Update: Delete votes are now limited, see Should delete votes be limited like close votes?.

Should this question have been deleted?

Regardless of the actual content, it has:

  • 31 favorites
  • top answer has 84 upvotes
  • 6 answers with 10+ upvotes

Perhaps the original content could have been considered a duplicate (it was actually closed by a diamond mod with only one previous vote), but with that many upvotes there must be something of value in there.

Also, a very related question deleted at the same time by the same three users in the same order:

Deletion of highly rated questions has been discussed on meta in the past:

Even for less popular questions:

And finally, just recently (if you read this far, please vote for this):

Closed questions serve a definite purpose on the trilogy. But with the above behaviour, closing appears to be merely a first step toward certain destruction. I find it disturbing that a very small handful of users can affect the content of the site(s) in such a significant way.

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    I'm surprised those two were deleted--the answer by Eric Lippert to the second one was very, very good. – James McNellis May 24 '10 at 3:42
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    If nothing else the insane number of votes should keep the question online for all (not just 10k-ers) – Michael Haren May 24 '10 at 3:50
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    @Greg: Incidentally I had just submitted a similar post a couple of hours ago: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/50961/…. – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 3:51
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    Wasn't there a new superhero recently who promised all sorts of things about protecting the community? Why isn't he on this? He called himself The Laminator or something. – Pekka May 24 '10 at 18:27
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    The Exterminator? The Amalgamator? I can't remember. – mmyers May 24 '10 at 18:30
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    @mmyers The Inheritanceiator? Something to do with OOP. The Polymorphismiator? – Earlz May 24 '10 at 19:33
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    @mmyers and @Earlz - the question Greg mentions is about functional programming and you want an OOP superhero to come to the rescue? – user27414 May 24 '10 at 20:40
  • @Greg, you mean "Delete votes are now limited"? – YOU May 26 '10 at 2:58
  • @S.Mark: Yep, thanks. – Greg Hewgill May 26 '10 at 5:32
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    Here's another disturbing example of how @CasperOne single-handedly wiped out a four-year old question with hundreds of upvotes. – Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 6:40

11 Answers 11


There's no question that good content is being deleted more often lately. I still stand by my original judgment that Why do people think functional programming will catch on? is fundamentally the same question as Why functional languages?, but I'm willing to bend a little and allow that it's not an exact duplicate.

As has been stated elsewhere numerous times already, duplicates serve a purpose. They should certainly be closed, but in many cases they should not be deleted. Exact duplicates with answers should be merged. Near duplicates should be locked in a closed state to serve as search bait and a link to the original. Flag for moderator attention when you see questions like these that are deleted or in imminent danger of deletion.

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    Bill, this has been discussed elsewhere. I've stated that I'd be glad to follow some alternate process for duplicates - once someone can show me what the process is, and that the process works. Otherwise, I'll depend on my own judgement, and others can affect my judgement through comments. – John Saunders May 24 '10 at 19:31
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    @John: You've earned that right. I do think that questions closed as duplicates need a separate set of deletion criteria than all the other close reasons. – Bill the Lizard May 24 '10 at 19:42
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    +1. And I think we need a better process for requesting merges, and seeing that they get done. Right now, it just seems a waste of my time. Fix that, and I'll be glad to give special treatment to duplicates. – John Saunders May 25 '10 at 0:37

The question is a duplicate of at least two other questions.

It should be closed based on that fact.

Should it be deleted?


The question should be merged with the other duplicates so that we can at least retain the knowledge.

  • If you ignore the title, this question is actually not a duplicate. It is discussing a specific incident. Earlier this morning, I actually suggested that we should be doing this more often, just like the way we discuss tag merging. Why not do the same for posts that get deleted and we believe should be undeleted? – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 19:26
  • @Daniel Vassallo, I'm not talking about this question, I'm talking about the question that was deleted. – George Stocker May 24 '10 at 19:39
  • Oops. The links make it clear now... Anyway, good point. I agree. +1ed already. – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 19:50
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    Each time a question is opened, a different best answer floats to the top. – bobobobo May 24 '10 at 20:32

Use your deletion votes responsibly!

If the appropriateness of discussions on SO were as black and white as some of the answers here suggest, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

For God's sake, if a question has valuable content, just leave it!

