I have begun to notice old posts (more than 1.5 years old) showing up in the close queue. Many sites, when they first begin, have more lax standards, and that is okay. However, as the community evolves and grows, should we judging older posts based our new standards today?

For instance, here is a screenshot of one post that I just reviewed:

enter image description here

I have encountered others as well, but that one's a good example.

The following meta links are taking from math.SE. I am bringing in these links to show what can happen when a community grows and there are many different people and personalities on the site. A subset of users can achieve deletion of closed questions with high quality answers.

  1. Downvoting can lead to autodeletion by a SE script
  2. Intentionally downvoting answers to force deletion by the auto-delete script
  3. Can question with accepted answers be delete (answer is yes)
  4. Votes to delete scale with upvotes on question and answer
  5. This one is from meta How does deleting work

Point nine of number 5 says: The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions with score of zero (or one if the owner is deleted), fewer than 1.5 views per day on average, and fewer than two comments after 365 days.

In summary, users can ban together to cause deletion of closed questions with accepted answers. They do this be downvoting the questions and answers and yes this does happen. It may not happen now when the community is equivalent to a town where everyone knows their neighbors but it tends to happen later. I believe that the site will grow and will eventually face this problem. If we close a bunch of questions now, we will just be setting them up as targets for users that believe they must go.

As a note, the user who started the downvote to delete campaign on math has been a member for less than a year and started this when they were a member for only two months at that time. Since that time, numerous questions and answers were deleted which has caused an uproar and still continues to this day. Some of prolific members have left for that reason, content destruction.

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    $\begingroup$ Following your edits, your question now deals with two quite different topics: 1) should old posts be judged by current standards with respect to closing?, and 2) how can we prevent malicious deletion of useful questions/answers (by delete votes or downvotes to trigger autodeletion)? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Apr 1 '15 at 8:06

I think it is ok to go through old postings (we have done this quite extensively a while ago, you probably missed that) and close those, where the person who asked them never reacted to clarifications and which are likely to be unanswerable. Or those who are too broad.

The community is getting bigger and improving in terms of the standards for questions and answers and I don't see it's wrong to at least partly apply this to old posts as well. You have probably noticed that not all old posts get axed.


I think you have a point, but there is a big difference between questions that were deemed useful when they were posted, and those that are just lying around unanswered. In the first category, you will find questions with many comments and useful answers, even if the original questions could be considered unclear/broad/etc (i.e. closeable) by current standards. I don't think these questions should be closed, since they were obviously considered ok back then, and the poster might have edited the Q after comments. However, I think it is more unproblematic to close unclear/"bad" questions that lack answers, especially since the OP might be gone and will not respond to comments to clarify.

I'm not sure in which of these two categories the questions that have been showing up in the close queue belong.

On the other hand, closed questions with useful answers will usually not be deleted even if they are closed, since that would require that several users considers the question + answers to be of low quality. In that sense, closing older questions is relatively unproblematic since they can still provide useful information to the site. However, personally, I find it a bit "unfair" to close old questions that were useful when posted, and that still provide good information.

When looking recently closed questions that you seem to have disagreed with (some quite recent, some old), most seem to fall into the second category:

I see these as rather unproblematic, and in one case the account of the original poster has been deleted. The possible exception might be the last question, where I think it would have been reasonable to comment before voting to close.

  • $\begingroup$ I am going to add some links to my OP. The reason for this is to address closed questions with useful answers will not be deleted. This not true. They can be deleted and once Bio grows there will be user that do certain activities to get them deleted. $\endgroup$ – dustin Mar 31 '15 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ I still don't get how you the claim useful answers will not be deleted on closed questions. That can and does happen. If I find a closed question with an answer with 1 or 0 upvotes and question score of $\leq 0$, I can downvote both the question and answer. This post will then be automatically deleted after so many days even if the answer is useful. $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 1 '15 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin Ok, they will usually not be deleted. Can you point to a problematic deletion of a useful post that has happened at BioSE as an example? Also note that it is a feature that questions and answers can be deleted if several users consider them to be of low quality. At the moment, you only seem to be considering the possible future downsides of this, and not the useful parts. In any case, I don't think you can do much to prevent the type of malicious deleting campains by a group of users that you are describing, except for changing the site-wide deletion system at StackExchange. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Apr 1 '15 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ That is why I think it is a bad idea to close post just because they don't fit now. It can potential set them up for deletion. Many sites thought users wouldn't downvote to force deletion but these user do appear and start these campaigns. Why make it easier on them by closing post with useful answers today because site norms changed? $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 1 '15 at 12:59

I am inclined to say no. The reason being is this like double jeopardy. At the time this question was asked, site standards were different and the post was already "tried" once and was found no guilty (if you don't mind the use of legal terms). Now, we are re-trying this post on today's standards. Users who were active around 2+ years ago may no longer be active now. If we close for no effort and they aren't around, the post will be closed since it wouldn't be saved by an edit or the OP fighting for it. What comes after closure? Perhaps deletion. It is my opinion we shouldn't destroy or setup old content to be destroyed by closing it today.

I am not saying to relax our current standards on new post or post that are from 2014 onwards but let's not throw out all the older content just because it doesn't fit today's standards. That is, pay attention to the dates of some of the post popping in the close queues. This is a recent phenomenon I have begun to notice. I don't know if it is intentionally or a user(s) who are only aware of today's standards. Since I was the first reviewer and there wasn't a close vote on it yet, this was from a flag so the user doesn't have close privileges yet.

  • $\begingroup$ It's me. I was just digging into the old stuffs and found quite a lot of very interesting questions and also questions that deserve, in my opinion to be closed. Had nothing to do with today standards, I just found that particular one (and other) to be very broad and non answerable as such. I am happy to stop flagging old questions for closure if this is what you prefer. In my opinion those poorly asked or too broad questions will never be answered therefore I don't really see a reason why they shouldn't be closed. $\endgroup$ – cagliari2005 Mar 31 '15 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ For the double jeopardy. I agree but on the other hand who will post an answer there honestly... If the user is not active anymore he will also not accept that answer therefore this question is unlikely to be marked as answered one day. If a user is still active and "fights" for his question then we know this post is still active and one should attempt to answer. $\endgroup$ – cagliari2005 Mar 31 '15 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ @cagliari2005 to be removed from the unanswered queue, you don't need a check mark just an upvoted answer. $\endgroup$ – dustin Mar 31 '15 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ I am learning every day :). Still I think some questions (old or not) deserve to be closed. I cannot see if this questions went through a closing vote before. Is there a way to access that information? $\endgroup$ – cagliari2005 Mar 31 '15 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ @cagliari2005 you don't have to go through a close to be "tried". What I mean is that questions are "tried" when they are posted. The community reads and determines if it is fit. If not, it is flagged or voted to be closed. $\endgroup$ – dustin Mar 31 '15 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ I have the feeling some questions went unnoticed but I might be wrong. I don't flag all the old questions just those I feel are unanswerable as such. Would be nice to hear what the community think about that. $\endgroup$ – cagliari2005 Mar 31 '15 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ @cagliari2005 standards are different when sites first start. Consider this question on SO. The answer is literally taking from the documentation. Those questions today on SO would be heavily downvoted, closed, and deleted but yet they survived in the beginning. Would you vote to close that question? If you did, do you think others would too? $\endgroup$ – dustin Mar 31 '15 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ I am not voting for closure questions that are trivial but those that are unclear or way too broad in my opinion and prevent an answer. I will keep that in mind though. You have an excellent point. $\endgroup$ – cagliari2005 Mar 31 '15 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ But what is the point of retaining such posts when they are not useful. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Apr 9 '15 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG have you see a lot of the post when the site first started? Many are no research effort? Should we close and delete them all? $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 9 '15 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin only with the ones with no answers and if they are found to be falling in the closable domain. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Apr 10 '15 at 5:40
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG just because the question is unanswerable or not answered years ago doesn't mean it wont or will be answered later. Closure of a post with no answer can lead to deletion. For instance, here I found an old post, thought it was interesting, and asked it in a better way. The original post was closed and now it is gone. Click link to see. You will find the original link, and when you follow, it you will see it is deleted. If I wouldn't have found that post before closure, that question would have been $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 10 '15 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ lost. Since it wasn't closed prior to me finding it, I was able to ask and get an answer. That is the risk you take by closing questions without answers. The question could be amazing but will you remember if it is lost? I am just a bystander at this site since it isn't my speciality but I have seen what can happen when certain agendas are followed. If that is risk you all want to take, so be it but think it isnt wise. $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 10 '15 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin I said only if it is really not worth keeping and fits the closure criteria. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Apr 10 '15 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG good questions can fit it. $\endgroup$ – dustin Apr 10 '15 at 12:03

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