Take the following scenario:

  • You post an answer.
  • The author deletes the question. This automatically deletes your answer as well, but (as I understand it), your answer would later be undeleted if the question is undeleted.
  • You want to delete your answer explicitly, so that it remains deleted even if the question is later undeleted.

Can this be done, and if so, how?

(Please assume that is not a practical solution to recheck constantly whether the question has been undeleted, before then deleting the answer in the normal way.)

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    Note that if the answer to the above is that it is not possible, then I might post a related feature request to make it possible. – alani Aug 19 at 6:31
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    You could flag for a moderator to undelete the question, delete your answer, and then re-delete the question, but that would block the author from later undeleting the question themselves. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Aug 19 at 6:37
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    @SonictheMaskedWerehog So given the side-effect, I guess that that is not an entirely practical solution either. Thanks for the edits to the question, BTW. – alani Aug 19 at 6:39
  • Usually Q|A's become the property of SE; they are licensed under CC. There can be exceptions, with a reason. See here: meta.stackexchange.com/q/107985/282094 and here: meta.stackexchange.com/q/132117/282094 - if this is a duplicate of one of those, or a related question, please close your question. – Rob Aug 19 at 6:51
  • What is the reason you want this done? Is there anything in the answer that shouldn't be there? In such case deletion is not enough to make it disappear, as outlined by the answer below, 10K users can still see deleted content. – Luuklag Aug 19 at 8:56
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    @Luuklag To answer your question, I am asking largely a general query, although the specific use case that gave rise to it was an answer that in reality was more of an extended comment on a deficient question than a proper answer, and which by definition would no longer be applicable if it reached the stage that the question had been edited satisfactorily enough to allow it to be undeleted. There is nothing in the answer that needs to be hidden from 10K users. – alani Aug 19 at 9:23
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    Well then you'll get a notification that it the question is undeleted because your answer will get downvoted pretty quickly then ;) – Luuklag Aug 19 at 9:35
  • Fair enough ;-) – alani Aug 19 at 9:36
  • BTW, thanks for your comment @Rob, but I can confirm that it is not a question about permanent deletion or hiding any sensitive content. – alani Aug 19 at 9:37
  • @Luuklag Downvotes don't trigger notifications though. To be fair, they can be easy to notice, especially multiple downvotes. – 41686d6564 Aug 19 at 9:38
  • No, but you'll see them on your profile under recent reputation changes – Luuklag Aug 19 at 9:39
  • alaniwi, that makes it clearer: "When a question is deleted the people who answered lose the ability to edit or delete their answer; which is useful, should the question ever be undeleted." --- Similar: meta.stackexchange.com/q/256026/282094 meta.stackexchange.com/q/349629/282094 - The FAQ says: "Answers are automatically deleted when the question they're attached to is deleted. Such answers are automatically undeleted when the question is undeleted, except for answers that were deleted before the question was deleted.". – Rob Aug 19 at 13:50
  • If a moderator can delete answers in deleted questions, maybe a custom flag would do the trick. – Trilarion Aug 19 at 15:43

One option you have is to somehow resurrect the question, to then delete your answer, to then get the question deleted again. Which requires plenty of effort, and might confuse the people who decided to delete that question (be that the OP owning the question, or curators voting for deletion). You see, "I want to delete an associated answer" isn't in the list of valid reasons to vote for re-opening a closed question. And remember: if deletion happened by curators, there were multiple people, probably first voting for closing, then for deletion.

So, if that really matters that much to you: follow that question, and you should be notified when something changes about it. Then you can still come in and delete your answer.

But yes: your content still exists on deleted questions. Users with 10K+ reputation can look at deleted questions, and they can also see your answer there. But: there is no way for other users to "find" deleted questions easily, as users can't query for them. People can only get to your content when they know the URL and have 10K reputation.

Interestingly enough, that 10K privilege also allows you to edit your own content, at least: you can edit a deleted answer, and probably also an answer on someone else's deleted question.

And of course remember: when you hit the submit button, your content (to a certain degree), from there on, it wasn't no longer "yours". You agreed to the licence model, and that means: you can't just come back and have everything "fully" deleted (easily).

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  • Thanks for the response. The individual situation that the question relates to is not hugely important, although I raised this question partly by way of general query, in case it is of future relevance. For more details, please see my response to Luuklag's comment on my question above. – alani Aug 19 at 9:31
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    (I've added a link to the follow feature but... just realized the ability to follow deleted questions doesn't exist yet: meta.stackexchange.com/q/350505/369802)... so you might want to revise the answer to scratch that entire paragraph. Another useful link (perhaps): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/346423/… – Tinkeringbell Aug 19 at 9:42
  • @Tinkeringbell Thanks for your kind help! – GhostCat Aug 19 at 10:36
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    "To my knowledge, you can't modify deleted content." I am able to edit my own deleted answers. I've done this before: I realized I didn't want the answer to exist in its current form, deleted it, edited it, and then undeleted it. So some deleted content can be edited in its deleted state. (I also suspect you can edit deleted questions while they are deleted, but I can't confirm that.) It's only this edge case of editing an answer that's part of a deleted question that seems to be impossible. (Or is it just that the question, and your answer, can no longer be found?) – Jason Bassford Aug 19 at 11:30
  • @JasonBassford I thought about that, but wasnt sure how to express that. I reworked the answer, hopefully it works better now. – GhostCat Aug 19 at 11:35
  • "users can't query for them": I know the periodic public database dumps are anonymized, but is deleted content included, and is the deletion status visible in the database dump? – Ross Presser Aug 19 at 17:29

Is there a reason why you would not ask for moderator help with such a rare situation? The help describes moderators as "human exception handlers". A moderator could delete your answer without needing to undelete the question.

The drawback of that as I understand it is that you wouldn't be able to undelete your answer without moderator assistance, but that sounds like it's not an issue because you want it to stay deleted. Another moderator flag would fix that regardless.

I'm not sure if you're able to flag the deleted post, but you could flag one of your other posts for moderator attention and explain the situation.

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    The author of a post has the power to undelete their post at any time if it was deleted by them. By making the moderator undelete the question and then re-delete it, you take that power from the OP for no good reason. That is an issue, IMO. – 41686d6564 Aug 20 at 3:01
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    @41686d6564 Sure, as I mentioned. But the situation seems rare and if the author wanted it undeleted, a moderator flag would solve that too. – Prim Reaper Aug 20 at 10:59
  • The author would need to a) know that that option exists, and b) wait a few hours to a few days until their flag is handled and the question is undeleted. I don't think it's a good idea to make someone to suffer the consequences of something they were not involved in. – 41686d6564 Aug 20 at 11:17
  • There's actually a slight quirk in the system where a moderator can undelete an answer on a deleted question then delete the answer again without touching the Q itself - that then wouldn't affect the question asker and their ability to undelete if they wanted - although if the answer wanted undeletion then it would require moderator assistance. – Jon Clements Aug 20 at 11:53
  • @JonClements Thanks - I wasn't sure if a moderator could delete the answer without undeleting the question. – Prim Reaper Aug 20 at 13:52
  • @41686d6564 It turns out the moderator doesn't need to undelete the question to delete the answer. – Prim Reaper Aug 20 at 13:53

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