As the number of new users increase, we also see a natural increase in users who aren't familiar with the Stack Exchange model ("it's not a forum"). Moderators as well as several users (thanks!!) usually catch non-answer posts with a kind welcome message.

I'm typing out a new message every time, and frankly they're not equally good.
Wouldn't it be helpful to have a standard message with relevant information?

I've composed a suggestion as one answer - feel free to revise it!

2 Answers 2


I have been struggling with how we track these deleted answers, since the standard message we've been working with encourages users to edit the answers to improve them, after they've been deleted.

If someone actually follows through with our request, and edits the deleted answer, how do we know? We have to rely on them to flag the answer for moderator follow-up. Many users will be unaware that flagging is even an option.

I requested a new feature on meta.stackoverflow.com, looking for a way to make sure we don't miss it in case someone does try to fix an answer, and Gilles' response presented an alternative approach that I think makes a lot of sense.

There is a far easier solution to this problem, which is to stop encouraging the edition of deleted answers. Instead, encourage the users to post a new answer. That's a lot easier to understand — just use the “Add Another Answer” button and type your new material. No need to flag or to rely on yet another bit of magic technological complexity.

Encouraging reposting rather than edited has the added bonus that it does a better job of encouraging major improvements. If you browse the reopen queues, you'll see quite a few questions that have only been edited cosmetically. If an answer has been deleted, it's because it needs a major overhaul, often it needs to be completely written anew. When users care to repost, they tend to follow the advice they were given — when they edit, not always.

In light of that, I propose that our standard comment should be changed as such:

Hello and welcome! This site is different than the forums you might be used to: responses to the top post are supposed to be answers. If you have a suggestion, please post a new answer after reading these guidelines. If you have a question of your own, see here: How to ask.


Here's my suggested standard message:

Hello and welcome! This site is different than the forums you might be used to: responses to the top post are supposed to be answers. Read more here: [answer]. Can you please [edit] your response to offer a suggestion? If you have a question of your own, see here: [ask]. Welcome!

Along with that, the non-answer needs to be flagged for moderator attention so we won't forget to review it a few days later. Everybody can flag a post, and it's encouraged.

Minor update: the [bracket] tags will be automatically expanded. Source

update: I removed this but let's save it here for later:

I'll hide this post for now but

... and by hide I actually mean delete but I feel that's too harsh to say.

Geek tip:
If you use a text expander, you could put this as a standard phrase and save yourself the typing.
(Texter, PhraseExpress, TypeIt4Me)

  • Looks great! One thing to keep in mind, though, is that some of these are the results of people who want to comment, but don't have the 50 reputation needed to comment everywhere.
    – user420
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 15:03
  • @Beofett: There's a reason why one needs to earn the privilege. If we allow pseudo-comment answers then we undermine that. Or to put it the other way round: Because the ability to comment on others' posts is a privilege, we as moderators are obliged to enforce it. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 15:47
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    Oh, I don't disagree. I'm just saying that we may need a different message for those people when we delete their comment-as-an-answer.
    – user420
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 16:30
  • One problem with this message that occurred to me: it invites the new users to revise the answer through edits, but how will anyone know that the revision has been made? Currently, there are only 6 non-moderator users who have sufficient reputation to even see deleted content, and even though they can see the deleted answers, they can't vote to undelete answers deleted by a moderator. Is it practical to try and explain the flag system, so there is a better chance of someone seeing the edits?
    – user420
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 20:07
  • What if the "hide" part was just left off? Then, you can choose whether to give the person a little time to make the edit, see if anyone else "flags" it etc. I think for a new user, the warning and a little time to respond is more welcoming. Especially since it will show up with the word "deleted" after you've done the deleting. I know that makes more work, because you have to remember to go back and check but it is also instructive to others for the short time it remains showing. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 3:46
  • 1
    @balancedmama: I did prefix it with geek tip :-) Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 8:12
  • 1
    @balancedmama: Hiding (deleting) the post prevents downvotes. So what's worse: downvotes or the "deleted" label? I'm not sure. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 8:13
  • Are you saying I'm not a Geek! UGH! I'm SOOO offended. lol. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 20:54
  • Actually, I think down-votes are better. They won't feel to a newcomer like a leader on the sight just slammed the door on their input. It could be anybody that down-voted and if the down vote comes with a brief comment about where it comes from and the suggestion of an edit, it is offering the poster feedback that leaves open the chance for improvement. From a logistical standpoint it is harder for you, I would think from a newbie's standpoint is is more welcoming - even along with the critique. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 20:57
  • I've revised my suggested standard message to leave the non-answer open instead of deleting it. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 21:57
  • I think your new version looks good, is welcoming and yet allows for flexibility. If a moderator wanted to add, "I've changed your answer to a comment due to its ___ it was more fitting this way." Or "I'm not clear what your answer is though" or whatever best fits the situation they could. It does say "welcome" twice though. Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 4:47

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