It seems closed questions are very insecure.

Why and When, are closed questions deleted? (Even highly voted well formed closed questions can be deleted). What is the argument that they can't just remain closed, and should be deleted?

(added by bwDraco to bring attention to the question again and avoid asking a duplicate)

I often hear an argument from one of our moderators that closed questions should always be deleted shortly after they are closed unless they are edited so that they can be reopened:

The question was closed. And closed either leads to being deleted or fixed in a way that makes the question in scope for the site topic and subsequently reopened.

Closed is not a synonym for no more answers, but that the question (if not otherwise a duplicate) doesn't belong on the site any more. (source)

This is often done even at the expense of high-quality answers (examples: 1 2 3). The reasoning I tend to hear is that such questions are trash and are therefore harmful to the site, regardless of the merits of the answers. To my knowledge, however, there is no community discussion or consensus that states that closed questions should always be deleted if left unfixed.

Do we need to delete every closed question that goes unedited for more than a few months?

  • I'll look up the numbers later, but why should you close a question when you don't want it deleted at some point? Put differently, the whole idea of closing is to make them eligible for deletion later.
    – slhck
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 10:24
  • Why aren't more questions deleted?
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 10:24
  • 1
    is it really good to delete a question deemed unsuitable for the site because of subjectivity, when the question is of great value to people(high votes, many favorites). Why not have a function that means No more answers can be posted to a question, not just elegible for deletion.
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 12:48
  • 3
    @barlop because broken windows
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:02
  • @Sathya Of course deleting them is a deterrent. But broken windows aren't of value to anybody, whereas a subjective question with upvotes and answers voted up that has been considered by people to valuable to them, is. Is there still no stackexchange site for subjective questions from superuser? why not? no doubt people must have requested it. the programming stackexchange is quite subjective
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:25
  • There are good and bad subjective questions. Programmers allow the former. There will never be a Stack Exchange site for purely aubjective questions, because it doesn't work with this system. A forum is better suited for discussion.
    – slhck
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:29
  • @slhck yes I don't mean a site for bad subjective questions obviously(you think I or anybody wants a site for bad subjective questions?!). programmers stackexchange has lots of subjective questions and nobody claims it doesn't work well for them. And if a question there isn't subjective it can go on stackoverflow can't it?
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:33
  • Each community has to define their scope themselves. What works on Programmers does not necessarily have to work here or on Stack Overflow. But that's not really related to this issue. Many questions get upvotes and favorites simply because they are funny, or about things everyone has asked themselves. But that does not mean they're representative of what this site is primarily about. They attract traffic for the wrong content.
    – slhck
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:37
  • @slhck You seem to have misunderstood me. I am not talking about a site like stackoverflow changing to allow subjective questions and be like programming stackexchange site, nor am I talking about a site like superuser changing to allow subjective questions or -any- existing site changing!(and nor am I talking about bad subjective questions) So, what I asked was, Is there still no stackexchange site for subjective questions from superuser? why not? no doubt people must have requested it. the programming stackexchange is quite subjective
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:44
  • @barlop - A subjective programming question is a bad programming question. Most good questions on programmers.stackexchange.com or stackoverflow.com are not actually subjective.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 14:07
  • @Ramhound yes but there are lots of questions on programmers.stackexchange (maybe the majority?) that would be considered too subjective for stackoverflow, that are not too subjective for programmers.stackexchange, but are still considered good questions.
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 19:12
  • @barlop - I disagree the majority of questions on programmers.stackexchange.com are subjective.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 20:04
  • @Ramhound Do you think a large number of good questions on programmers.stackexchange would be considered subjective if on stackoverflow?
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 21:10
  • @Ramhound When I say subjective, I mean for example in the way that superuser questions get labelled subjective, like opinion based things. Look at the comment here. somebody asked a bad question.. programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/218749/… but a comment was that while they didn't like that question 'cos it's not good as a discussion forum, the comment said " programmers.s.e is more appropriate for opinion-based questions than SO"
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 17:03
  • @Ramhound notice also how it was closed "closed as primarily opinion-based ...Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." (so, if a question is somewhat opinion based, but not primarily so, then they might accept it on programmers, though not on stackoverflow)
    – barlop
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Under certain circumstances, closed questions are automatically deleted by the Community user. Otherwise, they can be deleted with varying numbers of votes from 10K+ users (depending on the score of the question and its answers). Finally, moderators can instantly delete any post.

As for why they're removed, people in favor of deleting closed questions generally refer to the broken window theory, which basically states that bad things accumulate at a rate proportional to the number of existing bad things. Following this reasoning, leaving unacceptable questions around encourages more bad questions.

Personally, I disagree. Closing, in my view, already boards up the broken window. The closure notice is a very good and very clear indicator that the question is not currently acceptable (if it ever was). Deletion makes it much more difficult for any useful information to be saved. We should close bad questions fast to prevent answerers from wasting effort on them, but once a good answer is posted, we should do some serious thinking before hiding it. The rules for automatic deletion already consider that - even a very heavily downvoted question won't be roomba'd if it has even one upvoted answer.

A special aspect of moderator insta-deletion is that such posts will not accept undelete votes from normal members of the community. Even though 10K+ users can see them in the "recently deleted" section of the 10K tools, we can't bring them back if we disagree with the deletion. In my opinion, that should be changed (isn't absolute freezing what locks are for?), but that's a different discussion.


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