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First off, let me say that I am not against deleting questions. I have done a fair bit of it in the past.

However, I think that when the same three or four people account for 80% of the deleted questions that I've seen recently, something might be amiss. (Names aren't important, but if you have 10k you can check the recently deleted list and see what I mean.)

Thing is, it's much easier for a borderline question (or a duplicate) to be deleted than undeleted, simply because you won't randomly run across it once it's deleted. And the consequences of overzealous deletion are worse than the consequences of overzealous closing, since information is being destroyed for the vast majority of users.

So I propose rate-limiting the deletion process like every other process on the site; my initial suggestion is 6 votes per day, but the exact number isn't important right now.

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They aren't limited? Wow. +1 –  Jon Seigel May 19 '10 at 20:37
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Unless you're an actual moderator? –  uncle brad May 19 '10 at 20:41
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Can you link to the tool you're using? I see a lot of posts (mostly answers) deleted by their own owners, which I'm not sure should be limited. I don't see a lot of questions being deleted by the same people (but I think I might be in a different view than you are). –  Bill the Lizard May 19 '10 at 21:01
    
All I've seen were deleted ultimately by mods... –  perbert May 19 '10 at 21:02
    
@Bill: I added a link; I was talking about deleted questions, not deleted posts in general. –  mmyers May 19 '10 at 21:16
    
@voy, yeh, but that's on MSO, I think the real problem is on SO –  Lance Roberts May 19 '10 at 21:17
    
@mmyers: Thanks, I was looking at a different listing. I see what you mean now. –  Bill the Lizard May 19 '10 at 21:43
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7 Answers

up vote 33 down vote accepted

We had discussed this before, but deferred until there was a problem - it seems we now have a problem :)

The new rules (also apply to undelete votes):

  • 10k rep users get 5 deletion votes per day on questions they don't own - deletion rules on questions one does own are still in effect.
  • Popular questions require more deletion votes to be deleted, at a ratio of 20:1 - a question's popularity is defined as: question score + top-scored answer score. For example, a question with (question score 15 + top answer score 5 = 20) will require 4 deletion votes (3 base votes + 1 popularity vote).
  • The maximum number of delete votes needed will not exceed 10.

Note that the above rules apply only to questions; answers take 3 votes, regardless of score.

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Now, The question that Greg pointed out, Why do people think functional programming will catch on? questions will need votes from 43 people to get it deleted! (it has 400 total votes at the moment) :-) –  YOU May 25 '10 at 7:32
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@S.Mark: Moderator intervention can presumably override such limits. –  Greg Hewgill May 25 '10 at 7:35
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@S.Mark - since it is locked it would take more than that... –  Marc Gravell May 25 '10 at 8:58
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I think it should be 'net' votes and not just upvotes. Example: stackoverflow.com/questions/909674/why-is-vb-so-popular-closed Takes 6 votes to close, and it's at -1. –  George Stocker May 25 '10 at 12:23
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Hmm, now it seems like it could be swinging too far the other direction. I guess we'll see shortly. –  mmyers May 25 '10 at 14:10
    
What about spam flags? Have these been accounted for? Can users circumvent the new limits by bludgeoning a question with spam flags? –  Robert Harvey May 25 '10 at 18:26
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The inmates have now officially captured the management of the asylum. Infinite rep for infinite crappy questions, no limits, no controls. A discussion question with 100 votes is now a permanent 'broken window'. –  Rosinante May 26 '10 at 0:51
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@rosinante you need to petition the mods for deletion in those cases, using our old friend "flag for moderator attention" –  Jeff Atwood May 26 '10 at 6:37
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@george see where it says "the sum of its score plus all its answers' scores" –  Jeff Atwood May 26 '10 at 6:37
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If we absolutely must have a heavy-handed rule like this, it would be a lot more palatable if the 10-vote "immunity points" were applied to individual questions and answers, rather than the sum total of everything. A dozen answers each with 1-2 upvotes is meaningless. A single answer of 30 upvotes is far more interesting. A more reasonable implementation of this rule would be to require 1 extra delete vote for every 10 points on each post (including the question itself). I am almost positive that this would reasonably cover 99% of "famous" questions/answers. –  Aarobot May 26 '10 at 16:57
    
@Jeff: Could you please update that FAQ entry? It's incomplete. I've been trying to figure out the conditions under which someone can delete their own question, but I haven't found the limits quite yet. It would be far easier if you could just lay down the conditions without us having to guess at them. –  Jon Seigel May 27 '10 at 11:16
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I was just reminded of the "boat programming" question while going through the deletion audit. It turns out that under the new (sneakily-updated) rules, that question (208 combined net votes) would take 13 votes to delete. Just sayin'. –  Aarobot May 27 '10 at 17:37
    
Well, better late than never! :) –  Shadow Wizard May 29 at 18:18
    
@ShadowWizard yeah, researching this answer made me revisit the code and realize all was not right in the world :) –  Jarrod Dixon May 29 at 18:23
    
@JarrodDixon cool, who's to blame though? ;) –  Shadow Wizard May 29 at 18:35
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I think they should increase the number of votes it takes to delete to at least 5 and maybe more.

