11

Sometimes, really interesting questions surface that end up getting quickly and heavily downvoted and close-voted, simply because they were so poorly written, showed no evidence of research, etc. Then someone comes along, gives the entire thing a makeover and, while the original downvotes never quite go away, the question gets an entirely new lease of life (and in that specific case1 even made it to hot network questions).

But other times, these questions end up getting closed and deleted through the moderation process, or deleted by the owner before anyone has had a chance to salvage it, either out of shame and/or because they didn't know how to fix it and saw no other way out. Which is understandable — the damage had been done. Recently I witnessed a case of precisely this, and it was unfortunate because the question had come from a user with a history of asking poor questions, so it was entirely understandable they didn't know what to do.

I could vote to undelete the question, but the fact that it was so poorly written at the time of deletion makes it unlikely anyone else would want to save it. Editing it while deleted isn't going to make the downvotes go away, and those downvotes will only generate unnecessary commotion for as long as they aren't yet offset by upvotes ("why was such a good question downvoted so horribly?" "Because it was originally a horrible question" "why couldn't someone have just fixed it for the OP?" "I wanted to but then it got closed and deleted" and so on). And besides, I've been leaning towards just respecting the owners' decisions in such cases.

What if I repost it as new, would that be fine? I can acknowledge the original post, but I have no idea if I should refer to them by name or if I should leave their name out, and on top of that, I don't know if the community sees this information as noise. I can post the question as though none of this had happened, but I don't know if anyone who had seen the original question would give me hell for taking credit for someone else's ideas (obviously this would be a different set of people from those who would consider it noise).


1 If you notice, my answer to that question arrived very late. That's because I never saw the question at the time it was asked, precisely because it was already so heavily downvoted to the point of escaping my front page never to come back. I had answered a duplicate question instead, and I opted to merge both questions seeing as they were nearly word-for-word identical, and the existing answer to the original question basically says "I don't have much to go on but this is what it looks like" — I was one of the only users in any position to answer the question authoritatively.

  • Why the 10k-tools tag? – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Oct 5 '15 at 5:07
  • @Shadow Wizard: Heh, I knew someone was gonna ask, because I'm not too sure about it myself. I mentioned voting to undelete, which is why I included the tag - I'm not sure how relevant it is though. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 5 '15 at 5:08
  • Well, you're not discussing the undelete itself, plus 10k-tools only refers to this page afaik, not to the "moderator tools" privilege in general. :) – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Oct 5 '15 at 5:19
  • 1
    @Shadow Wizard: You have a point. I'm pretty sure the tag has always referred to the privilege in general though. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 5 '15 at 5:20
5

If you think that you really can improve the question to the point where it becomes viable (and perhaps even interesting), then I don't see a problem with re-posting an improved version.

The issue with "taking credit for the OP's ideas" is easily resolved by making it community wiki.

As for the OP perhaps being upset that you've reposted their question, I also don't see this as being a likely problem in most cases. Presumably, the OP is more interested in getting an answer to their question than they are about earning rep points from upvotes on it. The rep from upvotes ought to be a secondary concern...the OP just wants to get an answer to his/her question.

I don't see a need to bring up the OP or link to the original question, unless asked in the comments, in which case one could just reply in the comments...and even then, mentioning the OP by name and linking to the original question doesn't seem like it would be necessary in most cases. A reply along the lines of

This is an improved repost of a question that was earlier deleted.

seems sufficient.

Feel free to comment if there are any issues that I haven't addressed.

  • 3
    If the OP was that worried about gaining upvotes, they would have improved their own question before it was deleted. Similarly, they didn't post a good question; someone else did. Why should the good question not get its own points for its asker? – Andrew Leach Oct 5 '15 at 14:57
4

The general purpose of the sites is to make a Q/A knowledge base. I don't think we should restrict ourselves too much just because someone may disagree with our decision.

That said, how do we go around the question posted? Is it bad to undelete a question deleted by the user? First, it might cost OP reputation, but that isn't that important after all. The positive side is that a user with a LQ question is likely to post more of them, getting him closer to a question ban. A good edit might turn things around for that user, and all for nothing! How this is received is a matter of the user, and I don't think this should be done in all cases.

So is it okay to post a new question then? Again, we want to build knowledge right? If someone deleted his question, that is on him. We can't hold back every question since someone asked something similar in the past. Posts should be judged on its own, not because of past posts. People down-voting since it has been asked and deleted some time ago are wrong in my opinion.

If you feel bad about 'stealing' (which it isn't in my opinion!) someones question, make it a community wiki.

  • 1
    Great answer. The OP's reputation doesn't matter too much in the grand scheme of things - whether it saves them or screws them over is a separate issue. I'm more concerned with how likely it is for a question that's already been subjected to harsh voting to be salvaged, even with a good edit. The example I linked to may very well be a fringe case. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 5 '15 at 12:39

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