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A new user recently left this answer to How did towns mundanely protect themselves against Dragons or bring them to the ground?. The answer is currently deleted so is only visible to 10k users. However I would like to discuss what led to its deletion and whether it should actually remain deleted.

Timeline

The sequence of events till now is:

  1. A new user posts their answer to the question.
  2. A few clarifying comments are left pointing out issues or oversights in the post but none worthy of deletion.
  3. Post is deleted by community review.
  4. User reposts answer as they don't know how else to handle it. (Note: new user)
  5. Repost gets flagged for mod attention.
  6. I delete the repost and undelete the original while trying to seek clarification on why it was deleted in the first place.
  7. I posted in chat seeking understanding of why the post was deleted.
  8. Some further comments were left explaining the issues with the answer.
  9. The answer was deleted again. 2/3 deletion voters being the same users that deleted it in the first place.

The Answer

The answer itself is too long to reproduce here entirely. It answers the question with mechanical analysis of a battle between an Adult Red Dragon and a fictional town. Most of the relevant issue is related to a table of numbers that appears unsupported. The section of the answer is shown below.

The makeup of a town is highly variable, and there's no standard. But I'll talk about several common types of people in the towns. I'll spare you the math but I ran the odds vs an adult red dragon to see their hit chances with/without hiding, and how many hits it would take for them to kill a dragon.

Keep in mind, the goal is NOT to kill the dragon - if the dragon is taken to bloody (50%) or even 75% hp, it's going to have to seriously think twice about attacking the town.

I've also multiplied each "person count" by 10, because a town will have quite a few people, and I wanted to make sure it was obvious that we aren't talking about 1 knight fighting a dragon here.

People x10 Weapon Stealth* Rounds to bloody**
Commoner sling 28% 21
Guard short bow 36% 8
Thug heavy crossbow 28% 6
Archer longbow 58% 1
Knight heavy crossbow 28% 6
Veteran heavy crossbow 36% 5

*Stealth is the best odds to hide, assuming they can get advantage on stealth and impose disadvantage on the dragon's passive perception (e.g. by being both far away and hiding behind an object). Also remember to think about when the DM would rule that they simply cannot be detected by the dragon - e.g. breaking line of sight plus the sounds of battle are too much for the dragon to use hearing, plus they are too far for blindsight.

** The number of rounds it takes 10 people to reduce the dragon to 50% hp, if they can hide a proportion of rounds based on the Stealth column. The people need to be in range for this total number of rounds.

Discussion Points

I do not believe this answer should be deleted. Yes, it needs to support how it generated the numbers in the table but that advise should be left as a comment not simply deleting the answer. The question asks how a town could defend itself against a dragon, this answer attempts to run the numbers to show that the battle isn't quite as one sided as it appears.

I fail to see how this qualifies for any of our deletion reasons. From the deleted answer help article:

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

  • commentary on the question or other answers
  • asking 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

The answer clearly meets none of the condition above. Furthermore as a post by a new users we should be giving the benefit of the doubt and trying to workshop it into a better answer rather than deleting it and potentially driving a new user away.

Does the community believe this answer deserves to be deleted? If so on what grounds?

I would like to undelete the answer again and provide guidance for improvement; however, I understand that my opinion does not out-weigh that of the community. Therefore, I won't take any further actions until this meta has been resolved.


