This post: < Best practices for refactoring parameter file structure in multiple environments > was locked.

I believe I set out a very dispassionate and objective counter-argument to the points raised in the comments there. I appreciate the comments, but am puzzled by them.

As referenced there, this post on "Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective" seems to cite many properties that are to be used when assessing the usefulness of a subjective question.

The commenters appeared to use a straw-man argument about posts that are plainly just literature requests. I agree such posts are not constructive, but my question is not at all just a literature request for the reasons that I cited in the comments to the question.

I even made attempts to carefully word my questions so as to remove any ambiguity about the reference request sub-portion of the question. These edits were repeatedly deleted and rollbacks were made to the commenters preferred editions of the question.

Is there any way that I may enforce my last set of edits, and to have that version be the "locked version"? This process seems unfair to me, given that I tried to provide very concrete examples of the ways in which I was adhering to the needed properties for a good subjective question.

Of course, the process may not actually be unfair and I'm willing to give the commenters the benefit of the doubt. If this is the case, may I please have a more clearly articulated defense of the commenters chosen edits, specifically not relying on the following two mis-applied ideas:

  1. The straw-man argument about posts that are purely literature requests.
  2. The notion that "all questions implicitly contain reference requests". The Good v. Bad subjective post says that good subjective posts insist on references (that's the precise language used). This strongly insinuates an active position of the question's author to insist on reference requests.

Follow-up Question

I am also concerned that moderators are able to use the locking feature to privilege their preferred version of edits. For example, in this case, I made some edits and the moderator first rolled them back and then applied the lock. This seems like an unfair use of power. Why the presumption that the moderator's opinion about the edits is the one that deserves locked status, as opposed to whatever the most recent version is.

To put it another way, if there is anything close to a 50/50 chance that my argument is sound and my edits are fine, it seems like an unfair asymmetry in the discussion to allow the moderator to make changes then lock, as opposed to lock first.

Critically this is not an argument that this action was unfair to me, but rather that it is unfair to the community. I totally love the idea that posts do not belong to me. I'm all for that. But in a case like this, the community is primed by the moderator's choices, rather than something less partial such as whatever edits happened to occur last. New viewers will form an initial opinion about the post as it is right now, and if they have prior beliefs that you need a lot of inertia to justify changes, this implicitly favors the moderator's choices, which runs counter to what the community wants via the locking mechanism in the first place.

There's some ambiguity between the proper order of operations here:

  1. Lock question as-is
  2. discuss the issues that are causing trouble
  3. include additional community members and moderators to ensure nothing is done out of idiosyncratic opinions alone and
  4. make rollbacks if needed and unlock the question.

That's very different from:

  1. Rollback to changes that I prefer
  2. discuss or not
  • 7
    You don't, strictly speaking, get to decide which version of edits is correct. I know that may sound counterintuitive, but your question belongs to the community, and it's a collaborative editing environment. As the help center for every SE site says, "if you're not comfortable with that, this may not be the place for you." Wikipedia is no different, in that regard. Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:33
  • That is not counter-intuitive at all. I'm merely saying that the locked version creates priming, new viewers only see that version, etc. It's asymmetrically unfair even if it is the community, and not me, who decides about it.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:37
  • 7
    Looking at the edit history of your post, it appears that you engaged in a series of repeated rollbacks, including the roll-back of an edit that a moderator made in an attempt to save your question by making it on-topic for the site. Your post getting locked is the risk you take when you engage in rollback wars, and when the mod locks your post, they get to decide which revision gets locked. Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:40
  • What are the right steps for deciding? Should they privilege their own opinion, or use something maybe less partial, like "last edit wins until further debate"?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:41
  • 2
    The mod must decide which revision appears to be the most constructive, in terms of site and user community scope. Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:41
  • Note that I'm not trying to criticize. If the community wants moderators to first assess the best version of a post and then lock, well so be it. I'm just one voice. I'm just saying that's clearly partial.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:41
  • Can you refer me to a place where this is written down? Where does it say that the mod must use the mod's personal notion of constructiveness to pick a version and then apply the lock, in that order? And, given that this is an established criterion, is it open for change?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:42
  • 4
    Perhaps. But it's incumbent upon you to make the case that your edit is the one that is the best for the community (not necessarily the one that is the best for you). It's not a personal notion of constructiveness. Topicality is determined by the community; the moderator's sole role is to enforce that topicality. It's not a value judgment, other than those values that the user community has chosen to embrace. Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:43
  • I agree, and I have done that. But it would seem that debate ought to be independent from the task of placing a lock. To place a lock is to flag for further attention, not to make a value judgement and then flag for further attention.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:44
  • The site scope is pretty well outlined here: programmers.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic and here: programmers.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask. A complete index of help topics related to asking questions can be found here: programmers.stackexchange.com/help Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:46
  • I agree, and by those standards my question was better expressed under my last revision, for the careful reasons I have laid out.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:46
  • 3
    You may want to read a bit about moderation. And moderators are expected to lead by example.
    – Oded
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:17
  • In the few years that I've been on SO, CrossValidated, and Math.SE, I've read that post many times. Could you help me by pointing out which parts you think are specifically relevant here? Does a portion of that post address the follow-up question I raised?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:17

