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I'm here merely to grumble. I just spent half an hour working on a detailed and thoughtful answer to a question, and when I went to submit my answer, I received the notification that the question had been deleted and "no new answers will be accepted." As it happens, the question was brand spanking new, and not a single answer had been posted. The deletion clearly occurred during the time I was working on my answer.

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I imagine it's essentially inevitable that this will happen sometimes, but it's terribly frustrating, and a waste of time and effort. Aside from being able to submit some sort of "freeze" to keep a question in place while working on an answer (which admittedly seems a bit ridiculous), I can't see any solution, other than to work on answers as rapidly as possible. This does not, however, encourage really high quality answers.

If this is all just pointless carping, I'm willing to be told so. But thanks for listening.

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    :( Hugs If this will make you feel better. – Mari-Lou A Jun 13 '13 at 6:00
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    @Mari-LouA LOL. And thanks!! No hug is ever wasted. – John M. Landsberg Jun 13 '13 at 6:04
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    What was the question? Because in some cases, there is a persistent spammer user who creates new accounts and is deleted on sight. – simchona Jun 13 '13 at 6:05
  • This might help: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/3763/… – simchona Jun 13 '13 at 6:06
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    @John M. Landsberg. One solution might be to wait a few hours before replying, if the question looks "dodgy" or wait until someone else provides a short and fast answer. What was the OP question? It sounds as if it might have been interesting if you took so much pain and trouble in formulating, what was no doubt, a great answer! – Mari-Lou A Jun 13 '13 at 6:09
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    There is a protection of a grace period for when a question is closed; new answers that were started before closing get maybe 15 minutes to post. However, if a question was deleted then it was likely spam (see above), and your answer would not have been saved – simchona Jun 13 '13 at 6:13
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    @Mari-LouA You're much too kind, and I really appreciate the vote of confidence. I guess, since my answer has vanished into the ether, we'll never know whether it was truly worth reading. :) But the question I was answering wasn't complex. I took time with it because it was in fact fundamental, and I was trying to give an apparently novice user of the language some real meat to chew on, something from which he could really learn. As it happens, my attempt to answer led me into more points of discussion than I had anticipated, and it seemed to be worth teasing them out. – John M. Landsberg Jun 13 '13 at 7:09
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    @simchona Very interesting to find out about that grace period. I'll keep that in mind in the future. The question I was trying to answer was really quite a fundamental one; it may very well have been spam, but it wasn't so garbled as to suggest that it was. I've certainly seen legitimate novice user questions that were even less intelligible than this one. I don't remember the heading, but the question was pondering a comparison between "I saw him happy" to "It was happy to see him." – John M. Landsberg Jun 13 '13 at 7:13
  • Sometimes @JohnM.Landsberg I have learnt to my expense, a short simple answer is the most effective for learners. You could always ask the more intricate version of the question, yourself on EL&U. Feeling less peeved, now? Hope so. – Mari-Lou A Jun 13 '13 at 7:13
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    @JohnM.Landsberg Yes, that's our spammer. His questions don't appear spammy, but his past behavior has led us to need to delete his posts on sight. I'm sorry that your work got caught in the crossfire. – simchona Jun 13 '13 at 7:20
  • @simchona Thanks. And, if you don't mind my going on with this a bit, why would somebody do that? What's the point of that sort of spam? – John M. Landsberg Jun 13 '13 at 7:37
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    Been there, done that, decided to stop answering questions after I'd been burned a few times. It's a tossup; if I can identify a really interesting question buried inside the OQ, sometimes I can get a draft answer posted before the FAQ Police close it. But if it doesn't get closed, it'll accumulate a flock of guesses from newbies and then if I answer it, it looks like I'm criticizing their answers. Nobody's paying me to judge people anymore, though, and I really don't like that implication, either. Conclusion: Stack Exchange model doesn't work well when discussing English Language and Usage. – John Lawler Jun 13 '13 at 16:10
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    @JohnLawler I'm sad to read your comment because I so love reading your answers! – batpigandme Jun 13 '13 at 17:11
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    I too spent quite a while answering a question a few days ago - which I thought was a reasonable and appropriate question - only to find that it had meanwhile (or shortly after - I can't remember) been deleted. I could have accepted it had it been closed for some reason, but I hadn't previously realised that some questions get deleted, never to be seen again. Does this happen other than for spamming? If they are reasonable questions, why are they treated as spam? – TrevorD Jun 14 '13 at 11:04
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    @trevor they are treated as spam because leaving them be would let the user think his actions are okay. It's been a long process to get to this point--had he not done other things, we'd be more lenient. – simchona Jun 16 '13 at 11:45
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What you could do is grab a copy of your input text (or just keep that brower window open and open another one). Then pose the question yourself, and post your own answer.

I've done that myself at least once (possibly more, I don't remember). If you think the question merits an answer, just go for it and see how things play out with the rest of us.

One minor hassle - I think if the OP deletes his own question, his text disappears completely, so you might not be able to just "copy & paste". Also you might need quite a high rep to be able to see questions that have been deleted by mods or multiple users' votes.

But if you thought the question was good enough, you should be able to re-pose it in your own words anyway. On the issue of posting an answer to your own question, I obviously have no fundamental objection. Questions should be judged on their merits, not their provenance.


When I said I'd done it myself, I meant "copied and reposted a deleted question". I have answered my own question at least once, but I can't find an example off-hand.

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    If you're really after the original text or the deleted question, you may want to try google cache or something like that. Usually new questions get indexed quickly. – user1306322 Jun 14 '13 at 14:48
  • I've re-posted a deleted question too. But it does help to have 10k rep and to be able to see deletions (Is it 10k? Perhaps its 20k). – Andrew Leach Mar 11 '14 at 0:22
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In addition to FumbleFingers great answer (+1) I also try and do "Fast and Frequent" for my answers.

I'll often post a summary one line answer asap, then I'll immediately edit it and add a paragraph of explanation in the next 3-5 minutes and then after that I might spend half an hour really filling out the answer with much more details, links, images, the like. While time is passing in this way and I am constantly seeing the page refreshed, I'll see if a competing, accepted answer is there and I'll also see the comments and the like. I think of it like modern programming - advance in the smallest chunks possible.

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