tl;dr Go to http://cleanup.thepcspy.com and start cleaning!

It only took a year but it's finally here: It's clean up time! But let's step back a bit... What on earth am I talking about?

Well we get a lot of questions. Most of those are answered but a significant portion (over 20%) are currently in Limbo, with no answers or answers with a score less than +1. They either haven't attracted the right attention or their answers have been ignored. There are a few things we can do with these questions, as I said in the initial plans:

  • Identifying good answers - Plenty of old questions do have some answers but those answers haven't been voted for nor have they been accepted. In these threads we need people to vote for the good answers, just like normal. Getting a good answer up to +1 will classify the question as resolved and get it off our list.

  • Answer it - You probably haven't seen every question on the site so some of these questions will get organic answers. You'll get rewarded by the community in the regular way.

  • Flagging old topics - Given the nature of Ubuntu releases we need to make sure we prune out unanswered old topics about old installation techniques or hardware issues that may be fixed by upgrading Ubuntu. This won't always be automatic but we need to keep on top of how many active, old-release questions we have.

  • Removing or improving the unanswerable - Ask Ubuntu is only as good as its questions. We will need people to chase up old threads to make sure they have enough information to be answered. If their users don't respond and edit their posts, we need to cull the deadwood.

  • Merging duplicates - So many duplicates slip through the gaps and we end up with multiple answered questions covering identical ground. While this isn't the prime aim of the week, any duplicates (even from established, answered questions) are candidates for treatment.

  • Identifying good, hard questions - Some questions are unanswered because they're really very tough to solve. There's no value in closing them so if you can't answer them, we need users to try and involve relevant external groups and get askers to keep the information flowing in. If we can match people with the knowledge with the questions, we fulfil several of our goals.

Until now it's been slightly painful to get a good grip on what questions need answering. It's also a job that goes without recognition. These are two things we wanted to change so I set about building something that uses the StackExchange API to find and allocate people questions.

Today that something is going live and everybody and anybody can join this targeted clean up effort.


You'll see how it all works when you get there but essentially, per the plans, you get "Clean Up points" for cleaning up. These are completely separate from your reputation.

So go there, sign up and see if you have any problems (let me know!)

Assuming everything goes to plan we'll then hold a competition-based Clean Up Week to see who can clean the most in 7 days. We're just working out what we're going to do for prizes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I log in? What is my OpenID?

If you don't have a regular OpenID with another provider, you can use Stack Exchange's provider by entering the URL: https://openid.stackexchange.com/.

I've just cleaned something up but it's still in my queue... What's going on?

The queues update every 20 minutes and there's 5-minute caching on the pages so in the worst case scenario you could be waiting for 25 minutes for something to disappear. In most cases, you'll be waiting less time than this.

It's been hours and it's still on my list! What gives?

Might be a bug. I've certainly turned up a few of them during this process so just let me know via an answer on this thread and I'll try to see what's going on and fix it.

  • Is this for all of us or just the moderators?
    – maniat1k
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 17:05
  • 6
    @maniat1k Everyone and anyone Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 17:17
  • 1
    @MarcoCeppi: including me?
    – RolandiXor
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 17:25
  • 5
    Shouldn't the leaderboard be reset to only include data from when you launch? I feel like it's unfair to the others since us beta testers have already been doing this. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:12
  • 2
    I am going to burn through my daily allotment of votes and flags fast this week !!
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 23:16
  • I got a couble of flagged question... those question are still on my open allocations. Also upvoted some too ant they are still there... after that I have to click "I give up!"?
    – maniat1k
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 22:35
  • How do you install the Ask Ubuntu Clean Up UserScript! when I click on the link it just loads the script in a web page. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 6:17
  • 1
    @MarkRooney For Chrome, that's all you need to do (click the link). For Firefox, you need to install GreaseMonkey
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 8:14
  • Thanks Oli - I was using Firefox at the time and figured it must be something like that after it installed fine on Chromium. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 10:54
  • 2
    Just so anybody knows. Any duplicate the find on any of my questions gets a +1 to the finder's comment about it. Bonus points! Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 16:13
  • I've still got that bugtracker if you want it, Oli. In case this thread gets overly difficult to handle ;)
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 0:21
  • I notice that in the cleanup.thepcspy.com/leaderboard some users appears in two diferent positions...
    – maniat1k
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 13:23
  • "Oli made this site with freshly crushed magical ponies and snakes." Hilarious!
    – don.joey
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 11:38
  • Maybe I am just dumb, but I can't figure out what to enter in that Open-ID login textfield!? Whatever I try only gives me the message that I blew the server up ;D...
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 9:27
  • I get that server blew up message, too. Is this a bug? Is the campaign finished? Will it get fixed?
    – luk3yx
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 2:40

10 Answers 10


It is not clear how this works.

