Related reading: What should we do with unprofessional questions?

I noticed that someone voted to delete my question: How will we get back to the moon?.

I'm not upset that it got closed, but I don't think it should be deleted. Any questions that we don't feel meet the quality standards that we want to set should absolutely be closed, but deleting them erases the precedent.

Shouldn't we be keeping them around to "set an example" of questions that are not welcome here?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If we had an example of everything that was not allowed, then bad questions would outnumber good questions almost infinity to 1 $\endgroup$
    – user106
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


I'm Grace Note, a Community Manager from Stack Exchange. Though what I'm giving here is my personal stance, not a imperial decree or anything. Just want to get this out there first. Also not going to comment on the question in specific mention, as I'm not particularly strong in this subject matter and it may well be salvageable to an open question for what I know. If the issue is with quality, after all, then it should be able to be fixed up, no?

I don't believe "setting an example" entirely works for us. Once we have pro tem moderators in place, they'll be able to modify the Help Center and the About page to better reflect what is, and more relevantly what is not, allowed or acceptable on the site. We've recently undergone some friendly changes to the close system on the network, but it hasn't majorly changed the underlying intent of what I've written elsewhere on the subject - questions aren't meant to sit around on the site in an eternal state of closure. If a question is valuable enough that it should stay on the site, it should be reopened or fixed into a state that permits reopening. Otherwise, excepting duplicates, it should eventually be deleted if no one expects that it'll be reopened.

If you take the "head on a pike" approach of showing "This is what happens to people who ask what we don't want", it looks rather unsightly. If the problem is because the question is incomplete or broad or something else that can be fixed, keeping it around when someone does not fix it just means you keep what is essentially a mockery of the asker. If the problem is because the question falls outside the scope of the site, then keeping it around invites the problem of users discovering the site because they found that subject matter on the site. The majority of traffic to sites come from searches, so keeping things you do not want people to ask out of sight through deletion helps prevent more people from coming and asking the same thing. "Head on a pike" only really serves as a gruesome reactionary measure than a prevention of the incident.

As such, I recommend that if a question can't be fixed or does not wish to be fixed, that it probably serves the community better if it is deleted. You can give equal guidance to those who run afoul of the rules by pointing at established guidelines - things you write out on the above pages as well as in Meta discussions.

  • $\begingroup$ Apparently I'm too barbaric :) Thanks for the insight! $\endgroup$
    – JohnB
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ I saw it in the 10k tools. Are you saying we should delete it? $\endgroup$
    – user12
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Undo The current question is still on hold, so it is mechanically withheld from deletion still. Whether it should be deleted or not is a consequence of whether it can be fixed or not, and that's not my call to make - I don't have enough experience in this field to make a proper judgment on a specific case. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 22, 2013 at 15:08

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