StackOverflow is not your site. It is everyone's site. When you vote to delete a question, you are erasing content. You are choosing for the greater community what they can see and not see.

It's good that you have contributed enough quality to the site so that you now have the power to cast delete votes. The system (and the community) now trusts you. Be worthy of that trust.

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    it is everyone's site. And I'm part of "everyone". My delete vote is just as good as your "don't delete" vote. If you want to keep these questions, then vote to reopen, and leave comments saying why you think it should be reopened. I do read such comments, and I make sure to leave my own when I feel a question should be reopened. Most of the questions I vote to reopen come from the "Top delete vote" list. – John Saunders May 24 '10 at 19:29
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    @John: But why delete those in the first place? They link to the master questions, thus making it easier to find them and they might contain valuable information. – Georg Fritzsche May 24 '10 at 22:41
  • While I think your suggestion is the correct answer, I'm afraid it's becoming a bit utopian to be useful. As the Trilogy grows, the number of people with 10K powers grows, and they can not be managed or taught the desired 'SOFU ways' as easily as they could in the early days. I think the system has outgrown it's current rules around deleting. I know it's not perfect, but I believe my suggestion below (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/50967/…) or something else like it (or something totally different) has become necessary. – Dhaust May 25 '10 at 1:26
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    @JohnSaunders: your vote is as good as anyone else's, but the consequences of your actions are much more powerful. While you can simply choose not to look at a question, I have no choice but miss the valuable content entirely. – Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 5:58
... but with that many upvotes there must be something of value in there.

Sadly, not true. Joke questions get dozens of upvotes. Poll questions get dozens of upvotes. There is an army of muppets out there. The more inappropriately subjective and argumentative, the more they vote for it. They all love discussions and arguments. Some of them post insulting comments whenever someone characterizes a question as subjective and argumentative.

If we lose a few snippets of interesting text in the overall war against crap, it's sad, but it seems to me inevitable absent better tools or different direction from the management.

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    Tools exist: as @RobertHarvey suggested, keep the question closed. While polls and argumentative questions should perhaps be deleted, there are questions that generate useful content, such as this. If for some odd reason four years later (!) they're deemed off-topic, deleting them is as overkill of a measure as the penalties against Aaron Swartz were. – Dan Dascalescu Mar 26 '13 at 6:01

In the interest of full disclosure, I personally vote to delete quite a few off-topic, subjective, or open-ended discussion or poll questions. I generally leave duplicates alone (with a few exceptions, like an author double-posting). I stand by the votes I've made, since I feel they reduce clutter and needless redundancy and increase the signal to noise ratio.

Now to the issue of overzealous deletion...

One hypothesis as to why some users may vote to delete so much is to stave off the seemingly inevitable reopening of questions that clearly should stay closed. Here is one very recent example. I provided links in one of my comments to three questions covering the same topic. I voted to close as a duplicate, but it already had too many votes to close it as subjective (admittedly, I think it could be closed for either reason).

Now, people have reopened it. Maybe they voted to reopen because they disagree that it's subjective, or maybe because they want to save it from deletion. But it seems very clear that it is covering ground that has already been covered, and should stay closed as a duplicate or merged with another question.

There are also examples of extreme inclusionists who apparently believe that nothing should ever be closed, and no matter how off-topic or subjective a question is, they will vote to reopen. Some of these individuals are constantly beating closers over the head with the mantra that people should just put subjective in their ignored tag list (in my opinion, this is an inappropriate and nonsensical "solution" because it gives tacit acceptance to things that do not belong, thus feeding the growth of noise). The fact that many questions that should stay closed don't stay closed may drive some people to vote for deletion as a way to combat it.

The above examples illustrate a vicious cycle that may be occurring. Some wrongly vote to reopen in an effort to avoid deletion, while others wrongly vote to delete to avoid reopening. In my opinion, both groups (the inclusionists and the deletionists) are being a tad too overzealous, thus setting up a potential feedback loop with an unpleasant outcome.

