7

I regularly delete answers if other answers to the same question are better. Sometimes I delete answers because I'm not sure whether they are "good" (e.g. expandable, or conflicting with standard packages, or whatever). In the latter case I do look into the issue again, and undelete the answer when I'm satisfied.

(To be honest I've got quite a lot of accepted answers which I'd like to delete but can't.)

The trouble is that when searching for deleted content with deleted:1 I hget of course both "kinds" of answers, and it's more than 250 by now. In the first situation (bad answers) I would really like to delete the answer completely, such that the search returns only results I should look into. Is that possible without moderator intervention?

3
  • 3
    no but you can edit and delete the text it will be in the history but not show up in normal search Aug 13 at 6:35
  • 1
    Alternative includes bookmarking the interesting questions and use the bookmark instead of searching like that.
    – user202729
    Aug 22 at 2:34
  • 2
    You can also follow the question instead of bookmarking it, the difference being that bookmarks are publicly visible in your profile and followed questions are not.
    – Marijn
    Aug 22 at 9:28

1 Answer 1

11

Some approaches for organizing your deleted answers have been suggested in the comments. However, it may be of interest to discuss the underlying usage pattern.

According to the Stack Exchange model, you should not delete answers unless they are rude or they don't answer the question. The "not an answer" category is quite narrow, it only contains things better suited as comments or follow-up questions, and answers that do not address the question at all because they are about a completely different and unrelated topic. Specifically, an answer that is bad/suboptimal/worse than another answer/a horrible hack is still an answer and it should remain on the site. Through comments and (lack of) votes it will be clear for everybody that there are issues with an answer and possibly another answer is better.

You could argue that when you know your answer is not good and/or another answer is better, it is sensible to delete the answer to prevent harm or confusion. However, it could very well be the case that your approach can help some future visitor with a similar problem where a 'best practises' answer does not work at all for some reason, or a best practise would work but is rather overkill, or the future visitor gets an idea from reading your answer that can put them on the right track. And even if your answer is completely wrong (for example suggesting {\it\bf Try this}) then somebody will leave a comment that it is wrong and the future visitor will learn that they should not use that.

Therefore, don't delete your own answers, they contain knowledge that is useful to preserve. This applies to users with 26k reputation and 7 years of experience who have demonstrated time and time again to be knowledgeable, but also for new users that are just starting out.

2
  • 2
    I'd generally agree keeping answers that are not good, but if you post enough answers then some are good, some are less good, and some are just plain wrong. Either I mis-read the question or I was tired and posted nonsense. Sadly people upvote answers based on rep of the poster and even code that is blatantly incorrect can pick up a quite reasonable score and deleting the post seems to be in everyone's best interest. Aug 25 at 11:34
  • @DavidCarlisle of course you are right that some answers are plain wrong and should be deleted, I also deleted a number of my own answers for that reason. However I guess the point is about the definition of "some" and "plain wrong". In the question campa states that they have over 250 deleted answers on a current total of 434 remaining answers, which is about one third. I can't believe that all of those were plain wrong, and argued that they should not have been deleted. I guess I overstated it a bit by saying that no answer should ever be deleted, which is of course not true.
    – Marijn
    Aug 25 at 12:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .