To summarise this post from the network blog, closed questions in great numbers add noise, are toxic, and reduce confidence in the system. (Exact duplicates are excepted as they arguably do add value.)

We already automatically delete questions that the community have allowed to belong here.

So why aren't we automatically deleting closed questions that the community has stated don't belong here?

Closing a zero-voted question drops its value to -1 and may make it eligible for deletion, but there are plenty of upvoted closed questions that don't belong either.

  • Perhaps the hope is that another user may come along and edit / add-value / spawn a bunch of votes to reopen? I believe there are a large number of deleted questions, so I suspect that while it may be that there are questions which should clearly be deleted these questions must be viewed by enough moderators to receive downvotes / votes to close? Too much to do, not enough people? Kinda sounds like perhaps there should be a time-limit, but is a year or two enough?
    – M. Tibbits
    Aug 2, 2011 at 1:05
  • Note, that I made a proposal to partially deal with the problem that some of these old questions pose.
    – M. Tibbits
    Aug 2, 2011 at 1:10
  • @M.Tibbits From what I've seen, the longer a closed question hangs around, the less likely it is that people edit or vote to revive it. IMHO 1 year should be more than enough time.
    – Alex Angas
    Aug 2, 2011 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


Closing a question does not serve the same purpose as deleting a question. The normal life cycle of a closed question is that users are supposed to vote to delete a post when the content no longer adds anything to the site.

Posts are closed for a variety of reasons so there is no reasonable way to determine if the post is no longer useful.

When should I vote to delete?

That requires human intervention. It's a normal part of community upkeep.

Arguably, there may be specific closure scenarios which almost always result in deletion, but that responsibility ultimately falls to the community to make that call.

  • 3
    I think nobody ever got the memo of voting to delete, because this utility is severely underused. Either way, human intervention should only be required for a grace period, after that its clear nobody wanted to reopen and/or keep the question, so get rid of it.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 11, 2011 at 0:51

I think if a post is closed as “Off topic” or “Not constructive” and it has no up votes and no answers and never had a reopen vote, then it should be auto deleted after a few days. E.g do the same as Auto-deleting old, unanswered zero-score questions after a year?, but after 3 days instead of 30.

So just make the auto delete check use 3 days instead of 30 days for some close reasons when there have been no reopen votes.

The rest do need human intervention, but let's spend the human time where it is most useful.

  • Would this include "Off Topic" questions closed by migration? I'd think those should stay - for users that utilize the search function it gives them a trail to a potential answer and to another SE site that could potentially be helpful.
    – thegrinner
    Aug 2, 2011 at 14:29
  • @thegrinner Migration stubs are automatically deleted after (IIRC) 30 days. Aug 3, 2011 at 19:39

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