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How long are questions kept on the servers for?

Like, do they expire after 3 years or so?

I can't find this in the FAQ's, so the only other way I will know, is to ask here.

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    We don't hard delete questions. The deletes are soft.
    – Oded
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:22
  • How do you mean soft? Is it because they are inactive for a period of time?
    – Kevdog777
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:23
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    I mean we have a flag in the database saying "deleted". This is when a moderator or the community have deleted a post, and can be reversed.
    – Oded
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:24
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    @Kevdog777 - I added more detail on how all those soft deletions can happen to my answer, hope this helps! Apr 12, 2013 at 10:37
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    Out of historical curiosity: the first visible Question in Stack Overflow is number 4 from Jul 31 '08 at 21:42.
    – brasofilo
    Apr 12, 2013 at 13:22
  • @brasofilo wow, thanks. That is an old one. :)
    – Kevdog777
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:39

2 Answers 2

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Unless it was intentionally deleted, as long as we survive as a company, we'll serve all the knowledge you guys have contributed.

If anything happens to us, there's also a data dump we provide once a quarter so the knowledge can be hosted elsewhere.

Here's what "intentionally deleted" means, the ways a question can be removed from our sites:

  • By the community with enough votes
  • By a moderator
  • By a weekly job
    • Abandoned: (Not on metas) If it's over a year old with no upvotes (or less than 2 if the owner is gone), < 1.5 views a day, no answers and no comments.
    • Dead: Negatively scored, over a month old, and no answers.
  • Migration (later deleted): this just moves to another site (and redirects) so it's not really gone

Note that even these eventually deleted questions are likely hosted elsewhere as we get scraped on the HTML and API side by many, many people. Also, these are soft deletions and can be reversed if an error has occured...even the community voting can reverse most of these.

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If a question is valid and on topic for the site, the answer is lifetime.

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  • Ah great, thanks. What about closed / Duplicate questions that people are still finding useful?
    – Kevdog777
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:21
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    Mostly, if a closed question is off-topic/non-constructive/too-localized and it doesn't help future user, it get deleted by community/moderators. And mostly duplicate questions is not deleted, (but if a question is exact duplicate/not good written then it is also delete).
    – Himanshu
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:29

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