In the moderator queue I see a lot of not an answer flags. Mostly, these are users (mostly new ones) writing questions as answers. How can I best handle this when it's a good question?

I want to leave a comment, but deleting the answer also removes the comment and item from their inbox. The way I'm doing this now is leaving a comment for a few hours (so hopefully the user sees it), then deleting the question.

Is there a better way to handle this, and communicate to the user how to ask a question on my site?

  • 4
    What about converting it to a comment? (I probably should have made this an answer, just for the irony.) Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 16:43
  • @Justin - moderators can do that already :) Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 21:12
  • 2
    That's why I'm suggesting it. :) Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


It used to be that, when you deleted a post, the comments were also removed from the author's inbox. That was a problem if one of the comments was from a moderator to explain why the post was a removed; It simply disappeared.

So we changed that behavior.

A moderator's comments now stay in the user's inbox, even if the post is deleted. But for the comment to remain in the inbox, a few criteria have to be met:

  1. The comment has to be left by the moderator deleting the post.
  2. The comment has to be to the author of the post (not a @reply to another user).
  3. The post has to be deleted within one hour of leaving the comment.

How This Works

So if a user posts a question as an answer — despite all the warnings we have in place — here's how it would look:

Friendly community moderator Nick Craver sees a flag about an answer which should have been posted as another question:

post in the queue

He decides it's worth his time, as it's a decent question posted as an answer. So he comments on that post to educate the user:

comment by moderator

And then immediately deletes the post:

deleted post - moderator view

Normally comments are deleted from the inbox when the post is deleted. But now the user will still have the moderator's message in their inbox:

the user's inbox after deletion

When they visit the link from that inbox item, they'll see my comment and the FAQ link automatically added to their post:

enter image description here

That faq link on the deleted answer (this is not a new feature) points to the deletion section of the FAQ so the user can see common reasons why deletions happen:

enter image description here

Please note this behavior is specific to moderator comments only!

  • 1
    Thank you! I've been wanting this for a while.
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 22:37
  • 6
    Also, no moderator should be without Pro-Forma Comments (unless you have a valid excuse like a poor excuse for a browser).
    – mmyers
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 22:38
  • 2
    Why is this specific to moderators? As an ordinary user, when I see a non-answer with a worthwhile question, I leave a comment like this and flag not an answer. But my comment is only useful if the poster comes back before the answer is deleted, which feels like I'm wasting my time. I gather I shouldn't leave such comments then, but why burden moderators with them instead? Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 0:29
  • 3
    @mmyers Personally, I prefer to handwrite all of my comments.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 2:16
  • Does this feature only work for deleting answers, or does it also work for deleting questions? Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 18:42
  • @Willie - both meet the criteria here, so it'll work for either, though new users won't have permission to see the posts Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 18:59
  • "Though new users won't have permission to see the posts." Okay, that answers my question and what would've been a follow-up. Thanks. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 20:22
  • I thought <10k users couldn't see their deleted posts? If they can't how do they get to see the fullpost + comment and Why was your post deleted... info?
    – Kev
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:30
  • 2
    @Kev - users can see their own deleted answers, not questions. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 17:05

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