I recently answered a question for the first time on this SE. It received one comment about sharing the source of my opinion and the typical copy and paste "welcome" comment.

Less than a day later, it got deleted.

Even though I've been reading this SE for quite a while, I never heard of the "back it up" policy and didn't find it in the suggested links, listing signs of a bad answer, only reading about it by chance in the process.

While it may just be an unfortunate combination of time zones, I got no notifications about the comments or the deletion and only checked up on the question out of personal interest.

While I'm, of course, pretty upset and discouraged by this, I mainly feel bad for the question, which now has no answers again, instead of one that may have been salvageable enough to stay on this site and/or hopefully help OP in some way.

So is there a minimum wait time for a user to adapt their answer to feedback, once it has been given, or is it just luck, once the first delete flag has been given?

  • 1
    Note that an answer can be edited and undeleted after a deletion (the same way a question can get closed, edit and then reopened).
    – Ael
    Dec 4, 2019 at 13:28
  • 2
    @Ælis iterating input and edits on deleted answers is a lot harder since comments are disabled.
    – JAD
    Dec 4, 2019 at 13:31
  • 1
    Related, but on the question side
    – avazula
    Dec 4, 2019 at 13:33
  • 3
    It ends up in the queue, where votes will be cast depending on how quickly reviewers are available. In case anyone wants an idea of the timeframes in this situation: The answer was posted 23 hours ago. The first comment was made 20 hours ago (3 hours after posting). The answer was deleted 4 hours ago (19 hours after posting and 16 hours after the comment).
    – Belle
    Dec 4, 2019 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


The minimum possible amount of time

This might sound strange or harsh at first, but hear me out here...

Removing an answer not fit for the site quickly will A. Protect that answer from receiving more downvotes and B. Protect the asker (or others reading it) from trying to use that unproven advice.

Let's take your deleted answer for example. You recommend trying to connect the friend with a therapist or support structure. To my ear, that doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. But that's the thing, I have no experience trying to recommend a therapist to a friend. For all I know, this could absolutely backfire and make the friend extremely upset. Or a therapist might be the wrong choice. You give no arguments and no evidence that things will work out nicely the way you say they will. (To be clear, I'm not saying they won't. Again, this sounds like a good suggestion to me, but lacking experience myself, I can't say).

Once your answer has been removed, you're free to edit it as you please. For answers that can be fixed (like yours), I view deletion as a kind of staging grounds where you get to work on things behind the scenes before undeleting.

Once you feel the answer is up to spec, you can A. flag the answer as custom and leave a message for the moderators letting them know you think it's in a state to be undeleted. B. Hop into chat with us and mention you've fixed up a deleted answer and you want some eyes/opinions on it. Or C. You can write a meta post for clarification if you feel nothing's been done.

To reiterate here, deletion doesn't mean your answer is dead. It only means that now you get to work on it in secret so that it can make a second debut :) And I think the quicker we delete an unfit answer and toss it back to the answerer to fix, the better. If we don't think an answer is fit for the site, we don't want it to be getting more views.

  • I appreciate the administrative advantages of this approach and viewing the deletion of an answer as a sort of "staging area" as you suggest, I can see that it is not the end of the road. Obviously the terminology coupled with my inexperience with this approach doesn't really communicate that very well. Coming from technical SEs, I intentionally left out mentioning personal experiences as anecdotal evidence and I still kind of don't see how that doesn't lead to "only people who have been there can answer" type of arguments. I will follow your advice and try to come up with an edit, though.
    – Minix
    Dec 4, 2019 at 14:48
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    @Minix "I still kind of don't see how that doesn't lead to 'only people who have been there can answer'" -> That's the entire point. On a technical SE site, it is easy to verify an answer. You run the code you were given and see if it works, if it doesn't you move on to the next answer. On an IPS problem, it's not that simple. Trying a wrong answer could have major consequences on your life. You might damage or destroy a relationship and there would be no chance to try and fix things from there.
    – Rainbacon
    Dec 4, 2019 at 14:59
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    Personal experience doesn't have to mean that you've been in the exact same situation though. It could also be from you observing others in the same situation or even you using the same skills in a different situation. For example, say someone asks a question about resolving a fight with their wife. Maybe you aren't married, but you had a big fight with your best friend last year and found a way to talk things out. Those same skills could be used by the person trying to solve a fight with their wife.
    – Rainbacon
    Dec 4, 2019 at 14:59
  • @Minix to follow up on what Rain is saying, if you have no experience in a language on SO, you wouldn't answer a question there. However, if you have language experience but have never used the specific library they're talking about or a function they need, you can look at the docs and then answer with that information. The same is true here. If you have absolutely no experience with conflict aversion, for example, you probably shouldn't answer there. But if you have experience and find a situation you can't relate to, a quick google for a related article is perfectly reasonable backup!
    – scohe001
    Dec 4, 2019 at 16:43
  • For more on my thought process when writing an answer and how I find and incorporate backup, you can take a look at the first part of this meta answer I wrote.
    – scohe001
    Dec 4, 2019 at 16:45

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