Waaaay back in the early days of Stack Overflow Jeff wrote a blog post about the Stack Overflow Question Lifecycle.

Who decides what questions don’t fit? Trusted members of the Stack Overflow community decide which questions belong on Stack Overflow. Every question goes through a community vetting process:

  1. You see a question that is inappropriate for Stack Overflow because it’s not programming related.
  2. You have 3,000 reputation, the minimum required to cast close or open votes.
  3. You vote to close this question.
  4. Four (4) other users also vote to close this question, reaching a total of five (5) closure votes (or, a moderator votes to close — moderator votes are binding.)
  5. Once closed, the question can be reopened by voting to open in the same manner. If the question garners five (5) votes to reopen, the process starts over at step #3.
  6. If question remains closed for 48 full hours, it is now eligible for deletion.
  7. You have 10,000 reputation, the minimum required to cast deletion votes.
  8. If the question gets three (3) deletion votes (or a moderator vote), the question is deleted.
  9. Note that deleted questions are invisible to typical users — but can be seen by moderators and users with 10,000+ reputation.
  10. The question can be undeleted at any time by voting for undeletion in the same manner. If the question garners three votes for undeletion, the process starts over at step #7.

In my experience closed questions hardly ever get voted to delete afterwards. According to this Data.SE query:

  • Exact duplicate 2994x
  • Off topic 2444x
  • Not a real question 640x
  • Subjective and argumentative 481x
  • Too localized 320x

So if we exclude the duplicates, which we tend to keep around, that leaves us with 3885 questions that are eligible for deletion. That's still 4% of all questions, which I think is quite a lot.

Because we don't keep negative comments, spamming users and off-topic answers around, I don't see why closed questions should be any different. So next time you come across a closed question that you think has no worth staying around (which is nearly all of them), please vote to delete them! That way your fellow users can help clean them up. If you don't have enough rep, but still want to help out you can flag them for moderator attention. You can also post them in the Super User Vote to Close/Delete chat room, where users with enough rep to close and delete can work together to get enough votes to take action.

  • 2
    What about the "good old" (now closed but) highly popular posts that are there "for historical reasons"?
    – slhck
    Aug 16, 2011 at 21:15
  • 7
    We can salvage the content as a blog post if need be, but honestly I think these broken windows only set a bad example. They were closed because we don't want these kind of questions, then we shouldn't chicken out and keep them around either. If there's any value in these questions, we should ask a new question that does meet our standards and the valuable information can be used in answers on the new question.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 16, 2011 at 21:19
  • Exactly what I was thinking. For a better picture, I'll drop the link here: What should we do with outdated, but highly-popular questions?
    – slhck
    Aug 16, 2011 at 21:21
  • How can one determine which post is a signpost (for the duplicates)? Should there be a note on the master, and then just have everything go to that? Or should the master post be made community wiki?
    – soandos
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:15
  • 1
    Depends on the question type. I'd suggest to look out for the most popular one -- or the one containing the most useful answers, i.e. material to work with. It's what I did here. Then clean it up. Ideally all would point to one master post by the means of closing it as a duplicate, so it is properly referenced by the system. Making the "master post" CW is something I personally strongly support. @soandos
    – slhck
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:30
  • Is there a way to view all closed questions?
    – soandos
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:32
  • 2
    All closed questions on the site? You can use the search operator closed:1. More on that here. If you want to find all questions that are closed as a duplicate of X, I wouldn't know how to do that though @soandos
    – slhck
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:39
  • 1
    Regarding the "historical" questions, I agree with @Ivo and think we should just take a hard line. If I come across any now I'll be flagging them for deletion.
    – Gareth
    Aug 17, 2011 at 1:14
  • Shortcut to infinite flag weight
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Aug 17, 2011 at 4:34
  • @Sathya quicker link to infinite flag weight
    – nhinkle
    Aug 17, 2011 at 5:46
  • Is there a chance that the number of deletion votes be increased?
    – soandos
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:52
  • @soandos I don't believe you have any deletion votes yet, correct? If you mean increase the number of flags, then yes - the number of flags you have is proportional to your flag weight.
    – nhinkle
    Aug 17, 2011 at 17:10
  • I was not talking about for me. I meant for people like slhck (he said this: used up all of my deletion votes, sorry @soandos :P in chat)
    – soandos
    Aug 17, 2011 at 17:53
  • More ammo for deleting stuff: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/01/adventures-in-delclusionism
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 18, 2011 at 17:15
  • Note that the “Super User Vote to Close/Delete” chat room was deleted about six years ago. Jul 26, 2018 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


Some examples of highly popular questions that

  • are there for "historical reasons"
  • don't really fit anymore
  • are outdated

I'll let others debate. Here we go:

  • 3
    Perhaps some of these are good candidates for a clean up during the contest? ;)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:00
  • Here's a good one that could fit the "historical" criteria: superuser.com/questions/231273/… Aug 17, 2011 at 0:12
  • 2
    Nuke them all! ಠ⌣ಠ
    – Gareth
    Aug 17, 2011 at 2:38
  • 1
    @Randolf In that case, it's a valid question I guess (It's about computer hardware/software, it has a definitive answer, et cetera)
    – slhck
    Aug 17, 2011 at 7:04
  • Yet, SU can be an excellent source of information re an OS which is older/ no longer offically supported.
    – M H
    Dec 11, 2020 at 9:05

So next time you come across a closed question that you think has no worth staying around (which is nearly all of them), please vote to delete them!

The problem is that we can only cast 5 votes per day, so this is going to take a very long time...

So, I should just flag instead? Or should we get the number of votes increased?

I dislike having to use the chat room for this.

  • Well not in a mass-delete kind of way, I'd hate having to check 50 flags to see if I agree or not...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 17, 2011 at 22:50
  • Okay, will vote when I occasionally see them. Will only flag for obvious cases; yeah, flooding isn't always a great idea after all, I'm going to try to go for more quality instead of quantity now (great advice from Robert). Like I said on Gaming, we should plan out an future really necessary mass edits to be of the least impact... Aug 17, 2011 at 22:57
  • I think our Vote to Close chatroom is the perfect place to drop those you think should be deleted.
    – slhck
    Aug 18, 2011 at 12:51
  • @slhck: I wish there was an automated way to send my questions there without needing to copy/paste and having to go to the chat room; currently, I just expect 10K users and moderators to check the moderator tools for questions that have been voted to be deleted. Aug 18, 2011 at 12:53
  • I think we should put a warning on this post to not flag unless one wants to slash one's flag weight down 30%.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Aug 31, 2011 at 19:01
  • @DanielBeck: I'm not promoting excessive flagging here. Ivo has already warned us... Aug 31, 2011 at 19:39

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