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Why doesn't Stack Overflow let you know when an answer is deleted?

I added an answer to a question. It got down-voted and deleted. It may not have been a good answer. But I never received ANY notification of any kind about the problem. When an answer is deleted, it disappears from the list of answers in your profile. You have no links to the answer, and certainly no visible evidence that there is any problem.

The people who deleted the answers put reasonably thoughtful comments on the reasons for deleting, BUT I never saw them after the answer is deleted. No email, no alert, no notification, it just disappears.

There is a list of alerts and 'notifications' going back to my joining up. There is NO entry in there for the deletion of the answers. It would seem that one of the most important things to alert people to is that there answer was deleted ... so they can fix whatever problem was there. There are notifications when an answer is edited. Why are there no notifications when an answer is deleted?

The only way I found out about the problem is that my account got blocked because I had two deleted answers. That is it -- two deleted answers and your account gets blocked. Why is there no indication in the account display saying the account is blocked? This is not the kind of thing you want to keep secret! There is a generic link to a page that talks about all the possible reasons, but no specific information about your case. It says you might have some answers deleted and you should address those problems first. So I looked to see, and there was no indication of any problem in the list of answers on my profile. All the answers there were fine -- because the answers with the problem do not appear in that list. Also, the record of the down-vote disappears as well if it is deleted.

Then I had to gripe, complain, and contact the site administrator. This makes no sense. The answers are still there, there are just no links. I understand removing the links from the question, BUT why would anyone remove the links from the author's profile?

UPDATE: I got some helpful comments on this question, but no answers. I assume that is because this is simply a bug in the system -- there are no answers. Those bugs should be fixed. I recommend these design goals on any social collaborative system:

  1. if an account is blocked for some reason, that status should be clearly indicated on the account display. Do NOT allow the user to spend time composing an answer, only to find out AFTER submission that the account is blocked.
  2. if an answer has a problem, make it a high priority to be sure that the author gets alerted about the problem so that the user can rectify the problem.
  3. list ALL of the answers that a person has submitted in the user profile, regardless of deleted or not. A user should find a ready link to all answers, ESPECIALLY the ones needing attention.
  4. if an account is blocked, the reason for the block, and what the user should do about it should be clearly indicated in the account display.

The point is: if you want people to respond to such problem, you need to make them VISIBLE. Hiding stuff only frustrates the legitimate users. I suspect this is just a bug, and not a designed feature.

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Related, status-declined "Show all of my question/answers to me even if they are deleted" -- being able to see your own deleted content also implies that you'd have been able to see the comment notifications. I really wish they'd rethink that decline. Are you absolutely positively sure that you didn't receive a message from a diamond mod? Two cases of blatant self-promotional activity should have prompted one. Also, you should totally trim down the rant in this question. There's a legitimate gripe here, but it's buried deep. –  Charles Dec 24 '12 at 6:41
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You do see downvotes, you just have to look in your reputation history. SE just doesn't like to show you alerts that say "you suck" as it's not constructive. –  jmort253 Dec 24 '12 at 7:56
    
The comments I see mention, with dates, that a user has seen your blog links more than just those two times. Unfortunately, notifications for comments on answers from mere users are removed together with the posting, but a moderator should have contacted you by the time those last two were removed. –  Martijn Pieters Dec 24 '12 at 8:34
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Dupe of half of your question: Notify answer OP when answer is deleted. –  Arjan Dec 24 '12 at 9:23
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I've restored this one, feel free to add a link to your blog for additional reference. What we can't have are answers that just solely point to a blog. Self promotion aside (I do think you were just trying to be helpful), we have a major issue with link rot. –  Tim Post Dec 24 '12 at 9:26

1 Answer 1

It does make a modicum of sense to simply not show the answer box if a user is blocked from posting new answers. This would also satisfactorily notify the user of the change. Notification of problematic answers is generally instant, just watch the votes.

However, you have to work rather hard to find yourself in that position.

Historically, features that would only serve a tiny minority of our user base aren't considered to be worthwhile. Most users that find themselves with the inability to provide additional answers have been:

  • Continuing to ask questions as answers, despite clear instructions not to do that
  • Overtly self promoting without contributing anything else useful
  • Typing successive blobs of incomprehensible gibberish

These aren't exactly the types of users that warrant changes to make the system more considerate. I realize that you don't fall into that category, and it was just a misunderstanding combined with dumb luck that led to you finding yourself in that predicament, but you are in fact a rarity.

Does the algorithm need to be tweaked to be a bit more forgiving? I'm not sure, your case is the first of this type that I've seen since its been in place. Your ideas aren't at all off base, they just address an extremely rare case.

I do appreciate the time you took to raise it here, please don't think you haven't been heard.

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Thanks for the answer. Your rational says "despite clear instructions..." But if you can't access the answers, you never actually get the instructions. Without those instructions it would be only logical to continue. No? The whole logic DEPENDS upon the author getting the message -- and hiding them invalidates that logic. I have noticed that this is a common problem with newbies, and there are lots of questions/comments on this topic. Anyway, glad to hear it is rare. Transparency on user status will avoid frustration and reduce the time admins have to waste on those kinds of topics. –  AgilePro Dec 29 '12 at 18:25
    
After a year of reflection: What happened was that I stumbled on my first couple of posts. Some notification let me know I was in the top 10% of contributors last year. However this problem happened in my first week of experience. The statement "you have to work rather hard to find yourself in that position" needs to be reconsidered. When new users join the system, they stumble all the time, and many leave WITHOUT you ever hearing about them. Who knows the cost of that? Spending effort to make sure that newbies getting accurate feedback on their mistakes in not a trivial use of time. –  AgilePro Oct 4 '13 at 20:01

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