I've just discovered that a question of mine that had been closed, was in fact deleted as well. It was called "Gell-Mann's 1983 theory of everything" and if you google that title, you can still see the evidence that it existed, though the text itself is no longer in the Google cache.
Mostly I'm just shocked that it's gone. I didn't even know the record could be erased in this fashion, though I now see that the FAQ mentions the possibility of deletion. I think I am also justifiably surprised that this question was seen to be bad enough to warrant deletion.
In that post, I pointed out no less than three features of Gell-Mann's 1983 construct which resembled subsequent experimental or theoretical developments, and asked for comment. In the first version of the question, I may have described those resemblances inadequately, but a subsequent explanatory edit did remove quite a few of the downvotes that the question originally obtained. Without going into the details again, I think I at least have the right to express my amazement that a question of such technical intricacy would be removed from the site. I would have thought that the intrinsic interest of the question's ingredients would have more than made up for any other negative features.
And of course, if some or all of it turns out to have been correct, it's also a bad outcome. Perhaps it's obvious that one should not rely on a Stack Exchange site to establish priority. But to see such a question, not just closed but deleted, certainly inclines me to curtail the nature of my participation here. I am geographically remote from the centers of theoretical physics research, and I might have hoped for more from this site than just answers to questions that could be resolved by a literature search anyway. But evidently it is not safe to express ideas here.
My meta questions are:
First, did anyone happen to save a copy of the deleted question?
Second, is there some way to warn new users, far more prominently than now, that what they write may just disappear one day?
edit: A day later I'm a lot calmer about this... Moshe mentions online "physics forums" as a place where open-ended discussion can occur. That may be so, but they aren't safe either. At one such forum, I recently had eight months of discussion wiped out by a moderator. My advice to anyone with "new ideas" who may read this, is that you should only post them on forums where you really do know they won't be deleted; or, you can start your own blog; or, if you can, you should write a paper about it.
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