In the past 2-3 days we received 2 practically identical questions:

  1. Question #1
  2. Question #2

Both are about sexual assault in Harry Potter. While I think these questions should have been downvoted as bad/poor questions due to having no context or reason why OP thinks this might have happened, they are on topic.

While OP did not reference a particular scene in the question, their is a scene in the Malfoy mansion which the possibility of Hermione getting sexually assaulted is very real. In the movie Bellatrix is biting Hermione, and in the book its strongly implied Fenris Greyback wants Hermione to eat/torture/rape.

So I can see OP inserting Malfoy mistakenly into a question about sexual assault.

In another question, we have precedence for a question of sexual assault in the Harry Potter world being well received, and on-topic.

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    for the record: I VTC the second one on the assumption that it was the same OP asking the same bad question to try and get around a moderation action, but I was very on-the-fence about it. The first one I think should have been left alone with it's answer. – KutuluMike Nov 3 '16 at 13:14
  • I also VTC the second one on the same grounds more towards the suspected same OP then on basis of the question. – Himarm Nov 3 '16 at 13:15
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    Note to all: I checked the two users who asked the question, and they have different IP addresses which put them in different locations. They seem to be the same user but I can't prove it. – Null Nov 3 '16 at 14:21
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    Is this going to become this year's garbage question spam? Previous years included 'Is X a timelord', 'Why didn't X recognize Y when a prequel changed canon', and 'Can X escape Toad's spit?' I foresee a near future where 'Did X rape Y (even when there was no logical opportunity)?' being a fad. – Jack B Nimble Nov 3 '16 at 14:25
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    Full disclosure: I have flagged the first question on the grounds that VTC was invalid, after which it was deleted instead of VTROed. I don't know if its deletion had anything to do with my flag or not, especially since the flag was marked "helpful" (though that doesn't seem to mean much, from what I was told) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 3 '16 at 15:54
  • I VTC'd the second question, thinking it was the first from before, and that it had 4 other close votes already. I'm generally close-averse, but I see no reason to keep either of this open without some improvement. But I wouldn't have voted to delete. I'm absolutely fine with it staying deleted, but it's not an incident that I would choose to delete/undelete it. – user31178 Nov 3 '16 at 15:55
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    @CreationEdge or it might be that another user who saw the first question got curious and wanted to know the answer, so he posted a similar question? – user68762 Nov 3 '16 at 16:46
  • Doesn't matter. It's moot. – user31178 Nov 3 '16 at 16:53
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    Why is it we have to tolerate "terrible, borderline-offensive questions" and that they have to "establish a history of writing bad questions, or acting in bad faith" BEFORE we do the job of preventing proliferation of such questions from taking place in the first place? The idea of moderation should be to guide the development of the site toward the kind of environment we want to see, rather than cleaning up after shitstorms that could have been prevented with gentle, guided moderation. The question I deleted has been restored. The second one was left closed. – Thaddeus Howze Nov 3 '16 at 17:39
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    @ThaddeusHowze - generally, same reasons (philosophically) why First Amendment protects skinhead gatherings. Because the steps neede to be taken to prevent the offense, in big scale, are worse (arbitrarily applying power outside any rules) than the offense they are applied to address. In this case, moderator arbitrarily bind-closing and/or deleting a fully-within-scope question. (Ironically, i would probably be more onboard with deleting under "offensive" than with VTC, as a concept, leaving aside whether the specific question being discussed was offensive enough to warrant deletion). – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 3 '16 at 17:58
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    As discussed during elections, the positions of moderators are to act as human exception handlers - not to guide the development of the site as they see fit. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 20:05
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    I did not vote to close or delete the first question, since it wasn’t off-topic, too broad, or attracting opinion-based answers (or likely to do so). That said, I found the question very poor, and the motivations behind it highly suspect (potential trolling or sexism). I voted to close and delete the second question because (a) I thought it was mainly going to attract opinion-based answers (from the OP, as evidenced by one being posted), and (b) it seemed to be the same as one that had been posted earlier by someone whom I strongly suspect to be the same user (no cross-posting). – Adamant Nov 3 '16 at 22:05

I did raise a flag on the first question, because the question seemed really iffy (introducing a controversial topic with minimal effort on a vague premise of "someone said") and I thought a moderator ought to look at it.

