My understanding of the policy is that questions that are too subjective should be closed but not deleted, because they might still contain useful information for people.

So why was this question deleted?

  • 3
    That's too bad it had some good information... according to the edit history it was closed twice, both times by a single Moderator vote. It was re-opened by 5 users last year: GrandmasterB, NickC, Robert Harvey, Mr. CRT, SnOrfus. I believe 2 of those are or have been moderators, and 1 was a moderator candidate this year, so I would assume they know what they're talking about.
    – Rachel
    Feb 15, 2012 at 15:14
  • 1
    @Rachel: After a spate of unreasonable moderator closings on stackoverflow (mostly by CasperOne), I'm beginning to question to the wisdom of allowing moderators to forcibly close questions that are really more of a judgement call - they should instead be given the ability to simply vote on it like everyone else. Feb 15, 2012 at 15:21
  • 3
    The whole point of moderators is so they can handle the exceptions on the site. Limiting their power would just render them ineffective. I'd rather see something like yearly elections so we can get rid of moderators when we don't agree with their moderator style, or perhaps impeachment petitions so if you can gather enough support, you could force a moderator out of power :)
    – Rachel
    Feb 15, 2012 at 15:30
  • But if you disagree with some moderator action(s), feel free to post on Meta about it. It could be they're trying to accomplish something that isn't understandable at first glance, such as clearing out off-topic questions.
    – Rachel
    Feb 15, 2012 at 15:32
  • 3
    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Let's not bring another site's moderator behaviour (valid or not) here. None of us here are CasperOne. As Rachel said, if you have an issue with any of the moderators here, please feel free to speak up about that instead. Thanks. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Feb 16, 2012 at 4:38
  • 5
    @Rachel don't you think impeachment movements would render moderators ineffective, too? "Why was my lovely campfire question closed by the evil mods?!! Take away their diamond!!" As the answers here show (and my experience as a mod shows, when closing things), many people are happy to whine on the various metas about unjust closures, but nobody is prepared to actually make an edit or take action to fix the question. It's been closed for three months - if it's that big a deal, edit it, flag for undeletion. It clearly isn't, or it'd have been done.
    – user10197
    Feb 17, 2012 at 11:27
  • @Ninefingers I don't think so. Most people will accept a closure if more than one person closes the question instead of a single mod, and many of the users voted for these mods so I doubt they'd try to impeach them over a few questions. I know I wouldn't try to get rid of a moderator unless I really dislike the way they're moderating as a whole. I can agree to disagree with them over a few questions. But I do think that if the people had some power over existing moderators, then perhaps they'd be more willing to listen to them.
    – Rachel
    Feb 17, 2012 at 13:07
  • Also, poll questions are always closed on P.SE - It would take hours of re-writing to make that one fit our current site scope since you'd basically need to combine all the answers into a single answer, and re-write the question to ask for a canonical list instead of various experiences
    – Rachel
    Feb 17, 2012 at 13:07
  • @Rachel Questions on canonical lists will also be closed on sight. We may try to salvage some old questions by turning them into canonical lists, but please don't assume they will ever fit the Q&A format of the site. If asked today, I will close as soon as I see them.
    – yannis
    Feb 17, 2012 at 13:45
  • That's what I mean... you encourage people to edit questions when we bring them to your attention, but already know they'll be closed no matter what the edit is because the question basically asks for a list of things, no matter how helpful that list may be to programmers.
    – Rachel
    Feb 17, 2012 at 14:32
  • 1
    @Rachel I encourage people to edit questions to make them on topic and / or constructive. That has nothing to do with whatever anyone feels might be helpful or interesting, and the two of us had that discussion quite a few times. If that previous comment was addressed to me personally, I find it quite insulting that you are trying to twist my words to fit your opinions. I love lists but they are not a good fit for the site, period. If our efforts to salvage old questions are confusing people to think lists are acceptable here, then perhaps we should just delete them.
    – yannis
    Feb 17, 2012 at 14:52
  • @YannisRizos That was a note for all moderators, since you all have been encouraging editing questions that we both know will can not be saved. If I had meant it for just you I would have added your name to it.
    – Rachel
    Feb 17, 2012 at 15:06
  • @Rachel We have been encouraging improvements to salvage questions, not just edits. And we all have gone at great lengths to explain what the improvements should be, either on Meta posts or by actually salvaging questions.
    – yannis
    Feb 17, 2012 at 15:50
  • @Rachel: This is yet another great example of why we need you to run for moderator next time to provide a little more balance amongst the moderators.
    – Jim G.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:06

3 Answers 3


The mods posting here have well-linked answers, but unfortunately, they don't actually answer the question... even the mod to "blame" (for lack of a better word) can't really provide an answer.

The truth is that it was deleted because it was closed. In time, that happens to most or all question that get closed.

It was closed because there was, and still is, a difference between what the community considers a good, constructive question and what the moderators consider a good, constructive question.

The question was closed by one mod, reopened by 5 users, and closed again by one mod. That decision is not likely to change.

Clearly, what your take away should be is that it doesn't matter if the community thought the question was helpful, informative or constructive.

It doesn't matter if new, upcoming, devs that work with you fervently apply one-return per function, or write O(n^3) functions when O(n) exists because premature optimization is the root of all evil... or any of the other pieces of solid wisdom that potentially hundreds of users thought was important enough to upvote and then re-open. It's gone now, go figure out how to be a professional developer somewhere else. This is not the place for those kinds of things. "Not constructive" or "Too much like a list" they'll tell you.

I also hope you didn't get any reputation from that question - or think that reputation matters - because it's gone now.

  • 1
    This is part of why I feel we need to rename the site. Users expect a site on programmers, in which case that question is great (other than it being a poll, which I can overlook because of the good answers), while the moderators are trying to maintain a site focused on software development. I don't think moderators should ever close a question with a single vote TWICE. If other users had voted to close it, I'd understand, but a single mod vote is upsetting.
    – Rachel
    Mar 2, 2012 at 0:33
  • 2
    @Rachel: But what do you call a site that has become about licensing, hiring and fresh grads? Mar 2, 2012 at 0:41
  • programmers.stackexchange - a site for programmers and about programmers. Those are all questions that frequently come up in a programmer's world
    – Rachel
    Mar 2, 2012 at 3:31
  • "I also hope you didn't get any reputation from that question - or think that reputation matters - because it's gone now." Well maybe not Mar 6, 2012 at 16:40

As Thomas already mentioned, there is no policy in keeping around closed questions indefinitely. If a question was closed, it's on a path to deletion, regardless of the specific close reason.

We allow for a fair amount of time for the community to step up and salvage the question, for this specific question a little less than three months. The question was closed on Nov 20 '11 at 17:22 and deleted on Feb 9 at 17:01, and although there were edits in between, none addressed its "non constructive" issues significantly.

Furthermore the question was one of the highest voted of the [best-practices] tag, one of the more troublesome meta tags we had, a honey pot for extremely low quality questions. There might have been some useful information in there, but popularity alone not a good question makes.

  • Associating the question under discussion with a blog post about meme-based content is out of context at best, and otherwise disingenuous. Mar 1, 2012 at 22:13

Closed is meant as a temporary state for question. A question that is closed is on the chopping block, so to speak. Either someone should make heroic edits to the question to fix the reason why it was closed, or the question will eventually get deleted. As to why this particular question was deleted at this particular time, I'm not sure.

  • +1 for heroic edits. One of the most important guidelines one needs to know. Feb 16, 2012 at 9:14

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