I recently answered a query - my first - on this site and was helped by someone who explained that my answer was "down-voted" because it did not answer the specific query. I thanked the person and edited my response to ensure it addressed the question. Since then, my response has been deleted by three people! How can this happen? How can my response be considered so far off track (which it wasn't) that it was deleted.

Is this a site where only a favoured few are allowed to answer questions?

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    hi, welcome. if you're new to this community, you might want to take the tour (I can see from your badges that you haven't). It could help you understand how IPS works. Our goal is absolutely not about excluding people, but rather to give the best of ourselves to help everybody (if we can). But this is a difficult task, therefore rules have been set to help the process. – avazula Apr 17 '18 at 14:38
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    Thanks @avazula, but I'm not really one for taking tours. I understand this is a question and answer site so I'm presuming it is pretty easy to find one's way (without tours). I hate to admit this but I create "tours" myself for people who use my company's products and most of them react the same way as I do. Anyway, I'll keep an eye on the posts and comments and will try and learn the rules as I go. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:14
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    This is just an advice. Surely you can understand the way IPS is running empirically, but it could be way longer and involve many downvoted/flagged/deleted Q&As, which is not pleasant, IMHO. It'd be sad to lose your interest in IPS because of that, to me :). – avazula Apr 17 '18 at 15:17
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    @avazula There is nothing on the tour about how to give good answers. It is about asking good questions. – Nick Gammon Apr 22 '18 at 7:32

One of the particular nuances of this site is that while most of the questions are about some problem that the OP is having, the answers should be about the application of an interpersonal skill rather than just a solution to the problem.

There are two reasons your answer was deleted. It doesn't offer an interpersonal solution to the problem, and it doesn't actually answer the OP's question. Your answer basically says "Fly on a different airline" which doesn't answer the OP's question about how to politely refuse requests to switch seats.

Deleted posts can be undeleted by moderator action or by 3 votes from high rep users. If you edit your post to answer the OP's question you can flag your post for moderator attention and they can undelete it if it is now a good fit for this site.

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    Just to add, I think this is the meta post reference for why we delete non-IPS answers. – Em C Apr 17 '18 at 14:48
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    Thanks, @sphennings for the explanation. Perhaps I did not explain my answer very well but I do think if someone is aggravated by people asking them to move seats, they could avoid that aggravation by flying on a different airline. Is choosing to take control of the situation (rather than subjecting oneself to someone else's control) an "interpersonal skill"? To me, it is but I might think differently from most. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 14:51
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    @Jak If I'm asking how to navigate a situation, telling me to avoid the situation in the first place isn't helpful, nor does it tell me how to navigate the situation. – sphennings Apr 17 '18 at 14:52
  • Fair enough @sphennings. I guess my approach is to see the system (or the problem) in a broader context, thus I try to think of ways to address the core problem instead of only on a way to answer the specific question. Perhaps this is not the place for this type of interaction. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:06
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    @Jak That is a good approach to answer many kinds of questions. It works when you suspect an X-Y-question - which is right many contexts. Here, you could discuss with OP in comments whether the core problem is actually something else you expect it to be. If yes, he should change the question. Either way, you then can answer the question as stated. – Volker Siegel Apr 20 '18 at 2:51
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    @Jak If you really want to answer in a broader way than the question is asking, make that clear at the beginning of the answer, also describing why you assume that core problem. I think the answer would not be deleted then, but downvoted. – Volker Siegel Apr 20 '18 at 2:55
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    @Jak: Taking a broader perspective is often helpful, yes. However, here you are in effect telling OP they are asking the wrong question. This is called "disagreeing with the premise". While doing so can be ok, you should still try to address the question as asked, which you did not. See e.g.Does Stack Exchange allow for answers which question the validity or stance of the original question? – sleske Apr 20 '18 at 11:19
  • Thanks @VolkerSiegel, all good advice and I will try to keep it in mind if I ever decide to ask or answer another question. – Jak Apr 23 '18 at 10:41
  • Thanks @sleske see above - I tried to say thanks to you as well but the system would not allow me to mention more than one person. – Jak Apr 23 '18 at 10:44

Since then, my response has been deleted by three people! How can this happen? How can my response be considered so far off track (which it wasn't) that it was deleted.

