I was going through one of the tags and i noticed how many closed questions filled it up. They were either duplicates, opinion based, or too broad. If they weren't suitable for the site why aren't they removed after a certain amount of time without need of moderators or community votes?(similar to the process of how they got closed in the first place).

I know after a while they will be deleted, but the time is not specified. The amount of closed and duplicates and too broad's might just upset me personally, but the tags could use some cleaning.


Monica talked about the technical end of why the system doesn't automatically delete closed questions. Let me discuss why it doesn't happen very often manually.

I'm (in general) against deleting closed questions for a couple of reasons:

  • It only takes five people to close (or reopen) a question. Just because part of the community feels a question should be closed doesn't mean everyone else does. Deleting a closed question makes it harder for those potential reopen voters to weigh in.
  • Closed questions can usually be improved. For instance, some questions that are closed as Unclear might be reopened if the author simply added some more details. Yes, there are some instances where a question will never be good enough to fit the site, but those are by no means the vast majority of cases.
  • The scope of the site might change in the future, making previously off-topic questions allowable. Just because a question is off-topic now doesn't mean it will be off-topic in a year. The site is dynamic. So is its scope.

I like to view deletion - of a question or an answer - as signifying that the post is beyond all hope, that it's unsalvageable. Maybe I'm an optimist, but I find that very few questions are that bad.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to tag along with your coattails: also keep in mind that Worldbuilding (as an art or hobby or adjunct to creating a work of fiction or a game) requires a certain amount of breadth and opinion to even work. By nature, the scope of WB.SE is a little different than many other SE forums. A lot of questions that get closed are still quite useful and interesting: as you say, five people decided that, for some reason, they were just too much! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 22 '18 at 14:35

Closed questions are automatically deleted according to the following rules:

If the question was closed more than 9 days ago, and ...

  • not closed as a duplicate
  • has a score of 0 or less
  • is not locked
  • has no answers with a score > 0
  • has no accepted answer
  • has no pending reopen votes
  • has not been edited in the past 9 days

... it will be automatically deleted. These are "abandoned closed", and show as RemoveAbandonedClosed.

Duplicates are not automatically deleted because they can act as signposts; there can be different ways to ask the same question and this makes them more searchable. Questions with upvoted answers aren't automatically deleted because they are deemed potentially valuable. (Not all close reasons are created equal and a site's scope isn't static over time, so it might have been a good question once even if it it wasn't when it was closed.)

Automatic deletion is fairly conservative, which is why high-rep users can also vote to delete. If there might be value, the decision needs to be made by humans rather than software.

If you come across questions that in your opinion add no value to the site, vote to delete if you can or bring them up for discussion (meta or chat). Do keep in mind that you can't retract delete votes the way you can retract close votes.


I'd like to point out two more thing things.

(1) Deleting questions is basically an invitation to ask them — and close them — again. The record of a closed question (for whatever reason) constitutes a form of precedent that allows us to help educate and guide new users. (Whether or not we do this effectively is an entirely different question.)

IMO, questions should only be deleted when it's obvious they don't belong on this site (such as programming questions that should have been on SO and, for whatever reason, appear here. It's happened several times in the last year.)

(2) Curiously, seeing a large percentage of closed questions with a specific tag shouldn't (in my mind) have led to the question, why aren't we cleaning up after ourselves? Rather, it should have led to the question, what's wrong with this tag that questions associated with it get closed so frequently? It would suggest...

  • that the tag is badly defined,
  • that the tag is inappropriate for this site,
  • or that we are not helping users (especially new users) to understand the tag.

You didn't mention what that tag was. It might make more sense to post a Meta question about the tag so we can come to a consensus of how to better deal with the tag and reduce the number of closed associated questions.

A specifically relevant meta question:


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