Some questions or answers can take a while to write. For example, I had written a question on http://productivity.stackexchange.com, and one day it got silently deleted, meaning I cannot access it any more (luckily I had a backup, without all the links that used to be though).

Why don't you notify the author about the deletion, and send the removed content by email? I find that removing content and leaving no access to it without warning is highly disrespectful to the people who took the time to write it.

Here is the question I had asked that got removed. As you can see, it would have been painful for me to re-write the whole question if I hadn't saved it:

Question: Are there any recent results on the performances of head tracking devices used to move the mouse cursor in comparison with traditional mice? (e.g. using Fitts's law)

Question's details: As I use a head tracking device to move the mouse cursor for efficiency purpose, I was curious to know whether the Fitts's law can be applied to it (i.e. is not restricted to hands). Fitts's law says "Fitts' law has been shown to apply under a variety of conditions, with many different limbs (hands, feet, head-mounted sights, eye gaze)". The wiki entry has some interesting references:

Errol R., Hoffmann (1991) "A comparison of hand and foot movement times". Ergonomics, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 397-406 >A comparison of hand and foot movement times. (foot vs hand results are clearly presented)

So, R. H. Y. and Griffin, M. J. (2000) "Effects of target movement direction cue on head-tracking performance". Ergonomics, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 360–376. >Effects of a target movement direction cue on hea... [Ergonomics. 2000] (head moves aren't used to move a cursor)

So, R. H. Y. and Cheung, K. M., (2002) "Combined and interacting effects of hand and head movement lags on discrete manual performance in a virtual environment." Ergonomics, 45, 2002, pp. 105–123. > http://www-ieem.ust.hk/dfaculty/so/pdf/So+Chung-2002-ergonomics.pdf (head moves aren't used to move a cursor)

So, R. H. Y., Cheung, K. M. and Goonetilleke, R. S. (1999) "Target-directed head movements in a head-coupled virtual environment: predicting the effects of lags using Fitts' law". Human Factors, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1999, pp. 474–486. > Target-directed head movements in a head-coupled... [Hum Factors. 1999] (head moves are used to move a cursor but a lag is introduced and there is no direct comparison with hands. Also I don't have access to the full article.)

I skimmed through them but it seems like none of them address the performances of a head tracking device to move the mouse cursor. Furthermore they are pretty old and I don't know to what extent those results can be extended for hands-free mouse performances. Lastly for whatever reason most of them seem to focus on lag / delay. Are there any recent results on the performances of head tracking devices used to move the mouse cursor in comparison with traditional mice?

The best I have found so far is Ashdown, Mark, Kenji Oka, and Yoichi Sato. "Combining head tracking and mouse input for a GUI on multiple monitors." CHI'05 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 2005. Combining head tracking and mouse input for a GUI on multiple monitors, but results seem preliminary, don't use Fitts's law, and anyway just use head tracking to switch between different monitors.

I'm also interested in eye tracking as a mouse and foot mice performances (Errol R., Hoffmann (1991) gives hints for the latter). Ideally I would like to have table comparing all these ways to control the mouse ( hand / head / foot / eye).

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    So we email spam account's 10 minute mail to notify then we deleted their crap? :P
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 6:23
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    @ColeJohnson if they created a temporary email account, it doesn't matter if we send an extra email to that address. If they gave us a real email, there's a chance they're interested in emails like this. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 6:34
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    I thought questions were put on hold before actually being deleted? I guess if you didn't check back on the question for a while though this would still be a problem. I find it ironic though how Productivity is hurting your productivity though by deleting your question :P
    – aug
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 6:38
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    @aug Questions can get deleted pretty quickly, depending on who's active (and whether a mod decides to act). Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:20
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    My understanding was that deleted questions aren't really deleted, they are just hidden from view to users without the privilege. If you really wanted to get access to the contents of the post, couldn't a user with that reputation provide the contents to you if you asked? While this isn't a great solution, it would be an accessible one. How often does someone have an answer to a poor question that they want to keep? (This is a totally different case if someone deletes their account and the content goes away, but I don't think that happens, does it?)
    – jmac
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:43
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    @ColeJohnson Spamming the spammer. Sounds reasonable. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:49
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    @jmac It kinda makes sense to have every user the privilege to see their own content. After getting the high reputation or whatever, they get to see other people's deleted content.
    – user243330
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:55
  • 1
    Notification is a thing that I'm not going to address at the moment, but with regards to content, a link to the deleted post will allow the post author to view it regardless of reputation. Now, how to get them that link... I s'pose that's where notification comes in.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:10
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    @JanDvorak The problem is, spammers use random email addresses, sometimes belonging to, well, random people that have never visited one of our sites. That's an awfully high bounce rate, and possibility that folks will just click 'this is spam' resulting in needless difficulties when we need to get more important mail to folks.
    – user50049
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:16
  • @Ming, that I can totally get behind. Having e-mails though is something I would definitely not want.
    – jmac
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:22
  • Recently deleted questions are listed still; go to your questions tab, scroll to the bottom and click the link; deleted questions remain linked there for 60 days. The same applies to answers, but if the user has <10k rep and the question on which the answer was posted was deleted then you cannot view the answer either. You do then have a link and can ask a moderator or here on Meta for a copy. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:38
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    Let's make it 300rep privilege, and configurable. Then I can agree.
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:45

3 Answers 3


Our aversion to showing users their deleted content is just as by-design as you've probably noticed; the vast majority of posts that get deleted don't have very much lasting intrinsic value. You might immediately disagree with me, and that's fine, but I'm speaking to posts as a whole across the network.

