When a question is deleted, this automatically deletes all answers as well. However, moderators are able to undelete answers, as I did for science here (screenshot for <10k users). This leads e.g. to the timeline and revision history of the answer being visible to all users, and the answer appears in search results as well. Does this have a particular use case (I can't think of one right now), or is it a bug?

  • 6
    Quite a philosophical conundrum there. What is an answer without a question?
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 9:57
  • 5
    There's a script that runs every hour that deletes answers to deleted questions. Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 9:58
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog nice, I didn't know! Still, it would make more sense to prevent it in the first place.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:00
  • 3
    I see a valid use case for it, especially the revision history. It can be used to archive useful answers to the Wayback Machine, especially great answers written to extremely negatively-received questions or questions written by sockpuppets of banned or suspended users. Once it's archived, the script will re-delete it. Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:02
  • 1
    Maybe related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/322608
    – Paul White
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:04
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog that sounds like a good answer :) We would need to tweak SmokeDetector a bit, but it could also be used to archive spam posts we missed.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:14
  • 2
    @VLAZ: 42, obviously...
    – honk
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:15
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    Also, when doing this, there's an interesting (buggy?) behavior that the binding undelete votes will look like (or converted to?) pending undelete votes after it has been automatically deleted by the script. (Reff: doing science back then) Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 10:17
  • 1
    Use case: Jeopardy.SE
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


Does this have a particular use case

If a moderator wants to ensure a particular answer always remains deleted (even in the event the question is undeleted), they would undelete the answer, then immediately delete it again. A mod-deleted answer cannot be undeleted by regular users.

A moderator might also do this on request see How can I delete an answer explicitly, even after the question has already been deleted, so it's not restored if the question is undeleted?

More generally, a moderator might undelete an answer briefly so they could perform an action (convert to comment, spam-delete) that requires the post to be not deleted at the time of the action, without also undeleting the host question.


There's another legitimate use case for this functionality.

Occasionally, a question with high-quality, useful answers needs to be deleted for moderation reasons (e.g. it was posted by a sockpuppet of a banned or suspended user, or some other rare cases like a particular extremely negatively-received feedback post here from 1.5 years ago). This feature can be used to preserve good-quality answers so that they're publicly visible, by allowing their revision history to be archived to the Wayback Machine.

There's also not much harm (to the database) that can be done with this feature. As I commented, there's an hourly script that deletes answers to deleted questions, so even if an answer to a deleted question is inappropriately restored, it'll get reversed.

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