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If a user posts a question which has potentially interesting answers but then deletes it themself, should the original poster be given credit if another user (who read the original question) decides it is worth reposting? One would not want to take credit for another user's idea, but we might also be cautious about naming that user since deleting the question may mean they no longer want to be associated with the question. Since SE sites do not allow direct messaging of users, one can't just ask the original poster.

This meta question is inspired by a recent question about the "speed of electricity" that was initially unclear, but after clarification it turned out to be perhaps worth answering. (Although the poster did not realize it, an answer to the final question would involve discussing how the rise time of signals in lossy transmission lines depends on the conductor's resistivity.) By the time I got back to it, however, the question had evidently been further downvoted and then deleted by the original poster. I thought about reposting and answering the question myself, which made me wonder how and whether I should acknowledge the original question if I ever get around to doing so. At the very least I would certainly say that it was based on a deleted question, so I guess this meta question is essentially about whether one should name the user who posted the original question.

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If someone doesn't want something associated with their name, then don't recreate that thing and associate their name with it. We never know why people delete things.

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    $\begingroup$ If I were to hypothetically find myself in this situation, I might handle it like this. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Nov 17, 2023 at 18:16
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If a user posts a question which has potentially interesting answers but then deletes it themself, should the original poster be given credit if another user (who read the original question) decides it is worth reposting?

No, don't do this.

Also, what do you mean by "reposting"? Do you mean literally word-for-word reposting? If so, don't do this either.

One would not want to take credit for another user's idea

First, if you literally repost word-for-word you are not just "taking credif for another user's idea" you are plagiarizing. Don't do this.

Second, if you are not literally reposting word-for-word, but creating a new (and hopefully better) question, then there is still no reason to worry about "taking credit for another user's idea." Nobody owns abstract ideas. Steal them as much as you like. When you "steal" an abstract idea, you are stealing next to nothing.

This meta question is inspired by a recent question about the "speed of electricity" that was initially unclear, but after clarification it turned out to be perhaps worth answering.

If you could re-write such a question to make it clear and answerable, then go ahead. But, I don't think it is a good idea to make any reference to the "original" question, or the "original" asker.

See also, some similar reasons for not @-ing people (or referring to their usernames without @-ing them) in the answers to this somewhat-related question.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I am extremely familiar with the does and don'ts of plagiarism, so I wasn't proposing to use exactly the same unattributed and unquoted words. Associated with the ethics of avoiding plagiarism, however, is the obligation to generously acknowledge sources and inspirations. If the original question were still public, I would refer to it if I asked an improved variant. I now realize that if I had mentally equated "deleted" with "retracted", the answer might have been obvious to me, since (with some exceptions) one should not cite retracted papers. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2023 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ The answer isn't obvious. Your question is a fine question. There are pros and cons to attribution. Usually it is nice to give credit where credit is due. But in this case I think the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to referencing an "original" question, or an "inspirational" question. At the end of the day, I think it doesn't really matter too much one way or the other. But, I'm of the opinion that not mentioning the "inspiration" is better, especially when that inspiration is another user who might not want to be mentioned. @DavidBailey $\endgroup$
    – hft
    Nov 17, 2023 at 22:48

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