I am not sure and I could not find anything about the ethical guidelines. A new user recently asked a question, which I've found interesting, as well as others, as it started some discussion, and then it was suddenly deleted by the OP.

Can I undelete the question if I find it interesting?

I mean I can practically do it, because I have enough rep, but is it unethical? What are the guidelines?

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ Aside from the general question, here the OP has deleted their question after you answered it -- that is rude. Therefore I undeleted the question. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Apr 21, 2021 at 19:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl, I like your comment here: "that is rude." The alternative version in your comment on the post, with "can be considered rude", is true of almost everything. $\endgroup$
    – user44143
    Apr 22, 2021 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ I must admit I don't know exactly how undeletion works. According to this post, high-rep users ($\geq 20k$) can vote to undelete a post, and it takes 3 votes to undelete it under normal circumstances. But I don't know if or where a post with an undelete vote shows up in the review queues. If it doesn't show up in the queue, then it seems like you will have to advertise on meta to have a real chance of garnering enough votes. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Apr 22, 2021 at 15:26
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In general, since your undelete vote will not unilaterally undelete the post without others weighing in, I wouldn't worry about the "ethics" of it -- just vote for it and see what happens. I agree that in these particular circumstances, the deletion of the post was rude, and moderator intervention was warranted. If your answer had had time to attract even one upvote, the software would not have allowed the OP to delete the post in the first place. Perhaps @StefanKohl might know where posts with undelete votes show up in the review system? $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Apr 22, 2021 at 15:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion Users with >=10k points can vote to undelete a question, and it takes 3 votes to take effect. Posts with recent delete- and undelete votes are shown in the tools here: mathoverflow.net/tools?tab=delete&daterange=last30days (accessible for users with at least 10k points). $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Apr 22, 2021 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ I would be still curious to know what is accepted behavior. Is it ethical to (propose to) undelete any post just because I find it interesting if the OP deleted it? $\endgroup$
    – domotorp
    Apr 22, 2021 at 18:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @domotorp I think question deletion sometimes has to do with a sense of wanting proprietary claim on an idea or notion; I think we forfeit this right as soon as we bring an idea to MO for collaborative evaluation, and it's consequently wrong to delete it after others have collaborated with the OP (like a microcosm of trying to be the solo/lead author on a paper that involved significant collaboration). If someone has reservations they should think them through before posting; once posted and digested by the community, it's communal knowledge and should be fine to undelete IMO. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Apr 22, 2021 at 22:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Relevant discussion on Meta Stack Exchange. It's unclear that there's consensus on this matter. The suggestion seems to be to contact the OP and ask the politely to undelete, but it seems to me the software is not designed to support this suggestion, and that ultimately this is a courtesy. As Alec rightly points out, the simple act of posting here means in some sense it's not really the OP's prerogative to "hide" their question after posting. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Apr 22, 2021 at 22:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Though see here for another perspective emphasizing the value of being able to delete one's own questions. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Apr 22, 2021 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ As a bit of a counterargument, I believe one should be able to hold the right to disown one's ideas, or the right to be forgotten. Asking from an anonymous account seems to be the solution, but I understand this is frowned upon by the community ( in various degrees ). The knowledge might pass to the community, but the platform wouldnt allow ( or would it? ) to not associate the name to the question. If Im already unsure my question is good enough for the site, its tougher to decide to post if I know my name will be forever there along the question. $\endgroup$
    – AT0
    Apr 26, 2021 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @AT0 I think that bad questions wouldn't be undeleted. I'm asking about good questions. $\endgroup$
    – domotorp
    Apr 27, 2021 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ @domotorp I understand, but I think its still up to the author to decide if they want to be associated to the question or not. The right doesnt depend on what other people think of the question. $\endgroup$
    – AT0
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ @AT0 I think you are being a bit idealistic here. The most common reason for the OP to delete an answered question is to (attempt to) hide the fact that it was ever asked - for example when the OP is cheating in an exam or test and doesn't want to be caught. (And of course such questions are likely to be "good questions" in domotorp's use of the word "good"). $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Apr 29, 2021 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @alephzero I insist that I think that's beyond the point, doesnt matter why the user posted the question or why they deleted it, its within their right to not be associated with it anymore. Im not aware of many homework or exam level questions being answered in MO tho. In any case, as a slightly fictional example of my point, the last question I asked here is a bit amateurish, as was pointed out in the comments, and I sort of wish I wasnt the one that asked it publicly. I think the question is 'good', just wish my (user)name wasnt associated to it that openly. $\endgroup$
    – AT0
    Apr 29, 2021 at 13:19


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .