What does the "when i snap a window..." option do?

This is a good question. Admittedly, I didn't read carefully enough when I answered it, but in subsequent conversation we were able to nail down exactly what OP needed to know and I found a way to illustrate the real solution, after which point the question was deleted by OP without further comment.

I think that with a corrected answer this would be a helpful question to exist on SU and so am inclined to re-open it, but would appreciate some second opinions as to whether that is the best thing to do.

An alternative would be to simply post the original question as a new question of my own and then answer it, but I don't want to steal points from the OP (even if they don't seem to want it) or come across as being less than community-minded.

3 Answers 3


I would be happy to cast a reopen vote (and have done so) as it a reasonable question (and a good answer).

As it it is good answer I will also upvote the answer if it is undeleted. That will prevent the question being deleted again.

The OP can always ask to be disassociated from the question if necessary.

  • I think I'll go this path first, unless OP raises a stink. I'd not caught that upvoted answers protects the question. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:03
  • @music2myear Answer upvoted. Question is now safe :)
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:12

This answer is not intended to address the specific post listed in the question, but rather the topic in general. I don't know the reason for the OP deleting this particular question. Maybe this specific example is a benign case and there are no real issues with undeleting it.

These Meta discussions tend to become precedent, so while this might be a special case, it is a terrible precedent. As a matter of general practice, I think the approach taken here is absolutely wrong and inappropriate, and violates the trust that users place in the site to be able to control their own posts within the site's guidelines.

Who "owns" the posts?

Ramhound states in a comment basically that all posts become community property as soon as they are submitted. The community does have certain interests in questions from the time of submission, and that grows when answers become attached. But it isn't unlimited community control from the moment of submission. The site has guidelines on when questions cannot be deleted, at least by regular methods. That cuts both ways. The guidelines also mean that questions CAN be deleted when those conditions are not met, and users post here expecting the guidelines to be honored.

Rules similarly apply to edits. On answers, we allow very limited edits that don't substantively change anything. Questions tend to get far greater overhauls if needed in order to meet site standards. However, if the OP disagrees with a question edit and feels it substantively changes what they're asking, they are not obligated to accept it just because the community thinks the change makes a better question. The question may get closed as a result, or the OP could choose to delete it if the action is allowed.

The point is that the community doesn't have total rights to do anything on any post immediately upon its submission.

Why was a post deleted by the OP?

We have cases, especially with new users, where they get frustrated trying to comply with site guidelines. They go back and forth with other members tweaking the question, unsuccessfully, and finally just throw up their hands and abandon or delete the question.

At that point, does the community own the question, and members are free to edit it at will to turn it into an acceptable question? This is a case where the OP may not care, or may even benefit and be thankful for the effort after the fact. But that heavy-handed approach is something we get away with, not something that is appropriate.

It may seem clear that the only reason the OP deleted the question was out of frustration. But there are many other reasons why an OP might delete a question. Just a few examples:

  • They could have a face-palm moment and think the question was a stupid one. They are embarrassed at having asked it or feel that its continued presence could call their technical reputation into question.

  • They could be choosing to post under a username that is not their real name in order to remain anonymous for reasons important to them. They could realize that something unique in the question would be recognizable by colleagues and would out their identity and their past posts.

  • They could realize that they inadvertently included information that is confidential, proprietary, or otherwise not for public consumption. If that's actually the case, it could cost them their job. But it doesn't have to actually be sensitive to cause the OP distress if they think it is.

The point is that we may not know why, or all of the reasons why, the OP deleted the question. When it is their right to do so under the site guidelines, it isn't other people's place to undelete it against the OP's wishes, particularly with the OP's username still attached, and particularly with any content intact that may have been the reason for the deletion (and we may not recognize what the OP believed was problematic).


Even if the question was deleted purely out of frustration, undeleting it has implications for the OP. They may want nothing more to do with the post. Undeleting it means they have to deal with the content, respond to requests for clarification, they might be expected to weigh in on answers (failing to accept any worthy answer can affect the perception of them by other users, and could affect other people's willingness to answer their future questions), etc. These don't even have to be real concerns; they could just be concerns or expectations of the OP that we burden them with by undeleting the question.

Undeleting against the expressed wishes of the OP violates site guidelines and norms. Undeleting without the knowledge and consent of the OP isn't really different. I mentioned some of the ways the OP can be affected. It puts the onus on them to pursue disassociation, if they are even aware that it can be done, after they have already spoken as to their intent.

If undeletion is done without the OP's involvement, the problems can be compounded by timing. It may eventually be re-deleted or disassociated, but we don't necessarily know when the OP will become aware of the undeletion. They have no reason to be expecting it, and posted with the correct expectation that it was their right to delete it. In the meantime, the problems for the OP, real or imagined, go on.

