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What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean?

Why can't the owner of a question delete a question?

Isn't it the right of a questioner to delete a question, maybe for privacy reasons, etc?

Is it possible for me to delete my account and all my data?

  • 9
    You are allowed to delete your question, as long as it satisfies certain criteria (mostly that it hasn't attracted good answers, as that'd be letting you remove useful content on the site). Keep in mind our content license. You can read up more on post deletion and account deletion in our community-maintained FAQs.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 15:00
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    Why is it always the people who benefit the most from the community (1380 questions, 5 answers!) who selfishly insist on deleting their questions on the basis of (real or imagined) privacy issues, depriving future generations from gaining any insight from the answers?
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:51
  • @pekka I think its a fair question, regardless of my question count. It's hardly selfish, as SO benefits from both questions and answers. I understand we live in a facebook world, but not everyone share's the same privacy views. I got my answer anyhow thanks.
    – Blankman
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:19
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    I don't dispute your right to remove all personal info from the site - including your account. That is a basic right for everyone, anytime. But that doesn't extend to deleting questions - that would render the answers useless, imposing a huge damage on the community. Anyway, true, it's a fair question either way.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:28
  • 2
    if you want your account deleted, just email us via the link at the bottom of every page we serve Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 21:41
  • I support the OP's wish here.
    – 2540625
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


1) In accordance with the site terms, once you post, the data becomes licensed through CC-BY-SA (in my limited understanding, "anyone can use it, but must link back to source and keep the license"). So once you give permission (by posting), it's technically not exclusively yours as in "I'm taking it away again" (I think because the page it's on might be seen as a derivative work, and you don't control those - due to the license you agreed to, SE (and anyone else) has a right to make derivative works, as long as it complies with the license terms).

That said, you could (usually) delete a post that you created, using the "delete" link; note that it's a soft-delete (i.e. hides it from public view, data stays in db). See also this: How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?

2) Uh, don't post sensitive data on publicly accessible sites (such as SO)? If you already did that, you need to email [email protected] with that question's details and ask that the data be deleted. If you give your reasons, the SO team might be able to help you; also, asking nicely goes a long way towards the team actually helping you :)

3) Deleting your account is possible - see this: How can I delete my account?

  • Sorry, I don't see how posting under CC-BY-SA disallows you to delete content if you are the original author. I suppose possibility of being able to delete it would come under author's moral rights: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5.
    – Aryabhatta
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:04
  • @Moron: IANAL, I don't even play one on TV, but: "You grant Stack Exchange the right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content (...)" - note that you can't easily and unilaterally revoke this permission. You can delete your own stuff all you want; the catch is IMHO that by posting, you're allowing the site to create derivative works (and a Q&A page or a database that includes your posts can be construed to be such a derivative work) - and you don't have control over derivative content. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:08
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    @Pisk: You should be one :-) You are saying that the post the original author makes is actually a copy? Anyway...
    – Aryabhatta
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:15
  • @Moron: No. The author posts something, SE makes a copy, and uses it to make a derivative work (a page+collection of links to it+front page excerpts); that work cannot be "unpublished" by the original author, as it's not just hir work anymore. An analogy: You make a song, license it CC-BY-SA, and put it on the net. SE takes songs with the same license, adds a bit here, a bit there, crossfades them together, and makes a mixtape, also CC-BY-SA. Although they credit you correctly, you can't force them to take your song out of it (if you ask nicely, they could, but they aren't obliged to). Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:23
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    @Pisk: Sorry, I don't buy that. If what you see is the copy, where is the attribution to the original? (And where is the original?) Anyway, I guess there is no point in this conversation :-)
    – Aryabhatta
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:28
  • @Moron: As for "you should be one" - programming code and legal code has interesting parallels. Certain skills (e.g. looking for edge cases or parsing input data through a complex set of rules into a decision for action and/or output data) are common to both; others are not. I'll stay at the digital side, thanks :) Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:30
  • @Moron: SE attributes the post to its original author; whether or not the "non-remixed" version survives is IMHO immaterial. And quite contrary, it's been a rather enlightening conversation for me, thank you. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:33
  • @Pisk: Me too. Thanks. By no point I meant, we will just keep talking, taking away time for real work! :-)
    – Aryabhatta
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:36
  • As for No.2, moderators can't do anything about it. We can edit to remove, we can delete, but nothing we can do can permanently remove this information or even hide it from 10k+ users. You have to email team@stackoverflow and ask for extreme unction.
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:40
  • @Will♦: Aha, I stand corrected, thanks. ("The traditional Catholic rite of the Annointing of the Sick, also called Extreme Unction or Last Rites." - ?!?) Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:42
  • @Piskvor: Last rites, as in, this is the last thing you plead before you get erased.
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:44
  • 1
    @Will: Extreme unicorn?
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 16:53

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