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I would really like to see all of my questions and answers on the profile page, even if some of them were deleted, and I don't have enough rep to see them on the site.

(Note that some questions are automatically deleted after 30 days or 1 year, and the author might be oblivious about what happened.)

Since June 2013, deleted questions and answers that were posted in the past 60 days, can be seen using the "deleted recent questions" and "deleted recent answers" links on the questions and answers tabs in your user profile.

For older posts: as of 23/Apr/2013 you can view your own deleted questions if you already have a link to them, but they still aren't linked from the user profiles (not even just for you). Nor do you see inbox notifications for comments on them if you come back a few hours later. You have to have thought to bookmark your question, or you have to go digging for it in your browser history.

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@Jon is the bounty still active? Hope removing the message like this didn't cause it to become a "zombie" bounty that can't be awarded. – Shadow Wizard Sep 10 '14 at 14:48
@ShadowWizard It is active, I can still award it but that wasn't my intention. I thought the internals would look at this, but doesn't seem like it... – Awal Garg Sep 11 '14 at 18:26
@Awal this issue does get bumped from time to time and the team's response is always the same: deleted posts will not appear in the profile. I've seen Shog9 who is as close to a "leader" as one can be say it more than once. As for your bounty, you had an awfully long nonsense description which I asked to remove, there's a chance the bounty is "ruined" now so I asked the dev who removed the description. – Shadow Wizard Sep 11 '14 at 19:07
@ShadowWizard The "awful" description was a test, I thought the system would not allow it since it is a known placeholder text and it would give me a red box... if it only allowed me to edit it. I didn't have any intentions of annoying anyone. – Awal Garg Sep 11 '14 at 19:14
FWIW as of now revisions history shows 17 (seventeen) bounties – gnat Nov 18 '14 at 15:13
@gnat 20943 views, not enough attention?? That's one of the most attention-drawing questions on MSE... – Shadow Wizard Nov 18 '14 at 15:14
@ShadowWizard blame George Stocker – gnat Nov 18 '14 at 15:16
Is there anything that we do to push this feature forward (I think it has already enough votes)? – kenorb Apr 29 '15 at 12:19
Note that recently, 10k users gained the ability to use deleted:1 in search to find their own deleted posts. (Nobody else's.) So this is really a request to drop the privilege level for that ability from 10k to 1, not from ♦ to 1. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 16 '15 at 3:50

20 Answers 20

up vote 302 down vote

Should this be reconsidered? There are some valid points in Jeff's answer and its comments, but IMO recent changes to SO made this feature request a lot more useful (and less harmful):

As it is, one needs 10k reputation to see deleted posts made by everyone else. But there is no reputation limit to see your own deleted answers (self-deleted or otherwise). Not only that, but answers deleted by someone else have a link to the FAQ:

enter image description here Questions on the other hand will vanish without a trace for anyone with less than 10k. They'll be redirected to a 404 page, leaving users with little clue as to what happened. They also get no notifications of any kind.

I tested this by setting up a new account and asking a bad question. Unfortunately it wasn't bad enough and it was taking a while for it to get deleted, so I asked a worse question, which got promptly deleted. There are no notifications, no messages, nada - it just vanishes.

Now that 20ks can delete bad questions immediately, It would help to allow anyone to see a list of their deleted questions (ie: along with non-deleted questions) and access the deleted questions themselves. The comments and the close reason should help everyone but the most clueless to figure out what's the problem(s) with their question and hopefully prevent them from making the same mistake(s) in the future.

NOTE: All links are 10k only.

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Agree with this. I asked a question over on Writers.SE that was closed by the community as off-topic, and at some point (I assume) was deleted. When I went back to use the question as a reference (because the answers were still useful to me at least), there was no trace. – Ash Oct 22 '11 at 2:57
Agreed. I just answered a question on P.SX for a new user, someone commented that it was a duplicate of another question (which it wasn't), so the OP deleted his/her question. I would really like to be able to get at my answer to that question, but since it is the question that was deleted and not the answer, it doesn't appear to be possible. I would really like to be able to re-use that content elsewhere and not lose the effort I put into it. – Mark Booth Jan 13 '12 at 12:13
Definitely agreed - I've seen a number of posts on various meta sites from users who are confused as to why their question was deleted - being able to see comments, the close reason and the original question text / edit history will greatly help out new users who are trying to learn from their mistakes. At the moment they just post on Meta and a 10k user looks at the question for them. – Justin Mar 20 '12 at 14:04
I don't understand what you mean by "But there is no reputation limit to see your own deleted answers (self-deleted or otherwise)." I recently had two answers deleted, and they disappered from MY list of answers. There was no way that I know of to get to them, and SEE the reason for deletion. Is there an access method I don't know about? – AgilePro Dec 29 '12 at 1:35
@BurntTooManyTimes Here's your answer:…. You should still be able to see it, even though it's not listed anywhere. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 29 '12 at 4:23
I'd like to see this stick around because sometimes the answer I'm looking for is a piece of the most popular answer as well as some the least popular answers. – user2237565 Apr 9 '13 at 0:26
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ What was your 'bad' and 'worse' question? You got me curious now :( – Alexander Derck Jan 8 at 20:00
up vote 130 down vote

If this is not negotiable (at least, without an assassination), an intermediate alternative would be to add an automatic notification to the OP when a question is automatically deleted. Even better, would be an email with the full question for the user. It might in some cases help the user reformulate the question and repost it one year later.
I would assume that if a question/answer is deleted by a mod there will be usually some kind of communication between the mod and the user. If not, then I would strongly suggest to add some notification also. I would probably not email the question/answer back in this case.

