Recently there has been a significant (imho) rise in requests to delete questions by the person who asked them. The common reasons are:

  • OP made a foolish mistake
  • The issue has resolved itself magically
  • OP fixed it themselves
  • OP believes the question is probably not useful to anybody

I'm of the opinion that if a question is valid, has answers, and can be answered, it is not a good idea to delete it.

My opinion isn't shared by everyone, however (10k only). I'd like to get some feedback on what to do when someone requests that their answer be deleted.

  • 1
    @Will Your example question has been... deleted.
    – chibacity
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:37
  • 3
    The significant rise in requests probably stems from a recent change that made it even more difficult for question authors to delete their own questions.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:39
  • @chi I know. But what I don't understand is why you don't have enough rep to see the deleted question. Get back over to SO and start answering questions! You just need fifty more rep. Wait, brb... Er, 242 more rep.
    – user1228
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:43
  • @Will Damn it - yes of course. I am 50 rep shy! :)
    – chibacity
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:44
  • @Will Rep recalc - Zut Alors! Oh well, my campaign for 10k is over for today. :)
    – chibacity
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:47
  • Can you provide some text examples of questions that are "valid" but requested to be deleted? I only see what happens on Gaming, which decidedly has much less occurrence of such a thing than on Stack Overflow, so I'm not sure what you're seeing.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:47
  • @Will I am now 50 shy away from 10k again - shakes fist at @Will ;)
    – chibacity
    Jan 24, 2011 at 18:02
  • we should be able to delete our own questions...its too difficult to delete the question if it has answers
    – Deepzz
    Nov 22, 2012 at 4:25

4 Answers 4


I would like to see some method for people to disassociate themselves from a question, but I agree that it is wasteful to delete a perfectly valid question that has good answers. Besides, to truly 'delete' it, SO mods would need write access to all of the search engines, the wayback machine, every RSS reader, etc.

Additionally, it really isn't fair to the people who took time out of their day to try and be helpful. Never mind the reputation loss upon re-calc, it just isn't right to waste five people's time at the request of a single individual.

I suppose special consideration could be granted if it was discovered that someone accidentally posted proprietary code or information. I can't find the examples of that happening, but I know it happened several times.

Maybe the 'Community' user could inherit questions that people wish to disassociate from. To me, the only reason for wanting a valid question with valid answers removed would be a desire to not be associated with it. Do we really have to delete it to accomplish that goal?

  • See There needs to be a way to delete content or disassociate your account from said content. (And, according to one answer: "The Creative Commons license under which contributors post their content specifically retains the moral right to remove your name from any content that you do not want associated with your name.")
    – Arjan
    Jan 24, 2011 at 15:21
  • I'd be for removing OP from a question. But one thing about those questions is that they never have an accepted answer. Perhaps mods should be granted the ability to select an answer when a question does not have an existing owner?
    – user1228
    Jan 24, 2011 at 15:47
  • 1
    @Will - There are plenty of questions that don't have accepted answers, in fact I think there's a recent question regarding that. I think it's better to not have an accepted answer and keep the question alive rather than delete it, though. Or, if 'community' gets ownership of the question, let 'community' automatically select the highest voted answer, similar to a bounty. Eventually, one answer will have a higher score than the others.
    – user50049
    Jan 24, 2011 at 16:46
  • @Will - Additionally, if a question has up voted answers, ask the OP to select one prior to disassociating from it. I wouldn't force them to do it, but a nudge might help.
    – user50049
    Jan 24, 2011 at 16:47
  • Another reason to delete a question could involve having asked a perfectly valid and useful question, but then wanting to disassociate from it due to the appearance of it being trivial or otherwise too basic. I could see that as a possibility for good professional reasons as well as for personal reasons (oh, the shame!). If the question is nevertheless useful, is there a way to depersonalize it (wikify it or some other method), to keep the content but remove authorship?
    – jgbelacqua
    Jan 24, 2011 at 18:10
  • 1
    @jgbelacqua That's exactly what I'm suggesting. The only (legitimately) motivating reason to want it deleted is to break association with it. There are cases of users having hissy fits and wanting all of their contributions nuked, but they are rare.
    – user50049
    Jan 24, 2011 at 18:21
  • @Will I've been meaning to get back to you on this, but moderator acceptance, even specifically for nonexistent users, has been suggested already. It's not exactly a popular idea.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 25, 2011 at 20:00
  • @Grace I agree. I'd only suggest the community does this in community-owned questions.
    – user1228
    Jan 26, 2011 at 18:37

The problem likely stems from users misunderstanding of what the site is and how it should be used.

Maybe we need to add to the faq at https://stackoverflow.com/faq :

Can I remove my question or answer?

Questions and answers are meant to help others in the future, and once submitted are considered reference material for future programmers with a similar problem. If your question hasn't received any answers, you may delete it by clicking on the delete link that appears below it.

If you accidentally posted a question that contains sensitive or proprietary information and answers prevent it from being deleted, please flag it or email [email protected] with a link to the question, and we'll remove them on a case by case basis.

By codifying the proper response, people who are keen to remove their questions can be pointed to the FAQ and will hopefully choose to simply leave it up.

This should, over time, serve as a means for reducing the number of delete requests moderators will have to deal with, as users come to accept that their posts are meant to be permanent

  • That would really help in cases like this.
    – user50049
    Jan 24, 2011 at 18:22
  • @Tim Yeah, but the FAQ is already tldr. I don't have high hopes for this chunk to be added.
    – Pollyanna
    Jan 24, 2011 at 18:26

How about giving an option to delete his own question when the question has no answers to it. but if the question has attracted some answers, then the OP should not be able to delete his own questions too and request moderator for the deletion.

Well in this way, it will atleast reduce the requests from OP to delete the question for his foolishness.

On the other hand, if OP has solved it by himself, he can post his solution as answer and accept it.

  • That's how it currently works. If you have no answers, then you're free to delete. It used to require that any answers have at least 2 upvotes to prevent the question author from deleting it, but this was recently tightened to only one upvote.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:45
  • @Grace Note - Oh ok.. thanks. I did not know about this. Jan 24, 2011 at 14:48
  • (@Sachin: source.)
    – Arjan
    Jan 24, 2011 at 15:26

It's community owned, if you feel it's a good question then don't delete it. If you see a question that was deleted (by owner or not) then vote to undelete it.

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