  • +1 for a well-thought out answer. The example question you gave is a clear duplicate; I voted to close. – user102937 May 24 '10 at 23:01
  • @Robert, @gnovices: I voted to undelete that question, for the reasons I explained here. I'm OK with it being closed, but I admit that I fear it will be quickly deleted then. – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 23:22
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    I don't exactly disagree, but I wish you've be more precise in your definition of 'overzealous.' Aside from dups, which we all seem to agree should be merged, what you would cite for thing that should have stayed closed-but-not-deleted? – Rosinante May 25 '10 at 0:41
  • @Rosinante: Aside from primarily duplicates, there are a few other questions I would generally put in the should-stay-closed-but-probably-not-deleted list: 1) subjective or discussion-like questions that actually manage to garner a genuinely useful, original, or insightful answer(s), 2) the occasional (and I stress occasional) "fun" question, which should be closed and left alone once it amasses its hundreds of answers, 3) "legacy" questions from the primordial days of SO, which were asked when the content standards of the community were different than they are now. – gnostradamus May 25 '10 at 4:29
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    How did you vote to close twice for that question? – Gnome May 27 '10 at 2:48
  • @The Cat: Holy crap! I did vote twice! How did I do that? This may be related to some close vote bugs that have been showing up with greater frequency lately: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51307/…, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51325/… – gnostradamus May 27 '10 at 2:57

I think after a certain number of votes/views/answers a post should only be deletable by a diamond mod.

Is this "mob rule"? Well, having a group of elite users with elevated power to control information on SO is an elitist oligarchy. Limiting certain actions to only diamond mods - typically elected, mind you - is a little closer to democracy.

  • Moderators can lock anything they want, if they want to preserve it. – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 17:32
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    Those "elite" users are de facto elected. If that's not democratic enough for you, then consider that in a representative democracy, governors appoint delegates to do most of the real work, and those delegates are generally chosen based on their knowledge, skill, or past contributions. Sound familiar? – Aarobot May 24 '10 at 19:11
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    @Aarobot When you upvote someone you are voting on the quality of their question/answer. You are not voting to give them control of what information appears on SO, even though that is a side effect of the voting process. – user27414 May 24 '10 at 19:25
  • @Jon: As I said, if you're not satisfied with a literal meritocracy then consider it a form of delegation, from the "real" mods and site admins to the people they've decided to trust on the basis of their perceived knowledge and skill. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 13:45
  • @Aarobot - merit in programming is not merit in moderating. Delegation is fine, but with reduced authority. The core of the problem here is that a small group of people are imposing their views on a large group of people, whose will has been made clear. Voting to delete a post with a +85 score is an abuse of power. – user27414 May 25 '10 at 13:51
  • @Jon: Again with the question votes. Votes don't matter. The most inappropriate questions often get the most votes. Once again, question votes are a stronger indication of how easy or fun a question is than how well-written or useful it is. Most of these questions get an initial swarm of upvotes, views, and answers, but once the novelty wears off, people never read them again. I myself have favorited a few of those questions and never actually gone back. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 14:02
  • And @Jon, merit in programming may not be merit in moderating but that's no different from how an actual democratic government handles its delegation. They don't (usually) delegate health and environmental policies to other politicians, they delegate to doctors and scientists knowledgeable in those fields. They still have the final say, of course, just as Jeff and the diamond mods have the final say on SO, but for the most part, governing bodies let the delegates do their jobs without too much interference, as it should be. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 14:05
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    @Aarobot - it's the question votes, the answer votes, the number of answers, the number of views, and the number of favorites. In one way or another, all of these indicate to what extent the community finds a question useful/appropriate/entertaining/etc. I favor closing and even deleting questions for any number of reasons - to a point. Once a question has crossed a certain threshold of community acceptance, the community's view should outweigh that of us 10K users. – user27414 May 25 '10 at 14:07
  • To your second point about delegation: All good delegates will be experts in their field. Not all experts in a field will be good delegates. – user27414 May 25 '10 at 14:08
  • @Jon: All of those factors mean the same thing. When questions that are merely entertaining are prioritized over questions that are useful, it devalues Stack Overflow and its content; it takes attention away from real questions and thus takes away exactly what differentiates Stack Overflow - its competitive advantage, so to speak. We're already seeing complaints that it's hard to get more difficult/obscure questions answered, even in popular tags; don't you think that the preponderance of "entertaining" questions attracting massive views might have something to do with that? – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 14:13
  • Bikeshed questions tend to have a gravitational pull; it's a classic example of information cascade, with progressively-increasing answers/upvotes attracting even more of the same because "350 users can't be wrong!" The only situation in which I would consider these to be more than harmful distractions is if they are popular enough to be attracting new users to the trilogy; in that case, I agree that they should be left alone (but locked so that they don't keep getting bumped). – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 14:16
  • @Jon: And as for your point about "not all experts in a field will be good delegates" - not all elected representatives are any good either. Democracies are flawed systems, but they're the best we've got right now. Merit-based delegation is equally flawed but it is part of the system. If you have a better idea on how we can effectively moderate thousands of new questions per day, I'd love to hear it. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 14:18
  • @Aarobot - my idea to better moderate? Require diamond mod status to delete popular questions. I agree with your point about the problem of "350 users can't be wrong". CW is a partial solution for that, rep cap is another part. Not perfect, to be sure, but at least it prevents people from rising to the top ranks through nonsense posts. Attracting new users and keeping people satisfied with the site are also critical to SO's success. I think we have a pretty good mix of quality Q&A with fluff (noting that the fluff is quite minimal). – user27414 May 25 '10 at 14:23
  • As for "not all elected representatives are any good" - are you implying any are good? :) – user27414 May 25 '10 at 14:24
  • @Jon: Your idea pretty much ignores everything that's been discussed above. It's simply not a good idea, and rep gain is wholly irrelevant. The popularity of a question on Stack Overflow, and indeed any idea in general, is often inversely proportional to its actual usefulness. Jeff's already made his position clear on this issue; popularity and votes are one mitigating factor but the pivotal criteria is utility. The most experienced (high-rep) users can do a pretty decent job of measuring that. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 20:26

