I was answering a question with 0 answers at the time, and while still in the middle of typing my answer, I got a notification that someone else had also answered the question. I clicked on the notification at the top to refresh the page, and found the other person was providing essentially the same answer I was coming up with, so I abandoned my effort and navigated away from the page.

Now, every time I go back to that question, my partially-typed answer still shows up in the edit box. Clearing out all the text, and navigating away has no effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why is this a problem? I think it's a good thing that if you accidentally close the window, run out of time and can't finish the answer, or otherwise temporarily abandon your effort that your previous work is saved and you can pick up there next time. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2011 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point. Navigating away from the page warns that you may lose your work, but doesn't give an option to deliberately abandon it. \$\endgroup\$
    – tcrosley
    Aug 15, 2011 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ And, I take it, you want this option? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2011 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would make for a better interface. Usually one has the option to save a draft or cancel on leaving an edit box if they didn't submit (I'm thinking of my email program). \$\endgroup\$
    – tcrosley
    Aug 15, 2011 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't call this a bug, rather a feature request. I like that it saves it, but I have been in your position before where I have started to write an answer and then changed my mind and get annoyed every time I see it. I would be a happy with the default action being to save it and then having a button saying "delete me partial answer" or something like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Aug 15, 2011 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tcrosley About "better interface" almost all applications are moving toward auto-saving and then having to specifically delete an item later. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Aug 15, 2011 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kellenjb - thanks for the edit. "I would be a happy with the default action being to save it and then having a button saying "delete my partial answer" or something like that" -- that would be okay too. \$\endgroup\$
    – tcrosley
    Aug 15, 2011 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm with tcrosley on this - sometimes I just don't want something I've typed lingering around like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – JustJeff
    Aug 21, 2011 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've had the browser tell me there was a new answer while typing my own several times. I just ignore it. Even if the posts are identical, it tells everyone two people independently came up with the same answer. However, two posts will never be identical. There will always be a different spin or viewpoint. I think this is a Good Thing. The voting mechanism will sort out which answer was more clear even if both are correct. There is nothing special about the first answer. This is a separate issue, but maybe it would be better to remove the notification of the new answer. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30, 2011 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


This is the little-known Save Draft feature:

  1. We save drafts automatically for all new answers and new questions once every 45 seconds.

This means that you can replace the text of your answer with a single space, hang around for 45 seconds, and your draft will be replaced with this space. There are better solutions, though, keep reading.

  1. Ctrl-s will allow you to save a draft whenever you want (though it will disallow this happening too aggressively.

The Ctrl-s save feature was removed, so we got this Userscript instead. It implements a 'clear' function which replaces the text of your answer (or question) with a single space and then saves this draft. This solution is the closest you'll come to your feature request.

  1. Drafts are not supported on self-answer.
  2. Drafts are not supported (yet) on edits.
  3. You only get one draft for an answer and one for a question. (If you start a new post, old draft is blown away.)

This is the best solution! Write an awesome new answer, possibly to a different question. As long as you take at least 45 seconds to compose it, your old draft will be deleted and we'll have a new answer.

  1. Drafts will vanish and go away after a week.

This means you didn't wait long enough.

  1. Drafts work for the anonymous user as well.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, the GreaseMonkey user script seems to work great in Firefox. \$\endgroup\$
    – tcrosley
    Aug 16, 2011 at 5:22

The next time you compose an answer on any question, when that draft is saved, it will overwrite your answer draft.

(We only store one draft per question/answer per user per site.)

So, just answer another question :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, we don't care to add a delete button, so just go answer another question ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Aug 16, 2011 at 11:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff - Sorry to steal your answer. Until you mentioned that you actually store a draft (and gave that keyword to search for) I thought the behavior was a product of browser form autofill. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2011 at 13:57

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