The deleted answer and its quality

There is this well researched, amply referenced, and dotted with examples and quotes, truthful answer that addresses the question as asked, in much detail.

It does this with the most relevant source in book form plus explanations, scientific as well as political and historical.

We see nine upvotes on it, and that it was accepted by OP.

We also see it deleted.

The deletion process timeline

One delete vote from long ago that never aged away from a user that himself edited the answer much to my dislike into a shape that attracted via timeline the majority of downvotes.

Two more recent delete-votes from users who in the past repeatedly professed to be not into reading long answers.

None of the delete votes seem to conform to the criteria set forth in the documentation 'when should a user cast deletion votes'.

Deplatforming attacks on the question

Via timeline for the question we see also that the question itself is valid enough to be open now. But as well that it was under a deplatforming attack from users who do not want the topic existing at all. One of those previous deplatforming close votes coming from one of the answer delete voters.

That leaves a direct answer hidden from view and an existing answer in place that really isn't a complete and self-reliant answer at all, but merely a comment and expansion to the deleted answer.

Quality of deleted answer as per reactions in comments and chat

One comment below the deleted answer is:

It's unfortunate that your answer starts in such a provocative way. Had you replaced the first few paragraphs with something more neutral, to the effect of "vaccines weren't as safe as they are now" you'd never have had such a high number of downvotes.

That is indeed unfortunate. If current day activists and propagandists want fallaciously to 'appeal to consequences' now on an upvoted and accepted answer… that's telling! But not in a good way. It's not 'healthy' for the site.

Another comment shows the utmost of ignorance in refusal to read through the actual answer. It says:

this is a fringe theory that is not accepted by the scientific mainstream. As a result, this is heavily downvoted.

"Fringe theory"? When quoting medical authorities like the CDC, or mainstream historians on the very subject matter like Stanley Williamson: "The Vaccination Controversy. The rise, reign and fall of compulsory vaccination for smallpox", Liverpool University Press? That's really ridiculous and a clear sign of not bothering to read but jumping down into the comment section to vent unsubstantiated opinions.

And the quite happy first comment on it was:

Excellent quote from Durbach, thanks. The low quality of free vaccinations is an eye-opener.

Sidenote for those accusations about any 'agendas'; the still standing and upvoted but isolated half-answer in response and as comment to the deleted one says about the deleted one:

I think the other answer though factually fair is a…

And another comment is clearly incomprehensible as it is one major point in the argument presented in the answer:

I can't help it, but for me that picture of the "horrible side effects of smallpox vaccination" is virtually indistinguishable from a picture of a smallpox victim...

Well, yeah, exactly the point. Ordinary people do not see much difference – and then conclude that smallpox vaccinations are maybe not as safe for them as propagandists always claim.

Perhaps this really accomplishes something. For lay people this is, and now image 19th century people delivering their child to the station, get a scar under dreadful conditions then return home being sick from whatever, but even worse: the younger sibling looking like this 2 weeks later. What would your own conclusion be? And you see from the colour that this is a more recent picture. (But thx for headsup, forgot to link outside alt-tag)

To which the detractor simply doubles down with:

I wish I could give more downvotes.

For explaining historical facts, medical facts, psychological and sociological explanations, all referenced? This looks like someone in some denial.

Yet another comment correctly concludes:

The answer is well researched and documented. This is what should be taken into account while voting for answers. Whether someone perceives the answer as being pro or against vaccines is neither here not there.

And yet that's all we see from a certain subset of users here.

The fallacy of judging a historical answer by 'appealing to consequences' for contemporary present day politics agendas is even made quite explicit:

But when taking into account the risk of contagion when not vaccinated, as well as the effect of people refusing vaccination on principle when we as human society are trying to erradicate a disease (and hence the need for vaccination in future generations), summarizing as (boldface) "vaccinations are dangerous" is misleading at best.

Now that's not what I call sine ira et studio.

