A recent trend seems to be delete voting a question immediately after it's closed. While I like the sentiment, it has caused issues. Quite often, the question will be deleted within minutes of asking. So quick that the original poster never sees that it was closed and just sees it disappear. So they think there was a bug and re-post the same question. This obviously is not great for several reasons. Here is a question that it almost happened to today (2 delete votes within 3 minutes of asking)...

I propose a "Delete Window". Basically, we'd still allow delete votes immediately after close. However once the necessary number of votes is received, a banner will appear on the question saying "This question is marked for deletion". Then it will remain available for some fixed time window as read-only (perhaps 1 hour). That way the poster can have time to see the fact that it was closed (and the marked duplicates).

The existence of the 20k 'rapid delete' has added some spice to this problem. A user submits a really poor question -- beyond reasonable repair. Within moments, it's both closed and deleted. Well, this is fine, except that it lacks a feedback path to the user, unless that user was watching closely enough to see the comments and/or close reason before the delete happened.

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    Huh. It used to be that you had to wait two days before you could delete something. Then again, I remember arguing at one point that deletions should be quick due to the shear number of low quality posts that clutter the site. – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 13:56
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    @Adam 20000 users can now immediately delete - 10000 users still need to wait 2 days. – Grace Note Apr 26 '11 at 13:56
  • Well, here's one aspect of the question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/31879/… – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 13:57
  • @Grace Oooooh! A chance to wield the power of my fully operational question destroyer! – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 13:57
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    And here's all the related discussion that led to the current 20k insta-delete option: meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=20k+delete – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 13:59
  • @Adam: I was talking about delaying the delete after it was triggered, not delaying when it could be triggered... (Of course there (c|sh)ould be a mod-override for really bad questions)... – ircmaxell Apr 26 '11 at 14:00
  • @ircmaxell Yes, which is why I'm not marking this as a duplicate. I find it useful to review the previous discussions on a given topic, and assume others do as well. – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 14:02
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    I think this would encourage people posting "WHY MY QUESTION NEED TO DELETE?" – YOU Apr 26 '11 at 14:13
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    @YOU so we put a link next to "this question is marked to be deleted" that says "__why is this question going to be deleted? __" and have that point to a page that says "cos sucka, you gotta ask proper questions" or whatnot (of course I'm taking literary license on that last part and assuming there's a good FAQ either written or that will be) – jcolebrand Apr 26 '11 at 15:47

I have a better idea: Start taking closing seriously!

Closing, from the earliest days of the site, has been a "nomination for deletion" - a purgatory where bad questions sit until they've atoned for their sins, get deleted, and are allowed to move on to Question Nirvana.

Ignoring the painfully-mixed metaphors in the previous paragraph, this means if you see a closed question - or a question with close votes - that you think can be improved to the point where it won't need to be deleted, you should do your utmost to improve it and then re-open it!

I recall getting into an argument with another user a few years back for deleting a question that sat closed for months. He made some good arguments for how it could have been salvaged, but... It wasn't salvaged. It sat there, collecting dust, because the prevailing attitude at the time was that deletion was an empty threat, and so once you got your answer in, who cares if the question got closed?

Now, it's pretty obvious that while a question might sit around closed for a good while, it might also disappear within minutes of being closed - that's a good thing! Crappy questions clogging up the site are harmful, and the quicker they're either fixed or deleted, the better it is for the site. If the new deletion rules provide a long-overdue sense of urgency to fans of closed questions, then I'm happy.

It doesn't take an hour to fix a question, or to post a comment urging would-be delete-voters to hold off while editing is in progress. If you post a lousy question and then sit on your hands while other users critique it, close it, and finally delete it... Then you probably have something else you should be doing, and can ask again when you've at least as much time to devote to seeing your question answered as you expect others to put into answering it.

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  • +1 close them, they're mostly detritus. – alex Apr 26 '11 at 17:49
  • please see my edit to the question. – Rosinante Sep 11 '12 at 22:12

The power to delete questions with no delay once closed is given to very high rep users in order to lighten the load on the moderators.

If we add a delay:

  • It would require more moderator intervention to close those egregiously bad questions that shouldn't remain for even minutes.
  • It would allow people to game the site more easily - spammers and abusers would know that their material will be visible for longer, and in a business like theirs seconds make a difference. (note that the flag for abuse also deletes the question or answer much more quickly, as it's automated and only requires 5 votes from people with much lower reputation, so this isn't a strong argument for speedy delete vote access)
  • It won't reduce the real issue
    • Users will still be confused if their question is deleted a day later rather than within a few minutes.
    • Users who post such bad questions that they are closed and deleted that quickly probably need more help than can be provided by leaving the question open for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that it takes 5 people with 3k rep to close it in the first place, and 3 people with 20k rep to delete it.

