I was on the Biology Stack Exchange (where I have in the low 100 area of rep currently) and stumbled across a deleted answer:

Screenshot of the deleted post.

It's harder to read the text through the screenshot, but it states:

i wss more concerned about the verbiage--- helps kill vs. kills what does helps kill mean

Now, this is clearly a post that should've been deleted, but should I be able to read this so easily? Additionally, should I even be able to see this in developer tools (used for confirmation):

Screenshot of developer tools.

Also, I am able to interact with the post, though functionalities like voting show a message due to the post being disabled:

Screenshot of the message.

Should I be able to read/interact with a deleted post like this, or is it a bug?

  • 9
    What you're seeing usually happens when the post is deleted while you are on the page - this means we assume you were already able to see it. It's possible you loaded the page right before it got deleted.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


You only see this when the post wasn't deleted at the time you loaded the page, but was deleted after you already loaded it, so it's relatively rare. (Unless you're an active Charcoal HQ member, that is.)

Now, this is clearly a post that should've been deleted, but should I be able to read this so easily?

If you have JavaScript or WebSockets disabled, or your Internet connection went offline, you wouldn't even get that notification. Also, while the post was still undeleted, you could have saved the page as HTML or made an online snapshot. Conclusion: there's no foolproof way to prevent users to view deleted posts after showing them.

The advantages of the current implementation are:

  • it's made clear to the user what is happening
  • it doesn't cause a sudden upwards movement of other UI elements; it's 'cleaner' than automatically removing the answer from your screen, or replacing it with a 'post deleted' banner
    • this could be solved with CSS visibility: hidden, but then you'd still be able to see it in the developer tools
  • 2
    The live refresh for hiding deleted posts is also relatively new. In the past, this used to not be loaded, and the post would continue to show live until the page was refreshed. I think this feature was added more for convenience so people could see that a post was deleted, rather than for philosophical reasons that deleted posts should be immediately hidden from view. Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 22:10

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