Why it's not possible to delete an answer completely?

I'm embarrassed of some of them, sometimes for being hasty about answering and after seconds or minutes I realize that I'm (very) wrong.

I know that moderators and high rep users can see these answers, and I would prefer they don't. Am I overreacting in this matter?

  • 6
    I'm embarrassed of some of them, sometimes for being hasty about answering and after seconds or minutes I realize that I'm (very) wrong.: that happens to absolutely everyone! it has certainly happened to me often enough. Don't worry about it, we all make mistakes. That you realized your mistake and deleted it just makes you look even better.
    – terdon Mod
    Oct 31, 2019 at 22:29
  • 1 You already answered your own Q: they're not deleted so that mods and high rep users can see them, and feel important because of this privilege. This is called "gamification": it drives "user engagement", and consequently the profits of the site's owners. 2 More to the point, while you can't delete them, you probably can anonymize some of your posts, so they be dissociated from your account, but I don't know the exact procedure. The mods know it but as you see, they wouldn't tell you (see point 1 ;-)). Try opening a ticket from the "Contact" link near the left bottom of any page.
    – user313992
    Nov 2, 2019 at 19:08
  • 3
    I answered in the spirit of "hasty or wrong answers" and over-reacting. Disassociation is discussed here, and starts just like mosvy said: with the Contact link at the bottom of that post's page. While deleting wrong or hasty posts is the right thing to do, I'll say that seeing red boxes of deleted posts brings me zero joy.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Nov 4, 2019 at 3:05
  • 1
    @mosvy, seeing all the low-quality crap and the spam answers isn't much to make one feel privileged, you know.
    – ilkkachu
    Nov 4, 2019 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


I don't know the reasoning behind it; What does deletion mean for a post? simply mentions the nuts and bolts of it:

Deleted posts are usually not physically deleted (that is, removed from the system); they're just hidden (AKA soft-deleted).

Since this is generic Stack Exchange functionality, you'd probably have to ask on Meta.SE to get the reasoning.

Now you understand that high-rep users can see deleted posts, so take a moment before you post anything that you might not want to stand behind. I don't know how much you're reacting, but consider this: the fact that you deleted the answer is also visible, and should be taken into consideration when viewing the answer. Simply being wrong about an answer is no big deal, and deleting your answer is (IMHO) the correct thing to do.

Random factoid: there are ~256,000 (non-deleted) answers and ~40,000 deleted answers on the U&L site right now.

  • 6
    If you feel you need to delete an answer because it's not salvageable, just delete it and forget about it. High-rep users knows everyone makes mistakes. It's not a big deal. It's normal. Defacing a deleted answer (to somehow "hide it") is however just a way of bringing attention to it, and it's also childish.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Oct 31, 2019 at 20:14
  • @Kusalananda, defacing how? What I've done if I e.g. completely misread a question was to delete the answer and edit it to say that I misread the question. That makes it immediately obvious why it was deleted to anyone who happens to see it, and it takes less screen space too. Anyone who actually wants, can still see the edit history, and editing a deleted answer shouldn't be visible to anyone unless they look for it (right?) so it's not that it brings any attention either. I don't see the harm in doing that.
    – ilkkachu
    Nov 4, 2019 at 19:07
  • @ilkkachu By "defacing" I meant replace the whole answer with gibberish, which is sometimes done to answer as well as questions that a user don't want others to see. I also sometimes add a line in my answers that I delete stating the reasoning behind the deletion. That is not anything like defacing the answer.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Nov 4, 2019 at 19:28
  • @Kusalananda, actually I did mean replacing the whole answer. :) not with gibberish, of course, but e.g. unix.stackexchange.com/a/408147/170373
    – ilkkachu
    Nov 4, 2019 at 20:09
  • @ilkkachu Ok, I meant more like this.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Nov 4, 2019 at 20:22

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