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This heavily downvoted and mildly offensive answer was initially deleted by myself and two other high-reputation users. It was then subject to a meta discussion by the OP who felt that it had been inappropriately deleted. A moderator then undeleted it. It was then deleted (again), at which point a moderator stepped in to lock it open pending meta discussion.

The discussion has now finished. My answer to the OP's meta question (in which I explain why it should have been deleted) is heavily upvoted (+18). The answer the moderator gave (explaining their decision to undelete said answer) is heavily downvoted (-8).

The community have expressed their view clearly. Why then, was the answer left locked open?

  • For the record, 5 different users voted to delete, yourself being a voter on both rounds. – Skooba Sep 28 '17 at 13:11
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    The moderator in question also took fairly quick action to lock open the post and explain why they did that. However, in light of community consensus the moderator has seemed to disappear. An explanation of some sort is warranted. – Skooba Sep 28 '17 at 15:32
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    @Valorum "Because I find it offensive". Do you feel that your personal subjective emotion about a post should be enough to get it closed? – MichaelK Oct 3 '17 at 7:50
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    @MichaelKarnerfors - yes. – Valorum Oct 3 '17 at 9:36
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    @Valorum Why? What is the rationale behind letting individual users' subjective emotions about a post be enough to close them down? Why are the words "I find that offensive" given so much weight? – MichaelK Oct 3 '17 at 9:40
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    @MichaelKarnerfors - A single (normal) user can't delete a post, not matter how offended they are personally. They can, however add it to the close queue or the delete queue (if it's downvoted) or flag it for a mod – Valorum Oct 3 '17 at 10:35
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    @Valorum And a mod can decide to reopen and lock it open at their discretion. If you have no other argument than "I have decided I feel offended by this", then it just comes down to some users think it should be closed, while the mod thinks it should be open. And since the mods option overrules the users' ditto, then it stays open. What is the issue here? – MichaelK Oct 3 '17 at 10:42
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    @MichaelKarnerfors - You seem to fundamentally misunderstand the role of a moderator. They aren't there to make policy and push their opinions, they're there to enforce common standards and to enact (within reason) the will of the community. – Valorum Oct 3 '17 at 11:02
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    @Valorum Have I now? Even looking past that assumption, the operative expression there is "common standards". So when you say that you feel offended, what makes you assume that that this - your personal, individual subjective emotion - somehow equates to the supposed common standard? – MichaelK Oct 3 '17 at 11:07
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    @Edlothiad Objectively offensive? According to what yard stick? – MichaelK Oct 3 '17 at 11:08
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    @MichaelKarnerfors - It was considered offensive by at least the five users who voted to delete and the ten(ish) users who chose to comment in chat and the comments that they also found it offensive as well as the 19 people who downvoted the OPs meta question. – Valorum Oct 3 '17 at 11:14
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    @MichaelKarnerfors it's well established SE policy that "the community finds it offensive" is plenty justification for removal of content, and in certain cases, suspension of the user who posted it. That's the entire point of community-moderated content. Why is this situation any different? – KutuluMike Oct 3 '17 at 11:31
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    @KutuluMike while I'm not arguing to turn this or any other SE site into 4chan, I would like to point out that extreme views can contribute to an analysis even when totally wrong. I find the idea that we are remembering history written by and from the perspective of the winners, and that a neutralish party at the time might of had a different view to be fascinating. The answer still sucks for various reasons, but are we really so scared of offensive content? If a new user comes in and sees 18 dvs its going to be pretty obvious that we don't approve but are secure enough not to censor. – Jared Smith Oct 3 '17 at 11:52
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    @Valorum I apologize for not being clear, I meant a person at that time who was neutral in the Axis/Allies conflict, not some hypothetical ideal observer. At any rate, that's your value judgement, and it's a good one. But the question isn't about your value judgement, or that of the person who posted the answer, it's about the value judgement of the fictional character. The fact that it may actually be the value judgement of the answerer is coincidental and irrelevant unless the OP is just using the character as a mouthpiece. If you want to argue it from that angle, well, I wouldn't disagree – Jared Smith Oct 3 '17 at 13:42
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    @JaredSmith - The problem here is that it's not the opinion of a fictional character. What OP has done express a view (a particularly controversial and offensive one), then attribute that view to that fictional character without offering any justification that the fictional character feels that way. You might just as well have said that Dumbledore didn't kill Hitler because Dumbledore hates Jews or because Dumbledore loves moustaches. – Valorum Oct 3 '17 at 15:14
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We were waiting for community consensus regarding political discussions in general.

Shortly after the community started discussing the answer in question on meta, a new meta question was posted asking whether or not political discussions were generally permissible on this site. Based on the voting on that question, the community has established a consensus that in general, political discussions are permissible if necessary for the analysis of a SFF work:

consensus on the general policy

The question that was answered ("If Dumbledore could take on Grindelwald, why didn't he take on Hitler?") certainly invites a political discussion since Dumbledore would presumably fight against Hitler if he objected to Hitler's politics and/or agreed with the Allies'. The answer as originally posted implied that the Allies (specifically British Prime Minister Winston Churchill) were actually as evil as Hitler, which is an opinion that does not belong in an answer. However, based on community consensus it is permissible to say that Dumbledore the character thought Churchill was as evil as Hitler (much like the Obergruppenführer Smith example I gave). The answer in question could simply have been edited to make it clear that Dumbledore the character thought Churchill was evil (whether or not that assertion is actually supported by Harry Potter canon is another matter).

