Imagine the situation that I have some text which I would like to have available when working on this site. And also I am very comfortable with using MarkDown+MathJax syntax.

Would creating a question (maybe together with an answer or several answers) and deleting it - and using it for the purpose to use it as place for my personal notes - be considered as misuse of the site?

I am still aware that it would be probably more natural to use some external editor. The advantages I can see here would be that I could share the post with other 10k+ users. And another advantage would be that I would have things handy when working on this site. Another minor advantage compared to other editors is the automatic conversion of site links to question titles. The disadvantage would be that I can't share the post with users outside math.SE and even with users on math.SE below 10k. (But it is still possible to copy the source into another editor.)

Let me also say that I am experimenting with using StackEdit for similar purposes. I was just wondering what would be community opinion on usage of this site in this way? (Although I think I can guess the probable answer.)

From the viewpoints of the site

I am aware that adding new posts requires resources. But not even most prolific posters do not create enough text for this to be relevant.

From the viewpoints of other users

Unless I share link to the post with some other users, they probably would not even notice that such post exists. But such post would definitely do not disturb frontpage and other lists of questions.

Some hypothetical examples

Examples where such pages would be used for purpose related to math.SE:

  • Let us say that I have written an answer which I do not want to post. (Either because I was not able to finish or because somebody posted a similar answer sooner than me.) But I still want to save it somewhere, because I want later get to this answer. So I could create a question (and immediately delete it), which would serve as my personal sandbox or draft repository.
  • Annotated lists of duplicates. It is general accepted that when closing as duplicates, we should choose the best possible duplicate rather than the oldest one. Decision is not always simple. So I could imagine having somewhere lists of duplicates of some questions with some comments. (Like "This post has also answer to the generalization." or "This post specifically asks for proof using induction." or "This question was edited, some of the answers was edited and some of the answers address the original question.")
  • There were several questions on meta about creating various lists, like this question or other posts linked there. Some of them were received better, some of them not so well. If a user suggesting creating a list post a questions and some answers, would it be ok if they continue editing such question if it is deleted?

Examples of possible personal uses

  • Some users maintain list of favorite questions in their profiles or in favorites. In this way, I could be able to create such list which is better categorized.
  • Let us say I am writing some notes on some topic for my personal use. And I find out that many posts on this site are useful for me. Then I can simply write the notes here on site.
  • There were some discussions on meta about creating lists of exercises and their solution for a particular book in math.SE post. For example, this question and maybe some of the posts linked there. Outcome of those discussions was that such posts are not on-topic here. Would creating such list in a deleted question would be ok?
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    $\begingroup$ I'm very amused by this idea. $\endgroup$
    – davidlowryduda Mod
    May 22, 2016 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ One can also use revisions of (sandbox) answers for this and related purposes, which has the advantage that more users can see them, not only 10k+ users. I have occasionally done that in the past. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2016 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ I would think yes, it's probably misuse, though you should perhaps ask on meta.SE to see what the higher-ups have to say... But more to the point, there are plenty of better-suited tools than this on the internet. Which one in particular probably depends on your precise needs (do you mind everything being public or not, do you want to be the only editor or not...) Do you know about Github pages for example? You could even just make Google docs for this and share the links with whoever you want. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2016 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi That is probably a more reasonable way to go. As I mentioned, I'd like to start using StackEdit more extensively as I have in the past. Since you mentioned Github, does it support MarkDown + MathJax? $\endgroup$ May 23, 2016 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ Not directly, if you don't do anything special it's just raw HTML. But it also supports jekyll, a static site generator which is more blog-oriented but can very well be used for what you want, I think. The setup is a little bit involved though. You can then use markdown & mathjax. If you want you can check out how I did it (I use it for a blog, but you can just make static pages and ignore the blogging features). $\endgroup$ May 23, 2016 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ Remember that you submit anything to SE under a CC licence, so don't use it for things you don't want to be governed by that licence. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2016 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ Wordpress has a mathjax plug-in. You can create a blog, e.g. at blogspot, but then only create drafts, visible by yourself, and not actually publish any posts. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2016 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ I can also suggest stackedit.io -- I use it sometimes for the purpose you suggested. Quite helpful, I find. $\endgroup$
    – Sam OT
    May 25, 2016 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Iirc, I've seen some users using the "about me" part of their profile page for that very purpose. So if you don't mind cluttering this section with information unrelevant for visiting users, you might consider this option :-) $\endgroup$
    – roman
    May 26, 2016 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ @roman Yes it can be used in that way. Although there is a limit of 3k characters. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2016 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, for one, why not just copy + paste if you render here? Or gmail it to yourself, gmail renders LaTeX. There are also tons of LaTeX repositories on the internet where you get free hosting and saving of LaTeX documents. MSE seems like one of the most inefficient ways to do this. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2016 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


To begin with, users cannot edit self-deleted questions. The SE team was concerned about the potential for abuse: editing whatever into the question, and then undeleting when it's no longer active and therefore off the radar.

It is possible to edit the questions deleted by others, and answers deleted by any reason. However, editing a deleted answer will bump the post, which is undesirable.

So, it seems the only reasonable way to have such a repository is to arrange for your question to be deleted by someone else. Then other users won't be bothered by it, and only potential for it to be a distraction is via software-generated moderator flags: those that are based on the high number of edits. I don't know how much of a problem those are for mods: if there is just one flag when reaching 30 revisions, and nothing after that, they may be ok with it.

So, the solution may be to ask a moderator to delete your question for the reason you describe; if they agree, you have their permission.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for information about self-deleted questions. I was not aware of it. But - as I just tested - it is still possible to edit my own answer to a self-deleted question (after the deletion). $\endgroup$ May 22, 2016 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak That may be due to your high reputation. You silently get a lot of restrictions lifted as you gain rep, and once you hit 'mod tools' level it's pretty much no holds barred. Most people who get 20k rep don't break bad suddenly one day, so if they're going to do something you don't want the masses doing (like editing self deleted posts) you're more likely to be doing it for a valid purpose than an invalid one. Or at least, a benign purpose rather than a harmful one. $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    May 30, 2016 at 21:01

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