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I came across this question:

What are the key differences between software engineers and programmers?

It appears to be a typical opinion-based, open-ended, chatty, discussion type of question from the NPR days. It is closed, and with good reason.

I went to cast a delete vote, but there is a duplicate pointing to it:

What's the difference between a “developer” and a “programmer”?

This question suffers from the same problems as the first one. Currently, it is stuck at 5 delete votes.

I suspect many of the usual suspects have already cast their votes, so could we please rally the troops and finish this battle by deleting both questions in order?

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    first question has about 120K views. In the past I would recommend historical lock but seeing how SE management persists in ignoring very easy to implement feature of making historic posts look less confusing for outside visitors makes me feel like deletion is the way to go – gnat May 25 '17 at 20:36
  • @gnat some questions that are OT or otherwise not a good fit might be historical lock candidates. However, these are a bit... squishy... for lack of a better word. If Stack Exchange were a water park, questions like those are sort of like sliding down 100 feet, enjoying every second of it, only to fall on your back onto a squishy sponge instead of a pool. A water slide that is sub standard might be okay to let stand with a warning sign, but sometimes, you need to take an axe to the ride and make sure nobody hurts themselves coming out of the chute. – user22815 May 26 '17 at 3:48
  • following your analogy a solid reason to keep it would be that Winston Churchill slid from it 100 years ago and it's in all tourist guides because of that. However as you correctly pointed this changes if it still does harm people (because water park mgmt doesn't want to move a finger to properly separate it from working slides). Removal may become reasonable option if it turns out the only way to stop the ongoing damage – gnat May 26 '17 at 8:04
  • ...maybe we just need to temporary delete all historical questions and keep them that way until SE team implements less confusing visuals (it's dead easy afterall but they just don't care). They probably demonstrated enough willingness to ignore our pain for us to start taking care of it ourselves. Lost views of deleted questions may cause them pain, I don't know but oh well. It would be only fair to ignore that just like they have chosen to ignore our pain – gnat May 26 '17 at 8:05
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    @gnat The only reason that questions like this get the views they do is because they are linked out on popular forums, articles and discussion boards. Let me play devils advocate here, if I were SE, I might NOT want to 404 a whole mess of links that introduce potentially hundreds of new people to our site. It is basically free advertising. We hook some of them in, they are interested in finding out what this site is about, they sign up and we introduce them with the Tour, maybe they have some expertise they would like to contribute or perhaps a really good question. – maple_shaft May 26 '17 at 12:54
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    I don't agree with deleting historical locked questions. I DO believe that we need to make it more apparent and more visually noticeable when a question is Historically Locked. – maple_shaft May 26 '17 at 12:55
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    @maple_shaft historical questions like ones discussed here tend to hook the wrong kind of visitors I'm afraid. Looking at these one can only expect that topics over here are about stupid differences between programmers and software engineers. And misleading visuals only make it worse - even folks who could potentially integrate here, they ask similar inappropriate questions (instead of learning what else is here), get them voted down and closed, bump into blocks / rate limits and lose interest – gnat May 26 '17 at 14:02
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    I think you both raise valid points - bad questions can bring more eyeballs and possibly participation, but perhaps they are the wrong eyeballs and the wrong type of participation. Remember, most users get to any SE site from google search, and do not necessarily understand how to ask good questions. – user22815 May 26 '17 at 14:11
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    @gnat I challenge the assertion that they are the wrong kind of visitors. Do we have any data to back that up? – maple_shaft May 26 '17 at 15:18
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    @maple_shaft job titles are career matters, explicitly off-topic here. But that could still be okay if they followed normal path of a random visitor mind you, "let's see what else is here, ah SDLC... this also might be interesting". Unfortunately misleading visuals cut this path. Think of how it feels like for someone searching for job titles when they land in historic question that looks so much like a regular one. "Wow score 200 and 20 answers, this is sure the place where my similar question will be welcome"... – gnat May 26 '17 at 15:44
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    ...and you know what happens next. Downvotes, close, block - even when they potentially could integrate as I mentioned in prior comment, they miss that chance - just because SE team have chosen to spend months on SO Documentation over few hours on changing background color in historical questions – gnat May 26 '17 at 15:44
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    @gnat one of those options brings in revenue, the other does not. Also, remember that Stack Exchange now fails item 5 on the Joel Test. – user22815 May 26 '17 at 15:50
  • If you delete an obvious question, someone will simply ask it again. Leave the bad question and say why it is bad. Better to have it sit there as a sort of FAQ than to have to deal with it again and again. Now, back to "Can I use RegEx to parse HTML..." Hmm. Interesting stuff here... Maybe I should ask about it. – user251748 Jun 6 '17 at 15:53
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After 12 up / 0 down votes to this answer and no answers expressing a problem, I applied a historical lock to both questions. This should make it clear that these questions aren't acceptable here anymore, but won't break anything that may be linking to them.

I also cleaned up the answers to both questions.


I don't think deletion is appropriate, but I'm going to let the community weigh in before I take action.

The first question is averaging 20k views/year for its lifetime. The second almost 6k views/year over its life. They aren't good questions, but deleting them outright could potentially cause links to go 404, and that's a bad thing for the broader Internet.

I'd be in favor of cleaning up any negatively scored answers, perhaps even 0 scored answers, and then applying a historical lock. The closure and historical lock should discourage anyone from asserting that their question belongs because those questions do (and even if someone makes that argument, they would clearly be in the wrong) while avoiding breaking questions that contain something that likely will prove to be useful or insightful to other people who may find it via Google or (even more importantly) linked to from another site.

  • I posted a meta question about them, rather than flagging them for mod-nuke-from-orbit. I have my opinion about these questions, but feel that in this case it is better to try to persuade the community than a mod. – user22815 May 26 '17 at 3:43
  • @Snowman A meta question is a good call. But if you had flagged them for deletion, I would not have deleted them, but just historical locked them. It's a holiday weekend, so participation may be lower than normal. I'll follow up later - maybe Wednesday or Thursday - to see where this goes. Please ping me if I haven't edited this post or left comments by then. – Thomas Owens May 26 '17 at 10:18
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    I vote for historical locking both questions in OP's link. I don't agree with deleting popular links like that. Many articles and discussion boards are affected by decisions like that which gives a bad reputation for our site, discouraging future users from linking to our site. It is also a good conduit for free advertising. A number of contributing users may have discovered this site by following one of these links to a historical locked question. – maple_shaft May 26 '17 at 13:00
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    Deleting these questions may encourage others to make the questions again. – Laiv May 27 '17 at 13:11
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    @Laiv the questions are off-topic now given the new site scope, and would be quickly closed. – user22815 May 27 '17 at 22:12
  • @Snowman: new site scope? The site name was changed last year, not the scope. – Doc Brown May 30 '17 at 4:19
  • I fully agree to @maple_shaft, a historical lock is IMHO the appropriate action, for all those reasons already mentioned. – Doc Brown May 30 '17 at 4:25
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    @DocBrown the site scope has been changed drastically in the seven years since those questions were originally asked. – user22815 May 30 '17 at 4:58
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    I think the comments should be aggressively cleaned up. I am adding some flags to your queue... – Aaron Hall May 31 '17 at 20:23

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