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A moderator recently commented,

As an aside. Sigh Posting screenshots of deleted stuff is not ok. A link would do just as well, as the pertinent details. You'd get your answer anyway – Journeyman Geek♦ 2 hours ago

The moderator appears to be saying that posting screenshots of deleted posts is wrong. Posting screenshots or linking to them is common to allow users with less than 10k reputation to see the post being discussed. I've done this myself a few times in the past. Is this actually against the rules?

The question Taking screenshots of deleted answers on meta sites is considered bad behavior? and answer by a mod seems to indicate it is alright provided there's no malicious intent. However that was from 8 years ago and a lot of rules have changed since then.

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4 Answers 4

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Sometimes.

I think there's a extremely big difference between an 'order' and a request.

This was a controversial post, removed in a manner it wouldn't cause harm. It's also vaguely political and in its current form calls out a mod. I'm fine with answering but if some aspects of it feel problematic, especially if there's off-site fallout. I suggested an alternative, as a potentially affected user I was more comfortable with, trusting the OP to do what I felt was an equitable solution. We are all grownups here, and to an extent we do sometimes have a little give and take. No action has been taken as you might have noticed. I've even given advanced notice of comment cleanups.

If you're expecting an answer from me or another member of the mod team- a link and description is good enough. We can see deleted posts (not redacted ones) after all.

Practically - there are situations where posting deleted content, removed for reasons of moderation or leaking of confidential information is probably going to get you in trouble. Stuff like that leak of stuff off mod Teams for example. A good guideline is if it had been flag deleted, or redacted, you certainly shouldn't post it, and it gets treated like the original content should have been.

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    Ironically enough, you just requested a screenshot to something since you couldn't see it since you're a mod here but not on the site being discussed (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/375440/…). So the link only applies if the deleted question is on the same site as the moderator…
    – M. Justin
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 5:42
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    You got me here, but that's why the broader context - where its controversial and involves calling out people is important. I've given enough context in y answer to say why its not ok in this case Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 6:08
  • Absolutely. I completely agree that you've made it very clear in this answer that it's very context-specific. I just stumbled upon this answer when trying to figure out what the general standards were about posting deleted stuff before posting it on the other question. Just found it mildy serendipitously amusing, as well as noting that it was a (probably atypical) exception to a point you raised.
    – M. Justin
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 6:11
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+50

It's not against the rules if you aren't stirring up trouble by a deletion that was blatantly justified, according to the Help Center:

Viewing deleted posts

You now have privileged access to posts that have been removed, either by their authors, by users with access to moderator tools, by moderators, or by the system.

Use this privilege wisely:

  • 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.

  • Watch for signs of abuse being obscured by deletion.

  • Don't abuse this privilege to stir up trouble when someone has wisely decided to remove a problematic post.

In short, if it was an unnecessary deletion, even by a mod, you are encouraged to bring it to the attention of the community.

Avoid, however, discussing other people's bans. I assume that the banned person can discuss whether the deletion was justified or not.


Avoid spamming deleted content

Obviously, asking about trivial deletions (e.g. comments) is a bad idea. Unless you have seen (and documented) systematic unnecessary deletions.

Also, as stated in the quote:

Use this privilege wisely

and

Don't abuse this

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  • There are also times when it is necessary. For example, if there is a question regarding a low quality post, and it gets deleted, users with less than 10k rep may miss out on important discussions.
    – hat
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:45
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    Note that 'bring attention too' can be done without reposting, which is what this question is about. So, how does the help center justify reposting screenshots of deleted content in all cases?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:45
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    @Tinkeringbell: not in all cases, just when it is both helpful and not harmful.
    – hat
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:47
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    so, @hat, can you define either? As this answer stands, it answers very little about what would be helpful, what would be harmful... While I'm all for using common sense, I'd hate people getting the impression that it's always helpful to include deleted stuff because people with less than 10k rep can't see it. We can perfectly fine have those discussions without screenshots, because users with over 10k can see it, quote or describe what's wrong, and users with less rep can learn from that.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:51
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    @Tinkeringbell "reposting screenshots of deleted content in all cases" - Neither my answer nor the quote says "in all cases".
    – user
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:53
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    It also doesn't say when it is or isn't necessary though. This allows an unnecessary amount of room for people to just repost stuff without thinking about that.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 19:54
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    @Tinkeringbell "This allows an unnecessary amount of room for people to just repost stuff without thinking about that." - Those are the current rules. Again, they are not my interpretation, it literally says "if it's wrong, show us". Even the "abuse" part is covered in "Don't abuse this privilege" for people that decide it's a good idea to spam deleted content. However, if you disagree and would like them changed please feel free to post a [feature-request] so that the community can give feedback.
    – user
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 20:12
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If you think a deleted post should be visible in its entirety, you think the post should not have been deleted.

You should cast a vote to undelete the post. If you don't have the privileges to see a deleted post and to cast an undelete vote, you are not considered sufficiently trusted to know when that is the right thing to do.

If you can see that a post was deleted by a moderator, you are disagreeing with a moderator action. If you think the moderator has abused their position, you should follow the usual procedure for that situation.

That is, you should use the existing rules tools and procedures for those cases.

If a post was deleted because some of it was unacceptable, reposting the acceptable parts, with the rest cropped out or redacted, seems to be OK (I've seen it done in several meta posts over several years). But this requires some care, because you have to make a judgement about which parts were acceptable.

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    "If you think a deleted post should be visible in its entirety, you think the post should not have been deleted." - I absolutely disagree. If a post is a bad fit for a site for whatever reason, it should be deleted. That's unrelated as to whether posting a screenshot of a deleted post is unreasonable on a meta site.
    – ohmu
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 17:58
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As others have said, posts are deleted for a reason - and it would generally (IMHO) be wrong to post a screen-shot of such a post (but vide infra). Posting a link to a deleted post, though, has less potential negative impact (as only 10K+ users can see it - but even they can't see it without that link).

I once raised an issue on MSO about a deleted post. I didn't post a link in the original question but stated (as a post-script) that, should a moderator feel that it was OK to do so, then I would (in an edit).

What transpired in that case (the post was deleted by SE staff due to a DMCA request) was that a mod (or maybe staff - can't recall offhand) posted an answer to my question with the said link in it, and also included a 'mini' screen-shot of the relevant part of the deleted post (the comment about the DMCA request).

So, I would always await moderator/staff approval before posting either a screen-shot of, or a link to, a deleted post.

EDIT:
I should, perhaps, add some details for clarity! If the post in question was deleted solely for reasons of (low) quality, and a question is being raised on a Meta-site in order (say) to solicit potential undelete votes, then I would generally agree that it's OK to post a link, so that those with sufficient rep can look over it there and then, rather than wait for it to come along in a review queue (if that's how such things work); it may even be appropriate to post a screen-shot, so that lower-rep users can comment on its worthiness for un-deletion. In such cases, seeking or awaiting moderator approval would probably be overkill.

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