6 Answers 6


The recourse for having a post locked is to post on Meta. Now that it's here, all of the mods are notified. The lock is temporary (unfortunately, the options are rather limited, though) and can be lifted early once a resolution is achieved. Continually rolling back valid edits to your post is not constructive, and a lock is the only mechanism available to deal with it, so that an appropriate Meta discussion can happen to reach consensus.

I'll let other mods and community members weigh in with their thoughts as well, but here are my problems with your edits, even after being warned against them by a long-time and high reputation member of the community and myself, a community moderator.

(the criterion set out in the "Good Subjective vs. Bad Subjective" discussion)

This is meta, not relevant to your question. This applies to all questions asked and answers posted on the Stack Exchange network. In essence, it's noise in your question that detracts from what you are trying to ask. It should be edited out.

Can you provide widely-cited sources to bolster any thoughts on (1) or (2) above, to foster a more thorough discussion of proposed ideas (please do not merely post answers that are purely references to outside sources).

Stack Exchange sites are not suitable for discussions. If you want a discussion, it's best to use a forum, or perhaps a chat room. On Stack Exchange, most sites have their own chat room - the Programmers chat room is The Whiteboard. You can also make your own once you have sufficient reputation on any site in the network (which you do). Mentioning having a discussion in a question (even if it's not your intent or supported by the rest of the body of the question) tends to attract unwarranted down and close votes.

Also, answers that are purely links to, citations of, or references to outside resources are already forbidden under our How to Answer guidelines, so there's no need to include the additional "noise" in a post telling people not to do it - it's meta and should be edited out. If questions start attracting bad answers, it can be protected against low reputation users. Down votes and deletion votes can be used to remove any answers that do not meet our expectations and quality guidelines.

Are there any definitive or widely cited sources of best practices literature when it comes to these kinds of

Inherently, it is expected that answers leverage a combination of personal experiences and various external references. Asking for sources is not only meta, but makes your question read like a reference request (which are not allowed on Programmers, per 1 2 3 and the other Meta discussions and blog posts they link to. Asking explicitly for resources, even if it's not the full intent of your question, does tend to attract unwarranted down votes and close votes and is inherently part of any question asked on any Stack Exchange site.

  • I appreciate your thoughts. I still feel that "Make my preferred edits, then lock, then discuss-or-not" is unfairly asymmteric to non-moderators. Why wouldn't it be more fair to "Lock first, then let everyone decide what the right version is?" If your arguments for your preferred edits are sound, everyone will see that and then, in the locked state, you can go and rollback or something. But privileging your edits over the last batch that I made right before locking seems asymmetrically unfair.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:32
  • Also, I have addressed the points you make here. For instance, the claim "Stack Exchange sites are not suitable for discussions" is a taboo-the-words problem. It depends what exactly you mean by "discussion". If you use the notion of "good subjective question" as "discussion" then my post is precisely on-topic and well structured. You create a false dilemma by saying "all discussions are bad". It depends on exactly what you mean by 'discussion'.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:33
  • And lastly, I included a line in my post that specifically said "Please do not post answers that are just links to references" or something like that. Sure, maybe an explanatory line like that is not good in the post, but it should have clearly signaled to you that I did not intend to write a question that would generate that kind of answer, nor was I looking for that kind of answer, nor would that kind of answer have been helpful to me.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:34

After looking at the question, the edit history and the discussions about both so far, I want to add a few notes.

