I recently gave a really bad answer to a question, it was so bad I thought 'I wish I hadn't have said that' and started looking for ways to delete it. It didn't take me too long to find the delete button, at which point I thought, I bet there are other bad answers of mine with no value to the site I could delete.

In this case my thought process was a purely selfish one (not wanting to look daft) but as I filter through questions and answer which are useful to me at any given point I often think there must be ways to reduce this noise (bad questions and answers) for the good of the community.

If I had been aware that it is a good idea to delete bad answers (questions as well although it becomes trickier in this case and people seem more willing to vote to close questions) then I would have done it earlier. My question is why not flash a tip to users when there answers are getting down voted to an oblivion which would suggest a deletion, the primary goal being to help remove noise from the site.

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Just a side note: Don't go crazy deleting your posts. Unless it's actually downvoted, it's possible that it'll be helpful in the future. Too much deletion in a short time can also trigger moderator review. –  Josh Caswell Jan 10 '12 at 20:37
    
Yes I have read some meta questions about it, if I deemed my answer to be constructive then I would leave it, but sometimes it is very clear that it is wrong and also that it may be misleading at which point the importance of removing it increases greatly. –  zode64 Jan 10 '12 at 20:41
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New users who delete their own questions can trip the auto-post-block algorithm. –  Won't Jan 10 '12 at 21:02
    
Even in meta people down mark without providing a comment. –  zode64 Jan 10 '12 at 21:14
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Especially in meta. In meta you get downvotes because people disagree with you, not necessarily because your post is bad. –  David Z Jan 10 '12 at 21:58
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

We don't want to make it too easy or obvious for users to delete their answers - sometimes a bad answer is helpful, especially to someone else who has a similar but not quite exactly the same problem.

Downvotes serve as a good indicator of a post that should be deleted, and like you eventually users find out about the delete link and use it.

Further, they are given a nudge when they sign up with careers.stackoverflow.com to review their posts and delete those that are unflattering.

There are enough active notices in the system that I don't think adding one suggesting deletion is a good idea. Further, it might push people to delete posts that are actually fine and useful.

I've experienced a few times where I'd get a downvote or two that wasn't warranted before receiving upvotes by those who knew better. We can't rely completely on downvotes to tell us about our bad posts.

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Adam, would a corollary to deleting unflattering posts be that editing ugly typos in old posts may be a good idea too? I'm not on Careers, but I do use my real name, and I'd like to clean things up a tad. –  Adam Rackis Jan 10 '12 at 20:55
    
@AdamRackis Editing typos in any post, old, new, yours, or others is always a good idea! –  Adam Davis Jan 10 '12 at 22:04
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Deleting bad answers is definitely a good idea, but isn't this intuitive to most users? When someone's answer is getting a wave of down votes, I think it's almost instinctual to say "oh crap, where's the delete button". And if not, then fine. That answer will drop to the bottom of the page and probably remain unseen to future visitors. Ultimately I think this is a non-issue.

Though deleting bad questions is likely a bad idea. There have been countless posts here on meta for users complaining about being banned from asking questions since they've deleted a kit if their questions.

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I disagree, specially for new users (who are the people who tend to post the bad questions) who might not initially be concerned or understand rep. Also I would have thought anything reduce noise would be a positive. –  zode64 Jan 10 '12 at 20:34
    
@whatsthebeef I doubt the users you speak of would notice or respond to any notification. –  Andrew's a Unitato Jan 10 '12 at 20:50
    
I wouldn't neglect the value of knowing how not to do something. –  Grant Thomas Jan 10 '12 at 20:51
    
@Mr.Disappointment - true. But there are an infinite variety of ways to not do something, and I don't think people should be expected to display a previous brain fart just to show the world one more :) –  Adam Rackis Jan 10 '12 at 20:57
    
didn't get the last part, must be a typo –  zode64 Jan 10 '12 at 21:13
    
@whatsthebeef - Deleting a lot of your questions can get you banned from asking more questions. –  Adam Rackis Jan 10 '12 at 21:21
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