Update

The answer has since been un-deleted and significantly improved via edits. However this meta remains as a valid discussion of the events that lead to its deletion and whether that was the correct action to take.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: what happened to "if a diamond moderator overrides you on something, don't go do that thing again"? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 10:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I don't think most of the community nor the StackExchange idea of moderation agrees with that sentiment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Oct 7 at 11:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu If a moderator deletes your comment, you're not meant to re-post the same comment. If a moderator undeletes something you deleted, you're surely not meant to re-delete what they undeleted. If the diamond moderators override you, that's a sign that you probably ought to not do that thing. Others can vouch for you by re-doing that action—but you shouldn't just try to overturn the moderator. The buck is meant to stop with the moderator, that's what they're here for. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener My understanding is that the system has those checks in place for the things we aren’t supposed to undo. If a moderator deletes my comment, I cannot undelete it, I have to repost it as a workaround. Deleting a post that a moderator undeleted isn’t a work around, it’s just using the usual tools given us in the way they were designed. I’m not aware of any guidance, rule, or policy that says something to the effect of “never ever undo a moderator action”, and if there is one, I doubt it applies to actions that are not workarounds of site mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 12:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I think Thomas Markov said most of what there is to say. I can add that we can question moderator actions at any time - as always, action is context-dependent, the buck only ends with acceleration to employees. Moderators are not employees. They do not represent the company's decisions - while they have considerable privileges, their word is never the final say on anything. Most often, all these things don't matter. We are, most often, even in most exception-handling situations, cooperative people who talk things out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Oct 7 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov ‘I’m not aware of any guidance, rule, or policy that says something to the effect of “never ever undo a moderator action”‘ — I'm not saying there is; that's a mischaracterisation. I'm saying: you and two others deleted a post. A moderator determined this was in error and undeleted it. You and another decided to overrule the moderator and re-delete it. The buck is meant to stop at “the moderator said your action was in error and disruptive, so don't re-do it.” You could contest the moderator verbally, but you're not meant to go and overrule them. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 13:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ The expectation would have been to bring it to meta before re-deleting it. It is precisely an expectation. (here in the accordance with 8. before 9. happens) \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Oct 7 at 13:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener "you're not meant to go and overrule them" I hear what you're saying, I'm just not sure this is true in every conceivable situation. There are definitely some situations where it seems clear that we shouldn't work around a mod's actions, but I don't see where you're getting that this applies universally in all scenarios. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov It doesn't have to be true in every conceivable situation. But it's true here: you deleted a post. A moderator determined this was a mistake and undid it. Then you re-deleted the same post in spite of moderator action that corrected damage you did. (And no, you're not supposed to go re-post a comment the moderator deleted either. That's not "a workaround"—you're not meant to find workarounds for moderator action. That's just re-doing something a moderator took action on and deciding to ignore the signals they gave you. That's just inviting yourself getting into trouble.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I know you shouldn't repost moderator deleted comments. That was the entire point of the illustration. You shouldn't repost mod deleted comments because you have to repost them - there is no site function designed to reverse a moderator's decision to delete a comment, so it's obvious you shouldn't "undo" that decision. However, for a mod's deletion of a post, the site is designed to allow the community to object to and reverse that decision with the usual tools at their disposal. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Like, we elected these moderators to enact their judgement in error correction. When they've made a determination about our actions, you're not supposed to just ignore that and re-do those actions deciding you don't have to listen to the moderator. That's undermining the moderators and not allowing them to enact the responsibilities we elected them to perform. It's dysfunctional, disruptive, and uncooperative. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov In this case the correct action would have been to bring the topic to meta if you disagree with the action I took. Or leave the delete votes for other users. Its not about never questioning a moderators action, instead it a sign to re-think your actions. If a mod directly undoes something you did. It's probably a good idea to get some clarity before repeating the action. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 7 at 22:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ We suggest If you have questions about the reasoning behind a moderator's actions, bring them up for discussion on meta.. We should assume that all people involved act in good faith. High-reputation community members may use moderation tools to challenge moderator decisions. A conversation before escalation is good. But genuinely employing one's moderation privilege, acting in what one thinks is the best interest of the site to, for instance, reopen a question that a moderator closed with their binding vote - is unproblematic by itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Oct 7 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener While I personally would agree that when a person in a position of authority corrects my actions, it implies that I should not repeat that behaviour, surprisingly, the moderators themselves do not think so. See this meta meta question. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Oct 10 at 11:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat orthogonal to this discussion... Stack Overflow has a soft rule that restricts users to one delete/undelete vote per post (due to back-and-forth wars causing lots of flags for moderators). Users who infringe on this get a mod warning, then a suspension, then a longer suspension, etc. (like any other rule). Perhaps RPG.SE wants to take a look at a similar soft rule? (I refer to it as a soft rule because it's not enforced by the system, but rather by moderators noticing it in passing, or users flagging for moderators to take a look). \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 14 at 14:34
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Deletion is entirely inappropriate

Deleting answers has historically been, and should continue to be, reserved for truly egregious cases. When it says “Not an Answer,” that is very literal—it is for cases where the Answer in question is literally not an answer at all, to anything, but instead is another question, or some kind of commentary, or otherwise makes zero attempt to answer anything at all.

