You completely misunderstood a question, you no longer have a valid answer to supply, yet your stupid mistake has to hang around for everyone to see FOREVER.

Here is an example of what I see, please excuse the quality of my redacting. See I only have 2,348 rep yet I can see somebody else's deleted answer.

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  • nope, just reading a thread, this example is from interpersonal (in case that matters)
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 11:34
  • 4
    This should be asked on the IPS meta, as it is IPS where you have seen the deleted answer. IPS is in beta so the privilege levels required are much lower. Alternatively on the main meta.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:10
  • @Chenmunka I asked here, because i didn't remember where I had seen it, and it was here I wanted to hide my answer, having made an embarrassing blunder, JJJ has answered my question thank you
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:15
  • 3
    If you don’t want to look at your own deleted answer, just edit it and replace the content. You aren’t the only person that has posted something way off the mark glances around I um my friend that did that once or twice.... they just replaced the post with a “oops that’s not right” explanation of why the post was deleted.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:27
  • 2
    @ColleenV I did that once, the post was edit back and I got told off for "sabotaging" my own post
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:30
  • 2
    Well did you write something sensible or just vandalize it with dots or repeated characters? In general you want to improve answers that are salvageable, but I’m not sure you should have been prevented from replacing the content of a deleted post with an explanation of why you deleted it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:34
  • @ColleenV I think I said something like "post deleted" and maybe something about wanting it completely gone.
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:51
  • 2
    @JJJ The mod team on ELL removes content from deleted posts all of the time so that the users that can see them don't have to wade through them to see the rest of the answers. Yes, we get flagged when a user has self-deleted or vandalized a lot of their posts so we can see if something nefarious is happening, but one post here or there because you made a mistake shouldn't be an issue. I would write "I misread the question and the content of this answer isn't helpful, so I deleted it." You can't unilaterally decide that you want a post gone on SE, so it helps to explain why you deleted it.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:54
  • 2
    I read the title, gave an excellent article for the title, unfortunately the question was a lot more nuanced than the title. I just don't want it hanging around easy peasy shouting at everyone who wanders through reading the post.
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 14:05
  • 4
    I’m not recommending editing it before you delete it. Edit it after you delete it and edit in the reason you deleted it. Most people will appreciate not having to scroll past lines of irrelevant text. But yeah, don’t replace it with “whatever you do don’t read the edit history “.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


A similar question was asked on Meta. The only feasible way to permanently delete it is to have it removed from the database. That cannot be done by regular users or mods here, but you could contact SE directly.

I'm not sure if they will delete (your) posts just because you ask. You have a better chance if it involves personal information violating your rights or those of someone you represent (for example under GDPR rules).

The reason this is not so easy is because you don't retain all rights to the content even if you're the poster.


Since IPS is still in beta, you only need 2k rep to see deleted posts. That's why you saw it.

  • I just meant soft delete, as in hide from view
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 11:41
  • ok, I will just have to live with it
    – WendyG
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 11:44
  • That is not true. You DO own the content, however by posting it to SE you grant an irrevocable, perpetual license to SE. You do not transfer ownership, but do lose some rights to it in the context of SE. Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 9:26
  • @jjj once you have licensed content to someone or something then they can use it however they like within the terms of the license. I am not a solicitor but licensing something out is not the same as transferring ownership. If I license my work to be published, I am not allowed to burn the books (unless I buy the books) Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 15:50

I think ColleenV's advice (in her comments beneath the posted question) makes perfect sense. In effect, she suggests that you perform these steps:

  1. Undelete the answer that you don't want to be visible to every person with sufficient reputation who happens to come across the relevant page.

  2. Edit the old answer by replacing the original answer with a simple, polite explanation along the lines of, "I was unhappy with my original answer to this question, so I've decided to delete it."

  3. Save the edited version of the answer.

  4. Delete the answer.

By this means, you will shield your original answer from anyone who isn't morbidly curious about its previous wording—which is to say, 99% of all passers-by who would otherwise be able to see the original deleted answer.

The most disturbing thing to me about your situation is that (you report) "I did that once and the post was edit back and I got told off for 'sabotaging' my own post." I see no legitimate reason for a moderator or high-reputation site user to make that criticism. Deletion isn't an act of sabotage—it's simply a matter of removing an answer from the discussion associated with a particular question. And editing away an embarrassing answer before deleting it isn't an act of sabotage either—it's just a way to put maximum distance between an ill-conceived answer and prying eyes.

It seems to me that if you want to bury something you previously wrote, you ought to be able to do so, to the extent described above, without being labeled a saboteur.

  • 1
    You don't need to undelete your post to edit it - you can edit it after it has been deleted. I just tested here on EL&U where I don't have a lot of privileges. You probably have to do the edit soon after deleting the post though (not sure about that).
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 13:28
  • 2
    This solution has one added benefit you don't mention: if the answer was relatively long, replacing it with a one- or two-liner will save space on the page for those who have enough rep to see deleted answers.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 0:22

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