The impact of identification questions has been discussed by and large already and I want to concentrate here on a particular aspect whose reasons and counter-measures have been largely agreed upon already. One of the biggest advantages of identification questions has always been their potential to attract new users. But this is also one of their biggest dangers in that they also have high potential for attracting one-shot ID-askers who won't return to the site ever again and contribute any further to its thriving, or even the management of their own questions. This together with the inherently lower long-term information value of identification questions poses a problem for the signal-to-noise ratio of the whole site.
For this reason we have the established policy that unanswered identification questions inactive for 14 days and asked by unregistered users are eligible for deletion, as specified in the help center and the related meta post. While this doesn't immediately tackle the problem of newly asked low-quality identification questions, it at least helps the long-term goal of curating the existing identification questions and eliminating those with very low long-term value, which ultimately helps to keep up the image of this site as a place for interesting and valuable questions and prevent invaluable ask-and-forget questions from damaging this image.
So much to the current state of affairs. In an effort to further improve the positive effect this policy has on the site, I would like to make the suggestion of extending this policy a little, in particular in two different directions:
- Extend the applicable users from only unregistered users to every kind of registered but inactive user. It stays debatable if the inactivity period of 14 days should also be applied for registered users, or if it might be extended to a longer period in those cases (maybe a month).
- Extend the applicable questions from those without any answer to those without any upvoted or accepted answer (i.e. it only has unaccepted answers with score of 0 or lower). After all, if an answer stays without any positive votes and without any acceptance over the whole period, the community has decided that it is without value. In fact this viewpoint of effectively equating questions with no upvoted or accepted answers to "unanswered" questions is also applied by the SE framework itself, as evident from the behaviour of the Unanswered tab as well as the rules for automatic deletion of closed questions.
So what are the community's opinions or further suggestions on this proposed policy extension?
Since Flyk's approach has been unanimously accepted by the community, the rules for deleting inactive identification questions are hereby updated to any identification question inactive for 30 days and without any upvoted or accepted answers.