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I wonder why this site keeps the deleted answers?

If some user decide to delete his answer I think he wants to do it for some good reasons, and hoping that his answer is gone, but after achieving 10k reputation I've found that this is not the case. (In some sense I'm worried about this, cause I don't know what kind of surprises can occur after achieving 100k: maybe I can see some private information regarding the other users? Just wondering!)

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    $\begingroup$ If you don't want any surprises, you can always do some research. The help center actually does have a lot of information on how this site works. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Aug 26 '13 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Note that in the rare case that one accidentally published sensitive information (e.g. you wanted to "analyse" the sequence of your credit card number's digits and gave the actual example), moderators do have the option to hard-delete a revision, i.e. they can edit that information out of a post in a way that noone can reconstruct it. But as usually in the internet: Once it's online, it's hard to remove (e.g. from cache, site scrapers, data dumps...), so better think first whether you want to "publish" specific information $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Sep 4 '13 at 15:15
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Soft-deletion is important for community moderation to work, it allows 10k+ users to verify that the deletion was reasonable and it makes abuses of the delete privileges visible. There would be no undeletion if posts would be deleted permanently.

This feature mostly archives crap, but it is important for the few cases where the deletion is in error, an abuse of power by one or several users, or when a user tries to rage quit and remove valuable posts.

As for the part about seeing private information about users, there is no such privilege no matter the reputation. Only diamond moderators that have signed the moderator agreement and SE employees (that have a need to see that kind of information) can access private information about users.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok. Good to know. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Aug 24 '13 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Is it intended to read "diamond moderators that have signed the moderator agreement" as meaning that signing this agreement is not required for becoming a moderator? Or should "that...agreement" be understood as a parenthetical remark? $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 24 '13 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin You get the diamond before you sign the agreement, but you don't get the mod abilities until you do (if I remember it correctly, it has been a while). I just wanted to emphasize that there are some expectations and restrictions about how mods use this information. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 24 '13 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Ok, thanks for clarifying. :) $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 24 '13 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ So why not permanently delete questions after say 2 months? One would think that after a certain time period, reasonableness of a deletion would have been settled. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Aug 25 '13 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas Another aspect where having all the deleted content available is useful is when acting as a moderator. The history of a user is important for decisions like suspensions, removing all the old deleted posts would also remove this history. And questions are already as good as deleted unless you have a direct link, only answers are still easily accessible. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 25 '13 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist I agree with Thomas. I doubt whether user history is that important to be available under all circumstances, since if a user would do something wrong I assume that usually action can be taken within the time period during which deleted answers would be stored. I think it rarely happens that only much later abuse is discovered. $\endgroup$ – dreamer Aug 25 '13 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @rbm previous behaviour is rather important, I tend to act in a very different way as a mod towards users that misstep once compared to users that have a history of misbehaviour. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 25 '13 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: Wouldn't there still be a time after which past behavior can be forgiven? If a user has "behaved" for a year, maybe that is enough? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Aug 25 '13 at 19:33
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Maybe the user regrets the deletion and wants to improve on his answer, but doesn't want to start over.

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    $\begingroup$ This could be an explanation for keeping the deleted answers for a while, but not for good. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Aug 25 '13 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ @YACP: I have at least one deleted answer from many months ago to which I hope some day to return. It's simpler to keep what I have there, with a record of the link, than to keep a separate record. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 27 '13 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe a better option would be to have separate "hide" and "delete" options for these two cases - only the user himself can delete answers, but moderators and others can hide them. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Aug 29 '13 at 4:10

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