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Some users are aware that they can edit their answers after they're deleted by moderators.

However, they cannot vote to undelete such answers. Furthermore, they seem to be unaware they can flag their answers for a moderator's review. Often, with the realization that they can't reinstate their answers themselves, many of these users even proceed to repost the edit as a new answer, which is counter-productive and a waste of everyone's time, not to mention it adds unnecessary duplication and noise for users who can see deleted answers.

It would be nice for the system to somehow let users know that they can flag their deleted answers for undeletion after editing them, maybe with a popup or something, post-edit. The "flag" link is there, but it's not obvious that clicking it is the next logical step to restoring an answer.

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Perhaps the "undelete" link can open the "flag" dialog when an answer has been deleted by a moderator? –  Cody Gray Feb 28 '12 at 18:38
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Posting a second answer on a question already brings up an "Are you sure?" box -- perhaps a "You should edit and flag" box can be popped up when the first answer was deleted by third parties? –  Josh Caswell Feb 28 '12 at 19:07
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What's so irritating about reposting a different answer after it's been edited? I would call that satisfactory all around. –  Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 21:01
    
Taking that edit and reposting it as a new answer. Thereby duplicating it. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 28 '12 at 21:06
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@Gilles also there's no guarantee that the "new" answer is any better than the old one, and may just end up getting deleted for the same reasons, which further wastes others' time and adds more noise to the page. When do you draw the line? After they've posted 5, 10, 20 "new" answers? –  Aaron Bertrand Jun 7 '13 at 21:13

3 Answers 3

Another idea is to show the undelete link for these answers like normal, but have it disabled, and instead clicking it brings up this same popup saying "If you believe your answer should be undeleted, please send a moderator flag explaining why" or something.

The undelete button could also hint that you should edit the post first (lots of people don't seem to know you can edit deleted posts, which isn't surprising). I bet the "undelete" link would be much more enticing for new users than the edit/flag links.

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The best thing you can do is as a moderator leave a comment just prior to deletion. This comment will be placed in the user's inbox. They can then click on the comment and will be taken to their answer where they can edit it and flag for undeletion.

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The result doesn't change, if the comment is left from a normal user: The OP would be notified the same of that comment. If it is a comment that should be added every time a question from specific user is closed (e.g. new users, or low-reputation users), I would rather prefer a message is shown by the system. –  kiamlaluno Feb 28 '12 at 18:34
    
@kiamlaluno I was thinking questions, removed "as a moderator" text –  wax eagle Feb 28 '12 at 18:38
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The comment will be removed from the inbox unless it was left by a moderator. Moderators on SO don't have the bandwidth to leave such a comment, and even on other sites it doesn't make sense to ask a moderator to do what could be automated. It would also not be useful most of the time, because most deleted answers are never revisited by the poster. –  Gilles Feb 28 '12 at 21:00
    
@Gilles rolled back to previous revision. –  wax eagle Feb 29 '12 at 0:16
    
If a comment is really the right idea, why wouldn't this just be automatically added by the system? That's not unprecedented: voting to close as a duplicate automatically adds a comment. We don't need to make it more difficult or time consuming for moderators to delete answers in response to flags. –  Cody Gray Mar 28 '12 at 4:08
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@The Establishment: I think it's because we delete answers for a variety of reasons, and the system can't easily determine it from a custom flag or a "not an answer" flag alone. Some of us use pro forma comments to aid in this, but that still requires manual pressing of buttons on our part. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 28 '12 at 4:38
    
@Bolt: It'd still say something generic. The same thing it would have to say if it were added to the UI in some other place. Something like: "Your answer has been deleted by a moderator, as per the FAQ. After you have edited your answer to bring it up to compliance with our guidelines, you may flag a moderator and ask them to reconsider the removal of your answer." But then you guys will start throwing vegetables at me for suggesting that the size of the flag queue get any larger. The only alternative I see, though, is the one I already proposed above. –  Cody Gray Mar 28 '12 at 4:42

many of these users even proceed to repost the edit as a new answer, which is counter-productive and a waste of everyone's time

I tend to disagree with this. Posting a new, fixed answer doesn't waste anyone's time since no one else needs to be involved. Of course, posting a new, crap answer does - but then, we probably don't want to encourage folks to flag their crap answers without fixing them either. Regardless, the emphasis should be on the problem that got the answer deleted, not the ritual that may get it reinstated - if they're able to understand the former, then re-posting is probably just fine.

The author of a deleted post is already given some guidance:

Why was my post deleted?

...However, while researching this answer I noticed that this currently links to the wrong help section (is this, should be this). Fixing that would be a good idea, so Laura's working on doing so. If you have specific suggestions for the guidance given in this help topic, don't hesitate to suggest it.

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OK about not wasting anyone's time, but it does still add needless clutter for users who can see deleted answers. In any case, based on your first paragraph I guess we can stop asking users to reflag their answers in this manner then, since it was never necessary to begin with. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 18 '13 at 18:42
    
As for your last paragraph, I had pointed it out here but I was told it was just meta lagging behind. I don't have an SO link to a mod-deleted answer of mine to verify this. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 18 '13 at 18:49
    
The only time I would suggest flagging would be when the answer was already well-received (up-voted / accepted)... And in those cases, I would think twice about deleting it too (if it's a link-only answer and the link is broken, then this is a pretty good scenario for such comments + deletion). –  Shog9 Jul 18 '13 at 18:55

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