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I have a couple of questions with a negative (say, -4 or -5) vote score which, with the passage of time and the arrival of wisdom (or apathy perhaps) I no longer feel I should have asked to begin with, and am considering deleting. The thing is, these questions have answers, which I've accepted, that are typically +1 votes.

Example:

How do I achieve the equivalent of type shadowing by a derived class?

Is it reasonable to delete such questions? Feel free to address this more generally or to use the example to make your point.

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    You shouldn't delete if it has positive-scored answers. Latecomers may benefit from it. – iBug is disappointed in SE Aug 4 '17 at 14:18
  • @iBug: But would they, really, though? People might have only upvoted it after having accepted the premise of an unuseful question. – einpoklum Aug 4 '17 at 14:20
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    People do not upvote because you accepted it. People only upvote because it's correct and helpful. – iBug is disappointed in SE Aug 4 '17 at 14:27
  • @iBug: I mean, people only consider the answer useful in the context of the question, not in itself; never mind whether I accepted or not. – einpoklum Aug 4 '17 at 14:32
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    Say you ask "how long will it take to swim the Atlantic?" (on an appropriate site.) People may downvote because swimming the Atlantic is a terrible idea, or because you left out important information (in your case, compilable code) or because they think nobody needs that information. But if one person takes the time to explain why it's a bad idea, what the time depends on, gives you a range (eg it's weeks, not days), and generally produces useful information, they'll get upvotes. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 14:50
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    You could improve your question by saying "I want to X." I thought this [code] would do it, but it won't because [compile error or whatever.] Is there another way to do it? Can I get [typeshadowing or whatever you think will lead to X] somehow?" Don't invalidate existing answers, whatever you do. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 14:51
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    @KateGregory If someone is downvoting the question because they think that this isn't useful information, then the answer is also not useful information. Upvoting people for providing information that isn't useful is a problem, and preventing posts that aren't useful from being deleted because people like upvoting content that's not useful is also problematic. – Servy Aug 4 '17 at 15:04
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    @Servy I disagree, and so does whoever invented the Reversal badge. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 15:06
  • @KateGregory You disagree that a question whose answer isn't useful can't have a useful answer? Sorry, but that's not something you can disagree over. It's a statement that's tautologically true. If you think that having an answer to the question is useful, then you don't think that having an answer to the question isn't useful. As for Reversal, there are several problems there, one, consider badges like Tumbleweed, not all badges are there to describe desirable situations, second, there are reasons a question would merit downvotes other than "this information isn't useful". – Servy Aug 4 '17 at 15:10
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    Just because you believe something doesn't make it true. An answer that says "you can't swim the Atlantic because" or "it depends on a,b,c, d, and e" can be useful, if only to deter others from doing that thing. As I say, there is a Reversal badge. Ask yourself why. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 15:13
  • @KateGregory Again, if you think that having an answer to the question is useful, then having an answer to the question is useful, and the original assertion that "having an answer to the question wouldn't be useful" was wrong, because apparently you think that it is useful to have an answer to the question. Again, it's not a matter of opinion to state that if it's useful to have an answer to the question then it's useful to have an answer to the question, and if it's not useful to have an answer to the question then it's not useful to have an answer to the question. – Servy Aug 7 '17 at 15:17
  • @KateGregory If you think that those statements are false, care to explain why? Why do you think that there can be a question to which it wouldn't be useful to have an answer for, but have a useful answer to the question? So far you've just given a reason for why an answer is useful in your example, but not explained why it's not useful for that question to get an answer. As far as reversal, I gave you several reasons for its existence that don't require a tautological statement to be false. – Servy Aug 7 '17 at 15:19
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If your question has upvoted answers then you cannot delete it. It would be annoying indeed to answerers if good answers, as judged by the community, were able to be removed by the OP.

What you should do, in the interest of making the question topic useful for the wider community, is improve it. A good starting point is to examine any comments that folk have left under the question.

Failing that get to work yourself. For example, in the question you've linked, you could actually post compilable code (your classes are missing ; at the end of their definitions), all the class members are private - aside from the compiler generated constructors which will be public - , and there is no supporting int main() function. This kind of sloppiness annoys the C++ community.

You may find the question downvotes start to fall away too.

  • Well, I didn't have a good comeback to the comments then and it's unlikely I will now :-( ... but point taken. – einpoklum Aug 4 '17 at 14:20
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    comeback? Comments aren't for arguing, they're for learning. If you think the comments are right, edit your question. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 14:46
  • @KateGregory: I meant "comebacks" in the sense of edits actually... I don't know what I was thinking, it was a silly thought, I don't remember what I wanted back then. – einpoklum Aug 4 '17 at 15:15
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No.

If your question has upvoted answers, you won't be able to delete it by yourself – our system dislikes deleting (potentially) helpful posts.

If any of your questions have upvoted answers, you shouldn't delete them. Instead you should fix them or re-write them, so that further readers can benefit better from your questions. Building a library of knowledge is the eternal goal of Stack Exchange.

Also, if you delete too much of your posts, you may get banned from asking more.

  • What is "too much"? Considering my statistics, I mean. – einpoklum Aug 4 '17 at 14:33
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    too much is deliberately kept secret so people don't teeter on the edge of it. – Kate Gregory Aug 4 '17 at 14:47
  • "Building a library of knowledge is the eternal goal of" also Google and NSA. But Stack Exchange is far more civilized in its methods. :-) – WGroleau Aug 4 '17 at 15:02

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