Dealing with criticism, whether valid or invalid, and the H:SE catch-22 of resolving disputed content

The answer was criticised heavily. With debating comments challenging any unreferenced claims they didn't like as 'untrue', 'misleading'.

The proper way of dealing with such allegations is a) correcting the content, b) removing the wrong content if allegations are true or c) proving them untrue.
With proof and evidence in the form of quotes and references from reputable sources.
Which I did. Everything written and challenged is backed up. We see the data, we see the experts, we see the sources.

What else can an historical answer provide than going ad fontes and contextualising this with other expert opinions? The detractors below that deleted answer don't have a leg to stand on, when they apparently want to try to answer 'why was it discontinued' with 'people were all stupid back then', or 'evil did triumph once more'. This kind of moralising judgement is the very opposite of what historical research, or really any kind of research should do.

The style of discussion in comments, chat and on meta

Further, I'd like to voice my concerns here about an active subset of the community that places their personal feelings and perceived moral obligations before historical research and results.

This is a phenomenon now seen quite a bit too often already. It is quite unnerving to so often see cries of 'biased' and 'untrue' in comments below posts from users who cannot properly backup their most often than not unsourced opinions.

From the post under discussion here we see at least 5 users not reading what is written. Consequently misunderstanding, some quite wilfully, what the answer says.

Jumping to the comments without reading a post is quite senseless. Voting on a post without reading it is senseless. It needs to stop. The built-in technical limitation for a post is 30000 characters. Anyone who wants to complain about that needs to vent on MetaSE and not below posts that use this provision. Preferably on the post were Shog9 requests this limit even to be raised?

Keeping it deleted?

The above means that I see no reason for that post to remain deleted. Especially not when compared to all those other posts, like those without any necessary references of more often than not more questionable quality.

Simply a net negative score surely cannot be the only reason to delete such an answer?

Some contention arose from sheer length, which I consider a wholly invalid complaint altogether, and always. On that topic specifically many benign sources like Wikipedia also presents any reader coming along with unpleasant pictures. Disputed facts are properly referenced. Among them the much controversy provoking 'magic word' "dangerous", which coincidently appears all the time in the quoted quality references, whether from relevant primary sources at the time or later historical depictions, or *current medical expert opinion. Whether it is the best word here or not will remain a matter of personal opinion of readers. And one magic word should not be sufficient reason to delete an answer.

Given that most of the downvotes obviously – and in part also documented by comments – came from campaigning deplatformers, and that one delete vote came from a once agreeing editor that never aged away and the next two were from knee-jerk no-readers, I'd like to suggest to the community to undelete a well referenced answer that directly answers the question with some of the best available sources, which was upvoted nine times and accepted by the asker.

Answer under discussion: Why was compulsory vaccination abandoned in the UK?
Frozen chat room for it: https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/99373/discussion-on-answer-by-langlangc-why-was-compulsory-vaccination-abandoned-in-th

After time for contemplation, deliberation, and only two meagre voices on this here in answers: undelete now!

Taken together, this looks pretty much like a plain wrongful deletion, against policy, not meeting required criteria as outlined in for example our help-center or meta.stackexchange.com/q/5221

Even after inquiry here so far no valid criteria warranting deletion came forward. Instead we saw – still after editing by mod for politeness and operational focus – personalised attacks on 'style' and 'being no asset', "verbal diarrhea", "very little is" (compare with who's posting the insults here).

"Too long" isn't one, the deleted answer is not campaigning anything (unlike commentators and del-voters) and it does answer the question, with facts, referencess, sources, quotes. All of them of high quality, again contra accusations of any 'agenda'.

It should be undeleted at once, because the deletion voters and process itself failed the policy of meeting the required criteria to cast a deserved delete vote.

As a reminder on the established network policy for delete votes and sheer post length:

"Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better."

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the external resource is unreachable or goes permanently offline.


How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?

From there, special attention needs to be paid to "What are the criteria for deletion?":

Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted.

And the deleted one isn't 'wrong', but it is answering the actual question, not giving any advice – at all.