But what about the community's consensus regarding the particular post?

There are indications that the community's desire to delete the answer in question is motivated by dislike of the user who posted it at least as much as (if not more than) the content of the post itself -- moderators had to remind the community to vote for the post rather than not the user (repeatedly). Moderators cannot allow users to override the community's policies simply because they don't like a certain user -- that is a situation which requires the "human exception handling" moderators are elected to do.

The moderator team also observed that the discussion to delete the answer in question was so highly charged and emotional that some users abused their privileges over it. Rand's answer explaining why he undeleted and locked the answer in question received a "rude or abusive" flag as well as two delete votes. Voting to delete a post which answers the question but which one disagrees with is precisely what Rand was explaining not to do in the first place (that's what downvotes are for). Such a highly emotional discussion is not conducive to achieving consensus based on rational arguments, and the possibility of users abusing their privileges is again a situation which requires "human exception handling" by moderators.

Going forward

The answer has been deleted because the question it was on has been deleted by the community.

The answer has been edited to clarify that only the character in question (Dumbledore) might have thought Churchill was as evil as Hitler. Since it is not my answer, however, I cannot correct its other deficiencies (namely, a lack of evidence that the character actually thought as is claimed). The answer has been unlocked and deleted so that the answerer can attempt to add evidence for his claims. If the answerer can do this then the post can be undeleted per the aforementioned general policy on political analysis of SFF works.

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    Explaining this sooner (instead of just ignoring my and others comments) would have obviated the need for me to to ask this question. – Valorum Sep 29 '17 at 14:17
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    This also seems like a bit of a cop-out. Was there ever any doubt that the decision was going to go in favour of us not using the site as a launching point for extreme political views? – Valorum Sep 29 '17 at 14:19
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    I think perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that when someone posts an answer that a wide variety of users seem to find offensive, locking it open pending meta discussion is probably the wrong action. Better to lock it deleted, despite the possibility that this may exclude lower rep users from being able to see the offensive content. – Valorum Sep 29 '17 at 14:31
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    Also, the question should not have been deleted. It is a legitimate question that has legitimate answer backed-up by canon sources. My opinion would be to reopen the question and delete the offensive answer now that a final decision has been made. (Or is that going to require another meta post?) – Skooba Sep 29 '17 at 14:33
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    @Null The question has been reopened. What should we assume to be a reasonable response time to handle the locked answer? – Skooba Sep 29 '17 at 15:13
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    Sorry, but no. It still contains the sentence "Hitler was simply a leader of one of equally cruel factions at war." which I find offensive. – Valorum Sep 29 '17 at 15:30
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    @ChristieRomanowski I fail to see how the edits make the post any less offensive. You should add support to your claims from the source material. Otherwise what is stopping me from saying "Dumbledore thought that are you intentionally trolling, and generally not a good person" --- Don't flag for delete this comment, it is what Dumbledore thinks! – Skooba Sep 29 '17 at 15:32
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    @Null Please explain how adding the "Dumbledore thought" turns that answer into a "meaningful analysis"? – Skooba Sep 29 '17 at 15:43
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    You claim to have edited the answer to adhere to the policy. This is the controversial paragraph in its current state. "Talking about Dumbledore acting out of altruism to kill the evil, Hitler couldn't be seen as the only bad guy from the perspective of the Wizarding World. The sad truth of the world is that the winners of the war and powerful nations always enforce their version of history on the world. One could argue that if you look at the torture and murder stats, Nazi Germany and even the Mongol Empire would look like a kid in front of the British Empire." – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 15:54
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    "The British opposite of Hitler (Winston Churchill) was also not a saint -- he has been criticized as being just as evil as Hitler by some in the real world (for example, 'Winston Churchill is no better than Adolf Hitler,' says Indian politician Dr Shashi Tharoor). Hitler was simply a leader of one of equally cruel factions at war." there is nothing in that paragraph that is relevant to canon. It remains to be a user forcing their political opinion. Whether or not Churchill is as evil as Hitler's is IRRELEVANT to this question. – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 15:54
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    You claim this answer now is similar to your TMITHC analogy. But that's just false. Your analogy stated why Smith would've agreed with the politics relevant to your answer. The level of genocide or slaughtering or whatever the BRITISH EMPIRE did as a whole is entirely irrelevant. Churchill's few years may have been relevant but even then, it should provide evidence in the source work that this was the opinion of the author or the opinion she imposed on her characters. Instead it mentions one relevant character name, and then a bunch of political bullshit that's offensive and off-topic – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 15:57
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    @ChristieRomanowski where is that implicit? Show some evidence to back up your thoughts. – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 16:22
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    @ChristieRomanowski what, you're head canon of dumbledore believes? So not something that can be sourced from the books? So entirely pointless? So your post was just political? Got it. – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 16:37
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    @ChristieRomanowski - Posting something offensive and then attributing it to a fictional character without attribution is worthy of deletion – Valorum Sep 29 '17 at 16:41
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    Without that evidence, your answer looks like a nothing but an excuse to post your own political opinions. I will not allow users to delete your post simply because they don't like you, but it's reasonable to vote to delete an answer because it is downvoted and lacks evidence. – Null Sep 29 '17 at 19:03

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