This Question was deleted a short while ago. The Mod commented that this was OT and a spam magnet, and also commented on some of the answers that they shouldn't answer honeypot questions.

I'm not so much concerned with the question being declared OT (RStudio is an IDE for R and it has a server-based version that can allow you to run R jobs or scripts on remote machines, so whilst not explicitly about programming R it was about getting something set-up to allow programming in R) but more about the manner in which the deletion was handled and the expectations that Mods have about how up-to-date users are with terms such as "honeypot" or SO conventions.

On the face of it the question was a reasonable question with arguably some programming relevance. If this was OT, shouldn't this have been closed instead of deleted? The few reasonable answers that were offered gave useful advice about installing via a pre-prepared package for a given service & would have remained in case this question came up again.

I also didn't realise this was attracting SPAM as the initial responders seemed bona-fide users. Subsequent Answers were clearly SPAM but we could have flagged these or protected the question to stop such behaviour.

What is the appropriate way of handling such things? I am interested in expectations on the part of the more experienced users in the SO community and also the modus operandi of moderators in these cases.

(This question was stimulated by a small amount of discussion in the R SO chat room about what SO considers to be SPAM or honeypot questions - the implication being that the question was asked specifically to attract SPAM which seems somewhat wide of the mark in this case.)

  • 3
    It was a crap question that people answered instead of voting to close or flagging for attention. Honeypot or not, the right action was not to answer it...
    – user7116
    Sep 17 '12 at 13:47
  • I can't see the question but it sounds like if it is not a programming question, why was it not moved to SuperUser? Sounds like, based on how you've described it, the perfect place.
    – Brad
    Sep 17 '12 at 13:48
  • @sixlettervariables Why? because it was OT? What about "summer of love"? I was busy commenting on the crap answers real Users left but intend to ask the OP to improve the question until it wa deleted from under me. Anyway, if a question is crap or OT we close it and can protect it from spam or me-to answers. At least that what what I thought? Hence my question on protocol Sep 17 '12 at 13:50
  • @Brad perhaps and not something I had considered. Looking now, SuperUser might have been a good home but would probably have needed help to improve the question. The Q was deleted along with all the answers before any migration could take place. Sep 17 '12 at 13:51
  • If the user appeared to have made an effort, the summer of love would have applied. In this case they did not make any effort towards anything really. It is still within the spirit of the summer of love to refuse to stamp out burning bags of feces left on your porch.
    – user7116
    Sep 17 '12 at 13:52
  • 3
    @Brad: it is too low quality to fit on any site on the network.
    – user7116
    Sep 17 '12 at 13:53
  • 3
    @sixlettervariables We took Summer of Love to mean we gave the OP a chance to improve their question before ganging up on them. Perhaps we misinterpreted this? There is some awful rubbish on SO these days but we aren't there deleting them all especially from new users of the site. Sep 17 '12 at 13:54
  • 1
    crap questions can generate good answers. On its own being crap isn't sufficient to warrant immediate deletion is it? Sep 17 '12 at 13:58
  • 7
    It's not going to generate good answers if it's closed either. It's a really poorly written question that was attracting spam. There's little point in letting it stick around. Sep 17 '12 at 14:01
  • I agree but then the OP wasn't given any time to correct or improve the question. As a new User they could be excused for not knowing any better. Voting to close usually takes some time during which we expect the OP to improve the question especially if asked to do so. I have no problem closing and then deleting crap questions if the OP does not engage with the site, but I usually give them a chance to engage. Sep 17 '12 at 14:04
  • 7
    That is a valid point. That's a very quick deletion. However, I don't think there's any salvaging this particular question. Even if the question is improved it's going to remain not constructive, since it's asking for a link or an easily Googleable tutorial. As for feedback to the OP, even though it's deleted, the user will get a notification in his mailbox because a moderator commented on his post. Sep 17 '12 at 14:10
  • 1
    Sorry if I wasn't clear - I'm not lobbying to have this particular Q reopened or undeleted; it is rubbish as it stands. I & a few other users were just confused about what went on here & how we should try to respond in future to save the mods some work. I didn't realise the OP would get some feedback, which is useful. A bit more feedback in the comment from the Mod would have helped in this particular instance. Those of us with sufficient rep see the deletion or mod action but sometimes find it hard to understand what was going on & why, & therefore how to best handle similar situations later. Sep 17 '12 at 14:16
  • 2
    @GavinSimpson - Just to be clear, "Summer of Love" doesn't mean lower our quality standards. It means be nice, but still maintain the high quality that makes this network great and close/delete questions that don't fit the guidelines in the faq.
    – jmort253
    Sep 17 '12 at 14:37
  • Right and I didn't suggest we lowered anything, but we usually handle poor quality questions differently to the way this was handled. New users should be given a chance to improve their question before we effectively shove two fingers in their direction and tell them to get off our lawn. Sep 17 '12 at 14:40
  • The Summer of Love had absolutely nothing to do with question closure. It was strictly about negative comments.
    – jscs
    Sep 17 '12 at 18:09

In general, closure is the first step when dealing with any question that doesn't fit the guidelines in the FAQ. In this case, the question would normally be closed as "Not a Real Question":

not a real question
It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.

Don't get hung up on the first sentence of the close reason. Skip to the part where it says "ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overrly broad".

It also could be closed as "Not Constructive":

not constructive
As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

The main problem with this question, even though legitimate users were answering it, is that it doesn't ask for solutions. Instead, the asker is simply asking for a link. There's a reason that the question box is large. We want questions to include plenty of details, like what you tried, where you're stuck, what research effort you've done yourself to try to solve the problem.

Furthermore, questions that merely ask for links end up generating a lot of comments as answers and spam. In this case, there appears to be an equal number of both. Links are okay, but the answer shouldn't be dependent on the link. In many of these answers, if the link were to ever break, it would be useless to future visitors.

Since the goal of Stack Exchange is to provide expert answers to questions that persist for years to come, that help future visitors as well as the asker, those questions must be great.

Will's decision to delete this post may have been a bit hasty, but he's acting on his experience as a moderator whose seen countless questions like this. There's no way this guy was going to fix his post, and it already had too many low quality answers for it to be edited into shape, so he just deleted it now instead of drawing it out.

After all, the user just got done reading How to Ask and the FAQ, which are things new users must read before posting, yet he still posted this comment as a question. He's not going to fix this post. :)

Had the high rep user who answered voted to close, and had other users voted to close immediately, maybe things would be different, but I seriously doubt it. You don't get much lower in quality than a 1 sentence Stack Overflow post.

  • +1 Thanks for your thoughtful answer. My inclination was to close as not constructive but was distracted by some of the link-to answers and in mean time the post was deleted. The question could have been improved by asking OP to rephrase so it wasn't just asking for a link or having one of us edit it accordingly, but neither had a chance. We handle quite a number of such questions in the R tag as many users don't get SO and don't want to follow the rules. A fair number of these do read the FAQ when pointed & improve their questions, the rest we gang up on & close ;-) Sep 17 '12 at 14:59
  • The point about new users that have already been fed the answer not fixing their question is well made and taken. I guess there is a far higher percentage of new users in that category than the user that will fix category. I'd still err on side of giving them the benefit of doubt and afford a little grace before deleting (in general); the few users that might change their questions should be encouraged and will be the only ones affected by rapid user/Mod action. The other category that couldn't care less, well, couldn't care less what the users or Mods do. Sep 17 '12 at 15:10

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