So I tried deleting a question, my question. I'm not a mod, but I have reputation above 10k. I received this message after hitting delete, asking me to make sure I wanted to:

Delete this answered question?

But after clicking Delete Question, I saw this:

Sorry, you can't delete ¯_(ツ)_/¯

It turns out that because the question has answers, I'm prohibited from deleting it. If I can't actually delete this question at all, could it just tell me immediately, and only show me the warning if I can actually delete it?

This is akin to the following analogy.

You see a flyer in your local paper stating there's a new burger shop opening. Great, you think to yourself, and rush over to get yourself some burgers. On your way into the parking lot, you see a huge banner proclaiming one of their newest burgers. You see some employees walk in and out of the restaurant, with T-Shirt with pictures of burgers on them. Great, you think to yourself, and walk in. You get in line, and after what seems like ages, you finally make it to the front. You look up at the menu. You see that they also sell sandwiches. No, you tell yourself, I'm looking for burgers. You see that they also sell burritos! No, you tell yourself, I'm looking for burgers. Then you see that they sell burgers. Great! You pick out a burger, then tell the employee at the register, "Sir, I'd like to get a regular burger please." Immediately, the employee looks up, with a quizzical look on his face, saying "Sir? We don't sell burgers here.".

It's the same situation. I've come to that prompt so that I can delete a question. After repeated messages and windows letting me know the consequences of deleting, what will happen after I have it deleted, I am told that the option of having it deleted by my own hand never existed in the first place.

  • You are not a common user in case of your own question, thus the "warning", which is error btw, looks valid, userful and informative to me. You have the privilege to request the delete as the author of the question. May 29, 2014 at 3:39
  • 3
    @LaszloPapp Elaborate? I'm a registered user, but I'm certainly not a moderator or hold any administrative positions. Over 10k rep is a threshold many have passed already, so I see nothing "rare" or "special" about it.
    – yuritsuki
    May 29, 2014 at 3:41
  • I honestly do not understand what your problem is. You are trying to solve a problem which does not exist IMHO. It is per site policy that you cannot delete own questions with answers. Flag them for moderator attention. That is what the error (not warning) is telling you. Why you think this is related to 10K, I have not clue. It is not IMHO. May 29, 2014 at 4:00
  • 6
    So what is the POINT of warning a user "Hey look, you might not want to delete your question because it has some content from other users" when the final result is just a "Just flag it for moderator attention"? Might as well cut to the chase and just outright say "Look, flag this for moderator attention, and they'll take a look at it", instead of "Don't delete this, it's not a good thing" --> "HAHHAHAHHAHA YOU CANT ACTUALLY DELETE TURBONERD (just call a moderator or something)"
    – yuritsuki
    May 29, 2014 at 4:04
  • 8
    @Laszlo What the OP is getting at is, instead of asking if we're sure we want to delete before erroring, just error out.
    – Cole Tobin
    May 29, 2014 at 4:13
  • @thinlyveiledquestionmark Is what Cole Johnson says the case? (If so, we may edit your question to clarify) May 29, 2014 at 4:41
  • 1
    Ok. I've rewritten the question. The original has confusion, because - "If we don't have the privileges to delete, why bother warning me in the first place?" - you do have the privileges; it's just that you can't delete your own questions if they're answered. (If you didn't have the delete privilege, you wouldn't see the delete option.) I've turned this into a feature request to just give you the warning outright instead of sending you past the alert. Please check it and see if you're ok with this edit. May 29, 2014 at 5:39
  • 1
    Are we sure this isn't a bug? Couldn't this just be a case where the first message doesn't check to see if it is your own question first? Or it tries to delete as a 10k/20k user first, before trying to delete it as yourself? If it is one of those things, it probably isn't intended behavior, and would be acted on quicker (perhaps) if labeled a bug.
    – jmac
    May 29, 2014 at 5:48
  • 1
    If we're going by the definition of 'bug' as being a feature that isn't working as it is intended, I don't see any indication it's a bug. It works fine, just that it hasn't been programmed to check for the error first which would be a nice thing for it to do. May 29, 2014 at 6:05
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    I got the same problem on a question of mine on a site where I have <1K, and the same thing happened....IINM, "It turns out that because the question has answers" is not the rule, but rather having answers with positive scores.....if your problem is answers with a score of one, you can downvote them.....
    – MTL
    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:56
  • 1
    @Shokhet, if someone tried to help you (and future readers) by answering your question, why downvote just because you want that question to be removed?
    – Arjan
    Oct 1, 2014 at 19:28
  • 1
    @Arjan I apologize if that sounded serious; it wasn't.
    – MTL
    Oct 1, 2014 at 19:35
  • Also, @Arjan -- if you're trying to delete the question, I would imagine that the answer disappears with it as well (with its rep gains/losses)....so it shouldn't really matter anyway.
    – MTL
    Oct 2, 2014 at 17:03
  • Sure it matters, @Shokhet. Somebody put time in using the site as it's intended to be used, to build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, and posted an answer. Someone else thought the answer was indeed worthwhile for future visitors, and upvoted. Next, the question asker thinks otherwise and downvotes a helpful answer just to be able to delete their question? That smells like what Shog9 referred to as "jackasses deleting their questions the second someone posts an answer", I feel.
    – Arjan
    Oct 2, 2014 at 19:31
  • @Arjan You're 100% right. I was stuck thinking about one specific question of mine that got one upvoted answer, which other people pointed out (and I believe they're right) that the answer does not have to do with my question. However, in the usual case, you're right.
    – MTL
    Oct 3, 2014 at 2:47

