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This morning I glanced on MMA SE and found a question titled "How to remove a watermark" were a user asked - well you might have guessed - how to remove a watermark from a picture. I tried to find that very question this afternoon (I go by Europe Time) and I could not find it, not even by searching with the exact title. So, unless the search engine is completely useless, I take it is has been removed from Mathematica Stack Exchange.

EDIT: Oh ****. I just found it. How to automatically remove text from images? A bit edited in the title and the sample images, but it's still there. (Not sure it if has been there all the time, but now it's there).

But my questions stands. (See later for more details about what was "the other time")

I am fascinated by the phenomenon of self-censorship and I have a few questions about it.

In another instance I noticed a question with perfectly legit applications had been erased from MMA SE. It was about a procedure to identify the slant on a scanned page so that it would be possible to automate the rotation algorithms.

Now, you might ask, what could be a legit application of a watermark removing software? Well, I have a handful of pictures of an anniversary with that pesky date and time put there in the corner by my cousin's camera. And what could be a legit application of 'slant detection'? Automagically rotate my scanned handwritten notebooks. Unfortunately this question was closed before an answer could be provided.

Who removed the question? An admin for the Stack Exchange platform, fearful of getting sued, or some high-score user? And if so, why the haste?

So, the real question is: who decided to remove question and answer stopped for a few seconds to think that he was depriving other users of the opportunity to learn how to solve a technical problem with legit applications?

I would like to point out that this form of self-censorship (and self-righteousness) is extremely subtle and potentially harmful. (Stanford, anyone?)

As a backup question: when is a user of MMA SE able to see the questions that have been erased?

  • I answered the first question, and edited it to its new form (removing the watermark reference) to make it more an academic exercise in inpainting - it is still applicable to the time/date applied by digital cameras, without popping up in Google as the first hit for "How to steal images and remove the watermark"... – dr.blochwave Sep 26 '15 at 21:57
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    A user having a reputation not less than 10,000 has access to the moderator tools, which include an overview of the latest deleted questions and the ability to view deleted posts. – Karsten 7. Sep 26 '15 at 22:08
  • I understand your concern, but I have to say I have not had any feeling that people have been self-censoring here. Question titles are routinely edited for clarity: indeed, a watermark need not be text, but in this case it is and that is what the question is about. I don't have any recollection of the slant detection question, but it could have been closed or removed for any number of reasons not involving censorship. – Oleksandr R. Sep 27 '15 at 4:23
  • @OleksandrR. in my recollection, the question about slant detection was removed because it could be used to make (better) digital copies of copyrighted books (and this was hinted to in the comments). Someone with high enough reputation might be able to find it among deleted questions. But I will pose it again to see what happens. – Peltio Sep 27 '15 at 13:02
  • @blochwave , just out of curiosity: was your decision to change the question title and wording influenced by external factors? Such as comments? – Peltio Sep 27 '15 at 13:06
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As the person who answered and edited the first question referred to here, How to automatically remove text from images?, I'll briefly comment on what I did...

2015-09-26 I answered the first question, and edited it to its new form (removing the watermark reference) to make it more an academic exercise in inpainting - it is still applicable to the time/date applied by digital cameras, without popping up in Google as the first hit for "How to steal images and remove the watermark"...


Peltio then asked:

just out of curiosity: was your decision to change the question title and wording influenced by external factors? Such as comments?

No, not overly influenced by the comments, although I can't deny them being a factor.

My main reason was actually because of the sample images given by the OP, which were taken from a stock photo site and then the watermarks were being removed.

As a result, I replaced the photos with some standard test images (the Shepp-Logan phantom and boats.jpg) and, since my knowledge of inpainting comes from the application of text removal from images (e.g. as you point out, cameras applying time and date stamps to photos), edited the question to focus more on the legitimate applications of inpainting, as opposed to the dubious "watermark removal".

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