The lock on the question is not because the question itself is bad or wrong or unsuitable. The question got locked because there is a disagreement on how to formulate certain parts of the question and is only meant to avoid polluting the history of the question while those disagreements are sorted out here. The locking of a question is certainly not a precursor to closing or deleting it.

In its first revision, the question was basically fine, but it contained some phrases that, by experience, tend to trigger close votes, even if those close votes are in reality inappropriate. I believe that that was the for the first edit and everything after that is down to a disagreement on the validity of the edit.

The 'trigger phrase' in this case was the explicit request for literature references. It is my experience that questions with such an explicit request don't do well here (regardless of what any blog post might say about asking for references). Many people regard it as a veiled request for outside resources (regardless of the rest of the question and the intentions of the asker) and will vote to close based on that.
Personally, even if the question is right up in my alley, I skip it if it explicitly asks for literature references, because I usually don't have the time to hunt down the appropriate references for my answer, provided that I have them in a format that you can easily reference in the first place. I would be very surprised if I am the only one that has such a policy.

  • 4
    I fully agree with your last paragraph. A lot of people vote based on key phrases. Do I like it? No, not really. But things like "reference", "resource", "citation", and "discussion" catch people's eyes and they immediately jump on it with down/close votes.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:45
  • I would just add that you dismiss this "blog post" as if it's trivial. But in fact, the "Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective" post is directly linked from the P.SE "on-topic" page, and cited specifically as the reference for resolving something like this. Obviously, much is debatable about it all, but at the very least it's not some trivial by-the-way post that has nothing to do with this. It is precisely what P.SE itself wants to judge questions by.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 19:21
  • Also, I can't speak about my experience on P.SE, but on SO, CrossValidated, and Math.SE, I greatly enjoy bolstering answers with references. I seek those questions out because they offer much more tangible benefits than descriptions of anecdotal advice or experience (which are also valuable, just less durable to time and somewhat less objective). My point here is that for every person like you who skips on lit requests, there might be someone else willing to provide that, and the OP might be fine with that.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 19:23
  • @EMS: But aren't most references just other people's experiences?
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 21:15
  • Other people's vetted experiences are a large proportion of references, yes. But since it had to pass through many selective filters, like editors and customers, the signal is often more valuable. Not always, but often. And other references, like expert opinions based on rigorous statistical or mathematical arguments, empirical findings, etc., are also a large proportion of most references.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 21:21
  • @EMS: Other people's *vetted* experiences... Whoa... Whoa... Whoa there sunshine. StackExchange purports to be THE place where answers are vetted. We have these things called upvotes, downvotes, comments, and deletions.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 23:09
  • @EMS: I agree that the "Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective" post is a valuable resource, but if you take its contents too literally, then my experience tells me that the question does not fare well on Programmers.SE. On other sites, that might be different, but here on Programmers literature is seen as an external resource by many of the community members. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 6:25
  • What defines "too literally" here? I think that the usage of insists in that post is unambiguous, and my experience on many other SE sites differs from yours. And, to boot, the "Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective" post is linked directly from P.SE's on-topic page. I take that as an implicit strong endorsement of any unambiguous portions of the post. If, instead, P.SE does not communally endorse that post and feels it should be loosely interpreted and that only moderators' interpretations should be used, then why does the community link it from such an important page?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 14:38
  • 4
    The "Good Subjective v Bad Subjective" post is linked because it contains a lot of good advise on writing subjective questions. But we do not treat that post as gospel-truth and we don't treat the paragraph headings as an accurate reflection of what the paragraph is meant to convey. The P.SE community endorses the substance of the post, but perhaps not how certain ideas are formulated there. To you, the phrase "insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references" might seem unambiguous, but to me it is far from, in the light of the paragraph that follows. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 17:29
  • "it contained some phrases that, by experience, tend to trigger close votes, even if those close votes are in reality inappropriate" -- in my experience, inappropriate close votes are not much of a problem. Reopen vote, or edit (that bumps the question to reopen queue), or flag for moderator attention resolve the unfair closure, no big deal. A real troublesome thing "triggered" by phrases like that are answers that blindly ignore 95% of good question content and break right through to miniscule resource request part with brainless "here's your resource" links
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 21:47

I reviewed the question, the comments, the edits...

