The accepted answer to the Meta post When should I vote to delete a question? advocates an aggressive approach to deleting closed questions.

Summarizing, the author suggests:

  • always deleting unclear questions
  • near always deleting off-topic questions
  • deleting too broad or opinion-based questions that attract poor answers
  • sometimes deleting duplicate questions "if the duplicate does not add terminology or alternate phrasing to find the question."

As of this post, there are

  • 891 closed/non-duplicate questions
  • 893 closed/duplicate questions

It seems like decluttering by removing more of our closed questions would be yet another way to improve finding answers on the site (along with editing and retagging open questions to ensure they are accurate and easy to find).

I'd very much like to know the opinions of both mods and non-mods alike.

UPDATE: 5 May 2021

I've nominated four questions for deletion, to see how the community decides on them. My criteria for choosing:

  • question
  • closed
  • non-duplicate
  • opened before 2017
  • having no answers
  • fewer than 100 views.

The idea was to identify questions that are not contributing to the site, even as guideposts to the kinds of questions we close.

UPDATE: 16 July 2021

The Meta post Can closed questions be found on Google? (the answer is yes) reinforces the idea that pruning (i.e., deleting) closed questions is a good idea. If kept around, "bad" questions will be found in Internet searches, promoting additional bad questions.

From the accepted (and only) answer:

[Finding closed questions via internet search] is helpful in the case of questions that are closed as duplicates, since we keep those around as bread crumbs to the canonical reference.

Other than that, "closed" usually shouldn't be the final state of a question. Some closed questions can be improved to the point where they can be reopened, and others should be deleted.\

This dovetails with the issue brought up in Are answers to off-topic questions worthy of downvotes and/or flags? — off-topic questions that show up in a Google search, and which also have answers, will even further promote such off-topic questions.

  • 1
    As a heads up, I deleted the questions listed at the bottom yesterday since they were low view and don't really have a chance to be reopened.
    – Dom Mod
    May 13, 2021 at 18:45
  • @Dom Thanks. That gives me an initial indication that I'm using reasonable criteria.
    – Aaron
    May 13, 2021 at 18:46

3 Answers 3


A couple of random points...

  • On a personal level, I don't find closed questions a problem when navigating the site; I presume that means that the level of clearup currently going on is sufficient.

  • I think the closed questions probably constitute part of the record of our 'site rules', alongside the help pages and the meta site.

(also When should I vote to delete a question? is a very old Q/A !)

  • 4
    I've been waiting to organize some thoughts and give a full answer, but your second bullet point is a huge aspect of what I was planning: the non-deleted questions are something of a paper trail for our site, helping new users learn the ropes a bit.
    – Richard
    Mar 17, 2021 at 3:06
  • 1
    But with that said, I also agree that plenty of questions could be deleted with no ill effects.
    – Richard
    Mar 17, 2021 at 3:07

First of all, let me say that the mods (mod?) for this forum are doing a great job. So I hope my two cents will be taken in the positive and constructive light they are meant.

Personally, I'd err on the side of liberty-- people feel punished when a thread is closed or deleted, so where possible, I'd let a slightly dubious thread (to me as a hypothetical mod) stand in the name of openness of community, rather than axe it in the name of merciless efficiency.

In my recent experience, someone asked how to modulate between C major and e-flat minor, and I was prepared to furnish a couple of specific examples that I thought I could use to teach a basic lesson about octave division. The thread was closed, with a link to a very large and complete description of types of modulation (including the use of enharmonic diminished 7ths, which I meant to hold up as an example of octave division).

Don't get me wrong, that was a VERY useful link to have. But I was interested in answer the specific question, and the person wanted it answered, so I don't see the harm in letting that little interchange play out.

/2 cents (and Aaron I still think you're doing a great job!)

  • 3
    Closing as a duplicate is not a form of punishment ;) Having a specific answer to a specific 'sub question' then closed against a broader-scope 'master' then gives future searchers the opportunity to find both. This is a plus, not a minus. A duplicate that functions in this way should never be deleted.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 19, 2021 at 11:45

I think there is a balance we need to find as a site that's not quite immediate deletion, but eventual deletion. I don't think we should be immediately delete most closed questions, but I also don't think it's very useful to have closed questions just permanently on the site.

The system already deletes low impact closed questions with its rumba script, but there are many questions that do not qualify for that that should eventually be removed.

We have a ton of content on the site as is and a lot of gems people can learn from and questions people ask that we need to highlight Removing questions that hide them by cluttering search results when they don't make sense here can help combat those issues.

I know I've been on the site a while and if I haven't answer, asked, or bookmarked a question it's rather hard to find. Deleting old close questions is one of the things that can help with that along with editing and tagging those gems so they shine brighter.

How we handle them should be on a case by case bases. Things that are off topic we should move a bit faster to delete due to new users who come to the site via a question like that may not see or understand the closed concept and ask questions in a similar vein. Questions that are over a year or two closed that aren't contributing positively (either low views or content that would quickly be closed) should be fair game for deletion and mods have deleted closed questions like that in the past to help keep the site uncluttered.

The one thing I do think is duplicates should stay unless there's a clear reason for deletion. I also think that 800 number is a bit light. I would not bat an eye if we searched and found we have triple that number of actual duplicates if we went though all of our questions and properly closed other questions as duplicates.

  • Two quick things: 1) I'm not sure your third paragraph says what you intended...? 2) Regarding the # of dups, do you mean the search ("closed:1 duplicate:0") missed some, or that we have we have lots of yet-to-be-found/closed dups?
    – Aaron
    Mar 18, 2021 at 10:08
  • @Aaron I cleaned up the third paragraph a bit, but it says what I want it to. We have content that is hard to find that having closed questions deleted at some rate will make some of them easier to find. The duplicates I'm mentioning are ones that are not marked as such because like the previous point certain content can be hard to find and we need to help clean up the site in general to get more people to see it.
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 18, 2021 at 14:03
  • I think we're looking at two different parts of the post. "...removing questions that hide them by cluttering search results when they don't make sense here hurts that." -- seems to say that it hurts the site to remove clutter that hides valuable questions. I'm 100% on board with the potential usefulness of duplicates.
    – Aaron
    Mar 18, 2021 at 15:56
  • @Aaron the edit I made earlier seemed not to have saved. Added a bit more context again.
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 18, 2021 at 20:30
  • Yep, that did it. By the way, when someone who isn't a diamond moderator clicks "delete", are we "voting to delete", or are we actually causing the deletion? If the latter, is there a check on that?
    – Aaron
    Mar 18, 2021 at 21:05
  • 1
    Mod vote to deletes are binding. Normal users need 3 votes to delete/undelete. There is a 10k users tools page that has some useful analytics on it to help with this since there is no direct queue: music.stackexchange.com/tools?tab=delete
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 18, 2021 at 21:11

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