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Many forums are starting to implement policies that ban members that "dirty delete" posts. Dirty deleting, for those who are unfamiliar, is when an OP starts an engagement and after receiving any type of pushback deletes the post in response. I am seeing this behavior becoming more-and-more common on GIS StackExchange and am wondering if there should be a formal policy on this behavior? When an OP deletes a question, could there be a popup message stating the conditions that justify the deletion of a question with a required description on why it is being deleted?

Just today, I commented on a "how do I do this with 4 different software options" question, pointing the OP to our FAQ and immediately the post was deleted. This has happened to me a few times in the past couple of weeks and in two cases I was actually drafting an answer. A critical comment does not necessarily preclude an answer. If a question crosses a given threshold it should simply be closed.

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  • I agree with you. But somehow I have the impression that in addition to the feedbacks the OP would be down voted. It is surely annoying to realise that the post was deleted while someone was actually answering.
    – GforGIS
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:03

2 Answers 2

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In an ideal world, posters would read and internalize all of our policies. All of our policies would always be appropriate, useful, and helpful. And comments would invariably be constructive AND perceived as such. In such a world, OPs would rarely write unfocused questions; and in the rare case when it would happen, when prodded they would quickly improve their questions; etc.

In reality, OPs ask questions since they have a problem and hope to get it solved, sometimes have dim awareness of our practices, and are conditioned from social networks where people virally pile on vitriol to posts that someone took a pot shot at. So I don't blame OPs who perhaps misread tone of reactions, conclude it isn't worth the effort to improve the question, and retreat from the field. And, as has been noted, if no one has actually answered yet, such a OP deletion is not out of line (https://gis.stackexchange.com/help/what-to-do-instead-of-deleting-question).

I think one of the things we can do better (and I haven't looked up any specific history hear, so I'm not trying to criticize the asker here...) is use comments as intended, to have a dialogue about improving questions, or at least for clarification prefatory to answering them. Too many of our comments are perhaps technically accurate but carry the connotation of "This is a poor question, you numbskull, pls fix". Then OPs are probably unlikely to anticipate that someone, the comment poster or otherwise, might helpfully be typing up an answer anyway. Leaving the comment phrased as "I'll try answering this, but it would be better if you improved the question by ..." would perhaps reduce the chances of OP responding by deletion, and come across as less bureaucratically byzantine than adding more process (choosing reasons) to deletion.

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    If you ever see a comment that carries the connotation of "This is a poor question, you numbskull, pls fix" then please flag it for our attention because it sounds contrary to the Code of Conduct.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 12:47
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This sounds like a question that should only be closed rather than deleted, unless it was accumulating multiple downvotes with no upvotes, thus indicating that the community thought it not useful. If you can provide a link to the question it can be investigated further.

If a question is self-deleted then I think the advice at I've thought better of my question; can I delete it? will be relevant for our Q&A site. Especially, where it says:

If nobody has answered yet, go ahead and delete it — nobody minds.

One circumstance where self-deleting is addressed is when a user deletes and re-asks the same question, either when it has been closed, downvoted or just not answered as quickly as they were hoping. For that behavior I think undeleting and making the newer question a duplicate of the original is appropriate.

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