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Manually clear saved question drafts

Sometimes, I start typing a question, then realize I just don't want to ask it (e.g., it's already been answered, I figure out the answer as I'm typing it, etc.).

I assume this is a pretty common scenario, but there's really no UI support for simply canceling or discarding a question. You can certainly leave the page by navigating away from it or closing the browser tab (and clicking "Leave Page" when the dialog appears), but then if you go back to ask another question later, the title and body fields are filled with data from the previous question. This requires you to manually delete all that junk before you can start typing your new question.

I realize this is not a huge burden or anything, but it does add an unnecessary level of complication to what should be a very simple process.

I propose adding a small cancel or discard button (or perhaps just a hyperlink) next to the Post Your Question button. Users would still receive a dialog to make sure they really intended to push that button, then they would be taken back to where they came from or the home page for the particular StackExchange forum they are on.

This would reduce the process of leaving the question editor and clearing the subject and message body down to just two clicks. It would also add only minimal clutter to the UI.

Note that, when you edit an existing question, there is a little "cancel" link next to the Save Edits button. I'm proposing that the exact same link be added for new questions.

  • 4
    I'd vote against anything that works like the evil <form>'s reset button. – Arjan Sep 24 '11 at 20:40
  • Very much related to Manually clear saved question drafts. – Arjan Sep 24 '11 at 20:41
  • @Arjan, what is the evil <form>'s reset button? – devuxer Sep 24 '11 at 23:53
  • 1
    Is the little 'close' cross in the browser tab not sufficient? – slugster Sep 25 '11 at 0:16
  • 3
    @Slugster, please read the last two sentences of the second paragraph. – devuxer Sep 25 '11 at 2:38
  • @DanM, the HTML <input type="reset"> button that is still present in many forms on the web nowadays, which clears everything without a warning, and is hardly ever useful. True, you're writing about a Cancel button, and "a dialog could still appear" which I hope reads "must appear". (Hence none of the downvotes were mine, though I don't care for this either.) – Arjan Sep 25 '11 at 10:03
  • @Arjan, I didn't mean to imply that the dialog should be optional. I updated my post a little bit to hopefully be more clear. – devuxer Sep 25 '11 at 17:01
  • Re the question's "Users would still receive a dialog to make sure they really intended to push that button": No, the current implementation is better. See e.g. alistapart.com/articles/neveruseawarning. – msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 17:33
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    @msh210, I agree that Undo is an excellent solution to people habituating to error dialogs, and maybe that's what should be done, but my proposal is consistent with how the "cancel" link works for edits of existing questions (which can sometimes be as much work as writing the original question). I do think it's an improvement, though, to word the buttons on the dialog something specific like "Discard this question" rather than "OK". Also, I think habituation is a more serious issue for routine tasks like deleting an email than for abandoning a question (which is neither routine nor rare). – devuxer Sep 25 '11 at 18:02
  • @DanM, re your comment: Yeah, makes sense. – msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 18:35
  • See also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/75545/… – jfritz42 Mar 1 '12 at 19:31

It has been implemented.

Discard button

It takes a few seconds to appear, but when it does just click it and the whole question disappears.

  • This question is pretty old. My guess is nobody bothered to mark this as status-completed once it was implemented. – Servy Jul 20 '12 at 16:36
  • @Servy - I didn't spot the age! I just saw it on the recent activity list. – ChrisF Jul 20 '12 at 16:37
  • Should this button not be visible all the time? Making it visible only after i type something is not very intuitive. Each other site like Edit provide some sort of cancel (and go back) – Jehof Feb 6 '13 at 11:53
  • @Jehof - well unless you type something there's nothing to discard. I'm not sure what the benefit of having it permanently visible would be. – ChrisF Feb 6 '13 at 11:57
  • Hm, the "discard" link seems to be gone. – Stefan Monov May 29 '17 at 18:53
  • @stefan it's not always there. You have to have typed something and have​ been on the page for a little while before it appears. – ChrisF May 29 '17 at 19:04
  • @ChrisF: The case where it was gone for me was that I had typed something and had left the tab alone for maybe 30 minutes, then got back to the tab. So if you're right, the discard link should've been there. – Stefan Monov May 29 '17 at 20:32

Yes, there should :)

Like you said, it's very annoying when you start asking another question and you have to delete the old text from your aborted question in the subject line and body.

Not only that, (I ran into this problem today) stackoverflow seems to have a bug where it tries to suggest matching questions based on the text of the OLD answer, even if you delete that text and start typing something completely different!

  • It's "very annoying" when you have to delete text to replace it with something else? Do you know about the "Select All" command? Ctrl+A/Apple+A, then delete. You'll be stress-free another day. – Cody Gray Mar 1 '12 at 19:42
  • @Cody Gray, but you have to do it twice! :) The entire sequence is (1) select all for subject line, (2) hit delete, (3) click body, (4) select all (5) hit delete, and (6) click back in subject line. This could be reduced to one click of a cancel button + dialog accept. This already exists for editing, I'm just saying, give it to us for composing. – devuxer Mar 1 '12 at 20:14
  • @DanM that's a very clear way of explaining it: 6 "clicks" to accomplish the action. A cancel button makes that 2 "clicks" (click cancel then click in the subject line). And arguably an "are you sure" dialog is overkill for a cancel button. – jfritz42 Mar 6 '12 at 0:03
  • @jfritz42, could definitely eliminate the dialog if you had undo instead (see msh210's comment above). – devuxer Mar 6 '12 at 0:13

I agree! Somehow the best search results appear only when asking a question.

I don't know why, I can't find a Q&A by searching but when I give up and start asking a question, similar posts start appearing.

I click on the most likely ones, and then want to 'cancel' posting.

  • 2
    See my answer. This is already implemented. – ChrisF Jul 20 '12 at 16:37

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