We don't want to lose valuable answers.

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Ironically, I lost the 'Nice Answer' badge on this one, because a former Nice Answer of mine was on a question that got deleted. –  Lance Roberts May 24 '10 at 17:21
    
You should never lose a badge, but you won't be given a new one until you've 'caught up' again. –  Adam Davis May 25 '10 at 12:43
    
@Polly, Yep, I realize I just didn't receive the one that I would have. –  Lance Roberts May 25 '10 at 15:26
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+1

I think my question here: Stackoverflow - My Question Was Deleted As Duplicate, Despite Having Non-Dup, Complex, Useful Answers spawned this discussion.

The idea that a small handful of people are self-described janitors, who delete large numbers of things marked 'closed' without spending the time to read the entire thread and decide whether they should really be deleted (and just left as 'closed') boggles my mind.

In my example there, a question can be a duplicate, but have non-duplicate answers that are new, creative, explained differently, explained better, or more in-depth. What do our genius 10,000 rep janitors do then?

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personally, I flag for moderator attention and request that the answers get merged onto one question. –  Ether May 19 '10 at 21:11
    
@Ether - that's reasonable. Does the original poster get to see that his question was merged? If so, then that's a great solution, I support it. Much better than deleting the entire thread. –  Emmel May 19 '10 at 21:33
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I don't think there is a notification when an answer gets migrated onto another question; there probably should be (like the new editing notifications). –  Ether May 19 '10 at 23:14
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Look, someone's got to take out the trash. It's the way of the world that the few of us willing to use the tools to do the work get 'trashed' here as if we're on some kind of maniacal crusade. (The above sentence more for cheap joke value than to whine.)

As observed elsewhere, the current design of the 10K tools biases the process in favor of deletion somewhat, since incomplete deletions block the view.

As for merging, there's been a lot of recent discussion of it. Since that discussion started, I've started checking for fleas on questions closed as dups and marking for mod attention if there are possibly valuable answers. It would be really really helpful if I could see that someone else had already flagged a question in the deletion queue for the moderators.

A little bit of 10k tool engineering would make this problem go away, in my opinion: make the page show us separate lists of pending deletes by close reason.

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I've never understood why questions should need to be deleted by actual people - if a question has been closed for a certain period (say a month) why not just delete it automatically? But deleting seems like just another harmless (but strange) hobby like re-tagging, and I don't see the need for any quotas.

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A closed question isn't necessarily an invalid question. If it's a duplicate, there are several advantages to keeping it around. 1) it makes the search for duplicates easier 2) it helps SEO 3) the answers to dupes may have value and should therefore remain. –  Randolpho May 19 '10 at 21:22
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I can only speak for myself (since I delete probably a dozen posts a week on average) -- when I come across a useless post that is closed for being subjective/argumentative or offtopic, I bookmark it so it can be deleted a few days later. I apply the same criteria for "does this belong on the site" to closures as deletions, and consider it just another background cleanup task. –  Ether May 19 '10 at 21:23
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@Randolpho "It makes the search for duplicates easier" - er, not! And I could not give a rats ass about SEO. And the answers to dupes are almost always the same old answers, usually trotted out by the same old users (me included). –  nb69307 May 19 '10 at 21:28
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@Neil: There are some (not many, really) questions for which knowing the "right" expression of the question implies not needing to ask. In those cases we often get a handful of quite different "incorrect" ways for users to express the question, and we'd like to leave at least one of each version on the site (all linking back to the earliest version under any expression, of course) as sign posts. Not that it will always help, of course. Accordingly, I'm against auto-deletion. –  dmckee May 20 '10 at 7:40
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I personally don't like getting limited to those abilities, so I have stopped deleting duplicates, but looks like people have their own thinkings, So I am voting this up to implement that.


Edit: Now I got

You've reached the maximum of 3 Deletion votes per day; come back in 17 hours

A little bit sad though. :(

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If a question has been closed as a duplicate, and if there are no comments suggesting why it's not actually a duplicate, then I'm likely to delete it. If you don't want it deleted, then take the time to say why is shouldn't be. You might even try saying why it shouldn't be closed.

Do so as comments to the question itself - I'm not going to read all the comments to find out why the OP thinks it's not a duplicate.

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Please weigh in here, then. –  mmyers May 19 '10 at 21:19
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John, that sounds like 'guilty until proven innocent' to me. Applicable to a 'close', but the standards to permanently delete something should be much higher; the bar should be raised. If you don't bother to read all the answers, are you sure you're spending quality time on each question before mashing on that big, powerful, comfortable, Vote to Delete button? –  Emmel May 19 '10 at 21:29
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If it has distinct useful answers, then it shouldn't be deleted, it should be merged. –  Lance Roberts May 19 '10 at 21:33
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I'm counting on the rest of the community to read all the answers and summarize why it shouldn't be closed or deleted. The reason I'm willing to have the bar so low is that so few people spend time on deletions. If we had more people deleting, then each could spend more time per question. –  John Saunders May 20 '10 at 23:54
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