The deletion mafia has struck again. We had this discussion before on Meta.SO.

Case in point: the question What do you say to people when they say that programming is not demanding? was deleted.

Can we just please, please agree that this is not constructive behaviour and that questions – even ones that get closed for valid reasons – should not be deleted except when they are really disruptive?

The question above (cached copy here) wasn’t a great question but it got great answes and I had linked to it elsewhere. It is just really annoying that such questions get deleted, and it completely runs counter the spirit of the Internet: do not let links go stale.

I’m serious about this. Pervasive deleting destroys these sites. It’s a bad attitude and it needs to stop.

  • I agree with you, I voted undelete – user2567 Mar 19 '11 at 11:25
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    "We had this discussion before on Meta.SO" Yes, we did. And we agreed that deletion was a first class citizen in the tools given to the community to police itself. If you remove this tool, you fundamentally change how the community deals with bad behavior. Your request is going to have to have a much stronger reason than you've given to remove this feature, as it's going to have a huge impact on how the sites are governed by the community. – Adam Davis Mar 19 '11 at 16:21
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    Also, please avoid cross posting. The request to have this question undeleted belongs on this meta, and the request to remove the delete feature belongs on meta.so. Posting the same question on multiple sites is discouraged, however posting off-topic questions (or mixing off topic into on-topic questions) is certainly discouraged. – Adam Davis Mar 19 '11 at 16:24
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    Ok, first off, the proper way to handle situations like this is to post a question with the title, "Eeeek! What happened to {question title}" and wait for clarification (y'know, so you don't go throwing around cabal theories when it was a moderator action). Second, if you could give at least a tiny hint as to why this question wasn't just GTKY fluff, it would go along way toward helping us understand your angst. – Shog9 Mar 19 '11 at 16:52
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    @Mr.CRT Does it actually matter why I like the question? This is why deletion is wrong. Opinions differ. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 20 '11 at 10:20
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    Saving the cached copy before it also disappears... – Adam Paynter Mar 20 '11 at 10:28
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    @Konrad: it matters why you think it should continue to exist here. Explain why having that question around furthers the goals of the site, why it benefits the intended audience, makes the world a better place... Why it's not just "commiserate with me on a common frustration". – Shog9 Mar 20 '11 at 15:59
  • @Mr.CRT I like the question/answers. The whole point is that you don’t have to agree. But why do you have to be such a spoilsport? Deleting questions is the exact opposite of live and let live. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 20 '11 at 16:29
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    @Konrad: "live and let live" has never been the goal of these sites. (Ok, it was briefly the goal of this site, but...) And this isn't Kuro5hin. It's supposed to be Q&A, not discussion-free-for-all. "What's the harm?" you seem to ask... "It existed, why shouldn't it continue to do so?" - but that's the wrong question. Anything without a purpose is noise, and noise is harmful. So what was the purpose of this question, why should it exist, and most importantly: why should it exist here? – Shog9 Mar 20 '11 at 16:38
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    @Mr.CRT Live and let live is a general maxim that has turned out to be helpful. And I am not proposing a free-for-all. But what’s off-topic is a matter of opinion applying a (even somewhat) restrictive interpretation is just short-sighted because it essentially restricts the subset to the minimal overlap of all interests – which is just too little. Case in point, I just don’t see how the question is off-topic. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 21 '11 at 7:47
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    programmers.SE is still developing and tons of good questions seems to be closed or deleted all the time by a handful of the same people. I think deletion should remain a part of the toolkit but people need to restrain themselves on both and have more leeway. – Garet Claborn Mar 22 '11 at 15:16
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    Agree, deletion is disruptive. Downvotes are fine, but deletions aren't. In my opinion. – user1249 Mar 25 '11 at 10:17
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    If it must be deleted, then create a bitbucket.stackoverflow.com site where such questions can be put. – user1249 Mar 25 '11 at 10:18
  • Still trying to get this addressed... meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/1389/… – Orbit Apr 6 '11 at 20:29
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    +1 for "the deletion mafia". I'm suffering it to no end, not only questions (which I no longer dare to make) but with properly written and elaborated answers. – Mister Smith Nov 30 '11 at 16:38

I'm going to include my answer from Meta SO on this topic.

This question is not a real question. It's not an on-topic question for at least three of the reasons listed in the FAQ. It's opinionated, which means the original poster already has an answer. He posted that answer in his question box:

It may not be physically demanding but it sure is mentally demanding.

