One of my posts that answered a question (for those who can see them now, they are at Is there some known way to create the Mandelbrot set (the boundary), with an iterated function system?) was deleted by a moderator who in my opinion doesn't know anything about the subject. I just found out it was deleted.

I feel this was very wrong and that some explanation is in order. Additionally, I wonder whether (and how) it might be possible to remove moderators who delete posts without understanding them, or for other bad behavior. I further wonder whether there exists some sort of impeachment procedure against administrators who continue to allow such behavior.

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    $\begingroup$ Readers with sufficiently many reputation points will be able to see three deleted posts in this thread: mathoverflow.net/questions/74458/… $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ There is more than one level of redress, and more than one avenue for support. You can email both StackOverflow and MathOverflow moderators for assistance. Although you may have a complaint that is valid, and may be upset about, editorializing afterwards is more likely to get in the way of a good resolution than to help. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ I recall the OPs answer, and remember concurring with the moderator that deleted them. In any case, even if someone disagrees with the moderator's actions, the views in this question seem extreme. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ Where do all the down-votes and close-votes come from? Is this a left over from the time this question spent on MO itself? Or are these new votes acquired here on meta? Because it seems to me that for this kind of question meta is exactly the right place. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JohannesHahn It might be the right place for questions about moderation. It is not the right place for rants like this. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMaskedAvenger it would be completely misguided to contact the Stack Overflow moderators about this subject (just as wrong as it would be to contact this site's moderators for an issue on Physics). What you likely meant is to contact the SE community managers; this is a different group of persons though. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely right @quid. I should have said StackExchange, not StackOverflow. Thanks for the correction. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ On consultation with others, I have decided to reopen (closure of the question means the migration is rejected; this places the question under lock). Perhaps the question can be edited to remove the rant-like tone; there is an objective question lurking there, and the OP also has a right to hear an explanation if that is what he wants. (I had nothing to do with the posts that were deleted, in case anyone is wondering.) $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ For the record: I disagree with the decision to reopen and edit the question. If someone believes that there is an objective question lurking there that should be explored, then IMO that person should have started a separate thread. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ @BillJohnson Thanks for responding to this. Now that you bring it up, it's indeed possible that I should have performed a different type of action to clean up the mess created by the rejected migration: clear the migration history and then simply close the original post which was sitting at MO. In other words, there are technical aspects of moderating which I'm still learning (as they arise). But I think the post can be re-closed without recreating that mess. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ Given the number of downvotes, readers will have to work to find this meta post. Much as I prefer the edited form (I really am bothered by rants), I agree with Bill Johnson and think a new question with the same topic be started. If encouraged, I will make the new post, and someone can copy the answer so it is more visible. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TheMaskedAvenger That sounds good to me. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. New attempt posted. It looks like it is not going well, but let's wait. Sometimes it takes a whole day for things to crash and burn spectacularly. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


There is a process for removing moderators, but it seems unlikely to be relevant in this situation. Moderators are democratically elected* to handle exceptional situations. so they often come under extra scrutiny. But truthfully, regular users determine how each site operates.

One important principle of moderation on Stack Exchange sites is that we don't ask moderators to make decisions based on the correctness or accuracy of post or comments. Those things are better measured by voting. I'd be surprised if the moderator in question "doesn't know anything about the subject", but that wouldn't really harm their ability to moderate this site. The decisions moderators make normally revolve around content that is clearly out of the bounds of according to site norms or resolving conflicts between users. Knowledge of mathematics can be helpful, but it's not critical as a rule.

To make a guess about what brought this on, it looks like you've had some answers deleted. One of the principles of a Q&A site is that answers must directly address the questions asked. Your answers were deleted by a moderator as a result of 7 different flags by other users. It seems the consensus of the community is that that those answers don't answer the question itself.

My suggestion for the future would be to carefully read the questions you are interested in answering and post answers that address the precise query the asker posed.


* Except on beta sites where they are appointed by Stack Exchange Community Managers. Also, MathOverflow has a unique history that would have an effect on changes to moderation that I won't go into here.

  • $\begingroup$ It would appear that I hit (on the nose) a sensitive spot. Bureaucratic language of the above answer by Jon Ericson is reason enough for this question to have weight. The system is flawed and the administration knows that and lives with it. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ In the post in question I answered the question and gave the only known way of doing a Mandelbrot set iterated function system as a Mathematica program. If the moderator has problems with format, fine, but the answer is correct. I'm still working on a better way,but no one has developed one as far as I know in the fractals community. To have a moonshine type delete my answer is itself moonshine. So I asked the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerBagula: Yes the system is flawed. Every system is flawed, particularly when people are involved. I'm not apologizing for the system; I'm just trying to help you understand how it works. It's important to understand (typically before accusing moderators of wrongdoing) that answers must directly answer the question. This is an important feature of a Question & Answer site in our collective opinion. (You might be interested in reading "Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun".) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerBagula You wrote three posts on September 9, 2014. Which of those do you believe answers the question, which asked for an iterated function system for the Mandelbrot set? The last answer you gave (time-stamped 21:34) does not provide such an IFS, and so does not answer the question asked but talks about something else. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ Speaking more generally: mistakes are made on occasion. Now I am not claiming that a mistake was made by a moderator here, but if you feel a mistake was made and you would like your answer undeleted, you can open a post at MO meta and present your case as mathematics. Your ad hominem attacks against others may make it harder for others to summon good will towards you and your concern, but I'd say it's your best shot. Just stick to the mathematics and explain how you have in fact answered the question asked. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Todd Trimble: do you really care about the Mandelbrot set and an IFS set for the border of that set? The paper in the last post discusses the Mandelbrot set border dimension as being dimension 2:space filling, In IFS terms space filling curves are very specific about how the transforms add up in their Moran dimension. So the quest for a IFS Mandelbrot set has to take that fundamental paper into account. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerBagula It is irrelevant whether 'I care'. This is all about your complaint. If you care either about getting your posts undeleted or understanding why they were deleted, then consider my advice to open a new post on meta. But to repeat something already said: the usual rule is that answers should directly answer the question: it's often not enough just to say something that seems sort of relevant but falls short of actually definitively answering. (Sometimes that's OK, especially if it goes a long way towards settling the question, but such things are decided case by case.) $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ Your last comment by the way already sounds more mathematical and to the point than the first two sentences of the 21:34 post, which talk about how experienced you are and how some papers are regarded as 'jokes', or how some paper is practically impossible for you to understand. If you would like to participate at MO, I would urge you to prune out such stuff which is not at all helpful in terms of addressing the question. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:31

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