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A few days ago, a moderator deleted this question:

Student loan grievance: Is it illegal for servicer to lower my minimum monthly payment because I've been aggressively overpaying?

The question was posted almost exactly one year ago. This question has a score of +8. Three good answers were posted, one of which (mine) was voted up to a score of +38. The question was then closed by five members as "unclear," despite the fact that no one had asked the OP for any clarification in the comments or explained what they thought was unclear.

Now, a year later, a moderator has decided to manually delete this positive score question with all of its positive score answers. Why was this done?


Please note: This is a quote from our "moderator tools" help page:

When should I delete questions?

Closed questions that are of no lasting value whatsoever should be flagged and deleted.

Before voting to delete, please check whether there are any good answers; if so, then the question should be flagged for moderator attention as a potential merge candidate. We don't like to lose great answers!

Also, be cautious when deleting questions closed as duplicates; they can serve as a signpost, directing users to useful answers on another question.

It takes 3 votes, minimum, to delete a closed question. However, the number of delete votes required scales to the number of votes on the question and all its answers.

(emphasis in original)

I tried to vote to reopen, but because the deletion was a moderator action, the system does not allow any non-moderators to vote to reopen.


My personal opinion: The question was clear, and three users, including myself, understood it well enough to write a well-received answer. This question should have been reopened, not deleted.

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The question was closed by 5 regular (non-mod) members. Closed questions can be edited to fix whatever reason prompted the close. This question was closed over 10 months ago, with no such edit, and didn’t appear to be fixable.

I asked in a mod chat area, how other stacks handle this, and consensus was that these questions should be deleted. Why do you feel a closed question should remain indefinitely?

We’ve already had the meta discussion that votes don’t always reflect a good question or answer, and the CMs have written how an unclear or off topic question that somehow hits HNQ can quickly gain votes. But it should still be closed, and if not fixable, deleted.

The same day the question was posted, and the votes to close appeared, the comment also was posted -

I voted to close this question as unclear what you're asking. I have no idea what it is you're upset about or what the lender is doing or not doing in response to whatever it is you think you're doing or how anything written in your question could be construed as unethical and/or illegal. What are the terms of the loan? What is due? What are you paying? What are they doing? Did you purposely leave all of the relevant details out of the question?

At the time, I thought to myself - this question will either get a good edit or a close with no help from mods. That's good, in general I think having my name added to fewer closed questions is better. The OP made no effort to edit those details quid had asked for. The question, although closed, remained available to edit, but also to show up as a 'related question' when on the site. That prompted me to talk to other stack's mods.

In general, I encourage members to let an OP return to address issues before closing a question, my own thought is that people should be given 24+ hours for a return visit. Once they've either edited or commented they won't, a close is fair.

I'd ask you a question in return - If 5 members close a question, but it remains visible, and it goes unedited/improved, what would be your criteria for deletion? I personally find it annoying to see closed questions on 'related'. They remain a reminder that something needs fixing.

Note - there are 2 Meta questions with great answers, which confirm my approach was sound -

When should I vote to delete a question?

How long should I wait before deleting a closed question?

  • There was nothing to fix. The question was closed as “unclear,” but there was no comment from anyone on what was unclear. Judging by the answers and the upvotes, many users apparently thought the question was clear, myself included. – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 4:14
  • This was not an off-topic question, so the argument that off-topic questions should be deleted does not apply here. However, I do think that, in general, closed questions with good answers should indeed remain undeleted. I spend a lot of my time writing answers on this site, and I do take it personally when my posts get deleted for no good reason. I don’t answer off-topic questions; when I answer a question, I believe it to be on-topic. – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 4:20
  • @BenMiller - I edited my answer for more details. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 8 at 12:23
  • Thanks for posting that comment. I cannot see deleted comments. I believe that the answers to all the questions in that comment are irrelevant details. The question is answerable without knowing any of those details. I’m curious why the comment was deleted. Presumably, the comment was deleted when it was realized that the details requested are irrelevant for a good answer. – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:03
  • You asked for my personal criteria for deletion. First, I will acknowledge that my criteria for closure is higher than some. I don’t like seeing questions closed. If it is in the ballpark for being on-topic, I’d like to see them stay open. Often, those are the most interesting and fun questions to answer. Only if a question is nowhere near on-topic or breaks one of our explicit “off-topic” rules will I vote to close as off-topic. (Cont.) – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:19
  • I’ve noticed that many people tend to vote to close questions if they don’t like the OP’s attitude or they think that the OP has a mistaken view on something. I prefer in those cases to write a clever answer. When an OP takes the time to write a question, even if they are mistaken about something, an answer is what they need. Closing the question does not educate them. It only validates their mistaken view that the world is against them. (Cont.) – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:25
  • Now, to your question about deletion: I would only vote to delete closed questions that actively harm the site or the reader. An example: let’s say someone asked a question about the proper care of their new puppy. It might attract a few up votes from some puppy lovers, and a puppy person wanting to be helpful might even post a good answer before all the close votes come in. That question should be deleted, because having such a blatantly off-topic question remain confuses the reader and brings people here to our site from Google for the wrong reasons. (Cont.) – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:31
  • Another example might indeed be an “unclear” question. Let’s say that someone posted a vague question that is missing any of the necessary details for an answer. We leave it open for the OP to fix, but a user posts an answer before it gets eventually closed as “unclear.” Unfortunately, the answerer made too many assumptions, did not spell these assumptions out in his answer. Furthermore, the answer is completely wrong if you take other assumptions. This question-and-answer combo could harm the reader, giving them a false answer. I would carefully consider deletion in this case. (Cont.) – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:40
  • That scenario is not what we have here. This question is answerable as-is. The extra details requested in the deleted comment are not needed for the answer to the question. I can only guess that some of the “unclear” close votes were because originally it was asking a legal question without specifying a jurisdiction, but Chris correctly edited the question adding a country tag, noticing that the OP had asked other U.S.-specific questions. – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 14:46
  • There is discussion among CMs regarding the nature of closed questions. The general view is that a closed question is in a sort of limbo for a short while. Such questions should either be edited with the goal of being reopened, but not left as closed. If not reopened, they are candidates for closure, and in fact the system routinely deletes certain questions that have been left closed for a time. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 8 at 14:53
  • As a concrete, linear thinker, I am struggling between the two very distinct issues you wish to address here. Do you feel the question should have remained open? Fair enough, I did not vote to close it, five other members did. That was nearly a year ago and I am inclined to say that ship has sailed. I don’t recall any discussion at the time arguing to re-open it as you’ve done with other questions you felt were closed incorrectly. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 8 at 14:57
  • The question that’s raised for me, is about leaving closed questions on the site. If you feel there is value in that and that we should not do what other stacks do, we should isolate that question for meta discussion. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 8 at 14:59
  • Yes, and yes. I do indeed feel that this question should have been reopened, and I voted to reopen before you deleted it. And yes, there is often value in leaving closed questions on the site, especially on this site where good questions get closed occasionally. – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 15:28
  • I do not open a meta question for every question I think is closed unfairly; I pick my battles. :) But rest assured, if I answer a question, it means that I feel very strongly that the question should remain open, and am happy to argue that point if asked. Let me ask you: Do you think this question is unclear? What about the question do you not understand? – Ben Miller Mar 8 at 15:31
  • I see. But again, deleted over 10 months later. I can promise then it would not be my practice to delete a question that is still having active discussion or current votes to re-open. Long ago, consensus was to leave it closed. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 8 at 15:34

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