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Please don't show the "delete" option when a question cannot be deleted. I just tried removing a dated-issue that is no longer relevant (asked within a couple of hours) only to be alerted that I cannot delete it because it has too many answers/responses.

If I can't do it, don't let me think I can.

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

If you can't outright delete your question that has gotten too many votes/answers, you should at least be able to place a delete vote.

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I agree. – Sampson Aug 19 '09 at 18:48
I'm glad we ca agree on some things. :P – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 18:48
As long as people are nice, and respectful I think they can agree on quite a bit :) – Sampson Aug 19 '09 at 18:49
@jjnguy: No, your mother. – GEOCHET Aug 19 '09 at 19:01
Sheesh, it was only there for 30 seconds. Ease up on the page refreshes, people! :P – mmyers Aug 19 '09 at 19:02
@Rich, I hope that wasn't intended to make sense...or else I'm super confused. – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:02
@mmyers, It's either refresh the page often, or write some documentation at work... – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:03
I deleted it because I thought people might not be able to tell whether I was serious. Actually, I often leave comments for only a minute or so before I think better of them. There was one yesterday about the Queen of England which you might have caught if you were fast. – mmyers Aug 19 '09 at 19:04
Darn, I'm sad I missed a comment about the queen. – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:05
@mmeyers: No /you/ are the queen! – GEOCHET Aug 19 '09 at 19:06
@mm, I have done the same too. Most of them were insulting, but I would have a change of heart. – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:06
Anyway, I'm not sure what your answer is saying. Why is the delete crossed out? The text makes it sound like the button would be available, but then the diagram looks like it wouldn't be. – mmyers Aug 19 '09 at 19:06
Oops, I combined my two thoughts into one, confusing/incorrect answer – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:07
I now disclaim any remembrance of said comment. I think you're just insulting yourself now. – mmyers Aug 19 '09 at 19:16
I think I actually saw that comment. – Brad Gilbert Aug 19 '09 at 19:20

They could just strike out the 'delete' option.

Like this:

link | edit | delete | flag

I would also add a tooltip explaining why it is struck out.

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I definitely like this. It would be nice to get it for 10k+ users also, because life is too short to wait for a red box to tell us we can't do that yet. – mmyers Aug 19 '09 at 19:11
Seems to me like meta has a lot of requests coming from 10k users. I don't think there is enough presence of newer users here. – devinb Aug 19 '09 at 19:26
I'd say that the proportion of time spent on meta and time spent on the other sites is relatively the same between users with similar rep. (did that sentence make sense?) – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:29
In other words: High rep users spend lots of time using both sites, and low rep users spend less time using both sites. The usage is proportional. – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:30
I agree, I just think it's unfortunate. Also, the treatment of newbies on Meta is (IMO) worse than the treatment elsewhere. – devinb Aug 19 '09 at 19:44
@devinb: I don't think so, newbies are treated equally crappy on SO and MSO. – perbert Aug 19 '09 at 20:50

I approve of the current UI.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. "Why can't I delete this when I can delete other things?" (if there is no delete button)
  2. "Why can't I delete this when the button is there?" (if there is a delete button)

Option 1. The delete button inexplicably disappears on some questions.

There are a variety of reasons why you might not be able to delete a question. I don't know them all, but there's definetly more than one. If the delete button simply disappears on those questions, we will have a frustrating user experience where you try to vote to delete, but you can't for the life of your figure out how. ("The button was here a minute ago... now where could it be?") Although this upholds the principle of not showing users options they can't do, it breaks consistency with no explanation.

Option 2. The button exists, but an error message pops up

With this option, you are led to believe that you can delete a question (and you get filled with hope) but then your hopes and dreams are rudely dashed by the red pop-up of death. In this case, you are frustrated because you can't delete (exactly as above) but you know exactly why you can't delete. So this provides better usability.

As for jinguy's suggestion that we add strikethrough and a tooltip. This incurs a performance penalty (very very minor) at pageload because SO needs to provide additional logic to determine if deletion is possible, AND you still need the pop-up because the situation might change as your page gets stale. There are also relatively few 'delete-clicks' compared to page views, so to me it makes more sense to determine a question's deletability only when it comes up, rather than all the time.

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Grr, all the answers here were mine. It was good that way. Now you are mucking up this pristine pool of answers to choose from. – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:23
Good explanation. I'm guessing it will stay the way it is because it is the easiest route for the developers, and it seems to make sense (which you pointed out). – jjnguy Aug 19 '09 at 19:26
Downvote? – devinb Aug 19 '09 at 20:01

See Joel Spolsky's take on this:

Don't hide or disable menu items

Similar to what devinb answered, it's basically:

'Show the option and then tell them why they can't do it' is better than 'hide/disable the option and give no explanation why'.

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I have to disagree with Joel here (rarely will this happen). I would be annoyed if my cavalier had a sunroof button but alerted me I had no sunroof when I pressed it. – Sampson Aug 20 '09 at 2:21
@Jonathan, Would you be annoyed if your car had no ignition slot when the battery died? Or, if there was no radio reception, the radio console just entirely disappeared? You'd be confused and bewildered. – devinb Aug 20 '09 at 12:51

This would only generate like 7 questions of people whining because they can't see the delete link... how is it possible I can't delete my answer?

Having the link, and the message that you cannot delete it, is simpler and avoids confusion.

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Give a visual indicator (any) without me needing to click on the button to be greeted with a popup then! A slight strike-through, a grey underlying, a pony icon next to it, anything, with an appropriate tooltip of course. – perbert Feb 17 '10 at 14:23
Isn't is always possible to delete your own answer? It's your own question you can't delete under some circumstances. – Gnome Feb 22 '10 at 17:30

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