I recently reached 10k reputation on Stack Overflow, and noticed that I now have the ability to view deleted posts with deleted:1 via the search bar. I'd like clarification as to why the restriction exists that prevents me from searching through all deleted posts?

I feel like this would be beneficial for several reasons:

  • SmokeDetector, a bot that was designed to detect spam, allows users to add keywords/regex to a blacklist to help fight spam. Having deleted:1 as an option could offer a second link to show the amount of true positives, to determine if it's worth adding to a blacklist. In this case, the domain v-play.net was deemed as "Too many FP's". Having a check to see how many TP's there may be, may outweigh the number of false-positives, and would give a better view.
  • Bots are currently unable to view deleted posts through the API (Even if the linked user account/API user has >10k reputation). I think that this is partially because of this restriction. I had brought it up here, because I thought that having SmokeDetector log a (non-caught) rude/abuse or spam posts would be beneficial, so that we could adapt our methods to catch these types of posts in the future.
  • This question was posted earlier today. I remembered it was similar to another post I came across, but was unable to find it because it was already deleted. Being able to search deleted posts would have allowed me to catch this behavior, and bring it up to the mods (I was lucky that someone else had a link for it, and we were able to advise the user what to do in the future).
  • As a member of SOBotics, I come across a lot of posts that are borderline spammy (via Natty) which I have a vague recollection of seeing before. Instead of flagging as spam, I usually vote NAA as to not nuke a user, but by being able to search deleted posts for that user, I can see if he is habitually continuing to post links to his product/service, and flag for custom moderation attention in case.

Overall, I think it would add a lot more visibility that could be helpful in bringing problematic issues to dimaond moderator attention, something that was specifically mentioned in the privilege page:

Make sure what is being deleted should have been deleted, and bring unnecessary or harmful deletions to the attention of the community and/or moderator team.

Additionally, I think that deleted:1 is almost useless in the current state it's in. If the restriction exists that I can already view my own deleted posts, why shouldn't it be available to all users (If it's limited to one's self), as I can already view my own deleted posts?

  • 5
    To avoid the drama that inevitably comes from airing dirty laundry. Once something is deleted, it is deleted. The idea behind deletion is that no one needs to see it any more.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 1, 2018 at 17:00
  • 1
    @DanBron Has this been an issue in the past? I feel like the positives outweigh the potential issues that could arise by this. Deleted content can be a sign that there may be more issues. The fact we're given the privilege of seeing deleted posts seems to counter your argument that "no one needs to see it any more".
    – Blue
    Feb 1, 2018 at 18:40
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    It was a good suggested edit that you rolled back. Just sayin...
    – NVZ
    Feb 3, 2018 at 19:46
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    @FrankerZ: I think you misunderstand that rule. It’s about saving resources; in particular, reviewers’ time. However, in this case where the reviewing was already done, it’s you who wasted their time by undoing (minor spelling) improvements.
    – chirlu
    Feb 4, 2018 at 0:08
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    @FrankerZ Edits are incremental. Any improvement to the post should be encouraged. Anyways, I've made my point. You are free to reject stuff.
    – NVZ
    Feb 4, 2018 at 5:58
  • Hey, I just reached 10k ayer (Feb 6), a few days later than you did. Feb 7, 2018 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Historically, only mods had the ability to search for deleted questions. It's a restriction that's been loosened over time.

I suspect the main reason at this point of time is - no one has made a particularly compelling argument so far. I'm not really going to discount that yours might have merit but it's worth remembering that:

  • Smoke Detector picks up posts as they are posted over the API, and I believe keeps track of current true and false positive posts. The smokey admins would be the best people to confirm but I do believe metasmoke has a search functionality that lets you see past true and false positives

  • Smokey missing previous posts, may be an issue, but that means that that specific spammer was handled by the community as per design. I've also occasionally sent screenshots of such posts to smoke detector admins for inclusion. None the less, smokey to me augments and enhances organic and official spam flagging. I do think this isn't a bad idea. There's a few useful bots that could come out of this.

  • For your last two points while similar posts might be closable, I do think that the decision to close ought to be made on a question's own merits. If it's spam, a custom flag may help mods take a look since mods can search for closed posts universally.

  • 1
    Metasmoke allows us to search for posts, but it only records posts Smokey has caught. Usually this is enough, but very occasionally it would be useful to be able to do a Stack Exchange search for deleted posts.
    – NobodyNada
    Feb 4, 2018 at 16:21
  • There are a lot of mods in Charcoal though, so I don’t know how often we have a 10ker but non-mod for a site and need to search for deleted posts.
    – NobodyNada
    Feb 4, 2018 at 16:23
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    For your last point, I do agree somewhat that I believe that a question should be closed based on its own merits. Either way, the question was still an unfit question for the site, and would have likely been closed otherwise. My main point was that, if that user didn't see the connection, a mod flag wouldn't have been involved, and wouldn't have received any diamond moderator attention. In this case, the mods stepped in, nuked both accounts, and deleted both questions.
    – Blue
    Feb 5, 2018 at 22:29
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    @NobodyNada FYI, we do not have even a single mod on one of the top spammed sites, here, MSE. Feb 7, 2018 at 2:55

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