I'm normally not one to suggest features conceived from summat other than mechanical or philosophical conflict, or something not coming from observed metrics (indeed I have no reason to believe we have an extant problem with deletion in betwixt 2 days and 5 days) but this here just feels... extremely unintuitive to me.

We offer 2 days after a question is closed before it is eligible for deletion by users with at least 10,000 reputation. This allows it to stay visible to all parties and allow saner discussion of the merits of a question - it is breathing room for editing and reopening. The main point of this is that not every closure is something that should be deleted, and so salvageable content should be repaired and reopened. Should the question fail to be patched up, though, it reaches the other inevitable end of closure, that of deletion.

We offer 5 days after a question is closed where the question is marked "on hold". This adds a mechanical quirk of putting it in review when edited during this period and also is more welcoming to users - it is an indication of the possibility for editing and reopening. The main point of this is that not every closure is something that should be deleted , and so salvageable content should be repaired and reopening. Should the question fail to be patched up, though, it reaches the other inevitable end of closure, that of deletion.

If the above weren't clear enough, I think it would be better if these time periods were identical. On hold is not a literal grace period, but in expression to users, especially the author of the question, it comes across as one. It's meant to be this sort of "It's not too late" time that indicates that you can, indeed, do something to stick around. And those things that it is indicating to the user that can be done, that's entirely what the actual no-delete grace period exists for.

Neither number is arbitrary in its design, however. 2 days was selected because it's a decent time to house discussion about a question, but it's short enough to help rout out krutz that has no place on the site. This is of more importance on the smaller sites that won't have enough 20,000 reputation users to clear these instantly. 5 days was selected because it's a lengthy period that feels very welcoming and gives a fair chance for a question's defense, but it's strict and settled that it comes to an end.

This comes to how it flows intuitively. On-hold is the visible of the two, due to being the one visible on the question to all people in big letters. The fact that a question can't be deleted within the first 48 hours is, in fact, invisible to anyone who lacks the privileges to vote for deletion and does not yet know this rule (which is documented, to give it credit). All in all it feels awkward that we have a period of time that exists to enable editing/reopening, and a period of time that exists to indicate that editing/reopening is a thing that can be done, and them being different periods of time is what feels awkward. As the on-hold period is the visible of the two, I suggest that the period be 5 days.

This still strikes me about from a weird direction, though, as there's no mechanical issue here or even an anecdotal tale of sorrow of some poor orphan's question being burned to dust, like her home once was, not but two days after she was informed that it was on hold. All the same, the complete lack of intuitive time matching between two concepts which are otherwise completely linked, seems like something that should be fixed. Do you agree?

  • 9
    If the question is still sitting at -3 after 48 hours, I don't think anyone will miss the question. I don't have any problem with them being consistent, but five days seems excessively long for anyone to bother waiting for. – Tim Stone Aug 6 '13 at 20:50
  • 1
    I think it makes sense to change the deletion time frame to match the recent changes to the Close system with the addition of the 5 days of being On Hold – Joe W Aug 6 '13 at 20:58
  • Nooo, I was so excited to get 10k but I then realized I could only delete questions after 2 days of closing! Please don't make us wait 3 more days just to delete; not being able to delete half the stuff that shows up in the 10k tools is bad enough :P – Doorknob Aug 7 '13 at 0:05

On principle, matching these up makes a lot more sense. Overall this is probably the best way to go. As a general pattern, deletion should be available at or just after the grace period given to the OP to fix it.

However I know from the trenches that sometimes questions come along that you just know need to go. There is no point in encouraging the OP to fix them or letting anybody hold out hope that things will get better. They just need to go. They are kruft that just messes the place up. Having a short-cycle way to get rid of these makes a lot of sense, and its' always nice when users get to do this stuff without dumping it on the mods.

This is, after all, a 10k priv we're talking about. Do those guys really need 5 days to figure out that some questions are never going to be viable?

In other words, I'm on the fence. Simplicity vs versatility.

