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According to the current rules, users cannot delete their own questions if there is an upvoted answer and users cannot delete an answer if it is accepted (even if the question turned out to be a duplicate and the duplicate target has exactly the same answer). I think that the same rules should apply to users who want to delete somebody else's question which has an upvoted answer or an answer if it is accepted.

Of course there may be exceptions. For example, if users accept their own answer to their own question, the whole question-answer pair can be deleted.

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    If you're going to make a feature request you also need to explain why you think it's a good idea. If someone asks and self answers something wildly off-topic and then accepts that answer, why shouldn't the whole thing be deleted for instance? Feb 13, 2022 at 0:19
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    Given that a user deleting their own content and other users voting to delete posts are substantially different in multiple ways, both in how the system handles the two cases and in the probable motivations/reasons for wanting to delete, it's clearly not self-evident to many/most people that the rules should be the same. Thus, the request for further explanation is reasonable. While you might consider it self-evident, it's effectively a useless response to say only that when it's obvious that the people asking you for further explanation clearly don't share that point of view.
    – Makyen
    Feb 13, 2022 at 4:12
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    @markvs Which, as the system currently works, they generally can, except in the situations where their deletion of their content affects other people or other people's content. It's also already harder for other people to delete other people's content, as it requires between 3 to 10 other users to vote to delete a post (other than moderators, who can delete any post unilaterally).
    – Makyen
    Feb 13, 2022 at 4:27
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    I suggest you read How does deleting work? …, because you definitely have some misconceptions about how deleting works on Stack Exchange. Without you understanding what's in that Q&A, it's really difficult for your suggestions for improvements to be accurate and reasonable. I expect you will find that people are more receptive to your suggestions for improvement if your statements demonstrate that you know how things currently work.
    – Makyen
    Feb 13, 2022 at 4:58
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    As to my statements being inaccurate: No, what I said was correct. It was imprecise, because I didn't explicitly detail what "the situations where their deletion of their content affects other people or other people's content" means with respect to deleting on Stack Exchange. I'd assumed a mutual understanding of what's in How does deleting work? …, and an understanding that comments are considered ephemeral, but it's clear you're not aware of the contents of that post and appear to value comments substantially higher than what's normal on Stack Exchange.
    – Makyen
    Feb 13, 2022 at 5:01
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    Given that you said "somebody else with enough reps will be able to delete my question together with your answer", and said it in a way that meant that a high rep user can unilaterally delete someone else's question (or answer for that matter), then you clearly don't understand how deleting works. Authors can unilaterally delete their own content, when permitted to delete. Moderators can delete anything. Other users, regardless of their reputation, can only vote to delete. They can not unilaterally delete other people's content. So, no, you don't understand how deleting works.
    – Makyen
    Feb 13, 2022 at 5:06
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    @markvs 'I know triples of users collaborate to delete many perfectly good questions and answers' how do you know this? Do you take part in that activity? Please link examples and/or other evidence... Feb 13, 2022 at 5:47
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    @markv 'If you want you can find examples yourself' err..no. You made the claim, you should provide the evidence, else it didn't happen. Claims without evidence are common on SE/SO metas and I have no confidence in them:( Feb 13, 2022 at 7:47
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    Re "I know triples of users collaborate to delete many perfectly good questions and answers": It is difficult to prove a negative, but I don't think that is the case. I don't think there is behind-the-scenes communication to coordinate deletion. The closest may be SOCVR, but they have very strict rules. A delete vote creates some attention and thus it may appear like a collaboration. May you consider, at your earliest convenience, to provide some evidence? Feb 13, 2022 at 11:15
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    You do know SOCVR is an officially recognized room that has a strict set of rules on what is allowed or not, as well as monitored by multiple mods and even CMs? Also - already mentioned by This_is_NOT_a_forum above Feb 15, 2022 at 11:52
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    @markvs Can give a couple of examples of "perfectly good questions and answers" which are discussed in SOCVR? Feb 15, 2022 at 11:59
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    @markvs Let me ask again: are there any posts which are closed, downvoted and deleted which are of sufficient quality so they should have kept around instead? Feb 15, 2022 at 12:06
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    Also note that SOCVR welcomes and encourages the opposite requests, reopen-pls and undel-pls. If you feel a post on SO Main in which you are not involved isn't being appropriately and reasonably promptly handled in the normal process, then you, or anyone, are welcome to, and encouraged to, post a reopen-pls or undel-pls request in SOCVR. The overall goal is to have quality, on-topic content on SO. SOCVR would be very happy to see more such requests for quality content.
    – Makyen
    Feb 23, 2022 at 1:55
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    I should note that there are other general requirements for requests in SOCVR, so please read the FAQ prior to posting. Those rules exist to keep the room functioning smoothly, limit conflict between users, make it clear that Meta Stack Overflow supersedes anything in SOCVR, etc. Feel free to ask questions about procedure in the room. In addition, if you see a request with which you disagree, you're welcome to constructively state that disagreement and/or ask for clarification as to why someone feels a particular action is desirable.
    – Makyen
    Feb 23, 2022 at 1:56
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    No, that doesn't indicate that any reopen-pls request is useless. If you mean that such a request is useless for this question, then that's a different statement. SOCVR handles only the main Stack Overflow site, so certainly wouldn't be appropriate for this question. As for this question specifically, given that you've refused to edit to clarify or to provide the additional information which has been requested in the comments, then, frankly, I don't see how the situation has changed since the question was closed. If you had been willing to improve it, then it might have been reopened.
    – Makyen
    Feb 23, 2022 at 2:21

