I understand the reason to delete unclear or too broad questions. In short, it bases on the broken window theory, which states that minor forms of bad behavior encourage worse ones. A neighborhood with lots of graffiti and broken windows becomes one where robberies occur.

However, unlike off-topic or exact duplicate questions, unclear or too broad ones indicate that OPs are still struggle to learn, and may need a moment of insight to fix it. That moment needs a period of time for incubation, and it may take some months. By then, the questions may be already inaccessible from their profiles.

So while I don't disagree for deleting such questions, should we have a special treatment for them? As they don't invoke controversial (the very reason why deleted questions can only be seen in 60 days), I think it's safe to leave it accessible in future for the user to re-read it. I'm not arguing at its disappearance on the site.

See also: Emphasizing OP's lack of background when they ask unclear questions?

  • 8
    Immediate question deletion needs a -3 score and 3 users with delete vote privileges. Isn't that plenty of safeguarding against possible removing a potential pearl?
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 8:03
  • In this case, the question has 2 upvotes and is deleted by a mod
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:03
  • 4
    In that case you better post on their meta. A single incident doesn't warrant a change in overall policies across all sites.
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:07
  • No, but doesn't mod's action fairly represent the site's policies? And in this deletion policy, I think there is no difference in any site. Also, do you think that the answer of the first link should emphasize that only negative questions should be voted to be deleted?
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:21
  • 2
    I'm not going to discuss disputes on a single post where the debate is between a regular user and a moderator as I can't rule out I'm missing context and I'm not an SME on said site.
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:46
  • what is SME? Also, what do you think about leaving the trace of such questions so that the OPs can find them again? I don't argue about whether it should be visible in the site or not, and I think this is where the question is misunderstood.
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 12:25
  • SME = Subject Matter Expert
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 12:35
  • 1
    OP's can read their deleted posts, < 60 days old they can find the posts in their profile, if they have a link they can always visit it and when they have > 10K they can find their own deleted posts with the deleted:1 search option.
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 12:38
  • I know that already. What I'm proposing is to let them find their own unclear deleted posts older than 60 days, for the purpose of learning. The reason of limit the day to 60 days to get rid of controversial posts, which is not in this case.
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 12:42
  • 2
    There is enough time to learn IMHO. No need to extent that beyond what is already possible. I doubt that we will gain much more valuable content if those OP's that weren't able to improve their unclear posts in a timely fashion all of sudden turn into pearls when allowed to see them > 60 days. I think they gave much earlier.
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 12:48
  • wait, do you agree that unclear, off-topic or too-broad questions should almost always be deleted, regardless how many votes they have?
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 17:55
  • No, I don't think I have agreed on that anywhere.
    – rene
    Nov 15 '18 at 18:03
  • Because that's basically what the guideline for deleting closed questions says (the first link). If it explicitly says that only negative questions should be deleted, then I'm happy with this. Can you check that?
    – Ooker
    Nov 16 '18 at 2:41
  • 1
    Negatively scored questions will roomba (which is what I prefer). Delete votes should be used on those closed question that are only popular but not useful. With all votes, that is a judgement call, no matter how much guidance you throw at users.
    – rene
    Nov 16 '18 at 7:45

So while I don't disagree for deleting such questions, should we have a special treatment for them?

No, I don't believe that implementing this would be a good use of SE's resources. They should better be spend on other features.

  1. There is a possibility to see deleted questions for quite some time - linked to in your question.
  2. The question doesn't just manifest itself in an SE post, but is usually a problem the user thinks about and struggles with. It's enough that SE provides the opportunity to turn it into a suitable question, post it here and receive answers. No further involvement from SE necessary (like saving them the cognitive load of having to store the link somewhere, or even better - the text of the question).
  3. I'm not sure how often it happens that someone, months later, wants to re-read their old, deleted question. Far more people probably forget about it (or never come back). This might be a real edge case.
  4. If their first attempt at finding a solution resulted in a question so unclear or too broad to be deleted, revisiting it may not be of the great benefit to them and the community. What use would it have - remember the question that led to the post in the first place, to get inspiration (rather look at the ones not deleted)? Better start anew and with the knowledge of how to write a good question.

I don't believe that this would benefit many people. And if a moment of insight occurs, e. g. makes an unclear question clear or they suddenly know how to make a broad question more focused on the actual problem they have, and is sufficient, the easiest way is to write a new question. SE does a lot for its users, it doesn't need to do everything for us.

  • Many points I'm convinced here. Thanks. But can you elaborate point 1? Also, just for the record, I have a whole section in OneNote just to incubate Stack Exchange questions
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 17:48

I might tacitly agree on the matter of "unclear" questions, but only because "unclear" is a condition that is (usually) fixable. If the user's question is non-specific enough to be "unclear", or is just terribly worded, then they might be able to fix that.

But even then, it should not take months for a user to provide such clarification. Indeed, if it takes more than 48 hours (maximum), that shows a fairly high level of disinterest in fixing the question. And if the OP doesn't care about fixing the question... why should we leave it around?

We want good questions on the site. SE sites are not a storage vault for random stuff people post that might one day become better. They're supposed to be a searchable database of useful information. If the information isn't useful now, or won't become useful in the immediate future, best to get rid of it now.

If they come back with a better phrasing of the question, they can ask again.

After 60 days the only way for them to find is saving the link beforehand.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that a user should be able to find all of their deleted posts. Period. Providing that should solve that problem without leaving undeleted questions on the site.


SE sites are not tutorials, helpdesks or fora. If a users lacks or gains insight is irrelevant. A question is too broad or unclear depending only on the content of the question posted. The question does not become on topic just because the poster gains insight.

If a beginner posts a bad question, that question is deleted, and months later the poster gains enough knowledge to post a better question, they can at that point post a new better question.

In my experience, on SO, off topic questions posted by beginners are unsalvageable. No amount of editing will turn them into on topic questions. Deleting them quickly is the best thing to do.

  • 1
    sorry, I miss a point. I agree with its disappearance on the site. I just argue that the user should be available at any time when the OP wants to re-read it. After 60 days the only way for them to find is saving the link beforehand. This adds more cognitive load for them.
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:05
  • Also, as I said in the question, I'm not arguing on off-topic question.
    – Ooker
    Nov 15 '18 at 10:25

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