The Community user sometimes brings ashore questions that are obviously dead. Dead meaning

  • The user has deleted their account
  • The question is unanswerable without further information.

Questions like this have a likelihod of 0.00000% of ever turning into a useful resource. It usually doesn't take an expert in the field to determine that because the wording is obviously hazy, and/or the questions are riddled with "more info please" type comments.

Recent Example

Wouldn't it make sense to allow people to flag these questions as "dead wood"? And have moderators delete them after review? Or would this put too much strain on the moderators, or is it undesirable for some other reason?

Related: What happens to dead questions?

  • 3
    Just flag it for moderator attention with your reason. – ChrisF Mar 22 '10 at 16:53
  • The example should have been closed as "not a real question", IMHO. – nb69307 Mar 22 '10 at 16:55
  • 3
    @Neil true. But with the rate at which community bumped questions are disappearing from the front page again, there will never be enough close votes to clean it out. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 17:08
  • I meant when it was first asked. – nb69307 Mar 22 '10 at 17:09
  • @Neil true, I totally agree with you in that. But as we know, it often doesn't happen. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 17:45

Just to add to the chorus: flag this for moderator attention and indicate in a brief sentence what about it is deadwood to you. This is a totally normal and expected use of mod flags.


Aren't these tools already available to the close-voting community? Vote to close as "too localized", then after a couple of days vote to delete. Or, as @ChrisF points out in the comments, flag for moderator attention.

  • I wouldn't want to flag for moderator attention if I don't know its okay to flag broken (and not just offensive) questions. Voting to close will hardly reach the goal, as questions bumped up by the community user hardly stay afloat long enough to gather five votes. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Pekka: "flag for mod attention" is meant to refer to the "flag and write a note" option, not the "flag as spam" or "flag as offensive" flags. (just clarifying; i think you know the difference.) – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 17:02
  • @quack I understand, but as I said in the other comment, I think people are hesitant to flag moderators in a case like this, unless told it is okay and encouraged to do so. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 17:06
  • @Pekka: ok, that's a fair point. – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 17:20
  • @pekka flag it for moderator attention – Jeff Atwood Mar 22 '10 at 21:23
  • @Jeff I will now that I know it's ok, but if that kind of hygiene is desired on a larger scale than just a few users, it would make sense to either mention it in the FAQ, or add a new flag reason IMO. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 21:46

Instead of adding two manual operations, why don't we ask Jeff to modify the Community User's bumping algorithm to exclude these questions (deleted user, extremely old, etc)?

  • 4
    Even an extremely old question from a deleted user could still be answered some day. It's only in combination with missing info that it gets totally useless, because only the OP can know what he meant. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 16:53
  • @pek, you may be right... I stand by my main point though, if this is a good idea, it should be automated, if it cannot be done, I'd recommend using the tools we already have (ie: flag for moderator attention) – juan Mar 22 '10 at 16:59
  • I see your point. What I'm asking for is essentially flagging for moderator attention, but with a specific, selectable reason. I think most people are wary of flagging moderators for "janitorial" work out of respect for their time. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 17:04
  • I could make a joke about moderators and respect, but I fear them... I FEAR THEM! – juan Mar 22 '10 at 17:05
  • ... or out of fear from repression and bullying. :) – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 20:35

Flag them for moderator attention.

Closing requires 5 people which could take too long (you should still vote to close it despite flagging!), and downvoting won't achieve anything. Sure, the Community user may not bump it anymore, but the goal is not to not bump anymore but instead to get rid of the question.

I think we have only relatively few questions like these, overcomplicating the UI for everyone doesn't make sense IMHO for such a rare case.


Downvote them, and have the Community user only bump questions with a >= -1 score.

After all, why would we want bad questions bumped?

  • 1
    Good and probably easy to implement idea, but wouldn't it be better to have them removed from the system altogether? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Mar 22 '10 at 20:34
  • @Pekka: is it would but that would require either 1) intervention from moderators 2) at least 5 people who vote to close, and that's unlikely to change. – Thomas Bonini Mar 22 '10 at 20:53

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