Now and then a user will delete their own posts; if they do this too much, they’ll get caught at it. Similarly, if they vandalize their own posts by replacing them with garbage, they’ll get caught if they do that too much.

In both cases the system raises a moderator flag about it based on the frequency. This algorithmic recognition that there’s a problem seems to indicate that content destruction is not considered kosher.

Here’s the question: is there any policy about vandalizing one’s own posts after one has deleted them? Is this case in any way different from the previous two and therefore something that should be tolerated across the network, or is it instead something that either the system or an alert user should flag when they find it happening?

I’m searched for previous questions about this, and they seem to only explicitly cover the first two cases — either delete or vandalize, but not both. Do two wrongs make a right, or is this still vandalism and if so, what should users or moderators do when they encounter it?

Possible duplicate of What to do when an answer is deleted then disfigured by its author?

Shog’s answer there suggests that it’s ok to do this since it will “take up less space”. I don’t understand that: the revision history is still there, and now there’s another record with garbage on top of that. So I don’t understand how it could take up less space unless an employee purged the revision history — which seems like a really bad idea to me.

Ok, he’s clarified that he means screen space, not database space.

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    It wouldn't matter much if the post was deleted for good reason (and wouldn't ever need to be undeleted). – bjb568 Sep 27 '15 at 23:39
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    Vandalism is vandalism, whether most people can see it or not. If there was ever any merit to the posts, why should that merit be wiped out? The posts could always be undeleted, and then the vandalism will be out there for the whole world to see. – HDE 226868 Sep 28 '15 at 0:11
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    This is interesting to me... I have seen a few users who create answer "placeholders" full of junk and then delete them in case the question gets closed... this isn't quite what you're asking but I see them as related to some degree. – Catija Sep 28 '15 at 0:13
  • @Catija Yes, that’s right: the order wouldn’t seem to matter, whether they vandalize then delete or delete then vandalize. But it’s the D&V cases I’ve been noticing lately more than the V&D ones. – tchrist Sep 28 '15 at 0:17
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    It kind of isn't. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 28 '15 at 2:01

Most of the time, vandalizing your own deleted posts is the wrong thing to do. 10k users can see deleted posts at all because that privilege allows them to audit deletions; vandalism impedes that auditing. I don't buy the "takes up less space" argument; deleted posts already go to the bottom and are easy to skip if not auditing them.

Systematically deleting and vandalizing posts will almost certainly get you suspended; that looks like rage-quitting.

However, for an occasional case of "wow, that was a stunningly stupid mistake I made there and I'm really embarrassed; can we please not show that casually to 10k users?", I don't see a problem with replacing a post with something like "Withdrawing because this was completely wrong". The edit should explain the situation; don't just mash keys to produce garbage. If you find yourself doing this a lot, though, you should instead consider slowing down and making sure your answers are sound before you post them.

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  • Thanks, that makes sense. You were also right on the money about the mashing keys together thing, because it was that very practice which had been bothering me. – tchrist Sep 30 '15 at 12:09

There isn't a specific policy on vandalizing deleted posts, just to posts in general, and to some extent I think it doesn't harm to 'vandalize' your deleted post (when you answered and realized 10 seconds later you misunderstood OP).

However, since the content is community property, defacing it shouldn't be allowed. In the case of some users it even lead to a suspension. It doesn't matter if a post is deleted or not, vandalizing your post doesn't do any good. Never.

If you want to delete a post of yours, okay, no problem. If the community finds them useful they can be undeleted. But how can the community determine if the original post was useful or not if it was vandalized? It can't. So here you have your problem: the privileged members of the community should be able to see the deleted post 'as is'. Don't vandalize it.

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I think you should not be able to edit a post after deleting it... If you delete it, why would you want to edit it

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    Some users delete an answer because the author misunderstood OP, then edits it to answer the question, and undeletes it. – Patrick Hofman Sep 29 '15 at 14:43
  • Then it should be done the other way @PatrickHofman: undelete it and then he edits it, that way it'd be harder to vandalize.... In that case you don't mind having an answer that's wrong for a second till you edit it than a long time wrong answer – Andy Kami Sep 29 '15 at 14:46
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    How does that solve any problems? He undeletes the answer, edits it and then just deletes it again... – Catija Sep 29 '15 at 15:06
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    One valid case is when someone posts an answer, just to find it contains a critical error. Instead of letting it get downvotes, the user can delete, edit in his/her own time, the undelete when it's correct. – Shadow Keeps Social Distance Sep 29 '15 at 15:28

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