I have meticulously read through similar questions, answers and their comments but I still do not understand how the deletion is done. From what I understand I email the customer service and then they do what exactly?

1) They disable my account so that I can no longer use it?

2) They reassign all of my questions and answers to some other account? To which one?

3) They delete all my questions and answers so that they go away from public view?

What is the flexibility (if it exists) of the deletion procedure? Is it possible to erase the traces of my former association with the site. Can I request any of the following be done?

4) All of my questions and answers be deleted from public view?

5) Some of my questions and answers be deleted? If yes what criteria?

6) Can I have all of my contributions be assigned to some other account which runs as sort of a "collective account" and already has tons of content so that it doesn't happen like my contributions just move to some other url but still stay grouped under that location and therefore that location can be discovered as representing my account?

7) Can I have my contributions dispersed through several "collective accounts?

8) Can my current public name be removed from any comments to my posts so that my posts cannot be identified later as once belonging to me?

Please be polite with me. I wouldn't have asked if I have found the answer in the other questions. The other questions are also old and it is not clear what the situation is as per 05/2012.

UPDATE (for those interested):

I asked the Stackoverflow team about the procedure. Apparently none of the points 2-8 I asked above are possible, only 1 will take place. The link to my user page from my contributions is going to be removed and replaced with non-clickable text of an anonymized user name like "user1234". Whether this number is the same as my current user_id is not clear. That's all the information I got.

I'm going now to rename myself to "Anonymous" then request the account deletion. Those interested in the procedure will witness the exact result on this page.


  • 20
    You can't get rid of your posts by deleting your account (due to the license). And quit-mass-deletions of posts are reversed Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:51
  • 1
    Has there been a trend already of people leaving en masse and wiping out their content?
    – user136634
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:18
  • 4
    @DeveloperArt I wouldn't call it a trend, but it happens once in a while. I don't immediately recall any such ragequits from users with a lot of contributions, but I'm sure there's probably been some.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:21
  • 1
    I'm sorry you're leaving, and I bid you good tidings in your road ahead. Commented May 10, 2012 at 17:58
  • @BoltClock's a Unicorn: Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it.
    – user136634
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


There are two options: Delete and Destroy.

Destroy is an option used on spammers. Their account is anonymized (the user's account information is all removed, including their name, email, website, about me, etc) and all of their posts are deleted. This can only be done to users with a very low reputation, unless you are a Stack Exchange employee. Therefore, if there is an urgent and valid reason for account destruction, and you have lots of rep, a mod cannot do this. You must make your case to team@stackoverflow.

Delete is more forgiving. When you delete an account, the account is anonymized (as above), and only negatively-scored posts are deleted. All of your posts (deleted and not) just appear to come from some anonymous user who doesn't have an account anymore. Again, there is a rep cap for mods attempting to delete. If your account has too much rep, you have to go to team@stackoverflow.

Either way, you will no longer be able to log into your account. You lose all rep and badges. You will no longer own any of your posts.

To answer your other questions quickly,

4) Not unless you're a filthy dirty spammer.
5) Only if nothing of value is lost. This has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
6, 7) Only with the help of SE employees (more on this below)
8) Probably not without the help of SE employees

If you wish to erase your footprints, the only allowed method is to edit your posts to remove anything that hints at who you are, without destroying content. That means you have to replace what you remove with the same information, but with a different context that cannot be identified as coming from you. Failure to do this may result in your post being reverted and locked. You must do this prior to your account being deleted.

As for @you comments, those have to be removed by SE employees. I don't think any mod wants to spend hours doing something a query or two can handle.

All posts will appear to come from the same anonymous user. Only team members have the ability to alter this. You would have to request this via team@, but I'd give it a low chance of success.

  • Would it be okay if I deleted some 30-50% of my posts which in my opinion do not carry any particular value (basically deprecated or overcome by later more thorough answers)?
    – user136634
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:17
  • @DeveloperArt: Possibly. They might end up undeleted. But if they have a low score and there are better answers, then its probably ok.
    – user1228
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:27
  • 1
    Won't (no pun intended) disassociated posts keep the last username which was set in the profile? Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:31
  • 2
    @Kobobby: No, they get anonymized. However I don't (99% sure) believe this includes comments. Comments are denormalized, so that @you will still say @you.
    – user1228
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:43
  • I'm 100% sure that comments will not change, they're pure text after all and the @-stuff is only past directly after sending and I'd be very surprised if there was still a reference to the user (Id vise) left. Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:45
  • @Kobobby: It can be done via an update query with a completely non-performant where clause. I (99%) believe they don't bother slaughtering the database in order to fix comments.
    – user1228
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:48
  • I'm 99% sure they'd rather run a TRUNCATE before running such an UPDATE on the database. Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:53
  • 2
    @Kobobby: I'm (99%) sure we have reached consensus on this matter.
    – user1228
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:58
  • 1
    @Won't what happens to the 2K votes that were made by Developer Art? Commented May 7, 2012 at 16:15
  • 1
    @SomeHelpfulCommenter: Hell, I don't care. You have them. What I want is the 35k rep he has on SO!
    – user1228
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 19:15
  • 5
    @Won't I'd like that too, but I was trying to point out that you omitted that votes are destroyed too. Also I don't know what happens to bouties that the user intitated Commented May 7, 2012 at 19:59
  • Is this post OBE?
    – msh210
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:03
  • 1
    It would be helpful to expand this post with a clarification that content that's already in the data dumps will not be anonymized and can therefore still be traced back by someone who's dedicated enough.
    – E.P.
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:07
  • @episanty: Go for it.
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 14:02
  • When an account is deleted (not destroyed), what happens to questions with negative score that have received a positive-score answer by someone else? Do they get deleted with their answers? That would seem a poor choice to me: those answers are deemed to be useful for the community, and someone put effort in writing them. Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:48

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