The post was locked because of repeated attempts to change the question in a way that the community was in disagreement with.

Besides that I am largely in agreement with ThomasOwens.

Note that my post specifically implements the tactics referred to in that post to achieve usefulness as a subjective post. It isn't shopping for a source if you insist that an experience or widely-known principle be backed up by references. This is why it says "Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references."

You keep insisting that this is not a shopping request yet keep attempting to add the request for external resources? This is by its very nature a shopping request.

Other than that I have nothing more to add than what was already said. It seems already talked to death.

  • This is because the post about Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective specifically says "Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references." This implies an active position on the part of the author to insist on it. I'm really very puzzled by all the attention that this particular component of the discussion is generating. The language of that post seems entirely unambiguous to me. Want to ask a good subjective question by that post's standards? Then insist on references. Why is that not the end of that line of thinking?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:39
  • 7
    @EMS Adding a sentence saying "please only answer this if you have solid references" is not really what we are looking for. If it was, every question would be magically transformed into a good subjective one just by adding that sentence. What you need to do to "insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references" is to clearly and thoroughly describe your problem and your attempts to solve it, and show us that you aren't yet another lazy buffoon looking for someone to do all your work for you. And you've already done that, the explicit request for references is just noise.
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:53
  • I did not make a statement that was anything like your statement. I laid out the question in three steps, (1) point out pitfalls in a proposal, (2) give experience, facts, or known design principles that would be alternatives and (3) if possible give references for points about (1) and (2).
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:55
  • This is just the same straw-man argument. I did not ever intimate that the only kind of useful answer is one that includes references. I merely mentioned that, as part of any good subjective question, I am also seeking references to bolster answers. I even tried to make edits myself to remove this ambiguity, and they were repeatedly rolled back.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:56
  • And further, the language from the Good Subjective v. Bad Subjective post is critical here. It says that such questions insist on references. Not in the sense that they are required, but in the sense that it is communicated, through the question, that the bar you must clear for making a good answer also involves references. That's not the bar for any answer, just good ones. And the language there is extremely active. It is clearly not at all saying that posts have passive implications of a desire for references.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:59
  • 1
    @EMS And I'm saying (1) and (2) are more than enough. You've already put your question in "good subjective" territory by showing us that you are serious about the problem, and that you tried to solve it on your own.
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 16:59
  • Even if this were true, it does not mean (3) is in need of removal. I disagree with you that it's "just noise." Mentioning that the bar for the best answers to clear should also involves references is probably a really good, non-noisy signal that motivated answerers should include references. Very much increasing the signal-to-noise, not decreasing it.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:05
  • But either way, the activeness of the need to insist on references in good subjective questions would seem to trump both of our opinions about it, and at the very least would imply that moderators should not spend lots of time trying to edit away point (3) of a 3-point question in which points (1) and (2) already make it a very useful question.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:06
  • 2
    @EMS That blog post is a (horribly outdated) set of vague guidelines, it's not really meant to be taken that literally.
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:10
  • It was the only clear set of guidelines I could find for this issue. It is linked directly from the top-level "on-topic" page for P.SE: < programmers.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic >.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 17:13

You seem to believe that question locked for content dispute at meta should remain at main site as originally posted ("Lock question as-is"). This approach doesn't make sense to me.

For the purpose of meta discussion, it is insignificant what particular revision is hanging on the main site because full revision history and original version are always available to study content and edits in as much details as needed.

With above in mind, I would expect moderator locking the post to take whatever edits deemed appropriate in order to make it look OK for regular, inexperienced readers of the site - for those who just read what is posted and don't pay attention to obscure, strictly internal notices about meta, content dispute etc.

From this perspective, I would expect moderators to err on the safer side, performing pre-dispute cleanup of the content. Given that final version of the content is to be determined by community discussion at meta anyway, I see no point to fixate about what is there on the main site during the dispute (it helps that locked post can not be voted, thus question score can't be influenced until it's unlocked back).

