The relevant question is this one.

The OP tried to delete it, but was reverted. Should we delete it, or leave it as is (with potential negative consequences for the OP if identified)?

  • 5
    The Network-wide canonical post regarding deletion, which covers what can be done in this exact situation, is: How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?
    – Makyen
    Sep 6, 2018 at 6:11
  • 2
    Related question on Meta SE: What to do when the OP mutilates their own question?
    – Nobody
    Sep 6, 2018 at 6:38
  • 3
    I think this may be an unusual case deserving of extra consideration however. It is an overly-specific and (arguably) low-quality question that quickly rose to a hot network question, and which is still attracting low-quality answers 5 days later.
    – Ryan
    Sep 6, 2018 at 7:02
  • I'm surprised that none of the answers given up to now mentioned the CC-BY-SA license, which is the relevant regulation here. Sep 9, 2018 at 11:38
  • @FedericoPoloni Maybe you could explain why you think it's relevant?
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 10, 2018 at 22:43
  • @FedericoPoloni Both of my answer's links are directly tied to the implications of the license all posts are made under, and the license gets mentioned at some point within them. Sep 10, 2018 at 23:11
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    @BryanKrause Because it's the license under which OP released the text of his question for Stack Exchange to reproduce it. For instance, its text reads "the license granted here is perpetual", which means that OP has no legal right to have his post deleted if he changes his mind. Sep 11, 2018 at 5:54
  • 1
    @FedericoPoloni That only addresses the question "do we have to delete," not whether we do or whether we should. The meta post that the answer by zibadawa links at the very beginning does in fact reference the license as part of the broader discussion, but also goes much further.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 11, 2018 at 18:53
  • Would it be possible for the "OP" to disassociate him/her-self from the post? Sep 12, 2018 at 20:19
  • 1
    @JosephDoggie Yes, disassociation is available through SE, and specifically a right under the CC BY-SA 3.0 which the author has. The first comment here links to the main meta, which mentions disassociation as an option. It's also mentioned in the answer below.
    – Makyen
    Sep 13, 2018 at 0:15
  • 1
    Licence is not the only thing to consider. There are privacy laws and laws on personal content as well, which affect if it is legal to deny the removal request. You cannot just insist on the licence when discussing a post containing a personal story. For example as a European citizen I could retract such a story under the right to be forgotten (and some other laws probably as well) and SE would have to remove it.
    – allo
    Sep 18, 2018 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


OPs do not in general have a right to delete their posts, though in limited circumstances where the question has essentially received no positive attention they will have such an option available to them. Once something positive happens, the option to delete is gone, and deletion only happens for substantial breaches of site policies, or automatically by the system when certain specific conditions are met. Upvoted but off-topic, upvoted but otherwise bad, or personally awkward questions are generally not worthy of this, as they still serve a useful purpose for the overall maintenance of the site.

The OP could be asked if they wish to have the post dissociated from their account. Everyone has that right under the license every post is made under. The post could also probably be anonymized a bit. It contains a fair amount of rather specific and unnecessary details, and prototypical panic phrasing. With some effort I think someone could strip it of a lot of the particular details and fix the phrasing to something less emotional. A flag for moderator attention could then be raised, requesting that the revision history be scrubbed/redacted (else we wouldn't actually be doing much to prevent the OP from being identified from the post's contents). If existing answers contain significant amounts of quotes or other restatements of the original posting then things get complicated, but perhaps that would be the poor and helpful mod's problem. But there's a limit to what we can achieve to protect an OP from making a bad decision and saying too much: there are other ways of figuring out who the original poster was, and what the post originally said, no matter how much the mods try to scrub the evidence from the site itself.

Even if a thusly-modified version of the question was left closed, this still serves a useful purpose for this SE. We can use it to close similar questions as duplicates and not really have to force ourselves to explain and fight about why it is or isn't off-topic.

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    […] someone could strip it of a lot of the particular details and fix the phrasing to something less emotional. A flag for moderator attention could then be raised, requesting that the revision history be scrubbed/redacted – Sidenote: This is actually something, we moderators do rather often on this site: Remove irrelevant and identifying details from a question (and its history).
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Sep 6, 2018 at 9:02

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