Misunderstanding the precise details of the question and answering based on that misunderstanding? That’s still an Answer. Maybe it’s not a good one, but the tool we have for dealing with answers that aren’t good is the downvote—not deletion. And for that matter, “answers that don’t respond with precisely the information requested” are an established and expected thing around here—frame challenges are valid and allowed, and often times are considered good answers. If you don’t think this particular case is, fine—but that’s a matter of your vote, not moderation.

Moderation tools are intended to be used only in exceptional cases. They are for glaring, obvious problems that need to go away. Otherwise the intended functioning of the site is that the community consensus—as determined through voting—determines something’s fate. Doesn’t answer the exact question as you see it? Downvote. Isn’t a valid frame challenge in your opinion? Downvote. Doesn’t convince you of its accuracy? Downvote. Isn’t supported the way you would like to see it supported? Downvote. Doesn’t hold to some policy? Unless that policy is Be Nice or rules against spam or piracy, downvote. These are not concerns for which the moderation tools of this site are suited, and the overuse (if not outright abuse) of those tools has been an ongoing problem that needs to stop.

There is a wider community of users on this site than can be found on Chat, or on Meta. A consensus there, or here, doesn’t really mean very much at all—not compared to a consensus in main site voting. Therefore, unless there is a very good reason to do otherwise, we should in all circumstances favor solutions that allow main site voting to handle problems. This is something trivially handled by downvotes, and therefore it should be. To turn it into a matter of moderation-tool override is a significant (un-agreed-upon) divergence from historical practice, and in any event certainly not a good idea.

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer can be improved by addressing the post notice and our local meta guidance that say that unsupported answers may be deleted. This answer seems to assume that lack of support is unequivocally not a reason for deletion, but meta guidance and the post notice disagree. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 22:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Long practice by main-site voting absolutely trumps anything in Meta save perhaps explicit “this is causing problems and we’re changing,” much less generic network-wide messages. All of the policies you refer to are old and have relatively few votes; they might represent something of best practices, but that is not remotely the same as being enforced via moderation. Your entire view of Meta and policy is, honestly, just not in keeping with either the spirit or the history of this site. That’s not how policy here has ever worked. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 6 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Old and relatively few votes? The meta guidance I’m referring to is less than three years old, is an FAQ question, the question is sitting at +40/-0, and the answer is sitting at +32/-2. I’m not sure what meta posts you’re talking about, but we aren’t talking about the same metas. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 23:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ My experience of what the site has done in practice is to delete unsupported answers. That's what we were doing when I earned deletion privileges, and that is what we've been doing in the year since then. To put it another way, I have never known an rpg.se where deleting unsupported answers was not the practice. So when you tell me "the real policy is what the site has actually done in practice", you're confirming what I already understand, which is obviously not your intent. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Almost all answer deletion in recent memory was performed by you and a small, but highly active, group of mostly relatively new users. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 7 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Korvin and Doppel are not new, no, but they’re also not people I associate with this new trend—they were around long before it started. The others I do associate with this new trend, along with a few others, and were precisely who I had in mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 7 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the end, whether or not the answer stays up isn't the issue I'm really concerned about. I just want our meta guidance to be accurate and reliable, and if it is as you say, that a lack of support is never itself a reason for deletion, then our meta guidance is inaccurate and unreliable in that respect. As a new user earning deletion privileges, I shouldn't have to already know what site practice is before I have that privilege, I should be able to look to meta to see what I am supposed to do, which is what I did when I hit 20k. (1/2) ... \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I mean, sorry? Yeah, Meta doesn’t work. Known problem. Hell, it’s basically the same thing as the documentation problem, which even more widely known. SE even wanted to ditch Meta entirely, but of course that was a terrible idea. No one has a good solution to the problem. But what you want is simply never going to reliably happen. We can clarify things, we can try to document things, but ultimately you need a certain amount of reputation before you get privileges because you’re supposed to learn what site practice is before you get them. That’s the whole point. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 7 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't want to be described as an accomplice to anything here. Thomas, I'm not sure where you got the impression I'm a “usual accomplice” on this front given I have multiple times vocally opposed what you're doing with deletions directly to you. I do not endorse the recent deletion activity we've been seeing and I agree with KRyan calling it a problem, but the participants involved do not care and do not listen to anybody about changing their behaviour. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have voted to delete answers that I felt very much warrant it. That's one matter, this is another. I do not endorse the deletion you're advocating here and do not want to be described as a usual accomplice of someone whose actions I've repeatedly objected to as though I endorse what they're doing. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov The issue here is that you are interpreting a best-practice guide for "How to cite a good answer" as "How to enforce good answers" which was never the intent of that guidance. Perhaps it is time for a new guidance meta 'When should answers be deleted?" \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 7 at 23:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov We don't have control over the wording of the post-notices. They are a network-wide tool. But again the wording is 'may", it is up to the community to decide where the line between "completely unsupported and unsalvageable (worthy of deletion)" and "could use more support (downvote)" is. Most of the comments, and votes on this meta seem to indicate that perhaps you are leaning too heavily onto the deletion side. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 8 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Currently you are saying "the guidance says I may delete unsupported answers based on my judgement" and we are saying that perhaps your judgement is too harsh on answers. But when questioned you are pointing back to the guidance to say that you are only doing what it tells you. Either we need additional guidance so that you can better apply your judgement, or you need to consider what we are saying and recalibrate your judgement based on our feedback. I'm happy to support you in either and fully believe you are trying to do what you believe to be the best thing for the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 8 at 0:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov The usual remedy is we talk about it, then modify our own behaviour as individuals to better match what we've understood. This works perfectly fine for most people and has for ten years. The thing is—I see you still struggling with "our guidance says may" even though I and others have discussed that point with you many times on many different occasions. We can't make our guidance into a watertight procedure guide to follow. We need to be able to have conversations with you in which we get heard, which unfortunately hasn't been my experience engaging in this topic with you. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8 at 10:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov after reading through all this, I cannot tell if (1) you are voting to delete because you want to, and you believe the references you cite give you permission, or (2) you believe the references you cite require or obligate you to vote to delete, or (3) some other case I have not considered. Can you clarify your mindset on this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Oct 8 at 22:59
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A perfect example of why we shouldn't pin the highest voted answer to the top