Now remember it: the deleted one was the accepted answer:

If I flag my post with a request to delete it, what will happen?

If you cannot delete your answer, then it must have been accepted by the question author. One of the main points of these sites is to provide help to others searching for answers; deleting your answer that the author has indicated as helpful to them detracts from maintaining such a knowledge base.
Moderators will not delete your post for the above reasons.


Since the existing answers up to this date here on meta failed to provide a meaningful explanation or give valid reasons for deleting that post, but instead proved nothing but the reason given so far to be a primitive 'no-likey', I hereby request the undeletion of a useful post.

  • 11
    Please take my advice in the friendly spirit it was intended: this post is way, way, way too long.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:17
  • 3
    (-1) This statement alone: After time for contemplation, deliberation, and only two meagre voices on this here in answers: shows your complete distain/disregard of opinions of others that, in any way shape or form, disagrees with yours. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 16:57
  • It shows calm patience with a broken process. Your answer is tangential at best to policy violations I demonstrate in this Q. As such, it mainly shows peripheral opinion about RL issues (your 'Fauci') and repeated—as in this very comment above—personalised inferences. If an A doesn't answer the fundamental problems outlined in Q, it is meagre. Eg note, again: "form" may be criticised, but is nowhere listed as 'reason to del.' My A on main answers the question posed; no A on this metaQ presents any factually compelling reason 2 challenge the Q asked here. Thus their validity is quite low. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


Note: I didn't downvote this answer, thus am not one of the a certain subset of users that the author is complaining about (at least for this answer).

Assumption: The answer, as of 2020-11-13, is in the form the original author desires.

Presentation of answer

This answer is difficult to read.

Due to the extensive quotes, the default styling of the site (white background) doesn't make it easier to read. Only after downloading the text to my offline reader, where a proper contrast exists, could I read it properly.

The answer lacks a structure that leads to a final conclusion that answers the question.

The quality of the answer would be improved, if it could be structured in a similar mannor as this answer from the same author:

In its present form, it is only a collection of quotes.

Objectivity of answer

The author indoctrination style of writing, not for the first time, makes itself noticeable. The third link leads to a dictionary definition of the word dangerous, afterwhich every use of the word danger is set to bold to insure that everyone gets the message:

The link for are leads to a paywall protected article, where only the first part can be seen and also contains a quote from Anthony S. Fauci:

The topic of his talk was bioterror, but the unsettling show-and-tell wasn't focused on the threat of smallpox: it addressed the serious risks of the vaccine meant to prevent it. "These are things the American public needs to understand," said the speaker, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

2002-10-02: Ugly Side Effects of Vaccine For Smallpox Color Planning
The Wall Street Journal

giving the impression that Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also thinks that Vaccinations are dangerous.

The rest of the answer pushes an anti-vaccinationists agenda with no alternative opinion being offered as if they don't exist.

A quick search, however, results in an article (also from Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The message here, however, is completely different:

Within this group, smallpox stands out because of its ease of transmissibility, its high mortality rate, and its established ability to ravage populations. There is a relative lack of immunity against smallpox in the population, and the thought of a smallpox epidemic instills terror in nearly everyone.
Because people of good intentions disagree on government policy regarding smallpox vaccination in the context of a bioterrorist threat, the general public must understand the decision-making process as well as the rationale behind decisions that may affect their health and their lives.

2002-04-25: Smallpox Vaccination Policy — The Need for Dialogue, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
The New England Journal of Medicine

Conclusions about answer

This is an opinionated answer that doesn't actually answer the question.

Even if this answer was rewritten to explain the reasons behind the anti-vaccinationists agenda (which would at least be a historical topic), it would be off-topic due to the question being: Why was compulsory vaccination abandoned in the UK?.

As to the author complaints (stated in this question and the comments in the original answer) about the reactions of the other users, they are really not justified considering how he reacts to other peaple's answers when he disagrees:

and elsewhere.

Further, I'd like to voice my concerns here about an active subset of the community that places their personal feelings and perceived moral obligations before historical research and results.