In order to keep this site productive, the line in the sand has to be drawn somewhere. Otherwise, we'll get more gray area questions like What do programmers eat? I know they eat food at some point in their day.

Additionally, I agree with Jeff, the answers are essentially all the same AOL "me too" type answers that don't really tell me anything I didn't already know or couldn't figure out by Googling some forum somewhere, a forum, that I might add, is probably now a ghost town on the Internet because the professionals keeping the site alive all moved elsewhere.

The blog articles that Robert, Jeff, and other StackExchange employees have written makes a great case for sites thriving because they're properly policed for content that doesn't meet the goals of the site. Unfortunately, we're not all going to agree with every decision, but please keep in mind that those decisions are made with the community's best interests in mind.

For a clearer, well written explanation of the dangers of allowing poor questions, please read Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

  • How is the accepted answer a “me too” type? Furthermore, locking closing prevents such answers. How is deleting helpful? You have a point with your criticism but it doesn’t justify deleting in the slightest. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 20 '11 at 10:02

Cross post from meta.so:

For context, this is the particular bit of content it seems people are upset about losing:

What do you say to people when they say that programming is not demanding?

Ask them if writing a small 100 page novel in English without a single spelling or grammatical error is mentally demanding.

Further explain to them that this novel is actually someone else's story that you have to write as they explain it to you.

That person only speaks Chinese (luckily you are bilingual), so you have to translate it from Chinese to English as you go.

Then to top it off, the person isn't exactly sure what the story they want is, so they can only help you get it right by informing you when you have done it wrong from their vague descriptions.

You have to complete this in 3 days.

(In rare DailyWTF stories: Your boss insists on helping, despite being semi-illiterate)

Now is it demanding?

Written by: Dan McGrath

Is this interesting content?


Does this content make the Internet a better place?


Does this content belong on programmers.se?

That totally depends on the community running the site

Should we make engine level changes that make it impossible to remove content from a site?

No, I don't think so

The community and moderators should have the right to decide what content they think belongs on the site, for example:

What if the most awesome answer ever is posted on SO, it gets 100s of votes, but turns out to be off-topic. An example could be a question regarding employment law, with an answer by a prominent lawyer in the field. Great content, however, off topic.

Leaving content like that on SO, sets a bad example and sends a totally wrong message to people visiting the site. We have no place in the network for such content at the moment so we are stuck with the unfortunate task of deleting it.

I think the best way to solve this orphan great content issue, is to simply provide it in the data dump, perhaps include all deleted posts with more than X votes with in a "we have no home for this content" dump. Then others that feel like the content needs a new home can host a web site where it can thrive. As it stands 10k users on the respective sites can grab the content and host it elsewhere if they feel so strongly about it, provided the licensing terms are filled.

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    The problem with the data dump is that you cannot link to it. Ultimately, the issue here is that deleting posts is fundamentally not a good way to deal with content on the internet. Apparently this discussion exists elsewhere so we shouldn’t rehash it but I still don’t see how most of the issues aren’t solved by closing/locking. Furthermore, what’s off-topic is a matter of debate – For instance, I don’t think the question was off-topic at all. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 21 '11 at 7:44

I don't really see what's so great about this question. Perhaps you could explain it to me?

What do you say to people when they say that programming is not demanding? [closed]

Like the title says, how have you approached this? It may not be physically demanding but it sure is mentally demanding.

It was originally closed as "not constructive", which I agree with.

I don't find any of the so-called answers particularly illuminating.

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    The question crops up from time to time and I like knowing how to answer it. And the accepted answer is great. Furthermore, and please don’t take this personally, it’s irrelevant what you think. You don’t have to like the question but there’s a big difference between not liking a discussion and deleting it. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 20 '11 at 10:00
  • @Konrad: Agree when you say that it doesn't matter what one person thinks. But surely, there must have been a voting to decide on deleting that particular question, and you have every right to know why it got deleted. – n0nChun Mar 20 '11 at 11:40
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    @konrad editorially several people thought it was not constructive. And popularity is not always the correct metric, if simple "this is popular, therefore it must stay" was the rule, our sites would be 100% pornography. That's popular therefore it must be correct? – Jeff Atwood Mar 20 '11 at 21:22
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    Nice ad absurdum. How is pornography relevant here? What I’m saying is: opinions differ, hence let’s err on the side of safety. I remember this being the consensus of prior discussions on the subject – what changed? I think the question is perfectly on topic. Editorially it’s not great but it’s a valid question, interesting at that, and got great answers. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 21 '11 at 8:05

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