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I had often referred to this question (for <10k) and last time I checked, it had 48 votes upvotes, 81 stars and 11 answers, with a total of over 100 upvotes.

Today, after the question was live for four years, I saw it deleted single-handedly by casperOne.

In Why are we deleting instead of merging?, Jeff Atwood stated:

I wish people wouldn't delete questions with good answers. You're destroying the useful contributions of your peers!

Flag these for moderator attention instead and suggest a merge!

The question has been up for a long time. Why was it deleted just now? What changed? Perhaps the question was suddenly considered unfit for Stack Overflow, but with that many upvotes there must be something of value in there.

Please consider resurrecting it, and keeping it closed if need be. Deleting it doesn't help anyone.

share|improve this question
It is a hot mess of someone looking to crowdsource an article instead of a question –  random Mar 26 '13 at 5:43
@Bart sorry silly question but please let me know how did you get that ? –  NullPoiиteя Mar 26 '13 at 5:45
Another route to take (other than Meta) would be to bring this up with the community that might benefit from it. Via chat for example. You could then also discuss how to improve the material to make it less likely to be deleted again. Or perhaps even how to extract all the relevant/best content and make it into a great Wiki? –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 6:03
@Bart: Re. making the question a wiki, I've tried with this question but it got deleted anyway. I have absolutely no desire to waste my time again. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 6:04
@random: Why you are assigning intent to the OP of that question? What if they were honestly looking to improve their CSS learning curve? Have you found a copy of the SO answers collated into some article elsewhere? –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 6:13
and what about if we have "What XY tips should every beginning developer know about ?" its really no a good place to write about those question question should be problem specific –  NullPoiиteя Mar 26 '13 at 6:28
@NullPonyPointer That is not the argument here though. By now such questions would most likely be rapidly shot down and deleted. The point his more, if you have a question like that, with valuable information, survive for several years, should it still be deleted? And I think Yi Jang's answer addressed the practical issues there pretty nicely. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 6:31
@DanDascalescu, I think random was joking there (somewhat). –  Lance Roberts Mar 26 '13 at 6:35
@DanDascalescu I was referring to filtering the content into an appropriate tag wiki btw. Not a community wiki. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 6:37
and what about What are some good tips for a new PHP developer? ? –  NullPoiиteя Mar 26 '13 at 6:39
@Asad Nope. <10k. That links to an image for those users. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 18:57
@Bart Ah yes, missed the fact that the text was hyperlinked. –  Asad Mar 26 '13 at 18:59
now should i consider its pain of losing stackoverflow.com/questions/13047254/… and later stackoverflow.com/a/15543435/1723893 post ? –  NullPoiиteя Mar 27 '13 at 7:54

6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

It is truly sad when one moderator will unilaterally close and a delete a question that's been on the site over four years, and is relatively popular.

It should have been closed and locked, and left alone.

Posting here is the right way to approach this if you are under 10k, otherwise you can first flag the question and try to get another moderator to review it.

share|improve this answer
On the other hand, clearly off-topic questions that don't have much to do with programming, and have bad answers are just left alone. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 8:35
@DanDascalescu Then do your community moderation duty and help clean up what you think doesn't belong on the site. Simply linking to such examples which did not get the same treatment doesn't mean a whole lot. It might simply have been missed by those with the appropriate privileges. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 9:37
Considering that it's been around for 4 years it really doesn't have that many views/votes. The traffic over time is really quite low. Also consider the value, as discussed in the comments of other answers here. The post is very dated and even if you consider the post popular, we don't want popular low quality posts, as it means spreading bad information. A lock would only be applicable if the post itself was of high quality. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:12
@Bart: Are you asking me to be a deletionist and flag that question? As you've probably figured out already, I am firmly against content deletion, except for blatant vandalism or spam. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 21:40
@DanDascalescu So "clearly off-topic" and having "bad answers" is entirely fine? Don't worry though, that situation has been corrected. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 21:48

