When you vote to delete an answer after it was accepted by OP, you are basically telling OP

No, you can't accept that answer, even if you already did. You can accept another answer if you feel like.

I wouldn't like that at all if I was the OP, and would consider it very high-handed of the voters if an answer I accepted later got deleted.


While I am not exactly proud of this early answer I wrote 4 months ago, OP found it useful and accepted it 2 days ago.

My answer had scored exactly +2 -2 = 0 in 4 months but got heavily downvoted to +5 -14 = -9 today after it was accepted by OP, and it has collected 2 delete votes.

So voters are basically downvoting it because it was accepted by OP. Or else you had 4 months to cast these downvotes.

@Monica Cellio has rightly pointed out in a comment that

I suspect the (new) bounty brought an old question to lots of people's attention, people who hadn't voted before or hadn't seen all the older answers.

In fact downvoting is OK if users don't like an answer but voting to delete: I see it as an attack on OP's choice and I wouldn't like it to happen to any member's answer I accepted to one of my own questions. Why would anybody want to delete an answer that was found helpful and therefore accepted by the person asking the question!

I am not asking why my answer should be downvoted or deleted. Kindly do not waste your time to explain why. It was obviously a just-OK answer (not a good or great answer) till it was accepted by OP.

We are not talking about the answer itself but the fact that it was accepted. The merits of the answer ought to have nothing to do with it once OP has accepted it. It is very much a case of site etiquette and general procedure whether any answer that was accepted by OP should be deleted unless the question itself got deleted.

I lost 22 points (11 downvotes since being accepted) and gained 20 points (2 upvotes) for a negligible net reputation change plus the rare notoriety of having written a greyed-out -9 score answer that was accepted by OP, but I am only asking about the advisability of delete-voting an accepted answer here.

So is it a good idea to vote to delete an answer after it was accepted by OP?

  • 1
    I always thought it wasn't possible to delete accepted answers. Dec 19, 2017 at 19:06
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    I don't know @Anne Daunted: but if accepted answers cannot be deleted, why is the system allowing delete voting? Dec 19, 2017 at 19:08
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    I am not asking why my answer should be downvoted or deleted. Kindly do not waste your time to explain why. Then it might be better to take another example for people will need to dissect this answer in order to provide a balanced answer to this meta
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:26
  • We are not talking about the answer itself but the fact that it was accepted. The merits of the answer ought to have nothing to do with it once OP has accepted it. It is very much a case of site etiquette and general procedure whether any answer that was accepted by OP should be deleted unless the question itself was deleted @Tinkeringbell. Dec 19, 2017 at 19:28
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    See this one; it is fun: english.stackexchange.com/a/373831/50044
    – NVZ
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:45
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    @EnglishStudent Just saying, if you use an example, people will focus their answers on using the same example. I don't think I can write a comprehensive answer based on one example, if I'm not allowed to judge that example and use it as an example to stave my opinions. More people might be having that problem, because in general you don't make policies based on 1 example, you discuss multiple examples first and try to draw a policy from that
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:46
  • OMG! -77 score... I am amazed why didn't nobody vote to delete that accepted answer @NVZ. Dec 19, 2017 at 19:47
  • @EnglishStudent It's at the edge of extinction. Not to worry.
    – NVZ
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:48
  • Well I can't stop you from dissecting my answer if you feel like but it was an early answer and I already know it wasn't particularly 'interpersonal' @Tinkeringbell. If you want to tell me it is a poor answer I already know it is not the type of answer that is recommended here. What I am saying is nobody voted to delete it for 4 months! Is it my fault that my answer was selected as the most preferable solution and accepted by OP? Dec 19, 2017 at 19:49
  • @EnglishStudent I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that saying 'I'm not asking whether my answer should be deleted' is weird in the context of discussing the deletion of a single answer. Now relax ;-)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:50
  • I relax..... (deep breaths) Dec 19, 2017 at 19:51
  • It is perfectly alright @Patrick Trentin and you are not to be blamed at all, because nobody could have foreseen that consequence of posting a bounty! It's also interesting that a 4 months old question suddenly received high traffic. I don't mind downotes but would like to avoid my accepted answer getting deleted. Dec 19, 2017 at 21:37
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    Oh, good old Hot Network Questions. :-) Dec 19, 2017 at 21:48
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    @EnglishStudent I see that a part of the issue you are having is that you didn't get downvotes or vtc's until it was accepted. While this MAY have to do with it being accepted, I find it much more probable that it is simply from your answer now being at the top of the page instead of the bottom. You are simply getting more eyes on it, then ever before. I usually don't scroll all the way to the bottom to look at the low-score/negative-score posts, but if it's at the top, I may be tempted to downvote it or vtc, whether it was the selected answer or not. It comes down to visibility, I think.
    – user3316
    Dec 20, 2017 at 23:24

3 Answers 3


First of all, I don't think this answer should be deleted. But that's not because it's accepted or a very good answer. It's because the question isn't good either.

The title asks "How should I approach a situation in which I made a female roommate uncomfortable?"

While the body asks "How can I let the complainant know I am sorry what I said upset them and meant no ill intentions?"

These are two very different questions, and your answer is a valid answer to the first one. Do nothing (learn for next time) is a valid answer.It's not really a good frame-challenge though (it doesn't point out what can go wrong if you decide to do something), and not up to par with what we're expecting from a good answer right now. But, as you pointed out, it's 4 months old.

I haven't seen a consensus about deleting old, 'bad' answers.

If such a question would be posted now, we would edit the question title to match the body. Because edits are not supposed to invalidate existing answers, I'm hesitant to say the title should be edited anyway. I think if we want to do that, such a thing deserves it's own meta post discussing the pro's and con's of doing so.

