Instead of blocking deletion of questions under meta discussion, would notification be valuable?

It might engender a more hostile debate, such as happened in this question I asked about. I'm not sure if notification is the exact mechanism I'm asking for... at the same time, it might also lead to the opposite–a greater opportunity for all involved to have a voice.

I realize that it would be just as easy for whoever asked the question to link to the meta discussion, but I wonder if (a) everyone would always remember, or think, to do so, and (b) if the risk of retaliatory behavior would be increased if there was either (automatic or manual) indication of the meta talk.

Thoughts? (I tagged this as a feature request even though I'm not 100% sure I'm asking for anything, or if I am, what precisely it is–apologies. I'm mostly wondering about the pros, cons, and alternatives.)

  • Well, at the end of the day, doing something like this would just bring additional traffic to the meta question. Meta has tools available to address any negative actions taken by those people once they get there. I'd be more concerned with how exactly something like this might work, and whether or not it would be worth the (likely significant) development effort it would require.
    – Servy
    Feb 18, 2013 at 17:37
  • I usually post comments. An automated notification would be nice for most cases, but I'm not so sure how it would work.
    – yannis
    Feb 18, 2013 at 17:38
  • I wouldn't mind something like a Linked Meta Questions section in the right sidebar, but I still support not allowing the community to vote to delete a post that has been brought up on meta within the last 12 or 24 hours. I've seen to many cases where users come to meta for help with their question, only to have it deleted by the community instead :)
    – Rachel
    Feb 18, 2013 at 18:00
  • @Rachel It's like help. Like forced rehab is help :D Feb 18, 2013 at 18:03
  • The major issue I see is distinguishing between "under discussion", "discussion resolved", and "just happened to be linked to on Meta". I don't see a good reason to have a permanent link from a main-site question to a Meta question that happens to contain its URL.
    – jscs
    Feb 18, 2013 at 18:39
  • @JoshCaswell Not "Just happens to contain", but rather "is specifically about". I'm not asking about links, I'm asking about notification. (And there would likely already be in the link since it's about "specific question" meta posts.) Feb 18, 2013 at 18:42
  • Okay, just an entry in the supercollider for the author, you mean? That's a little easier to handle. I was imagining some kind of post notice/banner.
    – jscs
    Feb 18, 2013 at 18:46
  • @JoshCaswell Yep, just a notification saying that one of the user's questions was under discussion. I'm still very much back-and-forth about the idea in my head. Feb 18, 2013 at 18:54
  • Why is mine marked as a duplicate when mine was asked a half-year earlier, by my understanding of the calendar? Aug 27, 2014 at 19:12

4 Answers 4


Let's not.

Especially with new users unfamiliar with SO and its culture, there is huge potential for all sorts of heartbreak and trouble. Questions are often talked about in very harsh language ("this is garbage" etc.) and often it's not productive to shove this stuff in the OP's face.

Also, there are plenty of cases where a question is used as an example - maybe even for behaviour that turns out not to really be a problem at all. The authors of those example questions are bound to get massively confused if they're automatically notified - did I do something wrong? If so, what? What is this all about?

If it's important for the OP to know about the discussion, somebody will point it out to them manually. It's worked well so far, no reason to change it.

  • 2
    (Right now I tend towards this, but at the same time, I want to (a) tone down harsh rhetoric, as in "Let's all talk about this", and (b) encourage larger discussions instead of coming across as a bit elitist at times. Feb 18, 2013 at 18:47
  • ) Because otherwise the rest of the page would be part of the expression. Feb 18, 2013 at 19:59

I think if the system added a link like this automatically, two things would happen:

  • the OP and some of the answerers/readers of the question would learn that Meta exists, and would learn some of the site culture as espoused there. A good thing.
  • the meta-ites would not be as free with the name-calling and mean-ness, because they would know that the OP and whoever else they were talking about would be very likely to read it. Also a good thing.

I think this could be a very simple extension to Linked as it is right now. If I comment on question A on site B "see also question C" also on site B, then question C shows up under Linked Questions for question A but (and I didn't know this until recently) also question A shows up under Linked Questions for question C. This causes the occasional meta question from people who don't see a link anywhere to the Linked Question.

So if you just did the very same thing cross site, the existing mechanism would add the meta question magically to Linked Questions on the existing question. Throw in a colour change to make it clear that it's cross-site, and you're good. For super fun, add a notifcation (not inbox) any time anyone added a link to any of your questions (I usually find them when I get an upvote on something ancient) and now you're living in luxury.

Extra bonus: sites like travel/greatoutdoors or programmers/workplace that have some overlap would gain a cool path back and forth if someone thinks a pair of questions on those sites are related.

  • Your bullets are good points, but I don't like the link in the sidebar: how does the system distinguish between "under discussion", "discussion resolved", and "just happened to be linked to". I really don't think a main-site question needs to be forever joined to a Meta question where it happened to come up.
    – jscs
    Feb 18, 2013 at 18:50
  • I wish I could +1 you more for those bullet points
    – Rachel
    Feb 18, 2013 at 19:51
  • 1
    @Josh I don't see why it's a problem. Today if I say "I think this is similar to blah" and then as it turns out that's irrelevant, nobody weeps that there is a link on the sidebar for all time. Feb 18, 2013 at 20:02
  • It would be like strolling in your local park and seeing a sign with the minutes from last year's neighborhood council meeting about the new juniper bushes. After a certain point, it's irrelevant to the main site question and becomes clutter on a page that's supposed to be focused on answering that question. The vast majority of readers don't care, don't need to care, and shouldn't have to even put in the effort to ignore the link.
    – jscs
    Feb 18, 2013 at 20:43

I dunno how a feature for this would work.

Pros: - Prevents deletion - Puts discussion in one place


  • Folks may be rubbed the wrong way -- sometimes it is better if some people didn't know about a meta debate (as you mentioned, "retaliatory behavior")
  • I don't see how this can be implemented.
  • Whether or not a meta-notification is necessary highly depends upon the situation. It's not something an algorithm can decide. In some cases, your issue is only tangentially related to the linked posts. In others, you're using it as an example.

Currently, the meta-OP/meta community members leave a comment if they feel that it is necessary. If something that is being discussed gets deleted, there are enough SO 20k+s active on meta to get it undeleted (not to mention mods).

In some cases, you can also request a mod to put a "content dispute" lock on the post and hat it with a link to the meta discussion. This redirects all discussion to the meta post (keeps it in one place), with the added benefit of preventing deletion.

  • He's stating that this should be done instead of preventing deletion, not in addition to.
    – Servy
    Feb 18, 2013 at 17:42

The system knows when a question is linked to already, so for this to be implemented it seems like the meta question would have to include a link to the non-meta question. Which for the most part happens pretty much every time already.

Then it seems like a simple check

//check to see if any linked question is not from meta, 
//then check to see if it has close votes or is closed.

if(!linked_question.is_meta && linked_question.has_close_votes || linked_question.is_closed?)

    //cool we determined it's not a meta question and it has close votes, now is 
    //the person who asked the meta question the person that asked the 
    //linked question? No ok great notify them

    if (asker.user != linked_question.asker.user)

(Well not super simple, but still.... still seems like the above could be accomplished fairly easily, from what I have seen of SE's already constructed question queries).

  • 4
    1) people don't always ask about their own question; it's actually reasonably common to ask about someone else's. In fact notifying the user about the creation of a meta question is only useful if they weren't the one who created the meta question. 2) not all meta questions are about closed questions, sometimes it's asking why a question isn't closed, or why it has close votes but isn't yet closed, asking about edits to the question, or any number of other things.
    – Servy
    Feb 18, 2013 at 18:34

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