I registered on http://cleanup.thepcspy.com , was assigned 10 questions.

This was my first:

How to troubleshoot apt-get connection problems?

I marked it as a duplicate and I gave it an up vote as the answer was a good one with some nice screen shots.

The question still shows up on my 10 assigned questions and I do not have the ability to take some of the actions listed. Specifically I can not alone close the question, I can not merge duplicates.

It seems there are some actions on your list that are simply not options for me.


EDIT- OK, it took longer then expected, but the question is now off my assigned questions, but it still seems there are actions you suggest that I can not take.

  • 4
    Yeah, Updating is a hefty process so it happens every 20 minutes.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:31

How do I "Removing or improving the unanswerable - Ask Ubuntu is only as good as its questions. We will need people to chase up old threads to make sure they have enough information to be answered. If their users don't respond and edit their posts, we need to cull the deadwood."

I found a question that appears to be abandoned in that the OP has not provided the necessary information. Do I flag it as abandoned ?

Similar, How does one "merge duplicates"?

  • 2
    If you vote something as a duplicate, and you find that someone has left awesome answers on the duplicate you can flag it and say "this should be merged instead" and then the answers from the 2 questions will go into the main question so we don't lose good information in the close question. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:11
  • 1
    Thank you , helps me to know how to manage these issues.
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:57

Observations / feedback on http://cleanup.thepcspy.com/info/ after spending some time with cleanup.

Team work and answers to questions is to be encouraged !!!

  1. Clear definitions of abandoned questions.

    • Older than __ months , OP not seen in __ months and or not responded to requests for additional information after 3 days (3 days is the expiration you set on allocated questions).

    • Not a bug report, no clear answer to a problem, inactivity.

    I think this needs to be defined as tight as possible for the cleanup process, guidelines can be relaxed after the cleanup.

  2. Clear guidance for triage of bug reports. Seems there are 3 types

    • Open source drivers -> perhaps most should be triaged to Lanuchpad

    • Open source drivers that should be triaged up stream -> Examples would be kernel and gnome/kde

    • Closed source drivers -> Should be triaged to ATI/Nvidia/Wireless etc

    Bug reports should be triaged and closed if they are inactive, but IMO leave them open if it seems to affect a sufficient # of people to stimulate a productive discussion on askubuntu.com.

    IMO bug reports should be encouraged and, Ideally, experienced users should mentor new users (new meaning new to LP or new to bug reports).

    Perhaps award a point for Question -> new bug report ?

  3. Encourage answers (either new or upvoted) >> closure

  4. Ask for community support for closure. This is the team work part, but it seems as if closure requests are inactive.

    I think closure should be primarily a community decision.

  5. Define how active (or inactive) the moderators should be with closure.

    My suggestion is for clear guidelines for how many flags / posts on Ubuntu Regulators chatroom are appropriate per user per day (otherwise the moderators are going to be swamped with closure requests and the community effort is circumvented).

    My suggestion would be to limit users to no more then 5 flags / posts on the Ubuntu Regulators chatroom per day.

    Perhaps ask the moderators to limit their activity to 5 closures / day.

    Sort of depends on if your preference is to make a concerted effort at closure, and if so you should increase the flags / close votes users have per day and encourage posts on Ubuntu Regulators chatroom or answers, in which case you should encourage answers / bounties and limit close requests by moderators.

  6. Encourage setting bounties for good questions. Perhaps 1 point for offering a bounty for good questions.


OK I'm up for this. My first question in the first allocation is


The guy has 6 rep points ( 1 for signing up, 5 for an up vote to this one question ), logged in only once to ask this question and not logged in since. He has two comments asking for more information and not done so.

I plan to flag this as too localised, not enough people uninstall unity to make this a valuable question.

I will use my own initiative in future but I just want some feedback to see if this is the right approach.

  • 2
    Yeah that's completely right. That's a great example of an abandoned question. In this case people have already made the effort to communicate with them but there's been no response. Flag away.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 11:41

Removing or improving the unanswerable

This is not really an answer, but a question, but... keeping all info in the same place will be a great idea, and this is going to be too long for a comment. Feel free to edit the question with this info and delete this "answer".

What should we do with those questions?.

I have a good candidate, this. It's impossible to answer as the original asker didn't give any of the data that was requested.

I can either flag it to the moderators for deletion, vote to close as too localized, or both. How should we proceed with this kind of questions?.

