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It happens occasionally that a question is marked "Active: Today" but clicking on this doesn't show any recent activity.
I guess that this happens whenever somebody deletes his/her answer. So far so good.

What I would like to know: Is it legitimate to write a dummy answer then delete it, in order to have an old question (be it mine or somebody else's) which I consider worth to be brought to the "surface" again, coming up in the list of the most recently active questions, instead of doing a minor edit which would achieve the same goal?

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    $\begingroup$ Personally I think it's a very bad idea. Deleted answers are still visible to those with 10k+ points and they clutter up the space. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble May 24 '15 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ "I guess that this happens whenever somebody deletes his/her answer." This should be by-and-large a misconception. (Could you link some examples where you suspect this?) Reopening of a questions bumps it. If the last activity is by a high-rep user chances are it was this. Also, "comments as answer" or "spam"-answers that are then deleted happen with quite some frequency. By contrast what you describe is something I would have not recollection seeing it. $\endgroup$ – user9072 May 24 '15 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ Bringing more attention to a question which has not yet been sufficiently answered seems to be what bounties are meant for. $\endgroup$ – user642796 May 24 '15 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I noticed it at mathoverflow.net/questions/187854/…. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang May 24 '15 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. That's still something else, but still no individuals activity. It was "poked" by Community. Certain types of questions are activated to give them visibility by this process (roughly, questions that have an answer that is not upvoted or accepted). If you see a question with last activity "Community" it is normally this. It is indeed just a reactivation and done automatically. $\endgroup$ – user9072 May 24 '15 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: By the way -- are also deleted comments still visible for someone? -- If yes, for similar reasons one probably shouldn't too often repost comments to fix typo's etc. (otherwise avoiding such reposts is probably pointless). $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl May 24 '15 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl No, deleted comments are invisible to all but site mods (or SE staff). $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble May 24 '15 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: So you can see them? $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl May 24 '15 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl Yes, there's a functionality where I can see them if I want. But being able to see deleted comments is just part of the job (and on the scale of deleted comments, those due to typos are among the least unattractive). On the other hand, site mods can edit user comments, and I usually correct typos in comments if and when I notice them. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble May 24 '15 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ This is related to the first part of your post (about bumping without any visible activity): meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1636/modified-by-community $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 29 '15 at 4:26
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If you want to bump an old question even though you have nothing to add to it, the least you could do is to make it publicly. If you add and quickly delete an answer, only the users that can see ghosts deleted answers will know what happened.

I'm not in favour of bumping old questions unnecessarily, especially if you do it often, and I have understood that there is something of a consensus about this. If you need to revive an old post, you can add a note about your new reason for being interested in it or you can post a new question and edit the old post to provide links both ways. If the old question is yours, you can edit it to match your new needs (if it hasn't been answered yet), but if it's someone else's, I'd recommend posting a separate question. And, of course, you can add a bounty to an old unanswered question.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes I agree. What I have noticed though is that sometimes, very old questions (say from 2009 or 2010) that have never been answered can get interesting answers after being bumped, simply because many users weren't yet around in those ancient times. :-) $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang May 24 '15 at 17:35

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