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Today I commented on an answer which I later realized was from the OP attempting to give more information in response to comments. I commented to OP that the original question should have been edited, rather than posting an "answer".

I moved that information into the original post and flag the "answer" as "not an answer", but I'm concerned that the "answer" could get deleted without OP knowing it and OP may never get to see my comment (at least not in the original context).

It seems from reading this question/answer, that it is likely that OP will never actually get to see my comment in the original context (next to the "answer") which may make my comment difficult to understand.

Is this something I should worry about? Should I try to give OP some time before I flag it? Is there a generally accepted protocol here?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

New users need the most guidance as they're not familiar with how the family of Stack Exchange websites work. The more quickly we show them the correct way to do things, the more likely they are to be productive members of the community.

Sometimes I see users afraid to downvote a new post or afraid to flag something, just because it's a new user they're dealing with. The problem with this approach is:

  • The poor content doesn't get pushed to the bottom and remains in the 0 votes section, or worse, is moved to the top due to a sympathy upvote.

  • The new user comes to believe the behavior is "okay", despite any comments you might leave.

  • Other new users see the content and think that the behavior is okay, using it as evidence in their own mind that they can do the same. This can make it harder for the first person that does downvote them, and it makes it harder for the first moderator that must respond to a flag on their post, as he/she will now have to deal with an indignant user who thinks he/she was doing the right thing.

In your case, flagging the post was the best action. The moderators can leave comments before deleting the post, and those comments are seen by the user. Additionally, in the "edit" message, or in the comment to the question, you could leave a comment if need be, explaining how to use the site properly. Don't let that stop you from taking action. The faster the new user learns, the easier the transition will be from forum to Q&A. Having users on the site, such as yourself, who are willing to take the time to explain the rules to new users is exactly the right approach to creating more good users. ;)

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I rarely see any sympathy upvote problem that you mention? (If ever?) –  Laykes Oct 20 '12 at 11:44

I think you did the right thing. You were careful enough to leave a comment explaining the situation to the OP, and even edited the question on the OP's behalf. I think (but I may be wrong here) that the OP will get a notification about that comment, regardless of the answer being deleted or not.

Moreover, every user can see their own deleted questions and answers, provided they have a link to them. In this case, the user is guaranteed to have a link to the question (since it's his own), so he will see the deleted answer there, and the comments below it.

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Question is harder to find - since the list is not available to them IIRC. And for answer, it is likely that they don't even notice it is deleted. –  nhahtdh Oct 20 '12 at 4:16
    
Yes, but not in this case, where the OP posted an answer to his own question. –  bfavaretto Oct 20 '12 at 4:23
    
Oh, didn't notice that. It's perfectly fine in this case as you say. –  nhahtdh Oct 20 '12 at 4:24
    
@bfavaretto - You're partially correct. The op will only get a notification if a diamond moderator leaves a comment before deleting the post. However, the op can leave a comment on the question, or leave a message in the edit message. ;) –  jmort253 Oct 20 '12 at 4:43
    
I have received notifications for comments that got deleted before I had a chance to read them, but the notifications still linked to my answers. I could even preview the deleted comments from the notification box. I assumed it would work for deleted answers too. @jmort253 –  bfavaretto Oct 20 '12 at 4:57
    
Maybe they just slipped through the cracks and didn't get updated in the inbox, if the deletion happened close to the time you read the notification. Not everything on the site is real-time, due to all of the caching, so perhaps that explains the discrepancy. Or... it's possible this rule has been changed. –  jmort253 Oct 20 '12 at 5:03

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