I have a vanity search set up on Google. Every once in awhile a post or a comment comes through that just seems ambiguous, outdated, or whatever... so I follow the link and I clean it up or delete it.

I can see my deleted posts. +10K users/moderators can see deleted posts. Deleted posts are listed in the sitemap.xml. But can Google see deleted posts?

Related question: If Google already index the post, will it likely be removed from the search listings after deleted?

  • Just to be pedantic, robots.txt doesn't list any question, answer or comments. It's done in the sitemap (which can optionally be referred to by robots.txt) Jan 26, 2010 at 16:44
  • Oops. I really did mean "sitemap.xml". Post edited. Jan 26, 2010 at 16:45
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    If a question is indexed while "alive" and then deleted it'll appear in the search results until the site is re-index. Then it should disappear.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 26, 2010 at 18:31
  • @ChrisF - But only if Google can no longer index that deleted post (which is still on the site, viewable by some, and in the sitemap.xml). That is the crux of my question. Jan 26, 2010 at 19:24
  • Maybe I should have italicised should. I also must admit that I missed the significance of that sentence until you pointed it out.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 26, 2010 at 20:04
  • related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/304904/312691
    – mbloch
    Dec 21, 2017 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


I think the correct thing here is that deleted questions should not show up in Google.

The reason is that if they do show up, you run into the same situation that makes Experts Exchange so evil — someone has a problem and finds a results in Google that looks like it should have their answer. But when they click the link it brings them to a page that hides the everything unless they first make a significant investment in the site. It doesn't matter that on StackOverflow it's time rather than money.

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    This is not on purpose. SO doesn't have a way of telling google delete this now!!!11one It's not either SO nor google being evil.
    – perbert
    Jan 26, 2010 at 17:44
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    Of course it's not on purpose, but it's all the same from the perspective of the end user. Jan 26, 2010 at 18:04

Since Google's behaviour is outside of Jeff et al's ability to control, maybe the message displayed should clearly state that the question was deleted instead of showing the usual 404.


Yes, they are indexed and cached by Google. This deleted Question shows up on Google.

  • I'm not seeing this. The "deleted question" link shows "page not found" (of course) and the Google link doesn't seem to show the post in the search result, as far as I can tell. Jan 26, 2010 at 16:42
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    @10k's, when was that question deleted? Google says it indexed it 19 hours ago Jan 26, 2010 at 16:45
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    It was deleted 14 hours ago.
    – nb69307
    Jan 26, 2010 at 16:51
  • @Robert C. Cartaino: You need 10K to see it on SO, but if it's been cached by Google you can see it there without the 10K. Jan 26, 2010 at 17:31
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    I don't see it either on the google search...
    – perbert
    Jan 26, 2010 at 17:42

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