Hold still folks, because I've got opinions and have been waiting all week to have enough time to unload them!

For this specific instance, we have a querent who is asking a question about what happens in the Forgotten Realms (FR) for a town that gets attacked by a dragon. The querent specifically focuses upon how these towns might go about bringing a dragon to ground.

From reviewing the comments here and elsewhere, I've further understood that the querent really wants an answer that's focused upon FR specific elements. To be clear, I didn't get that impression from reading the question, and tags alone are not sufficient in my opinion (sometimes folks just like to throw tags around).

The most highly voted answer (71-0 at the time of writing) does not answer the question with the requested information, rather it is a bit of frame challenge answer. But with a score of 71 (at the time of this response), it's definitely what the RPG.SE community deems the best.

The second highest voted answer (14-0 at the time of writing) provides some very specific 5e lore from a specific adventure module set in the FR, which details what happens when towns try to fight back against a dragon. This answer helps, but it doesn't actually answer the querent's question of how does a town ground a dragon.

The third highest voted answer (8-1 at the time of writing) provides some info from the FR wiki as well as 5e specific information. Additionally, the answer provides some details from the DMG to attempt to quantify the problem but even goes on to discuss a potential means by which to ground the dragon by using the low-level entangle spell. Curiously, of all the answers provided thus far, this is the first to actually directly answer the querent's request for a grounding method.

Finally, the fourth highest voted answer and the subject of this thread's contention (9-6 at the time of writing) provides a detailed breakdown of the overarching 5e mechanics associated with the issue at hand to put forth an answer which posits that the effort of grounding a dragon may be more trivial for the game's definition of a Town than previously thought.


What I find fascinating about this whole thing is that every answer provided, in some way or another, does NOT fully answer the question being asked. And for the record, I think this is fine, because I think that every answer is correct for a certain type of playstyle. Furthermore, I think that every respondent may've seen the question a little bit differently and that influenced the nature of their answer.

Sometimes a querent doesn't know enough to ask the exact right question and as a result, they are relying upon the opinion of experts to help guide them. If they already knew the information, they either wouldn't be asking or would maybe be doing a self-answer.

Therefore, the 'correct' answer to this question is going to be whatever helps the querent most. But the sum of all answers provides valuable insight to various different ways that people may read the question. Given we're not dealing with immutable things like the gravitational constant of the universe, this is a very valid spread of answers and none should be deleted.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not clear how you get "this is a perfect example of why the accepted answer should remain pinned to the top" from this answer's arguments. How is pinning related to this? And did you mean "shouldn't" or "should" in that header link? It's really not clear. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 14 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH it may help to review the whole meta thread associated with pinning accepted answers that I linked to get a better understanding. As I indicated in this answer, though, you had 4 different answers and none of them really fully answered the question asked; but this wasn't due to carelessness on the respondents' parts it had to do with how each of them interpreted the question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have read the entire thing (a few times) already. Your answer here talks about how each answer has value in that each answer interprets the question a different way. That doesn't relate directly to whether an answer accepted by the asker should be pinned to the top of the answers list... and it certainly doesn't indicate in any way that I can see that pinning the highest-scored answer would be worse than pinning an answer the OP accepts. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 14 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are making the jump there from "Therefore, the 'correct' answer to this question is going to be whatever helps the querent most." Then you're conflating "correct" with "best". The point of the checkmark is to indicate which one helped the querent the most. The point of answer scores is to indicate which one helps the community the most. OP may find some Answer X most helpful for them, but the community may vote up Answer Y far more because they think it's better for the scenario OP presented. Unpinning the accepted answer doesn't affect OP's ability to choose their own "correct" one \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 14 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ But it does affect the community's ability to understand which one most people think is correct (by forcing them to continue scrolling to discover ones that might be voted up more highly). \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 14 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Best" is always going to be a subjective standard and "correct" will also be subjective provided we're not dealing with immutable things (which we almost never are). As I stated in my answer, the querent's stated question and what they actually want are two slightly different things. Is this a fault of the querent? Not usually. Again, as I state in my answer sometimes you're asking experts because you don't know the answer and those experts will filter your answer through their experiences to provide what they think is most "correct" based on their experiences. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH I believe the point of the upvoted answer is the one that the community liked the most. I don't think anyone is under the illusion that it is necessarily the most helpful or useful - as a frequent SO reader I can attest that the most upvoted answer is often not the one that will fix your problem! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 15 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AntiDragonCommunitySelfDefense I agree, of course. What's confusing (read: completely unclear) is why Pyro here suggests it's an example of why having the highest-voted answer be at the top is bad, but especially how that is even demonstrated by the answers on the question under discussion. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Oct 15 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ This being a checkbox on the user-end would really solve a lot of arguments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Oct 15 at 22:58
-2
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Thoughts quoted from Someone_Evil on a different post

I am going to quote the entirety of the following answer, even if it doesn't all strictly apply here:

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.


My own thoughts

I have a distinct memory of the day I saw the answer I quoted above, because I also wrote an answer, one that I have now undeleted as of today:

It draws on SE guidance and I felt confident in the idea that bad answers should be downvoted and not deleted. Then I received comments such as:

The problem wasn't the answer being wrong, it was lack of support. And those can be deleted as per the notice.

And that made sense to me, especially given what the post notice actually says. Someone_Evil even wrote that entire answer about how answers lacking citation/support are deleted and so I rethought my stance. I looked into it and found that Skeptics does this same thing, as do other sites, and some sites even have tags that indicate answers must have actual citations/sources.

It is clear that people do not agree whether unsupported answers should actually be deleted or not, just look at the answers here, but currently, and for the past while, I have thought that they should be deleted. The answer, as it was originally posted, did not have support; it grabbed at numbers without backing up where any of those numbers were coming from and I voted to delete it.


That all said, if we want a new Meta on what we want to do with unsupported answers, I welcome it. To that end, have some links to questions that I could find that have discussion about unsupported answers:

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is awkward, KRyan told me exactly the opposite of what S_E said there. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8 at 10:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Yeah, I posted a bunch of links in chat a while back that cover this idea. The answers were quite varied \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8 at 10:40
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Yes, it doesn't answer the question - not even as a frame challenge

The answer itself is a good attempt at a theoretical question regarding how a populace could defend itself in an actual battle - but that isn't the question asked.

