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As one of the people being characterized as having an 'itchy trigger finger' on the delete link, I wanted to offer up a constructive suggestion for how to radically reduce the number of deletions while still accomplishing the goals that the deletions have been trying to meet. I don't necessarily believe that this is exactly the right recipe, but I hope that there's a contagious germ of a good idea in here.

  1. As a convention, delete almost nothing. Maybe leave all deletion to diamonds. The question of spam/offense flags I leave to others' opinions.

  2. A strong merge tool and a redirect mechanism. This would be viewed as distinct from deletion. This process would move the valid answers to the chosen target question, remove the answers from the closed question, and link the closed question to the chosen target to get to the answers. So we retain the full search goodness of the closed question. Link the other way as well, in case some of the moved answers are hard to understand without the context of the closed question. Instead of a vote to move a question from closed to the merge process, diamonds and other with some amount of rep (> 10K?) would be trusted to do this as individuals after some time has passed in which the question has not reopened.

  3. Closed questions for S&A, NARQ, and OT would be indexed differently. The search field would search the ANSWERS, but not the QUESTIONS. So any answer goodness remains reachable, but troll, poll, and dull questions would appear rarely on anyone's screens.

  4. No new votes on closed questions and their answers.

  5. No rep from closed questions and their answers. I could see that this could be a headache for the devs. Perhaps a rule like: votes are wiped from a closed question once it's stayed closed for two weeks? Yes, this would unfairly penalize people who put effort into answering poor questions. I ask: how often would this punish the innocent? Perhaps infrequently enough to be tolerable?

In other words, my proposal here is to make closing somewhat more stringent -- to move much of the purpose of 'delete' into the orbit of 'close,' reducing the desire or incentive or need to delete. Once a question is closed, it's off the front page and is no longer a gross 'broken window.' If we then remove the rep value of inappropriate questions, and we make them less prominent in search, perhaps that's all.


Or, if you don't like this (and someone doesn't), I have another idea. Radical Edit Surgery. Faced, for example, with a troll question that has a useful answer attached, edit it down to a sensible question that goes with the answer.


A really gnarly problem here is that answers are permanently nailed to questions. We don't have votes to delete truly awful answers to good questions, and we want to preserve good answers to bad questions. But we don't want to live with the bad questions.

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2 Answers

I like the first three points, maybe they could put a reference in migrated answers back to the closed question (in other words, only on the answers migrated).

I disagree with points 4 & 5 since I think those who give good answers should still get their just reward.

Also realize that some questions are only closed because they no longer apply (too localized), but they could have been good viable questions when first proposed (yes, this is a rare occurence).

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I see your point on 5, and I edited to incorporate your point of view. On 4, I've always found it really odd that closed questions (and their answers) continue to accept votes. Got another idea for how to curtail rep accumulation from muppets? Always assuming that you share my view of that problem, which you are perfectly welcome to reject. –  Rosinante May 26 '10 at 6:06
@ros, I don't really see any problem with closed questions and their answers getting votes. They will hopefully be getting votes like any other post gets votes, and therefore deserve them. Now, what wouldn't bother me is doing a migration of the good answers, and then leaving a stub of the question as a milepost marker for searches, which itself wouldn't need to be voted on. Then people are driven to the duplicated question, and can vote for those answers there. –  Lance Roberts May 26 '10 at 17:08
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Didn't we already fix deletions?

  • 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 by the sum of its score plus all its answers' scores. For example, a question with score 20 will require 4 deletion votes (3 base votes + 1 popularity vote).
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Jeff, you fixed the problem with a few users deleting more aggressively than the broad consensus would have it, but you may have introduced a "Can we encourage more deleting" problem parallel to the problem we currently have closing bad questions (and I don't mean just the "fun" and "subjective" ones, either). I'm waiting to see if this makes the "You can't [close|delete] this, it isn't t any worse than [execrable example]" problem worse. My money is on "Yes". –  dmckee May 26 '10 at 8:57
Jeff, you have turned down the throttle on delete. You haven't changed the 10K tools for collaborating on deletion. So, I'm concerned that the tools will clog with 1-vote posts, and the broken windows will multiply. I suppose we'll all see. –  Rosinante May 26 '10 at 12:05
@Jeff "Fix" in the sense of "hack" - yes. –  nb69307 May 26 '10 at 15:44
There'll be no fix 'till redirection happens on merges. This is just trading one problem for another... –  Shog9 May 26 '10 at 15:47
@Jeff: I assume that in the long run those changes will simply result in almost nothing getting deleted anymore. As I see it, the appeal of deleting was always that you actually could get something done. You voted, bad posts disappeared and the list of question with pending delete votes got shorter. You got the feeling of actually cleaning up the site. Throwing in your petty three delete votes against a constant stream of noise questions just feels futile. So you wonder why you should do this work if it wont make any noticeable difference. –  sth May 26 '10 at 16:11
This is a bit like saying you "fixed" the problem of high fuel costs by limiting every driver's top speed to 40 kph and requiring an extra passenger for every 10 km of distance. I believe that the purpose of this question was to suggest (or at least discuss) ways to improve the situation without the knee-jerk politician's syllogism. –  Aarobot May 26 '10 at 16:35
+1, I liked your fix and am happy about it, but still think there are more options to look into in regards to migration. –  Lance Roberts May 26 '10 at 17:10
I don't know how to make it simpler to collaborate on migrations, but there has to be a way. The hardest part (for me) is fining two socks close enough in color to make a pair. –  Tim Post Jun 26 '10 at 13:36
@Tim why fine a sock? Did it cross the road? –  Rosinante Jun 27 '10 at 2:32
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