This question has total score 2931 including answers at the moment.

By the 20 : 1 ratio, it needs 146 delete votes (+3 base votes, total 149 votes) to get deleted.

But there are only 11 at the moment, and to reach 149 delete votes, I suspect it's quite impossible.

  • 4
    Does it need to be deleted?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:13
  • 7
    Yes. Absolutely it needs to be deleted. Otherwise more people are going to point to it and say "It exists! So my (also irrelevant) question should also exist!"
    – devinb
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:17
  • Then convince 135 other people to vote to delete
    – matt b
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:26
  • 3
    Or one diamond mod. The original discussion on this subject included remarks from Jeff to the effect that a mod job was to recognize a load of muppet votes and 'do the right thing'.
    – Rosinante
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:45
  • @devinb: I think there are more irrelevant questions on SO. Are we going to have these kind of requests for all of those? Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:49
  • If one diamond moderator can do the job, flag the question.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:49
  • 5
    One diamond mod shouldn't be able to speak as 146 10k users.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 13:45
  • 1
    It looks impossible, but you've got my vote regardless. Let's see if we can rally enough support to get rid of it!
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 13:56
  • 1
    @devinb: We've got a lot of old questions that wouldn't survive nowadays but have been popular, and I've been seeing a lot of them get locked. I think that's a good compromise. Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 14:34
  • @David: indeed. @the rest: (playing devil's advocate here) I don't see why this question really has to be deleted... It drives quite some trafic to the site, people enjoy it, and if you really don't want to see it, filter the subjective and/or discussion tag.
    – fretje
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 14:40
  • 3
    @fretje: The subjective tag is not a free pass for posting garbage. There are legitimate subjective technical questions (not free-for-all discussions/polls) that we don't want to filter. It's even been proposed that the tag be zapped, because it's become completely meaningless. As for the discussion tag, that tag shouldn't exist at all on a Q&A site.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 15:43
  • @David: Yes, locking is a reasonable compromise to reduce the noise from that specific question, and I still think that questions should be auto-locked after 100 answers, since nobody reads those answers anyway. In any case, what locking doesn't do is deter copycat questions; until there's some way to tell new users, "This question has been grandfathered, the amnesty does not apply to new questions", I think they need to be deleted so that people don't get the wrong idea. Once an official disclaimer has been added, they can be undeleted (but remain locked).
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 15:48
  • 4
    If it does get wiped out, the "delete by" list will be amusing... Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 17:00
  • 1
    @Aarobot: I don't think that's a problem. If people see an open question, they think it's OK to post another one like it. If they see a closed or locked question, that's a signal that it isn't really OK, and that a similar question is likely to be closed or locked. In other words, I think locking works as the disclaimer. Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 18:29
  • 1
    @David: It's not working for the "hidden features" questions. Nor do I see why it should be; locking is often done to prevent deletion, and that doesn't tell onlookers that similar questions are discouraged.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 19:05

3 Answers 3


This is just another example of how popularity is not equivalent to usefulness. Who doesn't want to vent about their job, right? But on the other hand... who cares?

I believe that the team caught a glimpse of this behaviour on Area 51; before they limited both the questions and votes, everybody was firing off dozens of questions and picking up dozens of votes. And the team considered that to be a bad situation. It was emphasizing talking over listening, which is exactly how most people instinctively behave. And it's the way people behave in subjective, open-ended questions on Stack Overflow; it's simply a game, the goal being to find the most popular answer, like a particularly bad episode of Family Feud.

In this question, and most other open-ended questions, the question and answers are insanely upvoted because an upvote doesn't actually mean "This is a great question/answer", it simply means, "I agree". It's OK for people to vote that way on meta, since this is kind of used as a "discussion" area, but do we want that voting pattern on Stack Overflow or the other trilogy sites?

I'll reiterate what I've said in the past: Votes on subjective questions need to be viewed and treated differently from votes on technical questions. If a technical question or answer has 50 upvotes, then you can be damn sure it's important. If a discussion or poll question has 50 upvotes, it just means that 50 people were entertained for 5 seconds.

If we are going to continue with this ill-conceived delete-protection system, I think the system itself needs to be limited. If more than 20 (maybe 25) 10k+ users have voted to delete a question, it probably doesn't belong on the site. Thus, I'd say that 25 delete votes should be the maximum, after which point it doesn't matter how many more upvotes a question gets.

  • I was entertained by this for 5.12 seconds.
    – detly
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 17:32
  • 1
    Unfortunately, there is no good way to distinguish between technical and non-technical. I've observed that my opinions about exactly what to close on SO differ slightly from other people whom I generally agree with. Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 18:30
  • @David: While I freely admit that there's a large gray area, I'm sure you and most people would agree that some questions are way over in "soft" territory, and that this is definitely one of them. That doesn't automatically make them bad questions, but it does mean that upvotes have to be taken with a grain of salt.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 19:04
  • @Aarobot: Right. However, I was unclear on what I meant. How do we sort technical and soft questions? I don't think we want to go through and vote on them, and there's no mechanical way to do it. Commented Jun 21, 2010 at 14:42
  • @David: If you mean how do we mechanistically sort them, then the obvious answer is, we don't. The point is that as long as people are already making subjective judgments on questions based on popularity ("150 users can't be wrong, must be a great question!") that those same people need to take a step back and admit that yes, that number looks very large compared to what most questions get, but that's only because most questions are specific and technical and therefore have much fewer views. I'm not proposing a new system, just a more rational way of thinking.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 21, 2010 at 15:26
  • It's just unfortunate that the team has codified the faulty [votes = awesome] pattern of thinking; I still consider it totally unnecessary, unjustified, and potentially harmful, but at the very least, if they're going to keep it around then they can limit the damage by ignoring votes past a certain point (which only happen on bikeshed questions).
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 21, 2010 at 15:30

This question should be hard to delete. That is how the system works.

Since so many people enjoyed the content of this question, the barrier to remove that content should be higher.

The new rules are in place to keep content that other's deemed valuable around.

If a moderator disagrees with the community, they can delete the question, but I feel that would be a very unpopular decision, especially in the eyes of the people who have cast 2931 votes.

  • I think that the decision of whether or not to keep a question around should be based on its potential future value, not past value. On this type of question, a high number of upvotes does not tell you much about the former; it should be a little suspicious that a question voted up so high actually has more answers than upvotes. Would you want to read everybody and their brother's laundry list of work grievances? And even if you did, would that make you a better programmer?
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 14:40
  • @Aarobot. In the future, people may also want to read some of the answers that people have given. I think there is a fairly large chance because there has already been a large audience in the past.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 15:08
  • You reason that there will be a large audience in the future because there was a large audience in the past? I hope you don't use the same rationale for investment decisions.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 15:40
  • @Aarobot yes, I do think that.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 15:56
  • That post was fun, but (= fun useful) evaluates as F. People have, since the beginning of the site overloaded the meaning of votes, and it is much easier to be fun than to be useful, so many of the "best" questions on the site are crap whose sole virtue is being "fun". Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 16:51
  • @dmckee Surely you mean fun == useful evaluates to false?
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 17:00

Well, if you consider the fact that the question is CW, and there are 161 answers... that's about 5 and a half days worth of "free" downvotes you can use to try and knock the question's delete barrier a few notches. With 11 people, you can get 330 points off in the first day alone, plus whoever else rallies to your cause but doesn't have sufficient reputation to cast a delete vote - their downvotes are practically a delete vote by reducing the requirement.

It'll take a lot of people and a lot more time than usual, but it's still be fewer than 146 people voting to close. If the question is damaging, and the answers are what is keeping it alive, then it is all the more reason to use every resource you have available to this end. Downvotes mean "This is not useful", which is exactly what can be applied to that question and its answers.

Even if the downvotes weren't free, I'd still think that if something is harmful, then it'd be worth the cost to get rid of it.


The entire reason that the new delete rules were created was to prevent the deletion of questions where one or more answers were valuable. When the question is closed, the value of these answers is indicated by the number of upvotes, which tell the system "This answer is useful". Votes were basically given an additional meaning (as if they didn't have enough already...).

Consequently, downvotes tell the system "This answer is not useful", indicating that it isn't worth presence on the site. Naturally, only downvote answers that truly aren't useful. Treat this the same as you would any other closed question that has good and bad answers - downvote the ones that don't serve the community if it means helping the community.

Yes, people can counter your downvotes. But that is the public speaking against your idea that "These questions don't belong". They're saying, with the new meaning of upvotes, "These questions do belong". This makes the presence of votes in both directions a proper use of the system.

If you believe enough in a cause, fight for it with all of your might. That is all I'm saying. If you are worried about opposition, then why fight in the first place?

  • 1
    I am not sure downvoting all the answers is a good idea, how come if someone upvote all the answers on the other hand?
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 18, 2010 at 11:29

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