The problem that I have with notifying users of content they've contributed being deleted is that it's not generally an actionable notification. As you said, the only thing that you could really do is just pull a copy of it if you didn't have one, and there was something in the content that you didn't want to lose. Sure, there may be cases where the community or a moderator made a mistake, but those are very much in the minority.

If we take notifications out of the equation, what we're left with is how easy it is for folks to discover and access their own deleted content during the course of finding that thing that they wrote in an answer to that question a few months ago. We have that solved to a certain extent, you can see your deleted recent questions and answers from your profile page if you click on your question or answer summary. But, this is not quite ideal when the content falls out of the realm of recent. Additionally, I could simply say keep a copy of anything you feel is important, but you don't always know what's important until a unique need arises. I am not without sympathy, I too was a user with less than 10k rep and no diamond for quite a long time.

I think the solution isn't a notification and an email, while that would satisfy the immediate scenario, it presents a number of problems. How do we differentiate mail-worthy content from spam? Votes aren't a reliable indicator, flags aren't a reliable indicator and that crucial bit of information you wanted might be in a zero-scored post.

I think the solution here is a better means of discovering deleted content that you own when you realize that it's no longer there, and without having deleted posts clutter up your profile. Perhaps letting you use a special search modifier might be the answer, and that might be something to explore.

However, as written - I don't think this would work. I'm not, however, saying that the problem you're addressing is without merit.

  • 1
    I downvoted and it said "Please add a comment if you think this post can be improved." I'd rather it be deleted and you not have a copy. Rethink your stance. (Or, do the privileges of moderation blind you?) Having a copy may not be "actionable", but it is actionable in as much as you don't lose your content. there have been problems Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 0:52
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    I would like to strongly question your claim that the community rarely make a mistake. Every community-based platform becomes biased in one way or another -- be it Wikipedia, a sub-reddit, a facebook group, etc -- so a "mistake" becomes a very disputable concept. This is especially true for stack websites with a small community in fields with a strong consensus on some topics. History tells us that many times the unpopular ideas were in fact the more likely truth and not the mistake the community thought it was at the time.
    – Eyal Roth
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:29
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    Moreover, there is indeed an action that one might want to do after the deletion of their question - dispute the deletion (especially in the case of a community deletion), edit the question, ask a similar question, or go ask it on another platform. Email might not be crucial (and costs money), but nowadays the system sends an email for unread notifications anyhow.
    – Eyal Roth
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:35

Currently it is handled this way:

  • If you lose reputation because a post was deleted, you get a notification[1] of this lost reputation. Without a link.
  • In your profile is a link to your recently deleted posts. Link to recent deleted posts
  • You can see your own deleted content regardless of reputation.

There are only a few options on how to notify the user:

  • Via mail: Too high bounce rate. Don't do that.
  • Via Global Inbox: The global inbox should only notify about "positive" events, and a "we deleted one of your posts" is not.

I expect here and on the duplicate.

1. In your recent reputation change of this site or your global reputation change on Meta Stack Overflow.

  • 1
    "The global inbox should only notify about "positive" events, and a "we deleted one of your posts" is not." What? If it's not there for notifications of what might be notable on your radar, perhaps it should be a Get Happy icon. :-/ I disagree thoroughly with whatever made you write that sentence. Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 1:02
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    @HostileFork This statement is what I've read about the notification menu from SE. It is not my personal view. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:09
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    @JohannesKuhn Only valid for recently deleted content, It's a pain to check it for 150 and counting SEs. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 5:40

In general Stackexchange has no interest in making the people who write content that has to be deleted feel respected.

If you sent them the whole text of the question the might repost the same text.

As far as having an archive on the post that you write online, it's your own problem if you don't have a way to archive them.

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    -1 "Not my problem, go away"? Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:51
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    A community benefits if the people who write content that has to be deleted because it doesn't follow the standards of the community go away.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:54
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    Once I wrote an answer to a question and put much efford in it. Guess what? It was deleted with the question. So you suggest that I should now go away because one of my posts has been deleted? tl;dr Good answers can be deleted with the question. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 7:57
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    Uh... we might not offer conveniences in this department (though with the inbox messages from comments as well as recent improvements to visibility of deleted posts to their authors, we're kinda working on that), but "no interest in making the people [...] feel respected"? That's kinda harsh and untrue. Not everything that gets deleted is the sign of exile and in fact it's the respect we offer in explaining to people where they stepped wrong and seeing if they can improve and get better, that's what shapes the community for the better.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:13
  • @JohannesKuhn: No, I didn't make that suggestion. The point of the policy is to drive people who don't follow community standards away. That doesn't mean that everyone who's driven away is undesirable. By it's nature stackexchange is a forum where everyone can register multiple accounts for free and you can't effectively ban people who don't have a static IP. That means it's useful to use various techniques to provide less engagement for people who don't follow community norms.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:14
  • @Grace Note: Sorry, were you expecting him to be nice about it? Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:31
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    Christian, this is just patently false. The fact that users that got off to a rocky start aren't continuously confronted with past blunders every time that they visit their profile is a pretty good testament to how much we respect our users. Working this functionality in is difficult when you consider all of our users, which we must, because we respect them.
    – user50049
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:55
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    @Tiny Tim: It's the implication that they are blunders at all that makes users feel disrespected. Not saying I agree and don't think they're just mad about it, but apparently that's what human feelings do. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 8:59
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    What a horrible negative way of thinking and assuming always the worst about other people: -1
    – Dilaton
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 11:54
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    We don't try to drive away people who write bad content. We try to educate them first and foremost. Those who will not learn are another matter.
    – Oded
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 14:55

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