I recently asked why this id was deleted. According to Napoleon Wilson, we are deleting closed ID questions without improvements after 9 days. This policy, in itself, is fine to me (although no one can point me to an exact meta discussion where this was decided).

However, what I do disagree on is deleting ID questions that have positive answers. These are answers that people, including me, took at least some time to write out, and users of the site agreed that they were quality answers. By deleting these, we discourage people from answering ID questions at all, and we also lose the data from being searchable on Google and other search engines.

So, should we be deleting these ID questions with positive answers, or not?

  • 4
    Should we be answering questions where we have also voted to close as off-topic?
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 20, 2017 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


Yes, if the question has been closed without improvements and stayed closed for a significant time (SE uses 9 days as a measure). Either the question is appropriate or it isn't. But saying it's inappropriate for the site yet its answers should be conserved somehow is rather odd. If that's what you say, you obviously think the question does have merit and maybe shouldn't have close-voted it.

Those questions are basically broken windows encouraging people to smash in more windows. Deleting the questions that have been deemed inappropriate by the community through close-voting is an effort to repair those windows in lack of another repair in the form of improving the question into appropriateness.

The reason the automatic task doesn't delete closed questions with positively-voted answers is just for the fact that it's entirely automatic and silent, so it has checks in place to make sure no possible valuable and salvagable content is accidentally removed. That's why those that fell through the cracks of this automatic process have to be removed in a manual maintenance effort.

(I would rather ask why you answered a question that you yourself thought shouldn't be answered.)

  • 5
    The automatic task doesn't delete closed questions with positively-voted answers, and in fact even the OP themselves can't delete such questions. The whole system is designed not to let such questions be deleted except in exceptional circumstances. A CM once explained the rationale to me as "someone went through the trouble of thinking about the question, invested some time in researching an answer to it, and other users found that answer had value". Nov 20, 2017 at 19:13
  • there's a reason why we have both a on-hold, and a closed, state for questions. on-hold implies that we're hoping that it'll get some help. closed means that it didn't get any help and hasn't been deemed worthy of being open. however, if the content of the question's answers are usable, the question stays around so that future viewers can see it. by deleting these questions, and their answers, not only are we unfairly treating those that take the real effort to answer them, we're preventing future users from seeing that useful content.
    – DForck42
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:24
  • 1
    I'm not sure what "[closed]" vs "[on-hold]" has to do with this, though. That's merely a time thing and encouraging improvement. The questions you're talking about, however, are all "[closed]". And again, the content is not useful or you wouldn't have close-voted it.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:26
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    @Randal'Thor Related: Should we encourage swifter deletion of bad ID questions?
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:29
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    @NapoleonWilson the question isn't great, but the content of the answer still has merit and doesn't deserve to be deleted from the site.
    – DForck42
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:51
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    "although no one can point me to an exact meta discussion where this was decided" -- I followed the links in the answer, and I don't see the point where this was decided. I'm curious, was it decided via meta?
    – Yakk
    Dec 4, 2017 at 15:31
  • This question and its answers would be a good start.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Dec 4, 2017 at 15:36
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson this is a mischaracterization, "why you answered a question that you yourself thought shouldn't be answered" of the statement "It wasn't a high-quality ID question". There is a vast difference between a low-quality question and one that shouldn't be answered. In your zealous attack upon ID-This questions, you are letting hyperbole guide your analysis.
    – MmmHmm
    Jan 4, 2018 at 15:44
  • @Mr.Kennedy And you're missing that he didn't downvote it, but close-voted it.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jan 4, 2018 at 15:49

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