I'm on the fence of about keeping the question undeleted with historical lock. On the one hand, there is some good content that may be worth keeping. On the other hand, the information is/has already rapidly become out of date. Your own comment on the top answer is a perfect example of this:

do not @import if you don't have to, and for the love of god do not use CSS frameworks – Jason Oct 13 '10 at 22:16

@Jason: Really, do not use Bootstrap or Foundation? – Dan Dascalescu Mar 21 at 9:31

Do you realize you're replying to a two year old comment, made at a time when Bootstrap and Foundation did not exist? If you look around, some of the answers are already out of date, are subjective (Should you use a framework? Which CSS reset to use? And which of these 'tips and tricks' are for 'beginners' anyway?), repeat each other, and just aren't very good.

We could keep them around, but the question would still show up on search results, frozen perpetually in the state that they were when the question is locked (not that not locking would do it any good either - the top answer should be updated with information about Firefox and Chrome's native developer tools, but in the three years since that answer was posted nobody bothered to do that). It would, in fact, be a lot like W3Schools - perpetually out of date, yet still occupying the top results on search engine rankings.

That's not to say the information is all useless - far from it. But at some point without being maintained it'll probably do more harm to keep them around then to simply delete the answer and move it somewhere where they could actually be maintained (MDN comes to mind - it shouldn't be too hard to add these information to the CSS tutorial).

share|improve this answer
This is a good point, maybe we need a mod who groks CSS to merge the still valid stuff with a different post, or maybe not lock it and encourage the posters (and others through Meta) to clean it up and make it more current. –  Lance Roberts Mar 26 '13 at 6:32
What is better, no information at all, or information that can be brought up to date? I'd be happy to help bring the answers up-to-date, as you can see from my recent edits and answer and "Revival" badges. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 6:33
-1: Outdated information does not necessarily make a popular post a candidate for deletion. There are many examples of popular questions and answers that are updated and made current either by their authors, or others that edit them. It is important to keep as most as we can, but also make sure we update and remove outdated information. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 6:34
@meyumer Historical lock means the answer and question cannot be edited. That is the whole point of a historical lock. While it's true that posts can be kept up to date, as mentioned in the answer the current accepted answer is three years out of date, and after 4000 views no attempt has been made to actually update it. Stack Exchange doesn't work well for content like this. Moving it to a wiki like MDN is a better option. –  Yi Jiang Mar 26 '13 at 7:01
@Yi Jiang Still does not justify content deletion. Worst of all, a link is invalidated. There might be tons of outer sources linking to the content. A post suddenly disappearing will result in dangling pointers. It is better leave it alone. Most people will digest the information carefully considering the date it is posted. I see no problem leaving a historical lock, since the question and answers are all clearly marked with dates. Even Google search is able to list results based on post date (a.k.a. freshness). So, the search engine issue you are concerned with is also not that serious. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 8:00
@meyumer An answer clearly being marked with a date shows only that..a date. It provides no information as to whether or not the content is still valid. I'm not entirely sure we should go for deletion there, but we could do with some more aggressive (though constructive) curation on content like that. –  Bart Mar 26 '13 at 8:16
I don't mind out-of-date information providing there is an up-to-date comment pointing out that it's out of date. There is so much information online, and if I'm considering doing something I found in a 2-year old blog article, then I find it extremely useful to see a SO answer and comment explaining that the information is out of date, and/or to use the more current XYZ replacement. –  Rachel Mar 26 '13 at 17:04
@meyumer: "Most people will digest the information carefully considering the date it is posted." I admire your faith. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 26 '13 at 17:07
@meyumer The content isn't being deleted because it's out of date. It's being deleted because it's not a question that fits SO's scope and guidelines. The fact that the content is out of date and no longer of particularly high value as it stands is simply why an exception isn't being made to not delete the content. The bar for a post being an exception to SO guidelines and staying around is very high, and it's high for a reason. This content simply doesn't meet that bar. It either needs to be re-worked (or even re-asked) in a way that conforms to SO's guidelines, or go to some other site. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:08
@Servy Well, it was a suitable content for SO at the time the question and answers were posted. People spent time to put that content out there, others found it helpful, linked to it, etc... That's why there are locked and closed content around right? Once the rules/format of the site changes, we can simply lock, close or seal the content but we can still leave it there. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 17:25
The problem with a historical lock is that it freezes a question's content in time. If we lock it, you can't update it. There will approach a time where all that information is irrelevant. –  George Stocker Mar 26 '13 at 17:27
@meyumer The fact that it was once suitable is not relevant. It's not suitable now. Closing doesn't exist to support that at all. It is a mechanism of informing the question asker and the any viewers that the question needs to be improved before it can be answered. Historical locks (as opposed to other locks, such as content disputes) do exist for this case (valuable content that is no longer in site scope). This answer, along with my previous comment, explains exactly why it shouldn't be used here. It is for very valuable exceptional cases. This just isn't sufficiently valuable. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:29
Many of the pro-delete arguments here say it should be moved off this site to a Wiki. That seems fair if (1) There's a feature to do just that and (2) It leaves a placeholder pointing to where it was moved to so that useful discussions on and off this site linking to it don't lose an important resource. In the meantime deleting it harms reasonable use cases. It also deletes info that could be very relevant to, for example, someone maintaining old systems or an IT environment stuck on an old browser. Niche but not a good reason to wipe it out. –  Chris Moschini Mar 27 '13 at 2:57

