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I posted this answer (2K only) yesterday, along with this answer. It's not a great answer; the community does not even seem to think it's a very good answer, but it is a valid answer to the question.

The moderator who deleted the question said

@murgatroid99 - SE is not a platform for polls. Please pick the answer you believe in and are willing to support. Let other folks who are willing to support them create other answers. Thank you!

However, the top voted answer on this meta.stackexchange question, along with this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one all agree that posting multiple answers to a single question is acceptable, as long as they are completely distinct answers (which mine are).

When I commented with that information, the moderator seemed to delete the answer out of exasperation, saying

After several requests, you keep questioning my moderation here instead of Board & Card Games Meta, so I'm just moving on. Peace.

I believe that this was an incorrect deletion and an improper use of moderator powers.

For reference, here is a screenshot of the current state of the answer and comments:

Deleted answer image

Update: My other answer on that question was just deleted. This is ridiculous.

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  • Side note: I think it's unfortunate that we're basing so much on a 6-year old main meta question mostly in the context of SO only. I was about to post a new question here but quickly found this: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/q/647/409 - seems that without being aware of that precedent from then-meta.SO, people favored single answers when possible. (Of course in your case, the two seem to be mutually exclusive, so it's a pretty different situation.) – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 20:47
  • Can you post the text or a screen shot for the people who can't see it? – Joe W Mar 26 '15 at 21:22
  • @Jefromi I did not realize how old that question was. However, the other questions I linked to back up my statement are mostly from 2013 and 2014. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 21:24
  • @murgatroid99 Yeah, I know, the reason I'm still uneasy is that meta has this habit of closing questions as duplicates when the questions are the same, even if the ideal answers might've changed since then, so even if popular opinion has shifted, they tend to stick with past decisions. Note that on a couple of the newer ones, the top answers (before closure) were "It is something you should rarely do, but there are a few valid use cases." and "You should not use multiple answers when they are two parts to one solution." and I've seen disagreement elsewhere as well. – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 21:29
  • In any case, maybe it's worth us posting a new not-to-be-duped "When should I post multiple answers?" question here just to try to sort it out - sure, we'll present a lot of the same arguments but we could see what people actually think here. (My best guess would be same conclusion with more nuance, but I'm not too sure.) – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 21:30
  • @Jefromi I know that those answers aren't entirely consistent, but they all agree that posting completely different answers as different answer posts is acceptable. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 21:39
  • Yup, agreed - I thought we might want to try to reduce the gray area a little bit, but perhaps better to wait for an example that's actually in the gray area! – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 21:41
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    I'll be honest: I don't really care that much about this particular answer. It has a net score of -1, and I already admitted that it's not very good. Rather, it's the principle: it feels like I followed all the rules that I could find, but my answer was deleted anyway because a moderator got fed up with me. And that seems inappropriate to me. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 21:48
  • You know, last night I started to wonder how Pat decided which answer to delete. When I got back today, I see that he must also have been having the same thoughts, because now he has deleted the other one. Haha. – Rainbolt Mar 27 '15 at 14:29
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I think there are a few separate issues here.

Meta discussion should be on meta.

I pretty much agree with Pat here. I wish things hadn't escalated quite as much, though.

If I understand right, posting a question here instead of continuing in the comments there might have resulted in a completely different outcome. In this case, it seems there's a conflict between then-meta.SO, meta.B&CG, and the general once-answer-per-user precedent here, which played out as a conflict between Pat (and some others) and you (and some others).

In any case, as the disagreement in the comments showed, we have something to discuss, and I can understand a moderator being exasperated when we refuse to use the tools given us for having that discussion. So unfortunately, I think we pretty much backed Pat into a corner. By discussing only in comments, we were basically declining to have a real discussion, at which point I think he was within his rights to act based on his own views.

In any case, I do think this would've all been simpler if we'd come to meta sooner like Pat asked.

Should you have had two separate answers to this question?

tl;dr: meh, I don't really think so, but if you want to, it's acceptable, no rule against it.

A sentiment I've seen a few times: if the question needs multiple answers, it might not be a good question. There's certainly some truth to that here: the question aimed for a yes or no answer, but it's not really a yes or no question. Slow play is always going to have gray areas.

In that spirit, I think it would've been possible to avoid the whole issue by writing an "it depends, sometimes yes sometimes no" answer. You'd still be able to make the same points, and I think it would be a better, more complete answer than either one of them on its own. You'd convey something more fully thought out, rather than the split answers which have trouble coming to any real conclusion. You'd avoid people rebutting one answer with things you said in the other. Bottom line, you could make your point about the question not having a single clear answer directly! Seems win-win to me.

On the other hand, that's all stuff about how I think you could best write your answer, and that's not really up to me. There's a way in which you can write answers to the question such that they become mutually exclusive and thus should be separate answers. If you want to present it that way, I suppose it's okay.

Is it worth moderator enforcement (answer deletion)?

I do think it would have been better to write just a single answer. But is it a big enough deal for a moderator to step in? I waffled a lot about this. My first preference would of course be to come to consensus and avoid the whole issue (via a meta discussion on meta).

Failing that, I think I lean toward no. If you want to provide two answers even though it might be less helpful, that's your choice, and I can always downvote if I think they're unhelpful. As mentioned above, there's no actual rule against it.

That said, if this kind of thing became a pattern, I would lean more toward enforcement; if we have people systematically presenting their answers in less helpful ways, trying to artificially chop them up into distinct pieces, that's probably not great for the site.

