The question Can a player choose to fail a spell's ability check contest? has a deleted answer. For users without 10k rep, here's a screenshot of the answer:

"You are assuming (incorrectly) that the Strength check represents some sort if active opposition to the spell’s effect. The contest would still happen even if the creature was unable to actively resist e.g. If they were paralyzed or unconscious. The Strength check simply represents the not-movability (in physics, I’d say inertia but D&D is not a physics engine) of the creature. Strong creatures are harder to move because ... magic. The generally accepted way to read spell effects is that they do what they say - as Jeremy Crawford says "there are no hidden rules". So, it says there is a contest therefore, there is a contest."

While the post score is very negative, I've noticed that there's no immediate problem that warrants the deletion of this answer. It is an answer, albeit many people do not agree with it - but that is not grounds for deletion.

Why this answer was deemed worthy of deletion? And if it is not worthy, is it worthy to be undeleted?


2 Answers 2


It is site practice to delete unsupported answers

Admittedly it's never really documented/discussed on it's own, but mostly in the discussions around fun topics like game recommendations and designer intent requests. Specifically, when the questions type really needs supported answers, aren't getting them, and we need to talk about how to moderate them.

But it does also show up in other guidance: What are the citation expectations of answers on RPG Stack Exchange?

We don't want your opinion; we want your expertise. If you do not have experiences you can bring to the table in that particular case, do not answer the question. Answers not doing so may be downvoted and/or deleted.

(It talks about experiences as citations because it's from the section on subjective questions, however I see no reason to distinguish the two on this other than what type of support the answer needs to bring.)

But haven't we got a post notice for this?

Yes, there's a post notice for needing citations, but post notices are a poor tool for moderating content. They are fixed wordings and only available to a very small subset of users. Comments are better at pointing out problems because they are customizable (by default you write out each one) and availible to many users. The post notice does also not exclude deletion, but explicitly warns about it:

Want to improve this post? Provide detailed answers to this question, including citations and an explanation of why your answer is correct. Answers without enough detail may be edited or deleted.

Let me try to explain why that post notice get used at all, if those answers should get deleted. Firstly, deletion might not be the correct thing. If the answer is probably salvageable, users should get a chance to edit it, or comment for the poster to do so. Also, diamond mod deletions are instant, and harder to revert (can't be undeleted by non-diamonds). There's also an important learning and healthiness aspect to community doing moderation and evaluations, so we often try to not immediately delete (nor close, etc.) borderline cases.

So, we prefer to let the low quality review process do its thing. We might flag the post (if it wasn't already), add a comment with out concern (again, if it's not already covered), and add the post notice for increased visibility of it (if we remember to/think it's worthwhile). Expecting the post notice to be used beyond this is putting an aspect of site moderation too much onto the diamond mods, I hope you want us to put our efforts into more useful things.

So for the specific answer

Without support being added to it, I don't see it having any value. And it being deleted does not prevent the poster (nor 10ks I believe) from editing it. The user could then vote to undelete and/or flag for undeletion (if diamond deleted, as this one retroactively is, the flag is necessary). No such efforts have been made on this answer. I don't personally see the reason to undelete it, but I'd be happy for someone to change my view on the quality of an answer at a score of -6.


The SE guidelines point towards that answer having been deleted incorrectly

I suggest reading the following:

All of these promote not deleting answers solely because they have downvotes and promote deleting answers when they are not actually honest attempts at answers. To quote those links:

For answers, any post that is not an answer (should be a comment, doesn't answer the question, etc.) should be deleted. Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted.

A wrong answer, downvoted, also conveys information. It tells you, the visitor: don't do this. This answer is wrong, and if you are lucky the comments tell you why it is wrong.

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

  • commentary on the question or other answersasking another, different question
  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses
  • exact duplicates of other answers
  • barely more than a link to an external site
  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

As far as I can find, RPG.SE does not have guidelines or policies that supercede the general Stack guidelines.

We can compare RPG.SE to something like Skeptics where (according the their Meta welcome):

[...] Questions must be about a notable claim [...]

[...] Answers need references [...]

RPG.SE does not have similar requirements that I have found. We do have the following question:

And the answer there simply states:

[...] vote to undelete when you don’t think it should be deleted. [...]

I don't think this is any sort of fundamental change to deletion and undeletion across the site, but I thought that answer was worth mentioning.

The answer in question should be undeleted

The answer in question is not spam or anything similar. It is an honest attempt at an answer to the question. As such, it has no reason to be deleted. For me, improper deletion is one of the strongest reasons to undelete something. Keeping it deleted would promote similar deletions which we, as far as I can find, do not want.

That said, the post's own author may still choose to keep the answer deleted. If they do, I personally believe that that decision should be respected. But RPG.SE policies on undeleting posts deleted by their authors should be left to a different Meta entirely.

I personally cannot say why this answer was deleted, because I did not vote to delete it. It was likely due to the lack of citations, and posts I linked to earlier say that bad answers that are still honest attempts at answers should not be deleted. To me, the general guidelines lead to the conclusion that the post in question was incorrectly deleted and for me an incorrect deletion should be undone.

The general SE guidelines have some pushback

The previously linked posts are all in support of not deleting downvoted or flatly incorrect posts; meanwhile the following post also exists:

And an answer there states:

Yes, absolutely. That's why high rep users can vote to delete. That is also why there is a peer pressure badge, to encourage users to delete their own downvoted content.

We want to identify harmful answers, but we do not necessarily want them to stick around. Even though their scores are negative, even though the content might be grayed out, people can still see them, ignore the warnings (or not even understand them) and use the content. [...]

So not everyone agrees whether flatly incorrect answers are unhelpful or whether they should be deleted but the SE general guidelines state that they should not be deleted.

Perhaps worth mentioning, the Peer Pressure badge exists and is awarded when you:

Delete own post with score of -3 or lower

This isn't the same situation, since it's about the author deleting their own post but it could be construed as SE incentivizing deleting posts solely because they have downvotes, which would go against the general guideline. However, this badge also has quite a few Meta posts about it including

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The post notice you recommend us adding does say that answers may be deleted: "Want to improve this post? Provide detailed answers to this question, including citations and an explanation of why your answer is correct. Answers without enough detail may be edited or deleted." \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone I still think the post notice should have happened and do not see anything in the general guidelines or RPG.SE posts and guidelines saying they will be deleted. That something may be deleted doesn't mean it should be. I can question the post notice if you'd like since I don't think it should say that given what the general guidelines and other MSE posts say. Actually, I'll just remove the post notice thing since the general guidelines and other linked posts cover this situation plenty for me \$\endgroup\$ Aug 8, 2020 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've been told not to flag for needing citation, so the process is up to the community for downvoting and deletion if answers are unsupported. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 8, 2020 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm part of the community and believe that "Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted" and "A wrong answer, downvoted, also conveys information. It tells you, the visitor: don't do this" provide enough reason to let the answer remain \$\endgroup\$ Aug 8, 2020 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem wasn't the answer being wrong, it was lack of support. And those can be deleted as per the notice. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 8, 2020 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can address why this was supported or if we shouldnt be following through with what we earn about in post notiices for unsupported, that'd help. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 8, 2020 at 17:41

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