The main problem I find myself constantly being disgusted about the new reputation system of letting users keep the reputation if it's been on the site for 60 days and has a score of 3 or more: those questions which just sat around and didn't get deleted when they really should be deleted.

From my understanding, the primary reason this was put into effect was to let users keep reputation for old questions which were once on-topic and are now getting closed and deleted. It makes sense. However, newer questions which were never acceptable shouldn't qualify to keep it. These questions often get closed quickly, but then sit around for a while before they get deleted.

If you run a search for closed:1 votes:3 and scroll a point where they're older than 60 days, there are tons of questions which have been closed for non-duplicate reasons and are now permanently eligible to keep the reputation simply because they never got deleted, and that's only questions!

My proposal is: rather than checking at the time of deletion for those criteria, I think the criteria should apply at the time of closure. Meaning when the post gets closed, it must have a score of at least 3 and been on the site for 60 days in order to be eligible to keep the reputation from it when it gets deleted. This wouldn't affect older questions which were once acceptable and are still getting closed, but will keep people from gaining reputation from bad questions that just don't get cleaned up.

  • 1
    Sounds like an easy solution - spend more delete votes. Please. There are plenty of opportunities. Jul 16, 2012 at 21:48
  • 5
    Or if not this, I want a review task for "questions which are closed and about to keep reputation permanently, please look through them." @GregHewgill: A lot of questions which do get a delete vote end up getting deleted, but a lot of these don't even have a delete vote yet, but are still worthy of deletion.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 16, 2012 at 21:49
  • @GregHewgill "This page requires more privileges" :(
    – Zuul
    Jul 16, 2012 at 22:10
  • let users keep reputation for old questions which were once on-topic well not necessarily so. To me, refunding rep lowers resistance to deletion => makes cleaning up SO easier.... For that reason, I prefer any 3+ / 60 days score to keep, for the single reason of lowering chance of complaints about crap deletion. That's maybe not particularly fair but actually, neither rep removal nor refund are 100% fair. Life isn't fair
    – gnat
    Jul 16, 2012 at 22:41
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    I feel throwing reputation after content that is so useless and off topic that it gets deleted is a complete disgrace. Especially since the whole "it was on topic" business is simply not true. All those "What's the best food (for a programmer)?" questions, lists of xyz and other bike sheds were already highly controversial when they were posted, usually going through multiple close/reopen cycles and lots of angry comments about failing to make the post CW. And nearly nothing ever got deleted in a timely manner, and still isn't.
    – sth
    Jul 17, 2012 at 4:19
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    And now official story line is that all that was valuable content worthy of reputation? If that would have been what SO was about, I would never have gotten involved here. I don't want to have high reputation here if that just means that I probably posted a lot of XKCD comics and links to Code Complete. (The real reason for that change was of course "OMG people don't like it when their reputation goes down, who would have thought!". But claiming now this rule was introduced because we treasure all the crap that gets deleted makes me want to not have anything to do with this site.)
    – sth
    Jul 17, 2012 at 4:22
  • @sth: I'm with you, but I respect SE's decision on letting old questions keep their reputation. This question merely expresses my disagreement with the rules they implemented. If the official stance were "people don't like when their reputation drops" then my blunt response would be "those people should get the f*** over it."
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 17, 2012 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


You're overlooking one thing. There is a broad category of questions that deserves closure, but never attract a delete vote. These are the questions that, for whatever reason, have some intrinsic value to the community, even though they are closed. So nobody votes to delete them.

Consider the very first question in your linked list (no pun intended):

Why are functions like escape, unescape, etc, not methods on the String object?

For some reason, this question got closed as "Not Constructive." There's really no compelling reason why; the question's really not that bad. The close reason isn't even the correct one; Not Constructive is generally reserved for "Big List" questions.

Mind you, I'm not all that motivated to reopen the question. After all, it did attract a decent accepted answer. Nor am I compelled to delete it. Why would I do that, with a score of 5 and not a single user casting a delete vote? There are no moderator flags on the question either.

So, unless you can figure out a way to separate the long-tail wheat from the bikeshed chaff, the problem of potentially illegitimate rep remains. And I don't see anything in your post that would accomplish that.

If a question should genuinely be removed, it is the community's responsibility to at least raise their hand with a moderator flag, or cast a single delete vote so that the question makes it into the delete queue. If everyone just ignores the question, then the community shouldn't be surprised when, after a few months, the rep from the earned question gets locked in.

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    So, if no one cares to delete that question in the first place, why does it matter? You only lose the reputation if it does get deleted. It may be the community's responsibility to delete unwanted content, but I don't believe that just because it slips through the cracks it should be immune. I only ever keep track of closed questions that I've flagged, and it's easy to track those because once they are finally deleted, they get a nice red background in the history. I don't, however, keep track of every single question I cast a close vote for.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 17, 2012 at 6:26

Well, first off: that 60 days isn't as arbitrary as it looks; I was originally pushing for a much longer waiting period, but... It turned out it wouldn't have made much difference.

Why? Because of exactly the scenario Robert notes: reasonable questions getting reasonable answers before being closed, and then... Never deleted (because they were reasonable) and never re-opened (because they were answered and no one cared).

Of course, they should be re-opened. Or deleted, depending on their merit. But that's a separate issue - a review queue for closed questions with [re-open] [delete] [waffles] buttons might work there.

Which just leaves the matter of reputation...

Closing is not the final verdict on whether a question is appropriate or not. Even deletion isn't necessarily final, but it's a good deal more final than closing, which remains merely a nomination for deletion, a limbo where the question waits on an appeal that may yet redeem it. During which time, it may well be of use to others...

Reputation is a measure of your participation. For it to be meaningful, those who contribute useful things should get reputation for it. Yes, there are flaws in this system, yes, there are people who game it - but it's critical that we don't lose sight of this core philosophy. Taking away the reputation gained by honest effort is unfortunate enough when it happens an hour or a day later, but often then you can at least argue that the writing was on the wall; a week or a month later, and you can stand proud knowing that anyone willing to re-open had their fair chance; but after two months, it's fair to say that we - the ones closing, deleting, moderating - are the ones who dropped the ball.

Punishing someone else for our mistakes doesn't solve anything.

  • Sooo basically it's just like gambling whether or not your crappy question will survive long enough to keep ill-gotten reputation for it? May the odds be ever in your favor.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 19, 2012 at 18:41
  • Gambling? You need three votes first off - a lot of questions never get that. And then, after getting enough attention to get three votes, you also need to have not gotten enough attention for it to be deleted. Those aren't great odds for a crappy question.
    – Shog9
    Jul 19, 2012 at 18:47
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    It's not just questions, but answers too. I see this quite often with questions which are too localized. While I make sure the ones I personally run across get closed and deleted, I can only imagine how many slip through. These questions which help absolutely no one but the OP get simple one-line answers that get upvoted to 10, and sometimes the questions even get upvotes as well, for whatever asinine reason.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 19, 2012 at 18:51
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    FWIW... There've been 977 rep-preserving answers to questions closed as Too Localized and later deleted, 193 of them scoring 10 or above. That's for all time. Implementing this feature-request would've disqualified 275 of those 977 answers. These are some very small potatoes. As an aside, I tend to be skeptical of "too localized" as an appropriate close reason for anything that gets a real answer scoring 10+... Popularity != quality, but popularity does tend to refute the "ridiculously obscure" intent of TL.
    – Shog9
    Mar 28, 2013 at 21:03

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