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I'm wondering why all connected comments and answers(?) of questions that are deleted by the questions owner are also removed without a trace? This has happened to me twice recenty, and it is rather annoying not to see the reasons why my contributions are gone. I also started to wonder if I had missed the question in some way when returning to the site, and used key word searches to maybe find it.

Since I've reached the "access to moderator tools" privilege, I can see questions that are deleted by moderators or by the community (under Review: Tools), but apparently this do not hold for questions deleted by the post owner. However, I suspect that "trused users" can see the questions I'm talking about. My suggestion for the future would be that all users that have "contributed" to a question should be able to see the deleted question, and a reason for why it has been deleted.

Granted, in both the recent cases I've witnessed, the questions had slight problems or lacked research. In the first case, the question was borderline off-topic (network analysis), but I thought that it was still a good contribution and the poster had clearly thought alot about the problem and included a nice background. The main problem here was probably that MathSe would be a better fit, and maybe that the original poster would be less likely to get a good answer at BioSE (which I pointed out in a comment). In the latter case (a question today about division of earthworms), I pointed out in a comment that it was based on a common myth, which probably led the poster to remove the question. However, for the general case, I don't think it is a good idea that the original poster can delete not only his/her own material (the question) but also everything else. Or have I misunderstood something? Is everything removed also if the question has a posted answer?

A also realize that this is potentially a bigger question for the entire Stack Exchange community, but I first want to see what users of BioSE think.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting - I don't see why this distinction would be made, perhaps an oversight? $\endgroup$ – Rory M Oct 7 '14 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryM Just for the record, can you (as a moderator) see the deleted questions I'm referring to? Do you know if it makes a difference if the Qs have posted answers? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 8 '14 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ I would guess that nobody noticed this problem. I don't see postings deleted by the owners in the tools section. $\endgroup$ – Chris Oct 8 '14 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater I can, yes, though I had to search for them $\endgroup$ – Rory M Oct 8 '14 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ I find it really irritating, I wrote answers to two questions yesterday - they take time and effort, which I give freely, and then the questions got deleted (because they are homework). Almost any question on here could be homework and as long as they are worded carefully we have no way to tell,. I don't mind giving my time to provide an answer but it's very frustrating to waste time. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Oct 9 '14 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo questions are closed not deleted for being homework. And I guess the owner cannot delete a question that has an answer. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Oct 10 '14 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG the owner deleted rather than editing the question to fit biology SE rules - it should be possible for people who answered to retrieve their answer and then post a more acceptable version of the question. One of the questions in this case was "Why is variation required for evolution?" which is a very good question in my mind & would be beneficial for the site to have $\endgroup$ – rg255 Oct 10 '14 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo So it was deleted before anybody got the chance to vote on the answer? In any case, your example demonstrates my point even more clearly than my annoyance with lost questions and comments. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 10 '14 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ that's the thing, I'm sure there was some upvoted answers but the owner was still able to delete, I thought there was protection against that $\endgroup$ – rg255 Oct 10 '14 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo At least according to RoryM's answer below, Qs with upvoted answers cannot be deleted by the poster. However, in your case, shouldn't it be possible to ask the moderators to reinstate the Q so that it can be edited to a suitable form (since it already has an answer)? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 10 '14 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo There is a protection against that.. I just tried. You can't delete a question with upvoted answers $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Oct 10 '14 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ but I can't find any trace of the question ever existing... did I have a Biology SE dream? $\endgroup$ – rg255 Oct 10 '14 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo That has been my exact thought a couple of times as well. However, it seems like the moderators can still find these Qs, even if they cannot be seen by users (even those with closing privileges). $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 10 '14 at 9:58
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There are several rules around self-deleting posts, the most important one is that questions that have an answer with a score of at least 1 can't be self-deleted. The aim of this rule is to prevent useful content from being deleted while still allowing users to remove questions that are likely not useful.

Visibility of deleted questions is almost zero, regular users can see them if they have a direct link, but otherwise they're almost impossible to find. Moderators can see deleted questions in user profiles and can search for them as well.

The tools that show you recently deleted questions are meant for oversight over community deletion. Drawing more attention to self-deleted questions is often not a good idea.

Comments have almost no protection on SE sites, this is intentional and very unlikely to ever change. There is still an edge case where users can delete a question just after they have received an answer but before the answer can get an upvote. This kind of behaviour is not really welcome, if you encounter such a situation just contact a moderator and we can undelete the post (we can find it with a minimal amount of information).

I know this can be confusing when you're looking for a question that is no longer there, the most effective way to find it again, or confirm it is removed would be to check your own profile for the comment you left.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the clarification. I understand that comments have low priority at SE (which is ok), and my main issue here is that it is diffucult to track the deletion process. However, for your last point, there is no trace of my comments in my profile either. In both cases I looked under "activity" in my profile, and the comments cannot be found, so this is not a viable way to find the questions. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 8 '14 at 22:21

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