3 Answers 3


could it just tell me immediately, and only show me the warning if I can actually delete it?

Imagine there is no first screen. What would be the user's reaction to the red pop-up? Oh, I should click "flag" instead of "delete" to get this deleted? Alright. And the moderators get another flag with "I got the answer already, please delete this." Moderators love those flags.

Some people have difficulty grasping that the answers they are given on SE sites are not for their use only. Removing the warning message would mean missing a teaching opportunity.

  • 4
    That's the workflow that inspired this relatively new warning dialog.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 5, 2014 at 1:35
  • 4
    @thinly The user getting this particular combination of messages was caught red-handed, trying to steal information from the Internet. So they get sentenced to penal labour (an extra click).
    – user259867
    Jun 5, 2014 at 13:53

The two dialogs are different things:

The first is a warning people should read anyway, just to get to know how we feel about what one is trying to do. This is even different for those who are question banned, and nicely links to additional information. Also, this dialog is the confirmation step that avoids deletion on accidental clicks.

Next, when continuing, it's not always impossible to delete an answered question: it's still possible if there's only one answer with zero score.

The second is the result of the server side validation when trying to execute the action. This would be required anyway, as meanwhile things can have changed. So there is no way to never get the second after seeing the first.

Sure, technically one could still try to suppress the first (and not let people know how we feel about it, and not link to those resources), but that is not worth any development efforts, I feel. Deleting an answered question should rarely happen, so only the few who persist in trying it, would see that warning a lot of times anyway. Suppressing it would also require a different text for the error message; when the fancy deletion prompt was implemented, Shog9 wrote about that error:

But you won't find out about that restriction until you've clicked through this [the first] message. So hopefully this will not only reduce the number of jackasses deleting their questions the second someone posts an answer, but also the number of moderator flags begging for such deletions.

  • I disagree with your approach of "since I bet very few people will use this, forget about ever implementing anything". Regardless of how many users use it, isn't it good practice to implement the feature for future users?
    – yuritsuki
    Jun 4, 2014 at 23:21
  • Sure, @thinly, when time permits (and when including the other changes needed to pass the same information to the user). (And kind of related: requests to not show unaccessible options at all, have been declined for the same reason: informing users.)
    – Arjan
    Jun 5, 2014 at 16:41
  • The first message actually contains two sentences. The first is a warning that people should read anyway, and the second is just flat out misleading. I think it's obvious that the OP has no problem with the warning, but does have a problem with the misleading information. Are there really only two options here? Delete the first message entirely or don't?
    – Rainbolt
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:46
  • @Rainbolt, even if deletion proves impossible, the message is not always misleading: even when deleting was possible when the message was shown, it might no longer be possible seconds later. (Like if meanwhile someone upvoted an answer, or another answer was posted.) Even more, the other way around: even if deletion seems impossible when the confusing message is shown, seconds later someone might have downvoted an answer which suddenly allows for deletion at the time the button is clicked... (Of course, those are edge cases, but it just indicates it's hard to get 100% right anyhow.)
    – Arjan
    Sep 24, 2014 at 18:15
  • 2
    @Arjan Well, then we can both agree that the current solution has a number of issues: the message is not necessarily accurate when displayed, and the message is not necessarily accurate when submitted. Your comment has to do with the latter case. The topic of the question was probably the former.
    – Rainbolt
    Sep 24, 2014 at 18:54
  • 1
    Hehe, @Rainbolt, I don't think we agree, as I feel those are not really issues, and changing would be a waste of time ;-)
    – Arjan
    Sep 24, 2014 at 19:10

If this workflow was intentional, as Adam Lear's comment implies, then the first dialogue box should at least warn users that they may not actually be allowed to delete their question. If I click a box that says "Delete question" after reading the explanation, I expect the question to delete. Surprising me with a red banner that chastises me for trying seems...kinda rude.

Adding something to the text of the first popup that reads:

In some cases, you may be prevented from deleting your question. For more information see the FAQ.

This or something like it will hint to the user that their deletion may not succeed.

Sure, users don't always read the text, but if they try a second time, they might read it then and see the FAQ link.

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