Should moderators delete answers for combining terseness with comprehensiveness?

For example, What do you call a language that doesn't use the European alphabet? asked for "a word" or "adjective" for languages "like Mandarin and Japanese" that are "non-alphabetic".

A comprehensive answer to this question needs to deal with the fact that there are several different ways that a language can be "non-alphabetic".

gotube deleted the upvoted and accepted answer to this question, because it provided dictionary links to a word, an adjective, and a description for each of several different ways that major real-world languages are "non-alphabetic". gotube interpreted that answer as "only a list of writing system categories". Completely missing the point of each of the parts of the answer, gotube said it did not "suggest a term for languages that don't use" "the Latin alphabet".

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    Answers which had been upvoted by the community and/or accepted by the OP only to find that hours, days, weeks or even years later were deleted by a mod are not, sadly, exclusive to ELL.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 6:35
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    Related ell.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5742/1694 I don't understand this need to rid the site of upvoted answers that suggest usefulness, and interestingness, despite the fact they may not fully address the question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 6:43
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    There are exceptions: Unattributed answers that are copied verbatim from websites or from ChatGPT, even if upvoted and thorough, should be deleted. Plagiarism should never be rewarded.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 7:22
  • @Mari-LouA -- Your comments would make a good answer.
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 16:07
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2 Answers 2


The deleted answer gives two terms for languages that do not use the "European" alphabet; the first one applies to Chinese. It is an answer more than the one saying that there is no "European alphabet," which could eventually be a comment for the question, considering the question gives two examples of languages that do not use the "European" alphabet (a language that doesn't use the European alphabet like Mandarin and Japanese).

Wrong answers should not be deleted. Even in the case the answer would be flagged as not an answer, one of the reasons to decline that flag is:

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

As moderator on another Stack Exchange site, I know that deciding which answers should be deleted is not that easy. I know there can be exceptions to the do not delete wrong answers rule, for example in the case somebody keeps posting answers without understanding the question, in the hope to get some up-votes. (I do not mean this is the case.) Another example where deleting a wrong answer could be necessary is when somebody posts the same answer to multiple questions, without tailoring the answer to the effective question asked.


Generally, mods should assess whether something flagged by a user as "not an answer" is indeed an answer to the question, and act accordingly. If it doesn't appear to address the question, then the mod should delete it with a clear comment as to why.

To your answer specifically, the OP asked for a category term similar to "non-alphabetic" to describe a language with a writing system other than the Latin alphabet. Your answer neither mentions the Latin alphabet, nor addresses the topic of a category term for languages that don't use it, so I decided it wasn't an answer to the question. After reading the question, then reading that answer, I don't think the OP would be any closer to either finding the term, or understanding that there isn't one. They would have the answer to a lot of other questions, but not theirs.

As usual, you are free to edit it based on my comment and tag me back to consider it for instant undeletion. I probably should have put this info in my comment, rather than assuming you would know.

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    The answer received four upvotes, someone thought it was useful and helpful. The author of the question also accepted it, didn't they? The answer is not misleading, demonstrably false, instead it explains that there is a word for characters in every language which is not based on the Latin alphabet. How does an original, referenced and well-supported answer harm the site?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 22:57
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    @Mari-LouA Allowing people to leave things in the answer section that don't answer the question is harmful to the site. As I've said in my answer, Jasper is free to edit it to actually address the question, and then I'll undelete it. It could be as simple as adding something like this: "There is no special term for all languages that don't use the Latin alphabet."
    – gotube Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 23:41
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    Truly, that does not include answers that contains technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer, since once of the rejection reasons is "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer." "not an answer" is for comments or questions posted as answers. Deciding which answers should be deleted is not that easy, though. It could be necessary to delete answers given from a person who keeps posting "random" answers in the hope to get up-votes. (Just to be clear, I am not saying this is the case.)
    – apaderno
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 7:02
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    @gotube Everything on this page and to do with the question involved is highly, highly concerning. Extremely so. And disappointing too. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 18:16

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