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Given this context:

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.

I have downvoted some 30-odd questions that are quite old (more than 3 months or so), have no votes, no answers and not closed as of now in the past hour or so in Ask Ubuntu. I have used my discretion to downvote questions that I consider are poor and are possibly abandoned given that the OP has less than 5 rep and have been that way for more than a good couple of months.

If not for the downvote, most of the questions have a good chance of getting pruned by the other year script but I wanted to speed up the process of them getting deleted.

I was wondering if this is okay to do since I have invariably ensured that the questions are deleted if no upvotes are cast on the question in the next week or so. And, I don't have a delete vote privilege nor did I consult anyone before doing this.

After spending my daily voting allowances, I am wondering if I am taking advantage of the script to delete questions just to momentarily boost the site's answer rate. Is this downvoting sprint of mine particularly alright or would it be considered abuse?

I also think this would be a good place to discuss the consequences of having this script in the first place. If necessary, I can list the questions that I downvoted for reference and for discussion.

(I used this search to pick out the questions:

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Don't know if this is abusive or not, but I do it all the time, so at least you're not alone. – Yannis Jun 24 '12 at 10:54
I generally agree if the question has these attrb : old questions + no answers + below -1 votes. – Anwar Jun 24 '12 at 11:00
@Anwar Shah: In other words you agree to go with the script? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 24 '12 at 11:14
@YannisRizos Now we know how Programmers.SE maintains such a high answered rate. :) – jokerdino Jun 24 '12 at 11:24
@jokerdino Ah, no, on Programmers I don't have to follow the routine, I can just eradicate stuff... – Yannis Jun 24 '12 at 11:32
@YannisRizos Right. Downvote and delete is just a button away for mods. Forgot about that. – jokerdino Jun 24 '12 at 11:37
@BoltClock'saUnicorn, Yes, If the questioner ever bothered to know the answer, he can just click on the "Ask question" button and ask again – Anwar Jun 24 '12 at 11:44
up vote 6 down vote accepted

In general, votes are yours to do with as you please. The only exception is targeting a specific user with votes.

However, I think a good rule of thumb for this is to use your vote for those questions that do not add any value to the site. If a question is closed as too localized, poorly formatted (making it a broken window), and it somehow still has a zero score, a downvote seems appropriate.

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Many times I think if downvote + close vote is brutal, what do you think? – user173320 Jun 24 '12 at 19:15
@gdoron: Many users do that regularly - myself included. There's no harm in doing that, especially when it comes to questions that will be deleted anyway... – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 24 '12 at 21:00
@BoltClock'saUnicorn. Which leads to other question, There is a punishment for asking bad question - downvotes. While there isn't a punishment for awful questions, they got heavily downvoted than deleted. the OP rep is untouched. I saw people asking horrible questions knowing their repu won't be touched and might get an answer until the question is closed and deleted. – user173320 Jun 24 '12 at 21:16
@gdoron I saw people asking horrible questions knowing their repu won't be touched and might get an answer until the question is closed and deleted. This is where the automatic question ban comes in (after a few crap questions). – Yannis Jun 25 '12 at 3:02
@YannisRizos. It doesn't touch users with 1000 rep asking one lousy question. that action wasn't handled. – user173320 Jun 25 '12 at 7:36
@gdoron Well it shouldn't touch anyone with just one lousy question. Now, if for some reason a user doesn't get question banned while continuously posting crap, an automated mod flag is raised and, more often than not, a suspension follows. – Yannis Jun 25 '12 at 7:38
@gdoron Until you do it a few more times. Then you'll get either question banned, or suspended (no maybes). Unless there are a few good questions in between your crappy ones, in which case, well... everyone's allowed a bad day once in a while. – Yannis Jun 25 '12 at 7:49

If you downvote questions because they are bad questions and should be downvoted, then there is nothing wrong with that. It's a bad question and therefore got downvoted and subsequently deleted. That's just the normal way of things.

If the question doesn't warrant a downvote, it of course is abusive to do downvote it. And the danger of subsequent deletion would only make it worse.

In general, if a question isn't bad enough to be downvoted or closed, then it surely isn't bad enough to be deleted.

So you shouldn't downvote for the sake of deletion, but downvote if that downvote is justified on its own.

share|improve this answer

Hastening the delete process like this is really just an extension of voting's primary function: sorting content. If the post is totally useless it should be downvoted to help mark it as such. If it's really, really useless and will never be useful (which closed, unanswered, negative scoring posts usually are) then your downvote is even more helpful because it makes that post go away.

I've found this deletion-by-proxy particularly helpful on sites like Android.SE where there's lots of old, unanswered posts that are really far too localized/devoid of info to answer. Sending those questions to their doom makes less work for moderators and the community at large.

And in the event that it's an okay question that needs more info from a no-longer-around owner (not uncommon on Android) it's better that the post is deleted and a new question is asked. That poster isn't coming back, and editing their old post is much less useful than asking a good question to replace it.

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Echoing the other answers: deleting by downvote is not bad, it's the expected usage.

I did the same on a tag I monitor, which had several hundreds unanswered questions. I found however I'm sometimes more tempted to downvote an old unanswered question than a recent one of the same quality; that might be unfair.

So my personal rule is: downvote a zero-score old question only if:

  • I really find it actively bad; or
  • it's unsalvageable for sure, no matter how long we wait: e.g. the provided information is absolutely insufficient to provide any answer, despite the asker being already warned about it.
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