Askers can delete their own question if it has no answer, or if it has a single answer with no upvote. The first case is generally fine: deleting an unanswered question rarely causes collateral damage. It can happen that someone was in the process of writing an answer, but if they feel that their answer-to-be is valuable enough, they can re-ask the question and answer it themselves. Deleting an answered question is more problematic. Common cases include:
- The answer says “it was a typo” or “you misread the directions” or something similar which won't ever help anyone else. In this case, deleting the thread is the right thing.
- The asker is new to Stack Exchange and thinks that solved questions should be deleted. We shouldn't let that happen.
- The asker wants to hide their tracks: they don't want their professor/boss/… to find out that they got help from Stack Exchange, and they delete their question as soon as they get an answer.
Deletion of an answered question by the asker happens with very little opportunity for review.
- The answerer won't notice anything unless they bookmarked the question and check back on it later, or they go and check the unemphasized section of their profile that lists their recently deleted posts.
- Users with the “moderator tools” privilege can check recent deletions but that list omits self-deletions (thanks Behaviour). Even if they were included, they'd be lost in the noise.
- Moderators have access to a list of self-deleted posts. It's yet another tool for mods to check and contains a lot of things that don't need review (unanswered questions, answers that turned out to be wrong or duplicates), so I'd like something better.
I'd like to have better oversight on answers indirectly deleted by the asker: prevent or at least flag the bad cases, without requiring too much busywork in the good cases.
I propose to raise an automatic flag when a user deletes their question after it has been answered. This seems fine to me as a moderator on a small site, but I have no idea whether that means 1 or 100 extra flags per day on SO.
An alternative solution would be to remove the ability to single-handedly delete answered questions altogether. The right solution depends on how many self-deleted answered questions fall into each category, which I don't have statistics for.