Recently people put great effort in deleting content they feel it should not stay.

This already led to discussions here to better find criteria when a post should be deleted or not:

Sadly contributions to these discussions are sparse.

Now it appears that people vote to delete a post very rapidly which leads to a deletion of content within hours. This often leaves the OP no time to edit or improve their post. New users may not find this of great help in getting around with our site's standards. In addition if nothing but down-votes, close-votes and deletes happened to them they may not come back.

When would be the right time to delete poor content?

4 Answers 4


Taking another perspective at Mattias’ answer: If there is any doubt as to whether a question should be deleted immediately, it should not be deleted at all (at least by community moderation). If a question is conceivable to be salvagable, then it has some lasting value in the potential of being reopened and thus should not be deleted. On the other hand, if you are sure that you want to delete a question, you can delete it immediately.

For answers, the situation is a little bit different as there is no closed state, i.e., a state between a regular post and a deleted post, in which the author can salvage the answer. Thus, if an answer is salveagable from deletion and posted by a new user, we may leave a comment and delay our delete-vote by 24 h or until the user has clearly seen the comment and had some time to react (whatever comes first). This mainly applies to link-only answers and answers that fail to address the question. Answers falling into the other deletion categories can be voted to delete instantly (after leaving appropriate comments, if applicable):

  • spam
  • offensive answers
  • gibberish
  • comments posted as answers
  • duplicate answers
  • other questions posted as answers
  • There is a possibility to notify OP of required chanhes to his answer, namely a moderator notice. Alternatively one can comment amd let it simmer for a day or so
    – Vogel612
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 11:14
  • While it's called "moderator notice" it's visible to all users. It's called like that since only moderators can add it. Result is a yellow banner, directly below the "problematic" answer
    – Vogel612
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 12:11
  • The problem with a moderator notice is that it requires moderator intervention and I think there is also a very limited amount of possible notices.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 12:15

Given the voting system and the automated cleansing of questions that Takkat mentioned I don't see why whe should delete content at all for poor quality, as long as meets the minimal requirements defined in What posts should be flagged for deletion? .

In particular, we should not have deleted https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/17869/how-can-you-invite-in-germany-a-girl-to-a-date , and given that this was a question by a new user, we should not even have closed it that quickly. While I would agree that the web site the OP was linking to could be seen as inappropriate and offending to women, the rest of the question, in particular it's title, and the OP's comments show IMO that the OP really seeked help with German language. We should have taken the time to explain how we can help and how not and wait for his reaction a couple of days. Even without reaction the (closed) question could have stayed to document what we consider off-topic.

  • 1
    Closing is a sort of feedback and not a punishment. Closing a question fast does not mean condemning it to die! The faster a new user gets feedback on how to improve, the better! This means your premise is somewhat... flawed. While I agree that 3 hours is somewhat short notice I don't think that question was salvageable without losing the initial intent or getting into duplicate territory. Thus deleting was IMO the lesser poison
    – Vogel612
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 12:26

I propose to wait with deleting until users had a chance to improve their posts.

There is not much harm done even if we left poor content undeleted on the site. We may not be aware of the automatic deletion of poor questions by the system. This will ensure that poor content is does not clutter a site unless it leads to significant traffic (but then we probably want to edit and answer). Poor answers also will not do much harm in case they are not upvoted or accepted as they will appear down at the bottom of answers when viewing a Q & A.

Because of this we don't have to hastily delete all poor content. It may cause more damage to the site by alienating new users than leaving an occasional poor post for some time until the system takes care of it.

This of course is not true for dangerously misleading content (if that existed at all on a language site), true spam or offensive posts. They should go immediately.

  • "A bit longer" is very unclear and not helpful. Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 6:39
  • @userunknown: Good point - I edited may post to make it a bit clearer - but we should not give a fixed time span, this may be too hard to keep track.
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 7:50

My idea for a rule is: A question has to stay one week open before deletion. That is long enough to react to problems and short enough to not loose track of poor, abandoned questions.

  • 1
    Sorry but that rule does not account for any of the corner cases seen in question territory: "Unsalvageable crap", "gibberish", "Spam" and "Hate speech". Additionally given this metric, the "Roomba" as it's called lovingly will clean up the question by Community-mod deletion. Your rule is in a way already implemented network-wide
    – Vogel612
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 19:09

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