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I believe this question might have been the canonical "what should I install on a new Windows computer question". I always searched for that question when installing a new computer.

I won't argue here whether it should or shouldn't have been deleted, I just want to know if that we that canonical question (with loads of good answers). What's the easiest way to view that question, even though it was deleted?

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You linked to the wrong question. It should have been this one: What are some "must have" Windows programs?, with 321 answers. But, yes, it was deleted.

How can you view it? For example, try the Wayback Archive. On a first look, not much has changed between that snapshot and the latest version, although the second page doesn't seem to be available. I guess there are similar snapshot services.

Another possibility would be to use the official data dumps from a date before the question was deleted.


I know you didn't want to argue whether it should have been deleted or not, but …

[…] might have been the canonical "what should I install on a new Windows computer question"

… is a tough statement. If you look at the format of the answers, you'll find that:

  • The answers/applications on the first page have a lot of upvotes
  • For every page following, the quality gets worse and worse
  • At page 4, the question is not really useful anymore

"Canonical" is probably the wrong term. Given that the question was two years old, it would have been very hard – if not impossible – to even suggest a new application. It would have been stuck at page 6 or 7. While two years isn't that much, imagine what it would look like in another two years.

Also, there are services like i use this which focus on what people install on their systems, especially their "top" list is very useful.

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    Thanks for i use this, I'll try to use it. (+ the detailed answer of course) – ripper234 Sep 1 '11 at 9:16
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    Stack Printer is another option @ripper234 – Sathyajith Bhat Sep 2 '11 at 14:51
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    Ninite is my preferred installer – Andrew Jun 20 '12 at 18:01
  • @Andrew So? Meta Super User is for discussion about content, not actually posting your favorite software. We've decided to delete this question for good reasons, so I don't understand the purpose of your comment. – slhck Jun 20 '12 at 18:03
  • You provided an option for installation of must have programs, as did Sathya yet somehow my contribution in the spirit of the answer and an existing comment is somehow wrong? – Andrew Jun 22 '12 at 13:34
  • I pointed the user to another site that focuses on what the deleted question was about. Sathya only mentioned a website that allows you to see deleted Stack Exchange questions, so yes, your comment is rather off topic ;) @Andrew – slhck Jun 22 '12 at 13:56
  • Oh, I didn't catch that Sathya's link was the actual deleted question, my mistake. Ninite isn't just a random piece of software, it is a service which allows you to automate the install of many popular programs and could be considered to be the "Canonical List" as least as far as the Ninite devs are concerned. – Andrew Jun 22 '12 at 16:02
  • 5 min edit timeout... I came to this topic looking for a canonical list and was happy to find two but I felt Ninite was missing as it not only lists the software but provides unattended installs as well. But that usage is not what "Meta" is about. Also I see Ninite inside the deleted question. – Andrew Jun 22 '12 at 16:09
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What's the easiest way to view that question, even though it was deleted?

Whoops, sorry, completely missed this part of your question, I was focusing on the title.
slhck's answer is going to be much more helpful on this point.


I think you probably meant What are some "must have" Windows programs? instead.
(the one you link was a dupe of this, and this is the "big" version)

The problem is that it's still a really bad question for the Stack Exchange engine - it's a prime example of a question that matches the Not Constructive close reason. It's a simple poll with no right answer, in fact you can't really justify that any individual answer is even right - Why is Firefox a must have? It isn't; there's plenty of browsers around.

Beyond this, this specific example had devolved in to a list of 321 answers (some of those may have been deleted, so might not all have been visible to users). Almost no one will read all of these, they're only going to read the first few, and who hasn't heard of the top entries: 7zip, Firefox, Chrome, Notepad++, ..? So it's not really that valuable either.


In case you're unfamiliar with it, here's the Not Constructive definition (with my highlights for this case):

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

And if we look at the FAQ, it states:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”

Basically, the question is a straight up poll and therefore isn't suitable for the site.

The fact it saw a lot of activity in the past (before the rules were properly hammered out) doesn't protect it from closure or deletion and keeping it around is just leaving broken windows for other people to try and use as justification for future bad questions.

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