I've been wondering about incentives to prune one's own questions and answers.

For example, in the same way your profile prompts you about "have you considered marking an accepted answer?" (or at least, it used to?) I wonder whether it would be a good idea to add "have you considered deleting this downvoted/zerovoted/notaccepted answer?".

I believe that in the vast majority of cases, stackoverflow's quality would be improved by having less answers.

Another problem is that when you do delete your own answer, you can still see it, and with an ugly colour at that, so there isn't really any aesthetic incentive. How about collapsing deleted answers?

Just thinking out load.

Maybe there could be a "encourage user to prune" flag? (I know lots of people are going to say "that's what downvoting is for" - I'm not so sure. As Jon Skeet has pointed out many times, the 'meaning' of a downvote is completely unknown if unaccompanied by a comment).

  • Hurries off to check own answers/questions... :) – Benjol Sep 29 '09 at 8:47

One thing I think needs to be done is to not discourage people from deleting duplicate and incomplete answers. The problem is you may get a few upvotes for an answer but then a better answer comes along and your answer becomes just noise.

If you delete it currently you'll lose that rep on a recalc so I've suggested (several times) that on a recalc you should get:

MAX (0, reputation from question)

I don't think we necessarily want to reward people for deleting content but we should remove the "penalty" so reputation (gained or lost) is no longer a consideration.

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    I completely agree with you. In my opinion, recalc should be emphasized. It should be done more frequently and it should say: delete your bad, downvoted answers and you get your points back; delete your upvoted answers and you get to keep your points. – alex Sep 29 '09 at 9:56

There's already two badges for this: Disciplined and Peer Pressure.

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  • Is it working? :) And it only works for upvoted answers... – Benjol Sep 29 '09 at 6:36
  • see "Peer Pressure" badge – Jeff Atwood Sep 29 '09 at 7:04
  • OK... but there's still lots of cruft. Please don't forget the 'collapse deleted' idea though. – Benjol Sep 29 '09 at 8:45

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