I notice a really worrying trend of some really popular questions being closed and eventually deleted. Some of them became legends already, like this one What is the worst real-world macros/pre-processor abuse you've ever come across? ? Yes, it does not fit the format ideally, but what is point of obeying the letter of the law to such extent that it becomes ridiculous? Ok, closing is fine if community leaders became so pedantic, but why go so far as to even delete it? At this point it looks like burning old pictures just because you don't like them.

Update: Summary

For now I heard only two clear arguments:

  1. Those questions pollute search results.
  2. Those questions don't play well with enforcing question and answer standards.

Both of that statements are easily verifiable and to my experience are just false.

  • Silent downvotes? Well, cool, what can I say.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:16
  • 1
    Voting on meta works slightly differently to the regular site. While they're still used to signify that questions or answers are low quality, they're also (and more frequently) used to express agreement or disagreement. Take a read of the FAQ. Mar 4, 2013 at 22:19
  • A number of meta questions already cover this ground. You've also hit on the big difference in meta: downvotes may mean we disagree with your premise.
    – user7116
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:20
  • see also: Is closing high-value posts harmful?
    – gnat
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:03

3 Answers 3


That question was deleted over 9 months ago, after sitting closed for about as long. It was one of the "Getting To Know You" questions that cropped up frequently during the first year of Stack Overflow's existence - it was fun for a while, but didn't really add much.

Eventually, keeping questions like that around just clutters up the site - they tend to get a lot of votes, get ranked highly in question lists and search results, and yet fail to answer any actual questions faced by anyone on the site.

  • 1
    There are not many such questions, so you can hardly say that they really pollute search results. I remember when they were there they never made a problem for me while searching.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:25
  • 6
    There aren't very many now - at one point in time, there were enough of them that finding an actual programming question in the list of top-voted questions was dicey. See: blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/01/the-trouble-with-popularity
    – Shog9
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:29
  • So what about popular questions that are still relevant? Take this one: 210k views, 350 upvotes, several useful answers, and today it was useful for me: stackoverflow.com/questions/120621/… - so what is not "constructive" about it?
    – SPRBRN
    May 3, 2014 at 20:41

They're not just "not ideal", they're in violation of site policies. They may (or may not) have been acceptable questions when they were originally asked, but being old and popular doesn't give them immunity from eventually being purged (nor should it).

It's difficult to point new users to the FAQ and enforce question and answer standards when we're knowingly allowing exceptions to stay around.

  • They represent a historical value, and just purging it really strange solution. I see another solution, add some banner saying "This question is here just because it was asked long ago. Since then guidelines changed, please read them here." Also are you sure that low qualities of new questions are because authors got inspired by this gold old questions? The most of low quality questions I see are more kind of "I could google it in 30 seconds", and not "How could I abuse precompiler". Statement that those questions are making enforcing standards is not backed up at all.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:23
  • 2
    We can certainly add that banner, remove it from search results and question lists, etc. - if the question offers something worth keeping around. Does it?
    – Shog9
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:30
  • @Shog9 I would call it perfect solution. I see that my opinion is in minority here, but when you destroy something I think minority opinion should be also considered. Here I see ultimate solution.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:33
  • 2
    @Andrey You've missed Shog's question. What value does the question add to the site that merits it being preserved with a historical lock banner?
    – user200500
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:34
  • @Shog9 I think that these questions pose a significant value. This is of course my very subjective opinion.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:34
  • So write up a request then @Andrey, describe why that question offered something worth keeping (albeit in the backroom away from children), and let folks vote on it. If others agree, we'll undelete and lock.
    – Shog9
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:35
  • @Asad what value? They were fun, interesting, even inspiring. I actually come across the fact that they are deleted because I wanted to send one story from one of answers to my friend.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:36
  • @Shog9 the question I really want to raise is that when you are destroying something, the vote should be of different manner, not 50% and more. I think in this kind of votes you need to have 70% for deletion.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:39
  • It took 10 votes to delete that question, @Andrey - would've only taken 5 to re-open. Not saying that should've happened, but... In 9 months it managed only two.
    – Shog9
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:42
  • @Shog9 I see that 6 people voted now to reopen it, and since it is out of index it is hard to discover it and vote.
    – Andrey
    Mar 4, 2013 at 22:45

While I can't look at that exact question since I'm not quite to 10k on SO yet, there is a problem with old questions that were fine when created being deleted. This is the appropriate venue to bring those questions up for review if you see that happen. If you can see the deleted question then flag it for moderator attention.

See this post for more information.

  • 1
    No, please don't flag it for moderator attention. Do go ahead and bring it up here for discussion. Mar 4, 2013 at 23:42
  • @BilltheLizard, what I'd really like to know is if the mods discuss these questions before they're deleted (or after if community deleted). Mar 4, 2013 at 23:44
  • 1
    We haven't spent a lot of time on these for the past year. Particularly if the community has made a decision on them, we tend to just leave them alone. Mar 4, 2013 at 23:50

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