If you don't think the first one is a real duplicate, then vote to re-open it. I don't, and did.

If you think the second question is appropriate for the site, then vote to re-open it. Personally, I think it's a discussion question at best, and bordering on flame-bait. I voted to delete it.

There's a third option of course, for questions that, strictly-speaking aren't appropriate but which have managed to garner some good answers and are thus rightfully popular: ask a moderator to lock them. No more answering, no more deletion, existing value preserved.

Remember, closing has always been a "nomination for deletion". For a long, long time, deletion was relatively rare because only moderators and a tiny handful of users could do it... That is no longer the case. If you see a question closed that you don't want deleted, then do something about it, don't wait around for the delete votes to show up.

And if you're out-voted, and can't get a moderator to back you up, then suck it up and live with the community's decision.

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    It's too bad that your flamebait consideration overrode the fact that this question had an exceptional answer from Eric Lippert on it, with 80 upvotes. Your deletion vote could have caused valuable content to be lost. I voted for undeletion, and flagged the question so that a moderator can lock it open. – user102937 May 24 '10 at 18:11
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    @Robert: Eric has his own blog - if he really wants his words published, he'll have no trouble doing so. And FWIW: Mr. Lippert allows comments on his blog posts, but does not hesitate to delete those that are counter to the goals of his blog. That said, if you feel that this content absolutely must remain on SO, asking a moderator to lock it is the appropriate course of action: as I've already noted above, and in at least one answer to one of the previous iterations of this question... – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 18:39
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    Eric doesn't publish many things on his blog for reasons that are clearly stated on his blog, and the asking of the question on SO is his impetus to post here. I would think twice before discouraging people like Eric Lippert; if his posts continue to get deleted, why should he bother continuing to post on SO? – user102937 May 24 '10 at 18:48
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    @Robert: why should any of us? Let's all move to Reddit... – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 19:01
  • @Shog, get serious. That post by lippert must have taken more than 20 minutes to write. WHen you delete his work, you're throwing it back in his face. Its really quite rude. – bobobobo May 24 '10 at 20:37
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    @bobobobo: I didn't click the "tell lippert to stuff it" link on the answer, I clicked the "delete" link on the question (followed by the "flag for moderator attention" link...) And I've already explained my reasoning, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say here - frankly, I'm starting to get the impression (from both you and Robert) that you feel some users need special handling on SO due to their reputation off-site: if that's the case, then vote accordingly. As for me... I've watched hours of my own effort disappear in deleted posts, some of which I've voted to delete myself... – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 21:00
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    It is not sufficient to delete a question solely on the merits of the question. If answers were not deleted with the question, you could use that metric. But because answers are deleted with the question, you should consider both the questions and the answers when casting your delete vote. – user102937 May 24 '10 at 21:13
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    @Robert: hence the flag... – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 21:30

Number of Close/Delete votes needed should be a function of number of Upvotes/Answers/Favourites.

