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Here is a question that was asked that was negatively received. It has a -24 vote count. Clearly, the community has judged it negatively. But, the answer by Jon Ericson has 17 upvotes.

The logic behind denying a user the ability to self-delete a poorly received question that has an upvoted answer is because it's disrespectful to the answerer to have their work zapped. The user who asked the question can not even disassociate himself with said question without writing an explicit request via email and invoking their rights under the CC-BY-SA 3(a)(1). Why then is it ok to have a moderator delete the question, and with it the well-received answer? Isn't that also disrespectful to the answerer that invested his time and energy into it?

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    Not all very poorly received answers should be answered, in the first place! (This is especially true when an asker uses "over-the-top" accusations: (e.g., SE being hacked) when there are better explanations, less dramatic.) Secondly, there are provisions that allow for an answerer yielding three or more upvotes, after which the question answered is deleted, to retain the reputation from those answer upvotes. (There may be a time requirement for length of time the question/answer was posted prior to deletion for this to hold). – Namaste May 27 at 20:05
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    If we're not getting the answerer's consent about whether or not the question should be deleted, then why does just a moderator who has no stake in the question get to the make that decision? Why can't I delete my own questions, and apply the same provision above (the answerer can keep the reputation and it's all fine)? – Evan Carroll May 27 at 20:08
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    Because you don't have the privilege to do so; you're not trusted with that capability. Moderators are, and by extension, the community when enough users with the ability to vote thusly do so. – fbueckert May 27 at 20:09
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    @fbueckert ok, so why don't have that privilege? It's my question and it seems like if we don't care about the answerer I should have just as much of a privilege, as the contributor, to judge the continued value as moderator does. – Evan Carroll May 27 at 20:11
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    Because you agreed when you posted it that you were giving it to the network to do with as it pleases. That can include your judgement, but requires you to have the appropriate level of trust. – fbueckert May 27 at 20:26
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    What part of this question leads you to believe I'm confused at the way things are, rather than how they ought to be? – Evan Carroll May 27 at 20:30
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It's generally assumed that users self-deleting a question with a good answer isn't good. Having a good answer means that there's some good content attached to the question, and the user self-deleting the question would be removing useful content from the site, so in these cases self-deletion is not allowed.

On the other hand, moderators and users with 10k reputation are entrusted with the ability to vote to delete these questions. Some questions are just... not good, and actively harm the site to have around, even if they do have a good answer/good answers. For example, if someone asked about washing machines on Stack Overflow, we'd want to remove it from the site, regardless of whether it has a good answer.

However, users very frequently want to self-delete their questions after they've been answered for bad reasons, and allowing them to instantly and singlehandedly do this would cause quite a few problems. Even allowing users to self-delete their answered questions when the answer hasn't been upvoted yet causes problems (such as this), and I think it would be a lot worse if they could delete questions with good answers.

TL;DR 10kers voting to delete answered questions tends to causes more good than harm, but allowing authors to delete any of their own answered questions would likely cause more harm than good.

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    > However, users very frequently want to self-delete their questions after they've been answered for bad reasons, and allowing them to instantly and singlehandedly do this would cause quite a few problems. What problems are unique to this circumstance but not applicable when a moderator deletes questions? – Evan Carroll May 27 at 20:41
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    @EvanCarroll moderators are usually much more familiar with the site than the question author and should know if it really needs to be deleted or not. Mods don't often delete answered questions, but do in certain situations. So basically, mods deleting questions causes a lot less problems than question authors. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales May 27 at 20:43
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Because the buck stops somewhere.

In lots of cases especially on meta - someone actually has to make the hard decisions, considering intent the harm/good that deleting a post does and so on.

Some time back, a hot question on Server Fault ended up being a poor attempt at trolling and was deleted. I lost a chunk of rep on it, and when someone expressed it seemed unfair - well, I personally was fine with it, considering everything.

So in this case someone reviewed the question and the tone of it, felt it did more harm than good, and made the decision, with the full intent, and ability to deal with the fallout.

If a user any user flags a question or a mod comes across it - and on the whole, its better to not have around we may delete.

However, what we don't want is folks asking questions - with full awareness it could be downvoted, and deleting to avoid the consequences, especially on meta.

We even have a badge encouraging folks to engage constructively to unpopular questions - reversal.

So - in short, Moderators can make that decision, but in moderation. Users on the other hand, until they're aware of the full extent of their posts probably shouldn't. We're for most part accountable (I actually got that SF rep back!) and probably will very carefully discuss and weigh the pros and cons of the situation before deciding- even if its between drama now, and drama later.

If you're a user in good standing and can make a good arguement for changing the status of a post (either for deletion or undoing it) you can always flag for review, though in that particular case, with a less sensational post already in place, I'd recommend not bothering.

  • None of this makes sense in the context of the question. "So in this case someone reviewed the question and the tone of it, felt it did more harm than good, and made the decision, with the full intent, and ability to deal with the fallout." What does that have to do with anything? I'm also saying some of my questions do more harm then good? Why shouldn't I be able to delete them. You seem to think I'm trying to stop people from deleting my questions. I'm not. I want to be able to delete them as well. Try rereading the question. – Evan Carroll May 28 at 4:21
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    @EvanCarroll: "I'm also saying some of my questions do more harm then good? Why shouldn't I be able to delete them." Because we don't trust that regular users can tell what does "more harm than good". We elect moderators to have that power and therefore the trust to make that determination. That is, allowing users to delete such questions is open to abuse, but sometimes we need such questions deleted, so we elect certain trusted individuals to have that power. – Nicol Bolas May 28 at 15:45
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All of this boils down to one very important concept: Trust

In a nutshell, posters, by themselves, don't have any. They are afforded the luxury of being able to delete their own question, but only under strict criteria. Once those criteria are no longer met, it requires users that are trusted to use the system properly, and exercise their judgement to delete such posts. I'd argue that posters shouldn't have the ability to delete their post once it gets any answer, not just an upvoted answer.

Is it disrespectful to those that answer when their post is deleted? Well, it can be. Just like it can be argued that janitors cleaning up after someone tracks mud into a museum is disrespectful. I'd argue that leaving it in the hands of the asker, however, is far more problematic than giving that ability to the people the system trusts.

Janitors can get it wrong; nobody's perfect, after all. But just as they're trusted with that ability, they're also trusted with the reverse, to rectify their personal, or the community's, mistakes. That's what community moderation is all about; working together to make the site better, performed by those that the system trusts to do so.

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