I understand the fear of masses whining, but a short message: "A question you wrote has been automatically removed after one year. For more information about why this happened, please [click here] (link to the faq)" should deter most of it, specially if the OP has a chance to read the question again (on an email, if not in the profile).
Regarding those who would complain with that, they are probably doing it now anyway (through email or here in meta), so I do not see a problem either.

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+1, even if the post is not considered on-topic for the site, this is simply basic respect when removing something which people had dedicated time and effort in creating. – Pacerier Sep 21 '15 at 10:34
up vote 98 down vote

So I was about to ask this question on Meta:

Thanks for deleting my question! May I see it now?

But I'll phrase it as an answer instead. My question was:

Should I telecommute?

Times have changed on Stack Overflow and this was a closer to on-topic question back then. I do recall that some people agitated for it being a "Community Wiki" question and I do recall thinking that it was pushing the boundaries. But now, it's clearly off-topic and I'm fine with it being deleted. It's not really my community anymore, so I have no reason to whine about it being deleted from the public view.

But what purpose does it serve to block me from seeing it? I'm not sure how much value I will get from re-reading this question and its answers, but I have other questions I find more valuable that will, no doubt, be deleted in future as the standards are further tightened.

It's not as if I can get questions undeleted even if I wanted to. People will continue to whine about deleted questions whether they can read them or not. At least if we can read our deleted question, we have an idea about where we might have gone wrong. Right?

Now that I'm a ♦ moderator for a small site, I'm starting to see things differently:

How can I see the text of my deleted questions?

Ok, I haven't seen this request on the site I moderate yet, but I don't look forward to it. You see, a moderator is damned if they do and damned if they don't post the text of deleted posts. On the one hand:

  • everyone knows the moderators can copy the text and paste it somewhere, so you look like a jerk if you don't comply.

And on the other:

  • posts were deleted for a reason and dredging them up somewhere just gives junk a bigger audience.

It's the old Streisand effect once again.

If the user has access to their deleted posts, they don't have this particular excuse to raise a ruckus on meta.

By all means, don't show deleted posts in my profile

Jeff was kind enough to comment on my post with an argument he didn't make in his answer:

[Loss] aversion is huuuuge and showing people their deleted content, every day, on their user page is pretty much the textbook definition of it. "Gee, remember your deleted question with allll those upvotes? Look at it every single time you go to your user page. That'll remind you of what you lost, and how much you miss it. Have you considered complaining about the unfairness of that deletion today? How about tomorrow? Maybe next week? Just think about it. Every time. Forever.

While I suspect my profile won't exactly last forever, I agree that showing me my deleted posts, especially posts that got a lot of upvotes, is bad policy. This got me thinking: "Why don't we have this problem with trusted users complaining about their deleted post?" After poking around at the various sites where I have different levels of privileges I discovered:

  • Low-reputation users do not see deleted questions or answers in their profiles.
  • Trusted users (10k on graduated sites and 5k on betas) can see deleted answers if they are looking the question. They can also see deleted questions if they have a link. Deleted posts (even their own) are not visible on the profile.
  • ♦ moderators see all posts (deleted or not) in everyone's profiles.

Now there is a way to find your deleted posts, but while anyone can see their own answers, only trusted users can see deleted questions. The upshot is, nobody but ♦ moderators and employees can see deleted content in profiles, including their own. That's a great design and I don't propose changing it. What I propose changing is if you have the url to your own deleted question you should be able to see at least the text of the question you wrote.

