So, the community has always been told by moderators to not hesitate to delete stuff that was 'blatantly off-topic'. Does this only go for main, or meta too?

We had a user go on a very rude spree here on meta (and a bit on main too) today, and one of the rants they posted disguised as a question here.

Now, since all the moderators were asleep, the community was left to fend for itself, and it did, by closing the question (rants are blatantly off-topic on meta) and deleting the post so it could not attract any more commenting. Just now, the post got undeleted, indicating there's also part of the community that disagrees with deleting this stuff...

What did we do wrong here? Wasn't the post a rant? Do we really want to keep the rant around, as this comment suggests, so future users can see it? Are we really so keen on having this around, so it can attract more rudeness? Are we really willing to let people get away with displaying such behavior? And maybe most importantly, how should the community stem a flow of nastiness if there's no moderator around if we're not allowed to delete stuff?

Edit to point out: This question was undeleted before it was edited into its current form. It was only edited after this meta was posted, so 'it could be undeleted because it was no longer a rant' isn't an argument.

Why do we undelete stuff that's not edited and still a rant/an example of very bad behavior?


2 Answers 2


Even a heavily downvoted rant can serve a purpose. The simple fact that it's heavily downvoted and closed sends a signal to the people who read it in the future.

Yes it is setting an example. It's showing other users that such posts aren't well received. But more importantly it's showing new users how "we" (the community) handle such questions/situations.

It looked to me that most all of the responses were calm, respectful and honestly posted with the intent to help the situation and educate a frustrated user. That's how things are done on Stack Exchange, and it looked like the community handled it well in this case.

  • I think we've deleted rants on meta before, what makes this one different? Also, it shows how we handle such questions > Doesn't this show that people can get away with ranting and rude behavior if it's left lying around?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:15
  • 3
    @Tinkeringbell a rare few bad posts are worth keeping, an example of how to not do something still serves a purpose.
    – apaul
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:20
  • 3
    @Tinkeringbell the heavy downvoting should remove any possible doubt as to whether you "can get away with it".
    – JAD
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:33
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    I'm also seeing a reopen vote... Is that what we want? @JAD, there isn't a reputation penalty or whatsoever for bad meta posts, so ... Yeah, you get away with it
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:34
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    @Tinkeringbell There isn't an arbitrary internet points penalty but if you're constantly getting heavily downvoted every time you post your reputation is going to suffer. People will respect you and your voice less. It's easier for public sentiment to turn against you and have people being less accommodating of problematic behavior in the future.
    – sphennings
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 4:06
  • Mark Rosewater, of Magic the Gathering fame, likes to say that all feedback can serve a purpose. Rants show passion. With patience, we can channel that negative emotion into positive emotion.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 16:09

It's quite easy for new users to find the SE system confusing and frustrating. I know because I had my own rants of sorts, although not much of my thoughts were put into publicly visible posts. But look at me now years later - I'm contributing to the SE network in whatever way I can afford.

The question, in the original rant form, looks off-topic, not nice, and possibly delete-worthy. But on a closer look, I see some potential for its subject matter.

I remember something slightly similar from ELU meta: Does anyone on here actually know what they're talking about?. It was a rant, and voted down heavily, until some of our ELU gems edited it into How can you tell if someone here actually knows something about a subject?. It now has a net positive score, and some informative answers.

That's why in my comment that you link to I said that I disagree with the delete voters. I believe the answers there are very useful for posterity, although I do not like the way that meta question was posted.

We do not delete good content. The two answers there are very informative. I bet we'll see more users in the future with similar rants. All of those can be redirected to this question. Or better yet, they will chance upon this one and not rant at all.

  • I certainly wouldn't reward such behavior as was displayed with a post that ends up with a positive score... But whatever. Maybe it's time to delete this post to avoid giving the impression that people can get away with it AND can hope for a positive scoring post...
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 18:08
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    @Tinkeringbell Questions should be judged on their current state not previous iterations. If the question as it currently is written is on topic then it shouldn't be deleted let alone closed.
    – sphennings
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 18:26
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    @sphennings may I remind you that we deleted a question filled with bad intentions and rudeness, not the one that is up now. May I also remind you that that question got undeleted before it was even edited... So, what warranted undeletion of the original post?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 18:56
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    @Tinkeringbell There was discussion on chat on whether the question was salvageable. Proposed edits were suggested there before the question was undeleted. It is nicer to edit a question to make it a good fit rather than downvote and delete it.
    – sphennings
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 19:01
  • @sphennings, I'm pretty sure the question was undeleted before edits were discussed in chat... In my opinion, we don't go salvaging rants and/or rewarding bad behavior (I even got scolded for putting too much effort into this post since apparently I was 'allowing a temper tantrum'... Trust me, I tried being nice and it wasn't appreciated.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 19:07
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    @Tinkeringbell The comments on that post are incomplete. That seems like a different situation since you were trying to get a post undeleted that was deleted by the person who wrote it. I see nothing in the post in it's deleted state that was problematic enough for it to be deleted for any reason other than the prerogative of the person who wrote it. If I deleted my own post I wouldn't respond well to it being undeleted.
    – sphennings
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 19:15
  • @sphennings I communicated with that OP, found out what they were trying to say, and improved the post. That got me into trouble, apparently I should not have done that... Yes, the undeleting thing added to that, but I'm only talking about editing posts now to improve them. Apparently I'm alone in my opinion though... So, I'm not going to argue this further, if this is what you all want than have at it, I hope you get to see and deal with it when there's a next time, and then don't come running to me, because I told you so.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 19:18

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