It has happened several times now that a question is deleted by its author a few minutes after I post an answer.

I suspect it's because the question is a homework question and the user wants to remove evidence of receiving help online. I feel discouraged from answering more questions whenever this happens for several reasons:

  • I lose access to my answer. Even after reaching 10K there is no way to find my deleted answers.
  • I unintentionally helped someone cheat at homework. I already ignore homework questions for the most part because of this.
  • No one else will benefit from my answer in the future.

Furthermore, this is more likely to happen when answering an old question, as it takes longer for someone to notice the answer and upvote it (which disables the author's ability to delete the question). So this discourages me from answering old questions.

Did anyone else notice this behavior? Can anything be done about it?

A question which has upvoted answers cannot be deleted by the OP. So a good countermeasure is for everyone to Vote early, vote often! – Asaf Karagila Feb 20 '13 at 20:16
While I can see that what you suspect could be the case, another, less devious explanation would be that a user solved it him-or herself in the meantime, is ambitious, and feels stupid having asked such question. However, in your cases I don't might be right. In any case, this shouldn't discourage you. This world isn't perfect, and your well-intended actions should be judged based merely on your intent. – gnometorule Feb 20 '13 at 20:26
@gnometorule Could be, but I feel it's unlikely when the question is deleted within 10-20 minutes of receiving an answer. Either way, had I received an acknowledgement of some sort before deletion, I'd have happily moved on. – Ayman Hourieh Feb 20 '13 at 20:41
Older discussion: People who ask homework questions and then remove them – Martin Sleziak Feb 20 '13 at 21:12
Concerning your answers, Google sometimes helps with its cache. It's even possible to get the $\LaTeX$ back. See here: – draks ... Feb 20 '13 at 22:10
I've done what gnometorule describes. After asking and getting an answer I realized the problem was trivial so I removed it. This probably isn't good practice though... – Daenerys Naharis Feb 21 '13 at 22:24
I have deleted questions for the same reason Jospeh describes. – Potato Feb 23 '13 at 0:01
As Joseph says some times one realizes the thing is trivial after receive an answer and then one wish to delete it. I think that we askers must avoid to ask trivial questions, it floods the site making difficult to find interesting posts. What I try to do now, if I suspect the question is trivial, I ask someone near me, if I don't know yet, try to ask on chat. Most times in this process you realize by your own if the question deserves to be posted. – leo Feb 24 '13 at 15:38
@leo et al: Elementary algebra may be trivial to someone who's mastered it, but it's still a necessary foundation for higher mathematics and non-trivial to many students. Triviality is relative. It seems better to let others judge whether the questions are trivial by means of voting and sorting through tags. – Calculemus Feb 26 '13 at 7:04
This is why I immediately vote on the first answer on each question . – JChau Feb 28 '14 at 1:50
@AsafKaragila Can a question with upvotes but no upvoted asnwer be deleted? (This is relevant because it would stop situations like this occurring, although it is clearly not an ideal solution). – user1729 Apr 3 '14 at 8:51
@user1729: If I recall correctly, yes. – Asaf Karagila Apr 3 '14 at 12:39
"Furthermore, this is more likely to happen when answering an old question, as it takes longer for someone to notice the answer and upvote it" Answering a question bumps it to the top of the active list precisely so that people can notice and vote on it. – David Richerby May 11 at 15:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 31 down vote accepted

There is a certain correlation between that behaviour and cheating: they try to cover their act.

Please, if someone removes a question taking an answer with it, let the moderators know.

Usually I can't even find the user after the question is deleted. How do I let the moderators know in this case? – Ayman Hourieh Feb 20 '13 at 19:55
We can find deleted questions, for example by looking for your answer (which we can see) If you see any of us in the chat room, tell us, or flag something and write an explanation. – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Feb 20 '13 at 20:08
OK, the two examples above are what I have right now. Is this enough to get moderator attention? :) – Ayman Hourieh Feb 20 '13 at 20:10
@AymanHourieh: It might take a certain reputation (10k? mod?) to see deleted posts in the question list. This makes it hard to report. If you have a link to your answer, that will display the deleted question and answer. – robjohn Feb 20 '13 at 20:11
@AymanHourieh, it is much better not to start a whole meta thread for this, for various reasons. Use flags to contact moderators privately. – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Feb 20 '13 at 20:14
@MarianoSuárez-Alvarez OK. I'll use flags. Feel free to delete this question if you think it shouldn't be on meta. – Ayman Hourieh Feb 20 '13 at 20:16
@AymanHourieh I think this question, in some form or another, should remain on meta so that it can guide other answerers encountering the same situation. Having your post deleted along with the answer to which it was attached is both frustrating and puzzling to users, so having some advice already in place on meta is a good thing. // That said, maybe the links to particular questions can be removed. – user53153 Feb 20 '13 at 20:41
@5pm Good point. Links gone now. – Ayman Hourieh Feb 20 '13 at 20:42
About the "Please, if someone removes a question taking an answer with it, let the moderators know", what is the best way of "letting the moderators know"? I can't flag a deleted question. Sorry for commenting in this old thread, but I didn't want to create a new meta post for this topic again. – fonini Jan 3 at 22:10
@fonini You can flag another post of yours, and explain what the issue is (with a link to your deleted answer). Or you can post an undelete request in "Requests for Reopen / Undelete Votes"; it is not always necessary to get moderators involved to get a post undeleted. – Normal Human Jan 3 at 22:23

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