Back when the first discussion about deleted questions came up, I promised to look into building an official unofficial read-only archive for good deleted SE content.

I had a plan to build something like this:

Enter image description here

Each link would point to a 1:1 scraped Stack Overflow (or other SE network) deleted question (of course with a big fat disclaimer to the top, historical data, legal stuff, yada yada yada - and of course after asking Stack Exchange for permission, seeing as this would go far beyond what the CC license allows.)

I also registered a domain name that would (IMO) suit nicely, overflown.org.

However, when thinking about it, I realized doing this properly is a lot of work. You would have to:

  • build a scraper that can use a 10k+er's OpenID to fetch the deleted question (using the API or the data dump is for wusses. If we go through all this trouble, we want a historical document of what the site looked like "back then", right?)

  • edit the page's DOM to remove dynamic elements, remove the "deleted" CSS classes, remove all the voting abilities from the buttons, and add the "this is historical data" disclaimer

  • fetch - this is the biggest part and applies even if you use the API or data dump - all linked image resources (even those from Imgur - even images used only in deleted questions could be purged one day), store them, and link them

  • fetch all associated CSS style sheets and store them intelligently - preferably in a way that you don't fetch a copy of each file for each page (as normal page scrapers do), but also in a way that doesn't break if SE update their style sheets

long story short, I won't be in a position to build this any time in the foreseeable future - with old work, new work, and studying, I really have enough on my plate already.

Of course, if somebody else in the community feels like giving this a try, cool! But what I was really thinking is - maybe this is something Stack Exchange should build after all?

I know Jeff's official stance on these questions is used to be

@system I did think about a sweet place for them, in the bitbucket. – Jeff Atwood♦ Dec 29 '10 at 1:54

but come on. Think about it:

  • Future deletion discussions and changes in on-topicness policy would become way more relaxed because the popular and loved stuff has a place to go.

  • A site for "overflown" questions could be curated by selected community members, who decide whether a contribution deserves to be archived or not.

  • A separate domain name (I'm happy to donate overflown.org for the purpose if desired) and the separate site design would create enough distance to the Stack Exchange network: it would be crystal clear that this read-only archive is for historical purposes only, and the existence of a question there does not mean you can ask something similar on one of the live sites.

  • The pages would be 1:1 scrapes of what the site looked like at the time of the scraping, making it a general historical archive as well.

  • These questions traditionally drive a lot of traffic. The possibility of continuing to show ads in the usual places would allow Stack Exchange to take advantage of that traffic without endangering content quality on the SE network.

  • Hosting an archive like this is a job for a business, not us regular joes. A private project hosted by some community member can go down once they forget to pay a bill, or decide they want to password protect their private blog or photo album. The ideal place to host a site like this is at a company with professional admins that intends to stay online for a long time.

How about it?

  • 5
    @Pekka - I get the feeling you should have waited until March 1st to post this... Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:16
  • 1
    @Adam :) but who knows - I think I saw a comment from him recently that might mean he changed his stance a bit. I guess we'll see
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:18
  • 5
    Was bikeshed.org taken?
    – user7116
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:28
  • oh, that answer from Jeff was brilliant and made me laugh a lot. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:31
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    note that my opinion on this has changed since that quote; the rise of the per-site blog has significantly altered the landscape. Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 1:23
  • 2
    Excellent suggestion!! Can we now close the Kill the book lists and put them home in their respective tag wikis and The Great Question Deletion Audit of 2012 questioons now?
    – slugster
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 5:31
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    @Jeff - great - so throw a status-planned on there while you still have the diamond... Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 15:24
  • 1
    @Jeff, well your commend implies it will take some form, so that in and of itself makes me quite happy. Some of the Stack Overflow "classic" tracks have some amazing stuff in them, and like you said, they need a home. Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 5:19
  • 5
    The only thing I don't like about this is the DOM scraping / fiddling. I'm not sure why the styles of the site at any given time are important enough to warrant the work involved with preserving them. Couldn't such an archive just maintain a gallery of screen shots as the site looked over periods of time, and place a link in the question view page saying "Stack Overflow looked like [link]this[/link] when this was originally posted"?
    – user50049
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 14:28
  • 3
    Paging @casperOne to remove that obnoxious thank you 25x comment :) Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 18:17
  • 1
    This would be awesome! I'm not so much for the "keeping the site styles" but just "good deleted content" that happened to be a bad fit for SO.
    – Zelda
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 18:51
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    I'd love to just get SE onboard with the idea and have them create a read-only SE site for mods to migrate these questions to. Then you wouldn't have to worry about look/feel, screen scraping, or all that other technical junk :) And as Adam's answer pointed out, they could pay for it with ad revenue. I'd promise to click an add once a visit just to help maintain the site!
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 1:32
  • 2
    I would vote for museum.stackoverflow.com (so as not to conflict with a future Museum Stack Exchange site). It could contain highly-voted questions that no longer fit SO as well as other historical information - podcasts, blog history, etc.
    – tvanfosson
    Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 15:36
  • 3
    @Rachel So you're basically suggesting archive.sitename.stackexchange.com? That might not be bad, as long as it's portrayed as a dusty shelf in the basement and not Valhalla :) But ads on something indicate we want people spending time there, when in fact we want them spending time writing great answers to current questions. I like the idea of having a read only place to send them, but I don't want it to become a proverbial bug light.
    – user50049
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 4:55
  • 1
    @Kobobby That's what I meant when saying 'make sure it's a dusty shelf in the basement'. In other words, make it clear that only very exceptional questions arrive there, and only under exceptional circumstances.
    – user50049
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 6:54

