I was just looking through the recently deleted questions page, and I came across Music to listen to while coding.

Now, I don't think it was such a good question in the first place. Be that as it may, it collected 100+ votes, 100+ favorites, and nearly 9000 views, so clearly a large segment of the community approves of it.

Yet three people just deleted it yesterday.

Discussion questions:

  • Should it be so easy to delete such a popular question?
  • Should the number of required votes depend on the number of upvotes or something similar?
  • Should it even be possible to delete something with 100 upvotes?
  • Does it not matter because popular questions are likely to be undeleted?
  • Does it not matter because it didn't belong on the site in the first place, regardless of popularity?

Any thoughts?


Do we need to increase the required delete votes?

  • FWIW - that took something like a month to delete. Three people didn't just happen upon it yesterday and decide to make it go away... it hung around closed for a good while. – Shog9 Jul 22 '09 at 22:32
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    What mmyers is trying to say (to my uderstanding) is that 3 people shouldn't be able to close a question voted up by hundreds of people. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 1:37
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    @Gab: took 5 to close, 3 to delete. My point is, it sat closed - with two delete votes even - for the better part of a month, and no one stepped up to save it then. – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 2:25
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    How can you save a question that hasn't been deleted yet? Anyway, I see that it has since been undeleted by three people who hang out here on meta. – mmyers Jul 23 '09 at 4:30
  • @mmyers: re-open it... – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 4:33
  • @Shog9: Yeah, I should have waited until morning to comment. – mmyers Jul 23 '09 at 12:21
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    Not every closed question should be deleted. A question can be closed just so there's no more activity on it. If it's closed, it's still in the system to turn up in search results. If it gets deleted, that's just inviting someone to ask it again, bringing it back to the front page. – Bill the Lizard Jul 23 '09 at 15:54
  • @Bill the Lizard: Yes, I mentioned that aspect in my answer. – mmyers Jul 23 '09 at 16:12
  • @Bill: yeah - i'm especially reluctant to delete posts closed as Exact Duplicate for this reason, although if it's really an exact duplicate then i figure it doesn't matter. – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 17:15
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    Don't delete anything, unless its truly, truly spam. – bobobobo Aug 11 '09 at 23:15
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    I normally don't like highly voted questions being deleted, but there are always exceptions -- and the "music to listen to while coding" has no real redeeming value as a question IMO. I agree with that one being deleted. – Jeff Atwood Aug 19 '09 at 13:46
  • How can I lock from deletion this my question (stackoverflow.com/questions/2563045/…) so I could use it next April First? – Kirill V. Lyadvinsky Apr 8 '10 at 4:15
  • @jia3ep: It's already as deleted as it can be. Just keep a link to it somewhere safe until next April, so you can remember where it is. – mmyers Apr 8 '10 at 13:07

I tend to agree that there should be some kind of upvotes / vote needed to close regression. Many upvotes meaning that people think it is a good question and therefore shouldn't be closed (or not as easily)

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    Up votes do not strictly imply a good question or a question that belongs on SO. – RSolberg Jul 22 '09 at 22:27
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    Agreed, but it does mean that people want/like the question. SO is supposed to be community driven and therefore that's why I think the number of upvotes should influence the number of votes to close the question. (While still being able to delete it if it's totally irrelevant) – Gab Royer Jul 22 '09 at 22:31
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    'Thing is, folks love these questions as an opportunity to participate / blow off steam / whatever, and having a few of them are fine - they do help to build some small amount of community. But allowing them to persist forever ends up just creating clutter; i think "close as a probation period for deletion" works just fine for giving people an opportunity to salvage questions they're still interested in... – Shog9 Jul 22 '09 at 22:44
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    If you don't draw the line anywhere, in months time we'll have questions about favorite TV show to watch when sleeping to get ready to program... – RSolberg Jul 22 '09 at 22:44
  • @RSolberg: we don't have that yet?! Hang on... – Shog9 Jul 22 '09 at 22:44
  • @Shog9: And then you got the must have: What childhood memory makes you relish your first Hello World creation... – RSolberg Jul 22 '09 at 22:47
  • You misurderstand me Shog9, I'm not proposing to be able to let question remains forever, I'm just saying that question with more votes should be less likely to be deleted then question that are at -2 for example. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 1:27
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    @RSolberg - It's not about drawing a line or not, it is about the fact that question with more up votes are worth more in the eye of the community and thus, 3 people shouldn't be able to delete it. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 1:31

I like Jeff's idea of protected high-voted questions.