The author is really the last person on this site that should make such a complaint

I consider the removal of the answer as justified.


  • How can you conclude it would "not answer the question"? Look at the timeline and read the very first & 3td versions. It's still the core of the A, the rest in significant grew in response to reality-denialists & their shouting match. That's the historical part, perfectly on target but then come the campaigners & nay-saying knights in black armour without legs or arms, shout and vote according to their ideology. Since the Q was about smallpox, did or didn't Fauci call it that way I quoted? Wonder what my intention to help you w an experiment in edits ("misuse") leads to other A deletion? Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 18:16

To expand slightly on Mark Johnson's strong argument: the use of quotes, not only in this answer but most of that author's work on this site, in my opinion, not only is borderline plagiarism but makes their answers impossible to read and use. Addressing these in order:

  • Fair use of copyright materials is not a blanket excuse for taking all and every bit of material from someone else's work. One of the quotes in that answer is 14 paragraphs long with a truly minimal use of elision. Quotes should not be used as the basis of the arguments presented; rather they should provide the facts upon which the author - themselves and no-one else - argues the case being made.

  • The failure to use elision in any meaningful sense means that rather than highlighting points, the long quotes are nothing more than extensive rabbit holes which users must dig themselves out of before attempting comprehension of anything written or argued. They don't strengthen points, but detract from them by making them incomprehensible. They are mere verbal diarrhea, a regurgitation of others' work that simply makes a mess to be cleaned up before continued reading can progress; and nothing more.

I sincerely hope these comments will be taken as they are intended: a wake-up call to improve the author's writing. They clearly put considerable effort into writing answers - but the resultant quality does not come anywhere near deserving of that effort. Their posts could be a real asset to this site - but in my opinion very little of it to date is.

  • 3
    I understand that a request to readdress our users' moderation action on a post is inherently permission (if not a flat out request) for criticism. However, its very important that we don't personalize criticisms of particular users. Its the behavior (posts) we care about here.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 15:58
  • 2
    @T.E.D.: Point taken; thank you for the edits. Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 7:12
  • "Point taken"? Really? It's still full of personal attack: in your op very little of my output is useful? Your op, OK, but that op is per policy not a deletion criteria! "Too long" means you don't want to read that much? Then leave it! Again: no deletion criterion. Your def for plagiarism is broken. NOwhere does the A pretend other's texts as my own, I give proper reference with style. Insistence on short is contra policy in help-center. Historical answers need ample refs, quotes etc. Also required as per help center. This A is indeed helpful: proving that your delete vote was error. Thx. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 18:23
  • @LаngLаngС: So are you the individual who's been going around and down-voting exactly three of my posts every one of the last few days? It's one thing to create a controversial post that attracts some downvotes, but when it's exactly one down-vote on various old and new posts, exactly thrice a day, the pattern is clear. I think that's a real hoot because I've maxed out at over 200 rep at least two of those days already, and looking like it might happen today as well, so those down-votes aren't costing me any rep at all. Are you maxing out to compensate for the -1*3 cost of those down-votes? Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 19:06
  • 1
    @LangLangC Neither my nor PieterGeerkens answer contained anything in the form of: but then come the campaigners & nay-saying knights in black armour without legs or arms, shout and vote according to their ideology. or anything like your diogratory discriptions of others in this question, who dare, criticize you in any way, shape or form. Your behaviour towards others is unbecoming and similar in nature to the paranoia shown by Stalin during the time of the Great Purge. At some point this type of behaviour must end. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 20:14
  • @MarkJohnson Your comment went to the wrong post? Anyway: please stop diagnosing me as anything mustacheoid. If you look at the post where your comment probably belongs, then read that I described the growth of the answer in response to those 'knights'. Since neither you nor Pieter appear in that chat ts, why should any of your answers here be referred to by it again? One naysayer complained based on misunderstanding and refusal to read and wanted to downvote more than once. That also poisons the well for people all too eager to jump down to glance at the comments. Valid criticism is good. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .