I have a hard time verbalizing how shocked and horrified I am to learn that questions can be and actually are deleted.

The only reasonable use case I see is spam or very clear abuse.

But anything else should not be put to death.
At the age of 6, in my first school year, I learned:
"Every question has value."
"There are no bad questions."

I still consider this true to this day.

Deleting questions is so senseless.
Why delete information?
What seems unimportant to you might be important to someone else!
You can't objectively measure that.

That's what we have the voting system for.
Popular questions rise to the top automatically.
Very unpopular ones drop to the bottom.

I have been a passionate contributor until now,
but if I know that my questions can be deleted anytime,
(as well as my answers to deleted questions)
I don't see any point in contributing my work.
If I spend my time and it gets deleted, my work was completely in vain.
There are few things I despise more in this world than senselessness.
And creating something that is destroyed is the the ultimate senselessness.

I would recommend treating all work respectfully.
Preserve information.
This is like burning books.
Please stop that, this is horrible.
Thank you.

Questions are being deleted just for being inactive.
Or for seemingly no reason at all.

marked as duplicate by Sonic the Inclusive Hedgehog, gnat, Shog9 discussion Dec 6 at 22:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Bad questions which were asked in good faith exist. For example, there are several questions which are just huge lumps of misconceptions which would have been resolved with even the most basic Google search: these are terrible and don't deserve answers/attention. They're distractions which ruin the reputation of sites. – Chair Dec 6 at 7:13
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    Every question has value Sure, for someone. That someone is not always stack exchange. Closing and deleting questions that are noise, unuseful or poorly written or researched is one of the key tenents of why stack exchange is better then your usual littered through forum. – Magisch Dec 6 at 7:50
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    cross-site duplicate: Why was my question so quickly deleted by a moderator? "...We have no obligation to keep your question around if it doesn't meet our community's standards. That's how it works here. Next time, you should read a site's rules and standards before posting your question." – gnat Dec 6 at 8:30
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    Deleting questions is so senseless. Why delete information? if questions are homework type of questions, they are closed. If they are off-topic and do not attract any answers after weeks of lying dormant, no information is lost. And if the Qs are downvoted by the community it shows that they were not valued. Ironically, despite the DVs on your post, there are four answers which are valued, so your question on MSE does not run the risk of deletion. – Mari-Lou A Dec 6 at 11:04
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    Right from the start, your premise is incorrect. There are bad questions. That is not, and never has been, in doubt. – fbueckert Dec 6 at 14:17
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    +1 because I actually agree with the intention behind this. I think it's true that there aren't any bad questions. (Aside from things like spam, which are not real questions.) However, it's not true that there aren't badly phrased questions. For instance, if the phrasing of a question is so poor that nobody can understand it, and it is not corrected by the person who asked it, it's not serving any purpose. – Jason Bassford Dec 6 at 14:24

If I spend my time and it gets deleted, my work was completely in vain. There are few things I despise more in this world than senselessness. And creating something that is destroyed is the the ultimate senselessness.

I disagree with this pretty strongly. Authors are frequently advised to "kill their babies", getting rid of pet ideas, plots, characters, events, etc that they are too emotionally attached to to write properly. Software engineers know to "plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow." (Fred P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month)

What's worse than sinking time and effort and creativity into something that just gets deleted? Sinking time and effort and creativity into something that doesn't get deleted, but is still useless and now sits around being useless, dragging in more time, more effort, more creativity from anyone who tries to work with it, and distracting those who don't.

Stack Exchange practices the hard but necessary discipline of wiping out stuff that just isn't going to be worth keeping visible. Agonizing over all the wasted post composition is the sunk cost fallacy: the waste already happened, and the only decision to make is whether deleting it will prevent more waste.

So I believe deletion is crucial not just for blatantly abusive posts made in bad faith, but for posts that were made in good faith but just didn't turn out well enough.

  • 3
    I think yours is the best answer to this question. – PolyGeo Dec 6 at 10:23
  • On the other hand, I have seen more than one highly upvoted question with several upvoted answers being silently deleted. – Mari-Lou A Dec 6 at 21:03
  • Has happened on SO numerous times, due to highly popular questions also being highly offtopic sometimes. – Kevin B Dec 6 at 21:04
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    @Mari-LouA: Yes, but that's largely because upvotes aren't always a measure of quality; sometimes they are just a measure of cheap, empty-calorie fun. This has been recognized for a long time, and experienced, sober-minded high-rep users are expected to compensate when necessary, by closing, protecting, and, yes, sometimes deleting the clickbait. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 7 at 3:13

Not all questions can be deleted by regular users; generally speaking, only downvoted and closed (e.g. as off-topic or unclear) questions. It's generally done to avoid ; bad questions which aren't deleted still show up in search results (especially with narrow searches) and inspire other people to post similar bad questions.

You shouldn't think of it as burning books; rather, it's deciding not to make a 2nd print run (or even no print run at all after reading the manuscript). Or removing the book from a public library (to an archive) because it never gets borrowed; the owner of the question can still see it, as can 10K users. But they need to have a link, i.e. a special interest. Unlike real-world public libraries, ours is infinitely extendable, but having many bad books makes browsing the library a pain rather than pleasure.

  • 1
    Why, then, not have a separate "trash heap'" site where all the questions removed from regular sites can be archived for browsing by anyone interested/brave enough to wade through the wastes? – Robert Columbia Dec 6 at 13:27
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    We have one, it's called Quora :P – Glorfindel Dec 6 at 13:40

The reason that I am a passionate contributor (poster, voter, editor, commenter, etc) to Stack Exchange sites is because they do not promote the idea of asking any question any way you like.

I value the time of visitors to, and users of, these sites who are looking for instant answers to their questions. The best way that they can quickly recognize whether a question is what they are looking for, is if each question is written clearly, and the quickest way they can assess whether its answer is what they are after, is if that too is written clearly.

If Q&As do not appear to be useful, and the community has deemed that to be the case by downvoting them heavily, instead of expending their volunteered time to try and improve them, then I think their deletion is appropriate, so that the signal to noise ratio of Stack Exchange sites remains high, or gets higher.

If you want to help questions, that you think are useful, avoid being deleted, then I recommend that you upvote them.

Questions aren't really information in and of themselves in that questions on their own don't fulfil the remit of these sites, which is, in the words of Stack Overflow's most successful contributor:

...to create a repository of high-quality questions, and high-quality answers to those questions.

Questions with answers may contain information, however that's true only if the question and more importantly it's answers are useful to others.

If a question is so confused or broad that it can't be reasonably answered then we can wait for the poster to fix it for a while but if they don't ever do that what value does such a question have?

People use these sites to look for answers, I certainly do, so if a question doesn't have any, I know someone else is in the same boat as I am but I'm still stuck.

It's much harder here to delete questions that have answers, particularly questions that have useful answers (as measured by their voting score). The OP cannot delete them, you'll find that out if you try to delete this question now. You need to be a mod or have at least 10K rep and hope that other 10K rep users agree with you and also vote to delete. More non-mod deletion votes are required to delete higher scored posts.

Since deletion here is a soft deletion, the asker of a question is free to edit the question to try and overturn the question's deletion.

  • 1
    "Questions aren't really information in and of themselves" I disagree. Moreover a deleted question automatically has all its comments and answers deleted, too. – summerrain Dec 6 at 8:17
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    As I said at the end, it's much harder to delete questions that have answers. – Robert Longson Dec 6 at 8:18

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