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Should I delete my question despite a legitimate answer and comments?

Before writing this I read posts here about deleting and improving questions ("Should I delete my question?" etc.). I didn't get answers to some of my concerns so I still feel the need to post this. I apologize if I missed obvious answers.


Yesterday I posted my first SE question. It was an E.SE question.

The first response by @DanBron begins "Extremely well-posed question".

Other folk then left comments. It was clear they were confused. I replied and edited the question twice in direct response.

The last response at the time I write this is by @David. It ends "... Why not just delete it before it is closed.".


I'm almost ready to delete my question and to try writing a new question to replace the old one. But I'd like to read posts by others affirming or rejecting that I should delete it and write another because:

  • Deleting my first attempt has downsides. In the SE's I usually frequent it's generally considered rude to just delete a question that has sincere responses, especially one that includes a legitimate answer.

  • If my writing style really is too long format and/or confusing for most E.SE folk then maybe I'd best not waste my time and yours trying to post a question at E.SE again. I hope to have a better handle on that based on any responses I get to this post.


Fwiw, here's a list of actions I can imagine taking:

  • Revert to original. @DanBron commented that the original was "Extremely well-posed" (and got an upvote, not from me of course). Perhaps my edits ruined an initially good question. Which suggests just reverting it. But then several comments won't make sense to readers.

  • Leave as is. Do not further edit the question. Maybe don't respond to further comments either. Definitely ask @DanBron to cancel his plan to bounty it. But then, presuming it's as bad as @David says and I now fear, not deleting soon would presumably be fairly inconsiderate towards anyone who reads it, or worse, responds to it, and ultra inconsiderate if I know it's eventually going to be deleted.

  • Cut out the Why I'm asking section. I thought it might be helpful to explain what prompted me to ask my question. I personally appreciate such detail in an SE question. But it looks like that was a bust, presumably because it includes computer code (that I thought was simple enough). I could just cut this all out. But then several comments won't make sense to readers.

  • Cut out the What I've found section. In my original question I allowed that I might not be right about the meaning of the English word "itemize". But it looks like I was right about what the English word "itemize" means. (Perhaps @David's misunderstanding about this just reflects how bad my question has ended up.) I could cut out all mention of "itemize". But then several comments won't make sense to readers.

  • Cut out the What, precisely, I'm asking section. My goal is picking a single English word, or having a small list of candidates (i.e. "which word(s)?" is my real question). However, I know some SE's are OK with what I'll call incidental questions and that's what this section was about. I could cut the incidental questions out. But then @ruakh's answer, which I appreciated, won't make sense to readers.

  • Delete the whole question and try again. I generally try to start something like an SE question or answer by investing time into a well researched and written initial post and follow that with improvements in response to feedback (whether good natured or trollish). But @David's comment implies that deleting an entire question is considered OK even if there are (arguably) useful comments and a legitimate answer.

  • Delete the whole question and don't try again. Perhaps my long and complex writing style is entirely inappropriate for E.SE questions. If you've read this far, thank you, and let me know!

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    I think your 'question' is fine. I had already upvoted it. But to improve it, you could try removing unnecessary wording here and there. It looks unnecessarily long to me. Also, too many side questions in it. Avoid that. – NVZ Aug 7 '17 at 4:16
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    Short answer: No. Longer answer: You can't, even if you wanted to. The SE system prevents authors from deleting questions when those questions have received upvoted answers. – Mari-Lou A Aug 7 '17 at 4:57
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    Taking on board NVZ's advice (but the side questions had to be kept because a user attempted to answer all those points) I've edited the question by reducing its length and eliminating the "fluff" w/o destroying its original identity. – Mari-Lou A Aug 7 '17 at 5:32
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    @Mari-LouA Wish I could upvote your edit. :) – NVZ Aug 7 '17 at 10:48
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    Everyone already knows my opinion, and as ML says, the system won't let you delete your Q anyway. But I'm going to repeat myself: you asked an excellent question, in both substance and style. It's on-topic, it's clear, it's specific, and it can only attract finite, concrete, objective answers. That it is not only your first question on ELU but on SE overall is ... astounding. Everything about it makes it look like you've had practice. Long story short: if we, as community, can't be welcoming and receptive to this level of first question, we're lost. – Dan Bron Aug 7 '17 at 11:54
  • @NVZ Thanks. I will reduce/eliminate side questions in future. I agree about Mari-LouA. – raiph Aug 7 '17 at 15:37
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    @Mari-LouA Your concision is appreciated. The answer upvote is mine but I'm no longer considering deleting my question so it's moot in this instance anyway. Your edit and its elision precision is especially appreciated. I just went and made it longer again (focusing on "item" as a verb because it's such a strong candidate) but I don't feel I added fluff. Does SE let me send SE points your way? If not, how else to incentivize / reward such wonderful intervention? – raiph Aug 7 '17 at 15:38
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    @raiph Do not send anything her way. Do not. We do this to help each other. You can give back to the community by staying active on the site (asking, answering, commenting, etc.) That's all. :) – NVZ Aug 7 '17 at 15:42
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    @DanBron I can not overstate how much David's comment upset me and how much your comments helped me. I'm pretty sure I would not have bothered with this meta post and would have just noped outta here (at least outta E.SE and perhaps even SE overall) without your comments. – raiph Aug 7 '17 at 15:45
  • @raiph That's, uhm.. Anyways. I hope you stick around. :) – NVZ Aug 7 '17 at 15:47
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    Everyone helping each other out is my primary motivation so it's reassuring to hear that reinforced. I feel I need to stop piling up the comments, at least here on M.E.SE, so I intend to be quiet after this comment, for at least a few hours. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who focuses on a compassionate perspective as they try to make the world a better place. – raiph Aug 7 '17 at 15:52
  • @raiph My sincere apologies for what were not carefully considered comments. I hope they will not dissuade you from staying on the site and asking (and answering) other questions. – Xanne Aug 8 '17 at 6:30
  • It only has two closevotes at the moment (nothing to worry about really) and at least DanBron, NVZ and Mari-LouA are likely to cast reopen votes if the worst comes to the worst... :) – marcellothearcane Aug 8 '17 at 7:37
  • @marcellothearcane It's bountied now. It can't be closed until the bounty ends. – Dan Bron Aug 8 '17 at 14:04
  • @DanBron As you know, this was my first SE question. While I appreciate your support more than I can convey in a comment, I consider it profoundly flawed, as evidenced by the confusion in comments and answers. If I had my druthers I'd delete it despite the negatives of rudeness and wasting the time of those who had commented / answered. (I understand that can't/won't happen.) After a few more rounds of extremely verbose edits last night I ended up reverting to Mari-LouA's edit in the hope that that's the least bad thing I can do. I feel crap about this but of course that can't be reverted. :) – raiph Aug 8 '17 at 15:52

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