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What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean?

I do sometimes tend to mis-read questions on SO and post completely pointless and stupid answers. So when I realize what I've done, I delete the post and refresh the page, to have it disappear.

But, sometimes, the post does not like to vanish. And it stays there, for a long time, giving me the option to "undelete" it.

I don't think it has anything to do with cache, as I'm sure the cache is updated within 2 months, right? - I've just come across one of my old (about 2 months old) post, that I deleted two months ago, and its still there...

I know the post is only visible to me, but I don't know why some don't go for good, and some do.

Also, if the post affected my rep (the post got any down/up-votes), my reputation does not get re-calculated as it usually does on posts that disappear for good.

Why is this? Is there a specific cause for some posts to not be deleted for good?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Mat, Matt, Daniel Fischer, Manishearth, Time Traveling Bobby Jul 3 '12 at 13:58

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

If the post is highlighted in pink (I think it's pink, maybe I'm color-blind) instead of having a normal white background, you can see it because you deleted it, and anyone else with 10K rep or better can see that it was deleted, but nobody else can see it (and nobody can comment, up-vote, down-vote, etc). – Aaron Bertrand Jul 3 '12 at 13:47
Are you guys reading the whole question? He's saying sometimes his posts show up as deleted, and sometimes they just disappear from the answer list – Michael Mrozek Jul 3 '12 at 13:48
@AaronBertrand but that does not happen all the time. When I hit the delete, it goes pink, then I refresh and it's gone for good. - That's what happens most of the time. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 13:50
@navnav Are you sure it doesn't just drop to the end? In case of more than one page of answers, the last page? – Daniel Fischer Jul 3 '12 at 13:51
@navnav: or are you mixing posts & comments? Comments disappear immediately when you delete them. Answers don't. – Mat Jul 3 '12 at 13:51
@navnav I don't think that's what's happening. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 3 '12 at 13:52
Do you have an example of a question where this happened? – Michael Mrozek Jul 3 '12 at 13:53
Nope guys. I'm telling you, they go for good. I've deleted like atleast 10-25 answers and only 2-3 of them have remained. The rest have gone for good. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 13:53
Hold on @MichaelMrozek, let me find one. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 13:54
@MichaelMrozek I can't find any because there is no way of tracing them. Once I delete them, they go from my profile and I can't even trace them through my rep log, because any rep activity for the deleted post usually goes aswell. Sorry. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 14:00
All said, you might want to think a tiny bit longer before posting... – Arjan Jul 3 '12 at 16:55

You can always see your own deleted answers if you visit the page again (except in the few rare occasions of a hard delete). Deletions are by default soft deletions, meaning the content remains, but is invisible to all except

  • the owner (in case of answers, deleted questions are visible only to the following groups)
  • users with >= 10k rep
  • moderators
  • developers

Those who can see the content can vote to undelete it. Votes to undelete self-deleted answers by the author are binding, as are moderators' and developers' votes. For ordinary high-rep users, it requires three undelete votes (in general), but moderator-deleted content can only be undeleted by moderators and developers.

Comments, on the other hand, are really gone when deleted, though not totally. Moderators (and developers) can still see them (but they are not shown to them by default, in contrast to deleted answers that are visible to them and 10k+ users automatically), but not even moderators can undelete them (developers presumably can).

share|improve this answer
thats weird. most of the time, when I hit delete, its gone for good. It's more rare for a soft-delete (for me anyway..) – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 13:52
Hmm, soft delete is how it is supposed to work, and I never had a self-deleted answer really vanish, it just got pink and went to the bottom of the page. I'm afraid you don't happen to have an URL of a self-deleted gone-for-good answer of yours? – Daniel Fischer Jul 3 '12 at 13:54
I can't find any because there is no way of tracing them. Once I delete them, they go from my profile and I can't even trace them through my rep log, because any rep activity for the deleted post usually goes aswell. Sorry. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 14:00
@navnav You can check the "show removed posts" checkbox on the Reputation tab. Not sure if that's actually gonna give you links to your deleted posts right off the top of my head, though. – Adam Lear Jul 3 '12 at 14:01
@Anna are you in a position to easily find navnav's deleted posts? A list of those could be helpful. And iirc, for < 10k users, "show removed posts" doesn't link, only shows the title. – Daniel Fischer Jul 3 '12 at 14:04
I'm looking at them, but I'm not seeing anything weird. Nothing can be hard-deleted by a user... the only thing I can think of is that @navnav may be deleting questions instead of answers, and those would appear "gone for good" since he'd need 10,000 reputation to see them again while they're still deleted. – Adam Lear Jul 3 '12 at 14:07
@Anna I thought of putting the list here, so navnav could go and see which (s)he can see and, in the unlikely case things are amiss, which not. Of course confusing questions with answers would explain it. (Positive that with < 10k, you can't see your deleted questions even with a direct URL?) – Daniel Fischer Jul 3 '12 at 14:11
I have tried using the "show removed posts" option but all the links are dead. @AnnaLear I'm sure they were not questions. I have only deleted around 10-25 so maybe just a fluke? But either way, I know for sure that it's happened quite a few times, which made me think its normal and soft-deleting is the rare process. – user176835 Jul 3 '12 at 14:12
@DanielFischer Correct, not even with a direct URL. – Adam Lear Jul 3 '12 at 14:12
Comments, on the other hand, are really gone when deleted. I am not sure about this, do you have any proof to backup that claim? – ajax333221 Jul 3 '12 at 15:15
@ajax333221 Thanks for the heads-up. Well, really gone in the sense that not even moderators can undelete them. Bot not gone in the sense of completely vanished. – Daniel Fischer Jul 3 '12 at 15:33