It is worth noting that expecting mentioned cleanup to be performed by asker would be a really bad idea, as they are naturally biased.

In your particular case, part cleaned up at main site prior to dispute is: "Are there any definitive or widely cited sources of best practices literature". To me, cleaning it up looks reasonable safety wise, as this part of the question makes a perfect match to one of the close reasons:

Questions asking us to recommend a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Programmers as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

Oh and please don't tell me that it's safe to keep because this part is hidden deep inside your "main" question. It's there and readers will find it. I remember myself being new at Programmers, carefully studying questions, stumbling upon resource-request parts and posting low quality answers "look here's the resource you asked about: <link>".

I would like to also address one of the comments you made, likely intending to support the question with an authoritative reference:

Note that my post specifically implements the tactics referred to in that post to achieve usefulness as a subjective post. It isn't shopping for a source if you insist that an experience or widely-known principle be backed up by references. This is why it says "Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references."

Your interpretation of Good Subjective, Bad Subjective article looks wrong to me.

My reading of the statement "questions insist that opinion be backed up" is that it's a strong prohibition against filling questions with a poison like "what's your opinion?", "what do you think?", "what do you prefer?"... and yeah, "which resource do you recommend".

Question should never have words like "what's your opinion" simply because this makes a wide open door for crappy answers where authors just post their opinion without even attempting to back it up.

Good question, in addition, is worded in a way that actually repels garbage answers - allowing readers, guys like you and me, to flag low quality posts for mod attention and request deletion on the ground that these don't answer the question asked.

  • Note that what's-your-opinion in the question immediately makes such flagging and demanding deletion impossible because, well, such answers match the questions asked. Same reasoning applies to resource requests - it is officially legal to post a low quality "I recommend this URL" and pretend that this just answers to what have been asked.

Now I would like to expand on what looks fundamentally wrong in your position.

You (and some other askers) re-post excerpts from the article, plainly translating these into requirements to answers and pretend that this makes your question compliant. Don't do that.

Above "translation" is purely yours, you have no grounds to state that this can be inferred from the article you refer.

Thing to remember is, this article states requirements for questions, not for the answers. Re-read it again and pay attention to the sub-title (quoted below, keeping font close to original):

Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions

Article is about guidelines for questions, plain and simple as in the title quoted above.

Whatever requirements for answers you stuff into your questions, you have no ground to link these to the article. These are all yours, and, frankly, from the perspective of those who read your question, these are pure noise, as these add nothing substantial to the question.

Please don't pollute the question with requirements to answers - for readers, these are useless.

If, after reading particular answer, you feel like something is not OK there, check whether it fits answering guidelines and if you believe that it doesn't, feel free to raise your concerns.

  • 7
    +1: Please don't pollute the question with requirements to answers - for readers, these are useless. - Ditto.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 22:06

I'll put my cards on the table.

I didn't vote to close your question, but if it was open when I noticed it, I would've voted to close it as 'Unclear What You're Asking' because:

  1. I'm not sure which problem you're trying solve.
  2. It's difficult to imagine a tool that could do what you're asking for.
    1. And if you're looking for a tool, then we should close it as Off-Topic because resource requests are off-topic.

But then I read this Meta question, and it seems like you tried to make some edits to rescue the question. That is, before the question got locked.

So I reconsidered my position.

But then I saw this comment:

Looking at the edit history of your post, it appears that you engaged in a series of repeated rollbacks, including the roll-back of an edit that a moderator made in an attempt to save your question by making it on-topic for the site. Your post getting locked is the risk you take when you engage in rollback wars, and when the mod locks your post, they get to decide which revision gets locked. – Robert Harvey 1 hour ago

And now I'm more convinced than ever that this question should be deleted.

Also, in the future, I think you should try to be a little less verbose.

Like you, I graduated from an American school system that asked me to fill up blue books with essay after essay. But in the real world, less is more.

Please try to focus your questions on the core of your problem. Please don't take the scenic route.

Hope this helps!

