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A question I asked long ago got migrated to "web apps."  Today, the inbox showed it had an answer "19 hours ago" that mentioned Guadalajara.  When I clicked on it, I got my profile page instead.  When I used the menu again, I got the question itself but there was neither answer nor comment that mentioned Guadalajara.

Could it be that whoever deleted the answer triggered a bug in how links are generated? Or a bug in posting also caused the answer to not be shown?

  • Do you have enough rep on "web apps" to see deleted content? If not, it may well be that someone posted an answer that was not worth keeping (most likely spam but it could have been a short answer without value or a 'me too' one as well) which got deleted between you were send the message and when you came to have a look. – Willeke Mar 18 at 16:36
  • That would explain not seeing the answer, but not why the inbox menu sent me to my profile the first time and to the question the second time. – WGroleau Mar 18 at 17:06
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The only reason I can think of as to why you'd end up on your profile is that the inbox itself links to your profile. That is, the button on the topbar is also a link to your global inbox on your stackexchange.com profile - if you somehow managed to click it before the script loaded, or if you right-clicked it and selected "open in new tab (or whatever Safari offers), that'd give you your inbox instead of whatever you meant to open.

The answer was deleted, which is why when you were able to follow the link you couldn't see it. The real bug here is that you could still see the answer in your inbox: normally that would've been quietly removed from your inbox after the answer was deleted. But lemme back up a minute...

Whenever a new answer is posted, an event fires that adds the answer to the question owner's inbox. If the question doesn't have an owner - because, say, it was migrated to a site where the original owner doesn't have an account - then the system tries to track down the owner by following the migration history back to wherever it was migrated from. If it can find the owner, it still adds the notification - this way we don't leave folks hanging when their question is migrated before being answered!

When an answer is deleted, the process is very similar to what is described above: the system tries to track down the owner, follows migration history if need-be, and then removes the inbox item from the owner's inbox. Except, it also checks to see if the question is unowned and skips that removal step if it is... So you still got notified, even though the answer was deleted and there's zero chance you could've seen it since you didn't have an account on the site where it was posted!

Recommended fix: don't skip removal if we were actually able to track down an owner.

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    Hard to follow that since I just got up. Recommended fix: don't read meta answers before morning coffee. :-) – WGroleau Mar 19 at 8:13
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    @WGroleau You're lucky it wasn't written then. ;) – Catija Mar 19 at 13:07
  • With the fix deployed, I undeleted and then re-deleted the answer... And it immediately disappeared from your inbox @WGroleau. Thanks for the report! – Shog9 Mar 26 at 17:46

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