Should someone with the privilege vote to delete an answer to their own question? For instance, if someone has answered my question, in good faith, by talking around the point giving confusing advice and not actually answering the question it all.

The ability to delete answers is only available to users with 20k (on a graduated site) or moderators so it's not something that comes up often or is possible for many users; especially since a 20k user can downvote a 0 scored answer in order to gain this ability. I also have the feeling that I'm wanting to do this because I'm annoyed by the answerer, which isn't a good reason to do anything. I have attempted a reconciliation of opposing viewpoints.

In what situations is it morally acceptable to vote to delete someone else's answer to your own question?

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    Delete is extreme, and regardless of where the answer is posted should be done only if the answer got no value whatsoever or totally misleading. Otherwise downvote and/or comment should be enough, sometimes it's even better to leave wrong answer around to show what not to do. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 20:54
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    It is very hard to classify when deleting is good or bad precisely. I use deletes mainly to close questions that do more harm than good, and answers that would otherwise be flags. Would you flag the answer? No? Then chances are you shouldn't delete vote it. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:21
  • I don't think that's quite enough @Benjamin. I wouldn't flag everything I'd vote to delete - partly because I can vote to delete and partly because I can't expect moderators to accept my opinion (or expertise) on whether the content is relevant to the question at hand. I can however make that decision for myself and if 2 other users agree with me then it's gone. This is, however, the first time I've been faced with the situation on one of my own, so I'm askin'. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:41
  • @benisuǝqbackwards I think I found the answer you're having doubts about, it is low quality and not useful but I would not delete vote it. Indicating lack of usefulness is what down votes are for. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:53
  • Judging by recent voting @Benjamin I guess you did as well... I wanted to make this more generic (and avoid an unsuspecting person getting targeted by the full meta brigade) but your opinion is gratefully received on the specifics. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


I also have the feeling that I'm wanting to do this because I'm annoyed by the answerer, which isn't a good reason to do anything.

You're getting at the real answer with that: vote to delete when the answer is completely worthless as an answer, not just because you don't like it for some reason. This goes for any answer, but be extra-careful in situations where you might be less than objective.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. With 20K rep, you have enough experience to (hopefully) make reasonable choices as to how things on the site should be handled for the good of everyone involved - but it's up to you to use that experience. If you're in a situation where you're having trouble doing that, step aside and let someone else do it.

  • You mean it is morally acceptable but leave it for a few weeks and re-read it a few times first :-)? Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:08
  • Not exactly; see my edit.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:15
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    I think that answers it really, that and your comment under Joe's answer. If you're unsure do nothing and let others delete if they think it's appropriate. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:56

I think that if the answer doesn't meet the site's standards for answers, ie, it does not fundamentally answer the question, then you should feel free to vote-to-delete. If it's a poor answer that you don't like, but you couldn't really justify flagging as NAA or VLQ, then you should not.

Vote-to-delete is not, after all, actually deleting, unless you're a mod (right?); if you're just a 20k user, you just cast one vote. It's like close votes - I don't feel bad casting close votes that have some bias in them, because it's 1 vote in 5. If 4 other people agree with me, then it should be closed - if they don't, then my vote will expire and it's gone.

Of course, I don't intend this to mean that you should vote carelessly; but as a 20k user (or even a 3k user casting close votes) you are not a dictator; the fact that several other people need to validate your opinion means you can act at a somewhat lesser certainty than if you had the only vote. If you're a mod, of course, it's a little trickier; I would probably ask another mod for advice at that point.

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    If you're voting carelessly because "hey, it's just a vote" then you shouldn't be voting at all. The system trusts you to vote based on the assumption that you - and your fellow voters - care enough to be responsible in doing so. You're just as responsible for your actions as a user-moderator as the elected moderators are for their (binding) actions; the man who casts the first stone is as culpable as he who throws the last.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:18
  • @Shog9 I certainly do not advocate voting carelessly. I mean only that if I think it probably should be deleted, but I'm not completely sure that I'm not being biased, then casting a vote is reasonable; if four other people agree, then I'm probably not being biased (or, at least, there are valid reasons other than the bias). It's different for diamond moderators and above, as they can't get that four-other-user (or nine others for deletes?) confirmation.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:20
  • Sure they can - they can (and do!) ask someone else to review their actions in situations where they're unsure what is appropriate. And so can you, and so can ben here. IMHO, everyone should be willing to step up and defend the actions they take on the site - right or wrong, you should at least have a well-thought-out reason for doing what you're doing. If that's not the case, maybe you shouldn't be doing it at all...
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:22
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    Yes, and I suggest that in the answer. But I think for a non-moderator, the vote is basically asking others for their opinions - it's saying "I think we should close/delete this, what do the rest of you think?".
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:24
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    @Shog9 To your edit there; of course. I wouldn't vote to close/delete something without believing it should be closed/deleted. But given ben's reputation (real and numeric ;) ), I assume he also believes the content should be removed - but rather is concerned at the combination of appearance of bias, and the actuality of bias, without being sure it is there.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:26
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    Now there's a good point. There's certainly an argument to be made that one should avoid acting when doing so might appear to be an abuse of privilege - for instance, I tend to avoid voting to close or reopen questions that I've asked or answered, even though the system allows it and I tend to think I have a reasonable notion of what's appropriate here.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:28
  • Thank you for your comments @Joe (both the compliments and the others). I think you hit the nail on the head with your latest one; and if one's unsure about whether there might be actual bias you probably shouldn't do anything, as Shog says. To a certain extent I also agree with you on the delete/close vote == opinion asking, it's probably rarely expressed that way though :-). Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:59

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