I reviewed the first revision of your answer:

Fly on an Australian airline where you are allocated a seat and you have no choice but to stay there. Even on a half full flight, the cabin crew ask you not to move seats.

It's your seat, why would anyone even think you'd want to give it up.

Now, that's on the short side, it assumes the OP can fly on an Australian airline all the time, and doesn't really answer the question asked, which is how to most politely decline when asked to switch seats. So yeah, that definitely fell in the 'Not an Answer' category here on Interpersonal Skills, since we'd like answers to address the Interpersonal Skill rather than just provide a life-hack.

Sadly, once a delete vote is cast on an answer, it can't be retracted. It doesn't age away either, as far as I know. Also, I won't be notified by the system once a post I voted on is edited.

That doesn't mean your answer can never be undeleted (although I think right now it needs more work). Three people or a moderator can undelete it and the system allows editing of deleted posts to make them fit for Interpersonal Skills. Just like questions are closed so they can be improved, a deleted answer won't hurt you, it will prevent further downvotes and give you the time to edit it into shape at your own leisure.

You edited your answer before it was deleted, to add:

As someone said earlier, this is not your problem so, if you feel you cannot decline politely, ask the cabin crew to sort out the seating arrangements.

I think that's still not quite enough: it deals with what the OP can do after the thing they're asking about, which is declining politely in the first place. Some guidance on how to approach the cabin crew and something to back up that this will work (and the crew won't look at you like you're crazy) would be nice.

Is this a site where only a favoured few are allowed to answer questions?

I certainly hope not! But since this site is both about a subjective topic and still in beta (which means rules change over time), participating here can be a bit confusing in the beginning ;-)

Take a look at this meta where each answer outlines one of the things we expect from an answer, with links to other meta posts explaining the reasoning behind those expectations.

So, if you'd like to have your answer undeleted:

  • Answer the actual question asked (which is how to decline politely in the first place when people ask to switch seats). Ideally, back it up with some experience or sources.
  • If you have experience that shows that in these cases, it's better to get the cabin crew involved, feel free to include that (and ideally, also explain how that's not an overreaction on their part). Also, then explain how the cabin crew should be approached about this, and why this works better than e.g. just saying 'No thanks' in this case.

Once you've edited a deleted answer into shape (or if you want further feedback on what is needed to get it undeleted) you can ask about that here on meta. The same goes for if you ever need more feedback on getting a closed question into shape. Meta is the place where you can ask questions about the things happening on the main site.

  • sorry if I offended you. It wasn't intentional. I understood that my first response was too narrow and might have been seen as flippant. I don't really want my response re-instated. This question was more about the fact that this (deleting without explanation) is not an encouraging way to start a conversation with anyone. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:25
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    If this is a beta site, I expect that means it is fairly new and still finding its feet so I'd suggest it would be good to (sorry to labour the point) encourage people to contribute rather than asking them to conform. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:28
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    @Jak Beta doesn't mean that nothing is figured out yet; the site has been around long enough to learn and decide some things about standards for questions and answers, even if not every detail is set in stone yet. – Cascabel Apr 17 '18 at 15:40
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    Thanks @Cascabel, I think I'll just sit quietly for a while and observe - and if I still don't feel welcome, I'll move on. I'm definitely getting the impression that verbose answers are favoured and that's not my style. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:47
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    @Jak I don't think this is about verbose vs not; if you'd posted something just as short about how to handle things (and why) when you're already on the plane being asked to move, we wouldn't be here. – Cascabel Apr 17 '18 at 15:48
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    Thanks, @Cascabel. I take it from your response that "As someone said earlier, this is not your problem so, if you feel you cannot decline politely, ask the cabin crew to sort out the seating arrangements." wasn't an acceptable response to the original question. My thinking was that this was a good way to deal with the issue. Thanks. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 16:16
  • Well, I can't see deleted posts, so I guess I'm missing something, but I was talking about what I can see quoted here, the suggestion to take a different airline. – Cascabel Apr 17 '18 at 16:18
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    @Jak Please take the tour as the site encourages you to do (and has been suggested by Avazula an hour ago). This should explain you what answers are favored. – LVDV Apr 17 '18 at 16:21
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    @Jak, I'm not offended ;-) I'll edit that a little, I just meant to point out that that was the version I reviewed, and that I don't get notifications when posts are edited + can't retract delete votes :) – Tinkeringbell Apr 17 '18 at 16:22

Personally I don't believe so. I have seen a complaint from one user about one of the higher-ranked members, but that's been about it.

