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A lot of questions receive very little attention, and as such are very likely uninteresting to anyone but the author. At the moment there is no incentive for authors to revise or delete such questions (even after the author is no longer interested in an answer), which means there'll be an ever increasing amount of such questions over time. As an incentive for users to clean up old questions which didn't receive any attention, there should be an initial cost to posting a question, which could then be reimbursed when upvoted for the first time, or when the user deletes the question.

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"Being stupid should hurt." – Michael Todd Feb 9 '12 at 14:53
This is why the permissions mechanism permits higher-rep users to do the cleanup for the site. – Lix Feb 9 '12 at 14:53
If every user was an active user this would not be an issue. – Lix Feb 9 '12 at 14:54
why the downvotes ? this is a legit opinion.. (even if you dont agree) – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 15:07
@MichaelTodd: This isn't about being stupid. It might just be that the question is too niche for anyone to care to answer, but not so much as to be eligible for closing. – l0b0 Feb 9 '12 at 15:08
@JorgePinho: Downvotes are different here – l0b0 Feb 9 '12 at 15:09
@l0b0 Really ? thats not what the arrows say... – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 15:12
@Jorge Pinho: Related meta question – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 9 '12 at 15:13
So, if I see a label "restaurant" I might go into a "cinema" ? the tooltip should change obviously! – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 15:16
@Jorge See this question regarding changing the tooltip. – razlebe Feb 10 '12 at 8:04
@all (downvote != disagree) && (upvote != agree) in my (language, heart, mind) – Jorge Pinho Feb 10 '12 at 11:21
up vote 8 down vote accepted

A lot of questions receive very little attention, and as such are very likely uninteresting to anyone but the author ... there is no incentive for authors to revise or delete such questions ... which means there'll be an ever increasing amount of such questions over time

Tumbleweeds get swept up
The questions you're describing get auto-deleted after a year, so there won't be an ever increasing amount of such questions over time.

Here's the rules from the linked answer

If the question is more than 30 days old, and ...

  • has -1 or lower score
  • has no answers
  • is not locked

... it will be automatically deleted.

If the question is more than 365 days old, and ...

  • has a score of 0 or a score of 1 with a deleted owner
  • has no answers
  • is not locked
  • has a viewcount <= the age of the question in days times 1.5
  • has 1 or 0 comments

... it will be automatically deleted.

Not getting an answer should be enough of an incentive to improve a question.

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Awesome; I had no idea. – l0b0 Feb 9 '12 at 15:51
As a first time user in SE, I had a bad experience, due to the voting arrows mean diferent than their own tooltips! – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 16:09
@Jorge I'm sorry to hear that. If it helps you're not alone – Some Helpful Commenter Feb 9 '12 at 16:39

I disagree.

  • Bad questions should cost, and they do: bad questions should be downvoted.
  • Good questions should be rewarded, and they are: upvoting

Now questions with little attention might be niche-questions, which can be either good or bad: if there is only a small portion of people looking at it, they will not get any votes, but that doesn't mean the question should be revised or deleted as far as I'm concerned.

Questions that are uninteresting because of their content/the way they are asked instead of the topic, should be downvoted, which will give you the desired result?

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I agree with your answer ? – Lix Feb 9 '12 at 14:57

Most poor questions are asked by first time users. First time users don't have reputation (currently you can't go negative) to decrement in order to ask. It would also present a negative experience when first encountering the system. Further a good question could be "punished" simply because it's hard or doesn't attract any attention. I've had a few that have languished for awhile before getting an answer.

There are already structures in place to help improve questions: editing, "free" downvotes on questions, closure, comments, etc. I don't see where this is an actual improvement. I'd hate to see a situation where people are discouraged from asking because they know up-front that it will cost them. I'd also hate to see questions deleted simply because they haven't attracted attention. That, in itself, is not indicative that it is a bad question.

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" I'd also hate to see questions deleted simply because they haven't attracted attention." But they do get deleted. It just takes a long time – Some Helpful Commenter Feb 9 '12 at 15:37
@ConradFrix - I wasn't aware of that change. But at least they leave the question open for a year. If I could get rep back by deleting it, I would probably be less patient. – tvanfosson Feb 9 '12 at 15:48

I don't think the lack of attention necessarily means lack of quality, because of this I see no reason to provide incentives to delete questions. Some good questions might be without upvotes because they are very complex and people are unsure about voting it up because they don't understand it completely (just an example, but it can happen).

Besides, a question that doesn't receive a lot of attention now, could be answered in the future (assuming it's legit, not off topic, NC, etc) and therefore still serve its purpose. What if I ask a very good question, no-one considers it, but after a while it gets answers and attention (for whatever reason)... Why should I be encouraged to delete it? That might lead to delete potentially good questions and therefore it would just cause the site to lose good content.

What I mean is that the lack of attention/upvotes, be it for one day or three months, doesn't necessarily make that question bad or dangerous.

That can be quickly established through comments, down-votes and Meta discussions about it. If a question deserves to be closed or deleted, it will be.


  1. questions that just get closed, sometimes can be improved and reopened, so this further reduces the reasons to encourage users to delete their questions which lacked attention.

  2. There is even a badge for your question that has lack of attention, the Tumbleweed badge.

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I would sugest that a question should have a time limit defined by the poster, like such:

If no answer (and no upvotes) after X hours (or days): delete question

Dont forget that there is the "Peer Presure" badge!

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Sometimes stackexchange feels like military (in a very bad way) – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 15:10
Deleting a question automatically (which is what I assume is meant here) is a terrible idea, firstly because users truly hate anyone who deletes their content without their explicit consent. If a timeout is set by the user, they will all set it to infinity. Also, sporadic users might come back much later and revise or add a bounty to get stuff fixed. I know I have done. – l0b0 Feb 9 '12 at 15:11
It would just be a feature: I can mark my own question for deletion if no answers and no upvotes – Jorge Pinho Feb 9 '12 at 15:14
Don't forget that there is the Tumbleweed badge too. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 9 '12 at 15:18
@JorgePinho: The way SO/E works there's no user incentive to set this less than infinity, other than tidiness in your own list of questions. – l0b0 Feb 9 '12 at 15:18

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