  • 1
    If no one has responded to a request for more info (and you can see by clicking on the user's name they haven't been on the site since last July) I just vote to close as too localized. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:09
  • I have voted to close in a couple of those questions but it doesn't look like it's working. The questions are not promoted to the top, anybody else see them, and most of then will remain for ever there with only my vote to close (one have two votes, but I suspect that the other vote is from Jorge, as it is the question linked here). Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 11:49
  • 1
    It's ok, it shows up in the close queue in the 10k tools and we have a query we can run that will find the close comments but haven't been closed yet, they won't escape! Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 14:01
  • Is this working ? I marked a number of questions for closure as they seem more or less abandoned.
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 0:46
  • 3
    I was just thinking, we should thank the moderators who review these flags and closures, I am sure it take a ton of work as well =)
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 0:50

Can this system be gamed by moderators? As far as I understand the workings of the site when moderators vote for closing their vote is a final ruling compared to normal users who either have to flag for closing (and the flag is handled by a moderator) or vote to close (it takes five normal votes to close). Thus, moderators have an upper hand in scoring cleaning points for closing questions. Their votes do not rely on any other users participation since it is final.

I am not saying that moderator would game the system by unjustified closing but there might be an interest in build the system against such use if possible. Is it possible to build the system such that it counter bad usage such as the described possibility? Maybe there are such counter measures implemented already?

One way to make the system more fair is to give moderators slightly less cleaning points for anything involving closing. This would reflect that the effort for closing a question is greater for a normal user than for a moderator.

I am not trying to be pessimistic. I appreciate the effort of putting this together. I just want to see it as good and fair as possible.

  • 2
    Can it be gamed by us? Yes. We have unlimited flags and instant close powers so that's why we won't be eligible for the competition.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:30
  • 2
    And you can view the leaderboards without moderators by sticking ?exclude-mods=1 on the end that will be the default view for competition events.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 22:41
  • Hmmm... I voted to close one of my assigned questions (first vote), then a mod came by and closed it (second and last vote). For some reason it hangs around in my assigned queue. askubuntu.com/questions/32562/… Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 17:06

What would you like me to do with these sorts of things


The question is semi-answered in the comments or the OP found an answer.

In some I posted a comment asking the OP to post the solution, in others I have marked them as "close" as "too localized".

Would you prefer I transcribe the answer ? If so, does it then need an upvote from someone else ? That hardly seems fair as I would be getting credit for the work of others.

  • 2
    If they post a comment that would be a good answer (and it looks like they're never coming back) post it as a Community Wiki answer and bother people in Chat to get it to +1. If there's nothing worth saving, vote to nuke.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 0:50
  • OK, FWIW, I can not easily access the chat on this site due to corporate firewall (the firewall they are using does not like your chat =) )
    – Panther
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 0:52
  • Flags work too. And users (and mods) do use the review tools to find questions that need closing
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 0:57

What to do with question like this


The OP has not been seen since asking the question, question has had no activity, but both the community and moderators seem reluctant to close the question.

Personally, I have been simply moving on if I do not know the answer and can not find a duplicate.

1) This situation seems to frustrate some people who take part in the clean up effort. They want to flag it to be closed , and no action is taken.

2) It seems likely this sort of question will continue to linger.

3) There are only so many bounties I can offer, I am limited to 3, and currently have 3 open.

  • If the question is that poor and the person has bailed, then bountying it will just waste your bounty slot for a week. These are situations where I just downvote it. Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 15:39
  • That is what I have done with some of these. but, still need 4 more votes, or flag the questions. Need to encourage the community to review =)
    – Panther
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 17:04

Since, this question is being used as a Discussion Thread - hence posting this in the Answers section and not as a separate question (feel free to convert it to a separate question if you wish):

  1. I have seen questions which already have an Accepted Answer (but with 0 score) also appear in our Allocations. Is this intended?

  2. Some of the questions disappear from Open Allocation list if one of the answer gets 1 vote - AFAIK 2 votes are required for a question to be considered as Answered. Has there been a change in policy?

  3. Recently, a question was allocated to me which had already been closed on Jan 1st. Don't remember the question or its link. Would update if I come across another such allocation.

  4. During my present allocations, a lot of abandoned questions have already been closed (some were cosed yesterday, some before yesterday) (these were open at the time of allocation) - but they still appear in My Open Questions. Some of them are:

    Open Allocations

  • 2: No, that was lowered a while ago. 1+3+4: Sounds like a few bugs have evolved since I first coded the API integration. I do intend to give it a proper amount of time (to switch to Stack Exchange based authentication, and fix silly bugs like this) but that's as other work allows, which immediately it does not.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 10:08
  • Okay.. Thanks :-)
    – Aditya
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 11:05

Queston 1: Why is this not built natively into AU as a necessary part of creating the encyclopaedic canon of Ubuntu Questions and Answers?

Let's reduce the burden on cleaning activity and put this directly in AU. Everyone should be asked to do this when showing up to AU.

Question 2: Why are organizing, de-duping, revising, and other cleaning duties not worth real Reputation Points?

Let's increase the benefits of cleaning activity and reward it. Cleanup activity would increase dramatically if the same incentives were used for this behavior as for all other AU behavior.

  • I like your second idea, but this isn't exactly the best place to put it.
    – Seth
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 22:49

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