N.B. I was the editor who worked with OP to update their question.

While the question originally was targeted more towards an actual in-game problem, after I submitted an answer it became clearer that a practical solution wasn't what OP was looking for.

After discussing in chat, and a bit in comments, we settled on that OP was most interested in knowing how towns responded to dragons in lore. This could provide them a basis for a better understanding of how the historical lore could apply to their current situation.

I may have been incorrect in my understanding of their goals, but that was what I had in my mind when I edited the question to focus on that aspect.

Unfortunately, the answer in question here doesn't address that need at all. A frame challenge in this instance isn't appropriate, because OP is looking for actual (fictional) events that exist in lore and theoretical mechanical situations.

The querent was also very specific in wanting information on ways to ground the dragon. Unfortunately, the theorycraft answer doesn't address that need at all.

Because the answer doesn't address any of the stated needs in the question, it really isn't appropriate to keep it up as an answer. It simply isn't an answer to the question asked because it doesn't address the issues in the question and this follows the general guidance on the use of the Not An Answer flag.

Answers that do not address the question asked, or are otherwise off topic of the issues presented in the question.

From further down the page, one of the Not an Answer options is:

answers that attempt to answer another question

And that's exactly what this is. It's not answering the question of how have towns responded to and/or grounded dragons in FR lore, it's answering how could a town respond from a purely attack perspective. It's not a bad start to an answer, it's just an answer to a different question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not An Answer is exactly that—not an answer, at all, to anything. It’s another question or a comment, or whatever, but any attempt to provide an answer is an Answer. Historically, this Stack anyway has not deleted answers unless they were grossly non-answers. Your answer focuses on how the question and the querent are seeking specific, explicit descriptions within the lore—but if that is the answer’s failing, then it is definitely an Answer, even if it is misguided. Moderation is the wrong tool to apply; downvotes are the correct one. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 6 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ "After discussing in chat, and a bit in comments, we settled on that OP was most interested in knowing how towns responded to dragons in lore." Perhaps that's the angle OP was/is interested in (and (s)he can mark a fitting answer as accepted to express this), but in my opinion, the discussed answer could most certainly help other people in a very similar situation to OP's. If you think it doesn't fit in, feel free to downvote, but I'm 100% sure that the answer can help other people, and as such, I absolutely don't think that it should be deleted. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 0:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ In a similar vein to Stackoverflow, RPG SE is also an archive/encyclopedia of sorts, serving the purpose of educating others looking for a solution to a problem. If an answer doesn't perfectly match OPs scope, that's in no way a reason to delete it, as it may still very well help other people that googled for "how do towns defend against dragons dnd 5e" or something like that. I'm getting the impression you/Thomas M. don't like the idea of answering the posed question with rules, because it renders dragons weaker than one imagines them. Still, for rules fans, this approach is perfectly valid. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question, both before and after rewrites, asked as part of it "What methods are expected to be feasible" in 5e & [region]. The OP also asked recently in comments about "viable" SOP for these encounters (after this meta-answer of yours though). The deleted-answer has answered those parts of the question, even if it ignored many other parts. That makes this answer a "partial answer", which means it is not NAA, according to the meta-answers you quoted. This answer may seem NAA to you based on your discussion with the OP, but it is not NAA for what is actually present in the question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13 at 12:49
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To me, the answer fell into a pit that we usually close the question for: Idea generation.

It might have tried to sail the good subjective bad subjective cliff if it had made proper references, but it did not even back up the basic ideas it prompted, making it pretty much an answer without any substance that proposed something that didn't even match up on a basic analysis of the situation. Nothing on the quoted table was backed up by even pointing to official stat blocks, making it impossible to even check the claims for verity!

As a result, it read like a random "I just made this up on the fly" idea-answer, which are not only discouraged, but also have been deleted in the past.


