@MichaelT and I were discussing the purpose of locked questions last night in chat. He brought up this post from Meta.SE: What is a historical lock, and what is it used for?

When is it appropriate to lock a question for historical reasons?

When is it appropriate to lock a question for historical reasons?

Questions can be historically locked when:

  1. The post is Off-Topic or Not Constructive, and
  2. The post is stellar, in spite of its off-topic nature, and
  3. There are a large number of views, upvotes and inbound links on the post, and
  4. The post is contentious; i.e. it has been closed and reopened at least once, or deleted and undeleted at least once

When is it not appropriate to historically-lock a question?

Questions should not be historically locked if they:

  1. Are being actively maintained, or
  2. Have little or no redeeming value.

With this in mind, I searched for all locked posts. We have 744 locked posts; many of these are good and we should keep around, and is quite a lot of posts especially for what would have to be a moderator only review. Can we do better?

We have 175 posts that match the search locked:yes views:0..5000 score:0..10 duplicate:no migrated:no. They have low views (so don't help much with SEO), low score, and don't help with searching as merge source questions, and won't disappear on their own when the migration timeout ends. This search results in gems like these first three posts returned under relevance sort:

I see almost no reason to keep any of these 175 posts. They add nothing. If we drop the view threshold to 2000 posts, we are still left with 142 questions.

Why should we bother?

@MichaelT said it best last night:

Consider if that is the type of impression we wish to give to users who are coming into the site about the types of things we have on the site (remember, new users don't know / understand / care about historical locks).

I know that not all of these are historical locks; many (most? all?) of them are rejected migrations. That's no reason to keep them. Note that migration rejected stubs never get deleted from the destination site!

Let's get rid of them with fire.

Burn with fire!

  • I flagged a bunch of these after the discussion in this meta post
    – durron597
    May 20, 2015 at 23:48
  • It should probably be noted that the lock for most of these is because the post got migrated here from another site, and then closed. It gets auto-locked to prevent it from going back to the original site. This is not the same as a historical lock.
    – Rachel
    May 21, 2015 at 14:30
  • @Rachel "I know that not all of these are historical locks; many (most? all?) of them are rejected migrations. That's no reason to keep them."
    – durron597
    May 21, 2015 at 14:30
  • Ah I missed that comment. I'm not sure what deleting a migrated question would do, if anything. I noticed that many of them were deleted at their source site, so it might just do nothing.
    – Rachel
    May 21, 2015 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


The locked questions that I am particularly (dis)interested in are the ones that were historically locked at some point in the back and really haven't aged well. They are relatively low view and vote.

is:question closed:yes locked:yes duplicate:no migrated:no views:..3000 votes:..20

Note that this picks up a fair number of rejected migrations too.

This query brings up things such as:

I hold that these questions (and others) should be closely reexamined with the criteria from MSE.

I do not believe that any of these questions meet the criteria of "The post is stellar, in spite of its off-topic nature" and likely also fail to come close to the criteria of "There are a large number of views, upvotes and inbound links on the post". Despite these question being several years old they have not shown that they have the views or the score to warrant permanency.

I believe that these questions should be deleted. If you wish to unlock them first and then have the community delete them, that's certainly an option. Note that only one of them in this list would require more than three delete votes.

After digging a bit on Data.SE this isn't too big of a list to re-evaluate (once you get the migrations, unlocked, and merged questions out of there) it brings up a number of... well,

These are questions that we are saying have historical significance and are stellar examples (all be it off topic) of what the site wishes to maintain.


locked:yes views:0..2000 score:0..3 duplicate:no migrated:no

After a few days, we should have enough agreement on this batch of 49 questions to move forward with the actions in the below headings.

The following questions should remain closed but not deleted

The following questions should remain closed, but be unlocked and have their answers undeleted:

These questions should be deleted:

1 score:

2 score:

3 score:

  • 1
    @Mapleshaft for programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/21032/… - lets revisit this in a few months. Since your canonical edit two years ago, the question has only gotten a typo fix. Is there sufficient community behind the question to keep it up to date and useful?
    – user40980
    Jun 9, 2015 at 3:04

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