It is puzzling that the answer to Did German soldiers receive pay after the Allied invasion? was judged so negatively, also on its own, but especially compared to the two 'competing' answers.

The referenced post answers both aspects from the question, and an improvement suggestion from one of the comments below the question. The other two answers leave out the "deeper" part; entirely. It is well researched and amply referenced. The other two are both ephemeral, largely theoretical, and include one link each with dubious relevance to the question or the answers.

Delivering a comprehensive answer on both parts of the question seems unwanted by some. One commentator criticised the question as better to rephrase it into the direction of not D-Day but "right to the end of the war". The referenced answer even covered that, despite the OP not editing his question to react to this suggestion.

Then the referenced answer was criticised as following an agenda: "It's a simple yes/no question. But no occasion can be missed to push one's own agenda about Germans" – Is there an anti-German bias? From what the author wrote or from what he quotes?

Then it was deemed at "denouncing" policies of two states. What is "denouncing" in describing these policies; with agreeing references from reputable sources?

An explicit offer to edit the question was taken up on and primarily concerned with removing referenced evidence for – yes, some calls them as such – scandals quite central to the "deeper" part of answering the question.

Admittedly, it might have been less than ideal how the author handled the translation of bureaucratic German into readable English at first. That was attempted to be addressed with increased precision, yet the quibbles that followed about Ersatzzeit were no longer about accuracy for the occasion but making a stance that might be appropriate for a meta-discussion about a dictionary – but certainly not applicable to the quote in question and especially not if related back to the actual question.

Finally the characterisation of the goals and circumstances when introducing the long standing German pension system was criticised: "dismisses the whole pension system". It might indeed be read as dismissing, but it was just a paraphrasing summary from the words of the inventor of that system and reinforced by citing researchers on that topic who – in the author's understanding at least – support the cynical interpretation of the whole construction. Loving the current pension system and its history so much that the thoughts of the first chancellor, and many that followed him, or researchers on that topic are perceived as so hurtful to justify dismissing this answer seems quite understandable in its illogical furor.

To top it off, the author was personally criticised for taking a "defensive posture in comments" while trying to address justified criticism (which the first comment was certainly not), to explain inapplicable or unjustified criticism, and even explicitly inviting more "criticise to improve comments".

The author fails to see any valid criticism left, towards the current shape of the answer, to not answering the question, to use either offensive or opinionated language on his own. The author also fails to see that the sources might be questionable, the explanations, or the conclusions.

These observations leave largely two possible conclusions. Either there is still something validly described as content-wise 'wrong' with the answer. That would be quite nice to know. Or, the voting on this answer shows a certain irrational behaviour, perhaps even an agenda on its own. If it is the latter, it would be beneficial to hear some opinions on how this pure popularity voting effect might be addressed.

Other than resorting to popular banalities that are prime time TV compatible, currently it seems that "don't mention the war" is the best way around these controversial issues around and about "Germany". Given the site's aim, scope and title, that is not ideal.

  • Ya got me. I have a previously articulated position that I don't like to read answers that long (MTV upbringing), so its tough to tell. I will say the 4 upvotes and 5 downvotes is consistent with what I can expect from my answers when I state a controversial position (eg: on the Politics site). Given the topic, and the fact that I see two other users involved who have been posting marginal push content, I can take a guess.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Feb 23, 2018 at 15:29
  • @T.E.D. Apologies. I know about the length issue. That's partially due to requests from comments being ack'ed. Much stranger is: why is this A perceived as controversial, at all? Another one of mine got a beating, and that's OK, it started as an essay w/o refs and devolved into a frenzy of edits…. I still stand by that A; but did it lead to possible contamination of the reading of this A? Feb 23, 2018 at 15:40
  • 1
    That seems likely, since one of the negative comments on the linked answer essentially says so.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Feb 23, 2018 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


While I understand your disappointment at a well-sourced, detailed answer ending up with a negative score, you need consider a number of factors which probably contributed to this:

  1. Failure to maintain a neutral tone is always likely to work against you. At the very least, many readers will be not upvote even if there is a lot of quality content. I think SJuan76 made this point very well. Readers want to make up their own minds without being told what is morally right or wrong (which will be blindingly obvious to most in this case, and those who disagree will quite likely downvote).
  2. Spending too much time and space on not answering the main question is likely to either make readers move on to something else (especially if the answer is lengthy) or to downvote, perhaps because they feel their time has been wasted.
  3. Lengthy answers and excerpts are also likely to make people move on to something else, usually without voting one way or the other.
  4. I don't think edits usually repair all the 'damage' done by what is seen as a 'bad' answer for the simple reason that a lot of people don't re-visit answers they've already voted on. Look at your rep stats, 3 of the downvotes came in early, before any upvotes and before much of the editing.

For the record, I didn't vote up or down on your answer (because of 1, 2 and 3 above). For some, even though your answer was indeed more comprehensive, it seems an answer which has more merits than demerits gets downvoted - unfair in my view, but no one here has the right to tell anyone else how to vote so I can only speak for myself.

We all get it a bit wrong sometimes, and I've certainly been guilty of overlong answers at times. You obviously put a lot of effort into your answers, and you reference them, but (in my opinion) they are sometimes too long. That said, long, referenced answers are much better short answers with no references.

My advice (for what it's worth) is keep sourcing and maintain the effort but focus this effort more on getting to the point with fewer words. And stay neutral!

You've contributed a lot of good answers to this site already. Look back at some of them and think about why they did well while this one didn't.

  • Thx While I think the 1. para of my A cuts quickly: "Tone" still eludes me. From my view it's just a list of some facts, referenced analysis and really minimal interpretation or explanation from my side. Is there any offensive/judging language left? I am fully oblivious on that. – The "edits don't repair" anything seems like quite a systematic failure on SE. – "Lengthy excerpts" I considered a service, until now, as I reasoned from "Answer nothing but link". Link rot, paywalls etc.; quoting 2 paragraphs from books of 300 pages+ if central to the A is too much? Do we have some guide on meta? Feb 25, 2018 at 22:39
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    There is certainly nothing offensive. I think most of the 'tone' bits have been edited out, but I would rephrase 'the length the government went to for twisting its own definitions'. For edits, I don't think you can blame SE for people not checking answers again - some do, some don't. For lengthy excerpts, I'd only use them when essential. Note @T.E.D.'s comment (MTV gen) - better people read a shorter answer than not read a longer one. But I sympathize with your point of view on this. Feb 26, 2018 at 0:07
  • @Semaphore That's confusing: That rationale for the pensions was repeated many times, also by Adenauer and researchers analysing him and his politics. Within the scope of the Q this is not trivial since voices in Germany and from the allies were bound to punish the Germans/soldiers/PGs or at least criminals like the whole of the SS; i.e. "don't pay (for that!)". The German states kept Bismarck's tradition along with this reason (GDR: he stole the idea from the socialists). For conservatives Bismarck remains an authority to this day. Why does mild paraphrase of historical Bismarck tick ppl off? Feb 26, 2018 at 13:11
  • @LangLangC That's not what I said. Perhaps it'll be less confusing if you actually read my comments instead of jumping into that hyper defensive posture. My point is those comments on the state pension system is unnecessarily politicised and never actually integrated into your answer, so all it reads like is an opportunistic dig on social welfare and West Germany. Just because it's broadly related to the question's scope doesn't mean people aren't going to react negatively to irrelevant political soapboxing, of which your last comment is a further example of.
    – Semaphore
    Feb 26, 2018 at 13:35

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