This question is intended to help me and others that experience this behavior to understand these action and (hopefully) therefore be a better members to this valuable mathematics community. I wish to understand best practices and moral values of our site.

Recently I came across a question that had a potentially valuable answer, however, the original answerer decided to delete the answer. I'd like to understand when and why this kind of behavior happens and understand what are the best recommendation on how one should react.

Recently I came across the following question and wrote a few follow up questions/comments and then the answer got deleted. I was trying to understand why this happened and how to avoid it from happening. I've never experienced this behavior from the (not very long) 2 years or so I've been on the site.

  1. Would it be advised in general to not post many follow up questions?
  2. or is the best practice just to use the "chat option" immediately (since that is what its there for?). Or would that make the problem worse?
  3. Maybe after two (or k sufficiently large) follow ups, one would be advised to post the follow up as actual questions (if phrased appropriately)? Maybe linking to the original post? Is explaining that one wants to avoid multiple follow ups on the original something one should mention in the new question or does that just pollute the new question with extraneous information that should be somewhere else?
  4. If the answer is truly useful but is in-comprehensive to the OP, is it recommended for the OP to repost the answer as his own later? Or is that considered stealing? I'd guess that the OP should only post the old answer if he truly understands it, because otherwise there is the risk that he is posting an answer that was wrong (possible reason it was deleted) and then further propagating that error.
  5. Actually, one thing that I found to be useful is to post what part of the answer that was deleted to confusing as an edit to the OP (without any reference to the person that deleted the answer). Maybe this isn't the best way to act, but if done well and carefully, the original question can become unharmed, without drifting to a tangent and provide a useful answer!

I've seen that some users do have contact info on their pages and one could use them to contact them about deleted answers, but personally, even if I really wanted an answer, I find that to be rather invasive and would recommend against it.

Anyway, the main question is why do people delete answers that are (potentially) useful and if OPs (and other users) should do anything at all to if these actions happen? (obviously, they should only do things constructive things)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As far as I can tell. The answer is deleted by the answer-er. The answer has no obligation to tell you why. (If you really want to know why, try to ask that in your question's comment, tagging that user). $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Jul 1, 2015 at 3:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa That would not reach the other user; notifications work only for those who participated under a particular post. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Jul 1, 2015 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I did not know about that. @1999 $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Jul 1, 2015 at 4:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa I agree, he has no obligation to tell me why. I never disputed that. Never the less, I was still curious to know what happened. Its never happened to me that someone deletes an answer due to discussion/questions. I don't think people should be forced at all to discuss but it was still surprising to me. Never seen that before. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 4:30
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio : You may be curious to know why. But putting this on meta can't help: First of all, no one but the answer-er can tell you the reason. So putting this on meta won't help anyway. Moreover, I would be a bit annoyed if I delete an answer, don't feel like explaining why, but the questioner repost it on meta ask for the others to explain that. I would agree with 1999 that nothing should be done (including this post). $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Jul 1, 2015 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa do you think the best action is to delete my question from meta? I don't mean any bad intentions to anyone but I also don't want to be an asshole. The reality is that guesses at what might have happened are still useful (at least for me). This post is intended to help me and others that experience this behavior to understand these action and (hopefully) therefore be a better members to this valuable mathematics community. I do wish to understand the mathematical details better but also the best practices and moral values of our site. I apologize beforehand if that annoys you or others. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 4:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa I will do that. As I mentioned at the end of my question, I really want to make my question useful and not at attack to any specific person or post (though, I did have a specific example to not make it a weird hypothetical). Maybe I didn't explicitly say that but I hope it was implied :) $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ You may find meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/20000/… interesting. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your patience and advise @JohnMa, I appreciate it. I have re-phrased my question. I am still very tempted to delete this question because it seems I've gotten very negative responses and reactions from it ( and Im starting to reach my tolerance limit to rude behavior to well intentioned questions). Do you think its a constructive question (as I've rephrased it) or it will only lead to fights and arguments and its better to go ahead and delete it? $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 15:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually I just up-voted your question. It's up to you whether or not to delete question. IMO some of your questions now make more sense and worth some discussions. @Pinocchio . $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Jul 1, 2015 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio: I suspect that the downvotes you get here in Meta are caused to some extent by the question (and the screenshot) pinpointing a specific user. Granted, it is difficult to discuss your theme without any reference material to base it on, but some askers, for example, edit the screenshots by smearing the names and such. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen ah! Great suggestion! I will do that right now. How did I miss that important but subtle detail. Thanks for the feedback, thats why I hate downvotes without explanations! I am usually very open to improve myself and my questions if given the chance to do so! :) $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ For me, the issue with this post is that it claims to ask a focussed question about site policy and possible rationale behind events, but is littered with, as I see it, completely superfluous information about what you don't want, is otherwise obvious from posting on meta, concerns regarding the usefulness of the meta question, or any specific example that triggered the post. By which I mean the first paragraph and everything after point 4, and possibly including that one as well. (E.g. you say "This specific example is not super important" but yet it is half of the length of your post.) $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Jul 1, 2015 at 16:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio The bottom line is, the excerpt "Recently I came across [...] linking to the original post?" would be a fine question for meta. You could toss in a link to the example to provide for the desired reference. Everything else is shifting the focus away from what you want to ask. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Jul 1, 2015 at 16:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I often delete a correct answer of mine when I feel like I've written too complete an answer for an obvious homework question. $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2015 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


Nothing. The answerer should be able to disengage from the thread if they wish. You pinged him four times there, so I'm not surprised he deleted the answer. I usually disengage after the second or third ping, sometimes also deleting the answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just out of curiosity, why do you decide to disengage after the 2 or 3rd pin? I don't think its wrong behavior, we should be free to do what we want, but I'd like to understand the community better. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio I have looked at the deleted question and comment. If I'm in the place of the answerer, I also feel the urge to disengage from the thread. It is getting tiresome to answer following up of following up question. On the net, people's tolerance of boredom is lower than the real world. If pushed enough, one will walk away much quicker. (Please don't follow up on this comment, thank you). $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 5:15
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @achillehui sorry for going against your request but I'd suggest you not to get involved in threads that are meant for discussion on meta (look at the tag of my original question). There are some follow up questions/things I'd like to discuss about your comment that could be useful things to contribute to this site, however you have no interest (for whatever reason, which I completely respect) in improving the site and its users with such discussions. So its better to just get out of the way to not pollute the messages in the comment thread. Thanks for your understanding. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 5:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio: I can understand being slightly offended by achille hui's comment, but your reply seems excessive, and out of line. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jul 1, 2015 at 8:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Pinocchio Well done, in one comment you have alienated most of the users even moderately familiar with achille's interventions, on the main and on meta. (Yes this comment is sarcastic. Please don't follow up on it, thank you.) $\endgroup$
    – Did
    Jul 1, 2015 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I really wasn't offended, he didn't say anything to me personally to attack me so there was no reason to be offended. I just thought that it was expected to be open for discussion on meta, specially on a discussion question, so I pointed it out. I tried really hard to write my comment in neutral language (or even positive), because I didn't mean to offend him nor wanted him to feel attacked. How do you recommend I should have reacted? It seems some of my posts involuntarily offend people even though I make an effort to express myself in a constructive manner. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 15:50

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