12 Answers 12


No, we shouldn't do this.

Deletion means deletion, and needs to stay. That something was once "on-topic" shouldn't protect it, it's become a broken window.

Most of the cited examples aren't really "on-topic" for that matter, every single example in your screenshot wasn't on-topic back in the day it just wasn't closed/deleted. This was because moderation was still evolving, and so the rules weren't as stringently enforced; they still existed though.

See the very first FAQ on Stack Overflow.

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is a place for questions that can be answered!

Also, try to refrain from asking questions about Stack Overflow itself unless you absolutely, positively have to. Most programmers don't come here to learn about the intricacies of Stack Overflow; they come here to get answers to their programming questions. Let's try to help them out by not cluttering up the system with navelgazing meta-discussion.

Most popular programming cartoon, first home computer, programmer's last words, etc. are all at least "subjective" and obviously had "extended discussion".

Restating because it's important, these should have been closed or deleted; that they weren't is a failure of early moderation, not of changing "on-topic"-ness.

We can look to similar sites for opinions on this as well, for instance Wikipedia says:

Deleted pages should be visible

Proposal: Make deleted pages visible to everybody (or to all logged-in users), not just administrators.

Reasons for previous rejection: That defies the whole point of deletion (which is to improve Wikipedia quality by getting rid of the worst parts); also, it would increase the workload of the Oversight body to ensure that copyviolations and libelous statements are not visible to everybody. This proposal has been explicitly vetoed by the Wikimedia Foundation legal counsel.

I honestly hadn't considered the legal arguments until this was brought up to me, but it is a valid concern. There are lots of instances of SSNs, emails, phone numbers, and so on getting hard deleted via flagging; who knows how many were only soft deleted. Copyright violations and libel are outside my expertise, but presumably do need to be addressed.

To address Shog's proposal in particular (though the above objections apply equally to it):

Direct links to Archived questions will always work, displaying them in the same form that they appear to 10K users right now.

A new search operator - archived:1 - will allow searching Archived questions.

These two bits heavily undermine the usefulness of deletion. It's a pipe dream to expect new users (or even moderately experienced ones) to really grasp the distinctions around archived questions. People still use closed questions to justify asking similarly off-topic ones after all. That the question is visible on a site that is semantically connected to Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange is enough to confuse (or let them willfully delude themselves, as my more cynical side sometime suspects) people.

I'll ignore the technical concerns, though they're non-trivial.

