Every now and again, some troll comes along and posts a answer like:

I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here> I hate xxx, xxx is <insert profanity here>.

These answers get deleted fast, but...
Having 20k+ rep, I have to look at this nonsense.

enter image description here

Is there an option to permanently/hard delete hate answers posts, so they go away, or must we look at them for all eternity?

Option 1: hard delete
Note that I'm not asking for automated tools, but moderators should have the option to nuke a post only if it's entirely free of any informational content whatsoever

Option 2: allow moderators to edit a deleted post
As per David's suggestion, an option to allow moderators to edit a hate post would fix the problem whilst leaving an audit trail, something like:

enter image description here

This option has the advantage that the problem is solved, but nothing is permanently erased, because the edit history is still there in case you want to check what all the fuss is about.


Fixed in build (rev 2013.10.8.1061).

  • 8
    Easy solution: give away your rep via bounties! Problem solved! – Joachim Sauer Sep 12 '13 at 10:39
  • You don't see them in the lists when they get refreshed. Would be the same with nuked posts. – juergen d Sep 12 '13 at 10:39
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    Run for moderator, get elected, nuke from orbit. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 10:40
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    @Oded: But then he has to look at them too :) – juergen d Sep 12 '13 at 10:40
  • Wondering how you would distinguish these from other deleted answers...? In an automated way? – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 10:41
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    So, essentially you are asking for a hard delete option. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 10:42
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    Which will never happen, I hope. – Frédéric Hamidi Sep 12 '13 at 10:42
  • @juergend, do you mean they disappear? because that's not what I'm seeing. – Johan - reinstate Monica Sep 12 '13 at 10:43
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    @juergend - As a +10k user, when you go to a question, you see all deleted answers as well (though with a highlight and at the bottom). I believe the OP wants to not see this kind of deleted post, ever. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 10:46
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    @juergend - They are not common. And deleted items are only visible to a tiny number of users, so... not sure if this will ever get implemented. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 10:50
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    @Oded The tiny number of users are also the ones that visit the site the most and have a disproportionate number of page views. – David Heffernan Sep 12 '13 at 11:06
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    @DavidHeffernan - sure. And I appreciate where you are coming from, after yesterday's occurrences. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 11:08
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    Please don't flag the deleted posts as "offensive" or "spam". If you can see them you can edit them. – ChrisF Sep 12 '13 at 11:16
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    What about just hiding it? (click on a link and it will be shown). Or a "I don't want to see deleted content" mode? – Johannes Kuhn Sep 12 '13 at 11:54
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    Deleted answers that have been marked as spam/offensive are hidden now. – Oded Nov 5 '13 at 12:16

In my opinion this nuking option would be easy enough to implement. There's no need for a permanent deletion. All that's needed is for the moderators to be able to automatically make an edit to the content. That edit would replace the offensive text with something explaining what had happened, and pointing out that the edit history contained the original text.

The moderator presumably deletes in an automated way. All it takes is for there to be a different form of deletion that replaces content with innocuous placeholder text instead of the abusive text.

The problem doesn't happen that often, but it is quite frustrating when it does occur. Deleted answers are only visible to a small fraction of the users, but its the small fraction of the users that visit the site the most. So the impact may be more severe than one might imagine.

As somebody who was personally abused in this way recently, I would have appreciated the feature. However, I don't think it's that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

  • Good suggestion, that would leave the audit trail intact whilst still solving the problem. – Johan - reinstate Monica Sep 12 '13 at 11:03
  • Mods can edit deleted posts. – Oded Sep 12 '13 at 11:14
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    @Oded - 10Ks too – hims056 Sep 12 '13 at 11:16
  • Don't really agree. Just get rid of the thing. What possible value is there to knowing that there was a spammy answer added to the post? 99.99999999999999999% of the time, none. I doubt that the amount of times you even do need to know is that high (meaning, I'm guessing it's 100%). – casperOne Sep 12 '13 at 12:28
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    @casperOne If a user is banned/suspended as a result of such actions and appeals the action it's important that a record is kept of the inappropriate posts. For that reason you can't hard delete the content entirely. – Servy Sep 12 '13 at 14:05
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    @casperOne - I know I frequently search against deleted posts to determine if this is a pattern of spam, as well as to find user accounts that need to be deleted. When the community auto-deletes spam via flags, we aren't notified, and we may need to step in to remove everything else a spammer or troll has posted. It also helps for gathering information about patterns of account behavior so that we might be able to take lower-level action. This is why I somewhat resist editing the content of spam that's been deleted, so that I can search for it at a later date. – Brad Larson Sep 12 '13 at 15:00
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    @BradLarson These should all be back end reports, not part of the actual page. They should be given a different flag to indicate "don't show on the main site". Maybe not hard delete them, but not have them on the main site. – casperOne Sep 12 '13 at 19:05
  • @casperOne - I wonder if we could make the deleted search operator work on original versions of posts, rather than their final edited state. The final version could be edited safely to obscure the original spam or offensive content. An intermediary state between hard deleted and visible to non-moderators also makes sense. – Brad Larson Sep 12 '13 at 19:08
  • Also, David, I'm really sorry for the abuse you've experienced lately. We're trying to deal with this guy as best we can. – Brad Larson Sep 12 '13 at 19:10
  • @BradLarson Thank you. It's not bothered me at all as it happens. I've got enough of a thick skin to cope. And I know that I'm a smart alec with a very direct style of commenting. So I'm sure I wind a lot of people up by speaking my mind. Not that it justifies the abuse, but I guess that's why I've been singled out. It's really important that SO remains very easy for people to post questions on. So I guess it's going to be hard to stop things like this altogether. More important to continue letting unregistered and newly registered users post. – David Heffernan Sep 12 '13 at 19:15

Hard deletion doesn't work well with community moderation, it is an irreversible action that cannot be reviewed by the community. There is a hard-deletion like feature available (which only removes revisions, but not entire posts), but SE does not even trusts the moderators with this. Putting hard-deletion in the hands of moderators would be dangerous enough, putting it in the hands of the community would be far too easy to abuse.

I think it would make sense though to collapse deleted answers under certain conditions. For example answers that were removed as spam by a moderator, or also those removed by the community after a certain delay. The answers would still be available after another click, but hidden by default.

  • Why not have Community edit the content of a spam post to "Spam deleted"? – Manishearth Sep 12 '13 at 11:12
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    I would do that for every deleted answers. They are already shown after all the non-deleted answers, so collapsing them is not difficult. Even as moderator, I don't need to get them in my face all the times. I just need to know there are deleted answers; if then I need to see what kind of answers have been deleted, I simply click. I would like something like it is done for comments: A link tells me there are deleted comments, and I see them when I click the link. – kiamlaluno Sep 12 '13 at 11:13
  • @Manishearth That is a bad idea. – kiamlaluno Sep 12 '13 at 11:14

Isn't it possibly useful leaving these in place for mod reasons, to see what a user previously posted, perhaps?

Either way, as it's just so you don't have to see them anymore as they're offensive/nasty looking/pointless, instead of nuking, why not just hide them with JS and instead have a text link with username/date, something like:
'SPAM/HATE - James - June 12 '03'

The link would still only visible to mods/10K+ users, etc of course, and would be placed wherever the answer would have been placed. It's discreet and one can ignore them, or clicking it to reveal the entire answer/votes/etc, in case you want to see it, for whatever reason.

Though from what I've read I doubt the frequency of this occurrence or severity of the issue is likely to get anything done (soon). Unless you can think of an additional use for such a function - like doing this for all deleted/on hold/whatever answers so older than 6 months?

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