As we move into mid-December, it's not a bad time to begin to get ready to move into 2012. In this vein, I'd like to ask the community to pitch in and help out with some spring winter cleaning.

To that end, here's a list of things that we could do:

  • Closing

    There are some old questions that should now be closed, either because they were missed in the early days of the site or are now off topic due to changing site policy. If you have 3k+ rep, you can vote to close them; otherwise, flag for moderator attention.

  • Deletion of closed questions

    Questions closed off-topic, not a real question, too localized, or general reference can mostly be deleted. If you have 10k rep, you can vote to delete these; if you don't, you can flag for moderator attention. If a question is not constructive, please make your best judgement call, looking especially at the answers. If the content is valuable, we might want to keep it (see Locking); otherwise, out it goes.

    Please check that these questions should still be closed; do not just blindly vote to delete or flag, as questions may have been improved.

  • Duplicates and Mergers

    If a question is closed as an exact duplicate, it's probably fine just to leave it alone. However, if the questions are phrased so similarly that you could put the answers of one under another without any editing, please flag for question merging.

  • Locking

    Some questions were asked on the site a long time ago that are no longer a good fit for our site. Most of these questions should just be closed and deleted. In cases of historical significance, however, the post can be locked, thus preventing activity while allowing preservation. Very few questions deserve this—in fact, we've only ever locked three questions with this banner, but if you see any that should have this protection, please flag it.

  • I don't understand the idea about closing old questions. -All- old questions? That's what your statement sounds like but it doesn't sound like the right thing to do.
    – Mitch
    Dec 11, 2011 at 21:28
  • No, I'm referring to questions that were either missed in the early days of the site or are now off topic due to changing site policy. I'll amend that part shortly to make it clearer.
    – waiwai933
    Dec 11, 2011 at 21:30
  • I flagged a few "how do you pronounce <insert random word here>" questions.
    – user11550
    Dec 12, 2011 at 5:51
  • Re: deletion of closed question, here's a search query for closed answers, newest first. Remember they must be at least two days old before deletion.
    – Hugo
    Dec 15, 2011 at 12:50
  • Can you link to the community discussion on which closed questions should be deleted and which should be left because I'm missing that?
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Dec 22, 2011 at 12:09
  • @waiwai933, I see you have cleverly linked those three questions into the article. I love it. Jan 2, 2012 at 16:50

3 Answers 3


Changing site policy? I think you mean vacillating site policy. Or perhaps ad hoc site policy. Policy du jour by the policy police.

Whatever. The fact is, it's impossible to tell exactly what TPTB wish to remain open or get closed. All we know for sure is that the users (who were supposed to be the owners of this site) don't have a say. In view of that, I think any action should be taken by the moderators, as obviously they're the only ones who have the correct line.

  • Seriously? I'm talking about questions like this one and this one. This isn't some underhand way of me choosing what posts to allow; it's just a general clean-up of what everyone agrees should no longer be here.
    – waiwai933
    Dec 12, 2011 at 0:58
  • I agree that the rules seem somewhat changeable (some might argue this is what they always meant, I would not) and difficult to interpret (not allowed to ask about improving your English but we encourage English learners to post...). However, I think this represents a good opportunity to really understand what the community (of 3k+ users) really wants here. Maybe a hard fought close/reopen war will help solidify what the site's policies should be? Dec 12, 2011 at 11:50
  • 4
    @waiwai933: If you have already identified those, why don't you close them? As far as I can tell, you haven't had any problem closing and deleting other questions you didn't approve of.
    – Robusto
    Dec 12, 2011 at 14:22
  • 1
    I'm not clear on the history, Robusto. The 'vacillating' policy, is that by the local 3k+ users, the local site moderators, or SE general moderators (like Jeff Atwood). That is, who are these TPTB people that you don't care for? I personally don't care for autocratic moderators closing things by what seems like a whim; I prefer the voting to work the way it is expected (i.e. not a single person by themselves deciding quality). And @waiwai933 seems to be encouraging voting rather than dictatorial action (despite being a moderator).
    – Mitch
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:33
  • @waiwai933: does a moderators action to close count as a vote or is it always dictatorial (a single action closes)? If the latter, it may be more acceptable if you recuse yourself from voting to close because for you, it's not a vote, it's an order.
    – Mitch
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:35
  • 1
    @Mitch: Moderators don't vote, they act. One mod vote closes a question or deletes it. My point is that there have already been plenty of these one-big-vote actions on the site (at times taken by people with mod powers who are not ELU mods), and that these obviously have nothing to do with the will of the community. In other words, consistency of application is impossible under such circumstances, and we as users have only the illusion of control here.
    – Robusto
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:56
  • I agree with your sentiment, but presuming the moderators can hold back and let some voting actually occur, I think @waiwai933's suggestion to 'clean up' holds.
    – Mitch
    Dec 13, 2011 at 16:05
  • 4
    That used to be the plan before The Great ELU Intervention, at which point our mods were accused of being too lax. @Kosmonaut left and JA appointed waiwai, presumably to bring the hammer down. Hence my confusion about the policy du jour. You can't have it both ways: either the users make the policy or TPTB do.
    – Robusto
    Dec 13, 2011 at 16:46

Re: Deletion of closed questions.

The "access to moderator tools" privilege page for 19k users says:

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 that there are no 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!

  • so...what do you intend by this? is @waiwai933's OQ inconsistent with this? or is this policy inconsistent with itself? What is your point? (I'd like to vote to close/delete, flag appropriately where I can but I don't get what you might be suggesting).
    – Mitch
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:38
  • @Mitch erm, it's just a reminder I suppose. Should it be a comment? This is meta so it probably doesn't matter...
    – Hugo
    Dec 13, 2011 at 15:59

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