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+1. You have experienced bad customer service. And if anyone talks about users "whining", well, that is truly appalling customer service. We should all remember Stack Overflow's revenue model. Advertising. Advertisers are buying the StackOverflow community, yes even the ones who "whine" bring in money. Buying their page views and their click throughs. If the "whiners" experience bad customer service and leave in sufficient numbers, the whole Stack Exchange network will fold. – MarkJ Apr 25 '12 at 11:48
"People will continue to whine about deleted questions whether they can read them or not" I find that rubbing a person's nose in the content they can't have undeleted is a recipe for a lot of complaints. "We begin by coveting what we see every day.." – Jeff Atwood Apr 5 '13 at 23:39
@markj looks like that hasn't come to pass : even in the last year, US traffic to the Stack Exchange network has tripled. – Jeff Atwood Apr 5 '13 at 23:42
@Jeff Atwood: Who said anything about rubbing noses in deleted questions? If if I have the URL, I can't see what I wrote, but lot's of other folks can. Is it bad customer service and a sign the network will fail? Probably not. Is it annoying and does it make my blood boil every time I'm reminded of it? Yep. Thankfully, there seems to be some movement to let me see my deleted question if I have a link. Surely, if the complaints are overwhelming, the policy could be reversed easily enough. – Jon Ericson Apr 5 '13 at 23:57
You should look up the massive arguments and ragequitting when deleted reputation was revealed here, as part of "improvements" to how rep was calculated, contrary to my direct advice. There was a whole podcast on it. Related, see "loss aversion" on Wikipedia. It's incredibly powerful, and for all the wrong reasons. – Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '13 at 5:20
@Jeff Atwood: You seem awfully bitter for some reason. At any rate, seeing reputation drop is a different problem than being able to see what happened to a deleted question. Ironically, "loss aversion" is precisely the reason I wrote this answer. I noticed the deleted question when the whole reputation recalculation occurred and discovered to my horror that I was getting a 404 page. I'd long stopped caring about SO reputation, but I still care about the things I wrote. SO was promoted as part blog, and someone was randomly deleting my posts. Your answer here adds insult to injury. – Jon Ericson Apr 6 '13 at 5:56
I'm not bitter, I just understand how human beings work. I guess that's sort of the same thing. But loss aversion is huuuuge and showing people their deleted content, every day, on their user page is pretty much the textbook definition of it. "Gee, remember your deleted question with allll those upvotes? Look at it every single time you go to your user page. That'll remind you of what you lost, and how much you miss it. Have you considered complaining about the unfairness of that deletion today? How about tomorrow? Maybe next week? Just think about it. Every time. Forever." – Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '13 at 8:04
@JeffAtwood: I understand your idea. It's the opposite of the core-idea behind amazon's mechanical turk (essentially the notion that western people have been brainwashed to work for free just to get their name higher up on some score-list). But a 'fix' against this psychological effect is already accepted and implemented:… Also, since only 5 questions and answers are displayed in the default user-page, those notions (should they be visible in gray for example) would not always be visible 'every time. Forever'. – GitaarLAB Apr 8 '13 at 23:20
@JeffAtwood: since you 'understand how humans work' you must know human memory works by association. I often answer questions because they intrigue me. I'll remember when I face a problem that I might already have solved that problem and provided a detailed answer with references and so-forth, assuming my answer is safe on SO (as long as it exists). Currently I could find the title to a deleted question I participated in if I lost rep. But not when the rep was locked in over time, in which case I couldn't even bother the mods | >10K user to retrieve my answer (I wouldn't know what..) – GitaarLAB Apr 8 '13 at 23:25
@Jeff Atwood: I put some more thought into the question you raised and I think you aren't giving the current design enough credit. Unless you happen to have a ♦ next to your name, it's really not easy to find deleted content. – Jon Ericson Apr 9 '13 at 17:12
@GitaarLAB: I think it's a very real problem that other users can access your deleted questions (and any answers and comments to them), but you can't. Not being able to trust that content you submitted will be available at a later date is another (related) issue. – Jon Ericson Apr 9 '13 at 17:55
Maybe one way of respecting the community is not to delete questions with alot of upvotes, then loss aversion wouldn't be so much of a deal and then we could make deleted posts and questions available somewhere on the user page, and then people could feel comfortable and trust SO to keep their content, even if potentially it was only available to themselves, and that would all mean quite alot to a big number of users. Some questions are not very hot, or easy to answer. So I would hope that over time, some answer will come, and if all of a sudden that question might dissappear forever without.. – ufotds Aug 23 '13 at 2:01
3 ever knowing about it (unless I do offline track-keeping of all my questions), then the quality of SO just takes a drop in my opinion. – ufotds Aug 23 '13 at 2:03

It is simply asinine not to show people their own deleted questions, with comments, at the very least.

Scenario: New user asks question and goes to lunch. It's a duplicate of an earlier one. It gets closed as a duplicate, and then three people vote to delete it. New user comes back from lunch and says "Where's my question?" Whereupon they either decide that either the Stack Exchange site in question is clearly rubbish, or they figure they messed up and ask the question again. Neither of which is remotely good for the site.

This status-declined needs to be reversed. For instance, how is the user asking this question ever going to see the comments and learn from them? It's going to be deleted any second.

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It's highly unlikely and extremely rare for a duplicate to be deleted by the time you have your lunch. Usually duplicate deletion is done only if it's written absolutely crappily, in which case, good riddance! – Lorem Ipsum Apr 25 '12 at 9:29
@yoda: That's not my experience. When something is a straight duplicate and identified early, I see it get closed quickly, and deleted quickly. It may be a perfectly good question; it's just that it's a duplicate of an earlier one. The key here is that when the person comes back, they don't see their question anymore, which is jarring and unhelpful, leading to one of the two outcomes I listed above. – T.J. Crowder Apr 25 '12 at 10:10
Related: Question Deletion Notification? – Arjan May 21 '12 at 6:15
@T.J.Crowder deleted duplicates should redirect to the question they were duped to, as in MediaWiki. – Nemo May 7 '15 at 22:18

I think there's many great answers here that have valid points and good suggestions that I think at least justifies an explanation. Since I put a bounty on it, I figured I'd drop my 2 cents as well:

To begin with, I would like to make a few quotations to outline my need to get a better answer:

Quotes that explains (or doesn't) the decision of

OP (vava):

I would really like to see all of my questions and answers on the profile page, even if some of them were deleted, and I don't have enough rep to see them on the site.

