It's a pretty standard rule on SE sites (and on this site, in particular) that you shouldn't delete a question and then repost essentially the same question as a new post; instead, you should just edit the original post. (cf. MSE questions 1, 2, 3, 4)

But events of today got me thinking. Suppose you ask a question, then decide the question wasn't ready to be posted, but you think you might be able to get it ready for posting with a few days or weeks of additional time. (Like if you're busy and can't get to it right away.) The course of action I would think to suggest to you in that case (if you didn't already know what to do) would be to delete the question, come back in a week or whenever, and edit it into shape. But non-moderators can only see recent deleted questions, if they even know where to look, and it seems kind of silly to expect a poster to always go hunting through their history of deleted questions to find one they've already asked on the topic. In a case like this, it doesn't seem so bad to just post a new question.

So, what I'm asking here is twofold:

  1. In this situation is deleting and reposting okay? (i.e. you post a question, delete it, then come back after a significant amount of time and want to ask the question again in better form)
  2. Assuming it is, what makes the boundary between an acceptable and unacceptable delete-and-repost? I suppose it depends on just why this sort of thing is not allowed in most cases in the first place. (I think I know why, but I won't say it yet so as to avoid influencing the responses.)

Of course one should always make an effort not to post a question unless you really do think it's ready, but everyone makes mistakes on this from time to time. I'm also assuming the first posting of the question got no answers and no upvotes so that there is little to no apparent harm in deleting it.

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    $\begingroup$ Partial comments/feed-back to the question (v2): 1. Reposting to avoid downvotes, comments, etc should not be allowed. 2. If OP finds a mistake/needs more time, etc, he could leave a comment mentioning that. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Dec 6 '14 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ "Can non-mods even see self-deleted questions these days?" -- Maybe? But we certainly can't search for them in someone's profile or anything, so without a link I can't be sure. In fact, my own self-deleted answers (I've never self-deleted a question I think) don't show up in my profile. Can mods really see more in my profile than I can? $\endgroup$ – user10851 Dec 7 '14 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite See meta.stackexchange.com/q/2645 . The current situation is that you can read your own deleted question if you've kept the link, but you can only find it from your profile if it was posted recently. Only ♦ moderators can search for deleted questions or see them on someone's profile. $\endgroup$ – Gilles Jan 5 '15 at 17:33

It's rare that an old question revives and starts attracting good answers. My own instinctive (and illogical) reaction is that new questions are inherently more interesting than old ones, and given a limited lifespan I commit what free time I do have to answering new questions. I can't speak for other members, but I suspect I'm not alone in this. Indeed, if an old question is edited then reopened I may not even realise, since I generally sort questions chronologically.

It may well also be the case that a closed question is fundamentally flawed. Yes, it could be comprehensively rewritten, but then isn't that really a new question rather than an edit of the old?

It isn't obvious to me why deleting questions is such a bad thing anyway. I suppose I'd be annoyed if I put a lot of work into answering, only to have my answer deleted along with the question, but then you're proposing deletion only if there are no upvotes or answers.

So I have no problem with allowing questions to be deleted and a similar question reposted. It should be fairly obvious if a user is abusing the privilege, and in fact I'm sure we've seen such behaviour before and the sky hasn't fallen (though the offenders are no longer with us :-).

  • $\begingroup$ With reference to your first two paragraphs, I'm not asking about closed questions, I'm asking about self-deleted questions. It'd be safe to assume the question is not fundamentally flawed, only that in the particular form it was asked, its poster decided they didn't want it out in public. Anyway, I guess what I'm asking is where we should draw the line between abuse and valid use of the delete-repost ability. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 6 '14 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ Drawing a line is always a troublesome process, but it should be obvious is someone is taking the mick e.g. reposting an essentially identical question and doing it more than once in a blue moon. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Dec 6 '14 at 11:44

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