A long time ago, I asked this question under my old account. It has a score of 0 (but for a long time had a score of 1 with a deleted owner), has no answers, is not locked, has a low view count, and has zero comments. It therefore meets the criteria for deletion according to this. But it's not deleted.

After doing further research, I found that the original change (by Jeff Atwood) to add one of the auto-deletion criteria explicitly excluded meta sites. It's not mentioned in the answer, neither is it mentioned in the help page, but according to the question such questions aren't automatically deleted on meta sites:

Every site in the network (except metas) will automatically delete old questions that meet this criteria from this point forward.

Why were meta sites exempted from this rule? Should they be exempt?

Also, if meta sites were excluded from parts of the criteria, specifically the part under which the above question meets it, why does the MSE help page say that such questions are indeed deleted, even if they're not?

Finally, does this apply only to the RemoveAbandonedQuestions criterion, or does it apply to any other criteria as well?

  • I suspect a bug, e.g. in the "or a score of 1 or less in case of deleted owner" part, it was probably never tested, and nobody never noticed it's not working. Dec 10, 2017 at 9:55
  • @ShadowWizard That script runs every week, and checks the current status, so if your comment is correct, the system should have deleted it shortly after someone downvoted it back to zero. Dec 10, 2017 at 9:56
  • hmm... true. So maybe it had comments which were deleted, and the script doesn't check if the comments are deleted or not? All in all, Roomba works here on MSE fine, tons of abandoned questions do get deleted, so there's something off here. (e.g. recent example - posted 15 days ago, 0 score +2/-2, one comment, no answers, deleted yesterday.) Dec 10, 2017 at 9:57
  • @ShadowWizard That was probably a RemoveAbandonedClosed question. I'm specifically referring to RemoveAbandonedQuestions. Edited the post to clarify. Dec 10, 2017 at 10:07
  • 1
    I can confirm that RemoveDeadQuestions runs on meta sites.
    – Mithical
    Dec 10, 2017 at 10:44
  • IIRC Shog9 mentioned something about recent activity to be taken into account as well. Maybe it needs to wait till Jan 7th for the last activity to be over 365 days (because I happened to have cast a down vote on Jan 7th of this year on that question).
    – rene
    Dec 10, 2017 at 11:57
  • @rene It should have been deleted in November 2014, since there was no activity then and it always had a score of 1 with deleted owner. Dec 10, 2017 at 12:05
  • yeah, that would match my expectation as well. I'm only adding possible causes and things I picked up in chat but never got confirmed. So a dev needs to clarify why this question gets dropped from the delete batch.
    – rene
    Dec 10, 2017 at 12:07
  • @rene I suspect Jeff's original implementation was to explicitly exclude meta questions from that criterion, as can be identified from the quote at the bottom of my question, and that no one has changed that. Dec 10, 2017 at 12:09
  • Well, MSE is not a site meta so even if that rule is still in place it shouldn't apply here. reason enough to have a dev confirm the logic of the query that is run.
    – rene
    Dec 10, 2017 at 12:12
  • @rene It's probably a holdover from the time when this site was MSO. That said, see edit. Dec 10, 2017 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


This only applies to the RemoveAbandonedQuestions check; all other automated question deletion routines documented on that page run on both main and meta sites.

I have no idea why meta sites were excluded, but if I had to guess I'd say it's because they don't particularly benefit from being included: the primary value of the Abandoned check is in getting old, unanswered questions out of search results where otherwise they'd just add to the ever-growing pile of noise; this is generally much less of an issue with meta sites, where arguably there's still value in having an obscure bug report from years back if the bug also still exists.

  • One could also argue that lots of downvotes on meta is an answer, of sorts... even if the question isn't actually answered.
    – Catija
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:02
  • 3
    The MSE help page should be edited to remove the paragraph about it. Dec 11, 2017 at 23:04
  • 1
    @Catija downvotes push questions to Roomba - I just checked. Negative score unanswered questions at meta are deleted by 30-days rule "RemoveDeadQuestions" (example - 10K link at SE.SE meta)
    – gnat
    Dec 12, 2017 at 6:53

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