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What circumstances can cause a question or answer to be deleted, and what does that actually mean?

  • How can a post be deleted?
  • When can't I delete my own post?
  • Can I see a list of my deleted posts?
  • How can I undelete one of my posts?
  • What does deletion mean for a post?
  • How do votes to delete work?
  • What are the criteria for deletion?
  • What else should I know about deleted posts?

For more information, see the articles about deleted questions and deleted answers in the Help Center.

Return to FAQ index

share|improve this question
See also When should I vote to delete? –  Robert Harvey May 3 '13 at 20:48
But why can't OPs fully delete their own answers? –  janaspage Jul 19 '14 at 17:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 143 down vote accepted

How can a post be deleted?

By a user:

  1. You can typically delete your own posts at will; for exceptions, see "When can't I delete my own post?" below. To delete a post, just use the "delete" link below it.

  2. Moderators can delete any post instantly.

  3. Users with reputation >= 10k (more precisely, the “moderator tools” privilege; 2k on beta sites) can vote to delete questions that have been closed/on-hold for 48 hours. It takes three votes to delete; more if the question is popular, but ten votes at most.

  4. Users with reputation >= 20k (more precisely, the “trusted user” privilege; 4k on beta sites) are not subject to the 48-hour waiting period for deleting closed questions with a score of -3 or lower. They may also delete answers of score -1 or lower. It takes three votes to delete an answer.

  5. Six users with reputation >= 2k (more precisely, the “Edit Questions And Answers” privilege; 1k on beta sites) can cause automatic deletion of a post if they choose "recommend deletion" from within the low quality review queue.

By the system:

  1. The system will automatically delete any post flagged six times as offensive or spam.

  2. The system will automatically delete closed (not as a duplicate), unlocked questions with zero or negative score having no upvoted or accepted answers or pending reopen votes, that were closed 9 or more days ago and haven't been edited in the past 9 days.

  3. The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions that have negative score after 30 days.

  4. The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions with score of zero (or one if the owner is deleted), fewer than 1.5 views per day on average, and fewer than two comments after 365 days.

  5. The system will automatically delete any question (and its answers) or answer with a score less than 0 when its owner's account is deleted.

  6. The system will automatically delete questions migrated to other sites after 30 days. Note that this applies only for the original question created on the original site (the "migration stub"), not the question newly created on the other site as a result of the migration. Questions autodeleted under this criterion still have their revision histories visible to everyone, and links to them redirect to the new question instead of showing an error page.

  7. Questions and answers that receive six "Recommend Deletion" reviews in the Low Quality Posts review queue are automatically deleted "in review". Posts can be kicked into this queue either automatically or if particular flags are cast on them (very low quality flags on questions and the very low quality & not an answer flags on answers), and can be removed from the queue if enough "Looks Good" reviews are cast against them.

When can't I delete my own post?

You can't delete answers that have been accepted.

You can't delete any question that:

  • has an upvoted answer, or
  • has multiple answers (even if there are no upvotes)

You can't delete any of your questions or answers if you haven't registered your account (that is, associated an OpenID with it).

Can I see a list of my deleted posts?

Yes, but only posts deleted in the last 60 days. Full list of deleted posted won't likely happen.

How can I undelete one of my posts?

Self-deleted posts can be viewed and undeleted by their original authors. However, self-deleted questions cannot be edited by their authors unless undeleted first. Self-deleted answers can be edited by the author without undeleting. Normally, if your deleted post is not self-deleted, you can't undelete it yourself (though you may be able to vote to undelete). An exception: if an answer is deleted from Low Quality review queue by "Recommend Deletion" votes, without three trusted users voting to delete, then it can be undeleted by the author.

If your post was deleted by trusted users, it will require three undelete votes to be undeleted - politely asking for this on Meta may attract the necessary votes if you make a good case for why the question should be restored.

If your post was deleted by a moderator, you can flag one of your other posts and write a note in the "other" section explaining the situation and requesting undeletion.

Note: deleted questions do not appear in search results, so you if you wish to later undelete a question that you've deleted you must have saved the URL somewhere. Users with 10K reputation and up can also mark questions as a "favorite" and find them later from the Favorites tab on their profiles. Only moderators can search for deleted posts, not non-moderator 10k+ users.

Deleted posts that are no more than 60 days old (since the creation date) are listed under "recent deleted questions" or "recent deleted answers".

What does deletion mean for a post?

Deleted posts are usually not physically deleted (that is, removed from the system); they're just hidden (AKA soft-deleted). This means they won't appear in search results or data dumps, and normal users following links to them will see a 404 (not found) page.

Moderators, and normal users with >=10k reputation, see all deleted posts. Moderators are able to undelete any deleted post.

"10k users" may vote to undelete deleted questions: it usually takes three votes to undelete a question, but sometimes more.

"20k users" may also vote to undelete deleted answers: it takes three votes to undelete an answer.

What else should I know about deleted posts?

  • Reputation changes from bounties and votes (both up and down) on deleted posts (including answers to a deleted question) are nullified. (Exception: Reputation earned for posts with a score of three or higher, and where the post has been visible on the site for at least 60 days, is retained).

  • Reputation lost as a penalty for having a post deleted by flagging is not returned.

  • The first time you delete your own post that has a score of three or higher, you will earn a Disciplined badge.

  • The first time you delete your own post that has a score of negative three or lower, you will earn a Peer Pressure badge.

  • Answers are automatically deleted when the question they're attached to is deleted. Such answers are automatically undeleted when the question is undeleted, except for answers that were deleted before the question was deleted.

How do votes to delete work?

What are the criteria for deletion?

For questions, a post that no longer adds anything to the site should be deleted. Basically, this includes most closed questions that cannot be improved and reopened. However, it may be beneficial to keep duplicates to aid future users in finding the canonical question.

For answers, any post that is not an answer (should be a comment, doesn't answer the question, etc.) should be deleted. Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted.

share|improve this answer
What happens in relation to bounties? –  maythesource.com Oct 4 '13 at 9:43
@meewoK bounty is refunded to its owner in case the question is deleted. –  Shadow Wizard Nov 4 '13 at 19:24
Um, why does it say "9 Shogs a-Shogging", though the username is still the same? –  Dimensio1n0 Feb 17 '14 at 14:44
@DIMension10 in some places, the current display name is taken and saved as static text, so it's not reflecting the live display name. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 5 '14 at 15:11
@ShadowWizard Dear sir, Answers are automatically deleted when the question they're attached to is deleted, even when answers are accepted? –  Ave Maleficum Mar 13 '14 at 9:57
@AveMaleficum yes, nothing can "protect" an answer from deletion when its parent question is deleted. Having answer accepted only cause that its author can't delete it. (unless he's a diamond moderator) –  Shadow Wizard Mar 13 '14 at 10:20
When my question has upvotes and unanswered for long time, it get deleted. But still the question get no answer and I still want to know the answer, only choice is trying to undelete it in reasonable manner? Because nothing got really deleted here, so I can't re-post a question that leave unanswered and deleted?? –  Edward May 7 '14 at 17:21
@ShadowWizard: So, I can set a bounty on a question, award it to someone, then have the question deleted and the bounty refunded? What if the question was deleted because the account was deleted (happens to questions with a negative score). I cannot find any reference to this happening one way or another. –  Martijn Pieters May 12 '14 at 10:48
@ShadowWizard: Bounties that have been awarded already are not refunded to the bounty sponsor. You lose all reputation earned from a deleted answer, including the bounty, but it is nullified, not refunded. –  Martijn Pieters May 12 '14 at 11:02
@MartijnPieters I based my comment on my own experience from movies.stackexchange.com where I spent 150 reputation on bounties in a single question then it was deleted and I have this in my reputation tab: i.stack.imgur.com/zd74v.png and as you can see it was indeed a +150 otherwise my reputation was much lower. So, it was wholly refunded. –  Shadow Wizard May 12 '14 at 11:09
@ShadowWizard: Unrewarded bounties on a question can be refunded, yes. But once rewarded to an answer they are not, not usually. –  Martijn Pieters May 12 '14 at 11:11
@Martijn there were two bounties, +100 and +50. The +50 was awarded to an answer and the +100 expired without any answer getting it. –  Shadow Wizard May 12 '14 at 11:12
@ShadowWizard: See What happens if an answer which was awarded a bounty is merged or deleted? where someone determined the opposite happens. –  Martijn Pieters May 12 '14 at 11:14
@MartijnPieters two possibilities: old behavior which changed since then, or inconsistent behavior e.g. maybe it's refunded only if the question had 3+ score and visible for 90+ days before deletion. One thing is for sure, I got auto refund in my case. :) –  Shadow Wizard May 12 '14 at 11:28
@Guilherme wow, good catch! :) –  Shadow Wizard Jun 18 '14 at 13:04

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protected by Robert Harvey Sep 26 '12 at 23:05

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