  • 3
    Finally, thousands of years of being indecisive have paid off! Now I have a neighbor with whom I can be even more indecisive with! But in seriosity, your fence is my fence (hence neighbors). In a sense, the 20k privilege is also a short cycle but as I noted, not every site gets that in luxury quantities, so it may be dangerous to rely solely on it. I came into writing this leaning towards "Let's match them" but as I thought about it I ended up squarely on the fence. Our fence. – Grace Note Aug 6 '13 at 20:56
  • 5
    I'm assuming that this wouldn't affect questions with a score lower than -2, which don't have a time limit? If that's true, then I don't really see a problem with matching them. A truly terrible question with a terrible score can still be swiftly deleted. – animuson Aug 6 '13 at 22:14
  • 3
    @animuson That might be the key that makes all of this make sense. Match the onger time limit on anything that hasn't been heavily downvoted and scrap the time limit altogether for high rep folks if it's a ways in the negative. – Caleb Aug 6 '13 at 22:16
  • They still have a time limit at that low lest you have 20k reputation. Which, relative to hitting 10k reputation, is as far to go as the entire journey has been thus far. I don't know how I feel about reducing that threshold down to 10k, and making a separate 10k privilege for an even lower score than -2 just seems needlessly bleh and you'll then need X people to downvote and Y people to vote to delete something which is absolutely junk and thus it gets far more lifetime than it should. – Grace Note Aug 7 '13 at 12:25

Since there are good arguments both for and against extending the deletion prevention period, what about something that splits the difference?

Alter the deletion voting process to hold all non-moderator delete votes in abeyance until the on hold period expires. At that time, if there are sufficient votes to delete the question, do so.

This matches the no delete period with the on hold period, which simply makes a great deal of sense, as argued in the question and other answers. At the same time, it doesn't prevent trusted users from identifying and voting on questions which ought to be deleted, which is important to be able to do promptly. It avoids any sort of messy notifications requiring them to come back and vote later; delete votes remain fire and forget. Indeed, it opens up the possibility of shortening the no delete voting period, though whether that's appropriate is another discussion.

A strong argument against this idea is the (I presume) technical difficulty in implementing it to perform efficiently.

  • 1
    +1 I was just writing this, now I don't have to, yay! Let me vote whenever I want, and only use the votes after the waiting period has ended. The only thing I'd add would be that pending delete votes should be invisible while the question is within the grace period, to avoid pile ups. – yannis Aug 6 '13 at 21:38
  • 3
    @Yannis and Esoteric: I've thought of this too but always rejected it as too easy to game. How would you handle posts that got edited after you voted? It would be maddening for the OP to have their post deleted even after they made major renovations to it just because somebody voted earlier and their vote hadn't taken effect yet. On the other hand auto-invalidating delete votes on any edit would defeat the purpose. If you can propose this sort of mechanism that doesn't introduce these extra complexities, I'd be all for it. – Caleb Aug 6 '13 at 21:43
  • @Caleb Major renovations? Great, if the edits are any good, the question will be re-opened and all pending delete votes cleared. If, on the other hand, the edits were crap... – yannis Aug 6 '13 at 21:52
  • 1
    @Yannis So a great edit that completely renovates in a good way comes in late on day 4. Only 3 re-open votes come in before the 5 day mark hits. Bam it's deleted. Is the reset-delete-votes mark re-opening or just collecting one reopen vote? Any way you stack it this seems like a problematic system. – Caleb Aug 6 '13 at 22:11
  • @Caleb Add a day (or two) to the deletion delay per re-open vote. – yannis Aug 6 '13 at 22:26
  • @Caleb Good points. How about this: at the end of on hold, if a post has been edited and accrued enough votes to get deleted, discard the oldest vote until the number of votes is one less than the deletion threshold. Then automatically flag the post or put it in an appropriate queue for review. This way the potentially good edit isn't wasted, and neither are (most of) the delete votes. A post in this state is a borderline case, so it seems reasonable that only one delete vote should be needed. This could also be combined with or have its numbers modified by Yannis's suggestions. – Esoteric Screen Name Aug 7 '13 at 1:24

that would really suck if you posted a question on Friday, and came back on Monday to a Deleted question. I agree that it should be lengthened, 2 days is a short period of time compared to how old some questions are. some people might take the Friday example and say something like " you don't get on the internet over the weekend?" well if this was a frustrating thing for you and you use the SO sites as a last resort, hoping that someone will come along with just the right answer, or even give you some time to think about the question or a possible solution.

