My first question "A question regarding the Continuum Hypothesis" (which I answered), was recently downvoted after several years of staying at the same score.

Since I (with 20/20 hindsight) believe I can ask the question in a better way than originally asked, I was prepared to delete both question and answer and re-ask it differently than I had originally done.

When I had attempted to do this, I was essentially 'accosted' by a warning that if I continued to delete answered questions (I don't believe I have done any of this) I would be blocked from asking further questions.

The reason the warning gave for this was to keep the knowledge contained in the answer from being lost. What gives? Since I answered my own question the fact that it keeps getting downvoted suggests that the MathOverflow community believes there is no 'knowledge' contained therein.

Can the community have it both ways? I'd like to know.

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    $\begingroup$ Agreed that this behavior makes no sense in this case. You should not be penalized for deleting an answered question if all the answers have a negative score. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ I can delete the question for you if you would like that. $\endgroup$
    – S. Carnahan Mod
    Dec 3, 2014 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ I see no objection for deleting that post. You asked it and you were the only one to answer it, and both the question and the answer have only received downvotes, so I agree with you that the community doesn't seem to give such value to the posts that they should be kept. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ If you delete the answer first and only then the question, you might be able to avoid that warning. (I'm not familiar with these aspects of the software, so I can't really tell.) Anyway, I think it would be good to have a way to delete such posts without such a warning and help from moderators. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ I think one should always be able to delete own posts with negative score. (As a side effect, this would also discourage people to answer bad questions.) $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Dec 3, 2014 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl while there is an issue with answers given to low quality questions, I think your proposal would do a lot more harm then good. It would also do little to solve the problem you want to solve in parenthesis; for this there'd be other ways. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Dec 3, 2014 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: What harm do you have in mind -- loosing your answers to bad questions :-)? $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Dec 3, 2014 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl part of the harm would be, yes, that some users might get annoyed by their answers getting deleted. (Me personally not really, though I do have some answers to questions that might be bad, but I know my fellow MOers from dicussions on such things.) And some askers might try to game the system. It seems absurd to me to have strong automatic measures against OP deleting answered questions (a single upvote, note upvote not even positive score, on an answer suffices) yet neg score on q should nullify this. Why? Because the neg score hints at the good judgement of OP? :-) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Dec 3, 2014 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Agreed, the warning is not very necessary, and possibly even unhelpful, in this case, but then it is not that unusual that automatic warnings, and even non-automatic warnings, are sometimes given in situations where it is not really necessary as a measure of safety or due to hitting some corner case.

Having said that there are several options how you can delete the question (three even without warning):

  • un-accept the answer and wait for automatic deletion (that should happen withing some days); threads with low score for question and answer(s) are auto-deleted but accepting an answer prevents this.

  • un-accept the answer, delete the answer, delete the question (in this order!) should also work.

  • flag "other" for a moderator with the request (as proposed in the comments by one of them, but since you can handle the situation yourself doing it yourself might be preferable)

  • delete it as you did, the warning only told you not to do this on a frequent basis. (From you description it seems you can delete it, if not it is the accepted answer that prevents it, un-accept and proceed to delete.)

Thus, you have several ways to delete the question/answer post, even without triggering a warning. Or, you can just discard the warning; you were only warned not to repeat this frequently. (And, I for one would consider it as undesirable to have this happen for the same user frequently.)

The triggering of the warning in this case is arguably not necessary and possibly even unhelpful, but then to prevent such a corner-case might not be worth the added complexity, especially as it was only a warning.


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