What should the policy about deleting questions be? When does a question "migrate" from from being closed to deletion?

As a specific example, I asked this question about the legality of raising money using GLBSE (deleted, only viewable with enough reputation) about a month ago. It was closed as "off topic", and then subsequently deleted. There were inbound links from Quora pointing at this question, which now became dead links.

Is it a good practice to delete questions simply because they are "slightly off topic"? (I'm not talking about clear spam or questions about cooking, but things that might be interpreted by some as marginally on topic)

2 Answers 2


Here's what Jeff has to say about it (from this blog post):

Why would you delete a question? Isn’t closing it enough?

  • Some questions are of such poor quality that they cannot be salvaged. They’re literally nonsense. Not every byte of data that is created in the world is infinite and sacred.

  • Some questions are so incredibly off topic that they add no value to a programming community.

  • The mental cost of processing these closed questions is not zero, particularly for users who are actively engaged and scanning questions to find things they can help answer.

  • If users see a lot of closed questions, they’ll note that we don’t enforce the guidelines, so why should they? Without any final resolution, asking questions that get closed becomes something we are implicitly encouraging — a broken windows problem. If this goes on for long enough, we’re no longer a community of programmers who ask and answer programming questions, we’re a community of random people discussing.. whatever. That’s toxic.

  • If enough of these closed questions are allowed to hang around, they become clutter that reduces the overall signal to noise ratio — which further reduces confidence in the system.

Obvious spam and extremely low quality posts will be deleted instantly but I'm not sure what our policy should be about questions like the one you linked. Jeff's point that we don't want closed questions to clutter up the site is important but I don't think that's something we need to worry about right now (there aren't a lot of closed questions on the front page).

Personally I won't delete questions that are "slightly off topic".


Besides whatever is deleted by user action, there is a script that automatically deletes questions that have no upvoted content after a while:

  • Questions without answers and -1 or lower score are deleted after 30 days.
  • Questions without answers and 0 or lower score, with low viewcount, and a maximum of 1 comment are deleted after 365 days.
  • Non-duplicate closed questions with score 0 or lower, no upvoted or accepted answers are deleted after 9 days.

Full details can be found on Enable automatic deletion of old, unanswered zero-score questions after a year?

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