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I posted an answer to a question. I felt that my answer was an appropriate frame challenge, based on other frame challenges I’ve seen, and on the answers to this Meta question.

My answer was then deleted by a moderator with a reason of:

“Your answer does not answer the original question.”

Is there something I could have done differently in my answer to make it less likely to be deleted, while still expressing the challenge to the frame of the question?

And if frame challenges are allowed, per the above-linked Meta question, why was my question deleted with the “Your answer does not answer the original question” reason?

The question was:

I've recently decided to pony up the cash to create a personal backup of my whole PC. I'll be storing the drive on-site (in my house), and am more concerned with data security than physical security.

I've heard things about storing your backup drives in fireproof lockboxes, and have noted a few articles about geomagnetic storms and whatnot being a concern for data security.

However, I haven't managed to find any articles that specifically go into physical storage of your backup drives, and what equipment (fireproof/faraday bags, heat resistant safes, etc) to use for optimal data safety.

So, I was wondering what factors I need to keep in mind, and what sort of equipment I should be looking for, to keep my backup hard drive safe and secure for a good long while. I've taken a glance at this article, which covers static and moisture, but are there any other important factors (like what might occur during a house fire) to keep in mind?

My answer was:

More important than protection against fire, static, moisture, or electromagnetic pulses from nuclear weapons is getting that backup copy off-site. As you research backup strategies, you'll hear a lot about the "3-2-1" rule. That's 3 copies of your data (the original, and two backups), on 2 different kinds of media, with 1 of the copies taken off-site.

If your house burns down or is flooded, or if a thief breaks in, you're as likely to lose the in-house backup as you are to lose the original data on your PC. So, to protect against this, get your backup (be it tape, or a flash drive, or an external hard drive) away from your house.

Some options:

  • Your mom's house.

  • Your place of work.

  • A friend's house. (Trade -- you keep their drive, they keep your drive. Encrypt it, even if you trust them.)

  • A safe deposit box at your bank.

  • A vendor, like Iron Mountain. (Not practical for personal use; including it here because it is sometimes the right option in a business situation.)

migrated from meta.stackexchange.com Aug 28 at 14:45

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for meta-discussion of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites.

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    Your question has been migrated to Meta Super User, as it is off-topic on Meta Stack Exchange. Questions about situations only applicable to one specific site should be asked on the relevant per-site meta, which can be accessed via the site switcher in the top right corner; Meta Stack Exchange is for situations that are generally applicable to multiple Stack Exchange sites. – gparyani Aug 28 at 15:00
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    @gparyani Good point. I asked it on MSE because that's where my search for "Are frame challenges acceptable?" led me. And I forgot to go back to MSU. – Doug Deden Aug 28 at 15:03
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    Cheers for that! – bertieb Aug 28 at 15:03
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    It should be noted that the original question is (at time of this comment) on hold for being primarily opinion based – bertieb Aug 28 at 15:04
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    If your read the answer in the meta question you link to, they recommend answering the original question first, before including your "however you should be doing this instead" answer. – DavidPostill Aug 28 at 16:41
  • Note that there are also other deleted answers that didn't answer the question as posted, so you answer has not been singled out.. – DavidPostill Aug 28 at 16:44
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    I see these two phrases in the top answer in the linked meta question: "They're more valid if you answer the surface question" and "You can hedge your bets a tiny bit by including a preamble that directly answers the superficial question." Those two points make me think my answer deserved a nudge to improve it, rather that a deletion. – Doug Deden Aug 28 at 16:45
  • No worries. I'm not feeling singled out -- just trying to understand the process so I can do better next time. – Doug Deden Aug 28 at 16:46
  • Also in the top answer to the linked Meta question: "The normal voting mechanism will decide whether you've succeeded..." That also indicates to me that downvoting and commenting would be the expected result, rather than a deletion. – Doug Deden Aug 28 at 18:24
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    @Rob Answered as requested. – DavidPostill Aug 28 at 19:07
  • @DougDeden I've addressed downvoting and commenting in my answer. – DavidPostill Aug 28 at 19:08
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    "Frame challenge" is an awful piece of jargon, particularly in the computing world where there are many type of "framing" beyond phrasing. Congratulations, you found some jargon that is so worthless that I actually hate it. – Mokubai Aug 29 at 8:29
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    @Mokubai Not my jargon -- I'm just using it because that's what the Meta post used. For SuperUser, and the other tech-oriented sites, "X/Y problem" is slightly better. (Although, "X" and "Y" can have lots of other meanings. :-) ) – Doug Deden Aug 29 at 12:38
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    @DougDeden The answer you are referring to contains this explanation, “On RPG.se we call these kinds of answers “frame challenges”, because they challenge the frame of the question. It comes up often enough that it's become a piece of local jargon.” The issue therefore is not what is appropriate jargon for the general Meta versus this Super User specific meta, but people who are aware of RPG jargon and the rest of us. The reality is most of the hyper specific jargon used in the RPG world has no place outside of that realm. – JakeGould Sep 9 at 18:10
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    @JakeGould Fair point. I had seen "frame challenge" used on a number of other SE sites, including RPG, worldbuilding, interpersonal, history, and writing, and I extrapolated too far. I now see that "X/Y problem" is a better term, especially for technical sites. – Doug Deden Sep 9 at 18:34
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My sense is that we could have handled the subject thread better.

