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I've always wanted to know why Stack Exchange doesn't allow us to delete our own questions and answers permanently, forever, not just a dummy soft delete or something like that. I understand when the question has an answer or when an answer has been accepted, but even posts with no interaction or posts which were not well received cannot be permanently deleted. That doesn't make sense to me.

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    Counter question: why should users be able to permanently delete a post?
    – VLAZ
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 6:20
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    Permanently deleting things is actually a lot harder than you might think it is, even for a post that has seemingly very little interaction. You also have to delete everything that ever pointed to it.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 6:22
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    Normal users won't actually see your deleted question(s). They'll instead see a "404 Page not found" error. So, you don't really have to worry about permanently deleting your question(s)...
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 6:26
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    If the problem is that your name is associated with a deleted post this post could be helpful: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/96732/…
    – Luuklag
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 7:17

1 Answer 1

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It is easier, from a technical point of view, to only soft-delete records in a database. There is much less to worry about breaking referential integrity. Also better to have all the history if you want to run quality algorithms per user.

There is also a license issue. Once you post on an SE site you have given SE an perpetual and irrevocable license and as such ...

This means that you cannot revoke permission for Stack Overflow to publish, distribute, store and use such content and to allow others to have derivative rights to publish, distribute, store and use such content.

You did read the fine-print, right?

So if you want to hard delete stuff there is consent needed from you and SE. The latter party will not agree on deleting. They might benefit from deleted content in the future. For example they might publish a book: "The Deleted Parts!" with the best deleted posts across the network. That book might come in an uncensored version as well. Booker Prize material.

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