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    • CommentAuthorjustcurious
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2012 edited
    As a user, what "ownership" do I have to my answers? For example, suppose that I answer a question and then come back later (one day, or six months) and delete the answer. I (think) the answer is still visible to 10K+ users. Do high rep users/moderators have the right to undelete my question? All this is under the assumption that the answer has not been "accepted" by the OP. Let me give several scenarios:

    1. I discover a mistake in my answer, and decide to delete it. I might further edit the answer so that even 10K+ users can't see the original text, although I guess they could read the original post by examining the editing history if they wish.

    2. I decide - simply on a whim - to delete my answer. I may or may not edit the answer so 10K+ users see the original post. Perhaps I do this because someone else has posted a "better" answer. Perhaps I'm offended that the OP didn't accept my answer, whatever.

    3. I edit an answer that has already been accepted by stripping it of all content.

    In 1, I think I would be justifiably annoyed if a high-rep user/moderator rolled back my answer and undeleted it, making my original error available for everyone to see (together with my username, which might be a real name). In case 3, it would seem reasonable that the OP un-accepts the answer and the community votes the new "answer" down, but even in this case I'm not convinced that the moderators have the "moral" right to roll back my answer against my will. However, others may feel differently. (I presume, without any justification, that "legally" the website "owns" my answer, although I'm not sure.)

    Is there (or should there be) a consensus on these matters?

    There are some software limitations on deleting your own questions; once there is an upvoted answer, for example, you can't unilaterally delete your own question.

    I think the consensus is generally that deleting content in a way that causes others effort to be wasted is inappropriate. (For example, if your answer is wrong and someone comments to this effect, it's probably better to either respond to the comment, or edit the answer to indicate you now think it's wrong.)

    The legal situation is, I think, that by posting you agree to license your content under the GFDL, meaning that you couldn't attempt to use copyright law to prevent distribution of your content.

    It is worth noting that even if there would be a consensus on MO to respect all self-deletions, there are websites that (legally!) mirror the content of questions (example: Mo has no real control over these websites, so you might not post anything you might eventually want to dissociate your name from.

    Right. If you don't want people seeing it, don't post on the internet in the first place...

    • CommentAuthorRalph
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2012
    But what's the usage of the delete button altogether, if an increasing number of users can see the deleted answers ? Personally, I think it's unacceptable if someone deletes his answers and others still can see it.

    If you don't like how the name doesn't match the function, you may think of it as a "conceal from most people" button. It should be possible to cook up some Javascript to change the text on the link.

    You mean ''conceal from most people'' at the whim of a moderator. My question is: is there anything one can do to prevent moderators from undeleting questions (with zero comments/value added by any other user) which have already been deleted for a long period of time without comment or complaint? Things seem to be left as they are by the current moderators, but perhaps that will change when MO becomes a stackexchange site. Does deleting an account freeze the answers?

    As far as I know, the StackExchange software does not provide any means for ordinary users to irretrievably delete questions. However, based on your wording, it sounds like you are more interested in the more general question of how to make sure that concealed questions stay concealed. My best answer is that if MO remains a vibrant collection of active and engaged participants, the moderators of the future will be unlikely to transgress against the community expectation, and that you should do what you can to make sure that MO continues to be such a wonderful place. However, this is most likely just a reflection of my (possibly naïve) political views.

    That said, I can think of some extraordinary methods for making things disappear for good, in increasing order of difficulty: having a moderator merge your question with another question (needs a really good reason), asking the people who run the underlying database to delete the record (needs an even better reason), filing for and obtaining an injunction in a court with jurisdiction, hiring a team of commandos/hackers/terrorists, airstrike, orbital bombardment.