A few users flagged this post to our attention.

The reconstructed time-line based on users' comments seems to be:

  1. OP posted the question
  2. Some users saw the question, started to compose the answer.
  3. OP solved it, and so "blanked out" the question.
  4. The users finished writing their answer, and was surprised by the new state of the questions.
  5. Question was closed.

Note that steps 1 through 3 happened within five minutes of the initial posting, and so the edits cannot be traced!

At present, only the people who happened to have read the question during its few minutes of appearance know what the question said. (This of course includes the OP and the two answerers, but not other users [no, moderators cannot see the original post either].)


What would the community rather we do about this post? (And other similar situations in the future.)

In particular, we see three obvious options:

  1. Should we let the post be?
  2. Should we delete the post?
  3. Should we solicit one of the parties involved to re-construct the original question?
  4. Other ideas?

This question is not about:

  1. What we should say to the OP.
  2. Whether this 5 minute rule is a bug or a feature.

Remark: I've locked the linked post for the time being.

  • $\begingroup$ Do answerers receive notifications of question edits made in the 5 minute coalescing period? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Yes, they do. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:51
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ If it cannot be reconstructed, it should be deleted. Letting the post remain in this quality does not seem like a viable option. It just reads as worthless without the proper question. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ Based on the votes below, the post has been deleted. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 9:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can I just say that I really like the fact that the moderators care to solicit the feedback of the community, rather than some other sites where moderators behave much more autocratically. $\endgroup$
    – heropup
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


Let's delete the post. I didn't see the original question, but it looks like it was about an incorrect computation of $0.657_8$ in decimal. Future readers are unlikely to benfit from such a highly localized question.


While it most certainly is possible, I don't expect that majority of these type of questions to induce - within those five minutes - deep and thought provoking answers.

It's not that deep answers cannot be written in five minutes. It's just that a question which is retracted like that is less likely to be one which received a deep answer within the first five minutes (which, again, is the critical timespan here).

So I think deleting this would make perfect sense.

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Other ideas may include sending me a few bottles of whisky, inviting me to visit your university, and generally having a more positive disposition towards set theory. But those are not quite related to the topic at hand. (These suggestions are not just for Willie, they are for everyone!) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If a Reader felt their Answer was significant enough, they would be welcome to repost the Question (perhaps embellishing it to suit their Answer). I was tempted once to do something like that, but fortuitously it came to my attention that it was a contest problem being posted (and deleted by OP immediately after seeing a solution). $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath: That's also true! $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 4:03

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