I'm a little disappointed my awesome answer to a question about deorbiting classified satellites was deleted.

I agree with the moderator comment that it wasn't a serious attempt to answer the question (for those who can't see it, it had a lot of redacted text). But it was an attempt to use humor to communicate something to the OP in a light-hearted way: you cannot expect serious answers to questions that would obviously be classified and people thus will either not know the answers to, or know and would be unable to answer, or could speculate but wouldn't be comfortable doing that on the internet where anyone could see.

I'm all for having rules, but I think a certain amount of humor and levity would not be a problem, and the answer would serve as a little warning sign to folks that questions about classified topics are not likely to get very good answers because the people who know them aren't posting.

I'd like to know what the community thinks.

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    $\begingroup$ If you weren't seriously intend on answering the question then why did you post an answer? You could just as easily have put the text in a picture and added the link as a comment. I will agree that it was particularly funny - but at the same time not particularly useful, it was essentially humor at the expense of the OP. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ Adam - the rules for putting things under the lid vary a bit in different countries. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


Well I was the deleting moderator, and I must say your post made me laugh out loud (for the good reasons, not the bad ones), so first and foremost, thanks for that!

It might make you feel slightly better about it, knowing that I saved a screen grab of your post, and it indeed put a smile on probably many more faces in a few chat rooms that I later trolled with it, so here it is in all its glory and will hopefully do that for others as well:

   enter image description here

Now for the serious part. Humor is appreciated, and indeed sometimes even needed to help us cope with everyday frustrations better, but there are a few problems with your humorous answer that warranted deletion:

  • We all have our own sense of humor and don't find same things equally funny, or even not funny at all. Your answer could be seen as trying to mock the question itself, which, while I can appreciate it wasn't intended, could be later seen as such and resented by OP. I'm not saying it was, I'm saying that it could have been, I don't know. But that's just it. The only unknowns in our Q&A should be presented in the questions, this is inherent to our site's design and function. That's also why comments are considered transient, and site matters discussed in our meta.
  • It didn't really answer the question, nor did it attempt to. Yes, we could argue that it implied why there might not be any proper answers to the question asked, but you didn't actually say that in it. I.e. it was merely a humorous analogy to one of the possible points that need addressing. This is the reason why the flag I acted upon as a moderator has been raised in the first place.
  • Time and place. We actually joke a lot also on Space Exploration in our main chat room - The Pod Bay, where not everything needs to be strictly on topic. It is also perfectly acceptable to post humorous posts in our meta, on top of our main chat room, if you think it could use the Q&A format, not be considered obtrusive to what meta is here for, and actually serve a purpose to others as well. There are many such posts throughout Stack Exchange site metas (list of chat room or other site related memes for example, but there are others).

So in short, humor is by far not unacceptable, but your "answer" was deleted for not attempting to provide a useful answer to the question asked in that thread, for which the flag was raised to bring it to moderators attention, and when I reviewed it, I had no reason not to disagree with it.

You could have however provided a proper answer to the question on top of having part of it humorous, or making some point in a jokey manner. That would be IMO perfectly fine, as long as it doesn't offend anyone, well, at least not intentionally try to. In fact we have a perfect example of combining humor with a good answer: How would one go about speeding up the rotation of a planet?

And here's the proof that this actually works:

               enter image description here

The bar chart has spoken! ;)

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    $\begingroup$ I would like to offer confirmation that it put a smile on my face. $\endgroup$
    – user12
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ I'll totally buy this rationale, and knowing folks can see the answer here in Meta makes me happy. Thank you for the thoughtful response; I think setting up norms like this on Meta helps new sites find themselves. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Sep 8, 2013 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ "... How would one go about speeding up the rotation of a planet?" - Now that would be useful. I was doing a search for "trolling comments". Seems like the 'driveby' has turned to 'ransom comments' where they attack a single point you made in an answer, or ask repeatedly for you to expand upon a simple concept, and if you're not helpful throughout a gauntlet of followups it's a downvote for you; and mystery ones later on upvoted answers. I've been assured that the system detects and reverses this and I've found that true. 👏 - If the Earth spun quicker they couldn't say that they're slow. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 15:50

I think I flagged this question and possibly left a comment on it.

In addition to TildalWave's answer, there was nothing particularly wrong with posting the answer, all things in moderation and with reasonably good taste. The problem is just in keeping it as an answer.

You should not feel chastised, in fact given the responses here, it was well received. Just part of the housekeeping of a successful site.

For the record, I enjoyed it also. My first thought was you had found a real piece and posted it, had to take a second look for the smile :)

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    $\begingroup$ By the way it's "TildalWave" with two "L"s. (This mispelling issue came up in a chat room recently--I had made that mistake as well, in my mind.) $\endgroup$
    – user56
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 4:02

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