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I recently requested that my upvoted answer be deleted, it was paraphrased (not copied) from a non-Wikipedia website and had a modern interpretation of Freud's Iceberg Model (from the article, not me - s stated in the question).

To give an example, this question here (note, only high rep users will see my deleted answer and subsequent comments):

Now this picture was criticised for being incorrect despite being very similar to, and providing the same information (in my eyes anyway), presumably because it was a modern day representation. I had also made a comment underneath answering a question, that yes, was not entirely correct, but I stated "I think that...", obviously meaning that it was my interpretation (and I stated that also). The definitions paraphrased were almost the same as those in a second post. For all this, the question was downvoted twice.

My question is, how pedantic are we in answering our questions? Would a comment suggesting, in my example, a fixup of the picture (and a chance to fix it up) have been better than a public statement in an answer?

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    For what it's worth: I deleted the answer upon your request in a moderator flag, but as it was the most upvoted (+4/-2) and accepted answer, I would have far preferred to have had you edit and improve it rather than deleting it. I still would like to undelete it and allow you to edit it :-) – Josh Jul 27 '13 at 21:28
  • Thank you Jeromy for the fix up of this post. Thank you to @JoshGitlin for actioning my request - I am still perplexed why my answer with pretty much just modern take of Freud's original diagram and almost identical information to member 'what's reply got downvoted twice - quite discouraging. I would not know how to edit my answer. – user3180 Jul 28 '13 at 1:57
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Clearly, from the many upvotes you have received for your answers to other questions and to the focal question (+4/ -2 according to Josh), your answers have been very well received on the site.

General principles

In terms of general etiquette on the site, it seems that your question concerns a particular class of answers. i.e., reasonable answers that one user perceives to contain an inaccuracy.

  • Upvotes and downvotes are a natural mechanism for expressing the opinion of the community regarding the quality of an answer. It is perfectly reasonable for someone to downvote an answer if they perceive there to be an inaccuracy. This in totality can lead to cases like yours where several people liked the answer and a couple of others disagreed.
  • It is preferred that such downvotes be accompanied by a comment. Such comments can then be used by the answerer to respond to the commenter: improve the answer, clarify the answer, disagree with the commenter. The comments can also help readers evaluate the quality of the answer. In all such cases, such comments are meant to be respectful, but that shouldn't get in the way of vigorous debate.
  • It is also acceptable to comment on another answer in your own answer. Most of the time, it is sufficient merely to provide a good and complete answer and rely on voting to rise your own answer to the top. That said, I can see how where there is one highly voted answer already that you perceive is wrong, and you come along with a new answer, that you might want to make the reasons for this explicit so that your answer gets appropriate attention. As always respect and a focus on the issue of contention is important.
  • Sometimes it happens that a user posts an answer which contains an error. In these cases, the user may want to completely remove reference to the answer from the site. Editing to improve the answer is the best for the site. But the user can certainly delete the answer if they want.
  • If an answer is deleted, there's generally no need for references to that answer in other answers. So, I imagine it would generally be reasonable to edit other people's answers that contain a reference to the author of the deleted answer. Such edits should not remove the content of the answer, but generally could remove reference to the person's user name. Ultimately, I think it is probably mostly up to the person providing the answer to work out whether they wish to accept such an edit, but in general it seems like it would be the reasonable thing to do.

Your specific case

  • If you think your answer was correct originally, then I encourage you to argue your case. Add comments, edit your answer to clarify, etc.
  • If you think your answer was pretty good, but included a slight inaccuracy, then I recommend editing your answer to make it more accurate, and add comments explaining the changes.
  • If you'd rather the answer never existed on the internet, then delete the answer, and feel free to edit the reference in the other answer to your name. You could just replace it with "in a previously deleted answer" or some such.
  • In this case, I do not see what the error is - I have looked at both diagrams again and again, and all I can see is that they are just different 'window-dressing' versions of eachother. The information posted is pretty much the same. So, I do not know what is wrong with my answer, Josh said he'll edit it when he gets time, you're certainly welcome to do so... I literally have no idea what is wrong with it. – user3180 Jul 28 '13 at 3:04
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    If you think the answer is fine then why not undelete and leave the answer as it is. Then, readers can decide what they think. You could edit to clarify your point or add comments to yours or @what's answer. I think a bit of debate and disagreement on the site is a sign that we are achieving a greater level of site activity. – Jeromy Anglim Jul 28 '13 at 3:11
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    I might jut remove the diagram then undelete it... it seems to me to be an issue of mere image format. Also removed the comment that I wrote that 'what' disagreed with - it was an opinion, which are irrelevant (mine are, anyway, as I am an enthusiast, not a professional in this field). – user3180 Jul 28 '13 at 3:12
  • Okay. cool. I've undeleted; you may wish to leave a comment indicating the change that has been made. – Jeromy Anglim Jul 28 '13 at 3:23
  • Yes, I have done that - I have also made an emphasis that the definitions are paraphrased and are not opinion based. – user3180 Jul 28 '13 at 3:24
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I did not see this question here or I would have answered it earlier. I'm sorry for that.

Here are the two images in question:

(1) the "modern day representation"

enter image description here

(2) Freud's own diagram (from the Standard Edition of his works)

enter image description here

The problem with the "modern day representation" is that it represents the Super-Ego as being more conscious (or completely pre-conscious) than the Ego, and only the Ego to be "freefloating in all three levels". Freud perceived the Id to be completely unconscious, and the Ego and Super-Ego both to consist of unconscious, pre-conscious and conscious parts.

Since it is integral to the understanding of the structural model (id, ego, super-ego) how it relates to the topological model (conscious, preconscious and unconscious), the "modern day representation of their relation is simply false.

The related Wikipedia article explains the structural model quite well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego


I have often found, on many Stack Exchange sites, that the most upvoted or accepted answers aren't always the best, and in fact are often simply wrong. Since voters and askers are usually not experts, they often upvote or accept questions that feel or appear correct to them. As a user of these sites, I review all answers, even those that are downvoted or not accepted, and quite often I find the answer I prefer in one of the less upvoted answers, or by "reading between the answers", so to speak, and combining them all into one big reply.

I wouldn't worry too much about the relative number of votes. As we know from politics and the music charts, it is usually not the best who win ;-)

If you think my criticism is irrelevant to the main content of your answer, feel free to ignore it! Maybe your answer is better in other respects despite the minor fallacy of an inaccurate diagram. Maybe I am too pedantic. And even if your answer is not completely correct, it would be a shame if you deleted what could provide valuable additional insight. I think, we would do best to view this site as a community project, where we don't compete for the most upvoted answer, but try to cooperate to provide an answer that satisfies us all.

  • This issue was resolved some time ago, my answer is undeleted (as stated in a comment somewhere). – user3180 Aug 18 '13 at 23:41
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    @Damien In a comment above you state: "I am still perplexed why my answer with pretty much just modern take of Freud's original diagram and almost identical information to member 'what's reply got downvoted twice". My answer here explains my downvote. And I'd like to note that I undownvoted your answer once it was edited. – user3116 Aug 19 '13 at 5:12
  • +1 thank you for clarifying that for me. – user3180 Aug 19 '13 at 5:22

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