Suppose that a question has an answer which is correct and was upvoted, but which has been deleted (along with the account responsible). Is it acceptable to copy the content of such an answer and repost it, with as much attribution as can be given?

The obvious argument in favor is that the content seems genuinely useful to MSE and to any future readers of the question, and any users under 10k reputation would be well-served by having access to that material. The obvious concern is that perhaps the user who deleted it had some reason for doing so, and doesn't want their writing any more accessible than it already is. (But if they wanted that, wouldn't they at least have edited the deleted answer to obfuscate its contents more?)

In the particular case I'm considering, it seems like the answer is not much more than a reference to a known theorem, and so I don't feel especially squeamish about unauthorized reposting of deeply original work. Still, it doesn't seem to be something with established conventions, and I can imagine thornier cases than this one, so I wanted to solicit opinions about this behavior in general.

(If the author hasn't deleted their account, it seems like one should just ask them why the answer was deleted in a comment, but that avenue isn't available here.)

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    $\begingroup$ If the question is worth answering (ie meets the criteria for a good question) and the deleted answer adds value it may be added with attribution. If the answerer of deleted post is active user it is best to ask them to undelete. The specific case you link is beyond my mathematical capability. I hope some experts in that area can tell us more about the usefulness of deleted answer. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Jan 27, 2022 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ If I were to delete an answer, then I certainly wouldn't want it re-posted with my name on it. I am not sure it is appropriate to mention a name in such a situation. Maybe it is best to say "The answer was posted by another user, and then deleted", to make clear that it is original work but not attach someone else's name to content to which they might not want it attached? $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Jan 27, 2022 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @LSpice: I agree this would be a concern if the user's account still existed. In this case it does not, so something like what you describe is as much attribution as can be provided. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2022 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @RavenclawPrefect I'll have to agree with LSpice on this one, and it still applies to deleted accounts. It is true that the name gets changed to user### on posts made by the ex-account, but it stays as \@oldname in others' comments, which defeats any presumed anonymization. $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    Jan 27, 2022 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ Looking at the question, their are plenty of good answers, far more popular than the answer you ask about. Let the answer rest in peace. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 27, 2022 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy: The proposal is to repost while clearly attributing it to a now-deleted answer; I don't see how unwarranted credit is an issue here. (Unfair karma perhaps, but that seems like a fairly minor issue to me and the post in question is community wiki.) The comment suggestion is a fair one, thanks. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2022 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ But that user deleted the post, and naming them after they chose to delete it, is a poor idea. They may have seen other, better answers, and decided their answer didn't measure up. Please don't publicize them or their answer. (And thanks for helping me understand that you were seeking only to attribute to another, and not in your name. I'm sorry I thought otherwise. I've just deleted the relevant comment I posted.) $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 27, 2022 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ If the answer is worth keeping, it should be undeleted. If the user that posted it doesn't want it associated with them, they can request that specifically, or have their account deleted. In no case does a user have permanent veto over the status of the post, if the community decision is something different (goes for closure versus reopening, deletion versus not, inaccessible formatting versus standards kept, all the same). $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Jan 28, 2022 at 4:45

1 Answer 1


Nij's comment is correct. For good or bad, all SE posts are CC-licensed and the author doesn't have the right to insist on anonymization by deletion (since other users can undelete it). I don't feel that the particular answer you mentioned is a good example of what the question asker seems to want, but other users may think otherwise and hence cast undelete-votes. A user can request deletion of account, which makes it harder (but still not impossible) to find all non-deleted posts by that user. A user can also request disassociation from that one post, but too many such requests might invite suspension.

To sum up, there is no reason to repost a deleted answer. If it is without flaw and not useless, it should be undeleted, and the author cannot demand that the content be kept deleted as long as it doesn't violate any site policies.


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