That means that expert users with a combined experience of well over one year (and probably many years) deem the question unsuitable.

It's not a minor judgement.

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  • Spamming and "farming a site" for traffic to said "spammer's" site occurs very often. Its a systemic problem with community sites. Think to MySpace when you login you get nailed, same thing with Facebook. This is not as harsh of a policy as compared to other community sites, so I support it. – JustinKaz Apr 26 '11 at 16:41
  • I can't delete questions. But why can't deleted questions remain invisible to all but the author and mods/power users for say X hours before it's deleted? In that way they seem to be deleted to all but the author. – jgauffin Apr 26 '11 at 17:51
  • @Robert CTRL-+ CTRL-+ CTRL-+ ;-P – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 18:31
  • Ah, I see. Must learn secret handshake. :P – user102937 Apr 26 '11 at 18:39

This seems like an extremely weird way to fix this problem. Can't we just alert them through the inbox that the question was deleted, or through some other method? I was thrilled when the feature request to allow deleting terrible questions was implemented; we really don't need to make deletion worse yet again

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  • Perhaps then notify the user through the inbox, and let them see the deleted question (rather than 404). That could be a method to overcome the problem at hand... – ircmaxell Apr 26 '11 at 14:16
  • @ircmaxell - if the OP has the question URL they should be able to see it. – ChrisF Apr 26 '11 at 14:17
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    @Chris: I thought that only 10k users could see deleted questions? That even if the OP went to a deleted question's page, it would 404. I could be wrong (I never deleted a question as a < 10k user)... – ircmaxell Apr 26 '11 at 14:18
  • @ircmaxell - I was always under the impression that users could always see their own deleted posts regardless of rep. I've certainly run across deleted answers of mine. I don't have a deleted question to test with - I may have to post a test on a meta site. – ChrisF Apr 26 '11 at 14:21
  • @ChrisF They can see their deleted answers, but not questions (unless they have 10k). I think by design, although I don't actually know why – Michael Mrozek Apr 26 '11 at 14:32
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    @Michael: the rationale is given here (it's not the most popular rationale for a status-declined mind you...) – Shog9 Apr 26 '11 at 16:52
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    @Shog9: I can't see any rationale in the answer you linked to (and I left a comment to the answer expressing this). – Hendrik Vogt May 3 '11 at 11:00

The speed at which a question is deleted is now in direct proportion to the question's suckiness. Higher suckiness means faster deletion.

Your question assumes that people who post bad questions just need to be educated. But in my experience, the people who post really bad questions do not care about your explanations. They just want to post their spammy questions.

As an example, if a person posts three or four answers with links to their product or blog, without even making a feeble attempt to read the faq or find out what StackOverflow is all about, we don't try to educate them; we just burn their account (and all of their posts with it).

If it's really an honest mistake, the people willing to get better will figure it out.

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  • Well, but that's the point of what I'm saying. For honest mistakes, the users currently have no way of figuring it out short of either posting on meta or re-posting the question and hoping someone saw it in the closed state prior to deletion sees the new post. Perhaps it's as simple as a notification saying "Hey, your question was deleted because of $x. Here's how to ask better questions: ..."... – ircmaxell Apr 26 '11 at 18:41
  • Most quick deletions are not honest mistakes; they are egregiously bad posts. The honest mistakes are often given enough time to fix the problem, and ample education by other users to know how. – user102937 Apr 26 '11 at 18:45

If it were me, I'd do a "merge" instead of delete. This is very useful to gather metrics such as determining popular repeated questions and immediately offer them up in the new question title box question list.

Proper merging also helps incrementing usefulness of the original post, that is, if the first post covered 2 facts, a later duplicate could come up with a 3rd fact - a merge ensures the 3 of them co-exist, while a delete would potentially cause more duplicates which focus on the said 3rd fact.

Talking about all this brings "community wiki" to my mind. Perhaps this should be on a similar but smaller level?

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  • +1 on the merging, sometimes duplicate question returns different insights - the good answers shouldn't be deleted, it should be merged to the canonical question. Would up vote this if I have the privilege – rickchristie Apr 26 '11 at 14:08

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