Sometimes technology and people don't work as well together as we would like. When I review a queue of flagged posts, I make the assumption that it hasn't been edited since it was flagged and that I'm seeing the most current version. Maybe that's not always the case.

Whatever the case may be, however, I can only review what's in front of me at the time. So I base my decision to delete on what I see at that point in time.

I've had posts deleted, edited in ways I didn't like, downvoted, and responded to in ways that I hadn't anticipated. But I've never had the feeling like "I'm not one of the 'in' crowd". I'd suggest this: keep trying. There's a certain way to answer questions that seems to be more successful than others; generally that involves being nice to others and encouraging interpersonal skills to develop. You may hit an answer that you hadn't anticipated being loved by the readers here; that can help your reputation quite quickly.

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    Thanks @baldPrussian. I am not really trying to be part of the crowd, rather I am trying to offer a point of view that (to me) is essentially trying to answer the question. anyway, I'm new here so will hang around for a while and will see what I can loearn. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 14:40
  • That's a brilliant and refreshing answer. – avazula Apr 17 '18 at 14:41
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    @Jak, I hope you'll keep trying. The more people the better and more interesting :) – avazula Apr 17 '18 at 14:41
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    One thing I find a little bit confusing is that anyone can consider an answer helpful or otherwise. I would have though it was up to the OP to decide which answers were the most useful, but it seems that is not the case. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 14:43
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    @Jak It is the goal of this site to make questions and answers useful to more than the OP, that is why everyone can vote on which questions and answers they personally find helpful or useful. The OP gets a little extra weight over a regular with the ability to accept the answer they find most helpful. – sphennings Apr 17 '18 at 14:46
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    @Jak remember that if the OP knew the solution, they wouldn't be asking the question. Expecting only the OP to know if an answer is good or not doesn't really make sense. But, this site does require that answers meet a certain level of completeness. If we feel that's missing, the answer is likely to be removed... but, remember... a deleted answer can always be undeleted if the OP of the answer fixes the issues that caused it to be removed in the first place. Deletion isn't permanent unless you opt not to edit. – Catija Apr 17 '18 at 14:48
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    Sadly, I don't have enough points to up-vote an answer to a question that I posed. I wanted to acknowledge "Personally I don't believe so." but I am unable to do so. – Jak Apr 17 '18 at 15:33
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    @Catija, I'm not sure that I agree with you that people won't ask questions that they know the answer to. Sometimes people ask questions to have their own beliefs or assumptions validated. Sometimes they think they know the answer but want to be reassured. But anyway, I still think it strange that it is not up to the OP to decide which answers were the most useful (to him or her in his or her particular circumstances). – Jak Apr 23 '18 at 10:49
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    @Jak the OP can signify which answer was most useful to them by accepting it. Accepting will give it a green checkmark and make that answer show at the top of the list regardless of score. – Em C Apr 23 '18 at 13:48

If you did re-write your answer and it met all the criteria for a quality answer then no, it isn't right that it still got deleted. But you pretty much admit that you dove in and wrote an answer without any real knowledge of how the site works, and once a post gets flagged for deletion the site invites other users to review it, so by that point people are looking at your post with a critical eye.

This is a question and answer site. The idea is that the answers will stand the test of time and be useful to other people with the same or similar questions - that is why direct answers and good detail is required to backup your answer.

Though it may not be a perfect system, it IS possible to work with the framework and provide good answers. Familiarising yourself with the rules of the site is one thing, but you should spend some time reading questions, answers, and the comments too - that way you will see how it works in practice. As it stands, you've written one poor answer and then gone stright to complaining about how it was received.

