Yesterday a question of mine on EL&U, Is “shipping” today's equivalent of “matchmaking”? [duplicate], which had been closed as a duplicate, was deleted automatically by the system.

deleted by Community♦ 10 hours ago (RemoveDeadQuestions)

The weird thing is, the post had been edited because I wanted to reopen it. As no answers had been posted, no answers were at risk of invalidation. I decided to broaden the scope of the question and for the sake of clarity, the title was changed. I also clearly defined where the original post ended and where the new edit began. Unfortunately, the question wasn't reopened, and it earned a further downvote. The score currently stands at -1 (+3 and -4)

I was prepared to edit it further because I rather liked the question, and thought it deserved a second chance but now I have to wait for three users on EL&U to cast their votes to undelete it. Well that's never going to happen, mainly because no answers were posted and the (popularity) score is low.

The FAQ about deleted posts, states

  1. The system will automatically delete closed, unlocked questions with zero or negative score having no positively scored or accepted answers or pending reopen votes, that were closed for any reason other than duplicate nine or more days ago and haven't been edited in the past nine days.


It's been brought to my attention that the relevant FAQ entry that concerns my case is #9. The system is also known as the roomba

  1. The system will automatically delete negatively-scored, unlocked, and unanswered questions that are older than 30 days. (RemoveDeadQuestions)

First and foremost, my question was 14 months old. Second, it was closed during the entire period, so it would have been impossible for anyone to have posted an answer. Third, there is no mention above that these include closed or duplicate questions. I had always been under the impression that duplicate questions were exempt from deletion. I now know they're not, unless one or more answers have been posted or if the question has a positive score.

UPDATE (June 2019)
Just to make it clear I had read the FAQ quite carefully. It was not mentioned anywhere in the aforementioned FAQ that deletion also applied to duplicates. But soon after, #9 was revised on May 18, 2019

It now reads

  1. The system will automatically delete negatively-scored, unlocked, and unanswered questions (both open and closed, including as duplicates) that are older than 30 days. (RemoveDeadQuestions)

To recap, about 14 months ago a post of mine was closed as a duplicate. Yesterday, I edited the question and about 12 hours later the question was automatically deleted by the system

Why did the deletion happen? In the past, I have had other questions closed as duplicates but they were (as far as I know) never deleted by the system.

I think this is a bug, am I right?

2nd UPDATE (June 2019)
For users who find themselves in the same predicament, members of EL&U kindly resurrected the shipwrecked question, it then received three answers, and it now has a positive score of +5. The question remains open to this day.

  • 5
    Possible duplicate of the official documentation of the automatic deletion scripts, Enable automatic deletion of old, unanswered, zero-score questions after a year?. Your question was deleted by the script that automatically deletes negatively-scored questions, closed or not, once they're 30 days old, not the 9-day closed script you cite. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:16
  • 4
    Your edits probably bumped it, which in turn caused one or more users to downvote it and thus it fell victim to that criterion. Your best bet is to ask for the undelete votes on meta and explain that you've edited the question so it's not a duplicate. (Do note that it only requires two; you can be one of the undelete-voters.) Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:19
  • Also, for what it's worth, I proposed changing that criterion to only function for -3 or lower-score questions. You could say I strategically posted it as an answer to prevent it from being automatically deleted, and based on the current score, it seems to be working. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:23
  • 1
    You must have picked up two extra downvotes since last sunday: data.stackexchange.com/english/query/1053124 which made it eligible for the 30-day roomba. It doesn't and never mattered that a post is a duplicate for those roomba rules. Editing a post doesn't reset the timer either.
    – rene
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:27
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I don't think you have understood my dilemma. The question was not abandoned, it had been edited, and it was not closed for being off-topic. I wanted to broaden the original scope, not change it completely. It is also impossible for it to receive any answer if it's closed. The question was closed within hours of being posted, and I was one of the close voters, perhaps I should have stuck it out longer but I thought it was futile. Yesterday, I saw a way for it to be reopened. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:35
  • 2
    I did understand. Number 7 is not at play here, but number 9 is. The specific thing that caused a question to be auto-deleted is given there, and it states RemoveDeadQuestions in your case. If you look at the post I linked, you'll see that that code refers to the 30-day script, not the closed-after-9-days one, which is RemoveAbandonedClosed. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:42
  • @rene the question got a downvote on 14 May, the post had not been bumped. It was then I thought about reopening it. The post was edited on 17, and it received another downvote. Well, I'm not terribly upset about the DVs, even though they're inexplicable, I'm upset that the question was deleted so soon after. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:42
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog so, if it had been reopened (reopening a closed post on EL&U in less than 12 hours is virtually impossible) but then received another downvote, the question would still have been deleted? I don't think so. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:45
  • 2
    Yes, it still would have. (Copy and paste the word in parentheses in your question's deletion notice into the Find bar on the FAQ you linked, and you'll see that number 9 applied in your case.) Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:47
  • Also, I'll suggest circumstances in which a question closed as duplicate might very well get deleted by users on the respective site. (They do not apply to your duplicate post, but apply often enough, so I thought it worth mentioning.) Occasionally a question is of very poor quality, may ask merely to "Solve [the following integral]!" Very likely a much better post exists concerning asking about that very same integral (better because it shows effort, their own work, clarifies their confusion, etc.). Technically, the first question could be by definition, closed as a dupe.
    – amWhy
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:03
  • But another, more revealing close-reasons may exist, like "off-topic/lacks context" in this case. However, sometimes users feel safe closing as a dupe, and if three or more users chose "dupe", there may be a consensus among users to delete the duplicate question because it is poor in quality.
    – amWhy
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:06
  • 1
    While I can understand your frustration, the FAQ, the question/answer you now link, and the Roomba page, all are listing multiple separate reasons for deletion. In the case of the question you link and the Roomba page, each reason for deletion has separate criteria that must be met. However, your confusion, specifically about duplicate questions being/not being deleted, is something that I've seen with other people too. So, I'd say that those three pages should be edited to make it clearer that the reasons (and criteria) are separate.
    – Makyen
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:14
  • 1
    tl;dr your case was just a few edge cases coming together to bite...but that's exactly what meta and moderators are for. Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:53
  • The post is bumped because I added the term roomba, I'm not asking for it to be reopened. Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


Yes, duplicate questions can be deleted. It seems you're confused by different points in the FAQ about deletion. You say your post was deleted with the reason of:

deleted by Community♦ 10 hours ago (RemoveDeadQuestions)

RemoveDeadQuestions is mentioned in the FAQ as being used for deleted questions meeting the criteria under point 9:

  1. The system will automatically delete negatively-scored, unlocked, and unanswered questions that are older than 30 days. (RemoveDeadQuestions)

If it would have been deleted because of meeting the criteria of point 7, which you quote in your question, the message would have been included the reason RemoveAbandonedClosed. That's not what happened here though.

You edited your question, and it gained a negative score. It's still unlocked, unanswered, and also older than 30 days. The system, when deleting posts meeting the criteria of point 9, doesn't look whether a question is closed or open, it only looks if they're older than 30 days, negatively scoring, unlocked and unanswered.

  • But it was closed for being a duplicate, the reason for that closure still persists. It was not reopened. And how can I hope to get it reopened if the system deletes the post after only 12 hours? It's not logical, and it's not fair, moreover the question earned 3 upvotes and 4 downvotes. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:52
  • @Mari-LouA Raise the matter on meta, explaining your edits and asking for undelete votes. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:56
  • 1
    I see duplicate questions on Meta that have a score of -20, does that mean they will be deleted? Probably not because there's always someone ready to post an answer in order to get easy rep, even though it's clear the question is a duplicate. Whereas I think my recently edited question is broader and more useful to the EL&U community now. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:56
  • @Mari-LouA It's also worth noting that that specific deletion script runs once a week every Saturday, so the day of the week was not in your favor. If your question gets undeleted right now, it will have another week to gain votes before it's deleted again. Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:57
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Regarding your first comment, that's... a different question, perhaps even a request to change the system/script to take into account recent activity. I agree that this is a frustrating edge-case, where that last downvote pushed it over the edge of being deleted, while you were still working on it. Sadly, scripts are really bad at recognizing an attempt to improve a question, they just kinda run and see a question that they need to clean up. :(
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 10:58
  • I'm sorry but the question was bumped and edited just 22 hours ago, when a post has been edited doesn't that mean it's no longer abandoned? And it was closed as for being a duplicate before it was edited. Commented May 18, 2019 at 11:01
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA editing indeed means a post isn't abandoned. But the script that deleted your question does not look at recent activity. Nor does it consider whether a question is closed (for whatever reason) or not. There might be something to say for not deleting anything that has had a recent edit (as your case shows), and there's stuff to say against it too (mainly, too many insubstantial edits just to avoid deletions, for example). But that's a discussion that probably deserves it's own post :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 11:05
  • Let me get this straight, duplicate questions with either no answers or answers without a positive score that are inactive for 12 months or longer and have a negative score of -1 can be deleted by the system. I didn't read that in any FAQ. Commented May 18, 2019 at 11:08
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Yes, questions (that means all questions, open or closed for any reason even if that reason happens to be duplicate) that are 30+ days old, have a negative score, have no answers and aren't locked can be deleted by the system. This is mentioned in number 9 of the FAQ you linked in the system. The point you quoted was number 7, which wasn't applicable, but number 9 was. Commented May 18, 2019 at 11:11
  • @Tinkeringbell There might be a bug here, however. According to this the RemoveDeadQuestions criterion is only supposed to consider downvotes cast more than two days ago when calculating a post's score. Supposedly that didn't happen here. Can you please get a mod there to investigate? (edit: dev confirmed that it's not a bug, but that they misspoke.) Commented May 18, 2019 at 11:13

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