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I deleted an answer because after further thought, I decided it did not really answer the question.

That was two days ago. It's still there!

How long do deletes hang in purgatory?

Curiously, I can find no mention of undo delete duration in the docs.

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I believe I read somewhere that there is only 1 question that was ever purged completely from the database. So the short answer is forever. Everything is soft deleted, and theoretically able to be undeleted at any time. – psubsee2003 Sep 6 '13 at 0:46
Forever, unless an admin comes in and perma deletes it, which is really rare. – Richard J. Ross III Sep 6 '13 at 0:46
Well I disagree only by my experiencing of having deleted previous answers (plural) and they disappeared from the post's answers. Understand I am not arguing or concerned about real or soft deletes. Just whether they show as an answer. – Android Addict Sep 6 '13 at 0:48
@psubsee2003 wait, really? Where? The CloudFlare answer? – Cole Johnson Sep 6 '13 at 0:52
@ColeJohnson go read up on the boat programming question. It's one of the answers on the Memes of Meta post. – psubsee2003 Sep 6 '13 at 0:53
@psubee2003 huh? – Cole Johnson Sep 6 '13 at 0:54
@ColeJohnson – psubsee2003 Sep 6 '13 at 0:57
Can you point us to the answer you deleted that is still there, and a question that had an answer you deleted that is really gone? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 1:07
The zombie answer is… I don't have any that don't show because I just don't remember that specifically which posts I did delete an answer. I never really thought about it until answered my post only to realize I did not really answer the question. – Android Addict Sep 6 '13 at 1:12
@AndroidAddict looks deleted to me (I have enough rep on SO to see deleted answers). Maybe it's a caching issue of some kind in your browser. As for answers that are "really gone" - did any of them have up- or down-votes? If so, you could find reversals in your rep history - the event would be called removed. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 1:18
@AaronBertrand curious that I still can. It has the read background as the answer here states, but it's there notheless. I have refreshed several times and still I see it. – Android Addict Sep 6 '13 at 1:20
So you see the red background? That means it's deleted, and only certain people can see that it ever existed. This should also be the case for any other answer you've deleted. If you have a counter-example I'm afraid you're going to have to produce it to get anyone to believe. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 1:20
@AaronBertrand You are probably correct, I guess I have just never answered my own question and then deleted that answer. Where the poster was not me, I never revisited the question again, so... – Android Addict Sep 6 '13 at 1:22 Your own deleted answers are visible to you and 10K+ users, but not to others. You can tell it's deleted because of the background color ("red", as you describe it) and because it says it's deleted. – Ken White Sep 6 '13 at 1:30
@KenWhite I'd call that brick, not red – Cole Johnson Sep 6 '13 at 2:45
up vote 10 down vote accepted

All standard deletions by the content poster, the community or moderators (including the Community user) are soft deletes. The posts are still visible with a red background indefinitely, though they can only be seen by moderators and 10k rep users (on graduated sites). They can still be edited and unless deleted by a moderator can have un-delete votes cast upon them.

Occasionally hard deletions are made by the dev team, however this is usually only 1 revision removed because it contained sensitive information (passwords etc.).

Don't worry, users without the moderator tools privilege will not see your deleted answer, or in the case of deleted questions will encounter a 404 page.

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