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A Stack Overflow user seems to have deleted all his questions and answers. He had more than 100 answers to other people's questions. Some of his answers had more than 10 upvotes.

I already recovered one of his answers (which had, according to Google's cache, 14 upvotes and was the accepted answer; another answer was even mentioning his answer, so I posted the small recovered answer as a comment to that one), but what should be done to the rest?

  • Undelete them (I believe only moderators can do so)?
  • Quickly recover the answers from Google cache and repost them?
  • Do nothing?
  • Something else?

Also, if the answer is to recover the answers, what is the best way to do so?

  • Comments to another answer which was referencing that one (only possible for small answers)?
  • Comments to the question (also only possible for small answers)?
  • A community wiki answer?
  • Something else?
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 21 '09 at 2:42

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

9 Answers 9

I would go with this stackoverflow.uservoice suggestion:

What if you add the ability for moderators, members with enough rep to bring those questions back, but under the Community Wiki user. This way these good question could live on in the system.

Suggested reputation threshold to activate such a feature: high, like 8K or even 10K.

Another uservoice suggestion even goes as far as to suggest that deleted questions are still visible (to registered user only), without up/down votes possible.

For me, that translates the frustration of seeing a good information, looking for it a week later, and... finding nothing anymore. Or the frustration of spending time writing a good answer, before realizing that one's own good answer is gone because when a user delete a post, he/she deletes all answers with it...

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2  
Yes, this sums up every other good answer in this thread. Undelete, but transfer to user -1. Leave the votes in place, though, so that the position in the answer list doesn't change. –  ilya n. Jun 20 '09 at 0:13
    
The only problem with this is if the answer contained something that was copyrighted that it turned out the poster didn't have rights to copy. I know if I copied code from work I would be putting my job in jeopardy, but if someone didn't realize that and posted a code snippet does it really make sense that they can't undo their mistake? –  tloach Jan 20 '11 at 13:49

I think "Do nothing"... if somebody wants to delete their stuff, that's their choice. If there was an answer to a question that was especially helpful or important to you, then go hunting for it and save it somewhere locally if you wish, but I think you should respect the author's choice to remove his or her postings.

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To all those people saying that a person should not be allowed to delete their questions, I pose the following question: what if you started on StackOverflow with a open id that was somehow connected to your work, and your bosses say "You shouldn't be doing that in our name, remove it". It would be nice if you could transfer everything to a non-work connected id, but to do so requires direct intervention from Jeff Atwood, and not everybody knows that this is an option. I think in a case like that people should be allowed to delete (or at least file off the identification marks) from all their questions, responses and questions. And right now, the only way to do that yourself is to delete.

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Real good point. I was all ready to rant "let us resurrect deleted questions if we want them back" until I read it. –  MusiGenesis Nov 8 '08 at 17:39
    
@MusiGenesis, it appears @tloach touched on the same idea while I was typing mine. –  Paul Tomblin Nov 8 '08 at 17:45
    
Although I see your point I think a way for users to view deleted content so that it can be restored (sans attribution to original poster if required) without relying on google's cache or Jeff's intervention is needed. –  Sam Hasler Nov 10 '08 at 13:21
    
I think a way to take your name off all your posts (questions, answers and comments) would be more appropriate because it would reduce the need to delete things in the first place. –  Paul Tomblin Nov 10 '08 at 14:17

Though I think the purpose of the site is to not only get your answers but contribute to a community the person also has the right to take them down if he/she so wishes. I see no reason why you can't re-ask them if you really think someone else along the way won't.

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The goal of this site is to provide high quality answers to high quality questions. If you, as a contributor, decide to take you don't want to participate in future questions that's fair enough - but to actively sabotage other questions by removing your own posts goes against the whole purpose of this community.

I think Jeff should disable delete feature once a question is upmoded more than a couple of times. It should certainly not be possible to delete an "accepted answer." I feel a user should be allowed to delete answers which have a negative score, though.

There are plenty of places where deleting your comments is not possible and it doesn't damage their community; Slashdot being the most notable example.

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The only issue with restoring is that there could be a legal reason the posts were taken down, especially if they contained code snippets. I would say the best solution is to upvote a similar answer, or repost the gist of the answer that was removed.

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You could always take the data dump (not sure how frequent it is) and store it somewhere. Given that what you post here is under the CC license it's not like you're holding someone else's copyrighted material.

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My thoughts exactly. Deletion should probably be prohibited after, say, a day, though. –  jrockway Jun 15 '09 at 17:45

I made the suggestion a while ago on uservoice to email me the markup of my deleted questions and answers

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Gah, SO uservoice is gone now. This is why we needed meta from the start! –  Sam Hasler Mar 18 '11 at 23:22

If the post was taken down for legal reasons, then that is one thing - but just deleting an accepted answer or upvoted response is another. I'd suggest the answer be moved to community mode and the associated user's name removed from public view, but still kept with the answer in the db itself.

Perhaps you could allow a full removal after jumping through a few hoops. The idea might be to allow answering with as little friction as possible, but I think adding as much fricion as you can really forces people to rethink deleting a post.

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