Do downvoted answers disappear automatically? Or is someone removing them? I'm not sure that downvoted answers always disappear but I've seen them disappear on multiple occasions. Most recently, here.

I understand that it may seem cleaner to keep a question's page free of useless answers, but it's useful to have incorrect answers stay visible so that others don't go down that path again.

Also, useful comment threads can build on downvoted answers.

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Sometimes the user deletes them. Maybe out of shame for such a "bad" answer or maybe because he wants to save his rep. –  Lix Feb 20 '12 at 19:55
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That particular answer was deleted by its owner: i.stack.imgur.com/PHyCe.png –  Josh Caswell Feb 20 '12 at 19:55
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The question you linked has 1 deleted answer. Not sure if that's the one you're referring to, but still. –  Nanne Feb 20 '12 at 19:56
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I see two possibilities:

  1. The users who posted them deleted them, perhaps because they were embarrassed by them or would like the reputation they lost back. (If you delete a downvoted answer and then do a rep recalc, it will give you back the lost points).
  2. Other users (with enough rep) vote to delete it, because low quality answers do detract from the quality of the site.

And I assume the latter only happens in cases where improvements were attempted but ultimately unsuccessful.

EDIT: If it means anything, I usually delete one of my own answers if its identical to one posted before mine.

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i see. kind of a bummer...especially since i don't have enough rep to view deleted answers. 10k is no small feat. (meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/100981/…) –  ericsoco Feb 20 '12 at 19:56
    
@ericsoco: If you really wanted it, you would probably have 10k by now. :P –  Purag Feb 20 '12 at 20:19
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If I post an answer that gets down voted because I have stated something incorrectly, or otherwise my answer was not 'helpful', and if there are other answers which correctly and completely answer the question, I will usually delete my answer. I have seen behavior that suggests other people do similar things.

It's also possible for answers to be deleted by the community or by moderators. Usually, these deletions are not done because the answer was down voted, but instead the answer was down voted for the same reason the post was deleted. Such as it being spam, "not an answer", or of extremely low quality.

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Having more than once seen a high-rep user post a quick but wrong answer to one of my questions (one that implies they didn't really read the question) and then delete it immediately and without apology as soon as I downvoted it, I suspect some users of taking a shotgun approach where they pepper the site with answers and just delete any that are losing them rep.

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This is called Fastest Gun In The West problem: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/9731/… –  nhahtdh Apr 9 '13 at 22:47
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