Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I got to know in response to my question Are answers ever deleted permanently? that answers are never deleted permanently.

What is the reason? Is it related to some scalability requirement or they never thought about it? Or they think this is not important enough? or what?

share|improve this question
up vote 13 down vote accepted

You ask why answers aren't purged, but don't really provide any reasons they should be. Let's approach the question from that angle.

Why would deleted posts ever be purged from the system?

  1. Deleted questions are sometimes undeleted. Not possible if deletion was permanent.
  2. Sometimes moderators needs to make a judgement call about a user. The more information they have, the better. Having access to the user's deleted questions and answers can help the moderators make an informed decision.
  3. Since deleted posts rarely get viewed, they have little-to-no effect on the performance of the site.
  4. As explained in Why can I only delete 5 posts in a day? Is this legal? there is no legal reason why Stack Overflow would have to delete content that was legally posted to begin with.

I just don't see any significant reason to delete content permanently, and there are a couple of arguments for keeping content around forever.

So while I don't know which of these the Stack Exchange team considered, I think the current state of things makes sense.

share|improve this answer
And: to keep count of how many questions one has deleted on one day, it's nice to have the deleted questions around. ;-) That said: the question is about answers. But most points are valid for both questions and answers, of course. – Arjan Oct 1 '11 at 16:24
Also, for questions, it's nice to see a reason with the 404 Not Found. Such 404 will often tell one what happened. (Like: deleted by the author, for moderation, ...) To show such reason, at least some traces must be left. – Arjan Oct 1 '11 at 16:25
@Arjan First comment -- good point. I generalized some places I said questions to "posts" and corrected my statement about what he asked. I don't really think the content of my answer needs to be changed. – agf Oct 1 '11 at 16:27
@Arjan Second comment - I agree, but the content could still be deleted and the reason and title saved. – agf Oct 1 '11 at 16:29
True, but I was just adding more reasons to simply keep the full record with some "deleted" flag ;-) – Arjan Oct 1 '11 at 16:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .