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Recently closed questions appear in the delete queue even though they had many upvotes and many views too.

Some examples:

These all are Famous Questions where the OP received a gold badge for asking an interesting question that caused traffic.

Because it was addressed in an answer: All these examples above also have good answers as seen by the high votes they have receceived.

Please also note that all of these example questions above are master questions to many other linked questions which were closed as a dupe to them.

They were closed for fair reasons but what is the rationale behind deleting them?

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    We really need to come up with a "definitive" policy on these old list questions. But I agree with this. – Seth May 17 '14 at 22:18
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    You know that if they get deleted you can vote to undelete them? The same way they get deleted you can undelete them. BTW, I see that those questions are very akin to popularity contests; I'm sad I wasn't around in those days. – Braiam May 17 '14 at 23:20
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    @Braiam Once they are deleted they won't show up in searches. So we could vote to undelete only if we knew the question ID. This is not usually the case. Hence once deleted questions are likely gone forever. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 9:08
  • @Seth no, each question is a case by case thing. You can't use a blank statement and apply it to all. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 16:23
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    In any case, only >=10k rep users can see them so for most people they're gone. – terdon May 18 '14 at 17:45
  • @Seth since lists are (or should be) off topic, I think closing and locking such old ones is a good general policy. Some of them are useful lists but we really don't want to give the impression that list requests are welcome. I'd vote for a blanket close/lock of all such questions and simple closing of any new ones that come along. – terdon May 18 '14 at 18:13
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Do we all like commercials...

Rhetorical maybe - if you took a straw poll, the answer will almost always be no.

We as a community need to understand that at the end-of-the-day, Stack Exchange is a business - not a charity. What Stack Exchange strives for is to spread the knowledge. It does this - by quite a large margin - through web-search results.

Thus to my point. The identified questions are massive "earners" in terms of page-views. They are Stack Exchange bread and butter. Attracting users through their thirst for knowledge ... hitting their favourite search engine hard to find answers.

To delete the questions just to be "pure" because they do not fit today's thoughts and practices will dent the commercial nature of the site - to drive traffic here.

We have already expressed our thoughts and dislikes through closure of the questions. This though doesn't stop us maintaining the answers.

Once we - as a collective - have decided that the answers have fallen into such disrepute to be not salvageable, then its fair to say - "bye bye" and to delete them.

These high value questions that have been identified do not fit that criteria.

Lets keep them - mould them - clean them up. Lets make sure the answers there are useful as possible.

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    Most of them are still quite good, e.g. the DE one, the IDE one, the drive partition one, etc. A few of them need some clean up though, the music player one for example. So yeah, I agree with this answer. These are some of our top questions, whether we like it or not, they are still useful and we should maintain them. None of them are useless, garbage or harmful yet. Meanwhile there are all sorts of bugs and abandoned questions (just to name a few) that need much more urgent attention. Arguing over these is just a useless distraction from the real problem. – Seth May 18 '14 at 20:01
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    It's not our job to figure out how to make Stack Exchange profitable. We do want to remain "pure". There are loads of ways to get traffic to this site, but we are only interested in the useful Ubuntu ones. – Flimm May 19 '14 at 10:30
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    Traffic like this is poisonous. List of X will always be popular. This is not excuse to leave them in the site. Views is not the most important thing for StackExchange, if it was it would be called YahooAnswers, where doesn't matter the quality of whatever is called. – Braiam May 19 '14 at 12:55
  • @Seth the real problem I see it in the title "views and votes" = quality. – Braiam May 19 '14 at 13:02
  • List of software will always exist in internet. There's not "list" hard to find.. – Braiam May 19 '14 at 13:16
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    @Braiam I didn't see anyone say that, all we said was if it has that many views and that many upvotes someone must be interested in looking at it. It isn't actively harming the site and if people are looking at it, why remove it? They are great resources. – Seth May 19 '14 at 14:09
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    It's the Stack Exchange purity police who need policing, not these questions. There's nothing wrong with "list" questions -- what happens is that they become popular because the discussions surrounding them are informative, with perspectives supplied by experienced and intelligent users. The culture of SE attracts the right people, and those questions attract good content. What's kooky is the rules that are incoherent relative to the value of the questions they're policing. I think of this as "the SE schizophrenia". Would love to see a drug for that. – Stabledog May 21 '14 at 2:31
  • @Stabledog rules are in place for a good motive. Try to look for a list question elsewhere in SE, I bet that if you find some, they are closed. – Braiam May 25 '14 at 15:34
4

On Code Golf Stack Exchange there was recently a flood of code-trolling questions, which were mostly awful. While they brought lots of traffic to the website, they were also awful questions (which were off-topic and too broad). Most of the "follow the leader" code-trolling questions were simply deleted, but some (the better ones, like https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/16226/3103 that began it all) were locked with a note that "This question exists because it has historical significance". But I digress.

The common thing about the linked topics are they are popular, upvoted a lot big lists. It's exactly like code-trolling on codegolf.se. My personal proposal is not to delete those topics (I believe they contain some useful information, even if they are off topic). However, instead I'm going to suggest locking those topics (only moderator can do it, but I doubt this is any issue), which protects the question from being deleted by someone who isn't a moderator.

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    Why locking bad content? IMO bad content is to be deleted, no? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 15:46
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    @Braiam: The thing is that those aren't exactly bad content (the ones that were locked, not deleted), and have historical importance, but they aren't a good fit for a website. – Konrad Borowski May 18 '14 at 16:02
  • Have you really took a look to the answers to those questions listed in the question? Most of them are 1-2 lines long, overloaded with images. I had to downvote all the answers that said SMplayer simply because they do not make justice to the program (SMplayer being my predilect and favorite video player in Linux). Also, here there isn't locked questions, are you mixing up both sites? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 16:07
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    @Braiam Then edit the answer! That's why it is a wiki. – Seth May 18 '14 at 16:17
  • @Seth how can I do it? Should I just dump the manual/description/features listed in somewhere else? That's worse than deleting. We have a reason to reject "plagiarized" content for these motives. An answer that is a mere dump of somewhere isn't the objective of the generality of SE and is seen as bad answers since it doesn't add anything new to the internet. Remember, leave the things better than they were, not just imitate. What you suggest me to do to improve the answers? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 16:22
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    @Braiam I have faith in you that you can come up with improvements that aren't just copy pastes. That was a silly point though. Very silly. – Seth May 18 '14 at 16:27
  • @Seth well, what I can do, I'm a prideful human. When I write content I do it with the hope that it reach the eyes of those that are really interested in what I am. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 17:36
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I need to add another answer since my point in the first answer is veering out of control:

These questions are most of the time throughly abused and overused as crap-dump for anything. For example, if I ask for a "how the heck do you get vlc to play a movie" (an actual question on the site) people thinks that I want a list of video players. Why? I mean both are different questions from moon to earth. How can someone join dots between "VLC doesn't work" and "list of video players"? The same happens with any other very specific set of restrictions software recommendations. To quote Robert Carantino answer in SR:

Be very wary of closing down very specific use cases and treating (for example) "every question about photo editors" like your trying to build a general encyclopedia of software reviews that will work for everyone — That is NOT what we are here for.

Ideally, this site is going to be filled with long-tailed, specific problem statements where the "solutions" are highly custom-tailored to the original author specifically. And ideally, these questions should be specific enough, that true duplicates should be somewhat rare.

That's a good software recommendation. What you put as examples are "list of X" and they are poisonous. jrg has told us that the only way to get them deleted is if we find a place for them; well, they have place.

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    That's why they are closed for good reasons. This does not mean we also have to delete them if people (which may not be the same than us) find them to be useful. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 18:38
  • @Takkat I'm not sure how that is related to what I'm saying. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 18:44
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    I am all for deleting bad stuff - but it's awkward to delete stuff other people liked (favourited, upvotes, views <-- in order of importance). – Takkat May 18 '14 at 19:03
  • @Takkat ok, you seemly don't understand that views, favorites and upvotes are not quality values. I'm sorry, but constructive argument trying to make you understand that point is beyond my capacity. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 19:05
  • I upvoted your answer because I agree with the main point: that if the user asks for strawberries, then we should give him strawberries and not come with answers about apples, pears and cherries. But, on the other hand, if the user discovers that he is allergic to strawberries, then it's good to have alternatives. People like alternatives, and that's why long lists of "refined" information gathered together are so popular. And popularity is always good, especially if this popularity is a positive one. – Cristiana Nicolae Aug 22 '16 at 13:42
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I think you are veering your argument the wrong way. While Views and Votes are relevant when deleting questions the most important factor is the quality of the answers.

