With the massive "spring cleaning" going around the SE + the normal heavy deletion going on + the automatic deletion recently I'm starting to worry about the amount of dead links SE is creating.

Several times when browsing questions (especially meta questions), blog posts, or other websites I get a SO link thats dead because someone walked in and deleted it. Multiple times its made the entire page or post useless as it heavily relied on the content in the question.

Creating dead links is bad in general for websites for a multitude of reasons. While whether SE should delete questions is a separate topic, just removing the content from the world without any way to get it back seems wrong.

And even if the content of the question was useless and therefor warranted deletion, to the person making the question, blog post, website, etc it was vital to them. You shouldn't decide for them whats useful or not.


All I'm proposing is that if the user came on a direct link, the question be shown with a "This question has been deleted" header. The header can be tweaked to point to the FAQ and the close reason (if any) for why the question was deleted and why its a bad question for the SE network.

NOTE: The question is still deleted. It doesn't appear in search results, it doesn't appear in the related questions section; it doesn't appear anywhere. Its only if you have a direct link that you get the question.

What does this solve?

  • Useless meta questions that talk about controversial deleted posts
  • Useless questions that say "go here for more info"
  • Useless blog posts or websites that depend on the content of the question
  • Lots of discussion of deleted questions. - The content of a deleted question might be considered valuable which starts lots of discussion of the question on meta and chat. However if it is deleted its still accessible, and people won't complain as much
  • Sourness left in users mouth when their question is deleted isn't as bad (related to above)
  • Other broken content
  • Users can now learn WHY a question is bad instead of looking at abstract meta arguments.
  • Questions can serve as references of bad questions for meta discussion.
  • All the "10k only" links which is restricted to only higher up members are available to all. Personally I think anything marked as 10k only should be deleted or closed as too localized anyway

What does this keep?

  • The delete squads are still happy
  • Questions are still inaccessible to the 95% of users that don't have the link. This keeps the "We don't want new users thinking that these crap questions are okay" argument still valid
  • As a matter of fact, all the pro-delete arguments are still valid.

To me this looks like its all positive and little negative. It wouldn't be too difficult to implement and would help out everyone. I don't see any drawbacks, especially if there's a banner saying why the question was deleted.

  • 3
    I'd suggest that, if something like this is done, the questions should be displayed in some way that makes it visually obvious that they "don't exist". The current display that 10k users see doesn't go far enough; I'm thinking more like displaying the entire question and all comments/answers/etc. at 20% opacity, perhaps. Removing all interactive UI elements would help too, rather than the current "deleted foobars can't be frobbed" popup.
    – McCannot
    Jul 6, 2011 at 21:19
  • Trivial tag added to bump - I think this is a great idea!
    – Doorknob
    Mar 12, 2013 at 0:15
  • @Asad The point of this is to show deleted questions to normal users. Because of that, I'm assuming many would want very strong indications that this question was deleted. 20% Opacity + Closed reason + deleted reason seems to be enough
    – TheLQ
    Mar 12, 2013 at 8:31


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