So I was sifting through the question sandbox...would it be totally inappropriate to remove items that haven't seen any activity for maybe...30 days? Talking about questions that have not been deleted/promoted to main.

We are starting to accumulate a lot of content that has stagnated and appears to be going nowhere.


Side question, is there a way to view a thread excluding the deleted posts?

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent idea. We also need to figure out a way to edit down the posts, as they currently take up a lot of space on the page. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mod Jun 22 '15 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ If you do this you should update the sandbox post to mention the "deadline", just so nobody's surprised later. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jun 22 '15 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ Meanwhile, check out the other sorting options -- "active" might be what you're looking for. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jun 22 '15 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio Good point, actually active still has deleted and living posts mixed all together...course if we delete the active posts that haven't been used maybe it will fix that. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 22 '15 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ Can you wait for like, 6 months? My curse will be lifted then. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles May 10 '17 at 21:03

Sand is impermanent. Over time it is swept by the wind, dug through by wild animals, and tidied up by groundskeepers.


  • Any community member who notices a sandbox post that's gone one week1 without progress2 should leave a reminder comment, also mentioning that it'll be deleted in a few more weeks, if no such comment already exists. Don't skip this step.

  • Any community member who notices a sandbox post that's gone 30 days without progress and had such a comment for at least one week should flag the post for moderator attention. If the previous step didn't happen, do it now and come back in a week instead of flagging.

  • Somebody updates the sandbox documentation so this doesn't surprise anybody.

1 I see no reason to tarry with this initial check-in; if it's been a week, time to remind the author that he's still got something waiting in the sandbox. But we give people a month before we actually delete things to allow for attacks of life, major reworkings prompted by comments, etc.3

2 By "gone without progress" I mean that the author hasn't edited the post and has not asked the question on main. (If the question has been asked on main, the sandbox post should be deleted for other reasons.) If the author is answering comments with comments instead of edits, ask him to edit instead. If other people have edited the post but the author hasn't been back, that doesn't count as activity. The purpose of the sandbox is to help authors prepare their questions, so if the author seems to have walked away, we don't care what other people have done.

3 Moderators and the community are not bound by this timing, and this is not a guarantee to post authors. If an obviously-problematic post is made, it can be deleted for cause same as with anything else on the site.

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    $\begingroup$ Everyone therefore who hears these words of Monica's, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his question on the mainpage. The downvotes came down, the review queue came, and beat on that question; but it did not get closed, for it was founded on community support. Everyone who hears these words of Monica's, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his question on the sand[box]. The downvotes came down, the review queue came, and the question fell—and great was its summary deletion. $\endgroup$ – kingledion May 10 '17 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ Alternate commentary, "I don't like sand[boxes]. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere." $\endgroup$ – kingledion May 10 '17 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ How would you feel about a one post per user policy? $\endgroup$ – apaul May 10 '17 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ @apaul34208 I think there's a separate meta question about that; I tried to focus on cleanup rather than prevention here. To answer your question, though, I think a limit is probably a good idea, though maybe two or three rather than one -- sometimes it's reasonable to work on a couple questions in parallel, particularly if it started out as one sandbox question and people encouraged you to split it up. I think having lots of active sandbox questions makes it harder for you to get any of them to the point of being ready for main, which defeats the purpose. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 11 '17 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio The voice of reason as usual. Honestly split questions was a corner case I hadn't considered. $\endgroup$ – apaul May 11 '17 at 4:24
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    $\begingroup$ I really like your idea and the steps you propose. But I think that a limit on questions is an essential part of this question and should be integrated into this concept. For example the limit could be that any user can have at most 3 open question drafts in the Sandbox. The moment he opens a fourth one he shows that he's active, but he doesn't seem to care a lot about his older questions. Then he should instantly receive a comment on the question with the longest period of inactivity that he should keep to the limit. Another week without any activity and that question should be flagged. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus May 11 '17 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ A question limit can easily be incorporated into this when the community reaches consensus. Right now I see opposing positions each with multiple upvotes on the other question. But in the meantime we can at least get started on cleaning up apparently-abandoned posts if the community agrees (which it seems to, but let's at least let all timezones wake up and have a look before deciding). $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 11 '17 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to ask if this policy should now be included to clean up the Sandbox or if there are additional steps necessary. The first posts in the Sandbox are near the "30 days without progress" limit in roughly a week and would therefore be ready for deletion if we added a comment. Specifically the four questions from joao sturza in the Sandbox had their last activity by the author on 30.04.2017 $\endgroup$ – Secespitus May 22 '17 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Secespitus at +7/-0 this approach seems to have the support of the community, so if you want to go ahead and implement it, I think that'd be fine. Note that the implementation includes updating the documentation. :-) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 22 '17 at 19:09

Given the name 'sandbox', I'd say that if someone hasn't touched a question in 30 days, they probably aren't going to and the question should be deleted.


I'll admit to having similar thoughts recently, given the number of apparently inactive posts we have there. Good idea.

30 days sounds like a good threshold to me: it gives enough refining time without sticking around for years.

If the moderators are happy for us to flag these answers for deletion, great. If not, if you spot one just jump into chat and find 3 4k+ users.

  • $\begingroup$ It's better if these aren't deleted by moderators, though we can if needed. If the author of one of these comes back and wants to work on his question, if the community deleted it he can seek undeletion that way -- but if a mod deleted it, only a mod can undelete it. Of course, if the author is active you might start by asking that person to delete it; in that case he'd be able to undelete later on his own. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jun 22 '15 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ So I don't have the option to delete on meta...only flag. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 22 '15 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @James you don't? You should do - I certainly do. Answers have to score -1 or lower to qualify for deletion, unless you're in the VLQ queue. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Jun 22 '15 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtOfCode ah ok, so that doesn't really help us unless we downvote the inactive questions...it would have to be a mod $\endgroup$ – James Jun 23 '15 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @James indeed. So we ask the OP, then if that fails we can group and mass downvote (oooh, a legitimate use) until it falls to -1 and can be deleted. If all fails, flag for mods. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Jun 23 '15 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtOfCode that'll work $\endgroup$ – James Jun 23 '15 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, right -- the community can only vote to delete downvoted answers. That won't work. Please do start by asking the author; that's easiest and causes the least disruption (the author can still bring it back later). $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jun 24 '15 at 13:18

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