Due to a huge amount of feedback received on Meta Stack Overflow regarding the deletion of massively-upvoted but off-topic/not-constructive questions, questions locked for historical reasons have taken on new behavior that could be beneficial for Programmers (emphasis mine):

Last but not least, we’re experimenting with ways to keep some of the more useful – or even just fun – questions from the site’s history accessible in some way. To be clear: most of these are not great examples of questions that should be asked today… But some of them are, quite frankly, brilliant – and losing them entirely just because they aren’t a good fit for our strict Q&A format is wrong. For now, we’ve provided a “Historical Artifact” lock that completely freezes a question and its answers, preventing all further editing, voting, answering, and flagging. It will also remove it from the usual lists of questions on the site while allowing it to remain fully accessible and visible to everyone with a link to it.

This, to me, obviates at least in part previous guidance that locks should not be a substitute for closure and eventual deletion even on the whale questions.

Since these questions are unlikely to be deleted any time soon, I'd like to propose locking for historical reasons the site's most popular closed questions—and thus removing them from the site's top questions list and helping to mitigate some user confusion—that have 100 score or more.

This would be the following questions:

Doing so should substantially clean up one of the major broken windows on the site: the highest voted questions list.

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    @JimG. My name's Mark, not Rachel. :) Only 25 out of 69 questions with 100+ score have been closed, many by members of the community like yourself. Highly upvoted questions are naturally looked at more closely by everyone because they appear in so many more places. But this is completely off-topic to this request. – user8 Mar 12 '12 at 4:26
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    Only 25 out of 69 questions with 100+. Only? That's 1/3 of the most useful questions. Closed. – Jake Berger Mar 13 '12 at 16:52
  • @jberger 1/3 closed, many by community members, is substantially less than every top question being scrutinized by moderators as needing to be immaculate and fit the charter perfectly to remain open. Again, completely off-topic to this request. If you want to go on a suicide mission to try to reopen all the top-voted questions, go create a new meta question for that. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 18:22
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    I would have to say it's related and not completely off-topic. Also, even though I support it, I wasn't responding to JimG.'s comment. (I was responding to yours.) Finally, I don't like cleaning up others' mess. – Jake Berger Mar 13 '12 at 18:41
  • @jberger That's your prerogative, but the site belongs to those who show up and try to get things done, not those who complain from the sidelines about unrelated issues. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 18:52
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    @MarkTrapp It's not a prerogative. It's a feeling ;) Obviously, sometimes I'm required to clean up others' mess. However, I never like to do it (even if I am getting paid for it). Funny you say the site belongs to those who show up and try to get things done, because I'm reading The sites are free and open to everyone on the SE about page. Taking a line for PoC, I think the FAQ are more of "guidelines" than actual rules. Let the community shape itself. (This is where P.SE falls flat on it's face.) – Jake Berger Mar 13 '12 at 19:06
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    @jberger The community did shape itself early in beta. Unfortunately, from your reputation, it looks like you've come here in the false assumption that this site is something other than what it actually is due to the amount of broken windows Programmers has (which issues like this are attempting to clean up). If you have any questions about what the site scope is, feel free to create a new meta question but be warned you've come awfully late to the scope party. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 19:15

For reference, the historical lock notification reads as:

Historical significance

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: FAQ.

In the Meta Stack Overflow discussion I was in favour of deleting all the whales, mainly because the arguments in favour of keeping them around didn't convince me. However we are not Stack Overflow, we had a somewhat sudden change of direction and most of these questions are actually of historical significance, mostly as a reminder of the early days of our site.

I would really love to keep them around, locked, but keep in mind that this only applies to currently closed questions that are scored over 100, similar questions that were deleted in the past should stay deleted. The historical lock is not an excuse to bring every crap back from the grave.


All the questions are now locked. It did make much more sense to do that from the beginning as they were unsalvageable and had gone long enough without anyone stepping in to improve them.

