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A number of highly upvoted "fun" questions were recently deleted.

Examples:

While I can respect that decision - most of those contributions don't have "lasting value" in the sense of the law - you can't just throw them away. They contain brilliant ideas, humour, some strokes of genius, and show what rampant creativity and artfulness is present in the programming community.

I request that these questions be archived in their entirety somewhere as static HTML. I'm sure the community will be willing to do the work but there should be a storage location for this that isn't dependent on people's private hosting arrangements and breaks after a few years. Ideally, that location would be provided by Stack Overflow.

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At the very least, why not reopen and migrate to P.SE? No harm done there... –  Corey Dec 25 '10 at 12:51
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@Corey as far as I followed the discussion, they are not automatically welcome on P.SE either - with good reason, looking at the quality and seriousness the contributions have developed there. I can live with that, but this stuff should really be stored somewhere –  Pëkka Dec 25 '10 at 12:54
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As an aside: until today, I really didn't know that P.SE did have the serious content like it does. That's my bad: I totally ignored semi-recent posts about P.SE, and I truly thought that fun questions would be welcome there. Seeing @Corey's comment, I guess I'm not the only one not knowing what P.SE is about. Doesn't that imply that many new questions might be erroneously migrated to P.SE...? –  Arjan Dec 25 '10 at 13:06
    
(Not the original link, but: kaeding.name/articles/2009/05/01/programming-at-sea) –  Arjan Dec 25 '10 at 13:08
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@Arjan cheers! The broken image links in the blog post also illustrate my point: This has to be hosted somewhere reliable. Re Programmers.SE: Fun questions may quite possibly get unfairly migrated there! Although they seem to be doing all right. –  Pëkka Dec 25 '10 at 13:19
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As for reliability: the whole thing was hosted at www.mattmcdole.com/boat/ for some time too. Not there anymore. I guess the missing images are unrelated, but surely are a future problem for all images. Can we have some tools to handle link rot? partly mentions that too. –  Arjan Dec 25 '10 at 13:27
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Does anyone know of an Area 51 proposal that would be a suitable place for these questions? –  Bill the Lizard Dec 25 '10 at 15:13
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@Bill that's an interesting idea. I still tend to favour a static HTML archive because it allows you to retain the look, feel and layout of the site at the time the question was deleted. However, a special SE site would arguably be much more convenient in the long run –  Pëkka Dec 25 '10 at 16:03
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The boat programming question was, sadly, hard-deleted. There is no link for it. –  Aarobot Dec 25 '10 at 16:39
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+1 nice idea. Deleting those questions was an enormous mistake; it's part of the history of this community with a lot of social value (especially the boat one, cited in the #51 podcast). I don't really understand that politics, it does not make sense to me. There are plenty of other useless crappy questions to delete out there, why targeting the top voted ones? –  systempuntoout Dec 26 '10 at 17:45
    
@Pekka do you have the complete list of killed questions? –  systempuntoout Dec 29 '10 at 11:07
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@system no. I've decided to set up a static archive in the coming weeks (I've made a sketch already and spoken to Github about hosting) I thought I'd start a question asking for links then. –  Pëkka Dec 29 '10 at 11:09
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@Pekka Cool! I thought to host them on StackPrinter.com with a small section dedicated to them. I've already have the cartoon question in the db cache for example. If you are good with github, I will wait and see. –  systempuntoout Dec 29 '10 at 11:55
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Elsewhere on meta, I just ran into a t-shirt about programming at sea.... :-) –  Arjan Jan 13 '11 at 10:56
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@system FYI Building an archive of deleted questions –  Pëkka Feb 13 '12 at 21:04

5 Answers 5

For what it's worth, I have set up a deleted questions section on StackPrinter.

Those questions were cached on datastore before the deletion so I can still serve them from db.
I have cached a lot of other endangered questions (comments here) that when deleted, will automatically pop up in that list.

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Thank you for the "deleted questions" list. Could you cache all popular closed question to preserve the legacy? There is a policy that "unless a question has some chance to be considered for reopening, it should be deleted" and deleted questions are not included in the datadump. –  J.F. Sebastian Mar 2 '12 at 18:22

We do have the Deleted Questions Archive for 10ks. I'm not really excited about most of the questions you listed, but it's CW so you can add to it as you see fit.

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I mean a public archive, but thanks for the hint anyway! Didn't know this. –  Pëkka Dec 25 '10 at 19:32

Another site mirrored some of the questions, minus comments:

  • Worst UI http://example.com/Question/1-238177
  • Wedding Cake http://example.com/Question/1-686216

The boating question was before StackOverflow became as popular and it isn't mirrored there.

EDIT: Well, it seems to mirror even the deletions, so these are not available there either.

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fine to share the links, but avoid linking to efreedom directly, though –  Jeff Atwood Jan 3 '11 at 8:35

Other.SE

I proposed other.stackexchange.com here, which could house these types of questions, without 'reducing the quality' of the other SE sites (an argument with which I disagree). If moderators and the overall community is going to say 'this isn't welcome here', then let's make a place where it IS welcome.

