Problem statement

I was working on a question yesterday, and finally posted an answer with working code. Probably, the question might not have been of the best quality (maybe my anser wasn't either), and while I was working on my answer, the question got downvoted to at least -5. Nevertheless, there were some interesting details about Java Generics which I think would be worth retaining.

This morning, I do not see my answer in my profile anymore. Neither do I see the comments I posted on the question. My assumption is that the question was deleted, but anyway there is not the slightest sign anywhere in my profile that I have ever spent any effort on this question. This is somewhat frustrating...

I found the following discussions with similar background (probably there are more):

but I think they only partially cover this. From my perspective, there are two things which should be considered:

  • Notification of deletion - I would like to see at least some sort of feedback when an answer gets deleted for whatever reason - as said above, my assumption is that the whole question has been deleted, but there is nothing which proves or disproves this assumption.

  • Retaining content - when people spend time on answers, they should still have access to the content even if the answer gets deleted for whatever reason. At Send authors a courtesy copy when questions or answers are deleted, @Gilles brought it to the point: "... do leave people's content accessible in some passive way, from their profile (which is the place they'd look naturally)"

Concrete proposal

From the comments, I learned that the data from my answer's posting is still there in the SO database. Also it seems that there is a large community support for solutions to the above problem. I am certainly overseeing some (technical) details, but from an SO user's perspective, I would like to propose to retain deleted answers in the profile's "answers" tab and highlight them similar like deleted posts are highlighted: Enhanced answers tab

This would solve both topics described above:

  • Notification of deletion - I, as a user, immediately see that my answer has been deleted.
  • Retaining content - I, as a user, can still navigate to the answer I posted (and which, even today, is still in the database, but can not be found easily).
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    if you keep the URL of your answer (eg in browser history), it can be seen using "edit hack": use any edit URL as a template and put there an ID of your answer – gnat Jun 19 '13 at 11:06
  • @gnat Thanks, will try that - don't have the necessary history in my current browser – Andreas Fester Jun 19 '13 at 11:21
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    I think there is a lot of community support for this kind of idea (which has been mentioned before in several different forms), I think this answer pretty much has been the standing answer for most of these types of feature requests. – psubsee2003 Jun 19 '13 at 12:50
  • stackoverflow.com/a/17177766/1228 – user1228 Jun 19 '13 at 13:45
  • @Won't Thanks for the link ;) - I assume that you were able to find it due to special moderator rights? Together with the hack mentioned by gnat, I could even access my answer ... So, given the fact that the data is still in the system, it should be possible to show up this link in the "answers" tab of my profile ... (probably with a special background color) – Andreas Fester Jun 19 '13 at 13:53
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    @Andreas: I do agree, and did +1, btw. Just skimming while installing sql server... – user1228 Jun 19 '13 at 13:59
  • @Andreas It's certainly possible. The SE team has specifically stated that they don't want to do this. It's a very explicit decision to hide these links, even for 10k users who can see the post if they have a link. – Servy Jun 19 '13 at 14:16
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    @Servy I suppose you are referring to Jeff's answer at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2645/…? – Andreas Fester Jun 19 '13 at 14:21
  • @Andreas That, and the issue has been brought up dozens of times between then and now; the decision has never been reversed. – Servy Jun 19 '13 at 14:31

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