I'd like to know the reasons why. Very much. Because I really want to know what kind of a site this is, that I've contributed to with enthusiasm in the past.

There are a whole lot of 'how do I' communication questions on the site and I'm boggled as to why one is retained and this other one is not only put on hold but also removed.


2 Answers 2


Firstly, this question was not removed for reasons relating to the topic of discussion - being HIV positive and asking how to tell past sexual partners. If it had been asked by someone who honestly had this issue and was looking for help, it would have been welcome here. Unfortunately, it was asked by someone who was using the question for their own entertainment and it was hurting the site. The entire site benefits from questions being asked by people actually in the situation because it allows the questions to be specific and target the issues that the OP has and answers to be specific and useful and to actually address the concerns of the people in this situation.

From practically the beginning, the network has had a policy that this sort of question is not welcome here. It's described in a 2009 blog post from Jeff Atwood, Joke Questions, Please Refrain. I encourage you to read it but I'll draw attention to a section for emphasis:

What do I mean by joke question? It’s a question that..

  • Looks authentic, but is a parody of a real question.
  • Describes situations that sound plausible, but are not based on fact or reality.
  • Posted with the intention of tricking users into believing it is an actual question from a peer.
  • Is successful when some users answer it in good faith, not understanding that it is a joke.

Joke questions are different, because they are deceptive. Some members of the community might see that it’s a joke or parody and treat it as such, but a sizable percentage of the audience won’t. They will not understand that it’s a joke and spend their time answering it — while the original poster (and those “in the know”) are laughing at them! This is unfair to those members of our community who provided detailed responses in good faith. It’s a waste of their time. It’s also kind of a rotten thing to do to people in general.

The bottom line is that posting joke questions or answers on Stack Overflow intended to deceive your fellow users is unacceptable and anti-community, and it will not be tolerated.

The initial lack of specifics, refusal to provide them, and later the unnecessarily over-specific content that caused the question to be locked, proved to the moderation team that this question was not asked in good faith and the user who posted it was removed, which lead to the question being deleted.

From the earliest moments of this site, we discussed hypothetical questions and determined that they would not be a good fit here. Are hypothetical questions welcome? While this question is not presented as a hypothetical one I feel that referencing this meta discussion is a valuable piece of our history.

Your answer is good and worthy of recognition and I hope that, in the future, someone else with this issue will come forward and ask it so that you can answer it... and that others will voice their suggestions for how to solve this very real and complicated issue.

  • 6
    @D.Hutchinson "possible rage-deleting of the question" The question was auto-deleted by the system after the user was removed. Jan 12, 2018 at 21:06
  • 2
    @AnneDaunted that is correct and I'll edit my answer to make it more clear. The action was on the user account, not on the question itself.
    – Catija
    Jan 12, 2018 at 21:58
  • @D.Hutchinson If you'd like to offer a different point of view, please write an answer.
    – apaul
    Jan 12, 2018 at 23:49
  • @Catija as you say, hard to detect, and your explanation helps my understanding of what actually happened. Which was not visible! It remains disappointing the way the community reacted positively and in good faith which by deleting the question was thrown away.
    – Bookeater
    Jan 12, 2018 at 23:52
  • ...and I keep thinking that a person having this happening (HIV) may react exactly so (wobbly edits) from hurt...
    – Bookeater
    Jan 13, 2018 at 0:01
  • 3
    @Bookeater I've been bitten by a few of these as well. It always saddens and irritates me to lose good answers to poor questions, but please don't let it discourage you.
    – apaul
    Jan 13, 2018 at 0:03

There was a content dispute on that question, causing it to be locked several days ago. The question was deleted by Community, meaning an automated process, not by direct action. This probably happened when the OP's account was deleted.

Content disputes usually indicate somebody -- it seems the OP, in this case -- not acting in good faith. I'm not a moderator here so I'm not privy to all the details, but we've had similar problems over on The Workplace. Specifically, we sometimes get questions designed to entertain (the OP) at our expense. I lost over 1200 rep because I answered one of those in good faith before we realized the problem. It's unfortunate that we can lose not only rep but time spent trying to help somebody when it turns out that the whole thing is a pile of lies done for laughs.

I see you have a good answer on the deleted question. Perhaps you can reuse it on a self-answered question that wouldn't be hindered by this question's drama?

  • "Content disputes usually indicate somebody -- it seems the OP, in this case -- not acting in good faith." What exactly does content dispute mean, or is this used rather broadly? Some kind of edit war, for example? Jan 12, 2018 at 19:11
  • 1
    @AnneDaunted edit wars, yes. Jan 12, 2018 at 19:13
  • 1
    @Monica Cellio Thanks, its not about the rep, it is about the flushing of (as far as I knew) useful and carefully composed content. Without an indication of the ... why.
    – Bookeater
    Jan 12, 2018 at 23:57

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