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So this would be for, um, literally anything that doesn't fit on an extant SE site? –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 10 at 22:31
    
All questions and answers, yes. –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 2:28
    
I don't see such an unfocussed SE site ever working. There's a reason we have topics. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 11:33
    
What do you mean by 'working'? Surely you don't mean the servers and configuration to host an unfocussed SE site, that would clearly 'work'. Transferring unwanted questions would clearly 'work'. That's all I'm really after here, and my full definition of 'working' - so what do you mean by it? –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 14:53
    
There are factors about SE that make it "work" as a community. I shan't enumerate them. You are capable of looking them up on your own, as well as the meaning of "to work". –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 15:04
    
That's what I suspected you meant, and in this case I am suggesting that the community is optional. The site itself could house any unwanted/off topic questions for reference, assuaging the concerns of many and providing records. Other questions can be asked there, and maybe answered and maybe not. Why is a 'community' necessary? –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 15:08
    
It's not "necessary": it is the cornerstone of Stack Exchange, though. If you want a community-less free-for-all, then that's some other site, not a Stack Exchange site. You're certainly welcome to go start one but don't expect SE to do it for you! –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 15:22
    
I didn't say community-less, I said community-optional, and I do desire that it were integrated well (such as the transferring of questions to other sites) and used in place of deletion. This cannot be found in an external site. –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 15:31
    
As I said above. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 15:32
    
And below that I stated clearly enough that an integrated, transfer-question-to-there functionality will likely never be introduced to an external site, hence why for all the communities (who have a healthy percentage of users who do not wish to see potentially valuable content go missing) could gain from a community optional place for them to dump them to for reference. Thus, that option is not viable to me and why I proposed other.stackexchange.com which did not make it out of area51. –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 17:41
    
Maintaining the SE model is far more important than having automated question transfer ability. People shouldn't be posting off-topic crap in the first place, period. There is no reason to optimise for them. I don't know why you're fighting so hard for this. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 18:14
    
Importance is a subjective matter, and rigorously enforcing 'the SE model' isn't important to me. I disagree with your pejorative summation of sometimes quality content as 'off-topic crap' wholeheartedly, and as a member of the SE community myself I find this of utmost importance. This is why I attempted to start other.SE and would be very much in favor (and assist with and/or be a part of) a solution to what I consider a huge problem: archival of unwanted/off-topic questions with their answers for reference and perhaps even revival/rework. –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 18:33
    
Since you are obviously wildly in the minority on everything you just said, it might be worth spending some time figuring out why that is. :) –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 at 18:36
    
Why is it relevant that this is a minority opinion? Adding a new SE site is not a large feat and is largely automated at this point, the additional resources to spin up and maintain other.SE/deleted.SE or a similar site is not high, and this would alleviate my concerns along with the OP of this question, the user that set up StackPrinter.com/deletedquestions, and various others who have implemented similar workarounds. What's more, the deletion could just automatically transfer the question. So - since the effort do implement it is almost nothing, why actively block it? –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 18:42
    
And further, by what metrics or polling results have you used to make it 'obvious' that this is 'wildly' a minority opinion? Or is it just not yours? –  Ehryk Mar 11 at 18:44

These questions exist in the creative commons data dumps for previous months; they should already be mirrored a bunch of places. Feel free to set up another mirror under the terms of the creative commons license as you see fit.

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I have no problem with doing the work to set up the static pages, but the long-term hosting should be done somewhere independent from private arrangements and changes. Could SO provide a small space for that somewhere? –  Pëkka Dec 28 '10 at 13:18
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-1: those questions are your responsibility. First solve the problem of where those questions should go (for instance, in some kind of "outcast.stackexchange.com" where all migrated questions are automatically locked, and tagged with the name of their site of origin), and then delete whatever question you want. Again, simply delete them and say to the community "go fetch and do it yourself", just because after more than a year, you don't feel like seeing those questions anymore... that doesn't strike me as in line with "make the Internet a better place". –  VonC Dec 28 '10 at 17:24
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-1: totally agree with @VonC. People do care about those questions, really, and deletion is the worst cure to the problem. Those questions deserve a better place to stay, they have real value and suggesting to set up a mirror to Pekka, although could be a solution, is not fair. I'm aware that running this community is stressful and it's difficult to satisfy everyone but, please, reconsider those deletions and when you have some spare time, think about a better place for those sweet questions. Thanks :) –  systempuntoout Dec 28 '10 at 21:26
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@system I did think about a sweet place for them, in the bitbucket. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 29 '10 at 1:54
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@VonC: How would you like it if a group of 500 people you barely know all scrawled graffiti on your living room, and then after you finally finished cleaning it up, told you that it was your responsibility to find a better place for the graffiti within your home, preferably near a window where everybody can see it? It's not a problem for Jeff to solve; if the question is so important to any of you then you can mirror it yourself. –  Aarobot Jan 2 '11 at 16:17
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@Arabot: there are several flaws in your reasoning. One, if this was such a dump, I would have cut short said "steaming mound" much sooner. Two, you are assuming those dumps have no value whatsoever. That is correct (for SO), but incorrect for the vast number of people who took the time to register, contribute, upvote and favorite those questions. For them, and the thousands of viewers, those questions (while not suited for what SO stands for today) are not without value. –  VonC Jan 2 '11 at 16:27
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@Arabot: In this context (long history plus the fact SO has taken advantage in the beginning from the traffic generated by those questions), I would argue that simply coming in after 2 years and deleting those popular questions, without any other solution that to say "if you really want them, go fetch the content in public dump and mirrors (for images)" is not a sensible solution. But I won't argue it is an efficient one. "Be smart and get things done" I guess;) –  VonC Jan 2 '11 at 16:28
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