I found this question a few days ago and was a little curious about whether it should have a historical lock or just be closed in the usual fashion.


It is currently "protected", but it doesn't have a historical notice. I'm thinking it would be considered wildly off-topic and/or primarily opinion based by today's standards.

Should it be closed or should a historical lock be added?

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    Or maybe deleted? – devnull Feb 26 '14 at 14:04
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    The historic lock message starts out with "This question exists because it has historical significance". Can it be argued that this question has significance? I'm not so sure. It doesn't really seem to add much to the site IMO. – Geobits Feb 26 '14 at 14:08
  • @Geobits, while it has some significance, the most important factor is that is helps people search for it find the dupe. Stack Exchange has a policy of not deleting dupes. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:14
  • @LanceRoberts Thanks for the quick edit – apaul Feb 26 '14 at 14:19
  • @apaul34208, sure, in the future it'd probably be best not to bring up these kind of questions on Meta, since the rogue deletionists are always looking for questions to kill. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:21
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    @LanceRoberts If these questions aren't brought to Meta, dissenting opinions might not be heard. While I'm not sure if I agree with your position, I think the discussion is worth having. – apaul Feb 26 '14 at 14:29

Thanks for bringing that up.

I've deleted it because reasons:

If there were a possibility of useful content being deleted, I wouldn't delete the question. In this case, there really isn't. If you want an example of a question that has useful content (and is a duplicate, yay!), how about this one:

Is Mathematics necessary for programming?

I could conceivably delete all the answers on the question I deleted and merge the two questions, but that's a lot of work for little gain.

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    That was completely wrong to do George. At the least you should have let the community delete it. It's immoral for moderators to do that unilaterally in a way that the community can't reverse. You could have just locked it. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:10
  • Shouldn't it have been closed as a duplicate of the deleted duplicate's duplicate? stackoverflow.com/questions/157354/… – Jeroen Vannevel Feb 26 '14 at 14:11
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    @Lance So if there's two bad questions, they're worth keeping around? No... – Doorknob Feb 26 '14 at 14:16
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    @LanceRoberts Locking a question is an action that the community can't reverse either. There's nothing immoral about an elected moderator using their mod powers to clean up the site. It's what we're here for. This is a duplicate of a deleted question. Nothing of value is lost in deleting it too. – Bill the Lizard Feb 26 '14 at 14:17
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    @BilltheLizard: but the deleted question in its turn is a duplicate of a locked question. This means that this question is a duplicate of the locked question. In the end, doesn't this mean that the deleted question should've just been locked/merged? – Jeroen Vannevel Feb 26 '14 at 14:19
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    @apaul34208 We don't normally take this sort of action if the action can be seen as controversial. In this case, I can't find any reason for this question to still exist. That's rare for me. – George Stocker Feb 26 '14 at 14:29
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    Your authoritative question has 9 delete votes already... (edit: 10 seconds later just been deleted). – ben is uǝq backwards Feb 26 '14 at 14:30
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    @LanceRoberts There is no global policy that duplicate questions should never be deleted. Rather there is a policy that some duplicates have value when kept around, and some don't, so they should be evaluated more carefully when considering deletion. They shouldn't be deleted if they are likely to be a window into the canonical question. Not all duplicates end up being such windows. Those that don't serve to effectively direct traffic to the canonical question, nor have valuable content themselves, can most certainly be deleted. That is in no way contrary to policy. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 14:32
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    Ah, there is nothing so dangerous to a question as being mentioned on meta – Richard Tingle Feb 26 '14 at 14:34
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    Are you really undeleting and reopening any old crap just to make a point @LanceRoberts? Just because it didn't follow what you consider to be the proper process? Or do you really think that post is of great lasting value? – Bart Feb 26 '14 at 14:37
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    By putting a mod delete vote in @George your stopping people from having their say... does it matter if it yo-yos? If you think it does wouldn't it be better to lock it rather than stop people from expressing their opinion and create yet another meta-storm about an off-topic question that while somewhat interesting isn't really worth that much. – ben is uǝq backwards Feb 26 '14 at 14:39
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    @RichardTingle I'd be willing to lock it while a discussion about whether it should be kept around is on meta -- but the only way for that to happen is for some (moderator/group) to take an action that generates that discussion. Pre-emptively undeleting it and locking it for historical reasons would be out of bounds since it doesn't clearly warrant a historical lock (even though it's more valuable than the other questions we've talked about, it doesn't have indispensible information in it that would warrant a historical lock). – George Stocker Feb 26 '14 at 14:39
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    @LanceRoberts That's exactly what I was discussing. Some duplicates end up being more effective search targets than their canonical versions, and thus keeping them around can provide value. Not all duplicate questions do this though. Many duplicates are quite a bit less searchable than their canonical questions, use similar terms, etc. Over time this can even be measured objectively by looking at the numbers of views that it has referred. If a question isn't effectively directing traffic, it doesn't have that type of value. On top of that, if the canonical is deleted, what's the point? – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 14:40
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    "We have an authoritative question ..." Not any more, the deletionists got to it. How about putting a historical lock on it? Especially if you're going to use it as support for deleting the other. And since it's about to turn into a deletion war. – Kevin Feb 26 '14 at 15:25
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    @Kevin If it successfully gets undeleted by the community, and it looks like it's going to yo-yo back and forth, we'll talk about it. Right now it doesn't look like it has the support to be even undeleted, let alone considered for Historical locking. Not to mention that even as 'popular' as that question is (which isn't really popular compared to questions that qualify for historical locks), I can't point to any indispensible information in that question that would warrant a historical lock. It's one of those things that would need to be fleshed out by the community on meta. – George Stocker Feb 26 '14 at 15:27