After the more recent edit is does back up its numbers, but the math given isn't good. Even with a cursory knowledge of the system, the numbers don't add up: The dragon doesn't get disadvantage on the perception rolls because the town is already burning (which is well lit conditions) and hiding takes up the action, thus the "28% chance for a commoner to hide" as well as the number of calculated turns are wrong.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is out of date now that the poster has updated the answer with references to statblocks and their calculation method. But I disagree that it reads like idea-generation anyway. Yes the numbers initially lacked support, but they clearly came from somewhere. The correct action was to comment and ask for the source for the numbers, then give OP time to improve their answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 8 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @link FWIW: all of these answers, and even the question itself, are out of date after the edit \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8 at 2:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Yes and no. There are still some users who believe the answer should be deleted since it doesn't address the lore part of the question. However the meta is still a valid discussion on whether the question should have been deleted in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 8 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin I was asked to justify why I felt like that the answer was bad, that is not out of date. You have a different opinion on the matter if it felt like idea generation with the numbers pulled from the unknown. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Oct 9 at 9:42
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Undelete, add the post notice, and delete later if the post is not improved.

Want to improve this post? Add citations from reputable sources by editing the post. Posts with unsourced content may be edited or deleted.

You left out a reason for deletion that we use on the stack. Unsupported answers may be deleted. But you are right, we were hasty in deletion, and we should have used the post notice first.

The answer is wholly unsupported, so the post notice is warranted.

The question asks:

What methods are expected to be feasible in the combination of system (as of fifth edition) and setting (northern regions of Forgotten Realms), that towns employed to protect themselves against dragons?

The question asks explicitly for answers to be situated in two important contexts:

  • 5th Edition
  • The northern regions of the Forgotten Realms setting

Thus, there is a reasonable expectation that answers be supported through reference to 5th Edition material in the Forgotten Realms setting. This is what the question asks for unambiguously. Does the answer do this?

No.

The answer fails to provide mechanical support from 5th Edition rules for the claims made, and the answer makes no attempt to demonstrate that the claims made in the question are feasible in the Forgotten Realms setting.

The answer needs to do two things to be properly supported:

  • Provide the details of the calculations made so they can be verified by the reader
  • Demonstrate that the assumptions made in the answer are actually relevant to the Forgotten Realms setting

Because that’s what the question is asking for: methods that are “expected to be feasible in the combination of system (as of fifth edition) and setting (northern regions of Forgotten Realms)”. As the answer does not provide either of these things, it does not provide what the question asks for. This is what the post notice is for.

And if the answer is not improved (in some generous time frame), it should be deleted until it is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with what you say the post needs to improve. Though do note the post notice is "may" not "will". It isn't a hard and fast rule and we are encouraged to use our best judgement in these cases. Even if the additional support is not added it is still a decent attempt to answer the question and if this is worthy of deletion that is setting the bar pretty high. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Oct 6 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin I just don’t see how that is setting the bar high. The answer has no support, according to how we define support. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 5:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The tone of many of your comments comes off as unnecessarily aggressive and I'm very unclear on why. It seems as though you're personally offended that the respondent didn't provide an answer similar to your own which is steeped in lore from a portion of an adventure that they may not have. Our guidance states that the respondent should provide citations from reputable sources, which they've done. Perhaps this isn't the exact answer that the querent wants, but it's a good effort that's well backed up and may be useful to other folks who happen to come across it and don't have Icewind. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ You indicate that you want the bar to be set at, "Demonstrate that the assumptions made in the answer are actually relevant to the Forgotten Realms setting." Fine, the core rules of 5e are applicable regardless of realm. If anything, this answer demonstrates some potential deficiencies in the result assumptions made by Icewind. 250 soldiers all killed and the dragon's only lost 10 hit points? Doesn't really sync with the core rules. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why the need to delete later? Are posts not auto-pruned after enough downvotes? Downvote and move on, let the Stack do its thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Oct 6 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o That is only for questions. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to understand your criticism. I feel like the "supported" angle was the first thing that you brought up, but upon reading the top answer and your own I was surprised to find neither was supported in any way. Reading your answer here it seems to me that your main concern is that my answer didn't deal with the Forgotten Realms lore. In my mind, the asker mentioned both FR and the 5e ruleset, and knowing that FR is governed by the 5e ruleset I think it's reasonable to answer with regards to rules - especially when no other answer has done so already to provide another perspective. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11 at 7:35

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