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Why do we need to keep deleted posts on the websites even if they are deleted by moderators or the user himself?

Agreed that a deleted post can be edited and can be undeleted later but some of the posts are just crap, probably on popular questions which are not protected, and answers like thank you, I was looking for same etc..

When users say why my question/answer was deleted/closed so some users reply that On StackOverflow we think that not every bit of data is important and so we close/delete them, so why keep them? Technically, StackOverflow is changing the post status to deleted that are only available to users with 10K rep.

According to me, Deleted Posts should be ACTAULLY deleted after 60 days of last activity, because if user wanted to edit his/her answer he will do it in a weeks time and not months, also editing the answer, which will be similar to other correct answers on that page doesn't make any sense either(Unless he edits on that very day or few days later with some extra info). Also if he has deleted and have no plans to edit even in 60 days so that shows the user doesn't care to edit later too..

Agreed that only users with 10K rep can see them but we anyways keep them, so my question is why are we retaining those answers which are of no use?

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    Why remove them? They could potentially be relevant to meta, mods, or anything else.
    – user206222
    May 10, 2013 at 5:18
  • Deletion means a soft delete, not a hard delete, that's why it is still visible to 10K users and moderators. Generally nothing hard delete from database, unless it is very hardly required.
    – Lucifer
    May 10, 2013 at 5:19
  • @KnightswhosayNi This is not a baby site, deleting those answers will impact smaller DB size
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:19
  • It is also worth noting that we actually do very, very rarely hard delete. Boat programming is a good example.
    – user206222
    May 10, 2013 at 5:20
  • @Lucifer That's what I am asking why do we need to keep answers like Thank you and other similar answers
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:20
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    @Mr Alien: Exactly, it's not a baby site. We have more than enough disk space for thousands of man-years of content. May 10, 2013 at 5:21
  • It is always fun to read someone else's mistakes is what I say!
    – hjpotter92
    May 10, 2013 at 5:21
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn Agreed, but keeping data which is not useful/irrelevant doesn't make sense either
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:21
  • @Mr.Alien Nor is the site so strapped for cash that it can't afford the few gigabytes of extra space to hold deleted questions.
    – user206222
    May 10, 2013 at 5:21
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    @Mr. Alien: How is the system - or even we - supposed to decide which content is irrelevant enough to delete? May 10, 2013 at 5:21
  • @KnightswhosayNi Do you keep files in your PC which are of no use, instead of answering my question, we guys are debating, I want a simple answer that why do we need to keep posts like Thank you or other similar answers
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:22
  • So you'd like to destroy potentially valuable (either inherently or historically) information and your only argument is saving a trivial amount of disk space? Not going to happen.
    – Jeremy
    May 10, 2013 at 5:23
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn Mod's can decide, answers which are with deleted status for more than 60 days can be deleted with a cron, or we can increase 60 - 120
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:25
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    @Mr.Alien I have backups from 2002, even though I couldn't care less what's in them.
    – user206222
    May 10, 2013 at 5:26
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    @Mr. Alien: What does a cron job have to do with the time I waste agonizing over whether a post should be hard deleted or not? May 10, 2013 at 5:27

1 Answer 1

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One good reason: keeping a history.

When performing moderator duties, I will very often peruse a user's content to detect patterns. Deleted content is very important, there.

Also, some content is deleted in error. Soft-deletion means we can always correct such errors.

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  • One small question : do we hard delete spam kind of post or it is also get soft deleted ?
    – Lucifer
    May 10, 2013 at 5:27
  • @Lucifer: Also soft. May 10, 2013 at 5:28
  • @lucifer What boltclock said; for the reasons I note above. If someone posts something spammy, it's useful to know if it was a one-time thing, or a repeated issue. May 10, 2013 at 5:30
  • Yea, I wanted this answer, this makes sense that it helps mods to track the user activities
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:31
  • @Lucifer: Unless the content is sensitive, then the revision might be edited to remove the sensitive content. (I don't know whether it is soft or hard, but one thing for sure is that it is no longer visible to 10k users. Spam posts and the likes are still visible to 10k users).
    – nhahtdh
    May 10, 2013 at 5:32
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    And here we go, we have all other answers deleted....
    – Mr. Alien
    May 10, 2013 at 5:36
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    @MrAlien Isn't that ironic! Don't you think? ;) May 10, 2013 at 5:40
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    Is a site like this even legally allowed to hard-delete content? Besides the whole history thing I'm not sure if there is a legal restriction on the deletion of data.
    – Bart
    May 10, 2013 at 8:10
  • @Bart That's an interesting point. I know there are times (such as copyright infringement) when Stack Exchange is actually required to delete content (though, 'hard delete'? I don't know). I don't know what, if any, circumstances there might be when they cannot delete things, though. May 10, 2013 at 16:29
  • @nhahtdh Good point; I believe those edits are actually deleted from the database entirely. They are certainly deleted such that not even ♦ moderators can see them. May 10, 2013 at 16:31

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