Jeff Atwood♦'s response:

Generally when things get deleted, it's for a good reason, and we don't want users to be undeleting them

Clearly he misunderstood the question. So Hendrik helped him out:

@Jeff: The question was about showing deleted questions, not about allowing users to undelete. Surely it would be possible showing them without allowing undeletion.

As you probably read by now, Jeff Atwood♦ responded:

@hendrik it would lead to unbelievable amounts of whining. Will not get implemented as long as I am still alive to prevent it from happening.

Judging from that statement, it seems to me like this request was declined based on speculation (and personal opinion).

Before I get to criticize that, I would like to hold a positive note and try listing the things about this feature that I think would give value to StackExchange:

Values for StackExchange

Implementing the suggested feature:

  1. Leads to more users with better posts, because it gives askers another good way to learn from their mistakes.
  2. Leads to more ad-revenue, because less new / inexperienced users are frustrated with having their question vanish into thin air and decide SE isn't a place for them.
  3. Leads to less tasks to handle for support, moderators and other users with privileges to view/handle complaints in any form, because askers/answerers who lost their posts won't be complaining/asking for support for that reason.

Other than these points, it would also solve several annoyances from the users' perspective, but I tried listing it from SE's perspective, so keep in mind that I left those out.

Maybe you ask "All these things happens rarely, why is this feature important?":

What I would like to ask back is "What is it that makes this a feature out of interest to SE?" because I can't find any good reasons not to implement this.

This is where I would like the people who knows why this was to help me out.

This may not be the most important feature, viewed from SE's side, but I cannot see how it is in the pile of "Will not get implemented as long as I am still alive to prevent it from happening".

If you've ever tried needing to view a post you can't access, you would know how incredibly frustrating it is to be in that situation. Even though this may be a minority of users, it's still important to keep in mind that this wouldn't hurt the users who don't need/want this feature (which is the majority), because like the show removed posts-feature, in the reputation tab, it could just be an optional view, as well as adding notifications of deleted posts which will of course only show up for those who had their posts deleted.

For what it's worth:

To the critique of "unbelievable amounts of whining": From what I've seen in my 4 months here, I don't really believe it. I may be blinded by my frustrating desire to view my deleted posts, but if those affected by this feel the same way, I'm even more inclined to request an explanation of the nature of this belief.

Maybe you ask "You're just speculating yourself. How is that different from Jeff's speculation?":

My speculation isn't different, seeing as it is also speculation. We're both talking about predicting what the future would look like if this feature was implemented. The main difference is that I tried to thoroughly explain why I think this is a feature worthy of SE, which I think an as popular suggestion as this at least deserves.

Suggestions to implementation

This might be shortsighted since this might be on Jeff's blacklist for as long as he's alive, but here's to hoping that those influential on SE will reconsider:

Delete notification

What I think is by far the most important part of this feature request is notification of deletion done by other users/moderators. Currently, there is no notification at all. This only leads to unnecessary confusion and should be fairly easy to implement.

Viewing a deleted question

I think the second-most important part of this feature request is to be able to view the question of yours that was deleted. The purpose of this is to let the user see the answers and comments, which are likely to explain the reasoning. I'm unaware if it's possible for 10k+ rep users and moderators to write comments to deleted questions, to discuss them, but if so, those could be hidden from the user if necessary.

Also, to not make inexperienced users confused when viewing the deleted post there could be a message at the top of the question saying something like:

"This question was deleted by JohnDoe♦ (see the FAQ for possible explanations why your question might have been removed).

This question is only visible to:

With possible variations like (in this case, you) and a one-liner reasoning by the moderator, if necessary.

Viewing your answer on a deleted question

Even though this shouldn't be an issue, since 10k+ users are told to review answers before deletion, I've still seen a few cases of users desiring to view and, probably most importantly, being able to copy content from answers they provided to now deleted questions.

The typical scenario I've seen is when the asker deletes his/her own question and the answerer would like to be able to access their answer to the now deleted question:

I hope this was a detailed enough explanation to encourage a reconsider, or at least a more detailed reasoning of the rejection.

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It's not possible to delete your question once it has more than one answer, or a single upvoted answer. So the scenario you describe at the bottom here doesn't make sense. – Jeff Atwood Apr 5 '13 at 23:36
@JeffAtwood I'm not sure which scenario you are talking about. Are you talking about Mark Booth's scenario? In case his answer was the only one and it didn't reach to receive any upvotes before the asker deleted his question it would be entirely possible, to my understanding, or am I misunderstanding you? – Aske B. Apr 9 '13 at 13:03
@JeffAtwood They can be deleted for moderation (user flags for deletion, mods oblige). It just happened to me - I lost a large, upvoted (last I could see it) answer that I would kind of like to have kept a copy of. Either that or I want 45 minutes of my life back from last night because I have nothing to show for it today.… – J... Aug 23 '13 at 9:24

Reasons why users should be able to see their own questions and answers in their profile page (from a moderator's perspective):

  • It lessens the amount of work we need to do when a user deletes their own questions/answers and then is post banned (users can then edit their content and reflag without us having to undelete all their old content)
  • It allows a user to see comments moderators left them regarding deletion of their content without having to remember the post URL
  • It provides a more accurate history of the user for themselves. Just today I was looking through my old deleted material to see why it was deleted. In some cases, good material was deleted because it had no upvotes and the OP decided to delete their own question. I worry that we're losing more good content when this happens, but no one is bringing it up because they don't know about it.
  • We allow users to see their closed questions, and we get at least one question a day about a question being closed. At least. I don't believe deleted content will receive more questions than that, but without data, who's to say?

