Why and how are some answers deleted? Answers that do not
fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes
answers that are:
- commentary on the question or other answers
- asking another, different question
- “thanks!” or “me too!” responses
- exact duplicates of other answers
- barely more than a link to an external site
- not even a partial answer to the actual question
If you wish to improve an existing
answer, click the edit link beneath it. For more guidance, see How to
Answers can be deleted at any time by their authors, unless the answer
has been accepted by the question asker.
Answers can also be deleted by the community. Moderators can delete
any answer, and trusted community members can vote to delete answers
scoring -1 or lower (3 votes will result in deletion).
Additionally, any answer that accumulates enough offensive or spam
flags will be automatically deleted.
This means that in many cases, including those above, and especially when answers have been negatively voted, that deletion is appropriate. "Spam" is not the only deletion reason. Spam, abuse, and nonsense aren't even listed in the above because that goes without saying. These other forms of "bad" make a question eligible for deletion. And it's not just these - there are a wide variety of ways in which people put words into an answer-box that are not close to an on-topic answer.
A wrong answer, however, is not delete-worthy. In fact, we have a custom mod flag rebuttal reason that says "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer". We should leave wrong answers so that the community and user learns that "we don't think that answer is the right one to this question". That's valuable information. "No, the community does not agree that you can double-stack that bonus" or whatnot.
But we don't need to have true trash on the site for people to learn not to litter; they'll learn when it's deleted. Therefore, any of the reasons above, or others that make an answer not what we consider a legitimate answer to a question, are legitimate deletion reasons and can and should be used by community members to delete.
I haven't seen much in the way of inappropriate deletion; I think that in general over the history of the site it's taken a while for the community members to get comfortable with the tools they have and exercise them instead of reaching out to mods; I am happy for the site users to be doing the vast majority of the closes and deletions and whatnot as they get the rep. From the mod POV, I have not seen much in the way of "I shouldn't have been deleted" flags, and the ones I have seen have been wrong (got one today from a comment-not-answer, in fact).