I asked if there was an SE site where I could ask driving questions, and I was told in a comment that someone tried to start an Area 51 proposal called "On the road", which covered what I wanted, but it failed.

I can't find any such proposal through search, so I assume it's been deleted.

I'd like to see this proposal to see if any lessons can be learned about what went wrong, and if/how a similar proposal could maybe succeed in future.

Is this possible? If not, could we make it possible? For example:

  • Keep a minimal amount of data on deleted proposals. Content of discussions with vote scores (but no data on who voted), stats on the numbers of followers (but not data on who followed), sample questions which got 5+ votes (without comments or data on who voted), etc.
  • Hide deleted proposals in searches unless a "Show deleted proposals" box is ticked
  • Links to deleted proposals don't just show as dead links, they have a page saying something like:

This proposal was deleted on [date], after [X] days of inactivity. Only a minimal amount of data on this proposal has been kept.

[Show me anyway] _ [Find similar proposals]"

  • Most likely not possible since SE does not keep the contents of deleted proposals, as far as I know. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 11:51
  • 1
    Worth to mention that any proposal that made it into private beta is a different story - even if the private beta fails and closed, hence proposal is also closed, the contents are preserved. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


I am marking this for the simple reason that we are more likely to consider such functionality for a next generation product than to add it to the waning Area 51 process.

In principle, I agree with you; there should be a more transparent way to know where a proposal went. But there are currently 148 active proposals out of 7,144 proposals made over the years, so simply leaving 98% of the listings closed was not practical. We considered creating a "graveyard" of closed proposals, but that was wrought with problems of its own.

The problem with making "closed proposals" part of the process is that Area 51 was built with a Q&A mindset… a mindset for a community who was already accustomed to not allowing duplicate questions. Area 51 was actually forked off the Q&A code base where (internally) proposals are posted as questions and the example questions are stored as answers. The UI is familiar to that format, so when a question proposal was asked again, users were more likely to say "We already tried that; it was closed" than to hear the idea out.

Area 51 is a vetting of ideas, and ideas have their day to be heard. Just because a proposal didn't have an audience one day was not cause to close it for all time. Circumstances change; audiences change, and one day's failure is another day's success story.

Like you said, ideally folks would be able to study what went wrong with prior proposals to see how they might better succeeded the next time around. But the concept of rebooting a proposal wasn't designed into the early process… so the most expedient way to "make room" for new (and renewed) ideas was to simply wipe the slate clean and give everyone a fresh start.

I know that's not ideal — it is certainly a fixable problem — but the decree and resources to fix this oversight is just not on our current road map at this time.

  • 1
    Wow, I don't envy the developers maintaining that spaghetti. Do you have any rough idea when the next-gen Area 51 might become a thing? I notice it was announced in 2012 so it looks like the process is taking longer than the standard 6-8 weeks...? Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:49
  • 1
    @user568458 There is a more-updated post here: What's going on with Area 51? Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:50
  • Great, thanks. If Area 51 is built on a bastardised SO and proposals are questions... does this mean that high-rep Area 51 users can see deleted questions AKA proposals? Could I politely ask one to screen-grab me a deleted proposal, or point me towards an archive.org link? Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:51
  • @user568458 I don't actually know how far back that functionality goes (seeing deleted posts... Area 51 does not get updated with new changes to the Q&A code base), but I will cut-paste a copy of that proposal and send it to you. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:56
  • Awesome, thanks! Can you please post it as an answer on my other question, Where to ask driving questions? Has a site including driving questions ever been attempted? Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:58

You must log in to answer this question.

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