Continuing from Modify the 'has 1 or 0 comments' requirement for 'RemoveAbandonedQuestions' script

Nah. The logic (fear) is that the comments contain the answer.
Catija ♦

So let's investigate. Would we lose anything important?

Question: What are some examples of questions which would be roomba-ed if it weren't for the 'has 1 or 0 comments' requirement, which have important answers in the comments?

I modified a a Data Explorer query, and went through many such questions for Stack Overflow. One thing is clear... answers-in-comments are quite hard to find. (Although I'm not a Stack Overflow expert.)

I've now checked at least 100 such questions (over various years), and closest I've found thus far:

I'm not even sure if these count at answers (which is probably why they're comments).


Theoretical Computer Science

3 Answers 3


If a community has not curated any valuable content from comments on a post to a point where it can be found in a question or answer within about a year of it being posted, then I think we should assume that its curation may never happen.

In that event, rather than continuing to hope that everything important has been wrung from a comment trail, and/or continuing to worry that it might not have been, then after a year without activity, I think we should assume that even if something "valuable" was lost, then the clean slate that the Roomba creates may provide opportunity for a new and more productive Q&A that is not strung out in a comment trail.

  • It looks like (a) most comments are [a year later] unimportant, and definitely not answers [varies from site to site], and (b) answers in comments on 0/1-score questions occur because the question and/or answer is poor. Nevertheless, there may be exceptions where we'd agree that "deleting those comments would be a real loss". I agree the "it can be re-asked and re-answered" logic applies (if anyone remains interested a year later), but it'd still be nice to have a concrete example. Feb 14, 2020 at 11:38
  • 3
    My focus is on the content of posts. My enthusiasm to mine comments for an occasional glimmer is non-existent.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 14, 2020 at 11:43
  • Comments and answers are not the only texts that might have value. The questions themselves have value (if not they should be downvoted), and removing questions of score 0 or higher often results in losing value. Feb 16, 2020 at 19:03
  • @FranckDernoncourt there’s no suggestion in my answer (or this Q&A) that upvoted questions should ever be Roomba-ed.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 16, 2020 at 19:11
  • @PolyGeo From my understanding, following your answer would result in the deletion of questions of score 0. Feb 16, 2020 at 19:18
  • Are you talking about nett 0? If so, then I should clarify that by upvoted I mean nett upvoted.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 16, 2020 at 20:04

At TeX.SE we answer in comments all the time. See Why do people answer in comments? for some (slightly outdated) background. There is more or less a policy of 'if the answer is a one-liner it can be a comment'. It may be questioned if this is a good idea or not, however fact is that a lot of solutions would get lost if all such questions are removed.

Examples from one year old questions:

February 13, 2019

February 12, 2019

This is just two days, there are hundreds of questions like this (and probably more than 'hundreds', it's difficult to guess but there are 14,481 unanswered questions at TeX.SE of which a significant amount is answered in comments).

  • 2
    If I read the question you link, as to the why of this habbit, nothing of value would be lost if these questions get deleted.
    – Luuklag
    Feb 14, 2020 at 15:45
  • It seems like it's best to ask to find out. So I did: If the 365-day roomba requirement 'has 1 or 0 comments' were dropped, would valuable contributions be lost? Feb 15, 2020 at 0:49
  • 1
    @Luuklag the questions themselves have value. Feb 15, 2020 at 3:34
  • 1
    if commenter didn't bother to vote question up it indeed seems low value (because as you wrote they gave answer, they must be in best position to evaluate question content)
    – gnat
    Feb 15, 2020 at 12:29
  • @gnat questions with an answer in comments are usually not very bad (i.e., they are not delete-worthy) but usually not very good either, therefore they don't get any upvotes (at TeX.SE, but I expect also on other sites).
    – Marijn
    Feb 15, 2020 at 12:44

To answer the core of your question:

So let's investigate. Would we lose anything important?

Yes, removing the "has 1 or 0 comments" criterion would result in losing many perfectly on-topic questions, thereby losing a lot of important content. Plenty of good questions have a score of 0, especially on Stack Exchange websites with low frequentation and for advanced questions (not to mention truly expert questions). I've had hundreds of my questions removed by the auto-deletion script, and the vast majority of them had a score of 0.

Here are some examples of questions that got automatically removed because they had a score of 0 (but which I later reposted):

  • 1
    perfectly on topic questions should be salvaged from roomba by voting up, not by randomly sprinkled comments
    – gnat
    Feb 15, 2020 at 12:26
  • 1
    @gnat As you can see in the examples I gave, in practice plenty of perfectly on-topic questions don't receive any vote. Do you want to remove these questions? Feb 15, 2020 at 18:43
  • Interesting that all your examples that have answers where answered less than a week after you asked them. Maybe the roomba was what actually was needed to give new life to the question. Remember, most questions that fall off /new|/active are never seen again, which is why the first hours are critical for the question to be answered.
    – Braiam
    Feb 10, 2021 at 20:25
  • @Braiam in that case questions should be bumped, not dumped Feb 10, 2021 at 20:26
  • Well, community do bump questions. Maybe you should propose that the criteria for bumping should be tweaked.
    – Braiam
    Feb 10, 2021 at 20:27
  • @Braiam I don't have any strong preference regarding bump. I do believe dumping is highly disrespectful and should only be reserved for garbage. Feb 10, 2021 at 20:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .