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I see a lot of good, well-writen and constructive questions (that are probably not only good for me) closed, by various reasons which I fail to digest, so I propose the idea that questions with n upvotes should not be closable.

This would be in my opinion very much in the spirit of "We don’t run Stack Overflow. The community does", and unless I'm wrong, it would be beneficial for the users to choose by themselves whether the site should have or not x question. The ones which are low quality never get many upvotes anyway.

The only cons I can think of are... DB space? And at a minimum there's the pro of more popular pages with more ads (for the admins), and questions people like (for the users).

I'm also counting for funny questions, in the lines of Google's "You can be serious without a suit", but questions like this are more like what I'm aiming at (probably that question has not many upvotes for this though).

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The bar is set very high for popular question deletions by the community. Is it really that important to add your answer as the 105th answer to the pile? –  Robert Harvey Feb 2 '12 at 19:19
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@RobertHarvey I'm sorry, I did not understand. Do you mean popular questions are hardly deleted? –  Camilo Martin Feb 2 '12 at 19:21
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Popular questions that are closed require one community deletion vote for every 20 upvotes (or some similar metric). –  Robert Harvey Feb 2 '12 at 19:22
    
If that question is good enough to be open, it should be at ELU. High-voted closed questions are usually either dupes, off-topic, or jokes (not constructive). Make a case why those should remain open or provide more examples that don't fit those categories. –  Matthew Read Feb 2 '12 at 19:22
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@RobertHarvey Nice to know, I searched to see if there was something like this but did not found it so I asked. –  Camilo Martin Feb 2 '12 at 19:25
    
@MatthewRead I must admit I saw only one other example this week, and in any case it's not on my browser's history anymore and I can't find it. However that question wouldn't deserve closing, just moving, I believe. –  Camilo Martin Feb 2 '12 at 19:30
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@CamiloMartin: i feel for you after all this bombardment of downvotes. Try not to be discouraged by it! –  ElCid Aug 31 '12 at 10:00
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@ElCid Thanks really, but since I got banned from meta.SO for asking too many downvoted questions (so I'm under a more or less permanent ban from asking any more questions), I mostly stopped coming to meta. Funny thing is, on actual SO (where I'm not banned), absolutely none of my questions have less than 0 score and just some 3% of my answers have -1. –  Camilo Martin Aug 31 '12 at 14:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

unless I'm wrong, it would be beneficial for the users to choose by themselves whether the site should have or not x question.

They do! Moderators are not the ones closing most of these questions. They are being closed by users with high rep, and flagged by users with less rep to indicate they should be closed.

The users closing these questions have exponentially more rep than is required to actually VOTE on the question. I'm not saying their opinion is more important, but it is.

As busy as they are, it's very unlikely moderators have extra time that they choose to spend by looking at old questions. They respond to flags mostly.

The ones which are low quality never get many upvotes anyway.

I'm not sure what data you are basing this on, but it's not relevant. Most of the "popular" older questions that are getting closed are getting closed because they are off topic. We had much looser standards of what was acceptable 3 years ago than we do now.

The only cons I can think of are... DB space?

...and the noise of a non-technical non-helpful question.
...and the bad precedent that confuses new users about what is OK on the site.
...and the noise of having all the high-vote questions be 3 year old poll-type questions which are no longer allowed.

Just because it's cool or popular doesn't mean it's appropriate, and that's the root of this issue. These questions are no longer appropriate for the site.

There's a thousand pages with funny lists and lists of programming books and other stuff.

There's really only one place to get extremely high signal-to-noise-ratio technical questions and answers, and as the site gets more popular we need to be more careful about sticking to that core value.

It's what makes the site uniquely successful, it's what makes very gifted people who excel in their fields continue to contribute here in such numbers, and it's why we all spend so much time here learning and teaching.

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Very fair answer, thanks. I understand regarding funny questions, but I still believe some questions are just slightly off-topic (as if it's acceptable to say "performant") and are more on the "signal" side than the "noise" side. –  Camilo Martin Feb 2 '12 at 19:39
    
@CamiloMartin those terminology questions might fit better on programmers now. I'm not sure they work on SO at all any more. –  JNK Feb 2 '12 at 19:40

There are a few things to keep in mind here.

First of all, there is a distinction between closing a question and deleting a question. When a question is closed, no one can post any new answers to it but everyone can still see it. When a question is deleted, no one can post any new answers to it and no one with less than 10K rep can see it.

Note that deleted questions are typically kept in the database, so they do not result in any space savings that I know of.

The bigger problem is the one addressed by Jeff in his latest Stack Overflow blog entry (The Trouble With Popularity). To the question "Why can’t you just not look at these fun posts? Why do they have to be deleted?" he has the following to say.

  1. Broken windows. Every ‘fun’ post users see is an open invitation for them to participate in the fun by adding their own fun question or answer. The stuff spreads like kudzu! Pretty soon the entire site is overrun with nothing but that kind of fun. And even if you grandfather a few in, you’ll enjoy neverending requests asking why their fun question or answer has to be removed, while this one over here is allowed to remain.

  2. Opportunity cost. Every minute spent participating in an entertaining ‘fun’ post is time that someone could have spent asking or answering a substantive question, something practical that solves an actual problem for hundreds or thousands of people. Entertainment, within reason, is by no means a bad thing — but I experience almost physical pain when I think about a brilliant topic expert spending 10 minutes on one of our sites deciding which hilarious cartoon is their favorite.

The basic problem is that every "fun" question becomes an incremental definition of the community that spawns it. The Stack Exchange network is a place to learn through high-quality questions and answers, and the "fun" questions undermine that mission.

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"but I experience almost physical pain when I think about a brilliant topic expert spending 10 minutes on one of our sites deciding which hilarious cartoon is their favorite" - isn't it their choice anyway? Also, an Area51 proposal for an "off-topic" Q&A site was rejected. It would have solved this. –  Camilo Martin Feb 2 '12 at 19:43

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