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I asked this question a while back. Today I was awarded the 1000 views badge. I looked at the question and noticed a delete vote.

I understand that a question like this isn't really suited for stack exchange. However, since this seems to be a fairly popular question, should it be kept and not deleted. Or does popularity not really matter for closed questions(that aren't duplicates)?

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    I liked that first answer so much I voted to reopen! – Peter Turner Sep 26 '12 at 19:07
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Closed questions should be kept on the site when:

  1. They are a duplicate of another on topic question. As there are many ways of asking the same question it's good that we have the different examples on the site.
  2. ....

Well that's it really.

All other closed questions are candidates for deletion. This could be either automatically if they are down-voted and/or have no answers or manually for questions with a positive score.

Where possible questions should be edited to bring them into line with the site's scope and then flagged for reopening, but where the question is not salvageable deletion is the only option.

Just because something's popular doesn't make it on topic.

  • Well, I know that many questions on SO are horrible questions, but have been closed and locked to prevent deletion. Old programming book recommendations are what comes to mind. At what point is a resource important enough to keep even if it's not a good fit? – Earlz Sep 26 '12 at 14:48
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    @Earlz - in my opinion never. However, people have complained so we have the historical lock. – ChrisF Sep 26 '12 at 14:49
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    @Earlz personally I keep closed stuff on UX when the information is valuable (not just "fun"; useful). It's not a hard and fast rule though. And, more realistically, lots of existing closed stuff was just never reviewed or improved after the closure and it got forgotten, since unless it's crazy bad I don't immediately delete stuff. – Ben Brocka Sep 26 '12 at 15:31
  • I'd agree with @BenBrocka here. We keep many questions around because they contain useful/valuable information, although they are closed because they are not on-topic for the site or they don't match SE's question guidelines. – Rachel Sep 26 '12 at 17:32
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In this post Jeff Atwood argues in favor of keeping a post that is off-topic not only un-deleted, but open. He says:

In my mind, there are three broad guidelines that determine whether a question is appropriate for Stack Overflow:

  • Does this question match the criteria provided in the Stack Overflow FAQ?
  • Is this question accepted by the community, as reflected in upvotes, favorites, views, and answers?
  • Does this question teach me anything that could make me better at my job? Can I learn something from it?

Then later says:

As Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad.

I think that's a reasonable policy to keep in mind both when closing and when deleting questions.

Some people can believe in a die-hard policy that closing is a temporary state and questions must either improve and be opened or be deleted. I think that policy is arbitrary (closing isn't a temporary state due to a law of physics, it's temporary if we make it so, and the question is whether we should make it so), and that it makes more sense to say that questions that are out of scope, but popular and useful, but maybe not quite popular and useful enough to be open, should not be deleted.

One inevitable consequence of this is a degree of subjectivity, and therefore a certain degree of perceived (perhaps actual) unfairness. But a little subjectivity can be a good thing, and I think it's preferable to the alternative of removing useful and popular content from the internet.

  • The only big hole with that is it's easy to ask a popular subjective question. I remember back in 2009 this was a huge thing as people would make easy subjective questions and get to 2K reputation after a month without doing anything actually "productive"... minus that aspect, I completely agree with this. And SE in general seems to care a lot less about reputation now with all of the approval mechanisms for low-rep users to contribute in ways high-rep users do – Earlz Sep 26 '12 at 17:16
  • @Earlz - But Scott's 3rd point, that the subjective question be "useful" (itself subjective, yes) is important. Easy subjective questions that are useful deserve the reputation (IMHO), easy subjective questions that are silly reputation bait need to go away. – psr Sep 26 '12 at 17:32
  • Scott Atwood??? – yannis Sep 26 '12 at 18:08
  • @Earlz Quite recently SE yielded to a ton of complaints about lost reputation, and now you don't lose reputation from deleted posts if they survived for more than two months and have a total score of at least +3. That's quite unfortunate (imho) as 1) people keep reputation they earned through populist but completely useless posts and 2) people don't care that much anymore to improve closed questions, even when it's their own or they have an answer on them, as they get to keep the rewards even if deleted. – yannis Sep 26 '12 at 18:27
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    I don't usually improve my own closed questions because it's so difficult to get them opened back up. I think in my 4 years of using SE/SO I've only had 2 or 3 questions that got closed and reopened, and I believe all of them were popular but subjective questions – Earlz Sep 26 '12 at 18:30
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    @YannisRizos - Apparently I did type Scott without realizing it. To avoid confusion let's just refer to him as "Dave". – psr Sep 26 '12 at 18:33

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