For example, Errors where encountered while processing and mint is weird - Linux mint [on hold] has been put on hold as off-topic. The poster then posted here.

Should such questions be flagged for deletion, or left as is?

  • 2
    Not really worth flagging IMO, they will be deleted by the system automatically anyway
    – terdon
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:07
  • 4
    They will not be deleted by the system automatically unless they meet these criteria (for posts closed other than as dupes, they will be deleted if they have a score of less than or equal to zero, and no answers with a score of more than zero)
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:24
  • So would that be #7 in the answer to the linked question?
    – DK Bose
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:29
  • yes, correct :)
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


I believe that off-topic* questions should in general be deleted. In particular, questions which have been closed with no good answers are dead ends in searches, so removing them is likely to make the site more useful to visitors. If the question has been asked on another site, there is even less reason for it to live on here.

There are a number of tools to help deletion of such questions happen, such that you are unlikely to need to resort to custom-flagging.

Closed questions are deleted automatically when

  • they are not locked and
  • they are not closed as duplicate** and
  • they have a score of zero or less and
  • they have no accepted answer and
  • they have no answer with a score of more than zero and
  • they have not been edited in the last 9 days

Therefore it is most often not necessary to take any action to cause deletion of a post closed as off-topic as the post meets the above criteria. The question you linked to will be deleted unless it receives upvotes.

It is also often possible to cause a closed question to be deleted by downvoting it, because doing so zeroes the score. Its being off-topic is usually sufficient reason for me to downvote a question, though I might not do that if it is very good, or if it is not bad and downvoting will not cause it to be deleted anyway. It is also occasionally possible to cause deletion of a question by downvoting an answer to it, but I do not feel right about doing that unless the answer is actually bad.

Users with 10k reputation may cast delete votes on any question that is closed (and has been so for 48 hours)***, so you may be able to bring about deletion of a post by bringing it to the attention of other users with >10k. Please feel very welcome to visit the Downboat aka the Ask Ubuntu janitor's closet for opinions and help with deletion****.

If the question has awesome answers, I suppose we can just tolerate its presence. I don't attempt to delete questions with obviously good answers even when they are off-topic, though I do take action to close them.

Posts that have been closed only because they have been cross-posted and are actually on topic here (slightly different from the case you mentioned, but related), should imho usually not be deleted if they have answers that appear to be possibly useful.

If you have thought about all the above and you still

  • feel that the post should be deleted
  • can't delete the post by your own efforts (or the Downboaters')

then you may want to flag it. I think I have only ever done this for locked posts I have come across which can't be voted on.

Essential reading for those interested in moderation, imho:

How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion? | Meta Stack Exchange

* Obviously I mean questions which are actually off-topic. Not questions which are wrongly close-voted or closed as off-topic. Those should be left-open or reopened, unless they are otherwise unanswerable within the site scope and format.
** Duplicates are only deleted if they meet the deletion criteria applied to open questions, which are much more generous and mean that, for example, duplicates are never automatically deleted if they have answers, even if the answers are negatively scored. The only difference in delete-ability between open and closed-as-duplicate questions is that delete votes may be cast on the latter by users with 10k reputation.
*** Users with 20k reputation may vote to delete questions with a score of less than -2 immediately. They may also vote to delete answers with a negative score. Deleting an answer is another method which may bring about deletion of a question in some cases.
**** You can also ping me there and, as well as asking me to help delete things, ask me whether any particular question will be automatically deleted...

  • 1
    "off-topic questions should in general be deleted" After period of inactivity, yes. Questions which truly are off-topic, sure. Questions closed because someone jumped on the close-vote bandwagon while the question is perfectly fine, eh maybe not so fast. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 1:04
  • 1
    @SergiyKolodyazhnyy did I say "questions that people wrongly believe to be off topic should be immediately deleted"? Are you seeing good questions get deleted? If so, you should make a meta post about that where I would give my opinion about it. I don't like it when I get comments on my posts complaining about something I have not said - it makes me feel falsely accused
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 6:27
  • There's a very big difference between "off-topic questions should in general be deleted" and "off-topic questions should be deleted where appropriate". And no, you did not say "off topic should be immediately deleted", but that's something that needs to be addressed, since we already have questions which do belong here being voted off-topic, including questions related to shell scripting, running applications, behavior of X windows; most commonly with the reason "This is not about Ubuntu". Deleting off-topic questions like that is what bothers me. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 7:40
  • Second of all, "I don't like it when I get comments on my posts complaining about something I have not said - it makes me feel falsely accused". Notice I've not accused you of anything, nor I've complained about anything you said. However, comments exist for suggestions, so take my comment as suggestion to revise or improve your answer. I've no interest in arguing, nor in people falsely thinking I'm accusing someone. Sadly, it seems to me that's the culture that has been adopted overall on SE network - constantly defensive attitude. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 7:44
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy I am saying it is appropriate to delete off-topic questions. And when I say off-topic questions, I mean actually off-topic and not wrongly thought to be off-topic by some people. So there is no difference in intended meaning between my statement "off topic questions should in general be deleted" and "off topic questions should be deleted when appropriate". "in general" means possibly with some exceptions, and in my answer I discuss the exceptions.
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 8:43
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy secondly you seem to be determined to upset me. I said what I feel and you are dismissing it and implying that I'm arguing or taking up a defensive attitude when I'm only trying to avoid being hurt. You seem to be complaining about people wrongly voting to close questions which has nothing to do with my answer here imho. I don't like that. I hate to see wrong off-topic closures too. Your comment will make people who don't bother to read the answer think that I am advocating something that I really don't like and am constantly fighting against in the queue & chat
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 8:48
  • I am always voting to leave open and reopen questions that are wrongly close voted. I can prove it
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 8:49

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