What's the reason why a deleted answer, unlike a deleted question, remains visible on the site? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to have it removed once the OP decides, for whatever reason, to delete it?

  • 1
    Sometimes OP decides to "undelete" their post after an edit or change of mind even though it's very rare. Sometimes, users over 10,000 reputation points vote to "undelete" a post which is also very rare. I voted to "undelete" a deleted question yesterday for the first time.
    – user140086
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:50
  • 2
    The "deleted" answer is only visible to users with 10K
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:51
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - yes , but the deleted questions are visible to none. What's the point of keeping deleted answers visible (even with the 10k limit)? It looks more 'hiding' rather than 'deleting'.
    – user66974
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:55
  • The "point" of keeping deleted answers visible to 10K users is, I think, one of transparency. A user who has earned this privilege will better appreciate why some questions have to be protected more than others, and "check" whether an answer was self-deleted or deleted by the system. They might spot an error of judgement, and ask for clarification. Sometimes mistakes are made in good faith, sometimes the deletion of an answer is a loss for the community. A question I posted in meta: I “really” want a deleted post back" is a case in point.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:47
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA - transparency? Why isn't that "principle" applied to deleted questions too. I don't think so.
    – user66974
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:03

3 Answers 3


The main practical reason for preserving (in hidden form) answers that a poster has deleted is, as Rathony points out in a comment above, to enable the poster to reopen the post later. I have occasionally done this when I've posted an answer that a commenter has pointed out has a glaring but correctable fault that requires further research to amend; while I'm doing the additional research, I don't want my flawed answer to draw downvotes from voters who recognize the validity of the commenter's point and wonder why I'm leaving up a bad answer.

As for truly obliterating an answer that seems unfixable and may even be embarrassing, I gather that doing so isn't possible on Stack Exchange sites—certainly not in the straightforward way that obliterating one's own comments is. But you can remove a deleted post from the immediate view of 10,000-rep site participants by following a simple process: Reopen the deleted post, click the edit button, delete the content of the post (or replace it with a message such as "Original content removed."), save, and redelete. At this point, your pinked-out deleted post should show none of the original content of the post you deleted. I can't recall ever having done this myself, but I've seen posts from other users who seem to have adopted this method.

  • 1
    This is the answer I would have posted if my English had been good enough. I learn something everyday reading your post.
    – user140086
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:45
  • Not a foolproof system, the answer's edit history is still visible if one's curiosity is sufficiently driven. And although deleted comments cannot be seen by users, they can by mods.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:52
  • @Mari-LouA Edit histories can be permanently removed (from non-moderators' view) by a moderator if you ask for it. I don't think that's the point of this post.
    – user140086
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:23
  • My comment above is referring to the last paragraph: But you can remove a deleted post from the immediate view of 10,000-rep site participants by following a simple process. That process is not foolproof; unless the edit history can be permanently removed by a mod, a fact which I did not know about.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:32
  • @Mari-LouA Sven used "immediate". I don't want to argue with you over what this adjective means. But anyway, everyday I learn a new thing.
    – user140086
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:44
  • 2
    I did this when I had been on the site for only a few weeks -- I wrote an answer so ignorant it was embarrassing. But it was still there, sneering at me in pale mauve. So I undeleted, zeroed out the content, and re-deleted. I was then told I shouldn't do that. After a little back and forth, the moderator (I have forgotten who it was) took pity on me and removed it from my sight.
    – ab2
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:28
  • 2
    @ab2: I didn't realize that this expedient was frowned upon by moderators. Anyway you have my complete sympathy regarding your natural desire to erase the infamy, and I hope that other moderators will be as understanding as the one you mention in responding to anguished requests from embarrassed authors to put their seriously ill-considered posts out of sight.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:52
  • Wouldn't edit history remain alive after removing content and closing again the post? Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 5:59
  • @GiorgiTsiklauri: Yes—this is the point that Mari-Lou A made in her comments above. My suggestion accomplishes a limited objective: preventing the deleted answer from being immediately visible to anyone who has enough reputation at this to see deleted answers. Any such site participant who is curious enough to check the edit history of the answer, will certainly be able to find the original answer.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 16:51

The reason you think deleted answers remain visible but deleted questions do not is because deleted question are more difficult to find. You can still read deleted questions because you have over 10K reps. People with less than 10K reps cannot see deleted posts at all.

