One of the things new users of SO have trouble with is that deleting questions is rarely the right thing to do. I see newcomers:

  • delete a question and ask it again
  • delete a question and ask it again on a better site - Deleting a question and leaving a note to users who may have been writing an answer
  • delete a question and ask a different version of it
  • delete a question if it is closed, or even if it gains the "possible dupe" banner
  • delete a question if it is downvoted
  • delete a question once they have their answer, instead of leaving it for posterity (and keeping the rep gain)

The auto-ban doesn't distinguish between questions that are so bad the community deleted them, and questions a twitchy and ill-informed newcomer deleted, thinking there was no consequence. The FAQ and the "are you sure" dialogs do not mention that deleting questions can lead to a question ban.

I propose that users under 100 rep not be allowed to delete their questions. They may flag them and ask a mod to delete them. They would have to say why. A mod could then direct them to edit the question instead. Or, during the time it took to process the flag (I would not suggest these be high priority flags) the community might edit, retag, and generlly improve the question, and communicate with the poster through comments.

This approach should reduce the number of question bans without increasing the volume of crap. If the question is junk it will be deleted before the flag is even handled. But if it is not junk, just needs some TLC, this will prevent an anxious newcomer from doing the wrong thing.

  • 2
    Or can delete them after few days, and the message you say is come to them automatically if they try to delete it before.
    – Aristos
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:17
  • I would even suggest 200 or 250 rep.
    – hayd
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:18
  • I tend to agree, other than with this. 'delete a question and ask a different version of it' is only wrong on the grounds of deletion, and I would hope you're not advocating changing the substance of a question once asked. Feb 24, 2013 at 17:18
  • @Mr.Disappointment if it has no answers, I wouldn't even mind changing the meaning, but by a different version I mean a rewording or clarification (typically by someone who doesn't grasp our editing paradigm.) Feb 24, 2013 at 17:19
  • Are 1-rep users allowed to flag their own posts? (That's a privilege that requires 15 rep in general, not sure about flagging your own stuff.) If they're not, some adjustment would be necessary.
    – Mat
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:19
  • 4
    The suggestion from @Aristos would also nicely take care of Disallow deletion of questions for 24 hours after last answer was posted, to ensure answers get a chance to be upvoted, to prevent People deleting their own questions once they have an answer.
    – Arjan
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:21
  • @KateGregory I see where you're coming from. I'll leave discussion of opinions on changing the meaning closed. (: Feb 24, 2013 at 17:22
  • 3
    You forgot the most important and horrible mistakes new users make, delete questions once they got an answer! Feb 24, 2013 at 17:29
  • @MadaraUchiha you're right! edited Feb 24, 2013 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


The auto-ban doesn't distinguish between questions that are so bad the community deleted them, and questions a twitchy and ill-informed newcomer deleted, thinking there was no consequence.

Actually, it does. Not to go into too much detail, but... If you delete a question that no one else has put any time into (from the perspective of the system), you're pretty safe. The folks we're concerned about are the ones who ask a question, and then delete it as soon as they get an answer - for whatever reasons, there are folks (and used to be more of them...) who intentionally thwart the very purpose of the site - allowing answers to go on and benefit others. It's overtly abusive behavior, and doing that repeatedly is a really good way for a new user to get blocked.

Going back and cleaning up questions you screwed up on, questions that didn't attract any effort from the rest of the community or that've been growing moss for weeks? Picking up after yourself is good, IMHO - and the system won't penalize you for it.

  • 1
    Don't you have to wait, like, 90 days before you are no longer penalized for a question deletion?
    – user102937
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:49
  • 3
    It's 30 days, and that only matters if someone else has done something to the question besides you.
    – Shog9
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:52
  • 1
    @Shog9 Do comments count as something there? Feb 24, 2013 at 20:21
  • Is there any way you can flag a question for "undeleting" if you still know the question ID ? I answered a question today (question had 3 upvotes, ID 15152476), and the OP ran away with the answer and deleted the question. Needless to say, I'm a little annoyed.
    – us2012
    Mar 1, 2013 at 8:38
  • 2
    @us2012: in general, flag another post for moderator attention and describe what happened along with the post ID (or userID if you don't have the post ID - even your own userID should work in a pinch). I've gone ahead and undeleted this question.
    – Shog9
    Mar 2, 2013 at 19:44
  • 1-rep users can't flag, and allowing them to do so could be abused
  • This would increase the moderator workload, which is already pretty high on SO
  • Flagging to delete a post is not discoverable, new users would not necessarily know that they can do that.

I'd rather try to educate users when they try to delete their post, there should be a notice for new users on when not to delete, and what consequences deleting several questions can have. And if they don't read the notice, they get the question ban.

  • 2
    1-rep users can't comment in general either, but they can comment on their own posts. If they can't already flag their own posts (and I think they can although I don't have a way to check it) that is what I would suggest be added. Feb 24, 2013 at 17:29
  • 2
    And the non discoverable, that's kind of the point. We make it easy to click the "please put me half way to a question ban" button (there have been folks banned with two deleted questions) and hard to click the "please help me make this better" button. Let's flip that. Feb 24, 2013 at 17:30
  • No one can get banned for two deleted questions, @Kate. Two deleted, massively-downvoted closed questions maybe.
    – Shog9
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:49
  • @Shog9 perhaps the formula has changed, but this fellow meta.stackexchange.com/questions/164391/… had just two deleted questions... Feb 24, 2013 at 18:20
  • Two closed and deleted questions, @Kate - plus at least four others of varying quality according to the comments there. Also, those were mod-deleted questions.
    – Shog9
    Feb 24, 2013 at 18:28

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