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  • 50 or 75. (Arbitrary round numbers) I have no idea. – jjnguy Jul 22 '09 at 22:35
  • I agree. What do you think would be a good threshold though? – Gab Royer Jul 22 '09 at 22:35
  • I tend to favor a regression though, not because it is my idea (I'm clearly not the only one with this in mind) but because it allows people who cannot vote to have a question closed or open to voice their opinion. – Gab Royer Jul 22 '09 at 22:36
  • Is their opinion important? – jjnguy Jul 22 '09 at 22:39
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    Well yes, it's not because you have over 10k rep that you can be a dictator, SO is community driven and everyone should be able to voice in their opinions. – Gab Royer Jul 22 '09 at 22:41
  • By that token, you might as well just make close/open available to all users... – Shog9 Jul 22 '09 at 22:46
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    Well not exaclty shog, you don't have to be black or white, members with less reputation should be able to voice their opinion, albeit having less weight then moderators. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 1:35
  • @Gab: well, they do - i mean, anyone with a few rep points can up-vote any post (which actually does prevent the easiest sort of deletion), anyone with 2K can vote to close or re-open, and anyone with 10K can vote to delete a closed question. – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 2:27
  • What do you mean by "prevent the easiest sort of deletion" ? – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 2:49
  • @gab Maybe being forgotten about... – jjnguy Jul 23 '09 at 2:52
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    Anyways, no need to argue, even if we arrived to a conclusions, I highly doubt it would change a thing. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 3:06
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    @Gab: if you up-vote an answer, the question's author can no longer delete his question... – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 3:19
  • Didn't know about that. Thanks. Although it doesn't really changes my point as it's not like people with less then 2k rep have a real impact on anything. – Gab Royer Jul 23 '09 at 3:42
  • Well, anyone can post a question - that has an impact. And anyone can delete a question they've posted (providing no one has up-voted it) - that's two more areas of impact for low-rep users. So every user has some small ability to impact the site, with some simple, sane restrictions. The restrictions start piling up when it comes to modifying/deleting posts from other users - that's where a malicious user could really wreck havoc, so the site needs to learn to "trust" you first, by forcing you to invest some time. – Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 3:46

After thinking about it a little more, I've concluded that I don't think it is a problem.

  • Does it not matter because popular questions are likely to be undeleted?

I think this is the key. There are currently about 200 users with 10k+ reputation; if any one of them looks at the recently deleted questions page and sees something they don't believe should have been deleted, they can cast an undelete vote. Then it will appear on the "most undelete votes" list, which is much easier to find things on, and it is very likely to be undeleted. So really, any decent question is not going to stay deleted for long.

Also, any question getting delete votes will show up on the "most delete votes" list, so there's a window of opportunity to save it by opening it. But there are a number of questions that I don't want either opened or deleted, so this option has limited appeal.

I do have two suggestions to improve the process:

  1. Require an extra delete vote for every 50 or 100 upvotes.
    I don't think highly-voted questions should be impossible to delete, but making it just a little harder might be helpful.

  2. Display the number of upvotes on the deleted questions page.
    Actually, if this one is implemented, I don't think the other one would be necessary at all. If it is easy to tell which questions are highly voted, it is easier to undelete them, and therefore it shouldn't be harder to delete them.

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Does it not matter because it didn't belong on the site in the first place, regardless of popularity?


(but yeah, it'll be undeleted, re-opened, and continue its quest to build The Infinite List of Music for Programmers. So it goes...)

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Nothing is ever truly deleted (or at least it's really rare). Deleted in most cases just means hidden from <10k rep users. Mods can always step in and undelete and/or lock a post. High vote questions with lots of answers getting deleted is an unusual event, easily reversible and thus (imho) not really worth worrying too much about.

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I don't actually know how the moderator section works, but I assume that if a question has 2 delete votes, instead of waiting for a third, someone new could unvote 1 delete vote so that essentially they are saying, it's better closed than deleted. If that's not already the case, then that's my suggestion.

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    It doesn't work that way right now, but such a thing has also been suggested somewhere for close/open votes. – mmyers Jul 23 '09 at 17:23

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