A bottomless pit of no curation and no atomic context is a poor substitute for a question.

These post are always going to reap the waterfalling upvotes but fail in the question and answer part. The longer things stick around that needed to be done away with, the more sentimental users become and attach non-existent value and "usefulness" to such posts. We have a hoarding problem fused with emotional constructs.

The question cannot be merged with another because it is a hodge-podge of how's your father and knick-knacking paddywhacks.

It is a collection of tips in search of a question to cling to. When there is no possibility of a definitive answer satisfying the question it's better to repost the answers under questions they can address instead of providing yet another sinkhole.

Nothing changed other than it appeared on the radar of a sane mod.

share|improve this answer
"it appeared on the radar of a sane mod" You make that sound like a good thing. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 26 '13 at 17:12
You should do a rap album. –  Asad Mar 26 '13 at 19:05
You seem to be assuming that all questions must have exactly "one best answer". Exactly the absolutist spirit of SO, vs. the relativist one of Quora. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 21:42
@DanDascalescu It's not an assumption, it's what the Q&A model optimizes for. We know there isn't always one best answer, but we want to minimize the questions where there can be 30 equally good answers. –  George Stocker Mar 27 '13 at 12:04

This question is a bad example of a question that should be kept around even though the site's policy towards these types of questions has changed.

It's got a lot of issues that keep it from being useful:

  • Only one answer has been added since 2011. Other answers have not been curated to keep up with the times, as Yi Jiang points out.

  • It has a really low number of views for being around for four years, 1.8 views per day (to include traffic that meta has driven with this question).

A historical lock won't help here (first, it doesn't even qualify), but second is that the content will be locked in time. Sure, it may be partially helpful today, but with no way to edit it, there's no telling how long it will be relevant.

The choices are simple:

  1. Actively curate content that you're interested in to keep answers up to date
  2. Recognize that some questions don't have enough velocity to keep them useful, and act accordingly.

If we're going to have a productive discussion about questions that should not be deleted, we should pick a better question. I agree that the discussion should be had, but this question isn't good enough to warrant a firestorm over the policy of moderators unilaterally deleting posts.