Appropriate approach

So I have serious issues with:

  • simply undeleting it against the OP's wishes or without their knowledge and consent
  • doing so with their username still attached
  • leaving their content in place
  • doing the above and then locking it here with upvotes

If we think the question should be undeleted, a completely different approach is appropriate. Have a dialog with the OP and request that they undelete it, possibly with modifications. If they aren't interested or don't respond in, say, a few days, start a new thread and leave them out of it. Post a brand new question that covers the issue without using any of the original information, and post answers there.

  • Indeed, if there was potentially sensitive information or code, undeleting it would be undesirable. Here, though, the question was completely innocuous. I have left a comment on it to notify the owner of this discussion.
    – Ben N
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:07
  • 3
    "isn't other people's place to undelete it" - I disagree. If the question contains information it shouldn't have then that information can be retracted. If the user no longer wants to be associated with the question that can also be done. Once submitted the question doesn't belong to just the user, it belongs to the community, hence the reason the community can delete and undelete the question.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:22
  • 2
    @Ramhound, the ability to undelete is so that it can be accomplished when the OP is in favor or it, not so that the community can run roughshod over the OP's objections.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 20:14
  • @fixer1234 - I am not sure I agree with that conclusion. There are many things that should be done, before we accept that the only outcome, is the question being entirely removed from the community. It also does match my experience in trying to get rid of my own serial downvoted questions removed over at Stackoverflow. Community moderators there flat out refused to remove questions I flagged because they were being serial downvoted.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 21:51
  • 3
    @Ramhound, I agree there are many things that can/should be done. I don't think undeleting over the OP's objections or without their approval is one of them. "Entirely removing from the community" refers only to the original post. If there's value in it, someone else can post a new version so the community doesn't lose it. Win-win. Not removing your own questions that were serial downvoted, seems like a different issue.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 21:58
  • I think unilaterally removing a question with an answer (even with 0 votes) shouldn't have been done in the first place. If I have to get on hands and my knees and beg for questions to be deleted, which were all serial downvoted because users here at Superuser didn't like being told their software recomendations questions were not on topic, then a question with an 0 vote answer shouldn't be deleted. From the very minute I hid my Stackoverflow account profile, in my Superuser profile, I have not recieved a single downvote to those questions.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:01
  • I agree, I am upset that a question, with an answer was unilaterally removed by it's author. Seperate topics, which I shouldn't have brought up, because they really are seperate.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:03
  • @Ramhound, it sounds like there are broader issues of fairness and user expectations that might be worth exploring in a separate Meta question. Deleting with a 0 vote answer was within the existing provisions. I assume your not being able to delete your questions was due to their having upvoted answers, again within the site's provisions; actions there would adversely affect other users. But for a case like that, you should be able to at least disassociate from the question and have the lost rep returned; the equivalent to you of deletion, but the thread remains for the community.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:19
  • @fixer1234 - I honestly don't care. I prevented the revenge voting by not making an easy connection between my SO account and my SU account. I still think the question were talking about should have been undeleted though. If the author wants information retracted or be disassociated from the question that should be done.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:21
  • @fixer1234 : (1) I wonder whether the author of a question (or an answer) gets notified when the post has been undeleted.  (2) I agree with your concerns; I’m a big fan of anonymity and confidentiality myself.  It’s a problem, though, that it’s impossible to comment on deleted posts, so there’s no easy way to ask an OP why he deleted his post.  I can’t see any good reason for this restriction.  Only ≥10K users and the OP can even see the post, so there’s no risk of hordes of newbies cluttering up deleted posts with comments.  Maybe we should make a feature request to change that. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 3:52
  • 1
    @Scott, along those lines, it would be useful to have some mechanism to, in general, send a message to a user. For this particular issue, though, supposed the OP doesn't revisit the site for awhile. They wouldn't be aware that the question they deleted had been undeleted, and wouldn't see any comments or messages. Well, unless they perhaps got called into the boss's office to get fired for no obvious reason, or found their office plastered with "SU SuperTech#1" signs everywhere. Or they return to the site and discover that their deleted question had been sitting there undeleted for a month.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 4:14

Just to clarify to <10K users, this question was deleted - not closed, closure is a different thing - by its owner.

The owner of a question can unilaterally delete it unless it has multiple answers or an upvoted/accepted answer. As a 10K+ user, you could vote to undelete it, but even if you got two other users to cast the same vote, the question owner could just delete it again. The question has now been undeleted by three votes, and it cannot be owner-deleted because the answer got an upvote.

If it hadn't been protected from deletion and you wanted to keep the question around, you could ask a new question (paraphrased from the original) and then answer it yourself. I would link to the deleted question for attribution, but I would not credit the user by name, since apparently they no longer want to be associated with it. Relevant MSE.

  • This sounds like a happy-medium solution. I will go with @DavidPostill's method first, but if OP protests I'll fallback to creating my own question (OP can use the rep more than I need it). Also, thanks for the relevant MSE link. It was fruitful reading. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 20:05

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