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  • I mostly agree with your point about meta discussion. However, in this particular case, he made a comment on the answer, but did not allow me to respond to that comment directly. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 21:44
  • @murgatroid99 Isn't that fair at some point? If the discussion shouldn't be there, a mod can simply stop it from being there, and let it continue here (as it now has). The system doesn't really provide a way to keep things continuous and let you reply directly in a situation like that. – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 21:47
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    What I mean is that if he really wanted to take the discussion to meta, he should have deleted his comment too and moved the entire conversation to meta. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 21:48
  • @murgatroid99 Ah... you might be right, it probably could've been done more cleanly. I don't remember all the now-deleted comments, though, I know it was a mess, these things are hard. – Cascabel Mar 26 '15 at 21:50
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If the answer is spam, offensive, or not an answer, delete it.

Otherwise, if the answer is not causing problems, then there is no need for heavy handed moderation. The community should be allowed to vote on it. The bad ones get downvoted, and the good ones get upvoted. That's how Stack Exchange works.

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Thanks for posting on meta. It is the proper forum for questioning moderation.

Oddly, the question you chose to post contains a quick answer within the text of your question. I'll give the better answer below.

@murgatroid99 - SE is not a platform for polls.

You admitted you set up a poll in a comment. You also stated that you probably covered all possible answers.

The question reads as subjective to me. I thought it had the potential to be good subjective, which is why I did not downvote it or vote to close. Instead, I presented the two answers that I expect this question to get (approximately), with the expectation that votes would indicate consensus about which answer is correct.

Posting multiple answers can be valid, but should be rare. Attempting to cover the whole answer space by posting diametrically opposed answers does not help. You cannot believe that both answers are true. I didn't read everything in all threads you linked to but I didn't see any indication of support for answers that the poster does not believe in.

The difference between multiple answers and "a poll" is where we might differ. To me, someone posting different answers is proposing two different answers to a problem. They believe in each one, but do not know which is best so they offer both to the community.

I would like to see the answerer willing to own both answers, curating them as new information flows in.

This you did not do. (From another comment)

I don't have an answer to that. I was trying to present the argument as I understood it. I don't know enough to improve this answer.

Intent is everything. I believe your intent was to set up a poll and not provide different yet simultaneously correct answers.

I think your actual thoughts on the question were contained with a comment on the main question. (Don't put your answers in comments!)

Since it's not explicitly mentioned in the tournament rules, it most likely varies from one judge to another. The situations you mention support that hypothesis: some judges say that the would rule it as slow play, while others clearly don't. I'm not really sure what you're expecting here besides one answer with "yes, it is slow play" and explanation, and another with "no, it is not slow play" and explanation. And you already seem to have provided both of those explanations.

Now that I've received a chance to put my thoughts down on this it seems that I did make a mistake. You haven't stated clearly what the answer you most believe in is. You've given three answers (including the comment). I only deleted two and could lead to confusion or possibly signal which answer I prefer. I've rectified that. I encourage you to re-answer that question if you are able to clarify your own thoughts about what the correct answer should be.

Why are polls bad?

I'm sure most are aware of this, but for completeness I wanted to answer this briefly.

SE works because it connects people with questions to people with answers. People are incented to answer in part because of reputation. At the time I deleted the second answer there were a total of 5 upvotes and 6 downvotes to the two questions. Prior to the deletion that resulted in +38 reputation. This leads to a higher rep and the user being slightly more trusted.

Repeat this a few dozen times and you begin to see the issue. How many questions do we get that can be boiled down to "Yes" or "No" ? How much reputation could be gained just by answering quickly and first regardless of the correctness of the answer?

The race to be first is already strong enough. The rewards are evident. But lets encourage each person to lead with their best answer and be rewarded thusly. Attempting to monopolize the whole answer space should not be rewarded.

tl;dr

I believed what I did was in the best interests of the site and/or community.

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    Incidentally, an answerer believing in their answer is...a rather specious argument. Belief is immaterial; what matters is the content. If these had been posted by two different users, would you have deleted them? Unless answers have been posted in bad faith (which does not seem to have happened here), then this is what voting is for. Not deletion. – fbueckert Mar 26 '15 at 23:05
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    More to the point, though, diametrically opposed answers do not create a poll. The question creates the poll, and if you think the answers are doing so, then you need to judge the question's premise, not the answers. As there are no close votes on the question, then it seems the community agrees with it being good subjective. Which means the answers you deleted are valid answers. – fbueckert Mar 26 '15 at 23:13
  • Nothing here justifies deleting my answer(s). As fbueckert pointed out, questions are polls; not answers. It's true that I did not intend to improve my answer, but that is not exactly unique to this situation: it is no worse than a drive-by user posting a single answer and never returning, and there is no policy saying that those should be deleted. The comment you pointed to was not intended to be an answer, but rather an explanation of why I disliked the question. And I don't understand how you can argue that I was "monoplizing the answer space" when there was a third answer on the question. – murgatroid99 Mar 26 '15 at 23:26
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    @fbueckert Not necessarily saying I agree with deletion (see my answer), but I think part of Pat's argument is that posting mutually exclusive answers means they are in bad faith - the author must expect one to fail? It's also possible to post two opposite answers to any question, one right and one wrong, whether or not the question invites polling; the difference here is that none of us are sure which is right (or maybe the right answer is somewhere in between). – Cascabel Mar 27 '15 at 0:27
  • @Jefromi I think that is an unfair characterization. I read the question as a good subjective question, and I posted both answers because I believed that they were both valid answers to the question. Basically, I expected that eventually, some approximation of each of those answers would be posted, so I decided to skip waiting for them and just post them myself. If anyone had posted either of those cases in the hour+ between when the question was asked and when I answered, I only would have posted one of them. – murgatroid99 Mar 27 '15 at 0:43
  • @murgatroid99 Acknowledged - was just trying to point out that Pat seemed to have that impression. (I see the question more as underspecified than subjective, but either way, reasonable to point out there's more than one valid answer, whether you do it as one answer or two.) – Cascabel Mar 27 '15 at 1:00

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