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Can you please tell me if there is a link where the rules for deleting one's own answers are specified? Aren't they the same for all sites in the network?

I know by personal experience that one cannot delete accepted answers and cannot delete more than 5 answers a day, and beyond these two limitations they can dispose of their own answer as they best deem, is that true?

In one of the SE sites a mod decided that posts with more than 5 votes cannot be deleted and forcefully undeleted 2 answers, justifying this because the OP had claimed the answer belonged to them.

Can someone please tell me if that decision is legitimate, if/how one can challenge it, and what happens if one deletes the answer again?

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    I'd wonder though what would be the reasons for the deletion of your own answer? This is pretty important here. Nov 17, 2015 at 7:48
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    @JourneymanGeek, reasons are subjective and should not be relevant in questions of principle and rules. If one deletes their own answer the reason surely looks rightful to them. Rules are based on principles and are written to avoid arbitrary acts from officers who implement them. A rule tells when one is entitled to withdraw their answer, and all mods must observe same rule. If an answer with more than 5 votes cannot be deleted, that should be written somewhere for users and mods to know. Don't you agree?
    – Ben
    Nov 17, 2015 at 7:59
  • I don't know what the answer is and why it was deleted. Or even where it was. I don't have enough information to second guess the moderator anonymous in this case. Nov 17, 2015 at 8:03
  • On the contrary. While one has a good deal of power as a mod, there is a lot of responsibility and oversight. I typically encourage users who disagree with my decisions, as rare as they are, to bring it up on meta if possible. My view is entirely based off what you said and primarily suggests thinking this over and acting calmly. Claiming cabals exist suggests to me some hasty actions. Nov 17, 2015 at 8:53
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    Well, clearly something you don't want in the open. Bulk answer deletions? I donno, you tell us, stead of skulking around accusing users on a undefined site of malfeasance. Nov 17, 2015 at 9:06
  • @JourneymanGeek, skulking?
    – Ben
    Nov 17, 2015 at 9:21
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/216846/… Nov 17, 2015 at 15:21
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    I didn't justify it based on the OP claims. I explained my reasons in my answer on her post, and contacted you via mod message to provide you with additional explanation about what had happened. You are welcome as always to bring it up on our Meta or to flag the answer you wish to re-delete so we can engage in a discussion about it.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:25
  • I don't want to comment on this specific situation or the behavior of this particular user. However, I do want to remind people that there are good, important reasons why we allow users to self-delete answers as long as this privilege is not being abused. See, e.g., meta.stackexchange.com/q/53402/160917, meta.stackexchange.com/a/145568/160917. If the self-deletion is abusive, mod-undeleting is appropriate. But if it is not abusive and is very limited in scale, I'd advocate that we generally try to avoid overriding self-deletion of answers.
    – D.W.
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:42
  • @MonicaCellio, isnt' it odd? two practically identical questions , one gets +14 and the other -8, yet the poster had been discreet enough to name no names and ask a general question. Such hostile reception is really weird! Sometimes Meta can get real mean.
    – user234285
    Nov 18, 2015 at 6:53
  • @user234285 In my experience, "practically identical" means "not identical. In this case, I would say that the implied self-vandalism of answers ("I know from personal experience that one cannot ... delete more than 5 answers per day") and then the user's comments to answers (now deleted, so I can't recall the content but I do recall that they were at least a little defensive) may have been contributing factors. Monica's question however was phrased much more impersonally and was more open-ended. The way you ask your question matters.
    – jimsug
    Nov 18, 2015 at 21:53

4 Answers 4

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You have irrevocably licensed your content to Stack Exchange

From the terms of service section 3, as quoted in this answer:

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. You grant Stack Exchange the perpetual and irrevocable right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content

That is, you do not have the right to simply delete all of the content you have licensed, as it is no longer your right to do so.

Moderators are empowered to undelete and delete answers as may be appropriate from time to time. This may include instances where you have submitted valuable content to the community.

If you wish not to be associated with that post, you may use the contact link at the bottom of each page and request that - your username will be removed from the post.

If you choose to delete the post(s) again, moderators may choose to place a content dispute lock on your answer, and direct you to voice your concerns on meta.

You may be suspended for disruptive behaviour - there is no exhaustive list of reasons.


Also, if these are the answers and the situation I think it is, those are great answers and I would likely have made the same decision - although there is no magical "cutoff" after which posts will not be undeleted.

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    Additionally, if you want to talk about what's fair and what a square deal is, consider the users you deprive of your contributions by deleting them. Consider the user who awarded you a bounty and upvoted your answer. Your actions are, quite frankly selfish.
    – jimsug
    Nov 17, 2015 at 9:29
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    Deleting your account does not delete your answers. Additionally, if you have voted on any question or answer, you will be unable to delete your account yourself.
    – jimsug
    Nov 17, 2015 at 9:34
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    Something which may or may not be worth adding: from a legal perspective (IANAL etc.), clicking the "delete" link is effectively making a request that Stack Exchange cease distribution of that content (except to 10k users and mods). There is, of course, no legal requirement that the request be honored.
    – David Z
    Nov 17, 2015 at 11:43
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Mods are essentially unlimited in terms of deletion and undeletion. Mods have a great deal of power, and often need to make judgement calls. Mods are human exception handlers and posts like this could be considered an exception

I've personally suspended a user for mass vandalism of of his own answers. Suspensions are also meant to let users cool down, though with varying degrees of success. Cooling down is good, even without one.

Personally I consider my answers part of the commons. I have the ability to improve on them, prune away ones that are patently incorrect (and I would do this - and it would be something to let a mod know), and as I always tell others You are not just answering for the OP, You are answering for the next person with the problem.

So...

  1. Can someone please tell me if that decision is legitimate

I have no idea. Depends on your reasons too, and there's no boilerplate, standard answer here.

  1. if/how one can challenge it

Talk to the mod. Bring it up on the per site meta and make a case for it there. This also means there's a clear trail for others to follow. However don't make this a rant, give clear coherent reasons outside "its my answer". In fact a good strategy for this would be write it from the perspective of another user.

  1. what happens if one deletes the answer again?

Deleting and undeleting the answer repeatedly is just messy. At some point you might choose to Let the wookie win just step aside, and decide its not worth the annoyance. Of course, at some point after step 2, this might happen naturally with proper perspective.

That said, in the final estimation, it really depends on why the post was deleted or undeleted. If its a reaction to a deletion out of anger or annoyance, I can totally see a mod justifiably doing this.

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Whenever you post on an SE site, you license that post under a Creative Commons license. This license is irrevocable, you can't take your post back and require anyone to remove it. If the community or the moderators want to keep the post, they can do that.

In cases where there is a reasonable cause to delete the post, nobody will interfere. But if you're deleting valuable posts, the community might object and stop you.

The one right you still have is requesting anonymization of the post, it will no longer be associated with your account if you do that.

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There are no strict rules for this, just common sense.

If the answer is helpful for others, it should stay. It's not really your decision - once you posted it, it belongs to the community. Upvotes usually indicate usefulness, so 5 upvotes usually means "this answer is really helpful for others".

So if a moderator (or 3 high rep users with enough reputation) deems a deleted answer as useful, they can and should undelete it.

If you still oppose this decision, you can flag your own post, choose "Other" and try to explain why you think it should be deleted. After a moderator deletes a post, ordinary users can't undelete it anymore, and other moderators will also notice and most likely won't undelete again.

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