  • 3
    The legal aspects could be easily addressed by letting mods re-delete stuff, and make that deletion stick. I don't see a legal risk that gets any bigger through showing deleted questions than it already is from every question - plus, Shog's suggestion wouldn't necessarily have to be retroactive.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:17
  • 3
    @Pekka - .... no. I really doubt that covers us legally, as a user can have a reasonable expectation that "deletion" means "deletion" and they don't need to flag for "double secret deletion". Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:18
  • as per Shog's suggestion, user-deleted content would remain invisible
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:19
  • @Pekka - except you can't always delete your own stuff, enough people would have to get their stuff "double deleted" to be a concern. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:20
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    I'm still not sure this can't be solved relatively easily. I assume the way legally problematic content is dealt with right now is, it gets flagged and then destroyed by a mod or a dev. Adding a "destroy" option to the "delete" button for mods and devs is admittedly a complication, but it's surely not impossible to educate them on what each thing does. And re the "new users" argument - the "archived" search flag could be made available to 5k+ or 10k+ users only to make the content even harder to discover. If you then add the current "deleted" look, and a big fat notice as suggested here:
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:39
  • 1
    @Pekka no, that's not the issue. Yes, once we find things we can destroy them easily. The trick is right now users can basically self serve, self-deletion and flagging are sufficient. With the proposed changes they aren't, people have to know that deletion doesn't mean deletion anymore; which they won't, and when they discover that they'll probably be rather peeved (and we may be legally culpable). Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:41
  • @Pekka - and the legal concerns are just a small portion of this, even addressing that leaves the giant elephant of "this stuff should have been deleted in the past, and should be deleted now" point. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:42
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    As it stands, you as a user can't trust that stuff that was contributed in good faith will survive some future purge when policies evolve yet again (because come on. This whole thing was not just about the law finally being interpreted correctly.) and that is a major turn-off from making contributions. You guys now preserve the rep from "stuff that should have been deleted", but not the actual contributions themselves that might be useful. How does that make sense? It should be the other way round.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:55
  • 1
    @Pekka pure speculation, the most cited questions (IMO as someone who's lived through quite a bit of this discussion) to keep are in fact killed because of increased strictness; blind assertions to the contrary contradict the oldest FAQ text, which I linked. I also doubt many people are discouraged from asking by the 2% chance of their contribution being found off-topic 6 months later. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:01
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    "blind assertions to the contrary" - I'm just looking at some of my own content that's been deleted, e.g. this question. While I agree with it getting closed and locked (and any rep and badges forfeited - I really wouldn't care about that happening at all), I disagreed with its deletion - if only because it's been linked to from elsewhere. At least one flag to undelete it was denied previously, and it was undeleted today only because there was an instance of link rot.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:23
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    Bollocks. The question was deleted for months and remained so despite my flagging and asking for undeletion. It was locked today because a moderator encountered an instance of link rot and I flagged it again. Otherwise, it would have been gone for good.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:25
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    @Pekka and undeleted and locked, a system that self-corrects is still working; to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:26
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    Fair enough. I would love to see a SO-hosted archive for the entertaining stuff, but I can totally accept it's not worth all the trouble for those alone. As long as there is an option to unearth the useful stuff... @Shog9 would you status-decline this then please? For closure? And the other one too: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124464/…
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 20:17
  • 3
    If you decline this, this StackApps feature request becomes more and more important. Having the SE API returning the deleted question will let some romantic user to build the unwanted questions graveyard. Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 10:56
  • 1
    Perhaps SE can archive deleted question, for internal analytical use only?
    – Joe R.
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 5:05


I've created the Deleted section on StackPrinter and the Popular deleted question list here on meta because I really really love those questions.

But StackPrinter is just an ugly crappy patch and those questions deserve surely something better!

Regarding Jeff's position, look at the comments of this recent blog post:

The only big complaint I have is the absence of a proper place for all these fabulous deleted questions that are part of the history of this community and a remarkable pieces of culture on the Internet; in my humble romantic opinion, they deserve something better than a deleted flag in your beefy database (Pls,do not start with the datadump yadda yadda ^__^).

@system I agree with you, and I think these “classic” deleted posts need a place to live — either on a site specific blog or something else.

EDIT: If you don't want to do this, please implement this feature-request on StackApps; the Stack Exchange API should return also the deleted questions allowing the user to easily build an archive of deleted questions without using the heavy and hard to use data dump.

  • 7
    +1 - fingers crossed. The only downside is that I'd likely lose my job after spending a week reading through everything on the archive site. Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:25
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    Nice - way to recycle the bounty :) Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 20:08
  • 2
    I put the other 200 rep from the bounty over to the title filter question - didn't want you to think I was skimping at all :) Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 20:38
  • StackPrinter is awesome, thank you! I don't really see the need for anything better as long as it stays around.
    – AnnanFay
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 21:22

I've spent a fair bit of time thinking about this now, listening to suggestions here on MSO and elsewhere, and watching how the Historical Lock feature has been used. Two observations:

  1. No one really wants to curate this stuff. Forget turning a "classic" thread into a blog post; truth is, few even care enough about most of this stuff to make a strong case for its preservation in comments or here on Meta. Building a "best of Classic Stack Overflow" gallery, full of hand-picked, lovingly-preserved examples is a waste of time - the historical lock function can serve those rare gems that do offer something, but the vast, vast majority of deleted questions - even highly-voted/viewed questions - will never make it in.

