since just explaining how the world works already implies that they don't know how it works).

This may be less offensive if the asker is just entering the working world (which I didn't read in the question), in which case it may be more of an "maybe it sucks, but this first experience of yours is pretty common" (which is still not particularly constructive though, since that meaning may not be obvious and this point has been stated more explicitly later on - "that's not how the industry works" - and repeating oneself is generally also a bit condescending).

Sometimes you have to work with other people ...

... is so obvious that it's condescending.

If you're a Free Software zealot

... is (moderately) offensive, since "zealot" could be seen as having a negative connotation due to "zealots" commonly using offensive or violent means to further their cause.

Your entire post at the moment screams "high maintenance, unwilling to make reasonable compromises"

... is basically an insult (if you want to say some specific things, like refusing to provide a Word resume, is bad or would be seen as bad by someone, that could be good and useful advice, but calling everything someone said bad is just insulting and not constructive).

have a serious think

... is also (a bit) condescending, since simply noting the ultimate point of the comment ("this is not the attitude you want to project when looking for a job") or phrasing it in terms of a question ("is that the attitude you want to project when looking for a job?") would already lead to them thinking about it, so you're kind of saying they're not smart enough to think about if not told to think about it. Adding "serious" to that implies that they're not smart enough to figure out what deserves how much thought by themselves and need to be told that.

On the offensotometer, I'd give it a 3/10 - not that offensive, but not not offensive - probably fine for Reddit or Quora, but Stack Exchange should have higher standards, especially on a site where is our most used tag.

  • 4
    How did you calibrated and characterized your offensotometer? Maybe it's a 3 for you, and maybe an 1 for me... but perhaps I woke up today more tolerant than other days
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 21:20
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    I don't trust an offensotometer unless its calibration record is NIST traceable. As a free software zealot, that answer was at least 5!
    – pipe
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 21:47
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    @DarkCygnus I've spent a few decades gathering data and continuously training it on the most complex neural network ever made. The data and training parameters are unfortunately both proprietary and not in an easy distributable format. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 22:05
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    To be fair to Philip, the question was significantly toned down after he wrote his answer. The original version of the question read like the OP was ... rigid about his choice, and wanted the rest of the world to adapt to his choice.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 0:03
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    @MaskedMan Two wrongs don't make a right... Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 12:23
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    I don't think either of them was "wrong". The OP's original question suggested a bit of a ... uhm, let's say attitude problem ("I have my resume in LaTeX, recruiter wants Word file. How to deal with them?"), Philip's brusque tone was somewhat of a bitter pill necessary to fix that. The OP did significantly tone down the question, which may or may not be the result of the answer, of course. That aside, there wasn't much wrong with the answer, except for the Z-word, which too is a borderline case IMHO.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 15:38
  • I was offended, but not by the word Zealot.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 16:03
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    I think this answer sums up the mentality pretty well. I don't agree with any of it mind you. In my opinion people are far too sensitive, and typically take great pleasure in taking offense. Righteous Indignation and White Knighting are favorite pastimes on the Internet and SE is no exception.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:10
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    If you let anything under your skin with a score less than 4/10 on offensotometer you need to toughen up buttercup.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:12
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    @Lumberjack That's probably also about a 3/10, or maybe a 2.5/10. Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:28
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    @Dukeling I'm sure you're right. I'm walking around at a solid 2/10 baseline, even when I'm holding my breath.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:40

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