The fact that it looks like the same person introduced the question again after they didn't get the answer they wanted raises my hackles further, and I suspect it was the same for those what deleted the questions. Compare the situation for the Umbridge question where they introduced a source of the rumor and included what evidence there was to support the assertion.

I hate to say that the major difference might be eloquence, but I think that's a good bit of it.

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    " Compare the situation for the Umbridge question where they introduced a source of the rumor and included what evidence there was to support the assertion." that makes the Umbridge question an objectively better question, but does not make it any more or less on-topic. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 14:52
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    We've never required users to have read/watched a work in question, and we have other questions about "things they've heard", so I'm just at a loss as to what makes this one so different that it warrants deletion. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 14:53
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    I think that, to some degree, it's a perfect storm. Badly formatted question, controversial topic, insistence on further discussion of it after it was shown there's no canonical evidence... it's time traveling robots and/or toad spit. I personally don't think the first one ought to have been deleted, as bad as it was, just downvoted. If it's the same person, the second one should have been deleted. If not, it could have been closed as a Duplicate. Although I do not shed any tears that it was deleted. – FuzzyBoots Nov 3 '16 at 15:08

Echoing my comment on the original question, although notability isn't something we generally check for, I felt that the total absence of any good reason to think that such a thing had happened (and the slightly prurient tone of the question) was sufficient to mark it for both closure and deletion.

I'm voting to delete. Given the lack of notability in the claim, these sorts of questions could be asked endlessly. "I heard somewhere that Draco raped x, is that true?" for every character in the whole series

And again, although it's not a part of the rules that I often refer to, this section under the FAQ also seems relevant.

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face

In this case, the OP hasn't given us any reason to believe that they're facing an actual problem regarding Draco and Hermione's sexual relationship, he's merely curious whether an unsourced claim is true or not.

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    See: Are we really here to solve problems?. tl;dr: no, not really. Everything we do here is out of curiosity. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 15:32
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    @phantom42 But even in a very loose interpretation of the word "problem", giving no context at all as to what makes you believe two unrelated characters raped each other borders (if not even crosses) at least "unclear what you're asking". – TARS Nov 3 '16 at 15:33
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    @phantom42 - Yes, but not idle curiosity, and certainly not where questions of sexual assault are concerned. If you want to ask about a character being raped, you'd better have a damned good reason to think it might have happened. – Valorum Nov 3 '16 at 15:33
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    @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach that's fine, and i'm not arguing it's not unclear. My point is that bringing up the "we're here to solve problems" is invalid. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 15:35
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    @phantom42 - We're not here to satisfy someone's weird slash fanfic curiosity. – Valorum Nov 3 '16 at 15:36
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    The reasoning behind a persons question is 100% irrelevant, same as with homework questions. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 15:38
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    And let's be honest - damn near all our questions are here to satisfy idle curiosity. – phantom42 Nov 3 '16 at 15:39
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    @phantom42 - I like to think that having a definitive answer increases people's enjoyment of a particular scene or an entire work. Why didn't the Jedi rescue Anakin's mother is an especially good example. Lots of people seem to have a real downer on the Jedi Council for not helping her out. – Valorum Nov 3 '16 at 15:52
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    Like i said, why being poorly written, reading it i immediatly assumed he was speaking about the scene in the malfoy mention were some form of sexual assault/rape/murder/eating was "planned" to happen to hermione. – Himarm Nov 3 '16 at 15:58
  • @Himarm Then why not add that into the question and improve it into reasonability that way? – TARS Nov 3 '16 at 16:00
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    Ah, indeed. Anyway, you can still edit deleted posts. But granted, that's why closing it might have been preferred over downright deleting. – TARS Nov 3 '16 at 16:01
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    I share the sentiment that allowing these bad questions will encourage an endless stream of similar questions. I do not agree with the premise that questions solve much of anything more than trivia. – Jack B Nimble Nov 3 '16 at 17:33
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    "I'm voting to delete. Given the lack of notability in the claim, these sorts of questions could be asked endlessly. "X wrote novels with characters who spend a very considerable time walking - did he have a driving licence?" for every author of high fantasy ever." :-) – Rand al'Thor Nov 4 '16 at 0:53
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    @Valorum - Just a small nitpick. Slash, in fan fiction, reflects a male/male sexual relationship, so Draco/Hermione wouldn't qualify. Draco/Hermione is a Het pairing, "Het", for heterosexual. Just felt the need to ooze through the comments with this little tidbit ... :) – Slytherincess Nov 6 '16 at 18:52
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    "a genre of fiction, chiefly published in fanzines or online, in which characters who appear together in film, television, or other popular media, are portrayed as having a sexual, especially homosexual, relationship." - Especially, not exclusively... – Valorum Nov 6 '16 at 19:04

