The question Why was my question removed? is about a question that was deleted due to inactivity. There was discussion in the comments about community members casting undelete votes, and the post in question was finally undeleted (and remains so today).

Something appears to have changed though. I recently stumbled upon a different question that was also deleted by Community for inactivity, https://stackoverflow.com/questions/9010309/multiple-config-ru-files-and-nginx-passenger, and my initial reaction upon seeing it was to cast an undelete vote. But, since Community is a moderator, it said "A moderator has deleted this post and it cannot be undeleted".

So it seems like Community-deleted posts used to be undeletable, but no longer are. Was this an intentional change? It seems to me that since Community isn't a real moderator and inactivity is an imperfect hueristic for questions that should be deleted, then if someone cares enough to want to undelete one of these question that they ought to be able to try to get it undeleted. I've classified this as "bug", assuming this was the unintentional side-effect of another change, but I don't know, it might be considered "feature request".

Note: This quesiton was inspired by another question I just asked: Why was "Multiple config.ru files and nginx/passenger" deleted?

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    wtf, undeletable? That's silly. The bot-deletion of a question is exactly the kind that the community should be able to reverse. I didn't know 0-voted questions got auto-deleted in the first place. When did that start? – Pekka Feb 13 '13 at 23:21
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    @Pekka, I also just discovered that. It started May 20, 2011: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/78048/… – Ben Lee Feb 13 '13 at 23:22
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    Well, you can still flag such question and moderator should be able to undelete but yeah, +1 from me here. – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Feb 13 '13 at 23:29
  • I'm giving this a once-over now, and can hopefully accommodate! – Haney Jul 8 '14 at 14:36

Thanks for suggesting this feature change. I've modified the code so that posts which have been deleted by the Community user can be voted for undeletion. Note that all other moderator-deleted posts will still behave as they do today: you will not be able to vote to undelete them. This will be live in the next prod release (> rev 2014.7.3.2354). Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • Does this apply to all Community deletions, including posts deleted by spam flags? – user259867 Jul 8 '14 at 16:25
  • Yes, it would apply to all Community deletions in its current state. – Haney Jul 8 '14 at 16:53
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    @Thisismuchhealthier Posts deleted by spam/offensive flags automatically get locked too, so you still shouldn't be able to do anything with those. – animuson Jul 8 '14 at 16:57


The bot-auto-deletion of a question because of mere inactivity (as opposed to downvotes, flags, or other problems) is exactly the kind that the community should be able to reverse easily.

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    The threshold for bot deletion is so low that there's nothing really there to preserve. If a question can't get the most basic of traction on this site, why would the community want to bring it back? – Nicol Bolas Feb 14 '13 at 5:23
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    @Nicol why would the community want to delete it in the first place? It doesn't look like a harmful question to me, just one that no one knows enough about to answer. – Pekka Feb 14 '13 at 10:15
  • @NicolBolas - But the question was raised by someone who did want to bring a question back. You are defending a situation where a bot did something, and a person was unable to vote to reverse that. What is your reasoning for preventing human intervention? – ToolmakerSteve Apr 11 '17 at 9:28

Actually, they were never deleted by Community before. If you look at the revision history of your first example, there is no deletion event. Previously, they just got silently deleted by nobody. They were undeletable because they weren't deleted by a moderator.

The previous complaint was that automatic deletions didn't create a delete event in the history which was quite annoying (you get an undelete event with no original delete event in the history). It appears they've traded one annoyance for another, though. Now they appear to have changed it to have Community delete the question, with an actual deletion event in the revision history (yay). But since Community is a moderator, normal users can't cast undelete votes anymore (not yay).

I don't really know what the best course of action is here. Should all auto-deleted posts be undeletable by the community at large or should they require discussion to be undeleted? After all, it was deleted because it sat here for a long time with no votes, no comments, and little views. What benefit is brought back to the site by undeleting it? If these questions don't deserve to be deleted, then a better alternative is not automatically deleting them in the first place.

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    If these questions don't deserve to be deleted, then a better alternative is not automatically deleting them in the first place. very fair point. Deleting 0-voted questions sounds a bit extreme. – Pekka Feb 13 '13 at 23:24
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    I actually don't agree with the concept of deleting posts for just inactivity, but if we are going to do that, I think at least the community should be able to reverse it. In the case of the example I posted, I am actually looking for a solution to that and would definitely post my answer there (once I find it) except I can't even attempt to undelete it (although it was just pointed out that I can flag it for undeletion if I find an answer, but that didn't occur to me at first). – Ben Lee Feb 13 '13 at 23:29
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    @BenLee: Ya, I guess my point comes down to: we should be discussing whether or not this automatic deletion should occur. If it should occur, then it shouldn't be easy for users to reverse the decision. If it shouldn't, then there isn't a problem because they don't get deleted. Maybe a better alternative would be to review these old, qualifying posts to see if they should stay here rather than just jumping in and deleting them? – animuson Feb 13 '13 at 23:30
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    @animuson, Inactivity Review Queue? – Ben Lee Feb 13 '13 at 23:32
  • @BenLee: Sure. An Inactive Posts queue, only shows up if the site is at least a year old (and thus eligible for these specific auto-deletions). – animuson Feb 13 '13 at 23:35
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    @animuson, I actually really like that idea. I think it solves both problems. The inactivity heuristic is good enough that some of those questions should probably be deleted, but bad enough that some should not. Let people decide instead of being automatic. – Ben Lee Feb 13 '13 at 23:39
  • Although thinking about it, I'm not sure by what criteria people can decide which questions should go and which shouldn't just be seeing them in this queue. I guess if I try to find the root of my issue with this, it's probably just that I disagree with the deletion of these questions in the first place (what good does it accomplish?), but that's already been discussed, decided, and done... – Ben Lee Feb 13 '13 at 23:44
  • @BenLee: I don't really know the stats for these questions, so I couldn't say how much it's actually helping or if it even is. I agree with the auto-deletion of downvoted ones, but for something that shows no signs of actually being a bad question, deleting it doesn't seem like it's helping the site at all. I'd really like more information on this from the devs to know if the "feature" is worth keeping. – animuson Feb 14 '13 at 0:14
  • @animuson re ".. whether or not this automatic deletion should occur. If it should occur, then it shouldn't be easy for users to reverse the decision." Why shouldn't it be easy? The point of automation is to not trouble people with something no one cares about. The moment someone says "I care about this", it should be returned to the realm of people - seek consensus on its worth. In practice, surely this would happen to so few of the newly automatically deleted posts, that the cost you are concerned about is negligible. – ToolmakerSteve Apr 11 '17 at 9:32

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