When deleting a question the first concern you have to occupy with is: do this answers worth my time? Are they really good answers? Those it leave the internet in a better state that it was found? (the last one is a wording of one of the goals of SO, or more like SE proper)

The only thing that is included in the help center about where you should not delete is:

Before voting to delete, please check that there are no good answers; if so, then the question should be flagged for moderator attention as a potential merge candidate. We don't like to lose great answers!

Note, it says "good" and "great", which are subjectives so YMMV.

This means that I shouldn't take into account views or votes? No, it means that views and votes is not really the most important value of a post, but answers. The most pressing reason not to delete a question are the answers they produced, views and votes should be in second plane.

Now my personal take is: views and votes just means they are popular, not that they are particularly useful and shouldn't sway my decision to delete a question.

  • See my edit to my question. What you say here certainly does not apply to the example questions I gave. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 14:56
  • @Takkat votes in those cases are like popularity contest. The most upvoted answer in this question for example, is just a bunch of links with names. Those questions you listed are not ordered by "quality" but by "popularity". The hamster one doesn't work anymore and it last update was in 2012, I wouldn't recommend it. Also, the one about music players has VLC listed 3 times, Mplayer (and variants) 6 times, others players appears twice; you think those are really good answers? Votes (in this case) is not a measure of quality but popularity. Be critical. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 15:17
  • The thing that I want to say is: are you really defending those questions by the right reasons? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 15:22
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    Whenever a question gathers more than one answer with similar content (e.g. VLC) it likely is from a merge. One more reason to not delete it. If an answer was outdated we should edit it for an up to date solution rather than delete it. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 15:23
  • @Takkat how can you edit something that doesn't work any more to fix it? What is your objective in not deleting them? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 15:26
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    Hamster still works in <= 13.10 - so no need for an edit. However we'd need a valid answer for 14.04 - impossible because it is closed (and protected as well). – Takkat May 18 '14 at 15:32
  • @Takkat you are still defending the things for the wrong reasons. Answers needs to be future proof. Sadly those answers are not future proof. – Braiam May 18 '14 at 15:34
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    You don't actually seem to look at the answers, the answers to the IDE question are actually quite good and in the partitioning question the second and third answers contain quite a lot of useful information. The answers to the DE question are also quite good. Obviously answers aren't the main reason you are voting to delete these. – Seth May 18 '14 at 16:21
  • Sorry @Seth but you are not demonstrating that you are reading the answers. The IDE question, the 3 most upvoted answers that you call "good answers" are word by word plagiarisms. Netbeans and eclipse were too from here and Geany is a carbon copy of the Geany home page www.geany.org/. I ask you to reconsider your last statement. I'm reading the answers, I really dived into them and they are worthless. Now, I kindly ask you to do the same. You are a moderator now, what will you do when you see plagiarized content? – Braiam May 18 '14 at 16:42
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    Quotes aren't plagiarisms, although the geany one isn't quoted. Guess that's what editing is for! Actually, copying (and quoting) content from the projects homepage doesn’t make the answer useless or worthless. The quality goes down somewhat compared to (say the Qt one), but that's it. You are entirely missing the point. – Seth May 18 '14 at 16:50
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    @Braiam sometimes the best way to explain what a program does is to quote its own documentation. Nothing wrong with that as long as the source of the quote is cited. I don't understand why it bothers you. Especially since you yourself have posted many answers whose content is essentially a direct quote from elsewhere. – terdon May 18 '14 at 18:09
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    You're missing the point. The answers to these questions aren't supposed to be more then simple quotes (in general). They aren't very good questions, but they still serve a purpose. Hence the reason they haven't been deleted in before. – Seth May 18 '14 at 18:19
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    @Braiam: we should not tell people to not write link-only answers and at the same time blame them if they quoted what they had linked to. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 18:20
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    Some of those stand without the quotes, some don't. And to clarify, I am not accusing you of plagiarism. There's absolutely nothing wrong with quoting the man pages in one's answers. Hell, I upvoted most of your answers I mentioned above. All I'm saying is that the presence of a quote is in no way indicative of an answer's quality. – terdon May 18 '14 at 18:25
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    @Braiam: 99,9% of all questions here can be answered with some Google-Fu. Point is that 1. many people can't find the relevant information as easily as we do, and 2. we want us to appear on the first Google search entries. – Takkat May 18 '14 at 18:26

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