I know that answering my own questions is appreciated (I was also answering this to others), but, what if the question is really trivial, so trivial it can be found in the manual? Shall I delete it?

I would delete it right away but I've heard that by deleting questions you might get penalized. But in this case no one has invested an effort in my question and probably never will...

EDIT: thank you for all your responses, they encouraged me to keep the question there. You are absolutely right it allmost surely will be useful to someone - because many people, as well as myself, when they have problem they start by typing it into google, instead of studying the docs. I've been sometimes downvoted for stating this approach but thats just how are fast society works. Google is faster than searching any docs, especially in combo with Stackoverflow...

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    I would say: "no". This was really a trivial mistake, but one that can be made by anyone (who lives in a country where the separator is ,).
    – Dariusz
    Aug 5, 2013 at 13:26
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    At least you came back and answered it, even if it was trivial. Better than than you just came back and added a comment saying "OK, forget about this I've solved it myself" and left it at that. That is the worst thing to do.
    – JonW
    Aug 5, 2013 at 13:28
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    I see nothing wrong with keeping the question and answer around. Aug 5, 2013 at 13:42
  • @CodyGray that's what JonW said ;)
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 14:43
  • thank you all for your responses, please see updated question for my response.
    – Tomas
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


Don't be too quick... but if you think it really is extremely trivial, that might not be a bad idea. If it isn't likely to be helpful, and is too basic, it wouldn't hurt to delete it, and it would save you from some potential future down votes. But just take a moment to consider if the question and answer would be useful to someone who had already done some due-diligence searching.

As for deletion causing you to be penalized, I wouldn't worry about that at your stage. Deletion in and of itself doesn't hurt (it's the secondary effect that deletion causes), but you have too much decent content for that to hurt you. Way too much :)

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    thanks Andrew, please follow my question for response
    – Tomas
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:19

I think if you want to delete it, that is OK, but I would leave it the way it is. The question is well formatted and as you mentioned, there is no problem with answering your own question.

I think other people may have the same question you did. Many questions on Stack Overflow are trivial and they can be found in manuals/books, but they are still useful as a shortcut.

Besides, your reputation speaks for itself. If the fact that your question was trivial bothers you, you'll know to be more cautious next time.

  • This is correct. There is no set criteria that determines if the OP should delete it. It's ultimately up to them. Just like votes. If the OP wants to delete it, that's there thing. We shouldn't decide for them. It's pretty much just ethics (I think). Voting is your thing. If you downvote a good question or answer, you pay the price of a -1 and a user of the community suffers a -2. If you delete a good question, that's your thing. You pay the price. If you need to reference it again, tough luck. The community loses a good question though.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 14:51
  • Thanks Andre, see my updated question for response. Your second paragraph is exactly what I think! Though many will bash me for this approach, Google->Stackoverflow is always faster than looking into the docs :-)
    – Tomas
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:18

If you think the answer will be useful to others, leave it.

If you think it won't be useful to anyone else then delete it.

If you're not sure if it will be useful to others then wait a short while, see how many views it gets and what votes it gets; if the responses are positive (it gets some views and positive votes) then leave it; it's likely to help some people. If it gets virtually no views, or mostly negative votes when it's viewed, then the community seems to think it's not helpful content; unless you feel strongly that it will be useful for some users despite this, it's probably best to just delete it.

  • -1 for encouraging deletion in certain cases. The only reason to delete it now is if it is badly written, on the verge of closing, etc. NOT because it's not of use to anyone. I've ran into many problems that I think no one else could have, then I Google and come here and there's an answer. I mean, it's like magic, amirite?
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 14:45
  • @ColeJohnson And the reason that you'd want to delete the question in the cases you just gave is precisely because the question wouldn't be of use to anyone. The fact that it's poorly written would just be a reason it's not useful to anyone, and that it's about to be closed is just a potential indicator that others feel that it wouldn't be useful to anyone. As I myself stated, you can rely on those indicators if you don't know if it will be useful. Note I didn't say that you should delete a question just because it's not useful to you, but rather if it wouldn't be useful to anyone.
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 14:57
  • I remember with the old close reasons, questions that wouldn't be of use to anyone were close as (I believe) too localized. Now with these new close reasons, the text isn't meant strictly (as evident by my two "rethinking audit selection" questions).
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:00
  • @ColeJohnson There are a large number of reasons that a question might not be useful to anyone else. Having a very narrow scope (i.e. "too localized") is one possibility. Another is that the question is just so garbled that it's just not understandable. Another is that the information is easily accessible elsewhere already (possibly on the same site, possibly not). There are many other reasons beyond even those. Note that there is a difference (in degree) from deleting another's question vs deleting your own.
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:05
  • +1 for encouraging deletion in certain cases.
    – Pekka
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:14
  • @Servy but if it's answerable, then it can be edited to not be garbled.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:09
  • @ColeJohnson What? Where did I say that such a question would be answerable?
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:11
  • You didn't. The OP did. He asked, if he asks a question and finds the answer on his own, should he post an answer or delete the question. I was referencing that. If the question is illegible, but you can deduce what they meant from an answer, you could edit the question to make it legible.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:16
  • @ColeJohnson Potentially, yes. Assuming the answer is legible. Clearly that's not the issue here, I was discussing the general case of reasons any question might be deleted, moving beyond this one example. A question might be deleted because it's illegible, it may not even have an answer.
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:18
  • @Servy in that case, if the OP hasn't come back and helped himself, then we should delete it. Your answer read to me as if we should delete it just because it wouldn't be useful to anyone. My argument to that was that I've experience problems that I thought no one else would experience. This site proved me wrong many times. Just because you don't think it'll be useful to anyone doesn't mean anything. If the community thinks it does by not downvoting it or by up voting it, then we should keep it. If you want to edit your answer to address my argument, I'll remove my downvote.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:40
  • @ColeJohnson My post is specifically not addressing the case of people deleting another's post. It is specifically addressing the case of when you should delete your own post. You should delete your own post if you feel that it won't be useful to anyone else. I described how, if you're not sure if your post will be useful to others, how you can help determine it's usefulness (i.e. relying on votes). If your experience has shown that you aren't a good judge of what others will find useful, feel free to err on the side of not deleting, but the site's goal is as I stated.
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:43
  • @Servy it appears we are having a miscommunication. I never intended it to sound like we should delete other's question in a situation like the OP's. I was referring to illegible questions that the OP abandons. He asks the question then never comes back. Those we should delete.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:55
  • @ColeJohnson And I specifically said that I'm not discussing such cases at all. They are entirely offtopic and none of my statements apply to such cases at all. I'm intentionally not bringing up such cases to avoid confusion about talking about self-deletion and deletion of other's content at the same time.
    – Servy
    Aug 5, 2013 at 18:59

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