This would keep a balance between likers and dislikers. Prevents the situation where lots of people like a question and only a few are needed to vapourise it.

I'm sure there must be a downside to this idea, I just can't figure out what it is ; )

Update: Please see comments for the downsides pointed out by others.

Update #1: After reading Jeff's comments about 'mob rule' in this post, I should mention I feel the above idea should mitigate that problem. Because if you just say 'Over 400 upvotes means no deletion' you are favouring the upvoters. But by having the number of close/delete votes be a function of upvotes/answers/favs, you keep the same balance/ratio regardless of the questions popularity. Admittedly, I'm not exactly sure how this would play out with the 'Jon Skeet Facts' type extremes, but still worth a look I think.

Update #2: See Improved Question Merging SO blog post for info on how this was addressed.

  • I don't think such a drastic change to the mechanism is necessary. The close/delete process isn't particularly broken; It works most of the times... I think it simply needs some tweaking, mainly in the "undelete" region. – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 5:32
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    @Daniel It just seems that needing only three votes to delete/undelete is really prone to abuse or misuse. I think in the early days when 10Kers were not so common and most of them had paid some heavy dues and were a bit more sympathetic to the original S/OFU vision it worked well, but it seems different now. – Dhaust May 24 '10 at 5:47
  • @David: It could be prone, but I do not have any reason to believe that the deleters are abusing it at the moment. I simply think they have their own view of what should be removed, and they interpret the policy in a different way from other (sometimes). – Daniel Vassallo May 24 '10 at 12:20
  • There are two downsides to this. First, anyone is capable of answering/favoriting, and it only takes 15 reputation to upvote. Compare the 10k it requires to delete... if reputation is supposed to measure how much the system trusts a user with moderator ability, then why should that trust be overriden by mere volume? Those votes/answers/favorites can be from anyone, even people who don't know what properly belongs on the sites or not. Continued in the next comment... – Grace Note May 24 '10 at 17:44
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    Second, the comparison is off. While upvotes and favorites, on average, indicate a level of liking a certain post, close/delete votes don't necessarily indicate dislike. They indicate an opinion on whether the content belongs on the sites. I can like something very easily without it belonging on the sites, it's my free votes/favorites to waste, and there is a multitude of users who would have this power. You can imagine a function that would properly balance this difference, but it's significant enough that the actual calculated impact will probably not even be worth the system modification. – Grace Note May 24 '10 at 17:48
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    @ccomet: dead right. I love programming-related discussions! But SO isn't a discussion site, so I vote to close/delete them anyway. – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 17:51
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    @ccomet: It's too bad that some people apparently cannot distinguish between good content and bad content. The questions in this discussion clearly contain good content. And your comments about the amount of reputation required to upvote and delete are elitist in the extreme. The bar can be set very high, but once a question gets, say, 100 net combined upvotes on the questions and answers, it should be immune to deletion. – user102937 May 24 '10 at 18:23
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    @Robert Wouldn't elitism require that I be a part of that group? Reputation, according to the FAQ, is designed for the system (the mechanical system) to dole out privileges to those who reach certain levels. I'm not saying people below 10k shouldn't have a say, but something as low as 15 shouldn't have the ability to permanently override people who have 10k. And note that for a given question with N answers, any individual with at least 15 rep can give N+1 upvotes. – Grace Note May 24 '10 at 18:38
  • @ccomet: Which is why the bar would have to be set very high for upvote override. But such a mechanism should exist nevertheless. The question linked in this example are a prime example that the problem exists. When valuable content gets deleted, that's when I as a general member of the community (along with 99 other people who upvoted the questions and answers) should be able to put my foot down and say, "I'm sorry but I'm not going to allow this." – user102937 May 24 '10 at 18:43
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    @Robert We already have systems for preventing content from getting deleted. Vote for reopening, flag to have it locked, request for merging, @comment at the closer, and if all else fails post to Meta. We don't need to tie this mechanism to upvotes/answers/favorites because they aren't a measure of whether a post has valuable content. This is primarily because a post being valuable content shouldn't be system-measured. If you and 99 others want to keep something alive, make a stand and say your peace. But don't open the entire system up to unrestricted ability to keep any questions alive. – Grace Note May 24 '10 at 20:09
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    For what it's worth, this is now implemented. I suppose in a way this just means deleters need to rally more troops, just like the rest of the community will rally to defend their posts. Heartwarming in a strange way. Also, @Robert, stop blinking my envelope! – Grace Note May 25 '10 at 12:13

