Why are the reputation points one gets for an answer deleted if the question was deleted? I mean, you made the effort of answering the question with valuable information, spending time for it, and then, just because the question wasn't as good as the answers, you lose reputation.

Seems very unfair to me. (I just lost about 100 points on Stack Overflow.)

  • 24
    Top tip: don't answer questions that are not good enough to be on the site.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:10
  • 13
    @Bart then why does the reversal badge exist?
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:12
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    @Bart the answer should be on the site since it was about a settings property of XCode. The user that made the question just got the idea of that setting wrong. Thus, I corrected him and explained how it really works. People didn't like his point of view about the property and downvoted the question
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:13
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    @djechlin Just because a question is of poor quality and thus is downvoted doesn't mean that the question ought to be closed, or deleted. It's perfectly fine to answer a question of low quality (and thus, with downvotes) but if you know a question should be closed and/or deleted, then you shouldn't answer it. In fact, whether a question should be closed is somewhat independent of its quality. You can have a question with a very high score that is of great quality that simply doesn't belong on SO, and thus should be closed.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:13
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    Do you really think this question should have stayed around longer: stackoverflow.com/questions/16105628/… ? It was racking up flags like crazy. I believe people were voting for your answer more as a counter to the bad assertions of that question, not because of pure technical merit. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:14
  • @simpleBob Answers rarely save a question. The question is what is evaluated and deleted, taking answers with it. If you really think it deserves a good answer, improve the question.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:15
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    @djechlin Downvotes do not necessarily mean "this should not be on the site". Downvote reasons are far broader than that.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:16
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    @simpleBob Reading the question, it's something that doesn't belong. So yes, the problem is the question.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:17
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    Still, from the psychological point of view, I see it like this: if you delete the points of all the users which have participated in the question, the users may get the feeling that it is unfair. I do not think it would be unfair if the points were to stay.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:24
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    @simpleBob Which is perhaps partially why the "pain" is softened by not taking reputation away after a long duration (60 days) if your post had a score of 3 or greater. But anything deleted before that will see your reputation go as well. There is after all nothing around any more to justify that reputation.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:27
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    @simpleBob - As Bart said, for good questions that are removed for reasons of scope (>3 votes on them and older than 60 days) votes are preserved on deletion. In this case, you didn't lose any reputation net, because you got quick sympathy votes for stating a counterpoint to what was effectively a rant, then those were removed when the question was. You gained 60 reputation and lost it in a span of 30 minutes. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:32
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    The way I see it, if you reward people for giving very good answers to questions bad enough to be deleted (as opposed to just closed but left around on the site), it encourages more people to answer these questions, which teaches people who post bad questions that they'll get good answers and should post more bad questions. It's an attractive nuisance.
    – Wooble
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:34
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    We generally don't delete poorly asked questions that have answers which contribute new and useful information, but everything there had been said before. In fact, I swear I've seen a duplicate of that question (without the "Why Apple has so strange politic" incendiary wording). You even link to another explanation of NSZombie in your answer. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:35
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    Reading that question, I really feel like it could (and should) have been quickly edited into shape. (Someone certainly should have taken the "Why Apple have such strange..." out of the title). Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 15:14
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    @simpleBob, I think that their approach is bad because of the following example. Someone posted a question that could be salvageable, I posted an answer that was up voted 3 times. That I edited the question to improve its quality and it was a normal question after edit. But it was removed... even if it was flagged (probably) some times before editing. So, I agree with rule if the reason for deletion is good, but sometimes are removed some normal questions while some worse questions have a lot of up votes only because they are older. Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


just because the question wasn't as good as the answers, you lose reputation.

So spend some time improving the question if it needs it.

The question you seem to be asking about (<10k screenshot) is obviously not a good fit for Stack Overflow: it's a confused and confusing rant focussed on Apple's policies rather than a genuine programming question. This one would be a hard one to save, but if you were so inclined you could try to rewrite it as a question about how to improve stability of iOS applications. The original question relies on "NSZombie" (which should really be NSZombieEnabled), so you could ask about whether there's any way to build an NSZombieEnabled-like system that could work in production code to protect against and maybe even report memory problems.

But there are a number of problems with doing that:

  • It's a lot of work.

  • The OP didn't bother to write a decent question, so why should he or she gain reputation from the work you put into a complete overhaul? It may be better to let the question die and post your own version as a separate question instead.

  • If you do go ahead with the rewrite, the OP or others may roll back your changes because they're too radical. That's not necessarily wrong -- you will, after all, have completely changed the meaning of the question.

Why are the reputation-points one get for an answer deleted if the question was deleted?

The point of deleting a question is to remove it, including any answers, from the site: it's as if it never happened. (Yes, 10K users and moderators can still see it so that material deleted wrongfully can be discussed and possibly restored.) If it never happened, you can't gain rep from it, so it's logical that your reputation should reflect the deletion.

It might help to turn your question around: Imagine an answer that included some material that was downright rude and offensive, and despite that a few users had upvoted that answer because they agreed with it, thought it was funny, whatever. After a little while the answer gets flagged and deleted. Should the author keep the reputation derived from that answer? You'll probably agree with me that they shouldn't.

Okay, but what if instead of being voted up, the answer was instead voted down by civic-minded users who found the answer not useful. Should the author gain back the reputation that they lost due to their awful answer when the answer is deleted? We'd like to punish them for writing such drivel, so no, they shouldn't get their reputation back, right? But that conflicts with our feeling from the previous situation, and things start to get complicated.

If you want authors of deleted answers to keep upvotes for good answers and downvotes for bad answers when their answer is deleted, someone has to determine whether the answer was truly good or bad and then somehow mark the answer as still counting or not counting in the reputation calculation. That process will by its nature lack transparency and open moderators to criticism about favoritism and whatnot. The right solution, really, is to eliminate deleted questions and answers from reputation calculations and let the chips fall where they may.

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