I had an accepted answer on the question:


My answer is two years old and suddenly OP does not like it anymore. My answer was un-accepted and OP wants me to delete it citing ridiculous reasons. OP wants to use the figure in a thesis and believes that in OP's non-specified country it is not allowed to show a figure with a circle and lines, if it already exists on the internet.

The figure is very generic - a circle and a couple of lines and labels:

Circle with lines and labels

How is a moderator willing to help OP by deleting a question from this site? The question has a title, that could help others find the relevant information, so it hurts the site. I am also not amused - first my answer is vandalised and now deleted together with the question.

  • 6
    Given that it may interest others, you can ask a similar question and post your original answer.
    – user574859
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:37
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    Related: Q145883 and my A145986 where OP just replaced information in both the question and answer with dummy text. Q&A are still there (as is the history). A little bit different than your case since in my case it was more about placing a bunch of nodes instead of … geometry. Maybe the instructions to MWE should be revised and questioners should be instructed to anonymize their Q, though that wouldn't have helped much in your case. ☹ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:12
  • Is this graphic his or yours? Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 11:46
  • @stackprotector The graphic is the from the answer Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 11:51
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    So the discussed OP wants to delete hpekristiansen's graphic to be able to publish it as his? Wow... Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Let's not mince words; the OP at least appears to be attempting to commit academic fraud. It seems they are trying to pass off hpekristiansen's work as their own, and asking for the evidence of this to be removed from the internet. I would argue that this is academically really quite serious, especially since academic integrity, knowing how to reference outside material and give appropriate credit, and building on the work of others are all crucial research skills and important parts of what a thesis is supposed to demonstrate.

The mod says in one of his comments that "the presumption is to look favourably at the request unless there is a strong reason not to". I believe academic fraud is a strong reason not to. Even if it's just a simple diagram (and that's what's so incredible about this - one can construct a diagram like that in about the same time than it took to write this answer) the OP is demonstrating an overt lack of good faith. I would argue that too ought to diminish the weight of their request, since it undermines the integrity of the site.

As I think someone mentioned in one of the comments on this page, I would suggest to the author of the answer to post an equivalent question, along with their answer. I'd then go further, and cite/link this thread somewhere on there. That way the bad faith party will be forced to either acknowledge the work, or make their own diagram, since a Google image search of 'their' image will immediately discover the thread, and its true origin.

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    In addition to the possibility of serious problems with academic honesty, there might also be a violation of the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, under which the answer was posted, at play.... Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 16:07
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz I'm not sure that this is the case; in order to qualify for copyright a work has to meet a threshold of originality (this is why many well-known brand logos are not protected by copyright, only by trademark law) and I would not think that this figure meets that threshold (though I am not a lawyer). I think it is correct to frame it as a sign of bad faith instead.
    – schtandard
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 17:25
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    For the same reason I would not have thought that attribution was necessary (no copyright means no license restrictions). The questioner's behavior points to bad intentions though, which is academically problematic.
    – schtandard
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 17:27

I am the moderator who took action here.

It is a long-standing approach on the site that one of the things to bear in mind with moderator decisions is that each post has an association with an original author. This is visible for example in the history and on the main page as linked to the post. That means that their view has particular weight over-and-above 'general community standing'. This comes up from time to time where requests are made to delete questions which have answers posted that have a positive score: something the questioner ('OP') cannot do.

In the case at hand, the OP asked for redaction of the question and the answer to remove some information. As you note, the question here does not contain personal information and thus redaction did not make sense. However, they remained very unhappy about the presence of the question on the site. I therefore had to weigh up their right as the person with their name on the question against the wider considerations, in particular your time in answering and the community usefulness of the answer posted. I took the view that the usual balance applied, and that the right of the OP to request removal therefore took priority.

I am sure that the other moderators will review this decision in light of your post: they will have been notified of the presence of this new meta post.

Note that as a moderator, I am following established community norms in acting here and elsewhere. The community over time can and does evolve those norms. So if the consensus is that OPs should have less say in controlling their posts, that will inform future decisions on individual actions.

Following the discussion here, I have undeleted the post. It is clear that the community feeling is that the OP here is likely exceeding their rights in wanting the content to be removed.

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    There's also the point that everything posted to Stack Exchange are licensed under CC-BY-SA so the author doesn't really have the right to demand it to be removed I think.
    – user202729
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 7:55
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    The usual course of action when somebody doesn't want their name on the question is to disassociate the post from their account, not deleting it. Was this considered as an alternative? Or did you judge the reason of the OP for requesting deletion (as I understand they cannot use a figure in their thesis if that figure can be found online) to be valid? That is a bit of a slippery slope IMO, if anything their name should be on the post to show their thesis advisor that they asked help in making a figure, which is a completely acceptable action when writing up results.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 9:56
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    @Marijn "if anything their name should be on the post to show their thesis advisor that they asked help in making a figure, which is a completely acceptable action when writing up results." ... and even more importantly: the should give credit to the creator of the image in their thesis! In the now deleted comments they rejected the suggestion to modify the image for their thesis in order to workaround whatever problem they have with using it, as this would be too much work. So they apparently use an unmodified version of the image. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:27
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    @JosephWright I did not mean deleting the whole user, just remove their name from this specific post, leaving all their other posts and their profile intact. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/96732/…: "If you would like to have your name disassociated from one of your posts, you can request we do so by clicking on the Contact link at the bottom of the respective page. Your username will no longer be linked and will be shown as 'anon' on the post."
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 11:36
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    Couldn't the question also have been made Community Wiki? In my opinion, this would create a separation between the OP and the post similar to deletion (sure, the information is still there, but that's also the case after deletion for users with more than 10k rep) but preserve the question and its answers for the community.
    – schtandard
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 12:52
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    @JosephWright I understand the OP wanted the material to be removed, but my comment was based on your argument in this answer that the "post has someone's name attached" and "the person with their name on the question". If this is indeed the main issue (the name being attached) then the preferred solution would be a single-post disassociation I think. If the reason actually was "the OP wanted the post removed" then your answer uses the wrong justification.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:03
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    @JosephWright I understand that the user did not ask to have their name removed (or be happy with that outcome). My point is that you said "their name is on the post so they have more rights" but you meant "they authored the post so they have more rights", or maybe even "they started the post so they have more rights". This is confusing, because while "their name on the post" can be fixed by removing the name, but "they authored it" can only be fixed by deleting or substantially rewriting, and "they started it" can only be fixed by deleting.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:22
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    I guess I can get behind this convention in the sense of "the post author should, in principal, have editorial control of their post", I don't really see that it applies here. After all, the question OP did not really want their question removed but rather the helpful answer to it. My feeling is that the convention (in the aforementioned sense) should give precedence to the wishes of the answer author in that case. (Especially if the goal is to avoid giving credit.)
    – schtandard
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:28
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    (In general I think this editorial control should not extend to removing posts from the site for personal, external reasons. But this general statement is maybe a separate discussion.)
    – schtandard
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:33
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    @schtandard The OP of the linked question wanted the question and answer to be redacted, something which did not make sense. That left me, as a mod, with two possible actions. The first was to refuse the OP entirely, probably requiring locking the question. The second was to delete the post. To me, the balance felt like it remained with the OP to ask for content to be removed. I have asked the other mods to review here.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 13:38
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    @user202729 I was asked to explain a moderating decision: it's entirely reasonable that decisions can be examined fully and that the wider community can understand how they happen and comment on whether they are in accord with expectations.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 14:12
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    @JosephWright I have to say your edit doesn't clarify your argument much. You still talk about having somebody's name attached to a post, visible in the history and on the main page, while this is easily resolved by removing their name from the post. The main issue here is that you argued that the original author may request their question and associated answers to be removed if they have a good reason for this. While I don't necessarily disagree with that, it has nothing to do with their name being visible on the post or not.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:34
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    Once one or more flags were raised, a moderator had to decide. No action would also be a decision. I think and see that Joseph considered and weighted it and also explained it here. Sometimes it's not perfect for everybody. Strange situation with that post and request though admitted. The post title "Moderator vandalize site" is, in my opinion, not justified. It looks like clickbait and pouring oil on a fire, so that's not a good start of evaluating what we should do in such a situation. Seeing that title, I appreciate Joseph's open, honest, and understandable explanation.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 22:47
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    @DavidCarlisle If the post is undeleted, I think we will have to lock it
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 20:07
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    Thank you for restoring hpekristiansen's answer! Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 8:53

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