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There was an answer that had an ad hominem against one of our users. It was flagged as a first answer so I reviewed it. I was sure whether to downvote it or to edit it to remove the ad hominem -- while retaining the little bit of useful info it had. I opted for the latter, but aren't sure that was the right thing to do:

Original:

Rotational mass matters A LOT more than Daniel R. Hicks continues to dismiss. So much more the knowledge of physics, or lack thereof, is astonishing. Not only does it matter scientifically, more importantly less rotational mass can be felt immediately, even 200 grams. It would be incredibly evident right away in acceleration. The number one thing I hear people say after buying stock bikes is they got a new wheelset and "it feels like a new bike". Now, it's been proven why complete with formulas. https://www.wired.com/2016/06/cycling-physics-extra-mass-bike-wheels-enemy/

Edited to:

Less rotational mass can be felt immediately, even 200 grams. It would be incredibly evident right away in acceleration. The number one thing I hear people say after buying stock bikes is they got a new wheelset and "it feels like a new bike". Now, it's been proven why complete with formulas. https://www.wired.com/2016/06/cycling-physics-extra-mass-bike-wheels-enemy/

Or maybe it should be edited AND downvoted?

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I think you've done good. Yes, do it, no don't down vote.

From my experience here, prompting new (and not so new) members frequently goes nowhere.

By editing the material out, you've improved the post and the site in general, and we should do more of it. It's leading example.

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I think you did the right thing.

  • If the answer is actually abusive (this one wasn't), then it should be flagged as such. Editing in those circumstances slows things down, because it doesn't take many people flagging an answer as spam or abusive to get it auto-deleted.

  • If the answer is wholely non-abusive ad hominem, flag as "not an answer".

  • Otherwise, edit out the inappropriate material and then treat the resulting answer on its merits – upvote, downvote, whatever. In particular, I don't think that edit and downvote is in anyway contradictory: it just says, "I made this as good as I could, but it's still not very good."

I guess a minor downside of this approach is that it hides a history of unfriendly-but-not-actually-abusive behaviour. On the other hand, if we leave comments saying "I edited out your attacks on other users" then that history is still there for everyone to see.

  • The original post is still present, and can be seen by following the edit links if you have enough reputation or are one of the authors or editors of the post. – andy256 Feb 23 '17 at 10:46
  • @andy256 Sure, but you have to know to look for it. – David Richerby Feb 23 '17 at 10:49
  • Ah. Click on the "edited Feb 14 at 1:31" under my answer. It show the edits. – andy256 Feb 23 '17 at 11:01
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    @andy256 Yeah, I know how to see the edit history. My point was that if the mods see a bunch of offensively written answers from a user, they'll probably take action, whereas if the edit history only appears in the edit history, people will only see it if they actively look for it. – David Richerby Feb 23 '17 at 12:29

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