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I know there's a small "deleted recent questions" link at the bottom of a user's Questions list if they click through to it from their Activity on their profile. But a new user may not know to do that. And I've read the deleted questions FAQ, but it doesn't seem to address this.

Given this scenario:

  1. User signs up
  2. User posts question, then (as so many do, sigh) goes away for a few hours
  3. Post gets deleted
  4. User returns

What do they actually see? Is there anything proactively pointing them to the fact their post was deleted? A notification in their Inbox? Etc.?

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  • 1
    That's probably a good case for doing a sock-puppet experiment. Jun 16 '18 at 14:29
  • 1
    @πάνταῥεῖ - Would require coordinating with other users (or, I suppose, just posting a really bad question -- something that looks like a homework dump would probably do it :-) ). Jun 16 '18 at 14:37
  • 1
    Homework dump question posted at a highly observed topic like c++ or java at SO from a sock-puppet account should just work out well ;-). May be leaving an additional notice at the SOCVR could speed up that as well. Jun 16 '18 at 14:40
11

TL;DR

What do they actually see?

Nothing, unless:

  • They left the browser window with their question in it open,
  • They had a link to the question,
  • Or they got at least one comment on the question.

That last is significant, of course. Probably 90%+ of questions en route to deletion will receive at least one comment.[citation needed]

Is there anything proactively pointing them to the fact their post was deleted? A notification in their Inbox? Etc.?

No, nothing, other (again) than any comment notifications.

Details

I posted a low-quality question (with a throwaway sockpuppet) to Stack Overflow as suggested by πάντα ῥεῖ and got it closed and deleted, observing the process as it occurred.

Before the question is closed

  • User gets no indication close votes have been cast.
  • User does see the question score (aggregate, new users don't get breakdowns).
  • Naturally, user sees comments.

Once question is closed but not yet deleted

  • User sees the close reason.
  • User sees the delete count (which I thought was interesting, given they don't see the close votes).

Once question is deleted

  • User gets no notification — nothing in the inbox, no email (not that I'm advocating email!), nothing.
  • The question just disappears from their Activity tab, which says Questions (0) and You have not asked any questions.
  • If the user clicks through to their list of Questions (but they won't), it again says You have not asked any questions and it has the "deleted recent questions" link.
  • If the user clicks the link (but they won't), they see the question listed and can follow it.
  • Their Inbox does have at least one entry in it if there were comments on the question.

Unfortunately, what I didn't think to do was to avoid clearing Inbox notifications of comments, and so I don't know if those would still be marked with the red [1] (or [2] or [3]). Presumably they would be.

Of course, if the user had a link to the question, or left it open in their browser when they went away and came back, they'd be able to see it. But if they didn't think to do that, nothing helps them find out their question was poorly-received and deleted except the comment notifications (if they received comments, but I suspect in general they will get at least one comment).

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    The lack of notifications and visibility of close votes is worrying. If people were aware that their question was being closed, they might have time to do something about it before it was gone forever.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jun 16 '18 at 16:01
  • There should be some concrete FR's derived from these observations. I tried to do some, earlier, but without that detailed view. I would appreciate such. Jun 16 '18 at 16:02
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    @πάνταῥεῖ - That was basically the next step. :-) I want to think about it. As Chris said, probably worthwhile showing them close votes and the reasons used. I was thinking there should be an Inbox notification of the deletion, though comment notifications sticking around in the Inbox means there is some kind of notification (if there were comments). Although of course if they had already seen the comments, then go away, then come back, there's no new notification. Anyway, will think and do FRs. Jun 16 '18 at 16:05
  • @ChrisF I totally agree. Many times new users are told in comments that they're on the wrong track about that. But this many times only heatens the process and is even allowing for complaints about unwelcomeness, minorizing and all other kind of completely irrelevant things. Jun 16 '18 at 16:06
  • @T.J.Crowder I love to work with great minds in synchronization ;-) Jun 16 '18 at 16:08
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    delete count is shown because low rep users can delete their posts. Reasoning for hiding close count is probably that when under 250 rep they can't cast close votes on own questions (not that I find this reasoning very compellin)
    – gnat
    Jun 16 '18 at 17:12
  • @gnat - That's a reason for showing the delete link, not necessarily for showing the count of existing delete votes. :-) Jun 17 '18 at 7:42
  • What do you mean by TL;DR?
    – AA Shakil
    Jun 17 '18 at 20:14
  • showing the count of votes makes some sense, it seems natural to provide additional details for some action allowed for the user. Although most probable reason for this is that they didn't want to spend extra effort coding the reputation check that would allow showing delete link differently to 10K users and to post authors under 10K
    – gnat
    Jun 18 '18 at 5:20
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    It is great you did this experiment and showed the results so clearly! I have been thinking that there should be an indicator when close votes are being displayed, like we have now when there are votes to close as duplicate. Having a little header saying eg: Some people observe this question might be off-topic because... Questions about general computing hardware and software are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve tools used primarily for programming. You may be able to get help on Super User. Jun 22 '18 at 9:10

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