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I just read a question, where the gist was a simple typo in the source. The first answerer found it and corrected it.

Now, this question should obviously be closed, because it's of no value to any other developer out there. But I hesitate to click the 'close' button.

  • For one, the querist had a real problem with his code, which could theoretically also be founded in deeper language intricacies. And he is a newbie still.

  • The other is, the helpful chap providing an answer already got upvotes. It seems unfair to rob them away, in a way. Of course, you can argument, that the answer does not qualify for SO reps, and you'd surely be right theoretically. Practically, it's also a kind of payment for your time solving the issue at hand. If there had been deeper language intricacies, the time researching the question would have been well-spent (reps-wise).

Therefore I'd like to propose:

  • Add a possibility to close those off-topic questions in a nicer way
  • Keep gained reps intact as far as possible (perhaps divide by factor 2 or so).
  • Communicate to the querist as clear and friendly/helpful as possible, that SO was glad to help, but the question will now vanish from search results and index pages,...
  • and what can be done, if the querist thinks, that this is not appropriate
8

We already have an appropriate close reason for such questions, under the off-topic branch:

This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the shortest program necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.

Closing a question doesn't revoke reputation from answers; the answerer gets to keep the reputation.

Only deleting the question would result in the answerer losing the reputation (as the answer will be deleted with the question). A question with an upvoted answer on it cannot easily be deleted; automatic deletion would only happen if the question was a) closed and b) had a zero or negative score and c) the answer has a score of 0 or lower.

See What is a "closed", “on hold”, or "duplicate" question? and How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?

  • By "A question with an upvoted answer on it cannot easily be deleted" you mean that it won't be deleted automatically? I wouldn't exactly call it hard to delete just because someone has to click the button manually. Also IMHO closing stuff that shouldn't be deleted doesn't make any sense, generally. – sth Mar 3 '14 at 12:04
  • @sth: Only a moderator could delete it with one click. Regular users could only vote to delete it. Automatic deletion is lined out in the linked FAQ; it won't happen for a post with upvoted answers unless the OP account is deleted (and then only for questions with a negative score). – Martijn Pieters Mar 3 '14 at 12:13
  • My point is that you call it "cannot easily be deleted" while actually it can be deleted as easily as anything else. Due to upvoted answers the post won't vanish automatically by itself, but that is it. And if the post is closed because it doesn't belong on the site then deleting it is surely that appropriate next step and will likely happen at some point. – sth Mar 3 '14 at 14:58
  • The terms are relative, I see no point in splitting hairs over wether voting to delete makes deletion easy. The point is that most closed posts do not get deleted automatically; I tried to make my answer concise. The OP seemed to assume that closing the post would be equal to deletion. – Martijn Pieters Mar 3 '14 at 15:00

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