It looks like Community unlocked this posting on Hidden Features of PHP. Was this intentional, or just a daemon that kicked off somewhere?

I ask because Robert Harvey on March 10th seems to have locked most of the “Hidden Features of XXX” questions, and also added the historical significance notice. But this question’s edit history is complicated. It seems to have been locked and unlocked, noticed and unnoticed, deleted and undeleted, many times over.

Is there some unifying policy on how this sort of question should be treated, and if so, is it being applied evenly across SO?


The comments on that question suggest — well, say, actually :) — that the original reason for locking was so that it not be deleted:

locking comments

Does that no longer apply? Now that it is unlocked, it is fit for deletion again, challenging though that would be given how many delete votes are needed for such without moderator intervention.

Perhaps more importantly, it can now be reöpened. Is that desirable? Against that possibility, I have just now protected it, but that is scant protection if any.

I have looked for some sort of policy statement on the official disposition towards “Hidden/Secret Features” questions, but not yet found one.

Most of the other highly voted instances of this type of question have been locked and historically noticed once they already have dozens of bikeshedded answers. If there were a clearer policy about this somewhere for us to read (and I suspect it already exists), it would help in making decisions casting close/reöpen and delete/undelete votes.

  • Locks can be set to time out after 1 hour, 1 day or 1 week. The times don't match, else that would have been an explanation. Nov 18, 2012 at 14:03
  • 3
    Good catch, maybe moderators can choose temporary lock that will last X minutes, no just 1 hour, day or week. Need official response here. Nov 18, 2012 at 14:32
  • @ShaWizDowArd I'm not seeing an option to chose any other values, I don't think it is possible. Nov 18, 2012 at 14:51
  • Oh, didn't notice you're a mod elsewhere. So it must be something else.. Nov 18, 2012 at 15:00
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    Better question, why was it undeleted when it had been decided by the community to be deleted?
    – casperOne
    Nov 18, 2012 at 16:01
  • I accidentally locked it for "1 hour" instead of permanently (cc @ShaWizDowArd) Nov 18, 2012 at 16:01
  • @casperOne For the same reasons all other "Hidden features" questions have been undeleted and locked. Nov 18, 2012 at 16:02
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    @NullUserExceptionอ_อ While I'm obviously in favor of unilateral mod action in certain cases, if ten people from the community decided to delete it, I don't know that a unilateral mod action to undelete posts like this is a good thing. Should we go around and undelete all the "hidden features" questions? If the community wants a historical lock, then they can come to meta and ask for one, garnering the rest of the community's opinion, at which point, a decision can be made. This is what should have been done in this case.
    – casperOne
    Nov 18, 2012 at 16:05
  • @casperOne Most of them are already locked. I think they fit the rule of thumb of "Does this question teach me anything that could make me better at my job? Can I learn something from it?" and that it'd be rather unfair if our 3rd most used tag had its "Hidden features" question deleted while everything else is still around. Nov 18, 2012 at 16:14
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    @NullUserExceptionอ_อ See the conversation in the blue room. Also, if the documentation is the best hidden feature of php, then there's not much value in that question. Someone looking into php needs to be told that? I didn't learn anything from reading the question and the top rated answer. Lastly, ten people decided it didn't have the value. I don't believe (in this case, where the community has already decided) that it's our place to go and revert that. The community is more than capable of doing it themselves (as they did in deleting it in the first place).
    – casperOne
    Nov 18, 2012 at 16:16
  • @NullUserExceptionอ_อ And btw, tag wikis are the commonly-accepted place for this kind of stuff now. All of this can be edited down and placed in the tag wiki.
    – casperOne
    Nov 18, 2012 at 16:21
  • @casperOne "I didn't learn anything from reading the question and the top rated answer" Scroll past the first answer. BTW it would be nice if people actually used tag wikis; FWIW I think "reference questions" like this should be put into tag wikis instead, yet they are still around... Nov 18, 2012 at 16:21
  • @NullUserExceptionอ_อ The point I was trying to make is, if that's the first thing I see, then spot checking the post, the entire thing is crap. If the top rated answer is crap, indicators are the rest are as well, and not worth my time to dig through (also, unrelated to you, I'm disturbed at how at one time the question was edited which nullified some of the answers, which is why the top rated answer is invalid).
    – casperOne
    Nov 18, 2012 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


It was locked a little more than an hour earlier by a moderator for historical significance. He must have accidentally left the selector at "1 hour" (the default) instead of changing it to "permanent" when locking it, because Community unlocked it a little less than two hours later. I can't think of any reason why a historical lock would be placed only to expire after one hour, so I've locked the question permanently.

What is a historical lock, and what is it used for? has the guidelines on when historical locks are placed on old posts.

  • Nope. It was unlocked less than two hours after being locked. Unless there's something we miss (as non moderator users) in the revisions list? Also note same thing happened before, back in Oct 7 2011. Nov 18, 2012 at 14:59
  • @ShaWizDowArd That's right. He must have left "1 hour" selected, not "1 day" as I previously said. I've accidentally done this before. Nov 18, 2012 at 15:07
  • But as stated in a comment, the times don't match. It was removed one hour and forty minutes after being set. How can you explain this? Also what's the point of one hour historical lock? Temp lock makes sense when there is dispute, but in such case can't see any sense in this. Nov 18, 2012 at 15:11
  • @ShaWizDowArd The timed lock is meant for the other lock reasons, but it is available for all of them. And maybe the locks are removed by a scheduled job and not exactly on time, I never paid attention to that, Nov 18, 2012 at 15:25
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    @ShaWizDowArd I don't think the locks are set to be removed at an exact interval. They're probably set to be run after a certain time, then they run in a batch with other tasks. All the lock reasons have the same time options. The historical lock doesn't really make sense in any other time increment but "permanent", but it's still on the same UI, so it has the same options as all the others. Nov 18, 2012 at 15:52
  • Cheers @Bill, fair enough. Nov 18, 2012 at 16:21
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    How long until a meta request to make historical lock durations indefinite by default? It's not like we can't undo the historical lock ourselves after the fact. Nov 18, 2012 at 16:44
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn Then we'd be accidentally locking posts in comment wars forever. We need to bring back Clippy and wire him into the moderator tools, it's the only sane approach.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 19, 2012 at 0:37
  • @TimPost Since when did we start using historical locks for comment wars? Nov 19, 2012 at 4:57

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