I saw a delete vote on a rather highly voted question Is it OK to split long functions and methods into smaller ones even though they won't be called by anything else?. And yes, I do have the top answer there.

This delete vote confuses me.

Part of the reason the question recently regained my attention is that I got an announcer badge from it (and I don't announce things). It turns out that it is linked from an external resource - ars technica - Ask Stack: Is it OK to split into small functions, even if they’re called once?. I believe it would be a bad thing for such questions to get deleted as they are used as examples of Programmers.SE. (The list of ars technica posts that have an author of 'stack-exchange' can be seen at http://arstechnica.com/author/stack-exchange/ )

Building on this, questions that are used by major news sources bring eyeballs to the site which is a key part of the SE business strategy. Like the questions or not, deleting these questions would be counter productive to the people that keep the lights on at the site.

Secondly, it has been fairly long and established policy that questions that are dupes to other questions shouldn't be deleted. The associated MSO discussion - Do not delete duplicates!

If I am missing something in the best practices for 10k tools, I would appreciate being informed what it is that I'm missing so I too can cast a delete vote on the question with a clear conscious and understanding of how .

If, on the other hand, someone else is missing some part of understanding of what to delete and not to delete, until the question is deleted (and given its high vote question and answers takes quite a few more votes), I would have difficulty knowing who to articulate my comments to (to the best of my knowledge, delete votes are private until they are acted upon), and thus am broadcasting them here.

Tangential question: If Stack Exchange wishes to keep these featured questions from news and blog around (and make note of them?) - should there be a 'major news source/blog' lock to prevent closed questions that have been featured in a way that SE wants to maintain from being accidentally deleted (either by an errant migration and close or misinformed mod or an over zealous 10ker?)

  • It should probably be noted that delete votes don't expire, so who knows how old that vote is.
    – Rachel
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 11:59
  • @Rachel there is one vote on there, and it was showed up in the 'recent votes' on the delete tab for the 1 day range on August 12th, so it was within 3 hours of me posting this question.
    – user40980
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 14:29
  • 2
    Those with the ability to VTC/VTD are much more trigger-happy on Programmers.SE than elsewhere on the StackExchange network... Hopefully that question sticks around, as it's exactly the type that we're trying to attract to this site.
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 15:21
  • Additional side note, that question is order-of-magnitudes more popular/more helpful than one of the ones it is supposedly a duplicate of. Convention I've seen most often is to close the worse one as duplicate, so that new users who arrive from Google/etc see that the better one is the open one. Perhaps which one is closed should be switched?
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 15:23
  • @Izkata There aren't that many acted upon VTD compared to community cleanup of negative voted, closed, unanswered questions. It is often challenging getting three votes for questions. This one will require ten votes... and even if it does get 10 votes, somehow, it only takes three votes to reopen (and I'm fairly sure there are people willing to do that). I was just confused by the vote and wondered if there was some policy that I was unaware of that would be a good justification for deleting it.
    – user40980
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 18:18
  • @Izkata as to the 'this is closed as a duplicate', thats probably a good thing as there is often an attraction of low quality answers to popular questions. By having this one be closed, the people who would otherwise want to just 'chime in' are deterred (they can go to the other answers, but aren't as chime-in-able). The popularity of the question didn't really come until after it was closed and dup'ed.
    – user40980
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


That's a lot of questions, and they are all valid, but they avoid a basic principle of voting, which is this: Community members can use their votes however they wish, so long as they are not being abusive.

I believe it would be a bad thing for such questions to get deleted

But the community may not.

It has been fairly long and established policy that questions that are dupes to other questions shouldn't be deleted

... Unless they are. The community may not deem the post worthy of preservation.

should there be a 'major news source/blog' lock to prevent closed questions that have been featured in a way that SE wants to maintain from being accidentally deleted?

Ask for a "historical lock." But be prepared to defend your request with reasoning and evidence; historical locks are used very sparingly, and only under very specific circumstances.

