Today, someone asked Why do we need both Priority and Severity? (10k link) which is clearly on-topic being about software development concepts and all that, but was soon closed as primarily opinion based. That's correct, as it was not an exact duplicate of the much older How do you classify bug severity? (10k link) which was also closed as opinion-based (again, correctly).

But as I went back to these questions, I suddenly found them both murdered deleted – by a mod, so I can't vote to undelete. Why were these questions deleted? Should we delete all questions as soon as they are closed? Or should we keep closed questions around if they solicited at least one valuable answer?

I asked the all-knowing help center, which told me:

Questions that are extremely off topic, or of very low quality, may be removed at the discretion of the community and moderators. Over time, closed questions that are not useful as signpoints to other questions may also be removed, as well as questions which have no significant activity over a very long period after being asked. If you want to improve a question to keep it from being deleted, click the edit button beneath it.

These questions were neither extremely off topic (only a bit opinion-based), and not of very low quality. As such, I'm not sure that these questions meet the criteria for deletion.

I frequently vote to delete a question if:

  • it is not reasonably possible to edit them into a comprehensible, on-topic question
  • and it is of low quality, e.g. as indicated by many downvotes
  • or if it is a remnant of the not-programming-related days which featured a significantly different site scope.

Is my focus on topicality as the main criterion for the delete/no delete correct, or do we as a community decide to apply stricter standards?

  • an alternative to deleting dupe target question would be to edit it into a better shape. After that, moderators would have to delete at least half of the answers (those that don't mention severity at all - 6 of 12), maybe more
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 21:53
  • 3
    I've undeleted both, so users with less than 10K have a chance to participate in this discussion. I don't know why they were deleted, but I do have a pretty good guess at least for the older one (which was closed & inactive for years): "closed questions that are not useful as signpoints to other questions may also be removed, as well as questions which have no significant activity over a very long period after being asked"
    – yannis
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 7:59
  • @Yannis See my answer. I made a mistake with deleting it.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 14:05
  • 4
    Deleting questions is never a mistake @maple_shaft ;)
    – yannis
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 14:56
  • This post broke my sarcasmeter.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 21:26

3 Answers 3


After looking at gnat's edit, and after I took care of a confusing answer, I reopened the question to give it another chance.

Thanks again for that edit gnat. I was cleaning a complicated spider web of duplicate targets when I came upon this one. I got a little confused at this point and may have deleted too hastily when it had some potential to be salvaged.

  • 3
    Thanks for taking care of the site :) Some false positives are an inevitable byproduct of any categorization, but I'm glad this one could be corrected.
    – amon
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 14:16
  • edits I made to the question invalidated some answers, could you please take care of that? As mentioned in my answer here, after undeletion these answers look quite confusing for site visitors - this, this, this, this and this (last two posted by same user - "poll items")
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    @gnat Thats a different question, but I deleted all but three of the answers, none of which I thought were that exceptional BTW, but after your edit I reopened to give it another shot.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:30
  • thanks @maple_shaft - your cleanup makes good sense (took me a while to re-check all your deletions over there:). Reopening also looks reasonable
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 21:06
  • 4
    -1 for not blaming Haskell.
    – user53019
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:32

At the moment of deletion (rev 3) the older question was a mess.

Title looked on-topic, even though bit broad: "How do you classify bug severity?"

Text of the question opened with plain description of bug priorities in asker's team, without any connection to question in title and without any mentioning of the problems with these. The only way I could make sense of it is to assume that OP was interested in how to complement it with severities.

After that, asker proceeded with an outright poll which, again, looks difficult to relate to question title: "How do other teams classify bugs in their system?"

Given the title, I would say they maybe were interested to learn about classifying bug severities... this would still sound like a blatant poll but at least more relevant to the topic in title.

Answers to this question, respectively, look like a bunch of unrelated bits. It has got 12 answers, only 3-5 of which look sensible - likely from those who paid attention to the title and took into account details provided in text.

Other answers are total mess. Some drill into discussing asker's bug priorities, even though question doesn't indicate that OP is having difficulties with these. Others are useless poll items written apparently in reply to the "poll request" that was dumped in the end of the question text - including even two answers from the same user.

If moderator saw what I saw there, no wonder they preferred to delete. Messy poll, followed by bunch of unrelated answers, many of which look totally useless. It's not even very high views - 5K.

After it was deleted, I took a liberty to edit it into more coherent and convenient dupe target, without worrying about invalidating answers (10K users can edit deleted posts).

Since then, it was undeleted but unfortunately as of now bunch of the answers look totally irrelevant to the (edited) question. This is bad, it sends wrong signal to site visitors who are unlikely to dive into edit history to find what happened. "Hey you can drop anything you want into the answer without paying attention to what is asked."

I would recommend to either remove answers invalidated by the edit, or rollback the question to the state as it was prior to deletion, to keep existing answers intact.


I find this rater funny. If my question is causing problems just delete it.

  • 3
    No, we don't “just” delete questions. While your question isn't the best, it got a couple of nice, valuable answers that I'd be sad to see go. We as a Programmers.SE community have rules and conventions determining whether a question should be deleted, and I felt that these had been (accidentally) violated by a moderator. This mod action – not your question – caused me to ask about our deletion guidelines.
    – amon
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Erin If you read the TOS you will see that content you post is owned by StackExchange as much as it is owned by you. Once you post something here we have the right to edit, close or delete it if we feel it is necessary. We are not saying that your content is causing problems, we are just trying to improve existing content to fit with the scope of the site. After gnat's edit I ended up reopening your question.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    Like I said you guys are funny. Have fun.
    – Erin
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:48
  • 2
    Welcome to Stack Exchange: 20% answering questions, 80% rule lawyering. Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 2:25

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