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I tried cleaning up some of my old zero-vote answers, and quickly ran into the five-a-day limit. I found this question with a nice accepted answer explaining why we have this limit, and how it would make sense to exclude zero-vote answers from the limit. However, the limit is still there, and I think it prevents some good clean-up efforts.

I think it would make sense to exclude all answers from the limit when the following three four conditions are met:

  • The answer has zero upvotes
  • The answer is older than 14 days
  • The question has competing answers with 2+ total upvotes among them, or an accepted answer
  • The answer does not have comments <-- added in the edit

Note that the up/down balance should not be considered to decide an exception from the limit: a question with one upvote and two downvotes should be subject to the daily limit.

The idea is to exclude answers that the author believes to be sub-par, and the community finds less valuable than their available alternatives.

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Did you read Jeff's answer on that question though? It makes some sense as well. – jadarnel27 Feb 21 '12 at 15:12
    
Whilst I agree with your points and suggestions - as Jeff's answer in @jadarnel27's comment states - one mans meat is another mans poison... – Lix Feb 21 '12 at 15:18
    
@jadarnel27 Jeff's answer addresses only the vote count issue. I answered a large number of relatively simple questions with 5+ mostly equivalent competing answers generated in a matter of ten minutes or less. Such answers are ripe for deletion, because they pollute the site. It is these answers that I would like to be able to freely delete without running into the limit. – dasblinkenlight Feb 21 '12 at 15:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I agree with this proposal, but the main argument against it is that one user's mediocre answer might be useful to someone else.

What if we implemented a compromise then? For answers > 14 days old, with zero upvotes, give the user another button that says remove. Clicking it would keep the answer there, but make it look like the answer was posted by a user whose account has been deleted—and of course remove it from the user's answers, which is the whole point.

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I'm not sure that's the whole point. It sounded like dasblinkenlight wants to reduce clutter on the site, not on his profile. Or perhaps I have missed something. – jadarnel27 Feb 21 '12 at 15:39
    
@jadarnel27 - I'm sure it's a little bit of both. I've gone through my old answers and pruned them many times – Adam Rackis Feb 21 '12 at 15:40
    
@jadarnel27 Adam is right, it's a little of both: what I believe to be not good for the site is certainly not good for my profile either. I like Adam's solution, because it lets SO implement an automated "vacuuming" process that removes orphaned answers after a certain amount of inactivity to complete the process of "garbage collection". – dasblinkenlight Feb 21 '12 at 16:10
    
@dasblinkenlight - I may have mis-read you, but I certainly wouldn't want this to be automated. I'd love for SO to give me a button to disassociate an old answer, but I certainly wouldn't want the system to do that automatically. – Adam Rackis Feb 21 '12 at 16:12
    
@AdamRackis I certainly did not mean for the system to remove your answers from your profile automatically: I suggested that the system could automatically delete answers that you have previously disowned, after an additional period of inactivity in the disowned state. That's what I meant by "orphaned". – dasblinkenlight Feb 21 '12 at 16:17
    
@dasblinkenlight - ahh, I see. That would make more sense, but I think the system should probably just leave them - leaving these answers for future visitors is the whole point of the compromise - that's why Jeff currently doesn't want you to delete these answers - because they might just might be useful to someone in the future. – Adam Rackis Feb 21 '12 at 16:21

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