To my understanding, this answer:

  • directly answer the question, with examples in math
  • has foundation in cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics

3 downvotes affirm that it misses an important point, but I can't see where. Why do you feel it's incorrect or doesn't make sense?


A reason given by Carlo Beenakker is that there has already an answer. In my point of view (aka the one who wrote both), the two answers discuss two different topics, to the point that editing it will change the content significantly. "The rush" in the old one is my primitive understanding of the tip of the tongue phenomenon, memory, cognitive load and problem-solving, while the new one is about word formation and semantic change. There are some overlap, but no answer is better than the other.

If we assume good faith and have perspective-taking on others, then before downvoting it we should take a step back to ask "wait, what if this guy has already considered this?" I actually had thought about whether I should edit the old one, post a new one and keep the old one, or post a new one and delete the old one. Editing is fine for me, but in the end I chose the last one, because (1) I was quite embarrassed on the old one, (2) wanted to see how far the new one can convince you, and (3) wanted to keep the site clean for now. It also allows the possibility to either undelete it in the future, or combine two of them into one single answer, when I have better understanding on cognitive load.

The core philosophy of Stack Exchange is that the content rules it all. Under this mindset, then even when Todd's comments are extremely valuable they need to be perceived as unrelated to the new one. If you concentrate on the merit of the answer, and only on the merit, then there is no reason to downvote it because another answer is deleted or not. A comment saying what option you prefer doesn't harm that spirit.

My decision of deleting the old one may not be good, but it's still in an effort to keep the site clean. If that's the only reason the new one get downvotes, then I don't agree with it.

  • 3
    My interpretation is that the downvotes say "this answer is not useful" because it overlaps with the previous answer by the same user, that received upvotes and relevant feedback in comments and yet was deleted. A "useful" answer would have edited the previous answer, rather than deleting it and starting over. This is, as I understand, the best practice at StackExchange in general and MathOverflow in particular: don't submit a new answer, but improve your existing answer. – Carlo Beenakker Nov 18 at 11:23
  • I have updated why I deleted it, please check it out. In short, I think the two answers are different, and should be posted separately. – Ooker Nov 18 at 14:25
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    please keep in mind that most users cannot see the deleted answer, so your deletion removes access to answer+comments for most users; you might object "I own this answer, why can't I do with it as I please", but there is a sense in which you no longer "own" contributions to a SE site (including MO); this is also why any user can step in and edit your question or answer; it's the same spirit as in Wikipedia, the contributions are a common good. – Carlo Beenakker Nov 18 at 16:01
  • ok, so what should I do at this point? I'm kinda fine with editing it completely or merging two parts together, but should I do that? Or should I just undelete the old one? Should I delete and repost the new one to get the vote number reset? – Ooker Nov 18 at 17:29
  • 8
    I would just undelete the old answer, and improve if it you wish to do so; "deleting and reposting to eliminate down votes" is definitely not acceptable. – Carlo Beenakker Nov 18 at 18:36
  • I have undeleted it, but what about the downvotes? They are a reaction to my deletion, and now when it's solved they should be solved too? – Ooker Nov 19 at 1:35
  • 3
    I didn't even see the comments and the old answer before deciding to downvote the current one. I think the answer fails to answer the question asked in a manner that would be understandable and appreciated by mathematicians. – Stanley Yao Xiao Nov 19 at 12:20
  • @StanleyYaoXiao thanks. I'm really curious to know why it fails to answer the question. Can you tell me where it isn't understandable and appreciated? Just quoting the confusing lines helps me a lot. – Ooker Nov 19 at 13:41
  • @Ooker the answer almost entirely misses the point of the question, in my opinion. A specific critique is the claim that "Fourier, Banach, or Peter-Weyl are meaningless", which is something that almost no mathematician would agree with. – Stanley Yao Xiao Nov 19 at 16:04
  • @StanleyYaoXiao they are meaningless in the sense that the word you name a concept and the concept itself are arbitrary. Does that make sense to you? If the answer almost entirely misses the point of the question, then can you comment about the part of making a meaning for the word "forest", and the part of coining new words? – Ooker Nov 19 at 18:37

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