But, like I said, editing the title would invalidate your answer, and that's probably why you're getting down- and delete votes.

Like Monica pointed out, a bounty was placed upon it, putting it under scrutiny of a community that's 4 months further along in defining what it expects from an answer.

What bothers me though, is that NO-ONE has taken the time or effort to write a comment explaining this to you. A simple 'Hey, I saw this answer now that there's a bounty, and it doesn't really address X,Y, can you improve it?' would probably have done wonders.

As for deleting answers that are accepted by OP's, I think this is something the community has to decide on a case-by-case basis for now.

In this case, I'd personally do nothing. Your answer answers the first part of the question (the title). It's accepted by the OP, which probably means their real problem was the 'what to do' and not the 'how to apologize'.

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    Thanks a lot for (taking the time to write) a very illuminating answer @Tinkeringbell. I read the Q as more open-ended and didn't think OP really wanted specific advice "how to apologize." Since you think my answer shouldn't be deleted, please cast an undelete vote if it does get deleted! Dec 19, 2017 at 20:13
  • Note 2, I am claiming an immunity for my answer (from being deleted) not for any of its merits but only because it was accepted by OP, and because in this case I feel my answer is likely to be deleted only because it was accepted by OP! Your detailed answer is highly appreciated @Tinkeringbell. Dec 19, 2017 at 20:19
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    Oh the irony of this quesiton having an accepted answer with a lower score than the next one :-D That made me smile... Dec 29, 2017 at 11:01

I think that answers should be able to be deleted even after being accepted.

I am not agreeing or disagreeing about whether your answer specifically should be deleted or not, or the merits of it.

From what I have seen, this whole network of sites have the goal of community moderated and promoted content. The OP is not the most important person when it comes to the answers. The community is the one who votes answers up and down, and there shouldn't be any one person with the power to override everyone else opinions.

I do think that accepting the answer should count as, say, 5 or 10 votes to keep it open. So this raises the threshold for answer deletion, but retains the possibility.

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    Thanks for answering @Aytayt. It would also be interesting to know whether the system actually allows deletion of an accepted answer and if so, what is the established procedure or network etiquette regarding manually vote-deleting an answer accepted by OP. I am trying to find relevant archive posts on Meta.SE Dec 19, 2017 at 22:42
  • @EnglishStudent I have also been looking around for relevant posts, but haven't found anything very helpful. Sorry!
    – user3316
    Dec 20, 2017 at 23:25
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    Thanks for trying @Aytayt! There are a few relevant posts hidden on Meta.SE but the general point is that an accepted answer can be deleted by community voting. Dec 21, 2017 at 0:14
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    I agree with you, AytAyt. But re "there shouldn't be any one person with the power to override everyone else opinions" Well... there is one, currently. The OP. Because the site displays the accepted answer above all other answers... That's the crux of the matter, isn't it? Dec 29, 2017 at 10:22
  • @AllTheKingsHorses yes.... that's the point of my answer. There is now, and in my opinion there shouldn't be. Using the word shouldn't means I acknowledge that there currently is.......
    – user3316
    Dec 29, 2017 at 16:14

I, too, think that even an accepted answer should be deletable.

Especially on IPS I noticed some questions where the answer to "How do I X?" (according to many voters) is "Don't X because..." - and where the OP then went on to accept a low-scored answer that explained "How to X". Because they clearly hadn't realised that X is a stupid idea and wanted to go on doing it.

But what's the point of going to an advice site, asking for advice, then ignoring the (most upvoted) advice, going on to do something questionable (that fits their original idea) - and then claiming that this is the best solution (by accepting an answer)? IPS doesn't exist to mitigate the cognitive dissonance of OPs who didn't get a "free pass" from the Internet to do whatever they wanted to do in the first place.

Rather, it should serve as a resource to others who might have the same question - and should be presented with a reasonable answer first. In hopes that they are more reasonable...

Note: My argument isn't geared towards your specific answer - which I don't see as terrible advice. But you said yourself we should not focus on the answer itself.

  • Thanks for answering and raising a very pertinent point @AllTheKingsHorses -- that really supports the argument made several times already on Meta.SE against featuring an accepted answer above the highest upvoted answer(s). The green tick mark is enough to signal OP's preference, argue those members: "if the accepted answer is low scoring, let it remain lower down the page!" Dec 29, 2017 at 10:37
  • @EnglishStudent Yeah, that'd sound like a good solution. Of course, my argument is based on using the system we have at the moment. I don't know if that aspect of the site is likely to change? Dec 29, 2017 at 10:58
  • The topic was extensively discussed on Meta.SE but no change was made to the existing practice of featuring the accepted answer above all other answers. I appreciate your point that just because OP accepted an answer it need not be considered the best. The logical extension of that idea would be to feature the highest upvoted answer at the top of the list. Maybe accepted answer (if not the highest upvoted) can be placed second... This may need more discussion on Meta.SE Dec 29, 2017 at 11:01
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    As an aside, I think the accepted answer tooltip should just read "accepted answer", not "best answer". Totally weird SE would call it the best answer.
    – NVZ
    Dec 29, 2017 at 12:27
  • @NVZ regarding the tooltip: Should 'best answer' be replaced with 'helpful answer'? (though I don't really agree with the answerer's reason)
    – Andrew T.
    Dec 31, 2017 at 21:08
  • @AndrewT. Thanks. I've read that before. I agree with the question's proposal of "helpful" tooltip than the answerer's given terrible reasoning for "best answer".
    – NVZ
    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:16

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