I had asked a question about three years ago on Stack Overflow that had garnered me 88 points: Is going back to school to get a PhD the best way to "wait out" this economy?. Today I noticed my reputation points were lower and saw the following:

-88  yesterday
-2   16:37  unaccept    Is going back to school to get a PhD the best way to “wait out” this economy?
-86  16:37  deleted Is going back to school to get a PhD the best way to "wait out" this economy?

How is it that a question that had 88 points and had been around for about three years could just be deleted like that?

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    Obviously we need to put up a banner regarding the deletion of old questions (or just stop doing it and locking them instead) because this is getting ridiculous... – Cody Gray Mar 3 '12 at 4:34
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    @CodyGray Is it bad if I prefer them to "I ask questions anymore!"? – Michael Mrozek Mar 3 '12 at 4:40
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    @Michael: It's a little weird, yeah. Those I can just close with prejudice and not feel any pang of regret whatsoever. These don't have a good duplicate, and sometimes even manage to dredge up content that I find potentially useful to have around somewhere (like the one about struct vs class in C#, or the list of quality C++ books). – Cody Gray Mar 3 '12 at 4:42
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    I got you beat: 136 lost on "Should I telecommute?" It was an early question that clearly is off-topic now if it ever was on-topic. C'est la vie! – Jon Ericson Mar 3 '12 at 4:48
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    Are you asking why it wasn't deleted sooner? – random Mar 3 '12 at 4:52
  • Perhaps part of the continuing cleanup of career-development questions? – Charles Mar 3 '12 at 5:19
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    Now there is more visibility or question deletion, and immediate loss of reputation, I can see moderators upsetting a lot of people. Await the backlash! – Codemwnci Mar 3 '12 at 9:01
  • @Arjan If you downvote those two answers to 0, shouldn't that enable you self delete? – staticbeast Mar 3 '12 at 11:35
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    I lost reputation on Programmers because questions that were once allowed are not allowed anymore (the site had a purpose-shift since it was created), are getting closed, and then deleted. I much prefer to lose reputation, than leaving questions that would cause other users to ask low quality questions. (I imagine the reaction of who see their own question closed could be "My question was closed, and deleted, but this old question is pure crap, and it has not been deleted.") – kiamlaluno Mar 3 '12 at 16:18
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    What, -8 on this meta-question?! Seems like a pretty valid meta-question. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has wondered about this. – aneccodeal Mar 3 '12 at 19:30
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    @user445366 Voting works differently on meta – casperOne Mar 3 '12 at 19:46

As the banner on the bottom of the question states, it was closed as not constructive. In the earlier days of StackOverflow the definition of "on topic" was a lot looser than what it is now.

There has been a reasonable drive lately to clean up older questions like this as most of them don't add any value to the site, yours specifically really only has value to you, and is potentially only relevant to that window of time. Just because your question had received a bunch of up votes doesn't make it on topic and relevant.

Normally it would take at least three delete votes from regular members to actually delete the question. Diamond mods have the ability to do it instantly, although they don't exercise it very often (preferring to let the members govern the process). Basically, your question was toast sooner or later.

So did you end up doing that PhD?

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    To anyone wondering if the question should have been deleted, ask yourself how important it is to the site that we know the answer to "So did you end up doing that PhD?" – John Saunders Mar 3 '12 at 8:59
  • Another question is whether this old-off-topic question could have been migrated to another site or whether it would have been off-topic anywhere. – GUI Junkie Mar 3 '12 at 10:01
  • @GUIJunkie: The only question where it might have fit would have been Programmers.SE, and they have already stated they don't want these old questions. – user102937 Mar 3 '12 at 16:30
  • @GUIJunkie - Robert's right in that we don't want old questions, but it would also have got closed as not constructive or too localised on Programmers as well. – ChrisF Mar 3 '12 at 19:12
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    @slugster - didn't end up doing the PhD - did get laid off, though. went to a startup for a time until it just got ridiculous. Now in a much better job than the one I had when I asked the question. – aneccodeal Mar 3 '12 at 19:26
  • How about a statute of limitations for the reputation points? I had no idea that some of my points were in "danger" of loss. – aneccodeal Mar 3 '12 at 19:27
  • @user445366 They weren't in danger of being lost, they already were lost; the recent reputation changes were about bringing what was displayed reputation (which gets out of sync) with actual reputation. Only certain events triggered it to bring it in-line. Now, it's kept in sync much more aggressively. – casperOne Mar 3 '12 at 22:26

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