This question came up again and again and again.

I'm all for pruning, but deleting something people like is just stupid.

I find it disturbing that a very small handful of users can affect the content of the site(s) in such a significant way.

And how! In such a significantly destructive way! The very reason people come to this site is those questions that are upvoted. Deleting that content considers it rubbish and its completely backwards

  • Expose vote to not delete to all users of the site. "Anti-delete" votes. This will counter balance the small number of kids that sit there trying to delete the good stuff.

    Users below (whatever the rep threshold is) cannot vote to delete but they can counter a vote to delete. This is kind of like bringing a bit of democracy into this "small number of people rule-ism" (sorry I don't know what the proper name for it is).

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      Anti-delete == open. Can't delete open posts. And the group of users who can vote to re-open is already much larger than the group who can vote to delete. – Shog9 May 24 '10 at 18:36
    • I mean, if a closed post is "voted to be deleted" then people can see that, and can counter vote it. So if there's (1 vote to delete), other users can make that (-5 votes to delete) if its a popular question. Then it would take 10 angry-deletion-crazed-ponies-foaming-at-the-mouth to get the delete to go from that point. Or does a delete happen without a voting mechanism? Does it only take "1 vote" to delete a closed post? – bobobobo May 24 '10 at 18:56
    • It takes three votes to delete and three to undelete, currently. – mmyers May 24 '10 at 18:59
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      Excepting moderator intervention, it takes 3 votes to delete, and only after 2 days have passed. People have 2 days to freely contribute the 5 necessary votes to re-open it, requiring 5 new people to re-close it in order for it to be prepped for deletion after yet another 2 days. So that still allows for you to require 10 angry deletion crazed ponies. – Grace Note May 24 '10 at 19:00

    I vote to delete most discussion-type questions. I don't think it's enough to leave them closed - they set a bad example, regardless of how many Eric Lippert answers they attract.

    I have no interest in how many upvotes such questions receive, nor do I care who has answered them or how good the answers are. If you like them, then copy them to your blog or elsewhere.

    You get two days from the time the question is closed before I can cast one of the three votes necessary to delete it. During that time, you can add comments, or vote to reopen. I have even voted to reopen questions myself if the comments state why the question should stay open or not be deleted.

    Be careful what you ask for here. Do you really want "mob rule"?

