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?

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

2 Answers 2


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.)

  • 6
    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". Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 15:31
  • This question and its answers would be a good start.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 15:36
  • 3
    @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
    Commented 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
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 15:49

I am downvoting Napoleon's answer and providing my own, as I have a feeling that the most important part of the whole close vs. delete idea has been missed here.

While things like:

  • Whether question is of a good quality or not
  • Whether it is salvable or not
  • Whether it is off-topic or not
  • Whether itself or any of its answers has a lot of upvotes or not

Are very important, the most important assumption (across entire SE) is that deleted questions does not appear in regular search results and can be seen only by high-rank users (or question's author).

As such we do not delete questions, if only we can (are not rude, offensive, unreadable etc.) and we only close them, because we want them to be seen by as many users as possible (so not just high-ranking ones) to avoid posting the same or very similar questions as a duplicates.

In simple words: If I ask a question (about ID -- the one that Napoleon hates so much) and you delete it then what will in future prevent someone from posting a dupe (if he or she won't see it) of the same or very similar content?

Posting a dupe due to not seeing deleted original results in:

  • Artificially increasing number of questions
  • Unnecessary triggering millions of internal scripts
  • Adding a lot of work for other users and admins (for closing dupes)

In other words -- by deleting questions, not just closing them you are producing a very negative impact and you are violating most of the things that SE was build upon, around close vs. delete system.

In addition, closing questions is acceptable by majority of users while deleting them produces unnecessary emotional tension on many of OPs.

In even simpler words: With deleting questions you gain nothing (nothing achieved that you couldn't achieve with closing a question) and you loose a lot.

As Rand al'Thor correctly mentions in his comment (emphasis mine):

The whole system is designed not to let such questions be deleted except in an exceptional circumstances.

The entire SE as per se does not recognize any of these (above and below):

  • Low quality question,
  • Off-topic question,
  • A question (or its answers) with little or no upvotes

As a reason for deleting question. No, period.

If you disagree, please, provide a serious backup that other sites does delete questions so quickly as you do here, at Movies & TV or that any of above reasons is incorrect. A serious backup, not your feeling.\

In my opinion Movies & TV should get back to the "mainstream" of sites, where deleting a question is really the very, very last thing you do and is limited to unreadable, offensive, rude etc. questions. That really shouldn't appear in search result or be seen by other users.

  • 2
    FWIW, there's a main meta answer from then-CM Robert Cartaino about when questions should be deleted (rather than simply closed). Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 14:26
  • @Randal'Thor But the text you've linked makes my entire answer here all wrong and assumes Napoleon Wilson is correct. This is really very weird for me, but it seems that we should delete off-topic questions.
    – trejder
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 14:22
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    ID questions are a bit of a special case here, and I wouldn't venture to express an opinion on which of those closed questions should be deleted. But yes, generally on SE as a whole, completely off-topic questions are fine to be deleted. Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 14:24
  • I really don't know what makes you think completely off-topic questios don't get deleted or that this could even be SE "mainstream". If a question isn't salvageable and won't ever become on-topic, there is zero point to keeping it around and many other SE sites very much recognize this, too.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 16:45
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    If someone posts a duplicate of an off-topic question, it isn't closed as a duplicate, it's closed for being off-topic. But they will be posted anyway, because people who miss that a question is off-topic, won't check that the question has been asked before either. What does help is not having 5 million off-topic questions with an abstract [closed] label hanging around. They should very much not appear in search results.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 16:45

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