I am frustrated by the deletion of posts that were bad, but provide an opportunity for the poster to fix it.

I just saw a post a bit ago where a poster was asking for help with his website, in the usual vague terms, but was obviously struggling with a language barrier. The question most certainly should have been closed... no question. But I think it would have been better to close it and provide information in the comments about what they can do better next time.

Are we here to help or not? Even if you feel you wouldn't waste your time on it, others may take some time out to help people ask better questions.

Edit: Do posters of deleted questions have the opportunity to see that they were deleted? If so, perhaps this isn't such a big problem, provided that someone does leave a comment with explanation before deleting.

  • 3
    Just out of curiosity, only mods and 20k+ users can immediately delete/vote to delete a question. Since you're < 10k rep, how do you know the user didn't delete it themselves?
    – Brandon
    Apr 1, 2011 at 20:15
  • How often do you see this? (I want to ask for examples, but obviously you can't link to the post you're talking about.) Apr 1, 2011 at 20:29
  • 1
    @Brandon, clearly I don't know for sure that the user didn't delete it themselves, but as I was posting an answer to it I received a message saying it was closed. By the time I hit refresh, it was gone. I assumed that a mod closed it and then immediately deleted it. @Bill, I have seen a similar situation maybe 2 or 3 times in the last couple weeks. I don't know how often it happens. I hit the home page and copy links to follow up on. By the time I get to them, they were deleted. As Brandon pointed out, I don't know who deleted them with any certainty.
    – Brad
    Apr 1, 2011 at 20:37
  • @Brad, do you still have any of those links? 10k users and mods can see the deleted questions and who deleted it.
    – Brandon
    Apr 1, 2011 at 20:44
  • @Brandon, ah no I just keep them on some post-it software and delete when I am done. Let me look through my browser history later tonight to see if I can fish them out.
    – Brad
    Apr 2, 2011 at 1:12
  • Here is the one I saw this afternoon: stackoverflow.com/questions/5518041/…
    – Brad
    Apr 2, 2011 at 1:16
  • After going through the last 2 weeks of browser history, I can't find any other examples. So either it is farther back, it has been reopened, or I dreamed it. If it is important to you, I will go back farther than that. Lots to dig through... apparently I spend more time here than I realized.
    – Brad
    Apr 2, 2011 at 2:58
  • That question was flagged by a number of users as spam, and deleted automatically... Ouch. It was kinda a terrible question, but I don't think it was actually intended as spam.
    – Shog9
    Apr 2, 2011 at 3:11
  • @Joshua, thanks for the clarification. It wasn't actually spam. I thought something similar at first glance and then actually visited the guy's site, where he had a note at the bottom asking what he was looking to do. Not spam... just a bad question. In any case, does the user then get an explanation that their post was flagged as spam? I am just trying to find a way where the user gets some idea as to why their question was rejected.
    – Brad
    Apr 2, 2011 at 3:47
  • @Brad: No, probably on the theory that spammers don't really care. I've manually reversed the flags, so the question is unlocked and undeleted... It's still a really lousy question though: if it doesn't get cleaned up, it'll probably end up deleted again (if not for being spam, then just for being closed and uncorrected). Either the author can come back and improve it, or someone else can edit it into shape; I'm not entirely clear on what he's asking for though, so...
    – Shog9
    Apr 2, 2011 at 3:52
  • 1
    I re-wrote his post, attempting to capture what he was looking for, and voted to re-open. Thanks Joshua.
    – Brad
    Apr 2, 2011 at 4:00
  • @Shog9: Most things I see flagged as spam don't appear to be intended as such. That's probably the most overused flag.
    – Gabe
    Apr 2, 2011 at 4:52
  • Oh, Shog is back! I thought that was a permanent transformation. Nice. However, I liked that suit.
    – Pekka
    Apr 2, 2011 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Every time an OP posts a 'here, look at my site' link, some people think, "Spam!"

The weaker the question, the more suspicious. And some link targets ring bells more or less automatically. Handbag knockoffs. 'Adult.'

I'm still not sure what to make of question that asked, 'what engine was used to make site Q' where 'site Q' was a link to a spanish?-language gay-themed travel site. Given my weak Spanish, I couldn't see anything offensive, but on the other hand, it was hard to see 'someone use a crystal ball and guess the CMS' as a real question, so the possibility of pushing traffic was present.

Or, for example, https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5524982/how-to-find-out-which-programming-language-a-web-application-was-done-in-closed. Do they really want to know? Or are they selling closets?

On the other hand, there are reasonable questions that involve 'please look here,' so a knee-jerk spam flag for any link is probably not so clever either. Wasn't there at one time a minimum rep limit for links in questions?

  • Hmm... There was a minimum rep limit for links I recall. I think the rep limit was only like 50 rep or so though
    – Earlz
    Apr 2, 2011 at 17:09

Are we here to help or not? Even if you feel you wouldn't waste your time on it, others may take some time out to help people ask better questions.

This is a fine idea, but breaks down miserably at the current scale of Stack Overflow -- 3,000+ questions per day and 10,000+ answers per day.

There simply is not time in the day to help the most egregiously bad cases, even with thousands of people assisting.

We have "big city" problems on Stack Overflow now, and as such, our policies are shifting to require more ... competence ... from those who wish to ask and answer questions. Those who are unwilling or unable to show a minimum level of competence basically need to be shown the door, without being rude about it.

  • It only takes 10 seconds to write a simple comment explaining why a question was deleted with a link to the FAQ. I will take the time to do this for someone. While I understand your frustrations Jeff, I don't think you speak for everyone when you say there isn't time. Obviously I personally can't do this for everyone, but I like to think there are many others like me who will take this time, at least some of the time, to assist. Perhaps you should add a feature that adds a comment or sends the user a message when their question is deleted, with general information about deletion reasons.
    – Brad
    Apr 3, 2011 at 14:28
  • @Brad: the more you and others in the community work to educate new users (by voting, commenting, closing, etc.), the less moderators have to intervene... It's really too much to expect the moderators to spend time hand-holding every clueless newbie, but if you want to then by all means go for it! Ultimately, the tone of the community is determined, not by moderators, but by... The community at large.
    – Shog9
    Apr 3, 2011 at 22:18
  • @brad see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71179/… and (for answers specifically) meta.wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/542/… Apr 4, 2011 at 6:58

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