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      I'd like to voice particular agreement for the irrelevance of the number of votes: with the size of the SO user base a discussion of bike shed coloring schemes will rapidly attract scores of participants and votes. That said, I think that Eric provided a closed-form, authoritative answer to the question: having read it the discussion was over as there were only quibbles left... – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 24 '10 at 8:41
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      @dmckee: This issue with discussions isn't whether or not they're over - the issue is the fact that they are discussions. Permitting even the best of discussions to remain open leaves the impression that discussions are "ok". – John Saunders May 24 '10 at 13:27
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      The "set a bad example" argument isn't compelling. If you adhere to this, you must sweep the entire website of all similar questions like the "favorite programmer jokes" question. This is why there is community input. – user102937 May 24 '10 at 18:20
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      I agree. High answer and upvote counts largely mean that the question is easy, not useful. I thought everybody knew this by now. The only reason they get so ridiculously high is that it's impossible to keep them closed now that every muppet with a hundred inane questions or a few one-line answers has 3k rep to show for it. If these questions can't even survive the hopelessly one-sided open/close war, they should be shown no mercy when they're up for deletion. Duplicates are the only exception and that's only if the original questions were halfway decent. – Aarobot May 24 '10 at 18:20
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      @Robert: the best we can do with those ancient monsters is to vote to delete. Every time i see one, I give my one vote to delete. I think we should brand such questions with a banner that says, "This question is receiving special dispensation. If you write a question like this, it will be closed and deleted". – John Saunders May 24 '10 at 19:25
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      It's ironic you warn of "mob rule" in an answer where you explain your reasons for your democratic vote to delete questions – Bob May 24 '10 at 20:10
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      @Tim This isn't just a Q&A site. If it were then dupes would be fine, and there'd be no "Community Wiki" option, there'd simply be people asking whatever they need to ask. This is really about building knowledge, and as such content is important. – Bob May 24 '10 at 20:14
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      @Bob: Community Wiki was never intended to circumvent the Q&A format, no matter how many greenhorn users keep writing "this should be community wiki." The CW flag simply means that the content is community-owned; the intended purpose is to allow (almost) anyone to edit it. The fact that you receive no rep is merely a side-effect of the abdicated ownership. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 13:51
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      @Aarobot I didn't say it exists to circumvent the format. I'm just saying the site is more than pure Q&A. The goal is gaining knowledge, and hence content is important. Deletion should be very much a last resort after careful consideration that there's no good information in the question or answers. – Bob May 25 '10 at 15:53
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      @Bob: I don't think you're the person to define what the site is about. Certainly, not on your own. It's not "about building knowledge". It's about using a particular format and a particular set of rules to produce a high quality, noise-free place to ask questions and get answers. Any of these "discussion" questions dilute that and bring the site closer to being a place to hang out. – John Saunders May 25 '10 at 19:30
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      @Bob - I'll echo everything that John said and add that you can't possibly expect the 10k "mods" to read every single answer in order to determine whether or not a lousy question should be kept alive. Nobody has the time to dig through the mud just to make sure that there's nothing of value buried under there. Community Wiki posts are editable by (almost) everyone; if you believe that a bad question should stay alive because it has good answers, then you take responsibility and edit the question to make it better/more objective/less vague. This is a team effort. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 20:36
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      @Aarobot @John See, for instance, meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/51097/…. Content is important to this site, and I did not pull this idea out of thin air. Jeff has said as much on several occasions. And with all due respect, if you don't have time to bother reading the answers then you shouldn't be deleting. Deletion is the highest responsibility a user can have so simple hand waving can't place the burden on people with editing powers. Besides, I don't have the rep to edit ;p – Bob May 25 '10 at 20:41
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      @Bob We're voting to delete questions on the basis of their quality and relevance. It's merely a side-effect that answers are deleted with them. And you do have the rep to edit Community Wiki questions; that's why they're Community Wiki, so anybody who wants to improve them is free to do so. If you so dearly want those questions to be kept, then help make them worth keeping. – Aarobot May 25 '10 at 21:03
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      @Aarobot Well I won't keep this going. Ultimately you're both right: it's not my call to make. Sorry for talking with that tone, but really I'm just offering my opinion on the subject and what I've taken from things Jeff has said. Good content is what makes StackOverflow special, and it's why things like Yahoo! Answers aren't as good. I believe questions hold valued content until proven otherwise. – Bob May 25 '10 at 21:19
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      @Bob: Bad questions, even those miraculously containing good content, need to go, or they will encourage more bad questions. It's broken windows. – John Saunders May 26 '10 at 13:00

    In some cases, it seems that popular questions are being deleted because they are off-topic, instead of being migrated to a more appropriate site. This question had more that 150 votes when it was deleted, and it could have been saved from deletion if it had been migrated to softwarerecs.

    This problem could possibly be mitigated if Stack Exchange users had an option to vote against a question's deletion, but this does not appear to be possible yet.

    • Every upvote increases the number of votes required to delete a question. Old questions cannot be migrated. A question with 150 upvotes indicates, an older question, or a new question that was upvoted due to being promoted by a Twitter feed. Anyone with flag permissions can flag for moderator attention and get a question migrated. So anyone of those 150+ users who upvoted could have done that. – Ramhound Oct 28 '18 at 7:07

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