Why does Stack Exchange leave posts around claiming they are "hidden", when in reality they are totally visible, but just have a pink background?


Obviously the author of this post wanted it deleted. Why can I see it? It doesn't do me any good. It doesn't do the author any good either. Is this to somehow shame the author by immortalizing their post? Perhaps a deterrent to others, lest their posts meet the same fate?

I really don't get the logic behind this practice of claiming posts are deleted when actually they aren't. Can somebody please explain it to me?

  • 3
    Because OP licensed their contributions to SE indefinetly, also there are people that delete their posts out of anger and what not. Those could be perfectly valid posts. Same goes for example with negatively received feature-requests on meta. As OP you might want them gone from your list, but they still serve a purpose in telling others that this was suggested before and not received in good standing.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 14:42
  • 20
    It is hidden for the vast majority of users of that site. You're only able to see it because you have more than 10k of rep.
    – n8te
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 14:50
  • @n8te Okay, I was wondering if rep came into play, but I couldn't be bothered to try to figure out the algorithm. Thanks for that info. I still wish it were hidden by default, with an option to click to view or something.
    – Mentalist
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 14:52
  • 3
    Here are links to all deleted posts on Blender for you to enjoy: data.stackexchange.com/blender/query/1384176
    – rene
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:15
  • @rene That won't be necessary...
    – Mentalist
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:19
  • 2
    Once the genie is out of the bottle it's difficult to return it to from where it came without cooperation. You shouldn't assume that anything you publish is under your control to delete: our sites are mirrored and archived elsewhere (not under our control, and usually permitted by our terms of license), people take screenshots, and there's people's memory and word of mouth - none of which can be erased. --- To think no record exists of published work is a hopeful belief.
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:23
  • 1
    @Rob Yeah, it's the web. I get it. I was just wondering why SE was going out of its way to show me unhelpful posts that were supposedly deleted... but weren't really. My curiosity has been satisfied. Thanks.
    – Mentalist
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:27
  • 4
    Fyi, some posts are deleted not by the OP's actions but through moderation or automated mechanisms. If someone finds a deleted post that shouldn't have been deleted they could vote to undelete or bring it up in meta. Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:29
  • 2
    Iā€™m voting to close this question because the OP only had to look at the privileges page, in any account, to find the answer. Commented Mar 3 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


You see this because you have earned the access to moderator tools privilege.

If you don't want to see those posts, you can do one of those things:

  • Waste reputation until you have less than the required reputation for the privilege.
  • Create a new account and use it instead of your actual account.
  • Find or write a userscript that will actually hide deleted posts in your browser.

Good luck.

  • Thanks for the answer. "Waste reputation until you have less than required.." šŸ¤£ As fun (and annoying for others) as that might be - I'll pass. I can probably target the CSS for those elements and hide them with the Stylus browser add-on if I really care that much. The other aspect of the issue is that none of those actions would allow the author of the post to withdraw it. But I guess showing things people don't want shown, to people who don't want to see them, is the model SE has decided to go with. I have no further questions. šŸ˜
    – Mentalist
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:15
  • 1
    @Mentalist Here is such a userscript! Post Headers & Question TOC does this, it's from the excellent and useful list of SO (/SE) userscripts maintained by Samuel Liew.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 22:32
  • 4
    @DanDascalescu umm.. no? I'm afraid you are wrong. Logged out, anonymous visitors, or users without enough reputation can't see deleted posts. Not sure what, but something made you think that post you linked to is deleted. It's not. Commented Mar 2 at 21:09

Personally I'm looking forward to seeing a broader discussion on an international level about this issue for a number of reasons.

  1. The idea of "keeping things around indefinitely" is not a universal law as some posters would have us believe. But it is a fair warning about the risks of posting!

  2. Before the GDPR was approved in Europe, the general outcry from some sectors was: "it can never be done, (IOW because deleting data goes against our interests)!" Well guess again, the court order became law and turns out it's doable afterall.

  3. A recent trend is considering the environmental (energy) costs of keeping useless data around - see "Podcast 283: Cleaning up the cloud to help fight climate change" - stackoverflow.blog

  4. I don't see any objective gain in keeping VLQ posts of an unwitting/inexperienced poster around indefinitely against his expressed wishes. If it bothers him and that particular post didn't gain any impactful momentum might as well hard delete. If there is a real need the next poster will come around soon and recreate any valuable info it might have contained.

  5. Yeah, deleted posts are kept in the internet archive in the exact same way the waybackmachine (and many other such services) historically perpetuated stuff the GDPR made illegal.

  • An SO mod asked me once: "what will future users think about this?"

  • My answer: "they'll consider us a bunch of primitives for not hard deleting stuff that goes against individual wills - and in a way, takes advantage of folks who just didn't know any better at the moment they posted."

But all of this isn't just an SO/SE debate, it's a much broader internet and international law issue. I can only applaud companies that take the forefront and are willing to ease deletion/anonymizing of posts that disturbe their authors for whatever reason.

I'll end this post referencing a @MadScientist question, with an @animuson answer. I'm not satisfied with SE's handling of this, much less with the written production on the matter. (It's just an iteration of: "these abusive users and their nonsense requests/concerns." - The exact same thing was said not long ago before GDPR about legitimate privacy concerns.)

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