This should be implemented on a trial basis. Look at the data, and then see if it's a problem. If it's a problem, then let's improve. To summarily say, "Never" to the community without data is just wrong.

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Re point one, just had to do that today on UX, since they couldn't post it again (doesn't allow duplicate posts!) Wonder how many people quit before they think on Meta (or can't, in the case of non-SO sites) – Ben Brocka Mar 6 '13 at 21:21
See my comments to Jon E in another answer here. In particular the ones that contain the words "loss aversion". – Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '13 at 8:10
@JeffAtwood I know you're opposed to this; and you have good reason to be -- but there is a disconnect between what the system requires for a user who is question banned, and what that system currently lets that user do to fix the fact that they're question banned -- and deleted posts hit right smack in the center of that problem. – George Stocker Apr 6 '13 at 17:21
You'd need to bury this feature behind a checkbox at a minimum -- maybe deeper -- to prevent absolute rioting in the streets due to loss aversion. (See: reputation deletion visibility changes that I strongly advised against, and now everyone knows why) Do you think the kinds of users who need to be mindful enough to understand content removal will be able to find the hidden corner of the site where their deleted content is? I'm not so sure. – Jeff Atwood Apr 7 '13 at 1:36
'I worry that we're losing more good content when this happens, but no one is bringing it up because they don't know about it.' Yes today I just started 'worrying' about my answers/solutions/references I post (because a question intrigued me or needed a similar solution in the future) on SO. Up until today I started using SO as my main knowledge base: I can search it by (memory)association, answers could be merged (ok fine), I could even retrieve my own formatting of code I shared via the edithistory (should someone have changed that). Never realized I could be locked out of my own answers – GitaarLAB Apr 9 '13 at 0:14
@Jeff Atwood and George Stocker: It turns out the feature does exist and it is buried behind a checkbox. People who are motivated enough can see their own deleted content. Thanks to an undocumented feature (bug?) you can also recover the text of your question if you have the URL. But you can't see any comments or answers. Allowing people to be treated as trusted users for the purposes of viewing their own questions (which is essentially how they are treated for deleted answers) seem a very minor tweak to the system and, given the votes here, a popular one. – Jon Ericson Apr 9 '13 at 17:23

The situation has completely changed on deleted questions now that we are banning users from asking questions because of their self-deletions and bad questions.

We need to enable those users to see their deleted questions so that they can edit them into shape, and if they self-deleted, then undelete them.

We need to help and encourage them to do the work to improve. Punishment is only useful when it causes the user to change their behavior, and is just frustration when they have no way of fixing the problems of the past (which since banning doesn't time out is all they can do to get unbanned). We've seen hundreds of posts from well-meaning users who don't understand our policies or just have trouble with the English language. This feature request will go a long way towards enabling them to work their way out once they've learned what they need to do.

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+1 I'm frankly fed up with the whole "Were any of your questions deleted, or did you delete any or them yourself" routine, only to have a mod have to look into the true history. Visibility to the OP of those questions would already help a lot. – Bart Jan 19 '13 at 20:04
For the record: it's very rare for someone to get banned only for self-deletion. I'm looking into ways to make this even less likely, but please keep in mind the primary reason for having deletion factor into bans at all: there are folks out there who post and then delete dozens of questions, questions to which others have devoted time and effort by commenting, editing and answering. Cleaning up after yourself is laudable, but destroying the work of others so that no one else can benefit from it is considerably less so. – Shog9 Jan 19 '13 at 23:17
Also, q-banning isn't really meant as "punishment" so much as an automatic tourniquet. – Shog9 Jan 19 '13 at 23:18
@Shog9, I had assumed that most users got deleted for a combination of self-deletion and downvoted questions. The self-deletion I assume would usually be because their question got heavily downvoted. So this would work on both problems. Banning may not be designed as a punishment, but the it certainly works out that way for those users. – Lance Roberts Jan 19 '13 at 23:25
Maybe a little off-topic but replace the word "prison" with "Stackoverflow" in this doctors description, and you'll have a pretty good explanation of how I think Stackoverflow should go about all this: Dr. James Gilligan - Punishment Does Not Prevent Violence. To put it simple: Help people improve, rather than punish them - and never restrain access from educational material, although it is fine to restrain access from something you can destroy, if you deliberately and repeatably do so. Nobody is evil - some people are just very misguided. – Aske B. Jan 7 '14 at 13:53

It would be helpful to see at least the closed questions that I have asked, so that as I get more experience, I can look at the questions, see if I understand why they were closed, and get better at writing questions, based on my past failures.

At the moment it is hard to learn from the experience, so we just keep repeating the same mistakes.

