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I have an answer voted -5 to this question, and I'm not sure if I should delete it. On the one hand, it's completely wrong and ludicrous. Yet on the other, there's useful comments and links that explain why my answer is sheer nonsense, and therefore possibly helpful. Yet, it's got one of the lowest ratings ever :|

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    $\begingroup$ Rule of thumb: If it's good content or can be made good, don't delete. If it's wrong/unsalvageable, delete. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 25 '13 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good discussion, because it relates to how we treat "common misconceptions". The view expressed in that answer is widely held by the public and totally wrong. I would feel more comfortable deleting if the accepted answer specifically mentioned and debunked the incorrect view. For people learning physics, it's often the best approach to cover the misconceptions (as opposed to avoiding mention of it). $\endgroup$ – Alan Rominger Apr 19 '13 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ One option would be to delete the answer but add a comment somewhere explaining briefly what your misconception was and helping other people avoid it. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Aug 21 '13 at 21:50
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As long as we're not talking about something that a moderator would delete (e.g. doesn't answer the question, is spam) - and you wouldn't post those things in the first place anyway - then it's really your call. You're not required to delete a post just because of its vote total, no matter how low that vote total may get.

Personally, I would delete the answer if I had become convinced that it was wrong and couldn't be fixed by editing. I wouldn't worry about preserving comments, because comments are meant to be transient. If you think there is useful information in the comments, edit it into your answer.

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As David says, there are only 4 things to keep in mind: your answer isn't offensive, isn't a spam, it's answering the question, it is of very good quality. (Well, flagging an answer states only 4).

And as QMech says, you can always revert your post to a CW if you want so that your reputation (score) may not be affected in the future.

There is no rule that says, you should delete your answer. It's your wish, unless you're raged by a bunch of guys always against you (happens around SO everyday). You're saying that the comments are useful. So, you've got your point. Don't delete it if you don't want to. After all, it's worth a rep. score equivalent to a single answer. You can get it in the future, of course.


On one hand, There are a lot of users who've got more downvotes than you, and some users were lucky that their answer was accepted. While on the other hand, there are users who've deleted their 10+ voted answers when they got shot by an investigation on their cat art. Some mods should've seen a lot of voted answers deleted by this...

P.S. I've deleted many of my answers, due to these downvotes. In fact, I got raged by a guy once and when he's gone, I got all my score back. But now, I can't search where my deleted answers are. The reason I deleted my answers, I didn't want a guy to search my profile and downvote my downvoted post. But now, I don't delete my answers.

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Speaking in general about a down-voted post, i.e. not necessarily about OP's actual post: If on one hand, one is worried about further deterioration of one's reputation tally, and if on the other hand, one really want to keep the down-voted answer, then making it a Community-Wiki (CW) may be a solution.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem with CW is that, it doesn't earn you (or reduce) any reputation in the future. But, the votes already earned (-5 in this case), will stick with your reputation ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Mar 25 '13 at 6:32
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Write a new answer. Give the correct reason for the phenomenon, based on your new understanding. Then add a paragraph describing the wrong reason, and why it's wrong, based on those comments from the earlier bad answer. Explaining why frequently believed misinformation is wrong, is indeed educational. After the new answer is in place, delete the older wrong answer.

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In theory, I like @manishearth's rule of thumb. In practice, I put up an answer that was inadequate (not wrong, but not well cited/quantified - eg, bad but fixable), and got downvoted so quickly that I pulled it before it took all my rep. As I'm a new user, I'm now below most privs.

(Would have added this as a comment below @manishearth, but guess what ...)

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  • $\begingroup$ OK, on review, it really was a pretty bad answer; I can understand some downvoting - certainly that it wasn't accepted - but the I was surprised at how quickly and how far it went. Still, I didn't have the rep to add it as a comment at the time, and the question currently has no answer. $\endgroup$ – hunter2 Apr 18 '13 at 4:19

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