Following up on the recent blog entry and meta post, I'd like to bring up one of the classic questions from early in the history of StackOverflow:

What does a college degree provide that experience doesn't?

While I understand that it's off-topic for StackOverflow - it's not specifically a programming related question - I'd suggest that it does meet the underlying goal of the StackExchange network: Having it around makes the internet a better place.

Some stats: 50 upvotes and 31 favourites for the question itself, and over 200 up votes across the answers.

The question was closed in October 2010, closing off further participation, but at least the information was available to those looking for it.

Today, the question was deleted - making the information in accessible. Making the internet a lesser place.

  • Why did the question have to be deleted?
  • Could it not have been migrated? - it seems to be on-topic for Programmers.SE

[I spend most of my SE time on the main sites, not lurking in Meta, so if I've missed some element of protocol, please be gentle!]


Ok, so it's clear that migrating it to P.SE is a bad idea because the community over on P.SE should be doing it's own thing, not dealing with secondhand baggage from SO. Fair enough. (Though, I'd point out, I was asking why it wasn't migrated, not advocating that it should be.)

I'd still be interested in peoples thoughts on why it needed to be deleted at all (since little has been said in response to that part of my query).

How does deletion of this question actively improve Stack Overflow? How would retention of it actively harm SO?

Even though not strictly on-topic, it's part of our collective history on SO. As an old question, it wouldn't show on any "hot topic" lists - but only as a search result and only when relevant to the search.

Further, most of the highly voted answers on that question are both thoughtful and thought provoking (the answer on single women excepted). They are exactly the sorts of results I'd like to find when doing a search, exactly the kinds of commentary I'd like my kids to find and evaluate if/when they're making decisions about College.

Update #2

I've just noticed that the question is no longer deleted! Thank you.

It's still closed - I have no problem with that - but at least it's now accessible by people who search for it.

  • 5
    As a rule, old questions are not migrated, so moving it to Programmers.SE is not a suggestion that will go over big. However, this does seem like a reasonable candidate for the new "historical archive" being assembled. Perhaps we should put together a community wiki of all the questions people want to ensure that status conferred upon? Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 6:52
  • 4
    We don't want old SO questions on P.SE. The question has run it's circle on SO and since it's a highly up voted it will be a forever a signpost for our community, without ever the community having any actual say in it. Also it's not really a question that would survive if asked today. You are polling for people's opinions, and I would probably close it as not constructive. Lastly it doesn't uniquely apply to software developers, which we require for career related questions. Since all answers are concentrated on programming, we might skip topicality, but still not constructive.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 7:16
  • However a few of the answers are really good, especially the top one, so I wouldn't mind if it was preserved on SO in the "historical archive". It's probably one of the very few deleted old not constructive questions that hasn't spiralled in an uncontrollable mess. But not really an SO guy, so feel free to ignore me on this.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 7:18
  • 3
    NOT PROGRAMMERS! — ChrisF Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


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 request, a number of similar questions have cropped up that likely cover the same thing, but were at least vetted by the Programmers community in accordance with its own scope and standards. I'm fairly confident that any answer you were looking for about the subject will have been covered in at least one of those questions.

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 foist unwanted content from other sites onto another community that doesn't want it 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 because it was popular doesn't say much about why an exception should be made for it, as it's a circular argument: it was popular because it was valuable, and it's valuable because it was popular.

Why does it make the Internet a better place to have it around, despite its likely status as a broken window? What knowledge is being preserved there that isn't preserved elsewhere?


The question does not belong on any Stack Exchange site. If you feel it should remain on the Internet, arrange for it to be on StackPrinter or repost it on your blog.


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