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Closed questions aren't deleted from your questions list; only deleted questions disappear. – mmyers Oct 24 '09 at 17:02
@mmyers, I've noticed a tendency for more questions to be deleted as time goes on. At least I think I have, it's hard to quantify. – Mark Ransom Jun 27 '12 at 22:55

We are a community of learners. And we work on trusting that basically people are OK.

So.... suppose I ask a lousy question, and then I go outside and break my arms (karma). In the meantime BrainyMeg comments about why my question was lousy. Maybe, I dunno, about two chunky comments. My arm is still broken.

Then after I heal and can type, and log back into Stack Overflow and check my question link (which I had emailed to myself), I see... nothing - just a "OOPS. This question got deleted."

But an expert tried to tell me something, and it's... gone? For lack of... what?

Also, maybe I just spent an hour typing this, and want the original one to fix. It would be painful to retype the whole question.

Having the question closed is already a punishment to bad questions. Deleting the question only adds extra pain.

I think the functionality to view the bad-deleted-question may be granted alongside the ability to vote. It's an early right, but it should be earned just to reach a compromise with Jeff & co ;) i.e. so that the feature is not abused.

Now, if a question is egregious, that's a different story and mods can do the disappearing deal.

So, overall, it's just greater transparency, which translates to a better user experience.

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You type with your legs? – Undo Oct 12 '13 at 3:07
@Undo - Nice catch LOL! :-D – Adel Oct 12 '13 at 3:11

When MSO gets loads of bug reports, duplicates are eliminated rather fast. This provokes questions from the OP about what happened to their questions (recent example).

Notifications are a way of informing users that this has happened. If the notification system is not used, the OP should at least be able to see his own deleted questions.

I've added this answer to this proposal to show my support for it (and to bump it to front page once again). The team should reconsider this .

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Although this answer may simply be agreement with the other answers here, it seems the community's voice is not loud enough on this issue so hopefully this can expose the problem a little more. This is largely a repost of my own duplicated feature request, which has a slightly different motive than the original request in this post.

I typically vote to delete many closed questions immediately (following the PHP tag, there are many bad ones). However, sometimes I withhold the delete vote because there is a solution to the OP's problem in the comments and I want them to see it. Usually something like the resolution to a trivial parse error or typo. Often the question is deleted quickly but it's apparent that the author hasn't seen any of his replies.

This seems like a bad reason to not delete something that deserves removal, but I want them to get their "answer" (because I am a nice guy) and I don't want them to try re-asking the question. I assume they can't access their post after it's deleted, and it affects my behavior moderating the site.

I'm talking mainly about unsalvagable posts, ones that are solved by fixing a trivial parse error or typo, that cannot be possibly edited into something useful or be relevant to anybody except the author.

The fact that users can't see their own deleted questions has the following effects on overall question quality:

  • It affects my moderation behavior (and others I've talked to) by causing me to withhold delete votes, which means more should-be-deleted posts in search results and the "Related" sidebar.
  • It can lead to duplicate questions, since the OP has no clue what happened
  • It does not help the author understand what they did wrong, and what can be done to prevent it in the future (so, more low quality questions). How is the author expected to learn from the mistake?

There should at least be a warning, or inbox notification when your own question is deleted, especially when it's an active question posted only minutes ago. Even allowing a limited view of the post would be a big improvement (maybe only allow viewing for a certain amount of time, not forever).

Consider this:

I've just stumbled across this poorly worded question - if you look through the comments it appears that the user previously asked an identical question that was deleted - it occurred to me that this question may well have been deleted before the poster had a chance to read any of the comments / feedback on that question, and may not have even realised that his question was deleted (hence the identical repost).

I believe this topic should be revisited, just look at the support in this thread - it's ridiculous.

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I also find it very irritating that my answers vanish into the great void even if I invested some amount time to write the answer and it may apply to someone else who searches for a similar problem. (The time to answer the deleted question is now lost as well ...)

Just because the question is bad (and gets removed) doesn't mean the answers are bad as well. There is no direct correlation between question and answer scoring.

If I had access to my deleted answer (with less than 10k rep), I'd write a valid question to the answer and move the answer to this question just to preserve the answer (and it was upvoted several times before the question got deleted ...), but there is no way, because the answer is lost (even for myself).

The same may be applicable to deleted questions as well. Sometimes a part of the question was valid, but doesn't fit to the title, so it would make sense to split the question into two. Because the other part of the question was deemed inappropriate, there is no reason to forever remove the useful part.

Just my two cents.

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That was precisely my point on View my deleted question and answer with less than 10K, so you may find the edit trick mentioned there useful in that situation. – Mark Booth Mar 5 '13 at 14:22

This would have several pros, not least of which is that users can still read comment responses to questions that have been prematurely deleted. A good tie in would be the ability to edit their deleted questions, so that they can fix any problems before they flag for a moderator to undelete them.

Currently, the only counter argument to this feature request is:

it would lead to unbelievable amounts of whining.

Well, first of all, it has already lead to unbelievable amounts of whining. Take a look at the sheer quantity of answers here disagreeing with the rejection of the request.