What is a historical lock, and what is it used for?

  • I've asked for a number of historical locks as I've looked at old questions. The key wording in there "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." - the question doesn't meet those considerations... it was duped - and duped to two different open questions. If it was considered a not good, or not on topic then it would be appropriate for those questions to be closed.
    – user40980
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 17:44
  • With that many upvotes, it's extremely unlikely to be deleted (should require several deletion votes... The algorithm that determines the number of required deletion votes counts upvotes on answers as well as the question). Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 17:45
  • 2
    On the 10k delete stats page the number in parentheses shows how many more delete votes are necessary - this one will require a total of 10 delete votes. Given the difficulty of getting even 3 (the minimum) on a number of questions, I strongly suspect that it won't get deleted any time in the near future.
    – user40980
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 17:48

I think there is a misunderstanding, from the community, between closing a question and deleting it. FAQ doesn't help neither.

  • Closing should be applied to any question which is wrong from FAQ's point of view.

    Closing is an indication that the question has a problem: an indication for both the original author and the subsequent visitors, would they be willing to answer or comment, or simply ask a similar question.

  • Deleting, on the other hand, should be an extreme measure.

    Deleting is not an indication; it's a way to make the question disappear for anybody except members with high reputation. It also throws away the votes, which is extremely impolite for the users who took time to answer the question.

    There is nothing wrong in deleting a question which is "totally wrong": this includes spam or offensive speech, questions written by illiterate people who make no effort whatsoever, questions obviously off-topic (for example a question about horse breeds on Programmers.SE) or obviously duplicate (for example a question which copy-pastes another one), etc. But that's all.

    It's the degree of wrongness which should determine whether the question can be deleted or simply closed.

Personally, I follow the following guidelines:

  1. Vote to delete if the question is totally wrong.

  2. Vote to delete if the question is wrong and has no interest whatsoever for anybody except the original poster.

  3. Don't delete if the question may have an interest for someone except the original poster. Note that a question can serve as example of what is not welcome on Programmers.SE by its closed status. Delete the question, and the example will disappear, making it easier for future visitors to ask the same question again.

  4. Don't delete if the question has many votes.

  5. Don't delete a question which sucks but has a great or highly upvoted answer.

Obviously, I'm completely against the delete vote of the Is it OK to split long functions and methods into smaller ones even though they won't be called by anything else? question. It has 97 votes (98 if I count mine). It has an answer which received 156 upvotes. Yes, it should be closed, because it's a duplicate. But deleting it will not make Programmers.SE a better place.

As a side note:

  • There was a question on Programmers.SE which I had answered. The question was marked as a duplicate, but the answer was more detailed than answers of other questions. For months, I kept linking the answer in other answers on Stack Exchange and in different discussions outside SE, until one day when the question was deleted by a moderator. The harm of such deletion was important, while it had no benefit whatsoever.

  • There are plenty of questions on Stack Overflow I can't access because I don't have enough reputation, while those answers have a large amount of links to them. It's baffling to not being able to read them and feels wrong: a feeling compared to when you open Experts Exchange.

  • 2
    Even more baffling when one of the primary goals of StackOverflow and the entire StackExchange network is to avoid link rot. 'Tis horrible when it becomes a mess within one site, let alone to other sites that SE doesn't control...
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 15:26
  • There is indeed a misunderstanding: deletion is the normal fate of a closed question. Closed questions are not deleted immediately to give time to contest the closure or improve the question into one that can be reopened. If the question isn't reopened, it should be deleted. (However, the example that triggered this thread is a duplicate. Duplicates are normally not deleted, since they are suitable questions for the site that just happen to already have answers on another thread.) Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 20:30
  • @Gilles: this is what FAQ says. I disagree with it. I expressed my opinion and explained why deletion should be reserved only for questions which are really harmful for Stack Exchange. Izkata in his comment above lists another valid argument to reduce deletions to a minimum. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 20:50

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