Just to point out the obvious, the reasons for deletion are posted in the comments section:

I'm voting to delete. Given the lack of notability in the claim, these sorts of questions could be asked endlessly. "I heard somewhere that Draco raped x, is that true?".for every character in the whole series – Valorum yesterday

I voted to delete it then. If the perspective is: it isn't off topic to talk about rape, especially since the body of work associated with it does not, and the format for the question is so open ended, it could lead to an unlimited number of speculative variations, it would be better of such a question simply didn't exist. It serves no particular purpose and without significant enhancement as to why the question was asked, I deem it less than satisfactory given its subject matter. Another moderator may disagree or you may vote to reopen it. – Thaddeus Howze♦ yesterday

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    I think the issue is, neither of those things has historically been grounds for deletion. We've had similar terrible, borderline-offensive questions in the past and the response is usually a simple, clear, firm answer that tells the OP they're wrong. If the OP does what Valroum suggests, and asks tons of similar bad questions, that would be a clear case of acting in bad faith, and worthy of moderator intervention in it's own right. – KutuluMike Nov 3 '16 at 13:22
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    were also not skeptics, so notable claims are not required to ask questions. – Himarm Nov 3 '16 at 13:25
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    Several of those things ("the body of work associated with it does not [talk about this issue]", "it could lead to an unlimited number of speculative variations", "[i]t serves no particular purpose") would apply to a great many of the questions on this site. – Rand al'Thor Nov 3 '16 at 14:54
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    @Randal'Thor - True, but do we actually want to encourage that or discourage it? This is one of those "pinball tilt" questions where the OP hasn't actually broken a specific rule, but that doesn't mean that we should allow them to keep jogging the table., – Valorum Nov 3 '16 at 15:26
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    @Valorum - Downvotes are a tool of discouragement. Moderator power abuse (and the question didn't violate any site rules warranting either VTC or deletion, no matter its terrible quality) is not, and should not be. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 3 '16 at 15:58
  • Why do you have two answers here? – Adamant Nov 3 '16 at 21:51
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    One was my answer and the other was me quoting two people. To me, that's two separate answers to be voted on. – FuzzyBoots Nov 3 '16 at 22:16

I think deleting both questions was the right thing to do. It's got nothing to do with the subject matter, it's just a lousy question that deserved to be closed and deleted.

I don't think anyone disagrees that the question as originally asked was terrible. But I think it's still a really bad question after the edit: it doesn't provide any explanation of why someone might think it happened or why it's significant. The edits just improved the grammar and made the question wordier, but clearly the OP didn't put any thought into it and isn't going to come back and provide any better explanation.

(By contrast, the question mentioned in a comment about whether Tolkein knew how to drive explains why the asker thinks it's relevant or interesting, even if it's also probably unrelated to the actual work.)

When a question is that bad, I think closing it as unclear is appropriate so that it doesn't get answers, and then once it receives the downvotes it deserves, the auto-delete script will get rid of it.

In this case, two high-rep users (who should have known better) threw the obvious answer ("No") on it and they both got some upvotes which means it won't be auto-deleted. To me, this is an exception and it was correct for a moderator to step in and nuke it.

  • I just cast a close vote on it, hopefully it will at least get closed so it doesn't get any more answers. Since the OP hasn't explained why they think it happened, I think "unclear what you're asking" is appropriate. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Nov 4 '16 at 2:25
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    i think the major issue I had was that the first question was mod deleted, before the natural coarse of events happened. – Himarm Nov 4 '16 at 2:31
  • Eh, I answered because it was not certain whether the question would be closed, and there was a chance that it was being seriously asked. :) But yeah, I probably should have known better. – FuzzyBoots Nov 4 '16 at 11:46
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    As a policy, we're supposed to assume people have good intentions and aren't lying. Even if they're not asking in good faith, there's nothing wrong with answering it in good faith. Hell, it's a great way to get a badge or two if you're trying for one. – phantom42 Nov 4 '16 at 12:20

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