Secondly, since when has the prospect of "whining" ever been a deciding factor in evaluating policies for the maintenance of the site? Everything from post bans to deletion of old off topic questions causes "whining".

I realise there may be a great many valid arguments against this feature request. This answer indicates that something similar was attempted before, and led to poor results (although that refers to showing all deleted content to all users, which is a huge difference of scale). One hiccup I can think of is that it might cause an upsurge in groundless flags for undeletion (i.e. everyone who has a question deleted immediately presses the flag button).

All I'm asking for is a re-evaluation of this request, or failing that a less nonsensical rationale for declining it.

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Look up "loss aversion" in Wikipedia. That's what I mean when I say whining. It is a very, very powerful -- and dangerous -- human tendency. – Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '13 at 8:11

A new user is not very aware of phrasing a question into relevant quotes and often violates format regulations in the phrasing of questions, as I indeed did in my initial stages.

In that case, the experienced users either downvotes or ask for deletion of the offending question, which could result in some of these consequences:

  1. It will discourage the new user.
  2. Users will not be able to check for the mistakes they made in the questions once they are deleted.

Pros for keeping deleted questions in the profile are:

  1. It will allow them to edit it into shape, so they can work towards getting unbanned.
  2. It will help the new user, not to make the same mistake twice.
  3. Encourages them to ask relevant questions in the community.
  4. Suggestions and discussions on the deleted questions could be preserved.

Cons for keeping deleted questions in the profile are:

  1. Once the user gets reputed, downvoted and closed questions might reflect a bad impression on the experienced profile (though since only he can see it, this might not apply).

I believe that it's a good idea to keep the deleted questions along with regular questions in the user profile.

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I don't like this idea: I want my user profile to look the same, or nearly the same to me as it does to everyone else.

But searching for my deleted posts is a different matter...

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Consider it similar to the "Show Removed Posts"-feature. The difference from your profile to theirs is a checkbox. That's it. I know conditions have changed since you wrote this answer, but "searching for your deleted posts", using Stack Exchange Data Explorer (which I assume you meant) is not a user friendly way of showing deleted posts. Sure it works for those who knows that site, and knows SQL, but not the new / inexperienced users of SO. – Aske B. Sep 20 '12 at 8:36
@AskeB. - The suggestion is to have a search option in the normal site search to find deleted posts. So a search for "[user$myuserid] isdeleted:1" would return all that user's deleted posts. – Charles Stewart Apr 14 '13 at 5:03
Okay. That still requires knowledge of the site's syntax and is not immediately user friendly. I think it took me a few months, from when I joined, before finding out it was possible to use special search syntaxes on SE-sites. – Aske B. May 16 '13 at 12:23
@AskeB.: True. Tracking down deleted posts should not be one of the most common tasks, though. BTW, I meant a colon, not a dollar sign, in my previous comment. – Charles Stewart May 16 '13 at 12:47
But if you're looking for an answer of yours that was deleted (recently or whenever, it doesn't matter), or a question of yours that was deleted, it shouldn't really require a learning curve to be able to find them again. To a lot of the victims of deletion, understanding the deletion, or retrieving the text they put an effort into is not something you want to be blocked from. It especially shocked me to find out that it's not only hard to find it, it's actually impossible, until you've achieved 10k+ rep or moderator status. I don't think that's good service. – Aske B. May 29 '13 at 14:52
Second point: To me, searching the site is about finding posts within a criteria that you hope is relevant to you. In this case, you're not doing that. You're searching for a specific post you know you created yourself and have now lost of reasons you might not even be aware of. – Aske B. May 29 '13 at 14:55

I would like to see a sandbox mode for deleted posts.

To the post's author, mods and (perhaps) 10k or 20k users, deleted posts would behave (for the most part) in the exact same manner as non-deleted questions, allowing editing, flagging, etc. The exception would be voting, which would need to be disallowed. For all other users, the post would effectively cease to exist. A combination of styling and annotations would serve to ensure that everyone able to view it is aware the post is not visible to the site in general.

Using this approach, people who have had their posts deleted (automatically or by a mod) or who deleted their post and later regretted it would be able to improve their post, should they be willing to spend the time/effort to do so. A flag could then be used to request undeletion from a mod. Other concerned users (with over 10k rep) might also be able to do so, although I admit I can't see that being much of a use-case.

For reasons outlined in other answers, this would allow users who genuinely want to make an effort and learn how to write a good post, or who are willing to do what it takes to overturn a question ban, to helpfully contribute to the site. By allowing edits to be made before the post is undeleted, it ensures only good content is displayed on the site, and reduces mod workload.

