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Since this is not a QA site as such, I don't think there's a whole lot of value in keeping old solutions around for future reference. And for new users to the site, it's a bit like discovering an awesome puzzle book, only to find that somebody has already filled in 90% of the answers. From that point of view, removing old answers should really be considered a good thing.

That said, I'm not suggesting we necessarily encourage people to do this, but if someone did want to delete their old answers, would that be a acceptable? Or are moderators likely to see this as vandalism and revert the deleted posts?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just answer without looking at the answers! \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Feb 11 '17 at 18:29
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I disagree with your premise that deleting answers is a good thing.

  • While new, active users may benefit from finding more unanswered questions, deleting answers has the same effect as not posting them at all.

  • Established, active users will still see the answers, so they have to choose between posting a near-duplicate of a deleted answer or just ignoring the challenge and move to the next one.

  • Passive users (and we have a lot of them), enjoy reading clever solutions but have no desire to participate. Less answers means less content they can enjoy.

That said, all content you provide on Stack Exchange sites is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under CC-BY-SA, and the poster is expected not to remove useful content. Deleting a large number of answers will raise a vandalism flag, and the moderators are expected to undo the deletions.

Note that the above paragraph depends on the licencee (Stack Exchange), not the community. Even if we achieve a community consensus that old answers should be removed (which I disagree with), the final decision would still be Stack Exchange's.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll concede that your third point has some merit (regarding passive users). But I'm assuming it's still acceptable to delete low score answers. Not every post can be considered useful content, and even Jeff Atwood seems OK with the idea of deleting poor answers, as long as the rate-limit isn't exceeded. \$\endgroup\$ – James Holderness Feb 11 '17 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not something we're going to do. Consider all the hard-earned rep that those answers provide their posters. That rep would be lost upon deletion. If you're worried about seeing answers before solving the challenge, just don't look at them. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Feb 14 '17 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ An exception to this rule is answers posted in the Sandbox. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Feb 14 '17 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 I wasn't asking other people to delete their answers. I was asking if it was OK to delete my own answers. And it's worth pointing out that rep won't necessarily be lost on deletion. \$\endgroup\$ – James Holderness Feb 14 '17 at 18:56

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