I asked this question, thinking it was something that would help me and be a valid contribution to the site.

However, the question clearly did not go down so well and I don't feel like getting constant downvotes for something is very nice. Feeling this, today I tried to delete my question and came to find that I can't, with the message "Sorry, this question has answers and can't be deleted, flag for moderator attention".

While I understand that people have earned reputation on it, I feel that it would be better for me to delete my question while users retain their reputation and I don't have to be permanently stuck with a leach on mine.

As of now, I have only had the account for 4 days, and every bit of reputation I can earn helps.

I was wondering what others think of this, should I:

  • Be able do delete my own contributions because they are mine?
  • Be able to delete what I have done if I believe it's no longer a good contribution to the site?
  • Just live with the fact that I asked a silly question and have to suffer the consequences?
  • 1
    I think this is a valid topic of discussion as the question you want removed meets downvote criteria for being not researched/useful, but does not really hit close criteria. It's sort of an ugly middle ground since it has an answer. I'd like to see the policy decision on this, but at the very least, did you try flagging for moderator attention as the message suggested? You can give a custom reason such as "the question is of poor quality and does not contribute to the site" or something, but your mileage with that kind of criteria may vary.
    – skovacs1
    Aug 30, 2013 at 8:53
  • Note that despite 7 downvotes, that question is still a net +1 rep to you at the moment due to the 3 upvotes.
    – Sterno
    Aug 30, 2013 at 9:57
  • @Sterno I understand that through net rep I have an increase, but I was still shocked to find out I couldn't remove my own question. But then again I understand that records of questions, good and bad is what makes this site what it is.
    – DCA-
    Aug 30, 2013 at 10:45
  • The license all Stack Exchange content is under explicitly always gives you the right to ask SE to disassociate the content from your name. I believe the standard procedure is to custom-flag the post in question, and it then ends up looking like an anon user posted it, but I'm not 100% on that. I dunno if it's the best idea, but it's an option, at least. Aug 30, 2013 at 11:00
  • 2
    @BillyMailman disassociation sounds like a good step forward, i'll look into it. Are there any mods reading this that can shed light? Is there an ability to do this via custom flag?
    – DCA-
    Aug 30, 2013 at 11:02
  • 8
    The downvotes aren't personal; it's due to the question being rather self-evident, and not having done any research beforehand. Personally, I'd say it's a pretty good lesson in ensuring that you do your homework before asking, but you can always ask to disassociate the question from your account. It's sitting at a rather hefty net gain for you right now, though; disassociation will revert all rep changes made from that question.
    – Frank
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


I'm Grace Note, a Stack Exchange Community Manager.

In a usual case, we allow users to delete their own posts at any point because, well, it is their post. In the case of questions, we prohibit such deletions when there are upvoted answers for twofold reason. One, because doing so usually destroys valuable information that people spent time producing. Two, unrelated to here, but anyway, getting a great answer and then deleting it so that one keeps it for one's self is rude and antithetical to the mission of the site. Granted, this is kind of a derivative of the first reason but it speaks directly to why this prohibition overrides "I should be allowed to delete things because they're mine".

Moderators can go around these restrictions to delete things which, well, need to be deleted. For any number of reasons. Point is that they are the voice of the community and act as exception handlers, which is precisely what it is when a question gets a good answer but should be deleted - an exception.

Ohohohohoho! You were expecting a footnote! Too bad, this is happening right here! When does a question reach a state where it should be deleted? There's the obvious off-topic entries - a great answer doesn't make a question on-topic at the end of the day, we aren't going to host the world's greatest rabbit stew recipe because someone happened to provide it to an off-topic question. Outside of this kind of case, it then becomes whether or not the answer is great enough that it warrants keeping a junk question. For example, the question that brought this about, the answer is essentially a glorified "no", which while truthfully the solution, is not a whole much that deserved grand praise to save what even the question author believes is a question that wasn't worth asking.

There are two vehicles to which this can be addressed then - flags and Meta. A flag for moderator attention gets it directly to the moderators and would be great when "This really should be deleted but I cannot!" is pretty clear cut. Meta would bring the situation to a larger community review, which would allow for discussing the merits of keeping the question around versus deleting it on shakier grounds. It's not always a straight answer and community discussion is the primary method of hashing out what the community figures for this kind of thing. These are what avenues one should look at when they wish to delete that which they may not delete.

In a general case, we usually do not want to delete questions that haven't actually gotten closed - as we actually have the whole delete voting process for this primary situation that entirely defines what closure is. Non-closed deletions are generally for either obvious trash that must be disposed immediately (the 20k privilege's design intent), or self-deletions. Since obvious kills aren't anything that usually warrants discussion, this sort of "Let's agree to be rid of this" should really only come up as a result of a question author failing to be able to remove a question that said author wishes to remove.

Dissociating a post is a thing that can happen, as mentioned in comments. In most cases deletion is sufficient, but if necessary it is possible for a post's ownership to be dissociated manually, resulting in an empty authorship to the post and freeing up the reputation change from votes to the original author. I would recommend this is not generally looked at except for extenuating circumstances, as by nature of the process it results in the destruction of portions of history and tracking of posts and users. As stated in this very paragraph, in most cases deletion should be sufficient.


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