Finally, I don't see this being a particularly difficult approach to implement:

  • Deleted questions are already hidden from users under 10k. All that needs changing in this respect is that they should also be visible to the original author. This is already the case for answers.
  • The requisite styling and annotations are already in place on deleted questions.
  • Editing, flagging, etc would need to be enabled for the author, mods and 10k/20k on deleted questions and answers. Given that there's already checks for such things for non-deleted questions (enabling direct-edit for 2k users, for example), I imagine this would only require some adjustments to those checks.
  • Voting is already disabled on locked questions. This would require extending that to locked or deleted questions and answers.
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In short, this is exactly how 10k users see (and can interact with) deleted posts of other users (when they know the URL). – Arjan Feb 19 '13 at 17:48
@Arjan: that's good to know. I haven't managed to get to 10k yet, so I've had to speculate a little - thanks for backing that speculation up. If I understand you correctly, you're saying this would be a matter of allowing post authors access to the same "deleted post" view as 10k users, and making deleted posts appear in (e.g.) search results for said users (rather than having to know the URL)? – Mac Feb 19 '13 at 20:57
Yes, indeed. (source, 10k) – Arjan Feb 19 '13 at 21:20

Just so it stands out a bit, Nick Craver (employee of Stack Exchange) commented to another question in March 2012:

show people deleted questions before having high rep has ended in quite a mess in the past, I don't think we'll repeat that anytime soon

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I believe it is deleted to conserve space on the server, however, I would be nice if a .pdf file or something were compiled and sent to your registered email account. This way everybody would win. The servers aren't cluttered and everybody would have their answers.

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Actually they are not deleted, and can still be seen by user with >10k rep – Hugo Dozois Apr 2 '13 at 20:40
I would still be nice for them to send a copy of the question and the all the attached answers/comments to the respected email. – Lèla Null Apr 2 '13 at 20:44

This request was made in 2009. Times are different now in some regards. More and more companies realize that respect for user data is good business, and offer export options. Google, for instance, has Google Vault,

an add-on for Google Apps that lets you retain, archive, search, and export your organization's email and chat messages

and also Takeout, which lets you

Create an archive with your data from Google products.

Can StackExchange show similar respect for users' data, and allow access to all content they have posted, included deleted questions, regardless of reputation?

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Generally when things get deleted, it's for a good reason, and we don't want users to be undeleting them -- there's a reason we require 10k rep to "see" deleted items at all, and only moderators can see deletions in a user's profile.

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At least give them a notification saying why it was deleted. – Wes May 1 '11 at 19:12
@Jeff: The question was about showing deleted questions, not about allowing users to undelete. Surely it would be possible showing them without allowing undeletion. – Hendrik Vogt May 3 '11 at 10:59
@hendrik it would lead to unbelievable amounts of whining. – Jeff Atwood May 3 '11 at 11:10
@Jeff: That's fine with me. I was just pointing out that your answer doesn't really give a rationale for why users can't see their deleted questions, so maybe I should flag your answer as "not an answer"? :-) Now your last comment does give a rationale (thanks!), so maybe that comment should go into the answer. – Hendrik Vogt May 3 '11 at 11:57
@Jeff, since most all of the undeletion isn't allowed anymore (since you can't undelete what a moderator deletes), it seems like this reason no longer applies. – Lance Roberts May 22 '11 at 6:28
@Jeff: I agree with you on the users whining part, but you could atleast show posts that are deleted by owner on their respective profiles (visible only to them and mods). Sometimes, people delete their answer because someone else got to it first. However, a code snippet or a link that they had in their answer might come in handy in future, for a different answer. At that point (perhaps a few months later), you might not remember the previous question and but you probably still remember that you had a deleted answer, and hence will be easy to check. Perhaps a deleted tab? – Lorem Ipsum Jul 23 '11 at 19:44
How about allowing it for 10k+ users? – agf Oct 1 '11 at 16:34
Are you ever going to reconsider? – NullUserException อ_อ Oct 1 '11 at 16:47
I like @agf's suggestion. If I already can see it as a 10k, why is the list still hidden from my view? – NullUserException อ_อ Oct 1 '11 at 16:54
There's no rational reason for disallowing me to see my own deleted answers in my profile. – Adam Rackis Jan 9 '12 at 18:22
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ He's still alive, but.... – Shmuel Brin Apr 15 '12 at 22:21
@Downvoter This is an answer, not a question. And it's downvoted this much presumably because this is an unpopular opinion, even if its voiced by the site's founder. – Adam Lear Sep 7 '12 at 14:01
@AnnaLear And as all the other answers say; Jeff didn't reason for declining this request, he merely said "it would lead to unbelievable amounts of whining" which sounds like pure speculation. I think most upvoted answers has very valid points so I'm surprised there has been no reasoning of this or at least documentation that proves Jeff's presumably veto-decision to be the best one. – Aske B. Sep 16 '12 at 9:32
Jeff, now that you stepped away from running SO, can you please let someone else implement this feature? I was looking for the answer I left on a question that apparently got deleted (I wasn't notified), and I've wasted at least one hour going through my edit history in hope I maybe have wrongly remembered the title. But no, the answer was wiped out, even if it was very useful to me, as I frequently referred to it (it was a list of CSS gotchas) – Dan Dascalescu Mar 21 '13 at 7:28
Generally when things get deleted, it's for a good reason, and we don't want users to be undeleting them Generally. Plus, you could say the same for closed posts. Also, by that token, you may as well just remove the un-delete option altogether. You may not like a post and not welcome it, but users should not be prevented access to their deleted posts; they may want to copy it and move it somewhere else where it is welcome, without having to try to re-created it from scratch. Not everyone will have bookmarked every post as a precaution against deletion; they should be in the list. – Synetech Dec 7 '13 at 5:08

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