I would like to propose that https://stackoverflow.com/q/866499/41661 be undeleted.

I have two arguments for undeleting this question:

  • I believe that the high voted answers contain information that is valuable for programmers, especially young programmers, to know. (I know that because of the way the question is titled, it is likely that many people who might benefit from the information will nevertheless not see it. But that's an argument for improving the question, not deleting it.)

  • In late February and early March 2012, new algorithms made it clear for the first time that many old questions were being deleted, apparently by moderators. I believe that this string of deletions damages the community, and that old questions which have survived for a long time and continue to draw pageviews and upvotes should be preserved, even if such questions would be considered wildly inappropriate if asked today.

    I believe that the continuing activity on is programming a younger person's job shows its value to the community---although based on my observations of other old questions which have been migrated from Stack Overflow to Programmers, it may be that the appropriate community today is Programmers.

  • UPDATE: to repeat what I said in a comment, I am asking that this question be undeleted because I believe that its deletion does not show respect for the community's opinion of the question (as measured by the votes for the question and its answers) and that these kind of deletions reduce the incentive for people, especially old-timers, to contribute to Stack Overflow. The question is not wildly meritorious, but I see it as a test case for the recent spate of moderator deletions, which I oppose.

On the question of reputation, I am agnostic. If somebody decided that old questions which don't meet new standards shouldn't contribute to users' reputations, I could live with that. The questions and answers could all be made Community Wiki retroactively; that's probably another discussion. But I don't want to lose our history.

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    That question has already been reasked and re-answered several times in several ways on Programmers. – ChrisF Mar 3 '12 at 18:59
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    FYI: since this is a moderator-deleted question, community members can not vote to undelete it. If you're reading this, feel the question has lasting value and support it being preserved on Stack Overflow, please post your rationale in an answer below. – Shog9 Mar 3 '12 at 19:02
  • @ChrisF: the question predates Programmers. Let's not destroy our history. Merge, OK. Delete, not OK. – Norman Ramsey Mar 3 '12 at 19:06
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    That question (and its answers) is a wandering generality (I just reviewed it again). Do you have a better rationale for undeleting it, other than "Mods are Changing History?" – user102937 Mar 3 '12 at 19:13
  • @RobertHarvey you may think it's a "wandering generality". But all that tells me is "Robert Harvey doesn't like it". Collectively the community saw substantial value in the answers, as shown by the votes. I don't see what purpose deletion serves. I do see that it discourages old-timers from continuing to participate. So my rationale is a rationale about respect for the community and about incentives, not about the merits of this particular question. – Norman Ramsey Mar 3 '12 at 19:36
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    After you get old, say past 30 or 40 is not a question, it's an insult. We should sue for discrimination. – Bo Persson Mar 3 '12 at 19:59
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    @Norman: «Collectively the community saw substantial value in the answers» The question has 3000 views, and the top answer has 100 upvotes. That means that three percent of the people who looked at your answer thought it was worth the minimal effort of clicking the up arrow. That doesn't sound like a substantial positive evaluation. – jscs Mar 3 '12 at 20:28

Programmers isn't the place to migrate stuff Stack Overflow doesn't want anymore: it's a separate site with its own community, standards, and scope.

Between the time Programmers was launched and this demand, a similar, and very popular, question was already asked on Programmers:

How old is “too old”?

There, you'll find a bunch of answers that'll discuss pretty much the same thing as the now-deleted question on Stack Overflow, but vetted by the Programmers community in accordance with its own scope and standards. I'm confident any answer you're looking for about the subject will have been covered in the version on Programmers.

Migrating heavily voted upon ancient questions from other sites to newer sites breaks the Stack Exchange 2.0 system: every site on the network was supposed to get a fair shot to prove its worth independent of any other site. If a site could demonstrate it could create useful content and have critical mass, it'd be launched. You can't demonstrate either when you shove unwanted content from other sites down a community's throat and award free rep to people who weren't ever part of the community building on the site.

If it's very important that the Stack Overflow version is preserved as it is, make that case independent of migration. If it's good enough to ignore all rules about quality to preserve, you shouldn't have to force it on another community to do so. Unfortunately, saying it's valuable doesn't say much about why an exception should be made for it: why is it valuable? Why does it make the internet a better place to have, despite its likely status as a broken window?

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  • Mark, I really don't understand Programmers, and I don't understand the migration process. I made the suggestion because I have seen a number of other old questions in roughly similar vein migrated to Programmers. I don't know who made those migrations or what criteria were used; I was just trying to follow precedent. – Norman Ramsey Mar 3 '12 at 19:42
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    @NormanRamsey That's unfortunately the result of giving a migration path to it to thousands of people who can vote to close but don't understand the topic of the site they're migrating to or when to migrate questions. Community-based moderation is sometimes a double-edged sword. Hopefully my answer helped clarify things a bit better. – user149432 Mar 3 '12 at 19:53

Yes, let's 'delete our history' of material that has no effect but to attract more off-topic material. I just don't see the attraction of this particular item. The whole premise of the question is questionable: that people's age is a more important factor in their professional situations than any number of other things. And, in any case, a load of people's opinions is just a load of ... people's opinions. Readers have no possible way to evaluate the experience and expertise of the people who answer.

The whole premise of these sites is to be different from other places on the internet because it is curated to remove exactly this kind of material. The recent trend to work harder on curation isn't a symptom of any change in this fundamental fact.

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I've been flitting around these recent "Don't delete!!!" questions, not doing much more than commenting and voting, but this one is worth sticking my neck out for:

That question is exactly the kind of chatty, opinion-based, GTKY prattle the general absence and prompt removal of which makes Stack Overflow so valuable as a resource for solutions to programming problems.

There's no way that it should be present on SO. The mere fact that it was originally posted way back in the early days of the site doesn't make it any more valuable or suitable. I also don't buy your "continuing activity" bit -- the last change was an answer posted a year and a half ago, which was deleted by its author a month later.

Please note that I generally support the review of deletions on Meta; the recent Delete policy considered harmful led me to cast a deciding undelete vote for the question pointed out there.

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I'm generally against the deletion of questions that are generally useful, like lists of books and such. Cordoned off, closed and locked, yes. Full-on deletion? Not so much.

But your question? No. That is not a good question. That's not even a passable question. That's a chatty question, one which will not produce useful code information for solving actual problems. The scope of that question puts it much more onto Programmers.SE, but they already have a similar question with reasonable answers.

It is redundant there, and of no value here. So it should be deleted.

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    To be honest I'm not too fond of the book questions (or any list of existing X questions) either, since the current trend suggests that people that once edited that list to contain all those X aren't really interested in keeping it current in any way. Some books are perpetual, others, not so much. – Lasse V. Karlsen Mar 3 '12 at 20:57

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