Here is a thing I see fairly often here on Meta.SE:

recent off-topic question with delete votes

The question isn't remotely on-topic and was rightly, and quickly, put on hold. Somebody left a comment (not shown) pointing out what Meta.SE is and steering the OP elsewhere. Sadly, users don't always sit on their questions in real time; sometimes they ask and then come back in a few hours.

If I were to cast that last delete vote, what the OP would see is "my question disappeared", with no further feedback unless the page is still open in a browser tab. The notification for the helpful comment gets removed with the post. I think only experienced SE users would find (a) the right profile tab and (b) the "show recent deleted posts" checkbox. and experienced SE users are not the ones I'm worried about.

How should we respond to these posts? Is there a reasonable amount of time to wait, and after that we should go ahead and delete it? If so, how long is reasonable? Should we just leave these and wait for the Roomba to get them? If so, then when should we be using delete votes on questions? Or should we not concern ourselves with the reactions of new, lost users and delete at will?

In the past I've gone ahead and cast those delete votes, but with the new "welcome wagon" initiative I'm not sure I should be.

  • 1
    The Roomba period for closed questions is a mere 9 days, which really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things... How many of these bad questions would pile up over a rolling 9 day window?
    – Kevin
    Jul 16 '18 at 1:20
  • Or should we not concern ourselves with the reactions of new, lost users and delete at will? - I will vote on this option, although I am admittedly not all that big on this new "welcome wagon" thing. Since there are quite a lot of these types of questions every day, I don't like the option of allowing them all to sit and litter the site.
    – n8te
    Jul 16 '18 at 1:21
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    related, very similar post
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jul 16 '18 at 1:23
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    @n8te: Note that it is really easy for new users to get lost and end up here. They just have to go to stackexchange.com and click the mysterious "meta" link at the top of the page... which then dumps them on the MSE front page with no explanation of where they are or what kinds of questions they should be asking. There is also a friendly "Visit Stack Exchange" button accessible in two clicks from every page served anywhere on the SE network, which gets them halfway to MSE.
    – Kevin
    Jul 16 '18 at 1:23
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    I don't ever randomly show up on a site and blindly post something without looking around for a minute first so I cannot understand that kind of mentality, but I can understand if you have more sympathy for that type of user. Personally, I don't. To each their own.
    – n8te
    Jul 16 '18 at 1:29
  • Of all the (I admit auto- ) comments I left on those posts I hardly ever get a response nor do I notice any action after I left all my guidance. If anything, the experience is unsatisfactory for me because after all our effort , meta discussions and what not, lost users still drive-by and after that will remain lost. We can't help people that can't or won't respond / react to anything you throw at them nor should we keep guessing what drives them.
    – rene
    Jul 16 '18 at 5:38
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    Removing those type of questions from the front-page, closing those questions as off-topic and deleting those questions as quickly as possible is the best service we can offer for the next lost visitor. Because if the next lost user sees a post similar to what they plan to ask they are more likely to follow. Holding back on your delete is not needed. Please use the moderation capabilities you're trusted with.
    – rene
    Jul 16 '18 at 5:45
  • I was running a survey, but was told to stop because they were going to make an officially-run survey. However, that never came to fruition. Jul 16 '18 at 6:05
  • I see I made an awful mistake there: Holding back on your delete is not needed I don't mean we should delete you. Instead read: Holding back on your delete VOTE is not needed. Sorry for that ...
    – rene
    Jul 16 '18 at 6:16
  • It gets mysterious at times... a couple of days back I saw someone asking a programming question on Meta SE, but they had the "Informed" badge.
    – user392547
    Jul 16 '18 at 6:33
  • @Chair I don't think it's mysterious considering people who are desperate for something could ignore anything that might hinder from getting the solution... you only need to scroll the page to the bottom to get the badge. Jul 16 '18 at 12:04
  • @SomewhatMemorableName Doesn't a certain amount of time need to elapse as well? Most new users who ask off-topic questions over on Physics SE don't have the badge, so I'm quite sure that while making their account, they just zoom through to the bottom of the tour page and hence don't get the badge.
    – user392547
    Jul 16 '18 at 12:44
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    @rene getting these questions off the front page is important, hence the downvotes (you'll see mine in the screenshot). Lacking any data or more than scant anecdotal evidence about what happens to these users/questions, I'm wondering specifically about hasty deletion. Jul 16 '18 at 12:45
  • @Chair no, it's almost instant when you reach the "badge" section. However, you can also ask a question without reading a tour. I just tried registering a new account after clicking the 'ask question' button. After confirming the email address, I got redirected straight away to 'ask question' page. I did get an inbox notification about "taking a quick tour", and after opening the tour and holding "page down" until the "badge" section, I got the badge in under 5 seconds. Jul 16 '18 at 12:54

We're doing the best with what we have. Quite frankly, there's no great way to deal with this. MSE's a bit of a tough site for folks unfamiliar with the way folks do things, but at the same time, this sort of meta-moderation helps keep the site clean.