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+1: I agree to some degree. I am one of defenders standing against deletion, but may be this particular posts value degraded over time because of some of the strict actions that were taken on it (may be locking). If there were better encouragement towards updating/renewing content, it could have shined. Still, I agree with your main point that this discussion should be made over a better example. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 17:31
@meyumer The encouragement need not be external. I kept up an entire list of books just because I wanted to make sure we had a good resource. If people are always looking at badges and reputation to make them want to contribute, then we shouldn't ever try to collect tips and tricks, because it won't work without external encouragement. –  George Stocker Mar 26 '13 at 17:33
Well, that's right. However, once the post is out there, it is there for the community. People using it should not suffer just because the owner of the question or the answer did not update the content. I am thinking may be mods and/or others knowledgable in the question's topic taking a shot to update content of such highly voted but outdated information. We can still delete if it's not repairable but this decision should not be that easy. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 17:37
@meyumer Where you and I differ is that there's nothing to stop you from updating content you're interested in. We have suggested edits, so there's no reason you can't also take part. Be the curated update you want to see in this world. –  George Stocker Mar 26 '13 at 17:39
I agree, and I am trying to do it whenever I see a possibility. However, even if nobody has taken a shot, the mod should not one-click-delete at his discretion, if it is clear that the post was of high popularity. May be I should refine my opinion as follows: 'We should discourage mods from one click deletion, instead they should refer the post to other knowledgable-in-the-topic mods first.' Then, that mod can make a decision if the content could be survived. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 17:45
@meyumer But the post was neither particularly popular nor of particularly high quality, even if it were, the question is just too broad, too vague, the answers are too localized and out of date, and there just isn't enough value to justify the very high cost of trying to keep it around. For questions of this style the drain on the community to keep them around is so high that only a few are able to provide sufficient value in return to justify keeping them around. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:52
@Servy Believe me I agree with most of your thoughts about this particular question. But, I want to emphasize the importance of how easily can a 'delete' decision be made. To me, a post with 81 stars deserves a little more attention before deletion. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 17:57
@meyumer: please do not conflate stars with "Good". I use them to track questions of interest. Interest is a very broad term, these days typically to see if somebody improves a post that I'm on the fence about closing/deleting. I star absolute crap sometimes. –  user7116 Mar 26 '13 at 18:04
@sixlettervariables Exactly, stars are interest cues. It shows how many people showed interest or wanted to track that post. Deleting a post with 81 stars is overwriting them with your opinion. –  meyumer Mar 26 '13 at 18:07
@meyumer: Closing a post with 81 stars is overwriting them with your opinion, by some definition. Editing a post with 81 stars is overwriting the original content, that would be suspect as well I take it? –  user7116 Mar 26 '13 at 19:06
@meyumer Yes, having absolute instant delete capabilities is very powerful/dangerous, which is why it's only given to mods after quite a lot of vetting, they are encouraged to think very critically about what they delete, and there is a process (i.e. this meta question) for appealing decisions that they've made and undeleting content. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 20:30
@GeorgeStocker: I've been doing exactly what you suggested, started improving that question (you can see my post on CSS gotchas at the end). But now that the question is deleted, how am I supposed to improve the answers or make it a wiki? –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 21:47

According to the below part in the FAQ, this question seems not fit to Stack Overflow and that question is quite subjective to answer, so I think it's fine to delete that post

And upvote and star are not excuse to not delete a post (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9)(10k+), and we should not judge a post according to upvotes(10k+) and What CSS tips should every beginning developer know about? is quite identical to What are some good tips for a new PHP developer? (it also has 40 stars and 21 upvotes) and should remain deleted along with all identical posts.

