From the help center, auto-delete section (emphasis is mine):
If the question is more than 365 days old, and ...
- has a score of 0 or less, or a score of 1 and a deleted owner
- has no answers
- is not locked
- has view count <= the age of the question in days times 1.5
- has 1 or 0 comments
- isn't on a meta site
... it will be automatically deleted. These are termed "abandoned" questions (RemoveAbandonedQuestions).
I have been reading about the scripts for auto deletion of posts in SE, and reviewing borderline questions to those scripts. By borderline I mean, almost all criteria are met except one.
The 'comments' requirement caught my attention. For example, all assumptions above are true except the question has two or more comments which are as old as the Q (see questions from query 'b').
Wouldn't it be more in line with the Stack Exchange saying "comments are second-class citizens" to instead of setting the requirement based on amount/count of comments, to set it based on the date from the most recent comment (no matter how many comments)? The name of the script refers to 'abandoned questions' and a pile of old comments under an old question does not make it less abandoned, does it?
There are many questions being kept from auto-deletion due to the comment criterium, consequently hindering useful searches (see query 'a').
Data to support proposal:
Take a look at the following data retrieved from two queries in SEDE:
- a) Questions escaping from auto-deletion due to comments returning the list of questions not being deleted by the current comment criterium.
- b) Questions eligible for auto-deletion where comment rule is based on age (instead of n# of comments) returning the list of questions not being deleted based on age of comment (most recent comment older than 'n' months).
Table1. Number of questions to be deleted based on different scenarios for the comment rule in the
RemoveAbandonedQuestions script (first column is the baseline). Results from January, 2019:
total most recent comment n# of comments older than n months ------------------ ------------------- SE site**** < 2* 0** 12*** 6 0(**) ------------ ------------------ ------------------- Super User 0 24750(6.3%^) 24625 24733 24802 Ask Ubuntu 0 12530(4.0%) 12412 12560 12602 Server Fault 0 7905(2.9%) 7839 7899 7922 GIS 0 3137(2.9%) 3097 3128 3140 ------------ ------------------ -------------------
- ^ Proportion of questions to be deleted in relation to the total number of questions.
- * Number of comments < 2 is what is currently implemented (the baseline), i.e., no additional posts are deleted.
- ** Number of Qs to be deleted if the comment rule was deactivated (no comment threshold required). Data was retrieved from query
- *** Number of Qs to be deleted if date required from the most recent comment was older than 12 months. This was the maximum threshold for period of time used because it would not make sense requiring the comment to be older than the time threshold for the post itself (365 days). Data was retrieved from query
- (**) The number of questions here should have matched the second column from section 'total n# of comments', but they were pretty close.
- **** Unfortunately, the queries ran out memory for Stack Overflow and Mathematics.
If my queries are correct, it seems 'age of comments' are irrelevant to this matter, i.e., completely removing the comment rule would yield almost the same results than requiring the most recent comment to be at least 1 year old.
In other words, 'abandoned' questions which are currently being prevented from auto deletion due to the comment rule, also do have only 'abandoned' comments.
Meanwhile, if anyone is interested knowing about own comments preventing questions from auto-deletion, see this query and its description.
The following post is a near duplicate in Stack Overflow Meta: Time for roomba to ignore comments (credits to user