Look: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/30314/difference-between-histrionics-and-hysterics

It's just that because deleted answers appear in not-deleted questions, you see them more frequently.

  • Interesting, I wouldn't know how to look for deleted questions as the one you have posted. I guess it is not the same for comments, is it? Is it the policy of the site to keep deleted questions and answer in this sort of "limbo"? –
    – user66974
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:16
  • 4
    It's not limbo. They are deleted, in so far as anything gets deleted by online companies. They are only accessible to 10K+ users because we have the ability to undelete. If you couldn't see the deleted things, you wouldn't be able to cast undelete votes. Admittedly this breaks down for questions, as there is no way for non-mods to search for deleted questions. On the other hand, answers get deleted far more frequently than questions. Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:45
  • It was a mistake by me. I only meant to delete the comments. sorry for the inconvenience. Commented May 27, 2016 at 7:21
  • I am particularly concerned that a certain member, who shall remain unnamed, is keen to delete any question, new or old that does not comply with the standards of EL&U today. This is not so much a problem for questions that have been posted in the last year or so, but questions which are four years or older are at risk. Questions that are LQ, but have received good quality answers by Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 and JSBձոգչ, for example.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 8:52
  • What is even more worrying, the old question is closed for being GR, there is no risk of attracting new low quality answers. I do not comprehend this user's logic... well, I think I know this person well enough to know their motivation. I am tempted to go to SE meta and raise this topic, I don't want old questions to be wiped out because of this member and, obviously, there must be at least two other members who are on the same wavelength. I say this because the GR Q which was posted in 2010 has two votes in favour of deletion. Only a 3rd vote is missing before that Q is wiped out.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 8:54

All questions and answers were taken from Stack Exchange Meta

Why are answers visible to 10K users?

  1. How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion? [edited May 8 2016]
  • What does deletion mean for a post?

Deleted posts are usually not physically deleted (that is, removed from the system); they're just hidden (AKA soft-deleted). This means they won't appear in search results or data dumps, and normal users following links to them will see a 404 (not found) page explaining the cause of deletion.

Moderators, and normal users with >=10k reputation, see all deleted posts that they have links to. Moderators are able to undelete any deleted post.

"10k users" may vote to undelete deleted questions: it usually takes three votes to undelete a question, but sometimes more.

"20k users" may also vote to undelete deleted answers: it takes three votes to undelete an answer.

  1. Why should 10k rep users view self-deleted answers? [last edited 2009]

In the comment section:

the deletion is to remove clutter, in many cases the action is in good faith and is sensible. Admins (and 10K plus users are effectively a sort of admin by design) can see everything that happens so that, if bad faith, poorly done deletions occur they can be dealt with. What if someone writes abusive stuff then deletes it? how about threats then deletes it. The people doing the checks on this need to be able to see this. –

@ShuggyCoUk Jun 29 '09 at 10:44

  1. What checks are in place to prevent high rep users and mods from abusing their privileges? [last edited 2014]

The biggest obstacle to abuse is... Everyone. Yourself included. As Tim notes, there's a papertrail for everything - and most of that record is public. Posts, edits, close/reopen, review actions... Even deletion is visible once you have 10K+ on the site. Don't trust a high rep user? Open up his activity feed and keep an eye on him. We can't make everything public, but the more information that's available the better chance there is that someone will catch it. […]


  1. Why are deleted answers never purged from the system?
  1. Deleted questions are sometimes undeleted. Not possible if deletion was permanent.
  2. Sometimes moderators needs to make a judgement call about a user. The more information they have, the better. Having access to the user's deleted questions and answers can help the moderators make an informed decision.
  3. Since deleted posts rarely get viewed, they have little-to-no effect on the performance of the site. […]

What to do if you need to "hard delete" an answer or a question

  1. How to permanently delete questions that contain sensitive information [duplicate]

Email [email protected]; they (the devs) are the only people who can truly erase information from all users.

  1. What should I do if a user posts sensitive information as part of a question or answer?
  • First, edit out the sensitive information. […]
  • Second, flag for moderator attention with "other" flag, explaining why the sensitive information should be removed
    […] Moderators can redact individual revisions to remove all traces of such information from both the post and its history; flagging will alert them to the nature of the problem.

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