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Trying to delete question How can I turn the Kobold Hall delve into a full-fledged Adventure?, the confirmation text is:

Delete this answered question? We do not recommend deleting questions with answers because doing so deprives future readers of this knowledge.

Then, if I confirm, I get this notification:

Sorry, this question has answers and cannot be deleted; flag it for moderator attention instead.

What's the point, then?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This does look like a bug, or at least a programming oversight. Or possibly, there is a circumstance that does allow deletion of questions with answers, but the text isn't sufficiently explaining this. Thanks for catching it! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 30 '16 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside, it may be worth asking a question directly about how to accomplish what you were hoping deletion would accomplish, since there are other potential options, including locks and moderator deletion. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 30 '16 at 16:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is on hold because site's policy is "this question does not fit the site." I thought, "well, I'll delete then." I don't really want to do more work to fit site policy. \$\endgroup\$ – Adriano Varoli Piazza Jun 30 '16 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, fair enough. Fortunately, being held/closed is sufficient — doing more work and deleting it isn't necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 30 '16 at 16:16
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This is deliberate behavior on the part of the system, speaking on the general point.

There's two component messages here. The first is, when clicking delete, you're always given a warning about what you're about to delete. The purpose of this message is to help ensure you understand why deletion is typically not recommended. It also is context sensitive, noting answered versus unanswered but also warns users who may risk a post ban afterwards (or currently have one). Two things generally result from this - the user understands that deletion isn't needed and stops there, or the user confirms the necessity for deletion and continues on.

However, as you note, we restrict most answered question deletions - a question that has only received a single, unvoted answer can be deleted without requiring moderator intervention. Any other one, then results in the second message, noting that a moderator is needed to perform the act. That way, when it's appropriate to go through with deletion, the user is provided a means to do so.

We use a double message because it works out. The first one doubles as both a warning and a confirmation dialog. If we only provided the second message, users would just immediately go on to flag for moderator attention without considering the weight of the deletion. It's an extra enough step that helps reduce excess workload as well as reducing the number of more abusive deletion actions.


Note that in the case of on-hold/closure, as there's relevance to this particular incident (but I'm not speaking on the merits of the exact example question here). Closure as a whole was created to both gate and permit deletion. It marks stuff that users don't believe belongs on the site, but also provides ample opportunity to salvage a question into a state where it can remain. But the eventual destination of any closed question is not to remain closed, it'll either get reopened or deleted - there's no major need to hasten the latter, especially when there can be chances for the former.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Tangentially, that last paragraph is interesting as it seems to imply there shouldn't be many closed questions on the site that aren't deleted. Is it a default assumption on Stack Exchange that closed questions will be deleted if not edited to the point of being able to reopen then within a reasonable timeframe? If so, that doesn't appear to be what we do on this site \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Jul 1 '16 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ The default operation of closure is to lead to one of those two ends, exempting for example duplicates which stick around for search purposes. The two primary implications are, "If something is good enough to keep, it should be good enough to keep open" and "If something is bad enough to not want more of, it should be out of sight and not discoverable." There may be some sites which can find reasonable cause to have exceptions, but in terms of "reasonable timeframe" we don't have any expectation on immediacy so much as I figure most sites do intend eventually to clean up closed stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – Grace Note Jul 1 '16 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wibbs That's the default hope. In practice though, the workflow required (moderators go trawling through old closed questions just to look for the ones that obviously are ready to delete) is not a workflow that the site naturally encourages and facilitates by the site, so it doesn't really happen. It takes a mod thinking “I should go delete a bunch of things that are out of sight and out of mind!”, which is not really a common thought to have. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '16 at 3:38

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