  2. The primary value of preserving the past is in avoiding the same mistakes in the future. This is the opposite of the "broken window" problem: if we delete all the most egregious examples of how certain forms of questions can go terribly, tragically wrong, then there's nothing to point to when they come up again. This is particularly important in the case of questions that aren't actually bad but simply obsolete - Meta provides a wealth of examples here: bug reports on features that no longer exist, retag requests long ago satisfied, merge requests for tags that were later synonymized... There's value here if the topic ever comes up again, but most of the time it's just noise.

With these two factors in mind, an obvious solution presents itself... As Maxim Zaslavsky wrote a while back:

The Gmail archiving model can be applied here, such as for old bugs and feature-requests that are [status-completed]. There should be a viewing mode that hides them from search on request.

This makes a lot of sense, and not just on Meta. Therefore I propose the following form of "archive":

  • Questions that sat on the site for at least 60 days, with a score of at least 3, deleted by someone other than the author, will be considered Archived.

  • Direct links to Archived questions will always work, displaying them in the same form that they appear to 10K users right now.

  • A new search operator - archived:1 - will allow searching Archived questions.

  • Archived questions will not appear in normal question lists, search results, user profiles, or (by default) reputation histories. They will behave exactly like deleted questions apart from the behavior described in the previous two bullets (no voting, answering, commenting, etc).

  • Archived questions will, so far as is possible, be hidden from external search engines, and scrapers.

  • Archived questions will require either a separate flag in data dumps, or be released separately in their own data dumps to avoid polluting the primary dumps (this is a separate discussion).

This would preserve access to these questions for those who need or want them, without leaving broken windows, "framed garbage", or noise to pollute the site that the vast majority of members live and work on. It would also avoid adding maintenance costs for a separate archive.

  • 1
    Sounds great - this is in essence (I think) what I proposed in meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124464/… . You have my vote for that, obviously. If anyone wants to curate parts of the huge amount of deleted questions, they can always set up a page and use direct links to SO (which takes away all the hosting, traffic and other problems connected with running a 3rd party archive of one's own.)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 17:23
  • 1
    @Pekka: yeah, that is (IMHO) the only workable solution for a SE-hosted archive. If this isn't possible (we're discussing technical and legal considerations), then I don't believe we can afford to offer any other form of live archive.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 17:42
  • fair enough, makes sense. I would love to see this happen... we'll see how it plays out, I guess we'll hear about it from you sooner or later
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 17:44
  • @yoda: mod-archive == historical lock. If a simple, consistent, automatic option for archiving isn't workable, then HL (+ Greg's archive / Stack Printer / etc.) will be the rule. I'm completely against anything that creates more work (or harder decisions) for moderators here.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:02
  • This is an excellent suggestion, nice!
    – Chris
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:57
  • In 2021, we can build a question classifier to automatically curate such a collection for us.
    – michen00
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 20:30

For all the anti-fun purists out there who have an irrational hatred of all the silly, interesting questions that were asked and answered in the old days of Stack Overflow, I'd like to point out that this could potentially be a huge non-trivial moneymaker for Stack Overflow.

A single location with all the most fun content from Stack Overflow would likely attract a lot of eyes. Surely Jeff Shog and Joel could sell some ad real-estate here, right?

If you guys don't want to do this for the right reasons, at least do it out of old fashioned capitalist greed :)

  • 13
    Just 17 more days until I can start leaving "Jeff? Who's that?" comments.... (EDIT: Hm. Guess I couldn't wait.)
    – Pops
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 21:21
  • 3
    And don't forget, it also means they won't have to waste moderator resources fighting the community over popular questions! It's a win-win situation :)
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 15:04

One thing that the ineffable Jason Scott just pointed out to me on Twitter:

if you give the url of the page to http://liveweb.archive.org and wait five minutes, it will archive that page. How about that?

Also you can enter http://liveweb.archive.org/http://www.website.com/page to have it happen without visiting the page.

