I see that I and soon a few other users will have enough reputation to delete closed threads.

What are the guidelines for doing so? Delete all closed threads? Delete none (i.e. do nothing)? Is it a judgement call?


You delete a post when the content no longer adds anything to the site. Posts are closed for a variety of reasons:

Exact Duplicate: Look at the content of the duplicates and see how much they differ. It's a judgment call. If the question is yet-another duplicate (asked over and over) it may not be worth cluttering up the system further. But if the wording provides another way for people (search query results) to find the content, leave it. It will act like an index reference pointing to the right post:

How do I do [thing]: see "How do I do [other thing]"

Off Topic: Almost always delete it. Off topic usually says "it shouldn't have been posted here in the first place."

Subjective/Argumentative: Judgment call. Decide between "fair question but we discourage this so we couldn't let it continue" (i.e. keep it) and "this is nothing but a 'broken window' and we should get rid of it" (i.e. delete it).

Broken Window: It’s pretty clear now that the broken windows theory applies to community sites as well. The theory is that minor forms of bad behavior encourage worse ones: that a neighborhood with lots of graffiti and broken windows becomes one where robberies occur. I was living in New York when Giuliani introduced the reforms that made the broken windows theory famous, and the transformation was miraculous. And I was a Reddit user when the opposite happened there, and the transformation was equally dramatic.

Not a real question: Almost always should be deleted. Closing it gave the author/community ample time to fix it up. If it wasn't reopened by this time, it should probably go.

Too localized: See off topic.

  • 2
    Thanks for the helpful insight, Robert. This is very useful.
    – jrista
    Jul 29 '10 at 1:56

I would vote for deleting closed thread, unless it is of some special interest (really funny, or useful in some way). An example of this could be the "Great Programming Quotes" thread at StackOverflow; it's closed but I can see resons not to delete it.

  • 1
    I liked Robert's notion about search engine indexing. If we keep threads that are duplicates but worded in a different way, we can close them as duplicate. Web searches using various terminology can then eventually find their way to the original question, which should have all the useful answers. For the rest, I think eventual deletion should be the goal, but I don't think it needs to be immediate. I think we should give the community time to decide if they really think a thread should be closed.
    – jrista
    Jul 29 '10 at 3:12

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