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Something strange has happened to me.

In the post Unable to recover hard disk drive after failed formatting due to sudden power outage, the user asked for ways to fix his failed WD disk.

I have posted an answer detailing free tools by WD for analyzing and repairing their disks. The poster has indicated that this answer was his last hope and criteria before junking the disk, when suddenly the answer was deleted by a moderator without explanation.

Now a deletion by a moderator of an answer is a very serious matter, since only a moderator may undelete it, the community having no voice in the matter besides a discussion on Meta. The answer in addition becomes invisible to all users having less than 10K reputation. In utter incomprehension, I improved somewhat the answer and flagged it, asking the moderator to undelete, but nothing happened in two days of waiting.

I am very puzzled. I have scrutinized the explanations in Why and how are some answers deleted? and can see none that applies to my answer. The format of the answer is one I have used in hundreds of other answers, and it is certainly not link-only. The answers that were left on the post are all saying that this is logical for such an old disk, but do not offer any tools to verify its status.

So I ask the community: What is so unacceptable about my answer that it merits delete on sight without explanation?


Edit: Following the derisive answer by Journeyman Geek, detailing the required components in an answer, I list below the three mandatory conditions found in his link, with his added rule as fourth. Below are the rules and an image of my deleted answer with the required parts clearly indicated.

I would like Journeyman Geek to explain why he thinks those are not present. If he thinks the answer is not enough, that is really for the poster to judge. I do not criticize his answer, as he shouldn't criticize mine.

  1. Title of the product with a link to the download/main page.
  2. Give a brief overview of HOW to use the product OR in cases where it's too long, link to the product's manual pages.
  3. Give any personalized information to the OP regarding how the recommendation solves his/her question.
  4. consider talking about the use of these tools to fix the issue, rather than simply dumping names and descriptions in an answer.

enter image description here

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Just a few observations about the answer.

  • The first link is labeled wrong. The link goes to Data Lifeguard Diagnostics but it's labeled Universal Firmware Updater. In the question, the OP lists having already tried that unsuccessfully. So that recommendation isn't for a helpful product.

    It looks like you may have initially posted your answer before the OP disclosed that they had already tried the product. But you edited it later and left this in, and it's the first half of the answer.

  • Ignoring that it isn't a helpful product, true, there are instructions at the link. But there are none in the answer; it's a link-only recommendation (plus a brief description of the product). If the link goes, the answer contains nothing of value regarding that product.
  • You frame it as a speculative potential diagnostic rather than a solution to the problem: "It is not specified what repairs can this utility effect, but it would at least be interesting to know if it can detect the drive."

So to me, the first bullet is low-quality padding that doesn't provide a solution and doesn't qualify as an answer, even if the OP hadn't already reported that it didn't help.

  • The second bullet is also link-only (plus a brief product description), to a once-removed link at that, and there is no issue (like extremely long instructions) that justifies only a link.

    The link is to a general download page for a bunch of stuff; it isn't a product-specific link. The reader must find the product on the page and expand the product link to see the short instructions. There is no reason why the answer could not contain the instructions (a simple copy and paste), and the actual download link.

    If you wanted to leave the current link as potentially helpful other tools, it could remain as a supplement (with a description of why you've included it).

  • the second bullet does identify what the product does, and how it relates to the problem. The image, though, adds nothing but documentation of a caveat, illustrating that the reader might need a USB enclosure.

Is it deletion-worthy?

The bar for what qualifies as an answer is pretty low. A low-quality answer is still technically an answer. In the post's current form, you're splitting hairs to justify that it technically meets the absolute minimum definition of an answer. Is that really the bar you're shooting for?

If the second bullet was expanded to address the link-only issue, I would consider it an answer, and that can easily be fixed. Do that and I'd say you would have an argument for it being undeleted.

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    I agree with your analysis of the answer. However, I don't agree the answer can be salvaged, some answers just can't be saved. – Ramhound Apr 28 at 4:45
  • (1) The first link's title error was a copy-paste error, easily fixed, worth at most a small comment, certainly not a delete. Even if the utility didn't help the poster, it could help others, so why delete the item. As my text said, the fact it didn't work is already a big hint that the disk was dead. (2) Why would more copy-paste improve the answer, when Journeyman Geek attacks me on using quoted text. In addition the instructions could change in the future and my answer will then become misleading. I usually avoid giving too precise info that would have to be rewritten in the future. – harrymc Apr 28 at 6:33
  • In general, my answer was not useless, which is the main criteria cited in the help. It did serve the poster to decide to junk the disk. Whether it was low-quality or not is a matter of personal appreciation. On a site dedicated to helping posters, no useful answer should be deleted on criteria of form. Journeyman Geek has added an answer citing other tools, supplying much less information about the tools than I did, so should his answer be deleted as low-quality? – harrymc Apr 28 at 6:39
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    Here's an interesting data point. Someone flagged your question and others and I went through and deleted many of the flagged questions. A second mod handled the flag with no feedback from me - I left that specific flag alone cause more eyes are good. This makes 4 people who feel the answer was low quality. Admittedly my meta answer is of lower quality than fixer's... – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 8:29
  • @JourneymanGeek: There are no limits to improving an answer. It was good enough for the poster, and that's what counts for me. My answer wasn't more useless than yours, but with the difference that it did solve the poster's indecision, unlike yours, luckily before you deleted it. – harrymc Apr 28 at 8:36
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    It's not too late. With this, future or even past questions. There's pretty useful feedback given here. Posting answers that are not just useful for the user right now - and may help others solve their problems is a useful goal - it's not just about right now . Question is really if you're willing to take that advise and actually work on posting quality answers. I'd literally have done the same for a new user with a comment about expectations. We've communicated many times the importance of quality on meta. – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 8:43
  • @JourneymanGeek: On the same grounds, about 50% of all answers should be deleted, but aren't. What about the other answers that try to guess the hardware fault and offer no advice besides junking the disk. Are they high-quality? – harrymc Apr 28 at 8:46
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    @harrymc, why not do the easy steps to improve it, and then request undeletion from a better position? A number of people have looked at the answer and independently concluded that it doesn't meet minimum standards as-is. You're arguing that it's no worse than some other answers that weren't deleted. That's like being stopped for speeding and complaining that the other speeders didn't get a ticket. You're obviously capable of writing good answers, and you could have fixed this one with less work than has gone into this meta thread to justify that it meets absolute minimum requirements. :-) – fixer1234 Apr 28 at 10:45
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't agree that my answer is worse than the one by Journeyman Geek. Both have the same elements: names, links and one or two sentences about each one, just that some of mine are quotes. My answer probably solved the poster's dilemma, so I don't see why it merits deletion from considerations external to the problem. – harrymc Apr 28 at 10:53
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    Closing comment: Few site answers could withstand such a microscopical analysis as yours, but you and everybody else missed the point. Errors there can be, and improvements can be suggested, but a delete by a moderator is something else. The question was whether my answer merited total delete, rather than a constructive comment, and nobody answered that, least of all the moderator in question. – harrymc May 5 at 9:19
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Detailing would be... charitable.

2 screenshots, 2 blocks of copied links and some blurbs copied right off the website of the tools do not an answer make.

You might want to consider reading this

Also consider talking about the use of these tools to fix the issue, rather than simply dumping names and descriptions in an answer.

So nothing strange about it, the answer didn't meet quality standards.

  • All the bold (obligatory) items in your link are included in the answer. I still understand nothing in what you did. A tool is downloaded, installed, and run, what else? The user needs to know why and whether it's worth the trouble, which is clearly included and understood by the poster. Aren't you taking too much on yourself deleting an answer that the poster wants to try? Show me any rules about the format of the answer and the usage of quoted text - I think you are inventing new rules here. – harrymc Apr 27 at 14:41
  • I would also like to know how your answer to the same post differs from mine. But as you are the only moderator that deletes answers for such reasons, YOUR answer is safe. – harrymc Apr 28 at 8:17
  • I talk about the processes and why they may work, backed up with personal experience. Every tool suggested there has the specific uses of them, and why they are useful for the task. I'm sure I can improve it if the op needs clarification on any tool in question since I've actually run a nearly dead drive before. All of it is original work without large portions of the answers copied . As a mod, I do very hard to set positive examples for others. – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 8:35
  • I have also run up against dead drives before, and was sure 90% that it was unsalvageable even before answering, but decided not to say this as it was baseless. The manufacturer's tools were the last possibility, in mine and the poster's opinion. In short, my answer was USEFUL, and shouldn't have been deleted on the grounds of form. By deleting it you lowered the level of content included in the answer. SU isn't meant to be Wikipedia. – harrymc Apr 28 at 8:43
  • Both our answers had products, links, and one or two sentences about each one, so I don't see the difference. And I won't copy-paste more text and beg for the answer to be undeleted, even if I may have a good chance at the bounty. My answer helped the poster, job done, finished. Your way is now clear for getting the bounty, as the other answers are useless. My moral problem with that is my affair. – harrymc Apr 28 at 10:06
  • Nope. I improved my answer cause it's information I felt was needed and that good answers are an iterative process – Journeyman Geek Apr 28 at 22:26
  • Nice to be a moderator and be able to delete comments you don't like. As part of giving an example to all of us, you might consider moderating your words when addressing me, and commenting on answers rather than outright delete. "iterative process" is right, and cutting off communication with the user before the answer is finalized is counter-productive (but we have been through that before.) I will in the future abandon any answer you delete. If you want improvements just ask, like everybody else. I'm always listening. – harrymc May 5 at 9:14
  • For the record, I've deleted exactly 0 comments here, and said comments were flagged by members of the community and handled by other members of the moderation team with no input from me. – Journeyman Geek May 5 at 9:24
  • For the record, I take that part back, but the rest stays. – harrymc May 5 at 9:26

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