So if you want to ensure that a popular soon-to-be or may-possibly-be deleted question gets archived by the Internet Archive, manually feed them to the URL above.

I suppose for already deleted questions, we could also undelete, wait 5 minutes, let it archive, then re-delete.

  • 5
    This is clever...
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 0:16
  • 2
    Wikipedia needs to automatically do this for all citations/references. I hate it when a citation just disappears.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 7:50
  • @shog one tweak here, it'll only archive the first page of 30 (or 15 on programmers or SU) answers. So you'd have to do this for each page to be sure. Technically they should crawl the pagination, I suppose.. Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 18:42
  • Integrating something like StackPrinter would go a long way there (although this might just be inviting "death by scraper"... Donno).
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 18:56
  • 1
    Wikipedia has started using archive.org's "Save Page Now" API for all external links. Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 23:36

I just implemented an unofficial deleted question archive, without knowing you had already suggested this.

My archive is based on the historical data dumps - it includes everything from previous data dumps that is not included in the latest one.



I've been using StackPrinter to view old deleted questions and it's really tedious, especially because they don't look much like SO, and half of them weren't on StackPrinter before they got deleted.

Some of these questions and their answers are absolute gold and deserve a good home. Please do this!!

  • 3
    There's a Premium Vip version of StackPrinter that offers the original Stack Overflow style and all the deleted questions archive (even the famous Boat question) with Jeff and Joel as narrators. Just prepare your Credit Card. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 19:41
  • @systempuntoout really... where? - I can't find anything about it on the home page or /about ? Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 20:29
  • 1
    @systempuntoout - ha - how messed up is it that I might actually pay for that... :-O Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:52
  • 2
    @systempuntoout what’s the boat question?
    – kinokijuf
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 6:24

There's a serious need to preserve the content, but I don't like this solution (at least as I grok it). Here's why.

Right now, deleted pages show "Page Not Found" to everyone except 10k+ users (IE, just about everyone). The site blogs, external sites, etc with links to now deleted questions are broken. SE doesn't look cleaner when that happens... it looks dumb.

Would the "Page Not Found" errors turn into redirects to this new archive location? ... if not, what's the point? The links are still broken. If so, it sounds like a lot of work for something with a very simple solution.

Right now, the problem is a semantic gap. SE is failing good content, contributions from the people who helped build the community, and it's dropping the ball on a social responsibility to not break people's links into the site.

This gap is caused by disappearing the old content because it has no defined place to fit in, that's it.

The solution seems simple to me... just don't break the links. A question flagged "Deleted" should disappears from the lists, search, rep is removed, etc but the LINKS themselves should still work. Have some banner showing it's deleted and why, and possibly create a special kind of archive page where the links are all dead.

Who cares if the link still works, if in every other possible way it's disconnected from the site?

This is purist nonsense. You're definitely pushing some evangelists away with this insanity.

EDIT I was shown Pekka's Show battled deleted questions to the public question. I like that one more than what I'm suggesting... of course spam questions still need to go away. Although, if you do that to J. Random Newbie, please remember to try to find some nice way to say it.

