I got to know in response to my question Are answers ever deleted permanently? that answers are never deleted permanently.

What is the reason? Is it related to some scalability requirement or they never thought about it? Or they think this is not important enough? or what?

1 Answer 1


You ask why answers aren't purged, but don't really provide any reasons they should be. Let's approach the question from that angle.

Why would deleted posts ever be purged from the system?

  1. Deleted questions are sometimes undeleted. Not possible if deletion was permanent.
  2. Sometimes moderators needs to make a judgement call about a user. The more information they have, the better. Having access to the user's deleted questions and answers can help the moderators make an informed decision.
  3. Since deleted posts rarely get viewed, they have little-to-no effect on the performance of the site.
  4. As explained in Why can I only delete 5 posts in a day? Is this legal? there is no legal reason why Stack Overflow would have to delete content that was legally posted to begin with.

I just don't see any significant reason to delete content permanently, and there are a couple of arguments for keeping content around forever.

So while I don't know which of these the Stack Exchange team considered, I think the current state of things makes sense.

  • 1
    And: to keep count of how many questions one has deleted on one day, it's nice to have the deleted questions around. ;-) That said: the question is about answers. But most points are valid for both questions and answers, of course.
    – Arjan
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 16:24
  • 2
    Also, for questions, it's nice to see a reason with the 404 Not Found. Such 404 will often tell one what happened. (Like: deleted by the author, for moderation, ...) To show such reason, at least some traces must be left.
    – Arjan
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 16:25
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    @Arjan First comment -- good point. I generalized some places I said questions to "posts" and corrected my statement about what he asked. I don't really think the content of my answer needs to be changed.
    – agf
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 16:27
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    @Arjan Second comment - I agree, but the content could still be deleted and the reason and title saved.
    – agf
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 16:29
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    True, but I was just adding more reasons to simply keep the full record with some "deleted" flag ;-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 16:30

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