I comment. I let folks know why. I rarely see the same faces posting an on-topic meta post. Once someone self-deleted and apologized, and I was surprised, and I hope the lad comes back with an on-topic question some day. At the end of the day, though, I'm not sure many of these users are actually aware that their posts are off-topic.

Admittedly, there's a semi-organized group of users helping with this on Tavern on the Meta, and we do try to get rid of these as soon as possible. Many of us comment (and occasionally cheer when a user realises the folly of their ways). The problem with waiting is... people forget, and dealing with stuff as they come in means they get handled at all.

I guess it's a matter of trying to balance between new user friendliness, what seems like obvious abuse (folks asking programming questions here to get around Stack Overflow bans), and keeping the place on-topic and useful.

Moderation here's a little spotty at times (sorry guys!) and the community's often stepped up to help deal with this. If we do flag, our CMs (busy as they are) or a dev who decides to help out, has to deal with it. It's significantly more efficient to just do it ourselves. If the folks who run/moderate the site have issues, it might be worth sounding out and letting folks know.

Personally, I'd like to see the new user template and see if it helps. To moderate after a user has already posted an off-topic question feels too late. I do believe that users can see their own, new-ish deleted question if they know where to look, but a new user might not. I'd have less sympathy for folks with SO accounts posting programming questions.

I'd also like some mechanism to let new folks know what this site is for - I proposed something like that for meta previously.

  • Also don't forget that many users end up following a link here and don't realize that they're on a different site, and post here. It's been shown in a micro-study run by ArtOfCode that users don't pay attention to the right sidebar when asking (and if they do and their question is made off-topic by those guidelines, they just think "they won't mind, right?"). This is much more likely to happen when the new responsive design gets rolled out network-wide, and especially since the new proposed design for SU makes it look too much like MSE. Jul 16 '18 at 6:13

Hold is for 5 days and deletion only after 48 hours, with a long list of exceptions.

Some sites are helpful about suggesting an appropriate site or means to improve the question to make it on topic, some are great about migrating (along with the answers) misplaced questions, and some leave the question up for a while after the comments before applying the hold.

Other sites can find five people to VTC before the person can get back with their coffee.

There's not really an evenhandedness - 'take it to XYZ' is said on occasion.

I suggested a solution for new users answers, a "Help Button" above the "Post Your Answer" button, new users questions likely will be dealt with by the "new question template", once it rolls out.

Some people do complain that they feel set upon, but usually not here, instead on a blog they create. Sometimes there's a slough of comments awaiting the OP's return between the other users, debating the post; and calling them an OP (one even asked why they were referred to as that, what is it).

I think if the question makes sense in some context a polite comment asking for clarification is a kind means to deal with some posts, if it's clear that it's not clear a comment is nicer than closing.

Only new user abuse and SPAM should be dealt with uncerimoniously.

Some need a tour of the help pages, and some need to score a few hundred on the interpersonal skills SE site. I remember running a new user drive on a beta site. A dozen people showed up (Rep 1), their introduction to the site could have gone better; many of them are teachers and post doctoral (now a couple of months later they have fairly high reputations). I'm glad they stuck it out, we're lucky to have them.

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    It's the quick deletions -- possible immediately after closure if the question is downvoted -- that I'm mainly concerned about. Off-topic questions should be put on hold, but should we be using those delete votes immediately, waiting for the Roomba, or something in between? Jul 16 '18 at 12:49
  • @MonicaCellio - I always thought there was a higher level of review for 'hammer close' and Close Vote Review Audits to make certain that people, even with a high Rep, made correct decisions. If someone has a high Rep isn't it "trust but verify"? - Shog9 put up a post about 'Turbocharging the Roomba' short version: be nice with 'good faith questions' and 'mean' to abuse/SPAM/random.
    – Rob
    Jul 16 '18 at 13:25
  • The quick deletions are mostly for clearly OT questions. There's usually a comment saying why. The problem with waiting 48 hours is well... People forget. Most of these posts are off the front page so... There's no audit - outside someone going 'hey, this shouldn't be closed'
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jul 19 '18 at 11:23
  • Here's an example, racking up downvotes, commented, and held - all before they can check out what's happening. This is the reception they received on their first visit to SE. It would have been more welcoming if they could have acted on the comment before the shunning.
    – Rob
    Jul 20 '18 at 6:06

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