You may remember this discussion from March: Can we nuke this “too localized” question?

The discussion was regarding a question concerned with the behaviour of an contrived unrealistic sample of Java code. Although the question was highly-voted and the top answer had earned a Great Answer badge, it was quite controversial. It was constantly receiving close, delete, reopen and undelete votes. Eventually Shog9 locked it for a week, so that voting could determine its fate after the initial wave of excitement had cooled down.

That discussion led to the undeletion of a similar question of mine. Though my question was much more negatively-voted than the original question, the top answer was almost as popular as the top answer to the other question: it had a score of +98 and was about to earn Daniel Fischer a Great Answer badge.

Unfortunately, Daniel won't get that badge and the community will not continue to express its opinion on my question because it was deleted by a moderator; it can no longer be voted on.

I flagged my question for reconsideration, but was rejected with this message:

declined - This question is too borderline to warrant blanket undeletion by a moderator; I suggest bringing it up on moderator and get support for undeleting it there.

The original question has been deleted and undeleted several times, and since Shog9's lock expired it has been undeleted and deleted once again, but it was never deleted by a moderator. Yet in the case of my question it was considered appropriate to block the community's votes with diamond-deletion.

My question already had two delete votes. I expected it to be deleted again, but I expected that deletion to come from the community and in that case it would most likely have occurred after Daniel's answer had passed the +100 threshold and earned the badge. I wasn't sure if the community would have seen fit to undelete it again but assumed that it would at least be possible.

Was my question so much worse than the other one that it was appropriate to subject it to vote-locking moderator deletion, instead of leaving it to the community?


I declined your flag.

The post was not really deleted just by a moderator -- it had 2 votes from the community to delete already. A moderator provided the third vote. Due to this question's score, it only required 3 votes to delete.

While it is true that because a moderator joined in the vote, it can't be summarily undeleted, it's not accurate to say the moderator's vote was 'binding', since 'binding' is usually taken to mean that it would have required more votes than the moderator would be able to provide if they were an ordinary user.

It's not as if the moderator was acting in a vacuum. The community overwhelming supported closure, both by the initial 5 members that voted to close, and the other 3 out of 5 that recommended it stay closed. It was fairly split in the initial flag for closure queue, but even that shows that another 3 community members wanted it closed.

The post had been closed, deleted, undeleted, reopened, closed, deleted, undeleted, and deleted again. It is the very definition of a contentious question that a moderator should step in on. In this case, animuson felt he should cast the third vote for deletion, and he did.

The community's opinion on this question (so far, given its actions), is at best confused.

We have no good alternatives. If we lock the question, there's no voting on it. If we undelete it, we're really just inviting it to continue to be a lightning rod.

I support him on this, but if there's overwhelming community support for undeletion (and it doesn't become contentious again), I'm willing to undelete it.

In general, a moderator's ability to delete or undelete content is very powerful. In this case, as I wrote when declining your flag, there's no clear cut consensus. Absent a really good reason to keep that content around, I don't think it's a moderator's place to summarily undelete content that has a lot of potential to cause even more problems when it's undeleted.

That having been said, it would be really nice to have an undelete review queue that even moderator-deleted posts get put in, so that the community can weigh in. It doesn't have to effect change itself, but if moderators get a note in the queue saying something like, "5 community members believe this content should be undeleted", that should sway their mindset.

Silly side note:

I meant meta where I wrote moderator:

This question is too borderline to warrant blanket undeletion by a moderator; I suggest bringing it up on meta and get support for undeleting it there.


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    If it matters, I cast my hand-waving vote for undelete. I obviously can't actually vote since it's mod-deleted. – Mysticial Jul 19 '13 at 2:05
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    I would be curious to know what @Shog9's opinion on this Q is, given his past comments about the over/mis-use of Too Localized. Absent the controversy, I would have interpreted his position as implying that this Q in no way should have been closed as Too Localized. So I'd love to know if I've just badly misunderstood him. – joran Jul 19 '13 at 2:07
  • @joran I don't know. I don't want it to get to the point where nothing is official unless an SE team member says it, because that takes away from the powers of the democratically elected moderators and puts it in the hands of SE inc. It also sets a bad precedent by undermining our authori-tay. That having been said, I'll ping him and see if he will post his thoughts. – George Stocker Jul 19 '13 at 2:11
  • Sorry, I shouldn't have singled out Shog9 like that, I'm curious in yours and animuson's opinions re:Too Localized in this instance as well. I only mentioned him because he happened to chide me personally about it once, that's all. – joran Jul 19 '13 at 2:15
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    It's kind of a crap question, @joran. Donno why Jeremy picked "too localized" to close it, but whatever - I'm just glad that close reason is off the table now and I don't have to try and guess at whether other people's problems will ever be useful to 3rd-parties. If you really want it undeleted, show your support by voting on Jeremy's question here and writing tasteful limericks that end in "animuson". – Shog9 Jul 19 '13 at 2:21
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    "if there's overwhelming community support for undeletion (and it doesn't become contentious again), I'm willing to undelete it." How do you/we determine this, since we cannot vote to undelete it? I agree with the semantics you're trying to establish about the moderator vote here, and I don't think there's anything wrong with moderators participating as regular community members. The only problem comes in, and this is the bottom line, that because he has a diamond after his name, the community cannot vote to undelete. – Cody Gray Jul 19 '13 at 5:44
  • @CodyGray If it's not clear, the entire reason I asked him to take his question to meta is that I knew he couldn't vote to undelete. The 'support' I speak of is in highly voted answers/his question here. I know you can't vote on it. This is no different than any other case for a user to get support for undeletion where a moderator deleted the post -- you come to meta, you get a lot of people to write in support and to vote in support, and you may get what you want. – George Stocker Jul 19 '13 at 12:05

This was actually brought up in our moderator chat room, so let me explain what my opinions were on it:

When the question was originally started clear back in November of 2012, it was closed and even deleted that very same day. Obviously the community did not see this question as a good fit for the site from the get-go, and I agree with them.

It remained deleted for a good three months.

At this point, you edited it, it got undeleted, and even got reopened, at which point Daniel posted his answer presumably after you started a bounty. Since you started a bounty, it couldn't be closed again. Shortly after the bounty notice was removed, the question was yet again closed (with you as one of the people voting to close it). Then it was deleted again about a week later.

Considering all of this, this question has been closed and out of view much longer than it has even been visible on the site. It really never was an acceptable question,and continuing to keep it around in a normal state will only cause further problems (George explains this very well so I'll keep my answer more condensed).

Now the idea of a "historical lock" has been mentioned, but my impression of a historical lock is for questions that were once on-topic long ago, which in the case of this question is not true considering it was closed the very first day it was even asked.

To be quite frank, I don't see the point in keeping around a -40 question that the community doesn't approve of just because someone posted a spectacular answer due to a bounty. Answers don't save questions. We've been nailing that into people's heads with this whole instant self-answer ability. Ask a good quality question to supplement your answer. I don't see a reason to make an exception because someone was close to getting a gold badge, which is the only real reason I've even seen from anyone as a complaint for why this should be undeleted.

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    The original revision 1 of the question was not a reasonable question, but the revision 2 that was undeleted is not much worse than the highly-voted What is the underscore actually doing in this Java code?. It was doomed to get pile-on downvotes because of the negative score it already had in the original revision (which was appropriately very downvoted). – Jeremy Banks Jul 19 '13 at 2:23
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    "It really never was an acceptable question" Justification required. You can't just throw this out there like it's a fact. I strongly disagree with this assertion. It looks fine to me. And I have pretty high standards, you know. – Cody Gray Jul 19 '13 at 5:45

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