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Before you vote to close: there are a lot of questions with titles and/or bodies that are similar to this one. However, none of the ones I saw deal with this particular case.


I have an old question that is appropriately closed as a duplicate of an FAQ entry. I just tried to delete it because it doesn't really add any useful search terms or overall value to MSO. I got the following message:

Sorry, this question has answers and cannot be deleted; flag it for moderator attention instead.

That's the same message that comes up when you try to delete your own unclosed answered questions. Since I'm a 10k user, I think the system should at least allow me to cast a regular, non-binding delete vote for that post, if not delete it unilaterally.

I also think that 20k users attempting to delete their own recently closed posts shouldn't have to wait through the 48-hour "possible reopening" period, but since my example question was closed over a year ago I don't know what the system actually does.

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1 Answer 1

That's the same message that comes up when you try to delete your own unclosed answered questions. Since I'm a 10k user, I think the system should at least allow me to cast a regular, non-binding delete vote for that post, if not delete it unilaterally.

Why?

The reason for preventing deletion of open questions with answers is to prevent askers from throwing away the work of other users. Of course, there are plenty of questions with lousy answers that could still make The Internet a better place by not being visible anymore, and there's always the chance that someone is sitting their, just about to post some great answer, but preventing askers from unilaterally removing them once an answer actually exists is the compromise we've put in place.

And none of that changes when a question is closed. Closing isn't supposed to be the final word, you see. It's a sort of nomination for deletion, but it isn't deletion itself - there may be something worth salvaging:

  • A good question trapped in poor phrasing. Note how you can still edit closed questions. Many a query has gone on to live a long and useful life after going through a close-edit-reopen cycle.

  • A signpost. We tend to discourage deleting questions closed as duplicates, because even if the answers are already somewhere else, the title can help folks who'd never phrase their question in the manner of the original to find it.

  • A really good answer. Maybe not enough to make up for the deficiencies of the question itself, but... Perhaps the question could be edited. Or, if it's a duplicate, it could be merged.

  • A user worth educating. Yeah, your question was misguided, and you didn't search, and all those references to Hitler didn't really help your case any... But you just had a bad morning. Someone pissed in your Cheerios. Literally. We can forgive. So instead of deleting your question and stomping off in a huff, maybe sit down and apologize? Seek forgiveness? And then ask a moderator to remove your shame?

Pretty much the same thing applies to the waiting period.


Now, in response to your comment that the 10K/20K abilities should override the question-owner restrictions... Look at it like this:

  • As a new user, you can't delete other people's questions or other people's answers. You can delete your own questions, so long as they aren't closed and the deletion doesn't result in an answer being deleted.

  • As a 10K user, you can vote to delete other people's questions, provided they've been closed for two days, but you can't delete their answers (except by voting to delete an entire question). You can still delete your own questions, provided they haven't just been closed and don't have answers. So far, this is consistent: we're not letting you do things to other people's posts as a question-owner that you wouldn't already be able to do as a citizen.

  • As a 20K user, you can vote to delete other people's questions and other people's answers so long as they've been down-voted below 0, with no waiting period required. So now there's an argument to be made that you should be able to delete or at least vote to delete your own question provided all the answers have scores < 0... Though frankly, this seems like such an unusual edge-case, and I don't see anyone arguing for it seriously.

And... You're not arguing for this. You seem to think that at 10K, when you gain the ability to vote on deleting other people's questions, you should also get a shot at their answers - provided they've answered your question. Now, I'm all about more answers being deleted...

But let's face it: as the asker, you're among the least impartial judges of what should and should not stick around as responses to your question. I really can't see trusting you more when it comes to deleting answers on your own question - and remember, that's what deleting an answered question entails - than I would trusting you to delete answers on some other person's question.

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All good points, but immaterial. Heck, I'm usually the one driving the "closing isn't the final word" truck. The crux of my post is that author status is interfering with a rep-based privilege. 10k users have earned the privilege of voting to delete closed questions. They shouldn't have that ability taken away when they happen to have originally written one of the questions, um, in question. –  Pops Oct 28 '11 at 21:45
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Uh, why not? 10K doesn't exactly make you impartial WRT your own questions. If there was ever a time to not trust a user, it'd be when dealing with their own stuff: you might go years and never be tempted to delete a duplicate, or a terrible question with great answers, until suddenly you found yourself the one looking shabby with that Q on your profile page. Just look - you were motivated to ask this out of a desire to remove a duplicate question where the title is nothing like the original... If the rationale above is flawed, it's flawed for everyone - regardless of reputation. –  Shog9 Oct 28 '11 at 21:54
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Hmm, though after reconsidering I find myself agreeing with this, I do wonder how relevant a user's lack of impartiality is if they still have to get others to agree with them to make anything happen. I suppose it's possible that getting the remaining votes is a bit easier after someone's already gotten the ball rolling, but I'm not convinced how much this matters at the end of the day if the OP is that intent on drumming up support for their goal. –  Tim Stone Oct 28 '11 at 23:09
    
@Tim: personally, I don't think it's a big deal either way. Heck, I was fine with users being able to delete questions with answers. But if we're gonna make exceptions to that, I don't see any reason to limit it to voting or tie it to the 10K/20K privs - pick a threshold where the chronic question-pumps won't abuse it too much, and have at it. Short of that... It's really easier just to flag for mod attention, since you'll probably need it anyway. –  Shog9 Oct 28 '11 at 23:24

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