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession
share|improve this answer
To channel @RobertHarvey: For God's sake, if a question has valuable content, just leave it! StackOverflow is not your site. It is everyone's site. When you vote to delete a question, you are erasing content. You are choosing for the greater community what they can see and not see. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 5:46
Why are posting links to questions/posts that everyone can't see. Kindly understand the accessibility of lower rep users and if possible post a snap-shot. –  Apurv Mar 26 '13 at 6:49
@apurv - 10k users can see that 500+ upvotes and 1000+ stars is not enough to keep a question undeleted. 81 stars out of 2 million users is just nothing. It's hard to discuss deleted questions without linking to them... –  Bo Persson Mar 26 '13 at 14:02
@BoPersson I am aware that 10k+ users can view the links. When someone posts something, is the targeted audience only 10k+ users ? I thought the post is for everyone visiting the question especially when a 10k+ user is explaining some basic things about the site. I haven't commented about deleting the question or not, but how can you expect someone to understand your point without being able to check the links you posted ? –  Apurv Mar 26 '13 at 14:31
@DanDascalescu SO has quality content very specifically because it's particular about what is and isn't allowed on the site. The decision was made that questions like this don't belong on the site because SO isn't capable of handling them, and as a result they cause more harm than good. When you choose to not delete content such as this you're saying you want to lower the quality of content on SO, which hurts everyone. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:21
@Servy: how exactly can't SO handle questions with multiple answers? As long as you don't pick an allegedly-objectively-best-but-in-reality only-according-to-your-own-opinion answer, SO can handle such questions just as well as Quora. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 21:45
@DanDascalescu Where did I say the problem is with a question that has multiple answers? Some of the problems with that post are: it's very, very broad. Too broad. Books can (and have) literally been written on the subject. It's also very vague and open ended, whereas SO questions are supposed to be specific. No answer will ever be complete. There will always be something missing. There is no metric for evaluating the quality of an answer, no objective way of saying whether some solution is correct or not, or of determining how answers compare to each other. I could go on. –  Servy Mar 27 '13 at 1:33
@DanDascalescu could you please stop harassing NullPonyPointer about his level of English? You have done so several times before, and each time those comments were removed. Keep it on topic and keep it nice. I'm sure he'll do his best. –  Bart Mar 27 '13 at 13:26

Based on the usefulness and quality of the answers, I would vote to undelete it

Sure you can leave it Closed so no new answers get added and it doesn't become some massive "not-constructive" post with 100+ answers, but I wouldn't delete it outright and prevent other users from viewing the existing content.

To quote Robert Harvey on the subject of delete votes:

For God's sake, if a question has valuable content, just leave it!

StackOverflow is not your site. It is everyone's site. When you vote to delete a question, you are erasing content. You are choosing for the greater community what they can see and not see.

So leave it Closed, but not Deleted.

I don't think it should be locked though. The number of views/votes doesn't really qualify it for a Historical Lock, and locking it would prevent any updates to the content, or comments clarifying outdated information.

share|improve this answer
But leaving it closed without a Historical Lock could imply that this kind of question is appropriate and encouraged for Stack Overflow. Is that the kind of message we want to be sending? (Impending response from Lance: "Yes") –  LittleBobbyTables Mar 26 '13 at 17:14
@Blah Blah Grabblesnackers: Why would a question that is closed send the message that it is appropriate and encouraged on our site? –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 26 '13 at 17:15
@BoltClock'saUnicorn - Maybe "encouraged" is the wrong word, but why have a Historical Lock that delineates between "Not a real question" and "Not a real question, don't ask this kind of question anymore?" If a question exists, people seem to justify it as an acceptable question, based on comments I've seen from confused users on Meta before. Either keep it around as a historical lock, or get rid of it. –  LittleBobbyTables Mar 26 '13 at 17:17
@BoltClock'saUnicorn Well, when people do searches or find questions they often don't notice or care that it's closed. They see it, and therefore assume the question is appropriate. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:17
@BlahBlahGrabblesnackers Well, one of the primary reasons for the locks was to prevent the community from constantly deleting, undeleting, closing, reopening, etc. in cycles. With so many views there's always someone who wants it to be in a state that it's not currently in. –  Servy Mar 26 '13 at 17:18
@BlahBlahGrabblesnackers Historical Locks were used a lot on Programmers when they changed their scope, to protect useful posts that did not accurately represent the site's scope. Those posts were not wanted as they gave a misleading representation of what the site is about, however they also contained some very useful information. I do not think a simple closure would have worked to get the message across in those cases –  Rachel Mar 26 '13 at 17:59

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