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You recently deleted a post as "only asking about how the patent system works in general". How the US patent system works is exactly one of our two on-topic subjects. You also thought the questioner was making a thinly veiled slam at a web site. A careful reading of the post would have shown that the poster had trouble formulating the question but that the site name he used was intended to be fictitious and that his question, while very basic, was on topic if not well expressed.

If a question in meta is not the proper way for me to point this out please let me know what the proper way is. Obviously I could not comment on or flag the deleted post.

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    As long as it's done respectfully, posting meta is perfectly fine for posts like this. I might have made it more about the action than the user, but generally if you have a question about why a particular action was taken on a site, the best place to ask is in this 'meta' forum here. Stack Exchange is collaboratively built, maintained, and moderated by the community. The meta site allows those who took the action to comment, and will help others learn about these issues so they are not repeated in the future. Enjoy. – Robert Cartaino Sep 11 '13 at 17:36
  • Thanks - I made it about the user because I understand he is not a pure "user" any longer but a moderator employee of SE. As such he has much power at a site for which his "community" involvement is very limited. – George White Sep 11 '13 at 17:45
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Yikes, I didn't think that would be a controversial move. Sorry! I did delete the post, but my thought process was actually more like this:

  • The question was very poorly written, even after multiple edits. It's one thing to have errors in spelling/grammar that make reading difficult but don't affect meaning; those can be cleaned up relatively easily. In this case, they actively interfered with understanding.
  • All questions on any Stack Exchange site are expected to meet some minimum bar for quality. In this case, the question seemed to boil down to "if A uses B's patented technology, can B charge A for it?" Yes, that is technically on the topic of the site, but it's kind of the base definition of how patents work. A question that could be answered with a simple dictionary definition just isn't good enough here.
  • Even the above may not have been an issue, had the OP been more specific... but he wasn't. I'm neither a lawyer nor a USPTO employee, but from informal conversations with both of those types of people in the past, I know that determining the boundaries and results of patent infringement is a complicated process that varies from case to case. Since there was no actual company A or company B or real patent(s) at hand, the chances of meaningful improvement here were basically zero.

If you have further concerns/comments, please let me know in the comments below. It's always heartening to see people care about our communities as much as you obviously care about Ask Patents!

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    Thanks - our volume of questions is low and while many questions get closed I can't remember anything being deleted at Ask Patents in the last six months other than pure spam so I was taken aback by this and particular concerned if we were about to have moderation without understanding that "how the patent system works" is on topic. In fact "do you think product X infringes patent Y" questions can be a little "local", in my opinion to be about how the patent system works. – George White Sep 12 '13 at 4:54

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