This question is a perfect magnet for chatty and primarily opinion based answers. The fact that question is protected doesn't have anything to do with closing or locking, it's simply a barrier set to prevent new users to add their 2 cents.

It should be closed because it gives a bad example for new users.


It was just deleted by George Stocker innapropriately and unilaterally. It was a historical question that should have just been locked, and/or only deleted by community consensus. Stack Exchange also has a policy of not deleting duplicates, re-iterated many times over the years.

One of the worst activities going on by mods on Stack Overflow is unilateral deletion that the community cannot do anything about. Please be careful when voting for mods to make sure they understand the ethics of their position.

  • And how is the community supposed to delete a locked question? I agree with George, and if you disagree, comment on his post, but don't post a non-answer. He even provided a very convincing list of reasons for us. -1 – Doorknob Feb 26 '14 at 14:12
  • @Doorknob, I realize you don't understand the issue here, but I've edited my answer to address that. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:13
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    Regardless, this is a reply to George's answer, not the question above. Please don't post non-answers as answers. – Doorknob Feb 26 '14 at 14:15
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    @Doorknob, no, it's an answer, you may want to re-read it. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:16
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    -1 Mods aren't doctors and to apply 'ethics' on their position is silly. – Kermit Feb 26 '14 at 14:29
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    @FreshPrinceOfSO No, they're more like judges/arbiters, where ethics definitely apply. I don't fully agree with Lance here, but there's nothing wrong with talking about moderator ethics. – Geobits Feb 26 '14 at 14:32
  • @Geobits They're janitors and ethics have very little to do with their position. – Kermit Feb 26 '14 at 14:36
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    Locks are for posts of enormous value to the community, despite being questions that meet the criteria for closure, or possibly even deletion. This question is not of extremely high value. It is in fact of extremely low value. Locking it would be inappropriate. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 14:36
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    @FreshPrinceOfSO One can apply ethics to virtually anything and everything people do. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 14:36
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    This answer doesn't address why the question is of high value to community, or even to itself. It only uses the "it's old, it cannot be deleted" logic. – random Feb 26 '14 at 14:38
  • @random, no, I added the "dupe" policy logic. – Lance Roberts Feb 26 '14 at 14:56
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    @LanceRoberts What's your source on that? I would assert that there is no such policy that duplicates should never be deleted for any reason. That is clearly your mis-interpretation of the policy. And honestly, regardless of any previous sources, the community seems to have pretty clearly voiced right here in this meta question that they do not want to have such a policy, and that they clearly feel that it is appropriate to delete certain questions, even if they are closed as a duplicate. If it wasn't the policy before (which it was) then it is now. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 15:13
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    @LanceRoberts Those are referencing certain duplicates that have either successfully shown to be useful search targets for canonical questions, or that had valuable answers. This question is neither. If a duplicate question has valuable answers or it is successfully directing traffic to a duplicate question, then it has value and shouldn't be deleted. Neither applies here, so deletion is entirely justifiable. Yes, I've been around for a while, and I know enough to know that the policy is that valuable duplicates should be kept while dups that are not valuable should not be. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 15:45
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    From that last one's accepted answer "As far as I'm concerned, only off-topic or unintelligible questions should be deleted". Emphasis mine. And the former refers to "useful" content. I'm not so sure that there is all that much of value in the deleted post. So not all that valuable, and certainly off-topic. – Bart Feb 26 '14 at 15:45
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    @LanceRoberts Once again, no, it was not in violation of policy. Your personal policy, maybe, site policy, no. Next, it wasn't deleted before the duplicate it pointed to was. The duplicate it pointed to was deleted first. But it was closed as a duplicate of a question that was also closed as a duplicate. The duplicate of the duplicate was what was deleted later. – Servy Feb 26 '14 at 15:49

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