  • The question was closed as opinion based. Perhaps that was the closest close reason for other issues people had with the question. I don't actually see a closure reason at all. The question appears on-topic, factually answerable, in-scope, and not opinion-based. Perhaps people are reading the question in different ways, reading things into the wording, or second-guessing what the OP should have asked instead.
  • The question was not about backup in general, it was about storing a drive. That's not opinion-based. There also aren't endless considerations to the point that it is overly broad. Professionals store drives all the time and know what considerations need to be addressed. An in-scope answer could identify the relevant considerations, briefly discuss them, and describe appropriate ways to deal with them. It could also address additional considerations raised by the OP. This wouldn't require an encyclopedic answer. In fact, much of the discussion has been covered in previous questions, so an answer could include links to other threads for further reading, plus summary discussion to glue it all together.
  • People follow different procedures in practice. Those are based on their own assessment of what risks apply and the potential and cost to recover the data. Those aren't differences of opinion, they are differences in risk assessment for their own needs. Those considerations can be discussed in an answer. Answers that just provide opinion, or state, without any context, what the author does, aren't good answers. That's different from a bad question.
  • The question was perhaps more narrow than what would provide the complete information the OP should know. It asked only about properly storing a specific drive. People offered all kinds of advice about broader considerations of protecting backup information. That's fine to offer as a supplement after addressing the specific issue asked.
  • People were very distracted by the mention of things like geomagnetic storms and Faraday bags. The author wasn't off the deep end, seeking to protect their data from the coming apocalypse. They mentioned that they had seen that in an article and came here looking for perspective, and advice on what is actually important. That's kinda one of the things we do here.
  • The question didn't require a frame challenge, because the OP didn't have a frame, they were simply looking to understand what is important to do about protecting a drive in storage, after click bait articles introduced scenarios they didn't have the background to question.
  • The fact that none of the answers tried to address the actual question suggests that the question wording would have benefited from some tweaking. However, a question shouldn't be closed based on the answers it attracts.
  • JakeGould's answer here is information I agree with in general, but I don't think it applies in this case. My reading of the question was different, and I didn't see it as a bad question, or an XY question (the "XY" was that the OP asked X and people wanted to answer Y; the OP could benefit from broader information than what was asked, though).
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Why was my question deleted with the "Your answer does not answer the original question" reason?

The answers to the meta question you link to recommend answering the original question first, before including your "however you should be doing this instead" answer:

They're more valid if you answer the surface question, and then solve the “but actually your problem is…” problem after.

...

You can hedge your bets a tiny bit by including a preamble that directly answers the superficial question.

But like calling a trick shot in a game of pool, you increase the risk and reward when you do it.

And:

Next, build an answer.

  • Start by addressing the question as asked, being respectful of the effort and enthusiasm that went into writing it.
  • Move into your "However, there's an even bigger issue here ..."
  • End by referencing the conventional wisdom, not because "I said so", but because you built up to it in your answer.

"The normal voting mechanism will decide whether you've succeeded..."

That also indicates to me that downvoting and commenting would be the expected result, rather than a deletion

The answer was flagged as NAA (Not An Answer) and sent into the Low Quality review queue.

Flagging is an alternative to downvoting and commenting.

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    Flagging should never be an alternative to downvoting; downvoting is a community process while flagging/deletion ends up being a unilateral decision that should only be reserved for the more egregious cases. Anything with an element of doubt (e.g. this situation, where it does attempt to solve the problem even if not by answering the literal question) should be left to voting, not to deletion. – Bob Sep 2 at 1:13
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    See also, previous discussions of how NAA should be used, especially meta.superuser.com/questions/4735/…. – Bob Sep 2 at 1:22
  • @Bob I feel like downvoting OP's answer would be inappropriate, it was actually a good piece of advice. Downvoting indicates that the answer is plain wrong, misleading etc. In this case I'd even consider upvoting, as the answer made a good point. – gronostaj Sep 4 at 11:18
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    @gronostaj It may have made good points but it wasn't answering the question as posted. – DavidPostill Sep 4 at 13:42
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    "Flagging is an alternative to downvoting and commenting." No, it most certainly is not. I know someone already said this, but I wish to emphasize it. Such thinking is dangerous. Flagging is a way to get the attention of moderators--whether human or automatic. It is something to be used when a post (Question/Answer/comment) violates the rules. Saying to flag instead of downvoting and commenting is like saying to call the cops rather than try to work out a problem among yourselves. If flags become super-downvotes, the whole system breaks, making 3/5 dissatisfied posters enough to delete. – trlkly Sep 11 at 6:02
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As someone who downvoted your answer and flagged it as not an answer, I can explain my feelings/rationale this way:

  • Good answers to bad questions create an atmosphere where people will just post bad questions. This happens very regularly, and it degrades the quality of this site. Simple as that.
  • Sometimes you can post good answers to bad questions if someone is posting what is essentially an “XY Problem” and you have gotten them to admit as much. Some people who are not technical—or are technical but at a loss to explain things—will often ask for help with one thing when they really are looking to solve another issue. These are sometimes bad questions because they are too broad, but simple comments can often clarify things. Or even an answer that says something like, “Your question isn’t that clear but I am guessing this is the issue you are dealing with…”
  • Broad answers to vague questions hold no real value. This is the other core reason I downvoted your answer; the reality is your answer is filled with tons of generic advice that can be found anywhere. The reality is your answer is the tech equivalent of “Eat healthy, get plenty of rest and then it will all clear up…” It’s not really helpful and the broad answer you provide opens the door to even more questions. For example, my mom passed away years ago; and even if she didn’t why should I assume a drive at my mom’s residence won’t — for example — get accidentally tossed out with the trash or given away to charity?

Sometimes bad questions can be rescued and even I have been able to rescue some “bad” questions myself. But it’s rare that happens.

The best thing you could have done is ask for clarification in the comments and then take it from there. By posting an answer of the type you have posted, it doesn’t improve the original question.

And for that matter, advice on what is “best” for backup storage, retention and recovery is never an easily answerable question. For the question posed here my comment was this:

I just use a USB external drive and throw it in a cabinet. “I've heard things about storing your backup drives in fireproof lockboxes, and have noted a few articles about geomagnetic storms and whatnot being a concern for data security.” Utterly overkill.

The idea that anyone would be worried about geomagnetic storms for personal data backup is utterly laughable. And for that matter — as someone who has been doing this work for years — I cannot emphasize how fantastical and delusional some people’s ideas of backup is. NewsFlash™: For many people and organizations simply having data backups that are stored safely in the same facility is more than enough.

The reason I voted to close the question was the question honestly sounds so paranoid and overkill there would never be an answer because the original poster has created some action movie apocalypse scenario for data retention nobody here could ever provide an answer to satisfy their needs.

  • Thank you for explaining. This will help me become a better answerer. As for the issue with "your Mom's house", I didn't intend for that to be seen as the only way. I merely mentioned it as an option. If a comment about that had been made, I would have happily improved that part of the answer. You might also not have a place of work, or a friend, or a safe deposit box -- that's why I listed several ideas, with the point being to get a copy off-site. – Doug Deden Sep 9 at 18:20
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    @DougDeden At the end of the day, no specifics can help you make your answer better. Someone posting a broad question concerned about electromagnetic storms and their personal hard drive will never get an answer that satisfies them. – JakeGould Sep 9 at 18:35
  • If the concern is ridiculous, then that's something to give as an Answer. Part of the question was whether or not such concerns were valid, so a valid answer is "No, they are not"--though I would encourage a good Answer to explain why. Sure, maybe the Asker will not be satisfied with that Answer, but (1) you can't know that ahead of time and (2) it's rather irrelevant, as they still only have one downvote, while everyone else can upvote. Asker satisfaction is nice, but never required. – trlkly Sep 11 at 6:42
  • @trlkly “If the concern is ridiculous, then that's something to give as an Answer.” Nope. That is what comments, downvotes and close flagging is for. – JakeGould Sep 11 at 13:45

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