When regular users delete their questions, users with less than 10,000 reputation that stumble across the link are shown the following message:

Page not found

This question was voluntarily removed by its author.


When other users vote to delete someone's question (or delete it unilaterally with moderator abilities) a different message is shown:

Page not found

This question was removed from Meta Stack Exchange for reasons of moderation. Please refer to the help center for possible explanations why a question might be removed.


Generally speaking, regular users do not have the ability to delete their own questions if there are already upvoted answers posted thereto.

Now what happens when users with moderation powers delete their own posts that already have upvoted answers? While the question was still technically voluntarily removed by its author, I would expect the 404 page to display the other message. This is because the question was not deleted by the moderator in their mere capacity as the author of the post, but in their official capacity as a moderator. The real reason such a post was deleted would indeed be for reasons of moderation, as it was only possible to delete it because of special moderator powers.

However, the opposite is apparently true. The original new Code of Conduct FAQ post was posted by a Community Manager (i.e. someone with full moderation powers), and deleted by the same Community Manager. Had he not been a Community Manager (or moderator) he would not have been able to delete his question. Thus, the question was indeed deleted for reasons of moderation (as was in fact clarified by another Community Manager), and it is apparently merely a coincidence that the one who actually clicked the delete button also happened to be the one who had posted it. When I (as a less-than-10,000-reputation-user) view that question, it tells me that it was voluntarily removed by its author:


Can this be fixed so that the other explanation, which seems to be more accurate, will be displayed instead?

  • 1
    This seems like a fragile thing to special-case
    – Shog9
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:32
  • 4
    @Shog9 Fragile as in something might break if the underlying settings are tampered with?
    – Alex
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:35
  • 1
    "voluntarily removed by its author" made me laugh. It was removed by SE as an entity. The error page is misleading but I don't see that it needs intervention.
    – Drew
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:36
  • 2
    Fragile as in its accuracy depends on the state of such parameters at the time of deletion, @alex
    – Shog9
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:39
  • 1
    @Shog9 Are there cases where you wouldn't want to use the state of parameters at the time of deletion as the determinant?
    – Alex
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:43
  • 7
    We don't necessarily have that information, @alex. I've done a fair bit of work trying to classify deletions - there are a lot of edge cases and... Cases with straight-up missing information. The more precise I try to get, the more complicated that query becomes and the more weird edge cases I find, especially in older parts of the sites. Oh, and it gets slow. Slow is probably not great for a 404 page.
    – Shog9
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:48
  • @Shog9 Ah, got it.
    – Alex
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:50
  • 1
    @Shog9 But isn't there one case where the page can retroactively change? For instance, if a question is voluntarily removed by its author, and their account is later deleted, it will show as "removed for reasons of moderation". Oct 29, 2019 at 2:50
  • Yep. This is already pretty fragile.
    – Shog9
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:53
  • Based on how they're worded, the intent of those messages does not seem to be to tell apart posts deleted before answers, from posts forcibly deleted after answers; but to differentiate between posts deleted by their author out of their own volition, and posts deleted by other user(s), maybe against the author's wishes. I base this in the fact that the first message says "This question was voluntarily removed by its author." and not "This question was removed before it got any useful answers." Changing the message as you propose would not convey the same information.
    – walen
    Oct 29, 2019 at 9:02
  • This seems to be engaging in hair splitting. Is the distinction really important? What actual practical difference does it make.
    – Raedwald
    Oct 29, 2019 at 9:45
  • Would it have shown "For reasons of moderation" if a different mod would have deleted the question? Oct 29, 2019 at 13:05
  • @GrumpysaysReinstateMonica I believe so.
    – Alex
    Oct 29, 2019 at 13:06
  • 1
    @Alex That seems like a fairly obvious solution to the problem, would also mean 2 moderators (the post author & one other) would have to agree that deletion is necessary. Oct 29, 2019 at 13:06
  • 1
    @Raedwald I would argue that there are a lot of links to the old FAQ Q/A, and it's very dishonest in it's current state. Oct 29, 2019 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


Now what happens when users with moderation powers delete their own posts that already have upvoted answers?

Perhaps they shouldn't?

I'm reluctant to use moderator powers on content that's associated with me as a user.

I wouldn't, for example, handle or clear a flag that someone might raise against something I posted.

If a regular user couldn't delete their own question maybe a moderator shouldn't delete their own question either, but instead ask another moderator to do it. Then this issue re. the deletion message wouldn't arise.

  • Say that a moderator team comes to a consensus to delete a given post made by a moderator. I don't see why the author of the post can't be the one to physically carry out the team's consensus. Mar 22, 2020 at 1:30

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