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    To be fair Astralbee, if you read my question here on this page, it was simply that, a question (not a complaint) though a question in three parts, i.e. How can this happen? How can my response be considered so far off track (which it wasn't) that it was deleted? Is this a site where only a favoured few are allowed to answer questions? I gather the reason my answer was deleted was that it didn't address a specific interpersonal skill but I still contend that there is more to helping people improve their interpersonal skills than giving them scripts to use in specific situations. – Jak Apr 18 '18 at 10:56
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    @Jak Again I agree with your last point, and if you read this meta question and my own not-very-popular answer you will see that has been discussed. But I also realise that this site has a specific purpose. It isn't a forum for general discussions of interpersonal problems, which often lead to everybody sharing their wildly differing opinions and never actually get anywhere - it is a Q&A site for interpersonal skills. – Astralbee Apr 18 '18 at 12:05
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    Thanks @Astralbee, that was an interesting page to read. I'm not sure that this Q+A format works particularly well for interpersonal issues that are seldom able to be asked or answered in an unequivocal manner. Actually, I find the discussion in the comments more enlightening than the answers some of the time. – Jak Apr 18 '18 at 12:32
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    @Jak you might be interested in reading this blog post then: stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/29/good-subjective-bad-subjective . It's old, but it describes some quality characteristics which SE feels will make subjective sites such as this work ;) – Tinkeringbell Apr 18 '18 at 12:34
  • Thanks @Tinkeringbell, I read it and a lot of other pages on the site including ... interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2403/…, and ... chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/61165/conversation/… ... and have come to the conclusion that the format is too rigid for me to ever be able to conform. – Jak Apr 23 '18 at 9:58

Having taken on board all the helpful responses and suggestions that my question generated, I think I can now answer it for myself. My considered opinion, after reading a lot of answered questions, as well as some of the Meta discussion and chats, is that this is a site that wants to exclude people. In saying this, I don't mean that the site wants to exclude people in a discriminatory way, but I do meant that its aim is to encourage a certain type of person here, rather than encourage all comers.

In support of my answer, I refer to two pages that I mentioned in the comment above - How to get a better sense of community going and Shog's rules for IPS. The former touches on my own concern that this site is not encouraging to new comers and the latter states quite clearly who should not be on the site and what the people on the site should be doing.

I won't be surprised if this answer is taken to task or even deleted but I decided to post it anyway because I would like to say that I appreciated the discussion.

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    I think you are mistaking having a scope and rules as exclusionary. This site was never intended to be a an open forum. Each exchange has a specific scope and a specific goal, to become a repository of excellent questions and quality answers. Generally exclusionary is taken to mean that the rule aren't being applied fairly to everyone, or that their are rules designed to apply unfairly to a specific group of people, not that there are rules about what is and isn't allowed that are applied consistently. – sphennings Apr 23 '18 at 11:16
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    Thanks for your comment @sphennings. I only know the word "exclusionary" in the context of an exclusionary-rule which is a legal term to do with the presentation of evidence and police conduct, but I think I get the gist of what you are saying. To clarify, I understand you are interpreting my response as saying that I believe the site is not applying the same rules to all people who ask and answer questions. That wasn't my intention, I think the rules are being applied equally and zealously, and because of this, people are excluded from participating as they would like to. – Jak Apr 23 '18 at 12:02
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    I think the rules are being applied equally and zealously, and because of this, people are excluded from participating as they would like to -> you bet! and it has to be done that way IMO. My garage, my rules, as my ol' man used to say. And it's much more than important than WE ALL follow the rules edicted and enforced by the community. By allowing people to go back and forth, right and left, anywhere they want to, with no respect of the Q/A path, this stack would not even become a huge mess, it would be closed long before it becomes a mess ;) – OldPadawan Apr 23 '18 at 12:28
  • "this stack would not even become a huge mess, it would be closed long before it becomes a mess" __ That is the only thing in favor of any attempt to defend anybody against OP's accusation of often overzealous rule-enforcement (which does tend to intimidate new or even old users) @OldPadawan: I do believe that the most overzealous and seemingly "exclusionary" members are mainly trying in their own way to protect the long-term sustainability of this website. – English Student Apr 23 '18 at 15:18
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    Very interesting, particularly your analysis of the links in the second paragraph. I've learned a lot from your question! I'd quibble that the idea is to exclude people when they're acting a certain way, e.g. if they want to mix discussion with Q&A. "Excluding people" often has a negative sound to it, but part of that is just Geek Social Fallacies that any exclusion is always bad. – cactus_pardner Apr 23 '18 at 23:26
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    To restate others' responses a bit, I think that you've discovered that the site wants to exclude some kinds of posts, not people. – Cascabel Apr 24 '18 at 6:19

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