Update: discussion on specific changes to how deletion works is here:
This needs to stop: http://stackoverflow.com/posts/15348333/revisions
We get fairly regular complaints - via support emails, here on MSO, even on Twitter - about questions that've just disappeared with the asker left none the wiser. I don't have much sympathy for folks who ask a question and then leave for the weekend, but if you're responsive to criticism then you really should be able to step away for a cup of coffee before returning to the question. I think the 20K "instant delete vote" privilege is being misused in some cases; I'd prefer to not throw the baby out with the bathwater by taking it away entirely, but some amount of discretion needs to be applied if it's to remain.
Originally - as laid out in The Stack Overflow Question Lifecycle - there was a fairly generous review period after a question got closed:
5) Once closed, the question can be reopened by voting to open in the same manner. If the question garners five (5) votes to reopen, the process starts over at step #3.
6) If question remains closed for 48 full hours, it is now eligible for deletion.
If a question didn't get fixed and reopened in two days, then it seemed a pretty good bet that it wouldn't be fixed - so, fair game for folks looking to clean up the clutter a bit. I know I certainly made good use of this as a 10k user. Then, this happened:
Remove the 2 day limit on voting to delete closed questions.
20K users should have enough about them to know when a question should be deleted rather than leaving it closed.
Note that the request was for the removal of the waiting period to vote - but the implementation went ahead and removed the waiting period for actual deletion. So what was intended as an expedient way for savvy folks looking at an unsalvageable question to save themselves the trouble of revisiting it later became a tool that breaks the feedback loop between askers and the community.
How big of a problem is this?
It's not huge, but it's significant:
- 1043 questions asked in the past 30 days have been deleted "early" by voters. Some of them are ridiculously bad - exactly the sort of rubbish that ChrisF had in mind when proposing this feature. Many are just run-of-the-mill poor questions.
- 221 had at least one up-vote,
- 112 had a score >=0 after being closed.
- 52 were asked by folks with at least 1000 reputation on SO.
- 395 had at least one answer.
- 186 had at least one up-voted answer.
You can review all the questions here if you're interested (and have at least 10K on SO): http://jsbin.com/isobux/1
What should be done?
Well, if you're reading this, have over 20K reputation on SO and you're in the habit of casting delete votes on questions when you close them... Stop deleting stuff early if it's not egregiously bad. In particular, if you're voting to close it's really not hard to go back through your close votes and vote to delete after a couple of days - this wasn't possible when the 20k privilege was introduced.
Beyond that, I'm open to suggestions:
- Review queues (how would this work?)
- The original "delayed deletion" idea
- Get rid of early deletion entirely in favor of the auto-deletion that goes with spam and offensive votes.