1 Answer 1

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There are four fairly distinct sets of people who can delete things on Stack Exchange.

  • the post owner
  • moderators
  • low quality post reviewers
  • high reputation users

Their aims and motivations are somewhat different, although low quality post reviewers are really just low powered versions of high reputation users. The last three groups need to work together to stop the site becoming cluttered up with poor quality posts because it makes it harder to find what you're looking for. The trusted user privilege has this to say about high reputation deletion of answers...

You may vote to delete answers in the following cases:

  • The answer is extremely low quality: There is little to no scope for improvement
  • The answer doesn't attempt to answer the question; it may be a comment or a separate question altogether.

The person who posted is unlikely to delete it on those grounds, they presumably thought it was great otherwise they wouldn't have posted it. Downvotes may persuade them in some cases but if they started on 1 rep then downvotes aren't really going to persuade a poster to delete a post.

Moderators can't delete it because we don't expect them to be able to judge the quality of posts. They can delete spam, answers that simply pose other questions, rudeness or errant nonsense such as a cat stepping on the keyboard but moderators can't be expected to be subject matter experts in everything that is within the scope of a site.

That's where high reputation users come in. They must have achieved that high reputation somehow and that ought to mark them out as a subject matter expert of some subjects within the site scope so it's this group that we trust to delete poor quality questions and answers that would otherwise clutter up the site. After all who wants to wade through dozens of incorrect answers or answers to completely different questions even if they are downvoted.

We restrict the asker from deletion of their question when it has answers because

  1. the poster of the question is unlikely to know whether the answers are correct or not. After all if they knew the subject well they wouldn't have to ask the question at all.
  2. the answerers have put time into their answers and if they are valuable then we want to keep them.

We restrict the answerer from deleting their answer if it's accepted because the asker has confirmed that it is useful. Acceptance is not the be all and end all though because the question asker is not necessarily the best judge of what makes a good answer.

We want to give time for voters and high reputation users to be able to confirm or reject the usefulness of a post.

Some sites like physics clearly find certain off topic questions so abundant and problematical that they've had to include them in their help centre. I imagine their high reputation users are used to and likely tired of deleting those kind of questions but it's a necessary activity to keep the site focussed on what it set out to be focussed on.

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