Per @EMS' latest comment, I must give him this:

  1. He has a genuine problem (although it needs to be reworded).
  2. @EMS is exactly the type of user that we need to retain on Programmers.SE.
    1. He puts effort into his posts.
    2. And he's genuinely curious about the rules because he'd like to follow them so that he can get answers to his questions.

@EMS: I regret that I cannot unilaterally unlock your question and rehabilitate it, but I hope that others (particularly moderators) will be able to give you the advice that you need.

Hope this helps!

  • I appreciate your perspective, but I find this unhelpful. For one, it seems you are privileging the commenter who wrote about my rollbacks. Did you look at the rollbacks? Maybe I was right to make them. There were several other commenters who mentioned that they thought my post was good and on-topic but just that specific reference to literature/reference requests was bad. As far as I can tell, no one else ever thought the question came even remotely close to delete-worthy. I'm curious why you feel so much more strongly than they do.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:20
  • Also, the aside about American schooling, etc., is pretty unhelpful and (my opinion) upsetting. I do not have the same feelings about verbosity vs. concision that you have. I do not share your opinion about the usefulness of verbosity on SE sites (regardless of the relative prevalence of verbose posts). I do not believe this is a product of schooling. Now, of course my beliefs don't really matter. But then again, neither do yours, so why are you putting them in this answer?
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:22
  • 2
    @EMS: You're wrong about the verbosity thing, but it might take you a few years of people ignoring your emails to figure that out. Otherwise, you seem like a decent guy, so I hope we can help you out.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:36
  • To me it is the same thing as with Occam's Razor. One can look at OR as a statement about obsessively pursuing simplicity. Or one can look at OR as a statement that, because none of our theories sufficiently survive contact with real data, suggests always adding more complexity. The verbosity of arguments is similar. Maybe simplicity and concision are the rule rather than the exception. But almost by definition, if someone wrote something verbose and they've thought about it then they already believe they've employed concision as well as possible and that the argument just has to be lengthy.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:43
  • Of course, my skill in deploying that point of view might just be low.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:44
  • 1
    @EMS: ..If someone wrote something verbose and they've thought about it then they already believe they've employed concision as well as possible... - ...Except in most instances they haven't. Also the medium matters. Always. Emails and Stackoverflow posts should be brief. Books (and college essays) can/should be longer. But even in those mediums, I find that the most powerful arguments tend to be terse. And I am not suggesting that all terse arguments are strong.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:56
  • @EMS: ..Because none of our theories sufficiently survive contact with real data... That's true, but the absence of data doesn't strengthen your side either.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:57
  • 1
    @EMS: Are you familiar with Bill Clinton's autobiography entitled 'My Life'? It's 1008 pages long! When a radio host asked him why it was so long he said, "If I had more time, I would've written a shorter book." This speaks volumes about the difficulty in formulating a strong, terse, coherent narrative or position paper. It's much easier to skip the edit phase and retain marginal details. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Life_(Bill_Clinton_autobiography)
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 19:02
  • 1
    I did not down vote you. Also, the whole "if I had more time, I would have written less" quote predates Clinton. That's also been attributed to Pascal and to some famous coders. It's very true of writing code. Less true, I find, for verbal discussions.
    – user103181
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 19:17
  • 1
    @EMS: OK. That's cool. I just upvoted your comment. Even though we disagree, at least we understand each other.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 21:13

I have another issue with the question, whether or not the edits were helpful. I can't see any of the comments made to the question itself due to it being locked. I'm not sure what the reputation requirement is for being able to see the comments, but why is there one at all to look at them? I can see not allowing new comments when the question is locked, but why don't we allow everyone to look at the comments already made? It makes it difficult to follow some of the discussion around the question when I can't see the comments.

  • 1
    The comments likely got long and argumentative about the rolling back and content and were deleted wholesale. At this point, only mods can see them. This is in part because you can't "pin" a comment which is often necessary when locking a question - it won't have any +votes so won't be seen unless its expanded, and can't be +voted because its locked. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/131787/… for MSO suggestion on this.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 16:57
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    The comments were made obsolete by this Meta discussion. All participants in the comment discussion moved (and expanded) their arguments here, so there wasn't really any point in keeping them. Also, the week long lock expired a couple of hours ago.
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 19:38

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