While I am all for deletion of off-topic questions, I am not comfortable with some consequences related to the way how it is done now.
Namely, I am concerned about the fact that popular questions tend to have a lot of references from outside of Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange. As a result, the way how it is done now, deletion breaks such links, which seems to make a substantial contribution to link rot.
Although I understand that this is not intended but rather a side effect, I think that this does not fit well with the stated mission "to make the Internet better" (quote source).
- I wonder if there could be a way to perform clean up for popular off-topic questions that would be less damaging for outside resources that refer to these questions?
One approach that comes to mind is to establish a redirect to some other URL where visitors could 1) view the content they were expected to see and 2) realize that the content does not belong to SE topics anymore.
I would like to stress once again that here, I am concerned only about broken links at resources outside of Stack Exchange.
- update Related issues were also recently mentioned at SE Podcast:
...Are we on the same page that there exists a class of question that’s awesome enough that it can’t be deleted? What do we do about people who just noticed that their amazing internet artifact was deleted, and they’re mad?
For the reference, a sample screen shot is shown below, with resources suffering from broken links to example deleted question marked red.
- Note. At screen shot above, search for exact title of particular question has been used as a means to pull a (probably incomplete) list of Internet resources that may refer to that question.