  • 2
    I'm pretty sure old links would redirect to the archive, otherwise, as you said, "what's the point" Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:24
  • @AdamRackis that's good, at least... it still sounds like a crazy amount of work to maintain the look and feel of the source SEs, though. Leave the content on the individual SEs, and simply tweak the behavior on delete. Right now, there's obviously a semantics gap and creating a parallel universe of archived stuff someplace seems like serious overkill. Fix the semantic gap by either adding a new flag or redefining an old one.
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:29
  • 2
    What are people disagreeing with? You want the links dead? You don't think it's a lot of work this way? Offended by the garbage comment? I'm sorry, but I'm really offended. That was as mild as I could put it. This is my last ditch effort to salvage my interest in contributing to SE in any capacity beyond using it as a dumb resource.
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:46
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    Well +1 from me for the purist garbage comment. I think there's a professional class of meta users who are (successfully) imposing ideological nonsense on SO that's resulting in content being destroyed. This is angering, and pushing away a lot of good contributors who don't hang around meta all that much. I think the problem with your post is that it seems a bit un-focused and unclear at times, even a little ranty. Consider focusing it in a bit. Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:50
  • I totally see what you mean by your "purist garbage" comment, but I'm not sure this suggestion is the right place to place it. The suggestion is not, "hey, we should delete all the off-topic stuff and put it into an archive", it is "so much stuff is being deleted, we need a place to put it so it's not lost forever". Your basic point that implementing this shouldn't be necessary in the first place is totally valid though, of course.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 21:59
  • @Pekka Well, yes... but the failure is apparently a gap in how the community leaders are moderating the site, and what tools the SE developer team provides to them to work with. The solution is not to work around the developers, it's to get the mismatch between what the platform provides and how the moderators want to use it fixed. This suggestion just adds a maintenance nightmare workaround on top of what should be a relatively simple tweak in how the platform works. Thank you, sincerely, for trying to do something about this... I just think we need a fix not a workaround.
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:11
  • @AdamRackis: I started by just pulling a comment into an answer. I edited to make it hopefully a bit less ranty now, and I toned 'garbage' down to 'nonsense'.
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:12
  • 1
    @darron yeah, I see what you mean. Actually, I made a suggestion yesterday that I think goes into the direction you are addressing. Show battled deleted questions to the public as if they were 10k+ users
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:13
  • @Pekka by the way, is there a better place for me to voice my opinion in this matter? Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who use the sites regularly but who doesn't wander around meta(s) often. The first indication this was going on was that I noticed rep lost due to deletes and so I investigated. I have no problem losing the rep... that just says "This content doesn't fit what we're trying to encourage". Breaking the links says "We think your contribution is crap and we can't stand that our name was ever on the page at all".
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:28
  • 1
    @Pekka ah, that's better than I suggested. Of course the spam questions still need to go away (although sometimes people could break that a little more gently to newbies)... it's just this old content with at least some value that should be preserved. I'll go vote that up and help if I can.
    – darron
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 22:32

There is an extreme need for something like this.

We come across a lot of questions which are essentially Good questions only find the next day that it is close. The usual pattern about this is that almost always they come from some real experience and they also invite a great traction with other people pouring into insight. However, when moderator looks at it - and who need to look at the nature of the question, it may find off-topic based on definition. Now this is not to say that one should preserve the off-topic questions because that would destroy the quality in the long run; however, shooting off the good off topic questions we are destroying great value right away.

Overflown.org will indeed solve a great deal of this problem.

Please please please do it.

  • The problem is not the posts being deleted. The problem is the posts being on the wrong website. If you wrote them on the side of the Houses of Parliament they'd be painted over and nobody would complain. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 19:39
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit i agree but the right site has to exist as well. Numerous questions at Programmers.SE gets beaten up stating that they are probably more suited for "The workplace" which is still under Area51. Right now it doesn't even exists - and people also say that even after it comes up, we shouldn't dump them on a boot strapping community. So all the same questions that arise after that are lucky - but the real good ones which are right now being out classed are the unlucky lot. Yes, they are at wrong place right now, that's the reason why there should be some solution for them. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 19:44
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    It's not the fault of Place Where The Posts Shouldn't Be that there is no Place Where The Posts Should Be. Stack Overflow is not a fallback site. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 20:23
  • 2
    The controversy about deleted questions is primarily about ancient deleted questions. These used to be considered good questions, but would now be closed and deleted very quickly if they were asked today. Your complaint about new questions being deleted is a different issue. Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 23:36

Yes, please

I've come across too many links on MSO, which lead to questions that are good examples and help make a point--but they're deleted. Aside from that, there are too many fun-looking question links that I see which are deleted.

I really feel that deletion is a bit too harshly applied--it should be carried out on worthless posts, not off-topic ones. The other posts do not follow the site rules, but they're good enough to be there.

I understand that a relaxation of deletion rules is not possible, so why not do this?

  • Have two levels of delete, one for the questions that have no value at all, and one for questions which have value, but are off topic. Technically all questions have value as examples, but let's not consider that.

  • The "soft delete" shouldn't give the deletion 404, it should instead say "this question was deleted", in a non-404 manner, and link to a stackprinter-style archive.



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. If you agree, join the proposal.

  • As usual, I fail to understand why a sensible, constructive suggestion that helps some and hurts no-one has been downvoted. I'm sorry that your proposed site has elapsed, I think it would have been a great solution. Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:17
  • Yeah it boggles my mind. Some just assert that it'll hurt SE somehow, but when asked how they fail to give a decent response.
    – Ehryk
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 23:46

No, we should not have access to the history of anything deleted. It means deleted for a reason. Which means that it being deleted is more beneficial than being able to look back at it.

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