i do agree that there are questions out there, where the user needs to be slapped with the Faq book, or the Stack Rules, or how to form a relevant question, or better yet they need to be shown how Google works.

the question really is, is it going to hurt to have a bad question out there for 3 more days? or can we stomach it so that the silly half drunk person can sober up and rephrase the question?

  • 1
    I don't generally disagree here. And if something really needs to be deleted more quickly, mods can still do so. – Andrew Barber Aug 6 '13 at 20:57
  • people can see that the question is on hold, for whatever reason, so they know that it isn't a good question, but some of the answers that show up before it get's shut down might be what someone else is looking for, or even what the OP is looking for – Malachi Aug 6 '13 at 21:00
  • 1
    Well, I'm more talking about really bad questions, which don't quite rise to the level of spam or offensive. Things that are wildly off-topic, for instance; "Why won't my car start?" – Andrew Barber Aug 6 '13 at 21:01
  • you mean someone that does something like this, Link – Malachi Aug 6 '13 at 21:05
  • @Malachi Re: "but some of the answers that show up before it get's shut down might be what someone else is looking for". This is never what SE sites optimize for and is not a particular consideration in how to handle the question life cycle. – Caleb Aug 6 '13 at 21:05
  • I am saying give it a chance to be seen by the OP so they don't try to ask the same bad question if it is the answer they were looking for. I think that most of the time, someone doesn't know how to phrase what they are looking for into a proper question that is understandable to some people. – Malachi Aug 6 '13 at 21:08
  • 1
    @Malachi The OP will still see it, I believe they get a notification about deletes now and even if not, any comments will still be in their inbox when they login next and the link will take them to it. They are going to know their post got deleted, rarely is anything just spirited off without a trace. Besides the ones that get fast-track deleted aren't the ones where something was just worded wrong, they are the ones that shouldn't be asked at all in any form. – Caleb Aug 6 '13 at 21:10
  • 3
    If that's what the question really is, then the answer is "sometimes, yes - they do hurt". This can actually be a bigger deal on smaller sites where a closed question might hang around in the question lists or even front page of the site for a substantial length of time otherwise; sure, a sufficient number of offensive flags or even down-votes can mitigate this, but that seems a bit... cruel. – Shog9 Aug 6 '13 at 21:38
  • 1
    Things move at a different pace on Stack Overflow compared to the lower-traffic sites. On Stack Overflow, you would probably want to weed out the junk within a few hours, and there would be more eyeballs to help. – 200_success Nov 27 '13 at 22:53

I think the simplicity of having the "on hold" period and the deletion delay be identical is a very good argument to change this. They both have the same purpose and meaning, they are meant to indicate that a question can still be salvaged and they are meant to prevent a question from being deleted before it can be edited into shape. I think matching those two time frames makes a lot of sense.

That said, I tend to make heavy use of my moderator privileges in deleting questions whenever I see fit (especially on Skeptics) if I consider the questions to be impossible to reopen. I intentionally avoid doing this too early, but I might remove questions still inside the 5 day window.

I think the removal of questions should be tackled from the other side in any case. Removing very new questions is often not a good idea as they might be saved and reopened, immediate deletion is something that should be reserved for spam and the occasional WTF-completely-off-topic-how-did-that-guy-ever-think-of-posting-it-here question. But there should be a mechanism in place to remove old, closed questions. The more aggressive automatic deletions are a good start, but I still think that a review queue for this purpose might be useful.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .