Very recently moderator ff524, deleted a question that I would agree was in bad taste after very negative commentary from the OP.


But despite the negative connotations, would there be value in allowing bad questions (that are ultimately closed) that had an answer that effectively addresses the question?

Please excuse the potential bias as the person who answered the question. Although the cost was not great (15 minutes at most), I would prefer that the effort was not wasted.

Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, wouldn't there be reason to believe future authors of answers to bad questions would prefer that their efforts are not deleted either?

2 Answers 2


The primary reason I had for deleting this question so quickly was that the author had just posted another question that was also very off topic, with all the same problems. When someone abuses the site by repeatedly posting very off-topic questions (that are more rant than question), even after getting feedback that these are off topic, we prefer not to reward this behavior. Also, quick moderation actions (downvotes, votes to close, flags and deletion) help trigger a question ban, which prevents the author from posting more unwelcome content.

I do believe that those who answer very bad questions would prefer for them not to be deleted. But I think this community has an even stronger preference for not encouraging people to keep posting content that they've been told is unwelcome, i.e for closing bad questions rather than answering them. We rely on this kind of community moderation to keep the quality of the site high.

As a general rule, we do not like for bad content to hang around, because it lowers the apparent quality of the site both for regular users and casual visitors. If someone posts a question that can be improved, we would put in on hold and try to improve it; but if a question can never be made to be on topic, and is very low quality, we don't like for it to hang around.

Of course, there is a continuum - a question that is slightly off topic, but with very good answers, is often closed but not deleted. But extremely off topic or very low quality questions are likely to be deleted.

I would be happy to copy and paste your answer to a pastebin or something like that - it's not on topic here, but if there's somewhere else you want to post it, I'd be glad to help so your work isn't wasted.

  • Noted and thanks for the explanation. But in absence of an account deletion, wouldn't there be a risk that the individual would not learn that his/her questions are of poor quality? In other words, the OP in this case, would not come to realize that his/her viewpoint is not necessarily well-liked and not accepted and will continue with a viewpoint that well for a lack of a better term, false.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:14
  • @Frank I'm not sure what you mean. The user got feedback that the questions were off topic: close votes that refer to the reason for closure, and down votes that signal to the user, "Hey, this content is not welcome here." Deletion is of course another signal to the user.
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:15
  • Let me frame it another way (in multiple parts): OP came to the site with a predisposition and notion that education policy should be changed because it is inherently unfair. I answered that OP shouldn't focus on the unfairness and instead focus on his/her work.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:18
  • After some commentary between OP, myself and other users, OP revealed an alternative motive that education policy should be "the current system doesn't even help the top 20% of people and their talented is wasted making a deadweight loss. I'm more noble than the current system and not as noble as some communist idealist." Which I would disagree with on more than one level (ethical, moral and practical to name a few).
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:20
  • At that point the Question was deleted.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:20
  • But since the discussion ended, the OP would continue with a firm conviction that his/her viewpoint is still the 'correct' one. There wasn't an opportunity for the OP to change his/her mind after reading arguments made by myself and/or other Academia users.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:21
  • A future casual or regular user, who might have the same viewpoint and is curious as to what other think, would not have the opportunity to read this discourse and through the process of evaluating the opinions of others with their own, and come to a conclusion that their viewpoint may be false. (End multi-part response)
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:23
  • 4
    @Frank there are a lot of people that are wrong on the Internet, and lots of sites where you can discuss all kinds of wrong ideas with people and try to correct them. But Academia.SE is not one of those sites. (You are welcome to use our chat for this purpose, though, like someone else did with this same user.)
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:23
  • Great XKCD reference. Noted on the chat function. Not as public as a regular question in terms of format, but I guess it will suffice.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:25
  • @Frank There are other sites that are not as strict about moderation - Reddit, etc. SE is deliberately different in its moderation policy, because we try to be a home for people who like answering high quality, on topic questions. But some of our users enjoy contributing to those other sites, too ;)
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:37
  • That leads me to another question... not in the same scope as this, so I'll open another meta question. Thanks for all your effort thus far!
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:39

In this very particular situation (don't generalize, since I may or may not like what the moderators do or don't do in the other cases!), I would agree with the corresponding moderator: let's kill bad questions. Let's give the OP an opportunity to improve, but, if no action is taken, let's delete them. Yes, some answers required work, but lots of the work of an academic researcher goes into the trash bin, so it's business as usual.

(That's all, folks, sorry for the brevity...)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .