This site (Stack Exchange family of sites) is here for its users. Without users, these sites will not have any activity (OK, I'm done stating the bleeding obvious).

So why is deleted content totally inaccessible? (unless you're a 10k user, which frankly requires too much of a heavy time commitment to get to on all sites). Sometimes you are following a curiosity, like the question someone got a reversal badge for, and you're met with this brick wall:


That sucks. I want to know what he got the reversal badge for! Why do you even have reversal badges then? Reversal is: "Provided answer of +20 score to a question of -5 score". But due to moderator behavior, a question of -5 score is almost certainly doomed to deletion. So what is the point of having a badge that is almost always going to end up in dead links?

Deleted questions should have the same interface as closed questions. You can't interact with the page at all, but you can view its contents.

I realize I am beating a dead pony here, but deleting things that have received any positive attention (in terms of votes - in questions or in the response area) should not be the case.

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    Speaking on behalf of all the <10K's out there... yes please :) – Lix May 6 '12 at 20:31
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    I'm curious what causes the (post deleted or otherwise unavailable) message to appear. Obviously it's not automatic for all deleted posts, since some still appear in the list. – animuson May 6 '12 at 20:33
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    It has not necessarily been a mod who deleted it. – Daniel Fischer May 6 '12 at 20:33
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    +1 I don't know if it should be available to anybody, but 10k is way too much for my taste. Once a user knows which questions he can ask and which not, there's no point in preventing him from seeing deleted questions (except some very specific cases). – Dennis May 6 '12 at 20:48
  • Downvoters, please realize that you have made my reputation 3337 as of now. Cough cough, that's right. – bobobobo May 7 '12 at 1:23
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    At least put the deleted questions (back) in the API or Data Explorer. This will keep them safe from most low rep eyes, but still let more dedicated users see them in a way. (Even dedicated users aren't going to get 10K rep on all 83+ sites!!!) Deleted Q's should be in SEDE anyway, to allow better strategies for identifying and dealing with bad Q's to be tested. – Awesome Poodles May 7 '12 at 2:58
  • I missed two Reversal badges in a single day because of speedy deletions. – BoltClock's a Unicorn May 7 '12 at 11:30
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    For some reason, when I see questions with good content deleted out of a religious zeal to make the site fit some standard (not, of course, because the deleter wanted the badge or points) I can't help but think "[citation needed]". – SamGoody May 8 '12 at 8:06

So, in contradiction to my comment I want to put forward an opinion against this.

Deleted content should not be shown to the "general public" of "casual users" because, deleted or not - if the content is readily accessible on the site it is as if it was actually not deleted. The fact that it has a nice DELETED sign on it or that you can't click on anything is irrelevant. The content is there and that contradicts the meaning of the label it was given - DELETED.

The (ingenious) design of the site and its privileges system spreads out the users into groups and allows only the most committed to perform tasks of moderation. Even if you manage to get to 2K to freely make edits and then start defacing the site - you'll be banned out right.

You simply won't reach 10K if you don't commit to it. If you don't make some sort of effort to conform to the rules and at the same time provide great content. Once you reach that 10K barrier the system trusts you enough to moderate even the deleted content even still only allowing you to vote to delete or un-delete. Be sure that even after you pass 10K someone can come along and flag one of your posts for moderator attention because they feel that you are abusing your privileges on the site.

I wouldn't want people just arriving on the site (or in their early careers) on the site to be able to see that "bad" deleted content. To think that maybe, its acceptable. After all - any one can just come and see this "deleted" content...

Perhaps 10K is too high a bar? Perhaps not... In any case it was the magic number chosen for that privilege. Maybe 5K would have been enough - there is nothing "wrong" with the way it is now, sure your curiosity may get the better of you but doesn't that make you want to answer more questions and get there already? That's part of my motivation at least.

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    Thats true you don't want people to think they can just post garbage and it'll stay here forever even if its deleted. – UNECS May 6 '12 at 23:53
  • Almost 100% of the most popular questions on SO have been deleted (best programmer joke, best cartoons, best comments, etc, etc). These pages were NOT bad, they just weren't the focus of the site. Making them completely inaccessible for the many many users who used to refer to them, especially considering the value they added to the site and the amount of time and effort people put into using them, borders on evil. IMHO. – SamGoody May 7 '12 at 7:59
  • If anything, let there be a offtopic.stackoverflow.com, or deleted.stackoverflow.com. At the very least, if a question has a positive rep, it means people liked it - it should be stored somewhere – SamGoody May 7 '12 at 8:00
  • @sam - I agree with you about the deleted question archive, and there are others that agree with us too. But however valuable the content, we don't want people to think that they can ask those open ended opinion soliciting questions... Archiving deleted questions was even mentioned in the last podcast... – Lix May 7 '12 at 8:36
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    @SamGoody: Programmer Cartoons - note that we now have a mechanism for preserving questions that aren't great examples but retain value in some form. – Shog9 May 7 '12 at 8:54
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    +1 because that's exactly what I wanted to say. But I'm against lowering that bar. 10k estimates at ~50 days of activity, which is fine for me. We should also not forget that those questions everyone whines about are most likely 0.1% (if it is even that much) of the deleted content...and that only counts for SO. The rest is...well...shouldn't waste space on the harddisks anyway. Seeing deleted questions is nice, but over-estimated in my opinion. If you find dead-links in questions, answers and duplicates, fix or report them. – Time Traveling Bobby May 7 '12 at 9:40
  • @Shog9 - what is the system? I was looking for the "best comments" post, how do I find it? Kobobby - If you are a Java or C dev, it could be 50 days to get 10K. As a web developer, I have been the chosen answer several time, but consider it a good day if I can get 30 rep from that. So it's not fair for us long tail developers. – SamGoody May 7 '12 at 20:21
  • @Sam: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/126587/… - note that the "best comments" question (stackoverflow.com/questions/184618/…) is still deleted. – Shog9 May 7 '12 at 22:56
  • @Shog9 Thanks for the response, but "historical" doesn't mean value. IMHO, the benefit of the joke pages is not as a time waster (no benefit in that), but to prove that a certain practice or method is being done wrong, misunderstood, etc. ATM, I am trying to dissuade the office not to get involved with the Acrobat spec, and I remember a very telling rant against it somewhere, perhaps in the best comments or in the best joke page (also deleted, despite being historical). Being as you have way over 10K, could I ask of you to check for said comment and email it to me if it exists? Please? – SamGoody May 8 '12 at 7:40

The content that gets deleted is deleted for a reason. That's why it's invisible or inaccessible.

It's only shown to 10k+ users for damage-control purposes. If someone (e.g., a moderator, a couple of 20k+ users with delete powers, or the person who originally posted the content) went on a rampage and deleted a whole bunch of content, the only way we would know is if the system tracked their actions. And the only way we could get it back is if all deletions were "soft" the way they are now.

The reason this ability to view deleted content is limited to 10k+ users is because it's a moderation tool, and users with lower reputation are not trusted with moderation powers.

You're thinking of this the wrong way around. It isn't shown it to 10k+ users as a "reward" and hidden from everyone else as a "punishment". It's gone for a reason, and that's how you should think of it.

Deleted questions should have the same interface as closed questions. You can't interact with the page at all, but you can view it's contents.

If this effect were desired, the question would just be closed in the first place, rather than deleted.

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