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    Part of me is wondering if our next STCI shouldn't be a tag, but the closed questions. This would enable us to save, lock, or delete the almost 3000 closed questions. Although I'd also put a time window on it: questions that are at least 6 months old. – Thomas Owens Mod Mar 12 '12 at 11:53
  • @ThomasOwens Well then it wouldn't be an S-Tag-CI ;) Let's finish with the current proposals, and then we can discuss cleaning up closed questions in a more organized manner. – yannis Mar 12 '12 at 12:03
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    @YannisRizos True, it wouldn't be an STCI. But I think it might have to happen sooner than after all of the current proposals. We're closing a lot of questions from the STCIs and probably should do a clean up of those before it becomes unbearable. – Thomas Owens Mod Mar 12 '12 at 12:12
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    @ThomasOwens We do need to do something about the closed questions, however we can't really decide on a comment thread. STCI close candidates that are blatantly off topic are deleted at the end of the cleanup period, so they aren't really a problem. The two remaining proposals have mostly on topic questions that even if closed as NC may still be salvageable, so probably won't be deleted soon. I've deleted quite a few negatively voted questions that wouldn't be automatically deleted. – yannis Mar 12 '12 at 12:26
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    @ThomasOwens (cont...) But for positively scored closed questions I feel we should come up with a sensible and thorough plan. Right now I'd like to finish with the remaining STCI proposals (since the community decided we should do them as proposed), get the blog started and probably do a mini contest event (details pending). I would very much like cleaning up closed questions, however since we removed the bulk of off topic career related questions I don't see them as an issue that should be dealt with immediately. – yannis Mar 12 '12 at 12:29
  • I will try to go through some of the questions this weekend when I have more time, but for now can you delete all answers with a score of zero or less? We only have a limited number of moderator flags. – Rachel Mar 13 '12 at 16:56
  • @Rachel Obviously I can delete all the answers, and all the things, really ;) However, I won't delete anything on these questions if there isn't at least a flag on them (a flag that I agree with, obviously). If you really want these to stay around, help us clean them up, I don't like deleting answers on my own. You don't have to go through all the questions at once, there is no time limit here, go through one or two this weekend if you find some time. This isn't about a handful of people, we are not a Meta police doing everything on our own ;P – yannis Mar 13 '12 at 17:06
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    This is all well and good, but the purpose of the historical lock is to be a holding area for questions that suck, but can't be deleted for whatever reason (i.e., to frame garbage), not showcase how well we can curate content. If these questions were well-curated, they'd be open. In fact, the only reason those questions aren't locked now is because we had past (now obviated) guidance saying closure should always be favored over locking. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 19:20
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    If you're going to delete them instead of lock them, go for it, but forcing people to dress up off-topic questions before you take action (delete or lock) is a waste of everyone's time. Heroic editing should be saved for when there's a good chance a question's actually going to get reopened. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 19:24
  • @MarkTrapp If we are going to keep them around in any way, I prefer they are at the best shape they can be, regardless if they obviously don't belong based on our current scope and standards. Most of the whales are linked to all around the place and they will still be signposts for the site even if locked. And I really don't think I asked for heroic edits. – yannis Mar 13 '12 at 19:38
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    @YannisRizos If a question is going to be edited to be the best it can be, reopen it! The point of locking or deleting is that a question has absolutely no chance of being saved, the difference being that a lock is slightly less disruptive and preserves the history of the question. Revising history on incredibly popular questions by deleting and consolidating answers is exactly the type of thing having the historical lock was supposed to prevent against. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 20:05
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    @MarkTrapp Where was this Mark Trapp when you were a moderator!? Thank you for phrasing what I wanted to say but didn't know how to do so diplomatically and clearly :) – Rachel Mar 13 '12 at 20:06
  • @MarkTrapp Where did I ask for edits? – yannis Mar 13 '12 at 20:07
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    @YannisRizos "3. Edit the question and its answers / If we are keeping the questions around as historically significant, it makes sense to fix even the most minor mistakes in the question and its top answers." Perfect example of how editing questions before locking harms more than it helps: this question was closed and dead, but due to the policy of editing before locking, it was bumped and accrued new answers and now has a permanent home on the front page of the site as people flock to a wildly popular bikeshed question. – user8 Mar 13 '12 at 20:10
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    @MarkTrapp You are right on that, removed it. – yannis Mar 13 '12 at 20:13

I love this idea, how soon can we implement it? :)

  • Well as soon as you can convince a moderator ;P – yannis Mar 12 '12 at 9:23

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