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In Q:What to do with low quality answers? a point came up about the difficulties encountered when attempting to delete (one's own) poor-quality material. Two months ago I posted a Q. which turned out to be one of those lateral-thinkers. Lateral-thinking is not my strong suit. Finally, seeing the key, it was clear that the posted-Q. made me look stupid. Naturally, the next move was for deletion. The "Edit" key: this removes everything apart from the last three/ four words--why is this? Attempts to remove these seem to return the whole, original, content.

The "Delete" key: frames the content in a pretty-coloured box, where it is still legible. Why does this happen? What is it meant to achieve?

Third option: request Moderator assistance. Cerberus was good enough to remove the Q., from the screen--as desired. (Interesting to note that typing "Latinstack" followed by the title of the Q., returns the content; but, it is easy to "delete" it. Obviously, it can be recalled.)

Finally, when the OP makes a fool of himself, how does he remove embarrassing content, without, hopefully, troubling the Moderators?

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Thanks for asking! First and foremost, do not fear troubling the moderators. Keeping a small site like ours running is not a major job, and we are happy to help all users. If you want your post deleted or a typo edited in a comment, just let us know.

A couple of points about deletions:

  1. No deletion of content is permanent. This has the benefit that things can be undone, and past posts can be investigated if there is a need.

  2. Different people see different things. With increasing reputation you gain increased privileges. Content with a red background is deleted in the sense that it is invisible to outsiders and low reputation users. Moderators can see all deleted stuff, including deleted comments.

  3. It matters who deletes a post. Usually users can delete their own posts. Advanced users can vote to delete (or undelete, which requires them to see the deleted thing!) posts. And moderators can delete anything. Deletion by a moderator is considered more severe, and regular users can never undo it. (If a moderator makes a misjudgement, the recourse is bringing the matter up on meta.) Who deletes a post has an influence on who can see or (vote to) undelete it.

  4. There are some limitations to deletion. For example, you cannot delete a question when it has an answer with a vote up. In these cases only moderators can delete. But that power is used sparingly, as it deletes contributions by other users too.

One of the main purposes of a Stack Exchange site is to produce a valuable online resource for anyone to use freely. We get a lot of traffic from Google, and clicking "delete" indeed removes content from the view of the numerous outsiders. That you see it in red indicates that you have a special power, not that deletion has failed. It can be unfortunate that fellow active users see your blunders, but I think our users are civilized enough not to hold your mistakes against you when you remove the relevant post yourself. If you want more thorough deletion, notice that you can edit deleted content when you can see it. (There might be exceptions, but I can't think of any.) So, you could just edit the text to say "Post redacted." after deletion; then nobody will see your post by chance. (There are limitations to editing as well. If those are an issue, let a moderator know.) But as no deletion is permanent, it is still possible to see the edit history of a deleted posts, but very few will want to go that far.

You seem to have two deleted questions. Both of them were deleted by a moderator upon request, and therefore you are unable to undelete them and possibly even see them.

In conclusion, if you regret posting something, go ahead and delete it. If there seems to be any problem with that, just let a moderator know. Use a flag, come to chat, or ask on meta.

A final note: If you or anyone else posts something too private by accident, there is a way for moderators to delete it more permanently. If you realize that asking "How to translate these online banking passwords of mine into Latin?" is a bad idea for security, the sensitive information can be removed. If you see anything like this, please contact a moderator immediately. (I recall a time when someone posted their full passport information in a question on the travel site. That information was edited out but the edit history still had it all available for the more clever identity thieves. I contacted a local moderator and they erased that information.)

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  • llmavirta: Thank you. If content has scored vote-up points why would anyone want to delete it? The other deleted Q ("Roman Climate Change") deleted by yourself, on request, is still available on brianpck's one-sided research here on meta (He read the Qs., but not the superb answers.). – tony Feb 29 at 15:30
  • @tony Sometimes people want to retract their answers even though they have positive score. It's allowed if it doesn't go too far; deleting in rage everything you ever wrote will be reverted by moderator. And very rarely, there's something offensive in a post with a positive score. // Mostly the situation is that someone is embarrassed of a bad question and wants to remove it but can't because there's a good answer. And that's what I meant in the limitations: It's not the score of the question that matters but whether it has answers with positives score. – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 29 at 15:53
  • llmavirta: Exactly! Questions should be judged in juxtaposition to the Answers they generate. An holistic approach to research may produce the correct conclusions. Changing the subject: what's happened to Tom Cotton? Is he okay, does anybody know? – tony Feb 29 at 16:39
  • @tony His profile, like anyone's, tells when he's last been on the site. His activity page lists all recent actions. That's all I know. Usually there is nothing dramatic associated to a reduced level of activity. – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 29 at 16:56
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Joonas has really answered your question, I think, but for extra emphasis: the fact that you could see your own deleted post was owing to two factors, each of which allows you to see a deleted post:

  1. It was your own deleted post: each user can see his own deleted posts.

  2. You have more than 2000 points in reputation: this gives you access to moderator tools, which includes the ability to view anybody's deleted posts.

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Long story short, don't delete questions. You really haven't understood the spirit of the site. Take the tour, read the help Deleting questions is discouraged. Perhaps somebody is looking for the same question or provide a better answer. Most questions here are stupid, and many never receive more than handwavingly weak answer. That is the spirit of this site. You have to be proud bout your ignorance.

If the Q is based on false information, you can edit it to reflect the fact, perhaps answer your own Q and go upvote yourself.

If Qs like this are downvoted already, Joo-nas and the gate keeper dog will have to go through every single one and delete them on a matter of good judgement. If it's not downvoted so far, obviously nobody cared, few people see it. No worries. Formulating a question is often the first step to resolve misunderstandings and providing the answer yourself. That's nothing to be ashamed of.

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