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In an ongoing discussion about whether closed questions should be deleted unless improved, a painful corner case has emerged: what to do with bad questions that have good answers?

Whatever the answer to this question, I think we should do our best to enlist those users interested in a question to improve it so that it may be reopened. Arguably, answerers should be on top of the list and upvoters directly afterwards; these are users who thought the question (and/or its answers) are worth keeping.

Now, as far as I know nothing prevents this from happening:

  1. I find a question I like.
  2. I upvote and/or answer the question.
  3. I go on with my life.
  4. Some time later, the question is closed.
  5. Some time after that, the question is deleted.
  6. If I keep an eye on my rep, now I realise something has happened. Unless I can see deleted questions, I have almost no way of finding the deleted question. Only applicable for answerers; upvoters might never know the question vanished.

So, users that thought the question worthy are kept out of the loop. Why is that? I propose we should send users who upvoted a question and/or answered it a notification when it is closed, asking them to improve the question and vote/flag for reopening if they think the question should be saved.

Aside from improving the site by keeping more good content around, this extends some courtesy towards those who invest time to answer a question even if it is not stellar. It also creates awareness of the possibility for involvement in the quality control process.

Related question: Please notify us when a question we ask or answer is closed or reopened (old, no official reaction)

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marked as duplicate by ChrisF Apr 6 at 18:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I think that if it is in your fav list, it will appear as a change when closed –  ajax333221 May 25 '12 at 16:46
If we kept all bad questions that had good answers, Stack Overflow would be a complete lolfest. –  animuson May 25 '12 at 17:02
@ajax333221: I certainly don't favorite all questions I answer. I don't think that's a viable workaround. –  Raphael May 25 '12 at 20:19
@animuson: 1) The suggestion aims towards making bad questions better, not keeping them around in their bad form. 2) Not every SE site is like SO. –  Raphael May 25 '12 at 20:20
I brought this up with the core team and we decided it doesn't make sense for us to implement this type of notification right now. –  Laura May 31 '12 at 17:43
@Laura: Whatever that means... Well, too bad. Thanks for passing it on! –  Raphael May 31 '12 at 21:36

1 Answer 1

Firstly, I disagree that people who upvoted content that was later deleted should be notified. I vote pretty liberally on a few sites, but that doesn't mean I'm really invested in the questions. So I'm against the idea of notifying people who have simply voted on a question.

As far as notifying users who answered a question and telling them the question was deleted...we already show you that information. If you click the "show removed posts" checkbox on the Reputation tab in your profile, you'll see reputation changes from deleted and undeleted posts. (For more information, see this MSO post.)

Adding an actual notification would become a nuisance to highly active users (and probably to not-so-active users, too). The information is there for you to look at if you wish, but we don't want to flood people with notifications about their reputation changing in addition to all of the other notifications and alerts you receive.

We are actually about to tweak the language on closed questions to make it clearer that you are allowed and encouraged to edit closed questions, leave comments for improvement, and try to garner reopen votes. Stay tuned for that very soon - hope it helps.

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I propose to notify on closing, which is currently not visible. I'll clarify that. As for upvoting, in that case I guess the notifications are punishment for upvoting crap. ;) –  Raphael May 25 '12 at 20:48
I agree; I definitely do not want to be notified when questions I down vote get closed. Nor am I really interested in being notified when questions I up vote are closed. Same thing questions, the answers to which I have voted on. –  Andrew Barber May 25 '12 at 20:52
@Raphael Gotcha. I didn't realize you wanted to be notified on closure; I thought you were concerned mostly about the rep changes. Your question is mostly a dupe now, but I'll bring it up with the team since that old question was never explicitly addressed by us. –  Laura May 25 '12 at 20:54
@Laura: My post was not very clear, sorry about that. Thanks for passing it on! –  Raphael May 25 '12 at 20:56
@AndrewBarber: I only propose notifications for upvotes. Notifying only when you answered is (good) compromise. I still think upvoting should lead to a notification; if you do not like the question so much that you would not like to see it closed, it is probably not good enough to deserve the upvote. –  Raphael May 25 '12 at 20:57
@Raphael I still don't want to be notified when questions I have up voted are closed, either. Nor do I think it's a good idea to have such a notification, from the up-voting I have seen on bad questions. –  Andrew Barber May 25 '12 at 21:00

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